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Trump Campaign Denies Russia Collusion; Nikki Haley Wraps Up Three Nation Tour in Africa; Trump Downplays Republican Infighting as Feuds Escalate; Alaska's Great Salmon Run; Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 28, 2017 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first charges in the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is certainly a major landmark in the course of this investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The intent is to get one or more of these people to cooperate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever they are indicting, they are afraid he is going to flee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are trying to encourage cooperation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert Mueller and his team's M.O. from the very beginning has been to just keep quiet, keep things under wraps, and don't talk to the media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They do have to do something to show what it is they are coming up with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Mueller office will be up and running well into 2018 if not through the whole year.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Some great reporting for you this morning. Good morning to you. Glad to have you this Saturday. I'm Victor Blackwell.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rene Marsh in for Christi Paul. Our top story this morning, a major development in the Russia investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has filed the first charges in his investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

BLACKWELL: Well, sources tell CNN that anyone charged could be taken into custody as early as Monday. These developments, of course, come just hours after the president, again, blasted the investigation on Twitter.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): It is a landmark moment in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Sources briefed on the matter say a federal grand jury in Washington approved the first charges in the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment. The indictments are sealed, but plans are under way for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: When you see a sealed indictment like this, it happens for one reason. There is a fear that the defendant is going to flee the jurisdiction.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Mueller wants to send a signal to another perspective defendants, if this person who has been indicted or persons are facing 20 to 40 to 50 years for whatever these crimes are related to collusion or not, there are others who may be subject to similar charges, who have further knowledge about dealings with Russia.

BLACKWELL: The special counsel's investigation focused on potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as obstruction of justice by the president, who might have tried to impede the investigation. CNN reported that investigators are scrutinizing the president and his associate's financial ties to Russia.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is what we've been waiting for to see if investigators will bring charges in this probe that even impacts the president to a degree because investigators have been looking at his potential involvement in obstruction of justice, you see him tweeting about it, calling it a witch hunt, a hoax, saying that it's a waste of taxpayer dollars.

BLACKWELL: Mueller's team has also examined foreign lobbying conducted by former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and others. The special counsel has issued subpoenas for documents and testimony to a handful of figures including some people close to Manafort and others involved in the Trump Tower meeting between Russians and campaign officials.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And this may be an indication that he's not trying to show his hand because he doesn't want people to be able to either conceal evidence, destroy evidence, it may be the reason that he was able to do a surprise no knock and announce warrant on Paul Manafort's home. There is an urgency that Robert Mueller is seeing, and it maybe be a flight risk. It may also be because there are missing pieces.


MARSH: Well, CNN Washington correspondent, Ryan Nobles joins us live now from Washington. You know, we haven't heard from the president yet this morning on all of this. Hearing anything from any of the staffers there at the White House? RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Rene. No, official response from the White House as of yet, but Saturday mornings are typically pretty busy for President Trump. This time last week, he'd already tweeted twice. He ended up tweeting 14 times last Saturday.

So, we are monitoring his feed to see if that will be the venue he uses to give his opinion on this new and important development. And it would not be a surprised if the president continues his efforts to systemically raise doubt and questions about the value of Robert Mueller and his team's work.

Yesterday, the president tweeted this, "It is now commonly agreed after many months of costly looking that there was no collusion between Russia and Trump. This collusion with H.C.," talking about Hillary Clinton.

That was, of course, before we knew that the special counsel was poised to file charges, and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also arguing that the multiple investigations looking into the president's ties to Russia are not worth the taxpayer's expense.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Congress has spent a great deal of time on this, a better part of a year. All of your news organizations have actually spent probably a lot of money on this as well, which we would consider probably a pretty big waste. I think that our position hasn't changed since day one. And I think we are seeing now that if there was any collusion with Russia, it was between the DNC and the Clintons and certainly not our campaign.


[08:05:09] NOBLES: And Republicans also have been arguing for a while that the special counsel investigation is costing taxpayers too much, but there isn't all that much that the White House or Congress can do to cut off the funding to the Mueller investigation without taking some pretty dramatic legislative steps, steps that at this there does not appear to be the political will to push through.

