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Jeff Sessions Speaking Up; Is Trump Administration Immigration Policy Emboldening MS-13 Gang?; Police Brass Rebuke Trump's Remarks; Family of Dems Explain How Trump Earned Their Vote; How to Catch a Peacock; Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 29, 2017 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Six people gone in less than six months. Is this reshuffling over?

Here's 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. This leaves Kelly's old job wide open. And now some are questioning whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be asked to fill it.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham entertaining this possibility today, tweeting, 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."

Now there has been serious speculation for more than a week that President Trump wants Jeff Sessions gone. The president confirmed as much tweeting this week, quote, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a very weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes. Where are e- mails and DNC server and intel leakers?"

President Trump has also berated Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation saying he never would have even appointed Sessions if he knew the recusal was going to happen.

Let's get straight to the capital now and CNN's Boris Sanchez joining us live from our Washington bureau.

So, Boris, a lot of questions about the president's relationship with Sessions, especially after this week, including Republicans now warning Trump not to fire his attorney general.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Ana. The president aggressively going after Jeff Sessions saying that he's disappointed in his attorney general, his beleaguered attorney general. As you said Republicans have come to Jeff Sessions' defense.

Here's Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham defending their friend, Jeff Sessions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: I've come to the floor to keep my promise and to offer a word of humble advice to the president. If you're thinking of making a recess appointment to push out the attorney general, forget about it. The presidency isn't a bowl 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: In response to the president's remarks, Jeff Sessions has said that he's hurt by what the president has said, though he said that he serves at the president's pleasure.

He's given no indication, Ana, that he plans to resign. The president has given no certain outspoken claims that he is going to fire Jeff Sessions, so we're still kind of in this uncertain place.

CABRERA: Adding to the uncertainty is what now after we see the DHS secretary take on the role of chief of staff, leaving that opening, and this report out there exploring the possibility of the president moving Jeff Sessions from the DOJ into the Department of Homeland Security to replace Kelly. What more can you tell us about this?

SANCHEZ: To be perfectly clear, that report coming "Politico" is purely speculation. CNN has no indication that the president plans to do this, though you saw Lindsey Graham entertaining the possibility on Twitter saying that this would be a bad idea.

It is a wild theory, but it is a possibility because Jeff Sessions has already been confirmed by the Senate. The president could legally place him as the head of the Department of Homeland Security for up to 210 days while he goes and nominates a different attorney general, perhaps one that he approves of more -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez in Washington, thank you.

Let's turn to our panel, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza, deputy managing editor of the "Weekly Standard," Kelly Jane Torrance, and Metro Papers columnist Ellis Henican, he writes "The Trump's America" column.

Chris, Trump has made it crystal clear this week he is unhappy with Sessions as AG. He's also been clear he thinks the special investigation is, quote, "a witch hunt." So would moving Sessions to another post, maybe at DHS, be a way to get rid of the AG and get rid of Mueller without the blowback of actually firing Sessions?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, getting rid of Mueller would cause blowback no matter what you did, Ana. There's no way that that can be gotten rid of.

I think the Department of Homeland Security post is potentially an appealing place to put Jeff Sessions if you're Donald Trump because it makes a few groups happy. Senators who have made clear, from Susan Collins to Lindsey Graham to Richard Shelby of Alabama, that they support Jeff Sessions. That they don't want him fired, that they don't like the way in which he's being treated.

And then you also have the conservative movement. Remember Jeff Sessions has been on the immigration front a lot longer than Donald Trump has. He's been on the front lines calling for tougher border security. So both of those groups have risen up in the last week as Donald Trump has sort of attacked Jeff Sessions publicly and repeatedly to say, well, wait a minute, this would give him a logical out, Donald Trump I'm speaking of, without having to have him apologize or lose face, both of which he doesn't like doing.

