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Three Basketball Players Are Out Of China And Saved From Years In Jail; Largest Newspaper In Alabama, The Birmingham News, Asking Voters To Reject Roy Moore; Trump's Son-In-Law Finds Himself At The Center Of The Probe. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 19, 2017 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: The state's largest newspapers are now urging voters to support Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore. And the number of Republicans calling on Moore to withdraw is growing with multiple GOP lawmakers speaking out this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: These allegations are extremely disturbing. Now you hope that the voters of Alabama chose not to elect him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are uncomfortable with explanations that Roy Moore has given to date.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have seen people across the board, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, withdraw their support. I still hope he will do the right thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, let's begin with this latest dispute that the President is igniting with the private citizen. Today, the President shot back at LaVar Ball, the father of one of the UCLA basketball players arrested in China. The President was apparently upset that the father belittled the President's role in the student's release.

Here is the President's tweet. Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail. LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is covering this for us from the White House.

Boris, anymore from the White House on this?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Fred. Look. President Trump has never been one to turn down a fight in the press. This all started while the President was abroad on his 12-day trip to Asia. These three UCLA basketball players were detained for allegedly shop lifting some Louis Vuitton sunglasses. After finding out about it, the White House says President Trump personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for their release and return to the United States. In that process after it was announced that they would be returned, the President actually wondered aloud on twitter whether or not the three players would thank him in his role in getting them back home. All three of them did on Wednesday during a press appearance. Here is one of them now LiAngelo Ball thanking the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIANGELO BALL, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER: I would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided, as well. I'm grateful to be back home and I will never make a mistake like this again. I'm extremely sorry for those who I let down, but I am also very grateful for all the help, love and support that they provided. I take full responsibility for my actions and I'm sorry. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: The President subsequently tweeted about the players saying that he was glad that they were back home and warning them to be careful of the many pit falls in life.

On Thursday LiAngelo's father, LaVar, was talking to ESPN and he, as you said, Fred, down played the President's role in their return telling ESPN quote "what was he over there for, the President? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."

Well, as you saw today the President took exception to those comments suggesting that he should have left these U.S. citizens, these student athletes imprisoned in China because one of their parents did not give them credit for their return in the press, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this with CNN contributor Cornell William Brooks. He is also the former president and CEO of the NAACP. And Cornell is on the line with us.

So Cornell, glad you could be with us. So what do you make of the President, you know, responding this way to what the father of one of the UCLA players had to say and the President, you know, took issue with this?

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, FORMER PRESIDENT/CEO, NAACP (on the phone): Well, frankly, it's quite disturbing and unsettling. I mean, LaVar Ball is a media provocateur. And Donald J. Trump is an American President. He can expect this kind of behavior from (INAUDIBLE).

On the other hand, the President (INAUDIBLE) engaging in foot stomping, thumb sucking, temper tantrum on twitter. The players thanked the President specifically and by name for his leadership, for his responsibility in securing their freedom. And so for the President to basically ask for appreciation, get it and then subsequently wish the players a great life then turn around and say he should have left them in jail, frankly it does not demonstrate or display the kind of leadership we would expect from a President.

Presidents don't engage in this kind of behavior. In other words, credibility is a currency of leadership. And when the President does this kind of thing and has a tantrum on twitter he literally are being -- expending, wasting credibility on something that really frankly does not merit his time or attention as the leader of the free world. So it's quite disappointing.

[16:05:18] WHITFIELD: Earlier, you know, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and I were talking about this. And you know, Brian saw this, too, as, you know, an issue of race that the President was participating in race baiting, if you will. Do you see it that way?

BROOKS: This is a continuing saga. And what I mean by that is with respect to Colin Kaepernick, with respect to fights that he has engaged in with players in the NBA, it seems as though he is looking to stoke the fires of racial and insecurity in this country by having these tantrums on twitter.

