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Russia Probe Hangs Over Trump's High-Stakes Asia Trip; Former Adviser Says Sessions Knew About His Russia Trip; Manafort, Gates Trial Proposed For May 2018; Will The Russia Probe Overshadow Trump's Trip?; President Trump Calls Ruling "A Total Disgrace"; Bergdahl Avoids Prison, Gets Dishonorable Discharge; Secret MLK Report Among New Release of JFK Files; Former DNC Chair Claimed Clinton Controlled DNC Before Nomination. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired November 4, 2017 - 06:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think we're going to have great success. We'll be talking about obviously North Korea. We'll be enlisting the help of a lot of people and countries.

There was no collusion. There was no nothing.

I'm a very intelligent person, one of the great memories of all time.

I don't remember much about that meeting. They should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty. A lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department including me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's simply the scariest thing that I've seen happen so far in this administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's perjured himself at least three times.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your weekend. I hope it is a good one thus far. I'm Christi Paul and --

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. Great to be with you.

PAUL: All righty. So, this morning President Trump is getting ready for his most crucial foreign trip since (inaudible).

SAVIDGE: Yes. It's a 12-day five-country tour to confront growing nuclear fears in North Korea and re-establish U.S. power in the region.

PAUL: The president is likely going to struggle, though, to escape the problems that are facing his administration here back at home including the Russian investigations that have made it into his inner circle.

President Trump is waking up in Hawaii where yesterday he visited with military leaders and paid his respects at the USS Arizona Memorial. The first lady was there with him to lay a wreath to remember those lost in the attacks of Pearl Harbor.

SAVIDGE: The president also took shots at some of his favorite targets on Twitter going after Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party, and even his own Justice Department. He also criticized a military judge's decision to let Bowe Bergdahl avoid prison time for deserting his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

PAUL: So, while the president heads overseas, the Russia investigation is moving even closer to the west wing. A former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, Carter Page now telling CNN that he did meet with a high-ranking Russian official while in Moscow last year.

Page says multiple people on the Trump campaign knew about this trip including now Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, breaks down how this unfolded and the problems that it could now cause for the president.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A pressing question, were President Trump and Attorney General Sessions misleading when they denied any knowledge of campaign contacts with Russians? Here is Mr. Trump in February.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I told you General Flynn obviously was dealing, so that is one person, but he was dealing as he should have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the election?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, nobody that I know of.

SCIUTTO: And here is Mr. Sessions in testimony just last month.

SENATOR AL FRANKEN (D-MN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians, is that what you're saying?

SESSIONS: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.

SCIUTTO: In fact court filings unsealed this week show that former Trump campaign Foreign Policy Adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators suggested at a March 2016 meeting that Trump meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

J.D. Gordon, a former national security adviser to the campaign, who was in the room for that meeting tells CNN that Trump heard out Papadopoulos and another source tells CNN that Sessions, a top campaign national security adviser and surrogate rejected the idea. The president responded by saying he doesn't remember much of the meeting.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting took place a long time, don't remember much about it.

SCIUTTO: Another former campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, tell CNN that he testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday that he informed Sessions he was traveling to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, though he said that the trip was not tied to his role with the campaign.

Papadopoulos' account is placing another under Trump adviser under scrutiny, Sam Clovis, who served as deputy campaign chairman. Court documents show that Papadopoulos contacted a campaign supervisor, who the "Washington Post" has identified as Clovis about a potential trip to Russia to meet Russian officials.

The supervisor responded encouraging Papadopoulos to make the trip. Papadopoulos' account was unsealed the same day as indictments of former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, in relation to their lobbying work for the Ukraine government.

[06:05:04] In the indictments, the government alleges that they received tens of millions of dollars for their work and to hide that income, laundered the money through, quote, "scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts."

Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to charges, which cover activities prior to Trump's presidential campaign.


SCIUTTO: We're learning of another meeting between a Trump campaign associate and a Russian government official during the campaign that had not been revealed before. Carter Page who served as a foreign policy adviser during the campaign confirms to me that in July 2016 during a visit to Moscow, he met with a senior Russian government official, that official the deputy prime minister of Russia.