But now we are on the verge of those first arrests taking place. It could happen as soon as Monday. So, this tactic by the White House could be a battle over public opinion and the president always believes that is something that he can win -- Rene and Victor.

MARSH: Of course. And waiting to see what the president actually has to say. Ryan Nobles, thank you for that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's get to our panel. "Politico" reporter, Jacqueline Klimas is with us, former U.S. attorney, Michael Moore, former chairman of the D.C. Democratic Party, A. Scott Bolden, and CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, Jack Kingston. Good morning to all of you.

So, let me start here with you, Jackie. The difference for the White House and their response, and maybe that's why we have not heard from them. If this charge and the person who was charged is related to a white-collar crime of money laundering, something that's not directly related to the campaign or if this is something that is related to possible collusion.

JACQUELINE KLIMAS, DEFENSE REPORTER, "POLITICO": Either way, this is a very big deal for the Trump administration, especially this week before this to come out, they just notched this huge legislative win with regards to the budget, opened the door to tax reform, which is something they've been touting and talking about since the campaign. And then to have this come at the end of the week and be another distraction, just another controversy surrounding this White House, it is definitely a big blow to them.

MARSH: All right. And Michael, I want to bring you into the conversation, just about process because there's still a lot of unknowns now. We don't know who and we don't know what as far as the charges. Explain to us the process. Is it possible that even the individuals who are the target here don't even know what the charges are? Kind of give us how that works in this sort of investigation.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Sure, sure. You know, I think it's probably likely that they know that there's an indictment out there. I don't put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the indictment was sealed or that the charges were sealed. That can be sort of the normal course of how things happen.

It allows somebody to turn themselves in, to make arrangements. There can be a number of reasons that a judge and the prosecutor could have asked that it case be sealed by the court. I really put more emphasis and it's of more interest to me about the timing.

Because I think what's happened and what you will see is that we have now gone from talking about suspects in an investigation and allegations to now a criminal case with an actual criminal defendant. And that kicks off things like initial appearance hearings, arraignments, discovery in cases, timing of a criminal trial.

And it may be the thing that moves somebody forward if they're starting to plea for a presidential pardon. It may be that Mueller is using this exit to try and smoke out some activity either from the White House or to put additional pressure on the person who was charged in addition to, in fact, giving a signal to the other people that they better get in line, too.

BLACKWELL: Jack, I want to bring up two things that the president has said that may not correspond with one another here. The president said that in his last news conference saying that he is not considering firing the special prosecutor here, Robert Mueller, but he also told a newspaper reporter, I believe it was the "New York Times."

That if this investigation were to go into his finances, the Trump company's finances, his children's finances, that would be a red line for him. Now, if this turns out to be a charge, and we don't know yet, obviously, involving affairs, white-collar crimes, money laundering, is the special prosecutor's job still safe? JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it is safe and I don't think they're going to go there. I don't think they're going to find any evidence of collusion, either. I think that Michael has kind of touched on what's going on here. I think that they're going to try to get somebody and using this a stalking horse to try to get somebody else to say something.

But, you know, I think there's a little bit of bullying that's going on here and I think the timing, as Jackie suggested, is very suspect. We as Trump supporters are coming off a very good week, not just with the budget, but --

BLACKWELL: When you say bullying, who is being bullied?

KINGSTON: I think that what they are doing is they're sending a signal, and Carl Bernstein said it earlier in that clip, they're sending a signal for other people that, you know, you better step forward. You better cooperate because here is somebody who probably had maybe the equivalent of a traffic violation in terms of the big picture here and they're going to use them to -- as an example so --

BLACKWELL: OK. So, I -- I don't know how a traffic violation fits into this.


BLACKWELL: Jack, I'll bring you back. I know you said the equivalent of.

KINGSTON: The equivalent of in the scheme of things.

BLACKWELL: Scott, come on in here.

[08:10:05] A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE WASHINGTON, D.C., DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, you certainly don't impanel a grand jury. I'm a former prosecutor from New York. You certainly don't impanel a grand jury and hire the top lawyers in the country for a traffic infraction. The reality is --

KINGSTON: (Inaudible) big Clinton donors, remember that, Scott, $35,000 from one guy.