[20:05:02] So is it a possibility? Sure, it's a possibility, but so are a million other options. What's clear at the moment is Donald Trump remains unhappy with Jeff Sessions as attorney general, and Jeff Sessions isn't planning to go anywhere. He's essentially said if you don't want me as attorney general, you're going to have to fire me yourself.

CABRERA: Kelly Jane, do you see this as something that Senate Republicans would accept or even something Attorney General Jeff Sessions would want?

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: This issue started coming up, I thought Jeff Sessions was the only Republican in Washington that didn't mind what happened this week because it took him out of the spotlight and put it on some people who are apparently hated by Donald Trump even more than he is. But no, look, I mean, it might sense to make him the head of Homeland Security, given immigration has been one of his big issues.

But people will see through it. People will know that Donald Trump is doing this in order to get somebody else as attorney general who is not going to recuse himself on the Russia investigation. And if he does that and then that person fires Robert Mueller, that's just -- I mean, I can't even imagine what would happen.

And we're finally seeing some pushback from Republicans to Donald Trump in the last couple of weeks.

CABRERA: Right.

TORRANCE: First on the Russia sanctions, then on health care. So I think Republicans are starting to get a bit of a backbone and respond to the president when they think he's doing something that might endanger the party and the country.

CABRERA: Right. Republican lawmakers also pushing back on the Sessions comments that the president made as well as the transgender military ban that he tweeted out as well this week.

Ellis, this is not the "Apprentice" but sometimes it sure feels like it. We're six months in, six people from the administration that started in January are now gone. What do you make of it?

ELLIS HENICAN, COLUMNIST METRO PAPERS: Well, I don't know. When you were in third grade, did you ever play that staring game with someone, where you stared into their eyes and you see who would blink first? CABRERA: Right. Yes.

HENICAN: That's what Sessions and Trump are engaged in right now. Neither one of them wants to blink, and I don't think Trump wants to blink on any of these things. You're absolutely right. I mean, there's so many people at risk, there's so much flux right now. And honestly this notion that we're going to get the General Kelly in there and he's going to bring this military bearing and some kind of a command confidence that's going to change things, my suspicion is that's going to work about as well as business efficiency was going to come into the White House with Donald Trump. I'm not sure that military is the answer to this either.

CABRERA: That's a great point because, Chris, a source close to General Kelly says he is going to instill order on day one. He's planning to limit access to the president, get people to go through him, get rid of this open-door policy in the Oval Office.

It sounds good but we have seen candidate Trump now go through three campaign managers. He's now the president, of course, going through two chiefs of staff. Why should we think Kelly would change things?

CILLIZZA: Ana, I'm sorry, yes. I didn't know if that was for me. There is no reason to think he will change things, frankly. The most important staffer in the White House isn't a staffer, his name is Donald Trump and he's president of the United States.

He -- in order for John Kelly to have any influence, and any better run than Reince Priebus had as chief of staff, what he needs is real trust from the president, that if the president does have a conversation with let's say Anthony Scaramucci that doesn't include John Kelly, that as soon as Scaramucci leaves that meeting, Scaramucci or Trump briefs John Kelly on what happened in that meeting.

I would be concerned if I was John Kelly that Anthony Scaramucci as recently as last week said he reports to the president. He doesn't report through the chief of staff line. I think that that's problematic. I think no matter what you do as a chief of staff, however organized, however disciplines you are, the truth of the matter is you are dealing with someone in Donald Trump who values chaos, who values unpredictability, who values the ability to talk to who he wants with whom and without whom he wants when he wants, and that is always going to be a challenge.

Is it possible General Kelly can bring some order to that chaos? Sure. But remember, Donald Trump is a 71-year-old man who his entire adult life has done things a certain way and been quite successful.

CABRERA: Yes.

CILLIZZA: It's just hard for me to believe that the appointment of -- the switch from Reince Priebus to General Kelly somehow radically alters who Donald Trump is at his core.

CABRERA: Well, it's not just Scaramucci who would be reporting directly to the president. But don't forget Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, they, too, at this point, have a straight line directly to the president.