Now, Carter Page tells me this was not a formal meeting, it was more of a casual hello, that they were both speaking at the same conference at the new economic school in Moscow and at that conference, he met with him there.

Again, saying it was not a formal meeting, but earlier on Friday, Carter Page was interviewed by Jake Tapper and said that he didn't meet any government officials, Russian government officials, during his trips to Moscow, just business people, academics, et cetera.

This is another case of people who were in the Trump campaign, who initially denied any contact with Russian officials under questioning or when other evidence is revealed admitting that indeed there were meetings.

The "New York Times" reporting that this was the subject of questioning during a House Intelligence Committee interview of Carter Page earlier this week. Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

SAVIDGE: Thank you, Jim. Jim lays it out very well. Joining us now to discuss all of this, CNN political commentator and political anchor at Spectrum News, Errol Louis, and White House correspondent of the "Washington Examiner," Sarah Westwood. Good morning to you both.

Errol, let me start with you. Reporting from Jim Sciutto that we just heard there, I want to play this kip clip of Carter Page on CNN yesterday. Let's listen and we'll talk about it afterward.


CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: It was the only time I ever met him. We had one dinner together and I said --


PAGE: Yes, and I said it was great to meet you. I'm glad I was able to meet you before I head to Moscow. I mean, it's totally in passing.

TAPPER: Is he the only one in the campaign that knew about the trip?

PAGE: I mentioned it to a few people.

TAPPER: Who else?

PAGE: It will come out.


SAVIDGE: And I believe it has come out. He said he told Sessions and multiple others. So, the question, Errol, is how big a problem is this for the Trump administration?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it is a huge problem if you value consistency. It is a huge problem I think furthermore because we know that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team are pursuing every lead and they are pursuing it very aggressively.

They have arrested the campaign manager and his top assistant. They have gotten a guilty plea from another campaign aid and it establishes a pattern, Martin, that I think is -- has got to be very troubling.

Not just to the White House, but to really the entire country, which is that time after time after time, you have people who when first asked about it under circumstances where acknowledging it in the flippant way that Carter Page just did would cause no harm, and yet they don't do that.

They tend to forget. They tend to obscure. They tend to dissemble, and then when confronted with the facts, they come back and say, well, yes, there was a meeting, although, I said there wasn't, but it really wasn't about anything including that meeting at Trump Tower that has gotten so much attention.

So, yes, the fact that somebody has already pleaded guilty to a felony over lying about these very questions has got to be troubling to the White House.

CAMEROTA: And Sarah, Carter Page said on CNN yesterday that he had met with no government officials while in Russia, and we know that hours later he admitted that he did. And just as Errol has pointed out that seems to follow a pattern here. Stories that are changing on this Russia investigation, but it also does raise the credibility of Carter Page.

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, exactly. I think that are Carter Page is someone who has perplexed investigators for a long time because his role on the campaign has never quite been clear. He's been one of these campaign foreign policy advisers who may or may not have contributed a lot to the Trump campaign's foreign policy platform.

But the point here is that the underlying allegations against George Papadopoulos that he was meeting with these Russia investigators, that didn't seem to peak Muller's attention as much as Papadopoulos' decision to lie to investigators.

And time and again that's what we see getting the Trump team in trouble, not the underlying meetings, not the underlying allegations that they had contacts with Russians, which in and of itself is not illegal and would have been OK if they had disclosed it at the proper time.

But the fact that they have gone through so many links to try to conceal that behavior, that is what seems to be getting the campaign in trouble and undermining the credibility of the Trump team.

SAVIDGE: Errol, real quick before we run out of time, we want to talk about the president's trip that's huge, high stakes, really, the threat of North Korea, working with trade partners in the region.

[06:10:09] So, can all this be accomplished with this kind of Russia investigation hanging over his head?

LOUIS: Well, it certainly leaves the president vulnerable to more damaging information coming out with him less able to respond than if he were fully engaged here in the United States. It's worth pointing out, Martin, that for about 36 hours, apparently, he will not have access to Twitter. China has banned Twitter.