BOLDEN: Well, let me tell you something --

BLACKWELL: Hold on, Jack. Let him get his point in here.

BOLDEN: There's only one prosecutor in this case and that's Mueller. There's only one investigation and that's of Donald Trump, collusion as well as whether obstruction of justice took place.

The real issue here is these moves them from rhetoric to reality. This is a criminal prosecution. Politics, it doesn't really matter all that's going on. Trump can say whatever he wants to say about Clinton. He can say this is a hoax. This moves away from it being a hoax and hard for them to say. Now you've got criminal prosecution of individuals. If they're connected to the Trump administration, which I expect it to be Manafort and Flynn, then look for the factual support where you get the collusion and then they're going to look at those finances between Manafort, Flynn, Russia and other.

But eventually if they aren't already looking at Trump's finances because that's where the meat is, if you will, that's where the beef is. And we don't know what they've come up with yet. So, this is not a political prosecution. This is a real one.

KINGSTON: Scott, it's absolutely a political prosecution. Why would they go after his finances if the question is campaign coordination with the Russians?

BOLDEN: Well, if he would release his tax returns --

KINGSTON: This is not about any real estate deal he has.

BOLDEN: -- we may not go there.

BLACKWELL: Hold on, we can't hear anybody if everybody is talking. But on the point of a political prosecution, remember that these are Trump appointees who began this investigation. Rod Rosenstein was the one who began this investigation and if you want to dip into Congress, these committees are led by Republicans both in the House and in the Senate. But Rene was going to come in with something.

MARSH: No, what I was going to say is, I mean, besides all on of this, I mean, you mentioned, you know, the White House's strategy of coming after Hillary Clinton as -- in the lead up to all of that we learned about yesterday.

One of those items being this dossier involving President Trump and just research being done, opposition research. Well, we now know that the group, the Republican group that was behind funding it before the Clinton campaign is a conservative website by the name of the "Washington Free Beacon."

We know that that specific media site is funded by a major GOP donor. You know, Jack, to you, I know that had you've been talking a lot about the dossier and saying, you know, this is something that we need to be looking at.

It shows, you know, wrongdoing on the hands of Hillary Clinton's campaign, but we're hearing that this conservative site was funding this group to do the same research on Donald Trump.

KINGSTON: Well, they did kick it off, but they did not have anything to do with the Christopher Steele part where this British operative got involved in it and what the question is the DNC spent $9 million and yet Debbie Wasserman Schultz --

BLACKWELL: Well, how much did the "Free Beacon" spend?

(CROSSTALK) KINGSTON: Well, they would be under a different law in terms of reporting if they have to report it at all because, remember, they weren't doing that as a campaign. The DNC was doing it as a campaign and they probably violated the FEC laws because they did not disclose it.

BOLDEN: How much did the GOP spend? Don't pivot, Jack. How much did the GOP spend? Just tell me. How much do you think -- you're a Republican insider --

KINGSTON: Scott, zero. Zero on this report.

BOLDEN: They spent no money?

KINGSTON: Scott, zero on this report. They spend $9 million but nobody knows about it -- $9 million, Scott.


BLACKWELL: Hold on for a second. This discussion is not over. I want to get Jacqueline back in and Michael back in. We have to take a quick break, but we will, of course, continue this and I want to get to the president calling for more of the e-mails from Hillary Clinton to be released from the State Department.

I'll also talk more about the gag order the president wants ifted off of this FBI informant talking about uranium and, of course, more about the charges coming from the special prosecutor according to CNN sources.

MARSH: Right. And also, ahead, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says that the U.S. isn't careful, we could face a security threat here at home from extremists in Africa. Coming up, hear from the ambassador as she finished up her three-nation tour.



BLACKWELL: All right. The panel is back. I want to start with Jacqueline from politico. Is any indication that now with these first charges coming, according to CNN sources, that this will accelerate the investigation?