CILLIZZA: Right.

CABRERA: Because they're family. So how that is going to work out with John Kelly, although they're said to have been supportive of this move.

Now, Kelly Jane, this source that we have been talking to or our White House staffers have said that Kelly also we know doesn't like disorder. He likes order. Doesn't like surprises, seems to like the exact opposite, in fact, of President Trump's new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci who says people should just let Trump be Trump.

What do you make of these two competing forces?

[20:10:03] TORRANCE: Exactly. I would love to be a fly on the wall the next week in the White House. And look, you know, Anthony Scaramucci went out, said let Trump be Trump. He went out and insulted in a very vulgar way as I'm sure your viewers have heard by now, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon who's still in the White House.

Now was that behavior punished? No. Was that behavior rewarded? You might say that in firing Reince Priebus, he was -- Donald Trump was in a way rewarding Anthony Scaramucci by getting rid of someone that he really didn't like. And I think all indications are that Trump is not interested in bringing order to his White House.

And you know, I think maybe some people have talked him into getting rid of Reince Priebus and bringing in someone with a military background to put some order on there, but I have -- I'm skeptical. I think in the last week we have seen that Donald Trump is interested in bringing even more chaos to his White House.

And another interesting thing to me is that, you know, Trump is always looking for people to blame for his problems. And, you know, I think he put the blame on Reince Priebus, that the health care repeal of Obamacare didn't pass. You know, he refuses to take responsibility for anything.

CABRERA: Yes.

TORRANCE: And how do you get anything done if you're not going to admit that you might be part of the problem? You can't find a solution if you're not even willing to admit you're part of problem.

CABRERA: I mean, the bigger deal here is the agenda. And it comes down to governing. We saw Priebus and Sean Spicer, they both came from the establishment. They're gone. They were directly from the RNC, Ellis. So with this new move, it's kind of all outsiders who are now part of that wider team in the White House. How do you see that impacting the relationship with even GOP lawmakers?

HENICAN: Well, it all is bad. I mean, look at what the landscape is right now. Right? The agenda is frozen. Right? The West Wing is a viper pit. Right? The Republicans are beginning to peel off at least maybe initially. You know, you got to have some kind of concept here. Just the idea that some military guy is going to start barking at people, I just don't think that's going to change the culture when, as Chris says, the guy at the top clearly doesn't want organization. And that's really the first step toward getting it is actually wanting it at the top.

CABRERA: Admitting there's a problem.

HENICAN: Right. This is opposite. Everything is just running so smoothly. Don't you worry about that.

CABRERA: Maybe he really believes that.

HENICAN: He may.

CABRERA: Thank you so much. Ellis, Chris, Kelly Jane, great to see you guys.

HENICAN: Good seeing you all.

CABRERA: We have some more on that breaking story out of Sydney, Australia, now. Police there say they believe a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane was, quote, "Islamic inspired." Four men were arrested today in Sydney. Police apparently got word that a group was planning an attack using an improvised device. We just heard from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who announced that this plot had been foiled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The four suspects have not yet been charged. Their identities, we don't know. They remain in police custody as the investigation continues.

Keep it here, we'll bring you updates as we get them.

Now the big unanswered questions surrounding the Russia investigation remains. Could the president fire the special counsel if he wanted to? Our legal experts weigh in.

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's things about Donald Trump that I do not trust, but he spoke to me about jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Is that message still resonating with Trump voters? CNN sits down with a family in Ohio who voted for Trump to get their thoughts on the president's performance.

And a federal judge shows some sympathy for fed-up air travelers. Do you hate how little legroom you have? But what this judge had to say about the growing lack of legroom on commercial flights.

Stick around. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:01] CABRERA: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is finally responding to President Trump's harsh criticisms of him, but he's not firing back at his boss. Instead Sessions says he's hurt, but he believes in Trump's cause. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You've seen the president's criticism of you. Do you think it's fair?

