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First Charges Filed in Mueller Investigation; Representative Lee Zeldin; Trump White House Focuses on Hillary Clinton; Trump Vows to Release All JFK Assassination Files; Two Sailors Rescued After Five Months at Sea; Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 28, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: A federal grand jury in Washington has now approved the first charges in the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Plans have also been made for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday. That could make this quite the weekend for all those involved as well as for the White House.
We have a team of analysts standing by, but I do want to begin with someone who helped break this story, CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.
And, Shimon, is it possible that anyone being charged may not even know yet?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Oh, and actually, Ana, we do believe that the people who have been charged or the person that was charged is not aware of it yet.
We've talked to some lawyers who are representing some of -- some of the people who are being -- who are under investigation and so far word from all of them is that they have not been notified. They have not been told to have their client or clients surrender.
What's clear, though, to us is that something will likely happen next week. We've been told it's possible as soon as Monday. Arrangements have been made for people to perhaps surrender, for there to be some kind of court action on Monday, whether it's a presentment, an arraignment. Exactly what will take place on Monday, we don't know because these charged are sealed.
The fact that we even know this much is pretty remarkable. But it was an extraordinary development that happened sometime yesterday at the grand jury here in Washington, D.C.
CABRERA: And even though Mueller has been investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the charges listed on those sealed indictments won't use that word collusion, right?
PROKUPECZ: Well, as far as we know we -- no, it won't, but we really don't know what is contained in the charging documents, in the indictment. You know, it could be multiple pages. It could only be a few pages. But keep in mind that while collusion may not be a crime, may not be something that's in a criminal statute that would be part of charges, but it could be an element within a charge.
Whether there's some kind of conspiracy or perhaps someone was using the campaign to maybe curry favor, a business favor or some other kind of favor. So you could have a situation where, though collusion is not necessarily a crime, it could be an element of a crime. It could be facts that go into a larger conspiracy, facts of a criminal pattern that goes into a charge. But collusion itself, you're right, you know, we've been told all along by law enforcement officials that that isn't necessarily a crime.
CABRERA: Not really a legal term. OK. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you for that information.
Let's get straight to our panel to help us understand the gravity of this development. With us is CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin, CNN political analyst and national security correspondent for the "New York Times," David Sanger, and CNN legal analyst and former New York city prosecutor Paul Callan.
So, Paul, based on what we have learned about who has been interviewed, who has testified before Congress, before the grand jury, does that give you any clue as to what these charges may be?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It doesn't necessarily give us reliable information, but if we looked at that, the most public target has been Paul Manafort. Certainly we know that a warrant was exercised on his house, a no knock warrant. That's a very serious thing. So we know that he's been a serious target of the investigation. We also know that Flynn, the former national security adviser to the president, has been a target of investigation.
So those are the two, I think, most highly publicized people in terms of the investigation. But bear in mind, we don't know what's been going on behind closed doors. It could be another minor figure who they're look to go put pressure on to turn or maybe they're facing an expiring statute of limitations. There are a variety of reasons that could lead to this indictment.
CABRERA: David, right now the White House isn't commenting. Is there a best case scenario for the president when it comes to who has been indicted?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there could be some best case scenarios. I mean, it's not -- since we don't know who's been indicted, one of the possibilities here is that the indictment may actually be on a peripheral issue. Could be money laundering. It could be some other thing that the prosecutors tripped into along the way.
It could also be that they're starting down at the bottom in order to flip people and move them up to the more serious charges. So it's not immediately clear that we will know next week -- first of all we're not clear when this will be unsealed, but secondly, not clear that we would know where this is leading in Mr. Mueller's mind. So in that regard, you know, the president could make the argument next week none of this has to do with the White House. CABRERA: Right. So, Josh, if these indictments are more tangential
to collusion such as money laundering, is that a political win for the president's case that there's no collusion?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm sure that's the argument that the White House will make, but it's not actually evidence of any innocence and, you know, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
[17:05:10] You know, it's like a journalist axiom. So no matter what we see this week, as early as this week, that doesn't rule out anything that we might see in the future. In fact, I think it -- there's no way that this isn't bad for the White House because if there's someone associated with the Trump White House or the Trump campaign who is indicted, OK, that's just the beginning. That's the beginning of a new phase in the Mueller investigation whereas up until now it's been mostly behind the scenes. We've been relying on piecemeal leaks here and there.