KLIMAS: I don't know if it will accelerate. I mean, there's still a lot more interviews to do, but it's definitely a first step and shows that they are making real progress. And we're, of course, waiting for parallel investigations on Capitol Hill. We're waiting for their findings, as well. So, there's still a lot to get through, I think, to see kind of any resolution to this.

MARSH: All right. Michael, I want to ask you a bit or, you know, as far as timeline, what does this really mean? What does this tell us? We are hearing about the first filed charges. Does that say that, you know, he's at the middle of this thing? We still have a long way to go, or is it almost impossible to tell as far as where they are in this investigation?

MOORE: Sure. I think we probably don't have a great idea of where he is. And let me tell you if this is a financial case, if it's a tax case, those things are relatively quick to move through the court system. There's not a lot of argue background did you report income, did you file your return, did you pay tax owes them?

That's a pretty simple thing. You look at some documents so financial cases can be moved fairly quickly through there. I put more emphasis, again, on looking at this as far as Manafort and Flynn.

I mean, Flynn had been negotiating trying to get some immunity for a long time. We may find Flynn caught up in this. This may have been finally the -- look, we're through, we're not going to negotiate any more, we're going to bring an indictment.

It could be Manafort. We just don't know yet. So, I think it really is more about working through the process and there's nothing normal about this investigation. Let's be clear about that.

[08:20:09] From even having the main subject or a potential subject, that being the president of the United States interfered in the investigation on a routine basis and making comments about it. There's just nothing normal here.

So, I don't know if we can look at it on a normal timeline. But I think that, ultimately, you'll see this as a way to get somebody talking or at least to go ahead and have a plea agreement that's public or a cooperation agreement that we hear about later on.

BLACKWELL: Scott, let me move to another topic here. Sources tell CNN that the president wants the State Department to accelerate releasing more of Hillary Clinton's e-mails during her time as secretary of state.

And the president called on the Justice Department to lift a gag order on an FBI informant as related to Russia's involvement in U.S. uranium resources and "Uranium One" which people have heard. The White House says this is about transparency. From your perspective, what do you see and hear?

BOLDEN: Well, that's the political cover, the term transparency. The reality is, though, he wants the e-mails out because these indictments are coming, or these prosecutions are coming, and he has to change the narrative or make it chaotic or cause confusion, and with his base, then the Clinton name or the Obama name is hot to them.

And so, these e-mails have been thoroughly investigated. There's a civil lawsuit pending. The e-mails are going to come out. Hillary Clinton has called for them to come out. On the uranium deal, let's be real clear, Hillary Clinton has been investigated for that, as well.

The council that reviews these deals that gave 20 percent to the Russians has been cleared, as well. This wasn't a deal done in the heat of the night that Hillary Clinton controlled. So, both are probably going to come out in due time especially because there's a civil lawsuit whereby the judges said you have to release 500 e-mails a month. So, look for that to come, but look for no new information that would say "aha" for Hillary Clinton or Trump supporters.

MARSH: Jack, do you want to weigh in on that?

KINGSTON: I think that's fantasy. Number one, she has been anything but cooperative. She has not released these e-mails --

BOLDEN: She's called for them to be released, though.

KINGSTON: Why didn't she just release them? Well, this is a woman who said --

BOLDEN: The State Department has them.

KINGSTON: Did I wipe them off with a cloth? She destroyed these things with sledgehammers and this bleach stuff. Come on, Scott? You should --

BOLDEN: Well, Donald Trump asked the Russians to --

BLACKWELL: Hold on. Let him finish his point. Jack is feeling bullied.

KINGSTON: Let me say why this FBI informant is actually very relevant here because it does tie into this Uranium One scandal. The president of the Uranium One gave Hillary Clinton $2.3 million to the Clinton Foundation at the time that they were getting this deal through. Now I know --

BOLDEN: That is unverified. That is absolutely untrue.

MARSH: Jack, he made the donation in 2000 -- early 2000, I believe, it was 2007, but then the deal didn't happen until years later.

BOLDEN: Exactly.

KINGSTON: But I would suggest that there --

BOLDEN: Thank you for the correction.

KINGSTON: -- and that they were doing it for a reason. Why hasn't he given --

BLACKWELL: But you have to do more than just suggest there's a connection, right?