You know, it raises an interesting question about whether or not there is a human rights and freedom of expression issue he might want to raise while he's there. But he may be unable to fight back at least on his favorite social media platform during at least part of this trip.

SAVIDGE: Sarah, we know that the president has an opportunity here to really look presidential as long as he doesn't fall into the Twitter habits or other ways of criticizing what is happening at home. Do you think he can do that?

WESTWOOD: Well, we've seen him accomplish that on previous foreign trips. Remember that he took off for his first foreign trip in May right after Mueller was appointed special counsel right after he fired James Comey.

That trip helped him stabilized his presidency. Again, in July, when he went to France for Bastille Day that was right after the Donald Trump Jr. e-mails about the Trump Tower meeting came out. That trip helped sort of turn the page on that Russia controversy.

So this is kind of the third foreign trip that we've seen him take off amid a cloud of Russia scandal at home and it could help him take the temperature down a little bit, look presidential, reclaim that statesmanlike image.

SAVIDGE: It could. I guess we'll wait and see. Errol Louis, Sarah Westwood, thank you both.

PAUL: And here is the thing, tensions are running high on the Korean Peninsula ahead of President Trump's Asia trip here. Next, a U.S. army colonel talks about how it feels to raise his family in South Korea when you're in the crosshairs of a dictator who threatens nuclear war.

SAVIDGE: Plus, the national archives just released another batch of documents about John F. Kennedy's assassination that includes a nearly 50-year-old FBI report on Martin Luther King Jr.'s personal life. Why is that secret file revealed now?



PAUL: It's 16 minutes past the hour right now. A military judge has ruled Bowe Bergdahl will be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army.

SAVIDGE: The judge also ruled that his rank will be reduced from sergeant to private and he will have to pay a $1,000 fine from his salary for the next ten months. Bergdahl will avoid prison time and that did not sit well with President Trump.

He tweeted, quote, "The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our country and our military. It is of course not the first time the president has been critical of Bergdahl. CNN's Nick Valencia has that and more from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bowe Bergdahl walked into court on Friday at Fort Bragg visibly tense. Just moments later, a military judge sentenced him to be dishonorably discharged, thereby avoiding jail time.

EUGENE FIDELL, BERGDAHL'S ATTORNEY: Sergeant Bergdahl has looked forward to today for a long time.

VALENCIA: It was the culmination of a nearly ten-year saga for the 31-year-old, who just last month pled guilty to desertion and misbehaving in front of the enemy. It was June 30th, 2009 when Bergdahl deliberately walked away from his Army post in Afghanistan.

Within hours, he was captured by the Taliban and held hostage for almost five years. Bergdahl has said he spent most of that time living in a metal cage, barely big enough to stretch his legs, repeatedly beaten and tortured.

Several service men were injured while looking for Bergdahl in Afghanistan including Master Sergeant Mark Allen, who was shot in the head and left paralyzed. In 2014, Bergdahl was released in a controversial prisoner swap for five Guantanamo Bay detainees.

And during the campaign, then-Candidate Donald Trump blasted the decision and Bergdahl.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We're tired of Sergeant Bergdahl, who is a traitor, who should have been executed. Thirty years ago, he would have been shot.

VALENCIA: Bergdahl tearfully apologized Monday to the soldiers who searched for him, saying, "My words can't take away what people have been through. I'm admitting I made a horrible mistake," a mistake he will have to live with the rest of his life. Nick Valencia, CNN, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


PAUL: I want to talk to CNN military analyst, Lt. General Mark Hertling about this. He is also a former commanding general for Europe in the Seventh Army. General Hertling, thank you so much for being with us. First of all, your reaction to the sentencing. Was it in line do you believe?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't know, Christi. What I'll tell you is there are certainly a number of people both veterans and those in active service, who are very disappointed that Bergdahl did not get prison time.