This will be brought out into the open and now this won't be the end of Mueller's efforts. It will just, you know, bring it to the stage where he feels he's ready, he's collected enough evidence. He's got enough support from the grand juries to really bring this out into the light. And that's going to, you know, take up all the oxygen in the room. It's going to take up the space that people have been devoting to ancillary issues like unmasking and Fusion GPS and uranium and all this other stuff that the White House wants us to talk about.
Well, it will be a possible for really -- for a lot of people to focus on those ancillary issues, true or false as they may be, because now the Mueller investigation will dominate the discussion for sure.
CABRERA: There's obviously some there-there, the fact that this indictment is here.
Paul, why would a judge, though, seal this indictment and then there not be any arrests or somebody taken into custody until perhaps next week?
CALLAN: Well, it is somewhat unusual. Now sometimes indictments are sealed because there's a fear that if the suspect becomes aware that he's under indictment, he'll flee the country. So a lot of times judges will say, all right, we're going to seal the indictment and you go pick the guy up and then we'll unseal it when he's rained in court.
Occasionally in white collar cases because of timing issues, you'll have a sealed indictment to arrange for the voluntary surrender of the suspect. But we're not going to even know the answer to that question about the sealing.
And I -- you know, and I wanted to add one other thing to the plate here. Even if the indictment is for what looks like a collateral matter unrelated to collusion with the Russians, like, let's say it's Manafort for money laundering or lying to the FBI or something like that, the president is -- and the administration is not out of the woods because remember, that would mean that matters that preceded the Trump presidency were investigated by Mueller and this could certainly include the Trump financial empire, if they're investigating Mueller's prior business, couldn't that have led to an investigation of what is going on with the president before he ran for office?
CALLAN: And that's the red line the president has warned against.
CABRERA: The red line.
CALLAN: Yes. He says if Mueller crosses that line, he's acting improperly. So I don't know. I think we're going to see fireworks if the president decides, hey, this is really an investigation of the Trump financial empire.
CABRERA: And that red line you spoke about was dealing with finances.
CALLAN: That's right.
CABRERA: And the possibility of the taxes being exposed. We don't know what he's really looking into at this point. But David, as Paul brings up, other legal analysts that we've talked to also have raised those same concerns that President Trump may try to fire Mueller at this moment in time. Is there anything preventing the president from doing that?
SANGER: Well, he wouldn't be prevented necessarily from doing it, but I think as time goes on it becomes politically more and more difficult, I think it's been made pretty clear to him or should have been based on the discussions that you've heard. There are even some Republicans in Congress who believe that that could start a political process toward impeachment and that he would look like he was trying to obstruct the investigation even if he came up with reasons like crossing that red line that would -- he'd use to justify it.
I would doubt at this point that the president would head that way, but he is notably unpredictable. I have not heard anybody in Congress suggest that in recent months, but of course, when Mueller was first appointed and when we first heard about the tensions between the president and Attorney General Sessions, it was really over that issue.
CABRERA: And, Josh, we have also covered the president pardoning Sheriff Arpaio, so that too has come up in this conversation. Could the president try to protect somebody indicted by the Mueller probe?
ROGIN: Yes. I think that would, again, be a very controversial move by the president to pardon anybody before all the facts are known, before Mueller has a chance to complete his investigation. But I do -- I thoroughly agree with David. What we haven't seen a lot of attacks on Mueller recently that's about to change, OK. And when the focus of the investigation turns back to the Mueller probe and away from sort of the House probe and the Senate probe and all of these other things that people have added on while we've been waiting for the Mueller probe to sort of mature to this level where we're going to see what they have at least some of it. [17:10:05] Now the forces that are defending Trump whether they be on
Capitol Hill and the media, you name it are going to start again -- actually, sorry, I think you're already seeing it this weekend to call for Mueller's resignation and to try to paint him and his team as biased and to sort of ramp up the attach machine to muddy up his credibility. And that's inevitable and that's part of what we're going to see play out over the next few days.