KINGSTON: I'd like to make sure there's not a connection, as I'm sure Scott would.

BOLDEN: But you keep throwing stuff on the wall. It's not going to stick. KINGSTON: Scott, hold on. Why haven't they given since then? If they believed in the Clinton Foundation so much, $2.3 million worth, how come they only gave for four times leading up to this deal approval?

BOLDEN: Don't know, but it doesn't make it illegal.

MOORE: This kind of discussion is like having the David Copperfield and the Houdini of politics over here. We're trying to move things around, but slide of hand on one side so we don't focus back on Russia. I think Trump has been a master at that. We ought to be talking about the investigation into --


BLACKWELL: Michael, let Michael finish, please.

MOORE: You want to talk about the Clintons over here while Trump is trying to maneuver pieces over here. This investigation and this discussion and these indictments and these charges of the collusion that we're talking deals with Trump and Russia.

Trying to go back and talking about releasing an informant from their obligations to remain silent or Trump going in and suggested to the department that he be released, removes the appearance of all independents from the Department of Justine and from the investigation, that's absolutely improper.


BLACKWELL: We have to wrap it there. I know everybody wants to jump back in, but we're going to start another conversation when we come back to the NEWSROOM. Guys, thank you so much. Great panel.

MARSH: Thank you, guys.

BOLDEN: And another thing --

BLACKWELL: Always another thing.

All right. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says the U.S. could face a security threat from extremists in Africa. Coming up, the ambassador explains why and shares her thoughts on North Korea, Syria, as well.



MARSH: Welcome back. I'm Rene Marsh in for Christi Paul this morning.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

First on CNN, this crucial moment in the probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Sources tell CNN that a federal grand jury in Washington has approved the first charges in this case. MARSH: And Special Counsel Robert Mueller is leading the investigation. He is focusing on potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as obstruction of justice by the president. CNN has reported that Mueller and investigators on Capitol Hill are scrutinizing Trump and his associates financial ties to Russia.

Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, helped to break this story. She has more on the new revelations.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's unclear what the charges are because, as I pointed out, the indictment is still under seal and it's not clear whether those under indictment have been notified.

A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment for this, but as we have been reporting, Mueller was appointed in May to lead this investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. And under the regulations governing special counsel investigations, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has oversight over the Russia investigation, would be made aware of any charges before they were taken before the grand jury.

On Friday, we had a producer there who saw a flurry of activity, including the veteran prosecutor Andrew Weissmann entering the courtroom at the D.C. federal court where the grand jury meets to hear testimony in the investigation.

And so now we're learning that the first charges were filed. So this is certainly a big moment in this investigation that began more than a year ago and then Robert Mueller took over in May and now we're seeing the first charges.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. And Mueller's team is also examining foreign lobbying conducted by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort over the course of the investigation. Mueller has issued subpoenas for documents and testimony to some people close to Manafort.

CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin who was Mueller's former special assistant at the Department of Justice says Mueller is most likely honing in on Manafort's financial dealings with foreign governments and he spoke to our Anderson Cooper. Here's part of that conversation.


MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If it was Andrew Weissmann who was at the courthouse who was returning the indictment, Weissmann has been on the Manafort case and that it therefore might be logical to conclude that it is Manafort. Manafort has been under scrutiny for both collusion and also for his real estate dealings and for tax and money laundering investigation.

So you could have an investigation of Manafort separate from the collusion but which implicates his dealings with the monies that he earned in Ukraine and elsewhere overseas.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Mueller's probe is just actually one piece of the Russia investigation. Three committees on Capitol Hill are also investigating.

President Trump has consistently dismissed the investigation as a hoax. He tweeted just yesterday, "It is now commonly agreed after many months of costly looking that there was no collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC," referring to Hillary Clinton.

Well, deal with extremists in Africa or we'll have to deal with them here in the United States. That is the warning coming from U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

BLACKWELL: She spoke with CNN while on a diplomatic mission in Africa.