But having been a Court Marshall convening authority, which I was multiple times as a general officer, I can understand how the sentencing could upset quite a few people, but I also know that military tribunals, military trials are usually extremely fair in terms of taking all the conditions of the trial, making the right considerations in determining the sentences.

Again, many people are disappointed by this, they thought Bergdahl should have gotten jail time. But truthfully what I would say is the punishment is extreme, the fact that he did get a dishonorable discharge will affect him significantly the rest of his life.

It will prevent any kind of medical issues and it's been known that he does have some psychotic issues that he will have to find ways to get treated. He will be fined and reduced and there will be a stigma throughout the rest of this young man's life.

PAUL: Do you think the fact that he was held for nearly five years was an element that the judge considered when he thought about prison time? Could he have constituted that say as prison time, as some sort of punishment?

HERTLING: Absolutely. These military judges weigh everything, and truthfully, that was probably the biggest consideration, the fact that he had been held prisoner for five years under very torturous conditions.

[06:20:09] Many have said that this has been the most torture a U.S. service member has received since the end of the Vietnam War. So, those five years in captivity were extreme. There will be some on the other side that say yes, but some of the people who were going after him were also damaged in their life. And all of that is true as well.

But the question becomes what kind of prison sentence would you give a young man like this. What would cause any kind of additional issue other than the concern about what future soldiers might see who are considering going AWOL or deserting their post.

That is the only concern that I have, that there should have been more of a signal sent, but the sentencing was pretty extreme on this young man and I don't think the American public understands how extreme it was.

PAUL: All right. I want to move forward here real quickly and take a look at what is happening this week. The president will be in Japan tomorrow as he kicks off his 12-day trip through that region and the Korean Peninsula.

Let's listen here as we talk about how what is happening there affects Americans. There are Americans in South Korea, for instance, who are affected by what the president does and says in that region. Listen to Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Bright, he talked to our Brooke Baldwin earlier.


LT. COLONEL AARON BRIGHT, COMMANDER, 1ST BATTALION, 38TH FIELD ARTILLERY: Only thing that worries me is my family and getting them out in a timely manner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know as a family of four, I would know that his job would take him one way and I would be responsible for me and the girls and the dog.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: What is the plan if you were to get that call?

SHARON BRIGHT, SERVICE MEMBER'S WIFE: We would have a meeting point with the rest of post and we would have our things that we have been kind of encouraged to have, whatever you want to take with you, and then you go through a process of they would fly you here, take you here, take you there and then eventually you would be safe and maybe back home.


PAUL: That gives us insight into what is happening for the people who are serving our country and their families and the sacrifices they make. So General Hertling, how confident are you that in this trip President Trump can make some progress with these leaders in that region when it comes to North Korea?

HERTLING: First of all, Christi, I'd like to comment on Brooke Baldwin's report. It was masterful, and it showed what all military members and their families go through not just in Korea and japan, but all over the world.

So, going back to the president's trip to Asia, it is critically important not only from the standpoint of how we're furthering the refinement and the issues regarding North Korea, but also very many other issues like leadership of the United States in this region.

The ability to have freedom of navigation on the seas. He is not only talking with Japan about their perceived threats from these North Korean missiles, but South Korea certainly is critically important.

And the potential as many think tanks have said that there would be hundreds of thousands of deaths on the Korean Peninsula in the south if war broke out there makes it all that much more important that the president get this trip right. But every place that he is visiting in Asia has similar security concerns.

We'll talk about the Philippines, just the fact that they have an active ISIS cell there in the city of Marawi that he is going to have to talk about with their president. The freedom of navigation in China, the potential for the THAAD deliveries to various countries.

It isn't just South Korea that is concerned about this, it's Japan and how China and the other nations around the region contribute to security in that region.

PAUL: And it is a critical trip because he is meeting with all of those countries. Lt. General Mark Hertling, we always appreciate your insight. Thank you, sir.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

SAVIDGE: Coming up, the release of confidential files of one American icon reveals tawdry unfounded details of another. Martin Luther King Jr. is accused of communism and much more as part of a release of JFK assassination documents. The details straight ahead.



