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Mueller to Interview Trump Communications Director; General: I Will Resist "Illegal" Nuclear Strike Order; Alabama Newspaper Endorses Moore's Opponent Doug Jones; Clinton on Trump's Tweet: "He's Obsessed" with Me; "SNL" Spoofs Russia Meddling Investigation. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired November 19, 2017 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:08] GENERAL JOHN HYTEN, COMMANDER, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND: President Trump, by himself, can't change the behavior of Kim Jong-un. He'll tell me what to do and if it's illegal, guess what is going to happen? I'm going to say, Mr. President, that's illegal.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She is really, really talented. Hope?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her prime place on the president's team has made Hicks of interest. The special counsel is particularly interested in Hicks' role.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a difficult week and a half for Roy Moore and his campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moore's policy agenda in endangered the children of Alabama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a candidate that has walked through the fire.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out. Between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done?

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: For all, it's good to have you. Thanks for being with us.

The Russia investigation we're talking about because it's at a critical point right now. President Trump's communication director Hope Hicks expected to be interviewed before the end of the month.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Hicks was present during key moments of President Trump's campaign and presidency and Mueller's team is key to hear what she knows. PAUL: Also, a top U.S. nuclear commander says he would push back

against a nuclear strike order from the president if it was illegal. This is coming as some Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill say they're worried that President Trump is too, quote, unstable to be trusted with nukes.

BLACKWELL: And in a scathing editorial, is asking voters to reject GOP Senate Roy Moore and vote for Democrat Doug Jones. It's after several women accused Moore of sexually inappropriate behavior.

PAUL: We want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip first.

Abby, let's talk about Hope Hicks. What is coming in terms of her conversations, particularly with Mueller's team? What do we know about when that might happen?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christi. Mueller's investigators are zeroing in on President Trump's inner circle and a source tells CNN that those interviews are expected to close by the end of this month. We're just a couple of days away from that point and Hope Hicks is among one of many aides whose are expected to be crucial to some key moments in the campaign. She has been a constant presence in President Trump's orbit. She was a close, personal aide for quite a while and a guardian of access to President Trump. And now, as communications director, she is in the center of the White House.

But there are several others who are of interest to Robert Mueller and his investigators. Among them, Josh Raffel, a communications aide to Jared Kushner, Don McGahn, the White House counsel and several of these individuals were present at a particularly important meeting on Air Force One in which President Trump reportedly drafted an explanation for Don Jr.'s meeting with Russians who had claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.

So, all of this happening as investigations are going on in the peril of fashion on Capitol Hill. Just this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee commanding more documentation and answers from Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior White House aide -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Abby Phillip, thank you so much for the update.

BLACKWELL: Now, we don't hear from Hope Hicks very often and don't see her on the Sunday shows and maybe you don't know much about her.

So, here is what we know about her. She is 29 yards old, currently the White House communications director, but she's one of President Trump's closest and longest serving aides.

PAUL: And she's been present at key events and meetings, which may be making her particularly useful to Robert Mueller's probe, if he does talk to her.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Kelly Jane Torrance, deputy managing editor at "The Weekly Standard."

Kellyanne, good morning to you.

And I want to first just remind people of the former and current White House officials who has spoken with Mueller's team. You got Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary, Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff, current White House senior adviser to the president, Stephen Miller, and now, possibly, Hope Hicks, communications director, by the end of the month.

We are six months into this investigation, and that the special counsel has reached this point in the investigation where he is getting to the level of speaking with Hope Hicks really tells us how far along this investigation is.

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. This is one of the few ways we can tell where the investigation is because, you know, investigators in this type of thing are not telling us, hey, we've got this many months, we've got that many months, because they don't know. They have to look at the information and go where it leads.

And, you know, the people he has interviewed so far, Mueller's team, have been Republican operatives, you know, people like just mentioned, who have been involved in Republican politics for a while.

[07:05:04] And now, we're getting to Trump's inner circle and these people are not long time political aides, political operatives, they are people that are close to Trump. And I think that's one of the more interesting things is that we are seeing as we get closer and closer to what might be a problem for the Trump administration is we're getting to the people who aren't experienced in politics and may not have realized, you know, just how things work and how they are supposed to work.

PAUL: One thing that is interesting here, Kelly Jane, is the attorney she's hired, Robert Trout. He's a former U.S. attorney. He has represented President Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, during Watergate, and Monica Lewinsky during the Clinton scandals. What do you make of this hire, for one thing? And we would have to believe then, because of that, Hope Hicks is going to go in this extensively prepared.

TORRANCE: Yes. That was one of the first things when I saw the name Robert Trout mentioned as her lawyer, I thought, wow, she got Monica Lewinsky's lawyer. That's quite a move. And, you know, I've been reading people close to her say she's been preparing for months which, itself, is interesting, of course, because if there was nothing to worry about, would she need that much preparation? Hard to say.

But she clearly is going to be asked about a lot of things because as your reporter mentioned, she has been in the room in so many important situations. Most importantly, it looks like is being on Air Force One when the statement that came out from Trump Jr. about that Russia meeting that was not mentioned, that, you know, until it became public. And, of course, that first statement was completely misleading, claiming that he met her to talk about adoption laws, you know, with the U.S. and Russia.

You know, Donald Trump Jr. himself had to real estate the e-mail he was offered dirt on Hillary Clinton. So, Hope Hicks has been in the room in a lot of situations. As Victor mentioned, she is awfully quiet. She must be the quietest White House communications director we have seen in decades. So, I think a lot of people are wondering what she is going to say because we hardly hear from her.