Again, it is beneath the dignity of the office. And we know that the President's play book pretty well by now that he engages in distracting by tweet. You have great many things that of concern to the republic, before Congress and in terms of tax reform and in terms of healthcare. And so for the President again to be engaged in the process of demonizing and demeaning African-Americans is frankly disgraceful. We have seen it pretty consistently.

WHITFIELD: And what about on the world stage? What is the message do you believe may be sent when you have the President of the United States who said on one hand he has used, you know, diplomacy to help win the release of these Americans abroad. And at the same time now those Americans are back on U.S. soil after making a very public apology and giving thanks to the President and now the President would essentially undermine the release by saying I should just leave them in jail? What does that do for all of the other American whose may be held, you know, for different varying reasons and it might take U.S. diplomacy to help win their release?

BROOKS: With this latest social media saga suggests is that the diplomacy of the President is predicated and premised on ego rather than national interest and the security and the freedom and safety of American citizens. And so to even suggest that we should have left these young me men -- these young men made a mistake, had a lapse in judgment, that we should have left them in jail is frankly unconscionable.

And in an interesting way, those young men demonstrated more maturity after making a colossal mistake in terms of shop lifting, demonstrating more maturity after they engaged in shoplifting than the President has demonstrated after those basketball players engaged in shoplifting.

And so, on the world stage, you need a President who understands that leadership is about being credible, it is about being serious, it is about expending your words and your capital in ways that are thoughtful, in ways that have respect not only abroad but at home. And so, again, this is another disappointing episode by our President.

WHITFIELD: And I haven't heard anyone say that these young men have not handled themselves well especially, you know, after their return with their remarks and, you know, showing contrition and thanking the university, thanking the support, the family and of course thanking the President of the United States for his participation in their release.

All right, Cornell William Brooks, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

All right. A scathing new editorial coming from Alabama's largest newspaper group. It calls on Alabama voters to support Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, saying the election is a turning point for women in Alabama.

Earlier today I spoke with a managing producer and here is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HAMMONTREE, MANAGING PRODUCER, ALABAMA MEDIA GROUP, AL.COM: Even before these allegations, there is a lot of Roy Moore's behavior and record that is unpalatable. He has been unseated from his as Supreme Court justice twice. And he has made hostile claims to a number of Alabama residents, gay residents, Muslim residents, minorities. And so, this was just the icing on the cake. But I think that it does bring moral clarity to this moment.

We each know somebody who has been the victim of abuse. And how can we look them in the eyes and say this is the man that we are endorsing or this is the man that we are voting for and expect them to feel safe in this state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:10:08] WHITFIELD: CNN's Nick Valencia is also in Alabama.

No Nick, what have you hearing from voters?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a very difficult week, no doubt, Fredricka, for the Senate Republican candidate. But even still, Roy Moore is digging in and so are his supporters. But today, more bad news for the campaign, the largest newspaper in Alabama, the Birmingham News, well, this is the headline asking voters to reject Roy Moore. And here is what they are saying in part of their editorial.

Do not make voting decision based on who it will effect on a national stage. Both base on who will effect in your hometown. There is only one candidate left in the race and was proven worthy of the task representing Alabama. He is Doug Jones. They go on to say do not let this conversation be modeled to this election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this behavior from our leaders.

But even if these allegations of sexual assault are true against Roy Moore, they may not seem to matter here amongst some of his most ardent supporters. We have been talking all week with people here in Alabama and they say that even if it is true they much rather vote for the Republican Roy Moore over Democrat Doug Jones -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nick Valencia. Thank you so much.

All right. And this just in. An aid to Minnesota senator Al Franken says the Democrat has no intention of stepping down. There have been calls for Franken to resign since a news anchor came forward and accused him of groping and kissing her during a USO tour back in 2006. This was before Franken became a senator. A spokesperson for Franken added that he is quote "doing a lot of reflecting," end quote while spending time with his family through the thanksgiving holiday.

All right. Coming up next, new details in the special counsel's investigation of Russia's election meddling. We are hearing straight from the attorney representing Jared Kushner. This as Trump's son-in- law finds himself at the center of the probe. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:16:22] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

Breaking news now on the special counsel's investigation of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. The attorney for Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law at the center of the probe now just spoke to CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez. And Evan now is joining me.