PAUL: Take a nice deep breath, you made it to Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: So, the president and first lady, Melania Trump, waking up in Hawaii as they prepare to head to Japan later today. That's the first stop on a 12-day five-nation Asia tour. The president is departing for Tokyo this afternoon. And at that point, he will be meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Abe.

SAVIDGE: The president's travels come, of course, amid the Russian probe and his mounting public criticisms of the Justice Department. But yesterday he and the first lady paid respects at Pearl Harbor and laid a wreath inside the USS Arizona Memorial. They tossed flower petals into the water and then took a tour of the site.

PAUL: He is the civil rights icon of the modern era with streets and schools and a federal holiday in his name, but in his time, Martin Luther King Jr. was put under a much harsher scrutiny. This, of course, in a secret report by the FBI that is.

SAVIDGE: Well, that is now public as part of a new release of documents on the assassination of President Kennedy. Many of the details on MLK are unfounded as CNN's Gary Tuchman explained to Anderson Cooper.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Among the more than 600 documents released late today by the national archives is this one, a never- before seen file titled "Martin Luther King Jr., A Current Analysis." It's dated March 12, 1968 and includes a number of exclusive allegations about the civil rights leader, who was assassinated 23 days after this report was first compiled.

[06:30:00] Among the claims detailed, Martin Luther King Jr. was involved in extramarital affairs and other sexual activities that if true and revealed publicly would have been devastating to Dr. King and his movement.

In addition, there are pages and pages detailing Martin Luther King and his organization with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with alleged ties to known communists. And finally details about supposed financial improprieties by Dr. King and the SCLC.

Now I want to stress that the FBI under Director J. Edgar Hoover at the time had been investigating Martin Luther King Jr. for years at this point in the hopes of finding damaging information and that we have no way of corroborating these allegations -- Anderson. ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So what does this have to do with the

investigation in the assassination of JFK? Because I don't quite get why this document would have been in there with that.

TUCHMAN: Exactly. That's one of the many questions we have tonight, Anderson. Considering the document has no mention of John F. Kennedy or his assassination. The only clue we have in this file marked secret is it's also stamped "reviewed by the FBI-JFK Task Force" and dated May 8th, 1994, meaning it was reviewed by the archives of JFK task force 23 years ago but kept secret until today.

COOPER: There are still thousands of JFK assassination documents that have not been released, right?

TUCHMAN: Right. And that's also still unclear what is going on with that. We do know that last week President Trump sent out this tweet that read in part, "After strict consultation with General Kelly, the CIA and other agencies, I will be releasing all JFK files other than the names and addresses of any person who is still living."

And they are being released on a rolling basis by the National Archives. There are still thousands of pages yet to be released. So much more to come.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, let's talk about what we already have heard and with that, we'll turn to our panel. CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer. He is a Princeton professor and historian. And attorney A. Scott Bolden who used to be with the Democratic Party chairman for Washington, D.C.


SAVIDGE: Julian, let me start with you. First off to the point of what has been brought forward in these files, it is not true and history shows that not to be true for -- for Martin Luther King Jr., correct?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. We have to remember this is much more about the FBI than it is about Martin Luther King. The FBI had been conducting a massive operation since the early 1960s, really since the late 1950s, to try to undermine the Civil Rights Movements. That included collecting all kinds of innuendo about Martin Luther King, trying to infiltrate civil rights organizations.

And this is the kind of material that they wanted so that they could smear Martin Luther King. But this is not verified information. This is innuendo and rumor.

SAVIDGE: And let's point out what Gary Tuchman has detailed on the cover of the reporting. It says that it was reviewed by the FBI/JFK task force in 1994 and it was marked, quote, "total denial," unquote.

My question to you is then, are we starting to understand why some of these files have not been released? In other words, not so much that the information is sensitive, but it could be highly embarrassing to the investigators, in this case the FBI.

ZELIZER: Absolutely. You know, we knew the FBI had done this, this is not the first time this is revealed. There is all kinds of stories about the famous letter that an FBI official sends to Martin Luther King in 1963 essentially threatening him to reveal some of these kinds of rumors. And so the point is, this is embarrassing to the FBI, not to Martin Luther King.