CABRERA: Paul, if the president were to fire Mueller or if he were to pardon somebody who was indicted, what are the legal options then?
CALLAN: Well, those are really interesting questions because let's say, for instance, he did pardon people who had been indicted and who might potentially be witnesses against him, could that be viewed as an obstruction of justice by the president in the use of his pardoning power? Now I've never seen that come up in U.S. history, but certainly if you're pardoning somebody to obstruct an investigation, you could make the argument that it's part of obstruction.
The second thing you would have to consider in why it would be dangerous to pardon somebody, once you're pardoned, you can't be prosecuted. That also means you cannot take the Fifth Amendment if you're questioned under oath.
All of these people now who are potential suspects and who are indicted suspects can assert the Fifth Amendment and don't have to testify against the president. So the use of the pardon power could actually backfire on him.
CABRERA: And David, as of right now we know President Trump hasn't tweeted about these charges. The White House has said it has no comment. What do you make of that restraint shown suddenly?
SANGER: Well, one possibility is that he's as mystified as the rest of us about who actually has been indicted. Presumably the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein knows because he would had to have approved all of this. It's unclear whether he would have told the attorney general, Attorney General Sessions, because the attorney general has recused himself from the case. And if Sessions doesn't know, it's very possible that the president doesn't know. So they may be holding their fire or they may know and have come to the conclusion that for once they're better to say very little.
CABRERA: Josh, based on what we know about Mueller, do you foresee him making any kind of public statement when these arrests happen?
ROGIN: I don't see him pulling a James Comey and taking to the podium to explain to everybody exactly why he did and why he didn't. That's not his style. Didn't work for Comey anyway. I think the indictment will speak for itself.
Now I don't have any information about the Justice Department's planned press strategy if and when this does happen. But just look at the man. I mean, look at the way he's conducted himself. And while there have been leaks from the investigation, he hasn't said anything really in public and neither have any of his people. And I'm sure that's part of his strategy to maintain a sort of
distance from the sort of, you know, political food fight that's inevitable when we're talking about anything related to any of this investigation. Contrast that with the strategy of the Senate investigators or the House Intelligence Committee leaders who have taken a totally different approach, OK.
And if you look at what Mueller has done, you look at what they've done, his goal here is to speak through his actions. And because we haven't seen a lot of those actions in public, this will be a new phase, this will be a new stage in the Mueller investigation. And I think when we see that indictment and when we see that arrest, that will say more than Mueller ever could.
CABRERA: Gentlemen, thanks for the conversation. Paul Callan, David Sanger, Josh Rogin, we appreciate it.
Coming up, D.C. dysfunction? Will party infighting keep Republicans from sending President Trump a big tax plan as a Christmas gift? And what does it mean for the rest of the agenda? We'll discuss next.
[17:17:58] CABRERA: Tonight no comment from the White House on a story you first saw here on CNN. The first charges filed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe. A federal grand jury in Washington approved indictments, and we don't know who. We don't know the precise charges. But arrests are expected as early as Monday.
Joining me now is Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin of New York.
Congressman, thank you for joining us. When it comes to the Russia probe, the president and his team have always said there is nothing to see here. Here is a reminder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who are try to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, of course not.
TRUMP: So there has been absolutely no collusion. It's been stated that they have no collusion.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABS NEWS: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: No, there are not. It's absurd.
TRUMP: There was no collusion between us and Russia. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any
contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Absolutely not.
TRUMP: In the meantime, no collusion, no obstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So as a member of the president's party, how do you feel right now? Are you worried at all about Monday?
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: I don't know what charges are filed against whom. If more information comes out, I'd be happy to and look forward to reading about any of that. But I certainly am just not in a position to be able to speculate on who the charges are against, what the charges are, what the facts are. I guess we might find out as early as Monday if it doesn't leak out before then.
There has been a lot of developments over the course of the last couple of weeks, some of which might favor one side of the aisle versus the other side. I think that it's important for all of us to be approaching this entire issue not as one side or the other side but as Americans.
[17:20:02] I'm someone who believes that the Russians did meddle in our elections in 2016, and that is, you know, part of this issue. There is a cyber security component that we care about. There has been an investigation as it relates to election day itself to protect the integrity of our infrastructure and see if there's any lessons that could be learned there. So all those aspects are important. But I'm just not in a position to speculate as far as these new charges.