So Evan, what did Abbe Lowell say?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, for months there has been a growing perception that Jared Kushner hasn't been up front about Russian contacts from his failure to list them in the security clearance application to this past week when the Senate judiciary committee sent a bipartisan and public letter to Kushner saying he hadn't turned over documents that the committee knew existed. The committee said these documents cover everything from campaign contacts with WikiLeaks to a Russian back door proposal to connect Russian president Vladimir Putin with the campaign, an idea by the way that Kushner rejected.

In an interview today with me, Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney pushes back against those allegations. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABBE LOWELL, JARED KUSHNER'S ATTORNEY: The committee investigations unfortunately are devolving into political gotcha games. As committees selectively leak parts of interviews or send me letters through the media or turn Jared Kushner's very clear email that there should be no contacts with anybody in a foreign country into what they call is a missing document, then they are undermining their own credibility. The issue of Russia interference in the 2016 election is a serious one. But these committee actions are not.

PEREZ: So what I hear you saying is that you don't believe that there is any missing documents and you don't really plan to provide any additional documents?

LOWELL: Now let me be clear. Now what we told the judiciary committee is that we would send them what we have already sent the intelligence committees and then we would work with them if there was anything else that was relevant and then what they decided to do is to create a media event. That undermines the seriousness of their endeavor.

PEREZ: So do you not plan to allow another under view with the Senate Judiciary Committee that seems to be what they are asking for?

LOWELL: Mr. Kushner has been very clear that he will cooperate as he has been voluntarily with all bipartisan requests, from committees on anything that is relevant. He has done it and will do it again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PEREZ: And Fredricka, the bottom line here is that Kushner is not promising to provide an interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee. And while his attorney says he is cooperating with Congress, Kushner has another investigation. He is giving a mind here that is a criminal investigation that is being led by special counsel Robert Mueller. And right now Mueller is still working through the roster of White House officials who are coming in for interviews. We expect Kushner is going to be one of those -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much in D.C.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin. Welcome back.

So Abbe Lowell seemed to put a lot of this on what he calls political games and accuse the committee of leaking this kind of information. Did it seem to you, though, that he also was saying that there are no missing documents? Everything has been provided.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what he is saying is we think we have provided all of that which you have asked for. If there are other things you want from us ask and we will provide them. What upsets Abbe Lowell is that they were given the secondary request from follow up information in a public forum rather than private letter from the committee to him. He thinks that this media event is unnecessary and under mines credibility of the endeavor by the judiciary and intelligence committees.

That, you know, himself is fine. But all of this is a bit of a side show as Evan just said in the end of his setup which is Mueller is the only elephant in the room and that's what Abbe has to protect his client's interest with respect too.

[16:20:10] WHITFIELD: But would it so be incumbent upon Jared Kushner to do another interview with the Senate judiciary committee even though it is the Mueller probe which is, you know, which potentially brings the more serious ramifications?

ZELDIN: Sure. If the committee judiciary or intelligence, House or Senate, asks Kushner to appear for a follow on interview I expect that Abbe Lowell is going to make his client available for the interview.

There is no reason that he shouldn't at this point. We can see nothing about him that presents a legal jeopardy for Kushner. You do not want to be in contempt of Congress by any means. And so I think it will happen but again with one eye on the committees and the other eye more clearly focused on Mueller. Because Mueller to my knowledge, Fredricka, has not yet brought Kushner in for an interview, at least publicly it is known that he has. And I think that is what Abbe has to protect his client's interests with respect to.

WHITFIELD: And a lot of what is being said publically certainly could influence the line of questioning that Mueller and his team would have of Jared Kushner.

ZELDIN: Sure. They will get transcripts. They will get the transcripts of those interviews and that will inform them about how they want to proceed with their interviews.