When all this came out in the '70s during the church committee hearing that the FBI did this kind of thing, it was highly damaging to the agency so I think a lot of this was protected just for that reason. They didn't want to remind the country of some of their more notorious activities here in the U.S.

SAVIDGE: So, A. Scott, since this sort of thing kept back from the public for so long, why do you think that this King report was revealed as part of the JFK assassination release?

BOLDEN: Really interesting actually. And we don't know whether this was just misfiled. I doubt that. But I think it's really interesting that the JFK files and he was assassinated in '63, Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. And in the archives, this file is part of JFK's files. The only link that I see there is the FBI. And it raises serious questions in regard to, one, why they're filed together, and the only link between them is the FBI.

What role if any, and I mean this -- I'm going to be delicate about this, but what role if any did the FBI play not only in keeping dossiers on both of these incredible leaders during the '60s, but also what role if any did they have or suspiciously did the FBI play not just in investigating these men and keeping dossiers, but whether they had a role if any in their assassination attempts or they had knowledge of the assassination attempts.

[06:35:13] That could be the only link here, but I think we need to stay tuned and see what else gets released.

SAVIDGE: Hey, Scott, what is the takeaway when it comes to the FBI today and understanding how they function?

BOLDEN: Well, I -- I certainly hope they don't function in this way to undermine leaders who are trying to do the best for America and challenge Americans to be the best in this country. I'm sure they have their ways of investigating leaders, but I also think the remnants of those types of investigation despite change are still there to undermine groups such as Black Lives Matter, such as civil rights organizations.

And while you may not be able to prove it per se, the communities of color have always suspected the FBI of being an enemy of change and an enemy of liberal organizations in some way that they are subverting what's best for America. The reality is, the change that's coming to America is super important, especially now and they have a role but they certainly don't have a role in undermining our civil rights organizations.

SAVIDGE: Julian, you're the historian here. What's your takeaway and final thought on it?

ZELIZER: Look, I think this brings us back to an era where both the FBI and the CIA were conducting activities that didn't totally square with our democratic norms and often tried to undermine some of our great social justice leaders like King. So this is a good reminder of how those agencies can sometimes move in the wrong direction. And it's also a reminder of just how much Martin Luther King was trying to do in the 1960s to transform this country in terms of what threats people saw him as.

SAVIDGE: All right. Julian, thank you very much. Scott, thank you as well. You'll both be back with us after the break.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And still to come, new problems for the Democratic Party after allegations that Hillary Clinton's campaign controlled the DNC well before she was the nominee, tipping the scale against Bernie Sanders. Clinton's role and what it means for the future of the Democratic Party. That is ahead.


[06:41:23] SAVIDGE: This week the inner workings of the Democratic Party were exposed after former DNC chair Donna Brazile claimed that the DNC was controlled by Hillary Clinton and her campaign prior to the party's presidential nomination.

The expose prompted Senator Elizabeth Warren to agree that the Democratic Party was rigged against Bernie Sanders.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is a test for Tom Perez. And either he's going to succeed by bringing Bernie Sanders and Bernie Sanders representatives into this process and they're going to say it's fair, it works, we all believe it, or he's going to fail. And I very much hope he succeeds. I hope for Democrats everywhere, I hope for Bernie and for all of Bernie's supporters that he's going to succeed.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Very quickly, Senator. Do you agree with the notion that it was rigged?



PAUL: Well, the president has called on the Justice Department to look into Brazile's claims. This was a move that was criticized by Republican Senator Bob Corker as inappropriate and undermining the justice system. The question, though, is where does the Democratic Party go from here?

CNN political commentator and former press secretary for Bernie Sanders' campaign, Symone Sanders is on the phone with us. Former D.C. Democratic Party chairman, A. Scott Bolden and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, a Princeton professor and historian. Both have stuck around with us here.

So thank you all for being here.