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's kind of hurtful, but the president of the United States is a strong leader. He is determined to move this country in the direction he believes it needs to go to make us great again, and he has had a lot of criticisms and he's steadfastly determined to get his job done and he wants all of us to do our jobs, and that's what I intend to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: This all comes over new concerns that the president might try to oust Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the man overseeing the Russia investigation, the same probe that Sessions recused himself from months ago.

Let's talk it over with CNN legal analyst, defense attorney Mark Geragos, and former New York City homicide prosecutor, Paul Callan.

So, Paul, Sessions obviously taking the high road here, signaling he's not going anywhere unless the president forces him out. Do you think the Russia investigation is protected?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, he's in a difficult spot. And I'm really amazed that Sessions has been able to put up with this level of attack on his integrity. Frankly, though, the president has a point about the Russia investigation. He brought Sessions I think with the hope that Sessions could put the Russia investigation to bed so that the administration could move on with other more important issues, and then of course Sessions recused himself.

And now Trump has no control or influence over the Russia investigation making him very, very angry. That's why he wants to get rid of Sessions. CABRERA: So, Mark, let's take this to the logical end one way or

another Jeff Sessions is out, the president gets an attorney general in place, who is really to oust Robert Mueller. Is the president on firm legal ground at that point?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. He absolutely could do it. In fact you saw today where Lindsey Graham tweeted that he likes the sound of AG Jeff Sessions.

[20:20:04] A lot of people in Washington at least are clucking about the idea that the reason he took Kelly, General Kelly, out of Homeland Security is that he'll put Jeff Sessions as head of -- as the new secretary of Homeland Security, then appoint a new AG and tell the new AG to fire Mueller.

And I think that that makes some logical sense from Trump's standpoint because he figures at that point he's inoculated himself against senators who used to be in the Senate with Sessions from barking at him because he just moved him over to do Homeland Security and deal with immigration, which Jeff Sessions, that's kind of his big issue. So I can see where this could happen and yes, he's on solid legal ground to do it if he wants to.

CABRERA: Paul, in an op-ed for the "Washington Post," opinion writer David Ignatius writes this, "In Trump's Washington it's a fact of life that officials must now weigh whether they would follow presidential orders that might be improper or illegal. Officials mull and occasionally discuss quietly what to do if a presidential request for loyalty conflicts with their sense of right or wrong. A possible order to fire Mueller is an imminent concern."

He goes on to say, "In dealing with this administration, lawmakers and other officials can't wait until the bomb denotes. They should begin to take precautions now."

What type of precautions could they be taking?

CALLAN: I think anybody who's in the chain of command at the Justice Department has to have this conversation with himself, if the president calls me up and orders me to fire Mueller, will I do that or resign on the grounds of principle?

Now, of course, during the Nixon Saturday night massacre, Elliot Richardson, who is the attorney general, refused to execute Nixon's order to fire Archibald Cox who then was the special prosecutor. He then went to William Ruckelshaus who refused to follow the order and it was only Robert Bork, the number three in line, who did fire the special prosecutor. That's -- people in Justice now have to be looking at that. How -- will I respond like Ruckelshaus and Richardson, or will I follow the order?

CABRERA: Mark, your take?

GERAGOS: Which -- yes. Ana, I think that's a very astute point because what you've got there is you've got the number one, Jeff Sessions, who has already recused himself. Rosenstein who's the number two has said he's not going to do it absent some kind of cause. So -- and then everybody suspects that the number three, Rachel Brand, would carry out the order.

So why go through all that and have all the inevitable comparisons to Nixon? The easier thing to do if you're Trump is move Sessions over to Homeland Security, appoint a new guy who understand when you interview him that that's the first order of business. He comes in and he'll use some pretext like Mueller has expanded his original jurisdiction beyond what he was given authority to do, and this is a distraction of the country, blah, blah, blah, and they'll come up with some legal pretext and have him do it.