WHITFIELD: And what about the issue of that disclosure form that SF, you know, 86 and that apparently, there had been at least what, 100, you know, amendments for Jared Kushner alone. At some point, you know, are too amendments too much, you know? And it's no longer amendable but there is something else that would happen whether it be the revoking of, you know, that access that security clearance all together, I mean, or just in perpetuity you can continue to make amendments?

ZELDIN: Well, so I don't know how the number 100 was reached. So on form submission number one I say my name is Michael Zeldin. On form two I say it is Michael F. Zeldin. Is that one if I say on the next one it is Mr. Michael F. Zeldin? That means I have two amendments to my forms. I don't know how they reached 100.

WHITFIELD: (INAUDIBLE)

ZELDIN: Right. But the point here is what matters about the SF 86 is are you intentionally misleading by omission something from the form that is relevant to the determination of your clearance?

The form contemplates it to be an iterative process. That is it will change as you recall things and the form says it as such. And in that process, it is iterative including the interview with the FBI or whomever it is that is giving you the clearance. So I'm not terribly troubled at this point that the form has been amended a couple of times.

If it turns out, though, that the amendments or the failure to include something is a material misleading event then it becomes action because the form says it. At the end you are signing this form and submitting it finally under penalty of perjury.

So I don't think we are there yet. But the fact that it is changing - look, when I filled out that form they asked how many countries have you been to and where have you been and when have you been over the last ten years? I had to go find my passports. I have it from my official passport. You change it as new information comes to you. If that is the process that Kushner is involved in it is benign. If he is purposefully omitting things that is less benign.

WHITFIELD: All right. Michael Zeldin, we will keep it there. Thanks so much.

ZELDIN: You are welcome.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, it is the election rivalry that never seems to end. President Trump and Hillary Clinton trading jabs after he calls her the worst loser of all time. What she has to say about Trump's relentless tweeting about her next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:28:32] WHITFIELD: The sexual assault allegations rolling Washington and beyond have done more than just shine a spotlight on the accusations against Republican Roy Moore, Democrat Al Franken and President Donald Trump. The legacy of Clinton as former president Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky has also been under reexamination. It is something Hillary Clinton spoke about in an interview with WABC radio Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When credible allegations come forward look at the contrast between Al Franken accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump who have done neither.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Well, Trump fired back soon after in a tweet saying this, crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst and biggest loser of all time. She just can't stop which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years.

Well then at an event last night marking the 25th anniversary of President Clinton's election Hillary Clinton assessed all the attention she gets from Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You know, I'm going to keep speaking out. Apparently, you know, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out apparently there was another somebody told me tweet today. Honestly, between tweeting and golfing how does he get anything done? I don't understand it. So maybe that's the whole point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Here with me right now CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer and (INAUDIBLE). Good to see you both.

So Julian, you first, you know, this re-examination of the Clintons, is it potentially going to hurt the Democrats?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It could be problematic. Obviously former President Clinton brings a lot of controversy and a lot of baggage right now as all the issues of sexual relations are on the table. And then at the same time, Hillary Clinton pushes Democrats back to 2016 rather than forward to 2018 and 2020. So, they have to do this in a way that doesn't actually bog down the party if they are going to be very vocal at this moment.

WHITFIELD: And then Karoun, you know, Trump can't seem to help himself whether it's criticizing or bringing up Hillary Clinton or even most recently, you know, he did criticize Senator Al Franken when he has been relatively silent on, you know, Republican Roy Moore. But, you know, is the president kind of opening a big old can of worms given his admission on that "Access Hollywood" tape of assaulting women, grabbing their privates and not speaking any further about it, instead on the campaign trail he actually threatened that he would be suing those accusers?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean I think everybody. It's a very, very transparent move. The president in a glass house, he's throwing stones, everybody remembers a year ago. Everybody kind of knows the full story there except for the president who seems to have a blind spot to his own history in this one.

He is taking though a shot where he sees a shot and he likes to do that. When he sees, you know, Democrats that he can pounce on current issues especially when he feels like that's going to deflect attention away from something that is detrimental to him. And even though they weren't actively still talking about the president's own admission of what he does and what he thinks he can do and the accusations that were against him for a year ago, the spot light was on Roy Moore.