Symone, I want to start with you first. As the national -- former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders, what is your reaction to this element of Donna Brazile's book.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think it's no surprise that there are many people who, like myself included, who worked on Senator Sanders' campaign, who definitely thought that folks at the DNC had their thumb, their feet, all their hands on the scale for Secretary Clinton, and absolutely if you ask -- or look at things such as the debate schedule, that was definitely fixed in a way or -- that did not necessarily benefit all candidates on -- that did not benefit all candidates on the Democratic ticket.

But if you ask, were the actual primaries fixed, I'm going to say no because if you know how the DNC operates, the DNC does not actually carry out any of the primaries or caucuses. But this was wrong. And whether it was Hillary Clinton or Papa Smurf or BooBoo the Cat that entered into this agreement with the Democratic National Committee, it was wrong to be done because of the additional oversight that the campaign was given over at the DNC. So I thought the DNC in this effort for entering to what was a really bad deal.

PAUL: What about the fact that, you know, at the end of the day, Bernie Sanders never declared himself a true Democrat.

SANDERS: Well, look, Senator Sanders ran on the Democratic ticket for president. And he was brought into the fold. He would caucused with the Democrats since he first set foot in the United States Congress and he was a Democratic candidate for president. And we also signed a joint fundraising agreement with the Clinton campaign. Now for many reasons, we did not raise a -- joint, pardon me, a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee.

Senator Sanders didn't raise money the way the Clinton campaign raised, so we never raised for the Democratic National Committee through that agreement. But I want to be really clear our agreement did not give us oversight of staffing in 2015. It never said that we would get to review e-mails or things that went out from the DNC about a, quote-unquote, "particular Democratic candidate."

And that is, the difference there going forward I think it's really important that the integrity of the DNC and -- and what their processes around elections is protected and restored and that is a challenge for Tom Perez and his leadership right now.

PAUL: Right. So --

[06:45:15] SANDERS: I'm very optimistic that they will rise to the occasion. PAUL: So, Scott, based on what she said, is the DNC tarnished now

primarily, you know, how much damage does this report from Donna Brazile do?

BOLDEN: Well, I think at a higher level because of who Donna Brazile is. She is confirming what was suspicious all along by the Sanders supporters. Listen, this is a fight for the soul of the DNC. You've got these two factions. They don't need to be warring with one another or suing one another. They need to be working together against the common opponent and that is Trump and the GOP.

I think they're going to get there, but I don't think any of this is new. As state party chair, we were part of a lot of these agreements, but I do think Symone is absolutely right. The difference in this agreement was that it gave them -- HRC some control over some parts of the DNC.

But here's the deal. In the end, HRC had to go get her votes, Bernie Sanders had to go get his votes. He chose to raise money from smaller donors, so that type of deal wouldn't work. But again, I don't think it was rigged because you still got to get those votes and raise money. However, the appearance of optics just kind of give Donald Trump something else to throw into the fire and to say DOJ investigate.

This wasn't illegal. DOJ is not going to investigate it. It may have been unethical or heavy handed, but we've got to move on because 2018 and 2020 are coming up.

PAUL: They are coming up. So, Julian, with that said, I want to steal some of A. Scott's words because they were good. He said there is a fight for the soul of the DNC. Who on the Democratic side is leading that fight? Who is the leader here?

ZELIZER: I don't think the Democratic Party has a leader right now. And what is so damaging is they are both looking backwards with this kind of fight and not necessarily focusing on who the next generation of Democrats will be. We're talking instead again about the Sanders- Clinton battles.

The Democrats are on the cusp of a pretty good moment right now. President Trump is in trouble. Polls are indicating the possibility of a wave election in the midterms if not really denting the Republican majority. And so they should be figuring out who is our new voice for 2020, not litigating or re-litigating the fights of the primary. So I think this is a transformative moment that the Democrats are in the middle of.

PAUL: All right. Symone Sanders --

BOLDEN: If we make it that for sure. If we make it that.

PAUL: OK. A. Scott Bolden, I'm sorry we're out of time, folks. I know we could keep going with this conversation.