CABRERA: So I want to also ask --

CALLAN: Ana --

CABRERA: Go ahead, Paul.

CALLAN: No, I was -- the one thing that I don't get here is if you have adults in a room trying to make a decision, wouldn't you call in the attorney general if you were the president and have a conversation with him about this instead of taking pot shots at him on Twitter and in public forums, humiliating and embarrassing the highest ranking lawyer and law enforcement official in the U.S. government? It's amazing to me that this is the tactic --

GERAGOS: You know --

CALLAN: -- selected by the president.

GERAGOS: You know, Paul, I suspect that the reason he's doing this is because he did summon him or try to summon in Sessions, Sessions said if the subject matter is Russia, I'm not going to go there and that's why he's in this (INAUDIBLE).

CALLAN: I'll tell you, that's a great theory, but now how can Trump turn around and name him Homeland Security? All right. I don't trust him to run the Justice Department, let's put him in charge of the safety of the country. I mean --

GERAGOS: Well, look, I'd love -- I hate to be skeptical but I think the only reason he would do that is so that he doesn't lose all of the Republican senators because they've already come out and said don't you dare, don't you dare. This is a way to kind of take them off of the chess board.

CABRERA: Guys, I got to leave it there. We got to leave it there but I'm just going to do a big tease because we have a legal discussion tomorrow. I also want to bring there has been this call for a second independent counsel investigation, and we'll discuss that next time because I didn't get a chance to ask you about it this time.

Mark and Paul, always great to have you on. Thank you so much. And by the way, Mark is --

GERAGOS: Thank, Ana. CABRERA: -- the co-host of the "Reasonable Doubt" podcast so check

that out.

Coming up President Trump touts a crackdown on what he called blood thirsty gangs. So why do some gang members say he's policies actually give them more power?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They feel like they can do whatever they want because Trump himself has made everybody fear.

[20:25:05] All the immigrants they feel like if they go to the police or something they get deported. So like whatever happens to them, they'd rather stay quiet and let it happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We will find you, we will arrest you, we will jail you, and we will deport you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: -- estimate the ultraviolent MS-13 Gang, the president's tough words came during his visit to Long Island, New York, where the brutal gang is known for machete attacks and linked to at least 20 murders.

For Trump the gang fight is a crucial part of his signature campaign promise, cracking down on illegal immigration. Yet some gang members say Trump's policies are helping their violent group get larger and more powerful.

Dan Lieberman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[20:30:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's not MS-13, you're the target. If you're not in it, you're the target. If you don't want to be the target, you most likely join. You know, you can't beat them, join them.

DAN LIEBERMAN, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): MS-13 is one of the most violent gangs in America.

TRUMP: The vicious and disgusting and horrible MS-13 gang members.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have machetes as a weapon of choice. Chains, sometimes with a lock. LIEBERMAN: The FBI says there's been a surge in MS-13 activity in

recruitment in the last two years. We wanted to know what leads some young people to join MS-13.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They feel like they can do whatever they want because Trump himself has made everybody fear. All the immigrants, they feel like if they go to the police or something, they get deported. So like whatever happens to them, they rather stay quiet and let it happen.

WALTER BARRIENTOS, LEAD ORGANIZER, MAKE THE ROAD NEW YORK: This gives them the opportunity to tell immigrants, what are you going to do? Are you going to report us? They are going to accuse you. They are going to associate you with us.

LIEBERMAN: These MS-13 gang members agreed to be interviewed on the condition that we disguise their voices and not show their faces. Speaking out against the gang can be deadly. The surprising thing about them is just how young they are. At 16 and 17, they have already been gang members for years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At one point, I feel like, damn, why am I in this? Is that what I'm going for, taking somebody's loved one and hurting them? What if they took somebody from me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Murderers from MS-13 don't only hurt one family, but hurt both. If you get caught, your family's never going to see you again.