And that was a complicated situation with the president because he has not spoken out about that. He is trying to stay away from it as much as possible, but that is a very, very big story as the rest of the GOP distances themselves from Roy Moore as much as they possibly can and he vows to stay in the race.

So, Franken shows up, kind of shows that this is, you know, seen from the outside that, the revelations about Al Franken are just a reminder that sexual harassment in the south do not know any political party. They transcend party politics. But for the president, it was a chance to point a finger in the opposite direction.

He did so the way he impulsively does so with many people including, former Secretary of State Clinton. And that seems like it was a deflecting measure as much as possible, but one that has back fired because everybody knows who the messenger is and the messenger has his own allegations against him.

WHITFIELD: And Julian, you know, a president traditionally is supposed to be kind of a leader of morality, you know, and helping to lead in particular in a variety of crisis. And whether it be about race relations and what took place in Charlottesville, Virginia or now, it's about this, you know, burgeoning issue of sexual assault and allegations of harassment, et cetera.

I mean this president, perhaps he really can't talk about the issue of sexual harassment. So, you know, is his role as the president kind of changing traditions in a very large way about what the expectations are of a U.S. president?

ZELIZER: Well, it's a problem if he can't provide moral clarity on an issue like this. I think you're absolutely right. This is one of the roles of the president and sometimes there are things where president needs to take a stand. We saw Lyndon Johnson do this with civil rights. But the president can't do that. Part of this is because of all of the accusations that are there against him and part of it is hard to explain.

The silence on Roy Moore is pretty stunning given he isn't actually silent on the issue. He was happy to tweet about Senator Franken in a relatively short period of time. So that kind of inconsistency combined with his own record takes him out of the picture and he will not be a moral leader on this issue. It doesn't mean that future president --

WHITFIELD: Is that correct, picking and choosing politics versus morality overall because Franken is Democrat?

ZELIZER: That's what it looks like -- that's what it looks like.

DEMIRJIAN: It's a strange situation though because again, this kind of goes back to the character of the president and his own personality. Trump does not do well with criticism. He doesn't do well with perceiving a slight.

WHITFIELD: Well, look what just happened with the UCLA situation. The father of one of the UCLA players, you know, was critical of the role of the president and the president tweeted out that -- I guess we can pull it up really quick. The president tweeting, now that three basketball players are out of China and safe from years of jail, La Var Ball, meaning the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and shoplifting is no big deal I should have left them in jail.

[16:35:00] DEMIRJIAN: Yes. That is -- to say that you should have left someone in jail -- look, the president and much of the diplomatic staff of the government have to help a lot of American citizens whether or not they agree and whether or not they are then any sign of gratitude going to go out and say Trump is the best person ever. To say that you should have left them in jail is a really startling sort of a thing.

But again, this is just an example of what I was just saying before, which is that the president does not do well with perceived slights or actual slights. And to be able to have a turn around and take that moral high ground or at least re-establish, re-center himself, it would actually take presence of self to be able to say, you know what, I am not proud of what I was accused of and I acknowledge those accusations might have merit, but I can see now that there is going --

WHITFIELD: There's no pattern of that --

DEMIRJIAN: -- exactly, but that is what would have to happen and it is not the president to actually, you know, take that transition on himself so, you know, to Julian's point, he is not going to be the voice on this one.

ZELIZER: The leadership will have to come from other areas politically. I think that is a realistic assessment of the situation.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it right there. Thank you so much this Sunday. Julian Zelizer, Karoun Demerjian, thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Still so much more ahead in the "Newsroom" but first, voting is underway for the CNN Hero of the Year. And here is one of this year's top 10 heroes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLIE MORISSETTE, CNN HERO: Get set. Go!

My son Graham passed away two years after he was diagnosed with leukemia. We spent two years pretty much in and out of the hospital. When he was sick the computer definitely helped him stay in contact with his school and friends.