CABRERA: Sure. And I absolutely respect that you don't want to speculate. But the fact that we are here, that this investigation has led to some kind of indictment, does that signal a turning point for you?
ZELDIN: Well, I guess it depends on what the indictment is, who it's against, what the charges are. I also don't know the exact scope of Mueller's investigation right now. It's certainly broader than I'm aware of. And I don't know if it has gotten to the point where, quite frankly, people on both sides of the aisle are going to be uncomfortable with what comes out ahead. So I don't even know the exact scope of his investigation at this point beyond the starting point of where we were earlier this year when the special counsel was first appointed.
CABRERA: Right. And I'm just looking down to see the exact quote which he was authorized to investigate, quote, "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." So when you say you don't know the exact scope, it could be fairly broad. But we do know Rod Rosenstein, the deputy AG, would have had a chance to take a look at what the charges were in this indictment and could have rejected them if he felt it was outside the scope of the investigation, right? ZELDIN: Sure. It's important to have that oversight and that
leadership. When you appoint the special counsel, this is someone who is investigating but is not the person deciding what to do as far as bringing charges. It's just the special counsel and the special counsel's team is just part of that process. So having that oversight in that decision-making process is important.
CABRERA: Now you've recently voted against the GOP budget plan, so let's move on and talk a little bit more about the agenda. That budget barely passed the House. Tax reform we know is next. The House Speaker Paul Ryan made a joke that there is one big factor that will stop the president from tweeting. Any criticisms of the upcoming bill. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you at all concerned that this rollout next week when you actually see these choices that he's not going to maybe like some of them and tweet something about it?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: He's going to be in Asia, number one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: He was only sort of joking there, right? Now we saw the president weigh in already on 401(k)s through Twitter. Are you worried about any tweets the president may send off affecting the process on tax reform?
ZELDIN: Well, I think the president is in a unique position to be able to help ensure that tax cuts get done. From that standpoint, whether it is an event when he might leave Washington and go to do an event somewhere around the country or the vice president, it's answering questions, whether it's a press secretary from the podium or the president himself when answering the media's questions, activities on social media, statements that go out they are ways to communicate with Americans so that they can learn more about what's in it.
It's going to be very important -- I mean, there's going to be special interests that are going to be upset that they might be losing a particular deduction that they don't want to lose and they're not just going to be descending on Capitol Hill to be trying to influence members of Congress. They're also going to be trying to communicate with Americans to change their mind and they might put out information that's not accurate.
So not just the president but anyone involved in this process who wants to see tax reform, who wants to see tax cuts, I would encourage them to weigh in to get a good plan across the finish line.
CABRERA: So making sure I understand you right, you would like to see the president weigh in more. ZELDIN: Yes. On this particular issue, absolutely. Certainly. And
you know, I happen to -- I voted no on the budget resolution a couple of days ago. I am from New York. I'm from a high tax state. One of the reasons why our state and local tax deduction is so high is because our state and local taxes are so high. So that's a whole other issue for our state and local municipalities.
But down in Washington in the meantime, I'm not just fighting for tax reform and tax cuts for our country. I'm also and most importantly, I can't expect anyone else to represent New York one for me and that's my congressional district.
[17:25:03] ZELDIN: The same goes for 434 colleagues. So I want to see -- there's a proposal to eliminate the state and local tax deduction and I want to see that maintained because I want tax cuts for my constituents, my hardworking middle class, low-income constituents --
CABRERA: So can I ask you, will you --
ZELDIN: -- who wants tax relief as well.
CABRERA: I'm sorry to step on you. I didn't mean to. Can I ask you directly, would you vote for a tax plan that eliminates that state and local tax deduction?
ZELDIN: I have been -- with all the meetings -- that's not going to happen. With all the meetings and conversations that I've had in not just recent weeks but in recent days, I believe that there is going to be an offer that is going to be coming from those who have been leading the effort to draft the tax bill to -- I think they will be proposing a change to their proposal. I will approach that with an open mind.