TRUMP: We are getting them out. They're going fast. We're actually liberating towns like Long Island, where I grew up.

LIEBERMAN: For some people Long Island means summer in the Hamptons. But not far away from the mansions on the beach, MS-13 has been on a killing spree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My god, no. Who's going to do that?

LIEBERMAN: In the last two years, the FBI says they've committed more than 20 murders on Long Island.

BARRIENTOS: What we're seeing is that they are targeting some of the most recently arrived coming into families who are in transition with their immigration status and young people who don't know a lot of people in the community, who are easily targeted and scared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They tried to kill him because they cut him twice with a machete by his stomach and hit him.

LIEBERMAN: Margarita, as she asked us to call her, is from El Salvador. Until now, she's been too scared to speak up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Then after, they say that there were four gunshots. And he doesn't call the police.

LIEBERMAN: Her teenage son is hiding in a safe house. She says MS-13 is trying to kill him because he refused to join them. She's a witness. But like many others, won't go to the police for fear she'll get deported.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): So MS-13 sees that we don't have the support of the police. We feel afraid to call them so they feel more free to go around bothering people.

LIEBERMAN: Between February and May of this year, ICE arrested on average 108 undocumented immigrants a day with no criminal record, an increase of about 150 percent from the same period a year ago.

THOMAS HORAM, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: I have said it 100 times, that is a crime to enter this country illegally. We want to target the most violent criminals, not the witness, not the victims, to remove them.

LIEBERMAN: The MS-13 gang members I spoke with have a message for other young people who are thinking of joining up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a motto they go by. Once an enemy, always an enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're everywhere. You could move anywhere you want. They'll find out where you are.

LIEBERMAN (on camera): There's nowhere you're safe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to try to leave. At one point you're not going to be able to. So the message I'm going to give to everybody else that's thinking about it, don't join it.

LIEBERMAN (voice-over): Dan Lieberman, CNN, Long Island, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Our thanks to Dan Lieberman there.

Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, the president speaks to police officers and causes controversy in the process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said please don't be too nice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:38:33] CABRERA: More legroom on your next flight? Yes, please. The D.C. Federal Appeals Court panel might be ready to help. The court has ordered the FAA to reduce seat size and legroom aboard commercial flights. Now passenger rights group had urged the FAA to write new rules on both the size of seats and the distance between seat rows. The group claims airlines are shrinking seats even as passengers are

getting bigger, putting fliers at risk. The FAA first dismissed these concerns so the group sued. And now the federal agency say it is studying the court ruling to determine how to proceed.

Law enforcement agencies are responding to President Trump's call for officers to not be, quote, "too nice" when arresting suspects. Trump praised ICE officers for being rough when they arrested MS-13 gang members during a fiery law and order speech in Long Island just yesterday. And some of the officers applauded while leaders of the police force there aren't happy with the president's remarks.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joins me from New York where Trump's words received the loudest criticism.

Polo, what can you tell us?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, if you look at the police officers standing behind President Donald Trump as he was delivering his remarks, you can see that they responded with applause, but then you hear from the brass a very different reaction, especially if you read the statement that was released just moments after the president made those remarks in Long Island yesterday.

The Suffolk County Police Department issuing a statement that reads in part, "The Suffolk County Police Department has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners.

[20:40:07] And violations of those rules and procedures are treated extremely seriously. As a department we do not and will not tolerate roughing up prisoners."

That last portion of the statement likely referring to the president's remarks in which he told officers to, quote, "don't be too nice." There are also other departments across the country that are essentially adding their voice to the chorus of critics including right here in New York City. Police Commissioner James O'Neill releasing a statement today.

I'll read you a portion of that. The commissioner says, quote, "To suggest that police officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement as well as the public."

And, Ana, just shifting topics here, you'll recall that just this past Thursday the Boy Scouts of America had to issue a statement of their own where in which the head of the organization was apologizing to parents for what he called political rhetoric that was inserted in a presidential address that was done there at their annual jamboree.