When you lose your child the love doesn't go away. It has to find a place. I really wanted to make a difference with the families and the children that I had met in the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I heard you like iPads. Is that true?

We give away free technology to children with cancer and other serious illnesses.

We love to say that we are connecting kids when their world is out of reach. One of our major goals is to connect kids to their classrooms which really helps them continue their education.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi Phillip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Phillip is going to have a bone marrow transplant. We're going to be here in the hospital like six weeks. Thanks to that robot, he is not going to miss out on anything.

MORISSETTE: Nothing makes me happier. The joy that they have fills my heart back up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Wow. Vote for your favorite hero now at CNNHeroes.com.

[16:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, the top U.S. nuclear commander said he would refuse nuclear strike orders from President Trump if those orders were illegal. General John Hyten says his first obligation is to follow the law and not just the orders of the commander-in-chief. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HYTEN, COMMANDER, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND: I provide advice to the president. He will tell me what to do and if it's illegal, guess what is going to happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will say no.

HYTEN: I'm going to say, Mr. President, that's illegal. And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say what would be legal and we'll come up with options of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is and that's the way it works. It's not that complicated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now is Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. He is a CNN military analyst and was also a commanding general in the U.S. Army. All right, General Hertling, so is it remarkable to you that the general would make that kind of statement?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST (via telephone): It is not, Fredricka. And what's interesting is I think General Hyten was taken a little bit out of context because what they were talking about at this conference was the different processes and procedures that are in place for the launch of nuclear weapons and how safe that is.

And I think what General Hyten he was attempting to explain to the audience there was that there are in fact processes and systems in place, that it isn't just something that and not just something that occurs. And in fact when he is asked potentially to launch nuclear weapons, that there is a systemic approach to doing that. That it isn't just someone calling him on the phone and saying OK, launch three missiles at someone.

And I think he is saying, well, I don't think I know he is saying something that all military commanders will say because they take an oath to not only defend the constitution but to obey the president and the orders of the officers appointed over them according to regulation and uniform code of military justice. So there is a legal procedure in place and officers in the military do not obey either illegal, unethical or immoral orders.

WHITFIELD: When it comes to nuclear weapons, what exactly would be considered illegal?

HERTLING (via telephone): Well in this case, you know, they had an extensive conversation during this conference about the potential for both nuclear strikes, preemptive strikes and other kinds of use of nuclear weapons. And that came or drew them to the conclusion of what they were talking about in terms of obeying orders.

So when you have a situation like this, if there is a danger to the United States and it is something that might occur very rapidly there are systems and processes in place associated with the nuclear codes and it's not just the president calling directly to some commander and saying launch. The Secretary of Defense and other members of the National Security Council are involved. They probably talked about this beforehand and I think that's the point that General Hyten was trying to make.

Throughout his career and I think he has 36 years in the military as a nuclear weaponeer, he has practiced multiple times exactly how to proceed in these kinds of processes. It isn't just something that takes place on a phone call. And this is something that former Secretary of Defense

[16:45:00] Carter said on CNN a few days ago too. And he calms the fears of a lot of people that are saying that perhaps President Trump or any president for that matter might have a bad day and decide to launch nuclear weapons and it just doesn't happen that way. So it's an attempt to calm the nation in terms of understanding the way these processes occur.

WHITFIELD: All right, General Mark Hertling, thanks so much. And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, many of us are familiar with the glitz and glam of Las Vegas but there is an entirely different side of Sin City that many people perhaps never see. And it's just a few steps from the Vegas strip. It's the subject of tonight's all new episode of "This is Life."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:50:00] LISA LING, HOST, CNN THIS IS LIFE: Las Vegas. Every year millions flock here trying to fulfill a dream and win big. This is the Las Vegas the world knows, the casinos, the hotels, the clubs. But step off the strip and you'll find another world that couldn't be more different. A world where lost people hide in plain sight.

This is crazy.

In the middle of the desert.

Oh, my gosh.

In boarded up buildings.

Wow, look at this place.

Even underground.

It is pitch black in here.