I certainly -- I support maintaining a state and local tax deduction completely. I will say, though, at the very least I do anticipate some changes to be proposed imminently, hopefully before the -- before the middle of next week.
CABRERA: All right, Congressman Lee Zeldin. Keep in touch. Let us know. We are looking forward to that details of that plan.
ZELDIN: Thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, the president's new focus on a vintage subject. Hillary Clinton's e-mails, the request he has made to the State Department when CNN NEWSROOM continues.
[17:30:56] CABRERA: Welcome back. Sources tell CNN President Trump is now pushing the State Department to accelerate the release of any remaining e-mails from Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state. The department still needs to review 40,000 pages of records for release.
Let's get right out to CNN's Boris Sanchez who is live at the White House for us.
Boris, now the current pace, it might be years before some of those e- mails go public, but President Trump is working very hard to keep Hillary Clinton under the microscope.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, Ana. And the risk here politically would be giving a potential appearance that the White House is intruding into parts of the government that are traditionally independent and separate from the command of the president, like the department -- like the State Department or the Department of Justice, which is representing the State Department in this litigation, ongoing litigation over Hillary Clinton's e-mails.
The timing of all of this is interesting because, as you know, Ana, Hillary Clinton was defeated almost a year ago by Donald Trump, but yet he still maintains a singular focus on attacking the former secretary of state.
Sarah Sanders actually tweeted out about collusion with Russia not having to do with the Trump campaign, as is being investigated right now by Robert Mueller, but about Hillary Clinton's collusion with Russia.
Look at these tweets. She writes, quote, "Clinton spokesman just said he's damn glad Clinton campaign colluded with Russia to spread disinformation about the president and influence the election. The evidence Clinton campaign, DNC and Russia colluded to influence the election is indisputable."
Of course she's referring to a Clinton spokesperson who told the "Washington Post" he was, quote, "damn glad" that the campaign paid Fusion GPS for research on Donald Trump, for negative oppo research. But to call it collusion is certainly a step further.
Beyond that earlier this week House Republicans announced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the sale of a uranium mining company to Russia. The president is alleging that Hillary Clinton took bribes in order to give Russia a more favorable deal for that uranium company. And he's going a step further.
CNN has learned that the White House has been pressing staffers to work with the Department of Justice to lift a gag order on a former FBI informant that would then testify in that investigation and that lifting of the gag order has since been approved, Ana. So while you would imagine that the White House would be on the defensive because of the investigation against them, they're certainly on the offensive against an opponent they beat about a year ago.
CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you for that reporting.
Coming up, how the long-awaited release of the JFK assassination files helped fuel a new wave of conspiracy surrounding government secrecy.
We'll dig into it live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:38:22] CABRERA: So it was supposed to be this big reveal a half century in the making and in the end, the release of thousands of secret files on the JFK assassination didn't really live up to its billing. Why? Because hundreds of other documents are still being held back for now, including one that could resolve a major cliffhanger.
Was Kennedy's killer Lee Harvey Oswald an agent of the CIA? Now take a look at this. The documents contain a deposition by former CIA director Richard Helms in which he was asked this question.
"Is there any information involved with the assassination of President Kennedy which in any way shows that Lee Harvey Oswald was in some way a CIA agent or agent," dot, dot, dot. There the document abruptly ends.
Joining me now is Mark Fenster. He is the author of "Conspiracy Theories, Secrecy and Power in American Culture."
So, Mark, bottom line, do these documents perhaps reinforce the conspiracies and the cliffhangers that have kind of been left hanging all along?
MARK FENSTER, AUTHOR, "CONSPIRACY THEORIES, SECRECY AND POWER IN AMERICAN CULTURE": Well, more than anything they reinforce the mystery of it.
FENSTER: The idea that we can continue to click on these links that the archives have created for us and find a new document to pore over and to obsess over is wonderful.
CABRERA: It's created more obsession.
FENSTER: It's created or obsession, right.
CABRERA: You have said that it really doesn't matter, though, how many documents you throw at people, these conspiracies are still going to exist.
FENSTER: They are.
FENSTER: There's too much for a mystery in this event, in particular. But there's also too much general embrace of the idea of conspiracy. Surrounding an event like this but surrounding more broadly lots of things relating to government so that no one document can persuade us of the nonexistence of a conspiracy for those who believe in conspiracy theories. [17:40:09] CABRERA: What does break through?