Here's CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Ambassador Nikki Haley gave an extensive interview to CNN after a three-nation tour across Africa where she got a firsthand glimpse at some of the region's most brutal conflicts.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: You know, it's so important that everybody not just talk about the Middle East and how we have to be careful of the Middle East. You know, you see the actions that the administration has taken in the Middle East, it's all because we want to deal with the situation there so we don't have to deal with it in the United States. It is the same thing for Africa.

LABOTT (voice-over): Nikki Haley on her toughest diplomatic mission to date, going head-to-head with African strongmen in South Sudan and Congo.

HALEY: I know what being a politician is like and I know what they're capable of and what they're not capable of. And so when they start to talk about what they don't control, I remind them they do.

LABOTT: And warning the violation and humanitarian misery they're causing in their countries could produce the next terrorist haven to launch attacks against the U.S. after the ambush in Niger that killed four American soldiers.

In Syria, a new U.N. report found President Assad repeatedly used chemical weapons, sarin and mustard gas, against his people.

HALEY: That is the most unconscionable act a dictator can do.

LABOTT (on camera): When is the U.S. going to step up? They say that it's time for him to go and make sure he goes.

HALEY: The United States has been very clear. There is no future for Syria with Assad.

LABOTT: When does the future start by getting rid of Assad?

HALEY: Well, first of all, you've got Russia holding their hand. So it's not as easy as saying we're going to go and we're going to take Assad out. You've got Russia holding their hand, basically allowing this to happen. You've got Iran supporting the situation.

LABOTT (voice-over): Haley says now that the U.S. has destroyed ISIS in Syria, the U.S. has its eye on Assad.

HALEY: We're not done. This is still playing out. This is all still happening.

LABOTT (on camera): So you see U.S. actions that could effectively push Assad out.

HALEY: I think you can -- it's not that we are going to push Assad out, but we're not going to let chemical weapons happen. We're not going to let Iran take over. We're not going to allow any of those things to happen. Those are all strategically planned on how we go about going forward, but the overall message in that is, we are not going to stand by a cruel dictator that uses chemical weapons on his own people.

LABOTT (voice-over): With Congress debating the future of Iran's nuclear deal, Haley wants the U.N. to act against Iran's ballistic missile program that can deliver a nuke.

[08:35:04] HALEY: If we'll sanction North Korea for that, why are you allowing Iran to get a pass? We've seen that. We know what happens. We've played this game before. We're not going to do it again.

LABOTT: President Trump considered Haley to be his secretary of state before sending her to the U.N. Now with rumors Rex Tillerson is considering an early exit, Haley once again says she's happy where she is, away from the drama of Washington.

(On camera): What if the president came to you and said, you know what, Nikki, you said no once. I need you to serve.

HALEY: The president is not going to come to me and say that.

LABOTT: Maybe. What if he does?

HALEY: We have a secretary of state. And --

LABOTT: Well, what if he comes to you? What if Secretary Tillerson says, I've had enough, I've done what I needed to do, and the -- and the president says, Nikki, I need you?

HALEY: I've made it very clear that I'm happy in New York.

LABOTT: You wouldn't take it?

HALEY: I would not take it. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LABOTT: And Ambassador Haley gave a vigorous defense of President Trump in the face of criticism from some Republican lawmakers like Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake saying that that's what Republicans do. They debate and she faced the same as a Republican governor in South Carolina.

She also defended the president from the criticism on issues like Charlottesville and the NFL, saying her boss is misunderstood and people are too quick to criticize him.

Elise Labott, CNN, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

BLACKWELL: All right, Elise. Thank you very much.

Still to come, GOP infighting escalates and Steve Bannon's anti- establishment movement is emboldening candidates for Congress in the midterms. Why two Tea Party candidates would you remember from the 2010 insurgency say it's time for a change? We'll talk with him, next.


[08:41:00] BLACKWELL: Well, President Trump says do not underestimate the unity within the Republican Party and everything is fine. But the political atmosphere suggests otherwise. This week, Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake slammed the president as irresponsible and dangerous. Meantime, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is promising an all-out war -- his words -- against the establishment and he's recruiting challengers against GOP incumbents in the 2018 midterm elections.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell pushed back saying they've tried alternative candidates with the rise of the Tea Party back in 2010 and look how that turned out.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Back in 2010 and 2012, we nominated several candidates, Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, Richard Murdoch. They're not in the Senate. And the reason for that was that they were not able to appeal to a broader electorate in the general election.