So here we are about two days back-to-back and two organizations -- several organizations in the United States basically working to distance themselves from certain remarks made by President Trump -- Ana.

CABRERA: Polo Sandoval, thank you.

Still ahead, CNN follows up with a family of Democrats -- mostly Democrats who mostly voted for Trump. What they have to say six months into his presidency.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:45:40] CABRERA: The Trump White House just rocked with the recent staff changes, but one thing under the administration that's remained steady is the economy. A new government report shows the U.S. economy picked up momentum during President Trump's first full quarter in office.

CNN's Gary Tuchman followed up with one family of Democrats who mainly voted Trump to see where they stand today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rainbow colors.

SCOTT SEITZ, DEMOCRAT WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP: Yes.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Scott Seitz is a grandfather, a steelworker, a Democratic councilman in the village of McDonald, Ohio, and a Donald Trump voter, the first time this husband and father of three ever voted for a Republican for president.

SEITZ: There is individuals in this village that look down on me, family members as well. But I have to think about these individuals in this room and put food on the table. And I think he had a better chance of providing a job in the future for us.

TUCHMAN: Seitz had to start a gutter cleaning business after so many steel jobs left this part of the rustbelt. But shortly after the new president took office he got a job at a plant that makes titanium for the F-35 fighter jet. He works seven days a week and loves it and says this about President Trump.

S. SEITZ: He helped negotiate that F-35 fighter jet. So there was a mass hiring over there. So for me personally I think he's done a good job.

TUCHMAN: It's very debatable how much credit the president deserves since negotiations were in the works before he took office, but this family gives Mr. Trump the credit.

(On camera): Who did you vote for on Election Day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for Donald Trump as well. TUCHMAN (voice-over): But then there is mother and wife, Derinda

Seitz, who appreciates the president's business credentials but did not vote for him or Hillary Clinton and would still not vote for either of them today.

DERINDA SEITZ, SCOTT'S WIFE: I don't like how he just throws things out, you know, without to me thinking it through. Sometimes he says things and I think he's like acting like a fifth grader.

TUCHMAN: When the Seitz family sat down with Van Jones before the president took office, they talked about why they couldn't vote for Clinton.

S. SEITZ: You know, Hillary, we couldn't trust her. You know, anybody who deletes, as I understand it, 30,000 e-mails two days after she was subpoenaed.

TUCHMAN: And today?

S. SEITZ: Oh, there's things about Donald Trump that I do not trust. But he spoke to me about jobs. And that overruled everything.

TUCHMAN: But they say they could have forgiven Hillary Clinton for what they believe were her ethical lapses.

S. SEITZ: If she would have came through here and not completely neglected us or completely disregarded us, she would have had all of our votes, everybody in this entire county. We switched over because she came through here and said nothing that was going to help us put food on the table. We were only looking for hope.

TUCHMAN: And ultimately that's why Scott Seitz says he voted for Donald Trump.

S. SEITZ: You don't sit around and wait for things to happen. You go out and you clean gutters and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hope you get through.

S. SEITZ: You make ends meet. You know, you do all that you can.

TUCHMAN: It's families like this that helped put Donald Trump in the White House for four years and if he delivers on his economic promises could keep him there for eight.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, McDonald, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Thanks, Gary.

When it comes to the paparazzi, actor George Clooney is making it clear he's not going to take it anymore. What's pushing the famous actor over the edge? Pictures of his 7-week-old twins with wife Amal Clooney. They were taken from afar, posted on the cover of a French magazine. Friday Clooney released this statement. "Over the past week, photographers from the magazines scaled over our

fence, climbed our tree and illegally took pictures of our infants inside our home. Make no mistake, the photographers, the agency, and the magazine will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The safety of our children demands it." Still no comment from the magazine.

Coming up, how to catch a peacock? The untold story of how the U.S. took down a dangerous international arms dealer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never changed his colors because he was still that little proud peacock, you know, when he was on the plane like he was the guy that was in control.