FENSTER: What does break through from these documents?
CABRERA: What breaks through from somebody who -- for somebody who wants to believe in a conspiracy theory? Is there something that's going to shake them or prevent them from still believing in it?
FENSTER: Not any single document will do that. Things happen over the course of someone's life that makes them more or less interested in a particular conspiracy and that in itself can have some effect on them as time goes on. So that at one time this becomes a huge obsession for six months or a year, for two years. And then they -- their lives get more complicated. They have children. They have other things that get on her mind. But then something like this can revive that and they can click on links and see documents and pore over them and get really interested in them that way.
CABRERA: The president was reportedly pretty unhappy about some of the documents being withheld. He says he wants to, you know, get rid of the conspiracy theories.
Now one of the most stunning moments from the Trump campaign was when he himself sort of stoked a conspiracy theory related to the JFK assassination, talking about Ted Cruz's father. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Yes, I have no control over anything. I might have pointed it out. But they never denied -- did anybody ever deny that it was the father? They're not saying oh, that wasn't really my father. It's a little hard to do because it looks like him. The press takes that and they say, Donald Trump and his conspiracy theories, he went out and said his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald and he assassinated the president. What did I do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Again there's no proof. There's no evidence of that. But it is pretty common, I guess, for conspiracy theorists to think of being outside the establishment, right, but to have the president of the United States be the one stoking the flames here, does that stand out to you?
FENSTER: Well, it does. It's not unprecedented. Hillary Clinton, while her husband was president, talked of a vast right-wing conspiracy. But to be somewhat obsessed with it and to paint a picture of himself as being the target of fake news, the target of all kinds of efforts to undermine him, whether during the election or afterwards, suggests that he has a mind that lends itself to conspiracy theories in ways that we're not used to in the White House.
CABRERA: Are some people more susceptible to be conspiracy theorists than others?
FENSTER: It's hard to say. I mean, the profile of people who are conspiracy theorists runs the gamut and they're often quite intelligent. They create a sort of shadow academic community of people who share ideas, who share documents and other things like that so it's not a question of lack of intelligence. It is a certain degree of alienation, an alienation that many of us feel at different times in our lives from government for whatever reason, personal or political.
CABRERA: And in fact, it does seem like there are still some popular conspiracy theories believed by a lot more people than you might expect. Take a look at this. There of course is the birther theory and 25 percent still believe former President Obama was born outside the U.S. 19 percent still dispute the official account of 9/11. 40 percent believe the FDA is withholding natural cures for cancer.
As somebody who has studied conspiracy theories extensively, how do they originate exactly and why do they stick?
FENSTER: Well, it's often some sort of weird or traumatic event, so September 11th one could have anticipated would spawn all kinds of conspiracy theories. These days being online, having access to Alex Jones, means that you can if you don't yourself have an imagination that tends towards conspiracy theory immediately you can find one almost immediately after any event.
CABRERA: Well, thank you so much for letting us understand a little bit more.
Mark Fenster, great to have you on.
FENSTER: Pleasure. Thanks.
CABRERA: New tonight, a baseball player is punished after an offensive gesture during last night's World Series. Houston Astros' first baseman Yuli Gurriel will be suspended for five games at the start of next year's regular season.
And this is what happened. He hit a homerun off Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish who is Japanese. Well, Gurriel was caught on camera making a racist gesture in the dugout. He later apologized, calling Darvish, quote, "a pitcher that I admire and respect." Darvish said after it happened no one is perfect. He wants to move forward. He's not focusing on anger.
Coming up, an unbelievable story of survival. Two sailors rescued after months adrift in the Pacific Ocean. How they managed to survive even as sharks circled their boat.
But first, this week's CNN Hero. And if you have a garage full of used soccer balls, tennis rackets, golf clubs or other sports equipment, Max Levitt has found a creative way to give these forgotten sports items a new life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAX LEVITT, CNN HERO: A lot of kids learn the importance of work ethic on the sports field. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go. Good job. Both of you. Do it
LEVITT: Sports were the most important part of my childhood. I thought it was a given for kids to play sports but so many kids can't afford to play sports.