My goal as the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate is to keep us in the majority. The way you do that is not complicated. You have to nominate people who can actually win because winners make policy and losers go home.


BLACKWELL: All right. Well, joining us now to discuss, two of those candidates who were supported by the Tea Party back in 2010, Sharron Angle, who's currently running for congressional seat in Nevada, and Joe Miller, who is in Alaska there, ran for the office in Alaska in 2010, as well.

Good to have both of you. I think this is going to be a great conversation.

Sharron, I want to start with you because Leader McConnell called you out by name. Your race against then Democratic majority leader Harry Reid was a winnable race. All the way up to election day polls showed you ahead or within the margin of error. Reid won by about six points. Is Leader McConnell right?

SHARRON ANGLE (R), NEVADA HOUSE CANDIDATE: I've remained silent, graciously silent for the last seven years, but I'm not going to be silent any longer while he personally attacks me from the White House steps.

Senator McConnell is a terrible person who has done terrible things to Republicans and to the American people. And it's time he resigned.

BLACKWELL: So you say a terrible person who's done terrible things. What are they from your perspective?

ANGLE: He isn't helping the president. He's not interested in repealing Obamacare. He's not interested in tax reform. He's only interested in the establishment agenda that benefits his family and friends. And as long as he's not interested in what the American people are interested in, he is no longer viable in the office that he's holding and I'm asking him to resign. It's time.

BLACKWELL: So, Joe, your race is a bit different, but I think it gets to a point that many people are discussing here. You edged out Senator Lisa Murkowski in 2010 of the GOP primary, but she held her seat through a write-in campaign. The voters aren't rejecting Republicans or conservative principles as maybe some of the establishment would say that they're rejecting extremes. What would you say to that?

JOE MILLER (R), ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I would say that that's not what's going on. In fact the reason that candidates like Sharron Angle, myself, and others that have run for the vast ways stood behind the Constitution, kind of fundamental values that Americans hold true, is because Republicans eat their own. And Mitch McConnell is directly responsible for that.

In fact, Mitch McConnell, not just in my race but in other races, absolutely did what he could to make sure that people that he cannot control do not get elected. That's really the key. He doesn't want people in Washington, D.C. that are going to be from what he sees are loose cannons, people that aren't going to buy the line that do exactly what he and his elite backers want.

And that's really the problem that's facing the American people on both sides of the aisle. You've got Democrats and Republicans that believe that they can control the process and not allow the people through the election box to actually tell them who they want to represent them and their interests. [08:45:01] BLACKWELL: Of course, the question comes, how much of the

loss comes down to the candidate and the plausibility that they can win statewide? Let's look at Alabama here. The first big win for some of the outsiders. Judge Roy Moore winning over Luther Strange who was the place holder there. Let's put up the latest FOX News poll. He's now tied. There has not been a Democrat elected statewide in decades here.

Are we seeing a repeat, Sharron, of 2010 with nominating someone that maybe many in the party would call extreme and opening up the lane for a Democrat where there otherwise would not be one?

ANGLE: What we're seeing is a repeat of what happened to me. Right? After I won my primary in 2010, I went and had a private meeting with Senator McConnell and he said to me at that time, I know Harry Reid -- I understand Harry Reid and I can work with Harry Reid, meaning that he wanted me to quit and he wants me to quit now.

But we're not ready to quit on our country. We want constitutional conservatism if we want to see our country come back to the great America that we once knew. And what we're seeing right now is him again undermining a campaign.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Joe, let me ask you. Steve Bannon here saying that the people that he is going after -- he's going after every Republican who is up in 2018 who isn't either retiring and then adding Ted Cruz to that list, because they're not committed to the Trump agenda.

Let's put up the numbers here of the five senators who he's going after, and this is from FiveThirtyEight blog, and how often they vote with President Trump. No less than 90 percent. Is that not enough?