Julian Zelizer, we appreciate all of your voices. Thank you. ZELIZER: Thank you.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

SAVIDGE: It is all about college football today as number one Georgia takes on South Carolina. Coy Wire is at UGA in Athens with all of the excitement.

'Morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martin. You know all about college football being from Ohio. But here at UGA, the students are excited. They were still out as I was coming in this morning. They better get their rest. The first time since being anointed as the number one team in the nation by the College Football Playoff Committee. They have a big game today. We'll talk about that and some of the rich tradition here at the University of Georgia.


[06:53:03] SAVIDGE: NFL owners are being asked to turn over cell phone records and e-mails. It is all in relation to the Colin Kaepernick's collusion case against the NFL.

PAUL: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, Coy.

WIRE: Hey, good morning to you, Christi. Good morning, Martin. According to ESPN, at least three owners including Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Texans owner Bob McNair are going to be asked to turn over those communications related to the collusion case brought forward by the former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who was of course the first player to kneel during the anthem, protesting racial and social injustice in America.

All right. And we want to talk some college football. It's Saturday and we're here in Athens at the University of Georgia just about an hour and 20 minutes north up the road from Atlanta, but it feels as if you take a trip back in time a couple of hundred years. Founded in 1785, this was the first state chartered public school in the nation. Rich tradition.

The building I'm standing in fronts of is Franklin College. It's named after Benjamin Franklin. It's the oldest structure in Athens built in 1806. People around here say UGA is the birth place of higher education in America. Now once you get into the little town of Athens, too, you feel that quintessential college town vibe. Has some of the rich traditions like their music. REM, the B-52s got their start here. 37,000 students at UGA have some of the best of the south right here on their doorstep.

Now all the buzz on campus today, though, is going to be about the football. Game day in Athens. And for the first time since being anointed as the number ranked team in the nation by the College Football Playoff Committee, the Bulldogs are going to trot out on to Sanford Stadium in front of about 92,000 fans to take on South Carolina. UGA legend and Super Bowl champ Hines Ward sat down with the team and also got to talk to head coach Kirby Smart.


HINES WARD, SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: I got this newspaper here. It's head coach. Is this good or bad?

[06:55:04] KIRBY SMART, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGE BULLDOGS HEAD COACH: Well, as a head coach, it's only good when it's the last paper of the year.

WARD: Yes.

SMART: It's not good in the middle of the year because it becomes target number one.

WARD: Yes.

SMART: And it becomes a distraction, if you will, for the players.

WARD: So how do you handle that?

SMART: You know, you delivered a great message to the players yesterday.

WARD: Yes.

SMART: It's really just like a playoff system where you're saying this game, this week is -- we've got to be 1-0 this week. And everybody says that and it becomes boring and trite, but if you can say it different ways to your players where they understand it, whether it's in a song, in a text, in a tweet, and they start believing it and buying into it and that's what we've got to do is go game by game and keep getting better.


WIRE: All right. These guys are going to have to stay focused. They're going to have a huge target on their back now. Alabama was made number one in the AP and Coach's poll, but they are ranked in that ever important College Football Playoff Committee standings. So big day today. 3:30 South Carolina, hoping for a doggone good day here in Athens.


PAUL: You're going to a good one, I bet. Coy Wire, thank you so much.

SAVIDGE: CNN is very proud to announce the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2017. Each honoree is going to receive a cash prize and a shot at the top honor CNN Hero of the Year which will earn one of them an additional $100,000 for their cause. And you get to help decide who that person will be.

Here is Anderson Cooper to show you how.


COOPER: Now that we've announced the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2017 it's time to show you how you can help decide who should be CNN Hero of the Year and receive $100,000 to help them continue their work. Just go to where you can learn more about each hero and when you're ready, just click on vote.

Log in using either your e-mail address or Facebook account and choose your favorite. Then confirm your selection and you're all set. And this year you can also vote through Facebook Messenger. You can vote up to 10 times a day per method every day through December 12th.

Then rally your friends by sharing your vote on social media. My friend and co-host Kelly Ripa joins me to reveal the 2017 Hero of the Year live during our 11th annual "CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE" Sunday, December 17th.