[20:50:01] Despite he had shackles on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Tonight on CNN's original series, "DECLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES," we take a look at the takedown of a very dangerous international arms dealer known for his flashy clothes and his lavish estates. Here's a preview of tonight's episode, "THE PEACOCK: MERCHANT OF WAR."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the first challenge with a terrorist is how do we get close? The D.A. would work with our local counterparts and develop sources of information. Working with sources was a very large part of DEA's success worldwide. And you can't really make a good case if you don't have a good source.

And in this particular case we're talking about a terrorist in another country with associates all over the world. He definitely was cautious on who he would get close and who he would talk to.

[20:55:02] So how do we find a source that can get to this inner circle?

JOHN ARCHER, SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT, DEA: Jim had a relationship with a high-level source that had been utilized by the DEA for approximately 20 years. His name was Samir. In New York in the early 1980s Jim arrested Samir for narcotics trafficking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We arrested him, and I knew he was pretty important. He was Palestinian by birth, well educated, well read, multilingual, phenomenally bright. I knew he would be useful because he understood the global criminal networks. As a source he had the capabilities of following through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joining us is one of the men you just saw in that clip, John Archer. He's a supervisory special agent for the DEA.

John, thank you for spending time with us. The arms dealer we're talking about here is Monzer al-Kassar. The takedown operation was more than two decades in the making. It's so interesting to pull back the curtain on stuff like this. How did the DEA finally infiltrate al-Kassar's inner circle?

ARCHER: Well, DEA has a set of unique capabilities that allow to us operate internationally. We're located in nearly 70 countries and employ over 15,000 informants who work at our behest.

CABRERA: So can you tell us a little bit about then how you go in, how you make these relationships to ultimately hook somebody in order to just explode the investigation?

ARCHER: Yes. The biggest thing is the personal relationships that we have with our foreign counterparts who allow us access to informants and sources of information. And from there we basically blanket certain areas where we want to work, where we want to operate, and we're able to infiltrate top levels of organizations. In this case it was a arms-trafficking organization that had been headed by Monzer al- Kassar for decades.

And he had operated with impunity throughout the world, and our case was to seek justice for acts that he had committed for decades.

CABRERA: So what was your role exactly and the challenges you faced?

ARCHER: My role was one of two lead investigators. My co-case agent was Wim Brown. And we had numerous challenges. Operating internationally isn't always an easy thing. There's a lot of limitations. Depending on the laws of each country. We work bilaterally with our government and our foreign governments who offer us support in most of the investigations that we do, allow us to be there, allow us to operate. And that's really the crux of DEA's unique capabilities, is that we can be anywhere at any time.

CABRERA: How does this case rank in terms of the operations you've participated in?

ARCHER: This is definitely a high-level case. Definitely for me the highest level of case that I've been able to work, and it was an absolute honor to be part of it with the team from DEA Special Operation Division.

CABRERA: Once you engage in an operation like this, how do you protect operatives who are going in undercover?

ARCHER: Well, in most cases we've got surveillance who's covering them. In this case it was a lot different, and there was certainly more risk involved because we weren't in any position to come in and perform a rescue if anything had gone bad. So they were out there on their own and exposed at certain times, and the most we could do was minimize some of the risk by training them, giving them basically an idea of what had to happen and what we were looking for in terms of what the operation would involve. CABRERA: We have just a few seconds, but what do you hope people take

away from watching tonight's episode?

ARCHER: What I hope that people take away is that DEA is a great weapon in the U.S. government arsenal. We've got capabilities where we can move quickly, get in anywhere, and we perform a service that the American public would be very proud of.

CABRERA: John Archer, thank you very much for joining us. We look forward to tonight's brand new episode of "DECLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES." That's up next right here on CNN.

That's going to do it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. We'll see you back here tomorrow night at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks again for being with us. Good night.