MILLER: Well, I would suggest that what's enough are people that are actually going to affect what is the -- what the people want. And if you've got on the edges -- I mean, a lot of what the Senate does is administrative, but there are core votes like, for example, the repeal of Obamacare. You had over a hundred people in the Senate and the House campaign on repeal of Obamacare. And for seven years, the Republicans have said that's our deal. We're going to make it happen.

McConnell specifically has said that. And yet when push comes to shove, on those very important votes, what happens? Of course those that want to back, you know, basically the policies that benefit the elites end up winning out instead of the American people.

BLACKWELL: But with the exception of Dean Heller, every single one of those senators voted or would have voted for the plans that were put forward.

I've got to wrap here because we've got of course the breaking news that's happening overnight. But I thank you, Joe Miller and Sharron Angle, for being part of the conversation.

MILLER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. MARSH: All right. And still to come, should the U.S. risk losing the

last great wild salmon run to dig up what could be the richest mine on the planet? That's exactly what worries the fishing communities in Alaska.

CNN's Bill Weir goes inside Bristol Bay crossroads next.



[08:52:07] BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Eric, a special ed teacher turned professor bear guide.

ERIC, BEAR GUIDE: Sometimes the bears will all come down to these beaches here, or right over the meadows in these grasses.

WEIR (on camera): The rule I always heard as a young Scout, if it's black, stay back. If it's brown, lay down.


WEIR: Or should I be practicing my fetal position if they get too close or how does it --

ERIC: You don't want to be submissive, but you also want to be respectful. So what I tend to do is take a knee. You know, I let them know that I'm there. I talk to them just like I would talk to anybody.

WEIR (voice-over): His mentor is Brad, a naturalist guide who has been bringing tourists here for 15 years. Bunched together in tight focused groups. Safety in numbers, he figures.

ERIC: I've traveled all around the world looking for wildlife. And there's no experience like this where we go in and we basically get along with an animal that almost everywhere else in the world hates people.

WEIR: Under strict orders from the parks department never to approach these animals, we find an empty spot in the meadow and to wait and watch. And within minutes we're surrounded.

(On camera): One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. It's rush hour. Eleven.


MARSH: Wow, Bill, that looks like an amazing experience. He is live with us here now.

What stood out to you the most, Bill, during that trip?

WEIR: Well, we went up to follow the salmon run. And all those bears in Katmai National Park were hanging out, waiting for the fish to roll in. Every summer, 50 million of these churning Sockeye, and they stream from the ocean up into the land and they sort of defy gravity. They go uphill jumping over dams and rivers to the exact spot where they were born in order to spawn.

And that salmon run, one of the last big pristine ones left on the planet, feeds everything, the foxes and the eagles and the wolves, and the people to the tune of 50 million. It's half the world's population. So it's such an amazing phenomenon. But we also wanted to see this brand new threat that has bubbled up again since the Trump administration took over.

MARSH: Right. Tell us a little bit more about that. I mean, there is this threat and potential environmental threat to the salmon that you're talking about.

WEIR: And so really, it's a fundamental question on our crowded planet. Which is more important, the minerals we need for all the devices in our lives or an ecosystem that provides that kind of fresh food? And so they discovered what they think may be the biggest gold and copper mine right above the head waters of Bristol Bay.

[08:55:01] And in order to get it, they're going to have to create a hole three times bigger than the biggest mine on the planet. They'd have to create these giant lakes of toxic byproduct, sulfuric acid waste. And so the fishing community and the environmental community has been afraid for years that if they develop that mine, it's going to kill this unbelievable pristine fishery up there.

And so you've got Republicans fishing, Republicans versus mining Republicans have been fighting for a while. Now that the Trump administration has taken he over, they seem to be siding with the miners. So we'll explain the whole debate tonight.

MARSH: They absolutely are siding with the miners.

Bill Weir, thank you so much. We're looking forward to that.

Watch "THE WONDER LIST" tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Bill Weir, surprisingly calm as 10 bears surround him.

MARSH: Yes. You noticed that. Right? Yes.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for CNN NEWSROOM.

MARSH: "SMERKONISH" is coming up right after a short break.