[17:45:06] There's millions of dollars of sports equipment that is not being put to use, that is either being thrown away or wasting away in garages, I thought why don't we just create a food bank for sports equipment?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Well, to see more of Max's equipment and how it's making a difference, go to CNNheroes.com and next week get ready, we will be revealing the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2017.
Stay with us.
CABRERA: New audio has now been released concerning the October 1st massacre in Las Vegas. It captures the moment hotel security guard Jesus Campos radioed to dispatch that shots had been fired inside a room at the Mandalay Bay.
[17:50:03] Campos would later be shot in the leg by Steven Paddock as he approached the gunman's room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots firing in 32-135.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So that was the room where Steven Paddock was. It's not clear why the Mandalay Bay's owner chose to release that clip just on Friday. It's not time stamped so it really offers no clues about the timeline surrounding the rampage that left 58 people dead at that concert outside the hotel.
Now imagine this. You're stranded in the middle of the ocean, sharks are ramming your boat, you have barely any food or water and your calls for help are going unanswered. Day after day. That's what two American women endured for five months before they were finally rescued.
CNN's Dan Simon has their amazing story -- Dan.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, it was supposed to be an amazing adventure between friends and their dogs, but about a month into it they hit turbulence and when their boat was badly mangled, they feared they would never be found.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SIMON (voice-over): Two friends and their dogs rescued at sea. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava along with their dogs Zeus and Valentine had been stranded for nearly five months.
JENNIFER APPEL, RESCUED AT SEA: When I saw the gray boat on the edge of the horizon, my heart leapt because I knew that we were about to be saved, because I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours.
SIMON: It all began on May 3rd, a planned voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti. But a few weeks in, they would run into bad weather, crippling the boat, the mast and engine broken. Veering badly off course, daily distress calls were useless. They were too far away for anyone to hear. But at one point, they did have some company -- sharks.
APPEL: I went stairs with the boys and we basically laid huddled on the floor. And I told them not to bark because the sharks could hear us breathing. They could smell us.
SIMON: But even in despair and a hopeless feeling of never being found, there were some bright spots.
TASHA FUIAVA, RESCUED AT SEA: There's different sunrises and sunsets every day. You're alive. You're fed. You have water. The boys are happy. And there's love.
SIMON: And then a miraculous sudden break. A Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted their boat and contacted the U.S. Coast Guard. The pair discovered 900 miles southeast of Japan, thousands of miles away from Tahiti.
The USS Ashland reaching them on Wednesday morning. They'll stay on board until the vessel's next port of call.
SIMON: Thanks to a year's worth of dry goods, including pasta and oatmeal, they were able to survive. Thankfully they also had a water purifier but the bottom line is the forethought to bring more supplies than what they thought they needed is how they were able to survive.
An important lesson for everybody -- Ana.
CABRERA: Thank goodness they didn't pack light. Dan Simon, thank you.
Now on tomorrow's brand new episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN" Anthony Bourdain is in Sri Lanka, a nation searching for hope after years of civil war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": It's been eight or nine years since I've been to this beautiful country filled with lovely people, incredible food. Sri Lanka. Last time I was here, let's put it this way, we couldn't see too much
of the place. We were here in the middle of one of the most vicious unrestrained conflicts you could imagine. Well, the war is over.
What is Sri Lanka like now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Tune in to "PARTS UNKNOWN" tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right on CNN.
[17:58:45] CABRERA: Was it more trick than treat? President Trump handing out candy to the children of the White House Press Corps for Halloween, but as you're about to hear he couldn't resist making a few playful jabs at their parents in the process. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You're going to grow up to be like your parents? Don't answer that. It can only get me in trouble that question. This is from the White House. See what that says? Who likes this? You don't have weight problems, that's the good news, right? So how does the press treat you? I bet you get treated better by the press than anybody in the world, right? Huh? I think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Well, the president's humor may have been lost on some of those kids. According to some media reports one little girl got a little nervous and started crying.
Love the costumes.
I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you so much for spending part of your weekend with me. Don't go away, I will be back in one hour from now. And I hope you'll join me then. Live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
"SMERCONISH" is next.