It's a world that can be dark, unpredictable and sometimes very dangerous.

Someone is just coming out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could be a drug deal. It could be anything. (INAUDIBLE)

LING (voice-over): Tonight, Las Vegas natives introduced us to a side of Sin City that few get to see.

Someone is in there.

And it is shocking. Oh my god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Oh boy. OK, I'm joined now by -- I'm joined now with the host, Lisa Ling now. This is live. OK, so Lisa is this largely because we're talking about Nevada which really has been one of the foreclosure capitals of the world, you know, just a few years ago? Does that explain a lot of this squatting if that's what it is being called?

LING: It certainly contributes to it. You're right Fredricka, and that's part of what we cover in this episode because there are still over 10,000 vacant homes in Las Vegas. Las Vegas experienced an incredible housing boom and bubble in about 2005, 2006 and then it just tanked. And as a result there are still thousands of homes that are vacant and squatters are using that opportunity still to try and break into those homes and inhabit them.

Las Vegas is currently considered one of the top ten cities where explosive growth has happened in the number of people who are not living in proper shelter. And we explore a number of the places where homeless people are trying to rest their heads and one of them is underneath the town of Las Vegas.

There is about 500 miles of storm drains that run underneath Las Vegas including underneath the Las Vegas strip. There are allegedly hundreds and hundreds of people who actually inhabit those storm drains and with the help of an organization in Las Vegas we're able to go in and experience what it's like and it truly is another world where people have made these tunnels underneath the strip their home.

WHITFIELD: So then what about this enforcement or, I mean is it considered illegal? I mean I guess when you're talking about properties and people squatting in homes, but then in the tunnels is that considered illegal? And if it is so pervasive is it possible to really kind of, you know, make a dent?

LING: It is illegal and from time to time authorities will go in and clean places out but there have been people living in these tunnels for long periods of time and when I went down there I saw people, I saw beds, I saw book cases, I saw cleaning supplies. I mean, people really have made it a home.

In the case of squatters in the vacant homes, there are task forces that have been erected by different police organizations because the number of calls they get that are reporting squatters inhabiting these homes happen daily. WHITFIELD: Wow, it is fascinating. Of course we'll be watching this

evening. Lisa Ling, thank you so much. "This is Life" tonight at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN. And we'll be right back.

[16:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: This year's political landscape has transformed late night comedy television into subject of a CNN special report, "Late Night in the Age of Trump" hosted by Brian Stelter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be a crazy one.

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: Every day there is something nuts.

STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: You're not the POTUS. You're the blotus (ph).

SETH MEYERS, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: Wait, how long does this wall have to be?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST (voice-over): He is the most mocked man in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the problem with the media.

STELTER (voice-over): Monopolizing late night.

MEYERS: It's hard not to feel like you're being redundant.

JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: Kim Jong-un as rocket man.

KIMMELL: Kim Jong-un rocket man.

JAMES CORDEN, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: Kim Jong-un as rocket man.

STELTER (voice-over): Dominating "SNL."

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Such a nasty woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is like a mine producing raw material.

STELTER (voice-over): He is blowing up scripts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a really good joke.

TREVOR NOAH, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: The face (ph) of the news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So much faster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me first.

STELTER (voice-over): Making and breaking careers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a like a little kind of Churchill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me.

STELTER: Would you say you're on a mission to take him down?

CHELSEA HANDLER, TALK SHOW HOST: I would like to see him brought down to the ground preferably in hand cuffs.

COLBERT: You're turning into a real (BLEEP) dictator.

STELTER (voice-over): Has late night gone too far?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it called disrespectful of the office of the presidency? I think so.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Don't miss our special report, "Late Night in the Age of Trump." That's tomorrow night 9:00 eastern. All right, thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The next hour of the "CNN Newsroom" starts right now.

[17:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're on the "CNN Newsroom." Thank you for joining me. I'm Ana Cabrera in D.C. We begin with a twitter feud that just escalated with the president's words sending shockwaves over situations involving Americans in prisons abroad.