BLACKWELL: And, of course, the other development this weekend from "The Atlantic" reporting that the information that came from WikiLeaks to Donald Trump Jr., that was forwarded through email to Jared Kushner reportedly, Jared Kushner then sent that email to who? Hope Hicks.

TORRANCE: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: Who has email, and the president doesn't. So, did she share that with the president? We don't know. Hopefully, Robert Mueller will get to the bottom of that.

Kelly Jane Torrance, thank you so much for being with us.

TORRANCE: Thanks, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: Thank you, ma'am.

The top U.S. nuclear commander says he'd refuse nuclear strike orders from President Trump if those orders were illegal. We are talking about General John Hyten who says his first obligation is follow the law, despite what any commander-in-chief tells him to do.


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


HYTEN: I'm going to say, Mr. President, that's illegal. And guess what is he going to do? He would say what is going to be legal and we will come up 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.


BLACKWELL: Now, these comments are coming as Democrats are raising concerns about the president's commands of nuclear weapons. Critics say the president's past comments show that he is prone to lash out at enemies like North Korea.


TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: CNN military analyst, retired Colonel Cedric Leighton, joins us now.

Colonel, good morning to you. I tell you what I found remarkable but I'm not the colonel in this conversation, so you tell me if you agree, is that General Hyten is even entertaining the notion there could be an illegal order from the president to launch a nuclear strike, that he even engaged in that scenario?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you're right, Victor. And good morning to you.

The big thing here is that this was talked about. You're absolutely right about that. This issue is something that is perhaps whispered in the dark recesses of the Pentagon and strategic command in Nebraska.

But it is not something that is normally discussed publicly because we just assume that the president is going to be mentally stable and is going to be ready, willing, and able to carry out the kinds of responsibilities that he or she would have which when it comes to defending the country either via nuclear strike or being able to execute those kinds of commands that would respond to a nuclear strike.

PAUL: So, Colonel, I'm wondering how genuine is the concern in Washington that the president would actually order a nuclear strike?

LEIGHTON: I think there is concern and I think, you know, the clip that you played earlier about the president that show the president's remarks about North Korea, you know, clearly shows that there is some way in which we can use the nuclear system that perhaps is not as controlled as Congress would like it to be.

[07:10:07] But the concern is that, you know, a president would -- especially this president, would be in a position where he would decide to do something unilaterally that would violate the law, and General Hyten was correct to point out that any illegal order, military folks have an obligation not to follow that order and it becomes, you know, could perhaps result in a bit of a crisis. But if it is deemed illegal, then we do have a recourse in that there is a way in which you actually countermand that order or don't executive that order.

BLACKWELL: As Republican Senator Bob Corker called the hearing, chair of foreign relations in the Senate this week, for the first time in 40 years, the Senate reviewed the president's power to launch a nuclear strike. Of course, there is legislation coming from Ed Markey of Massachusetts as well on potential controls. Legislatively, Colonel, are there realistic controls over the president's ability to order nuclear strikes or do you think that's too far afield?

LEIGHTON: Well, it's difficult, because the whole nuclear command and control system, victor, was set up during the Cold War period. And the idea was to set up something that could respond very quickly to a nuclear strike or a potential nuclear strike from an enemy. At that time, the perceived enemy was, of course, the Soviet Union, a nation state that was somewhat predictable in its action.

Right now, what you're looking at is North Korea and, of course, that is completely unpredictable, and one could argue that it requires an even tighter respond, tighter command and control mechanism that would allow for a rapid response because we just don't know what the North Korean regime would do. So, right now, we have four minutes when there is a nuclear strike that is detected against the United States, you have about four minutes to make a decision to actually engage in that strike and to respond to that strike.

BLACKWELL: And you can't convene Congress to get them to pass legislation in those four minutes, obviously.

PAUL: Right.

LEIGHTON: That's right.

PAUL: So, Colonel, I asked you, other than an element of illegality, is there any situation where you can foresee somebody looking at the president, if he gives that order and saying, I'm not doing it?

LEIGHTON: Christi, I think there are several situations, you know, if someone were in the room, let's say General Hyten or chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, were in the room and the president was, let's say, acting erratically and it was very clear that something bad was about to happen and that it was a strike, let's say he had ordered a strike that was not in response to any threat against the United States, then that would be the case, kind of case made for the movies that would basically say, no, Mr. President, we are not doing this.

That is an extreme scenario and, you know, frankly highly unlikely to happen. But it always good to review the kinds of procedures that we have and make sure that, number one, we can follow those procedures and, number two, the people that are in charge are actually ones that are capable of carrying out not only the mission, but in directing that mission as well.

BLACKWELL: So many fascinating parts of this conversation.

Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you for being with us this morning.

LEIGHTON: Absolutely, Victor. Always a pleasure.

PAUL: Thank you, sir. We appreciate it.

LEIGHTON: You bet. You bet, Christi.

PAUL: So like all other presidents, Donald Trump has a military aide and he is always carrying, by his side, that so-called nuclear football.

BLACKWELL: And if he gets on a helicopter, boat, even in an elevator, that briefcase is never more than just a few steps away. Question, what's inside?

A former director of the White House military office says there are four components. There's first, the so-called "black book" that lists possible options for retaliation if the U.S. is attacked about nuclear weapons.

PAUL: A book with bunker locations where the president can be taken in an emergency is there, as well as a manila envelope with procedures for the emergency broadcast system. And a small card with authentication codes, that's to verify that it really is the president who is ordering a nuclear launch.

BLACKWELL: The former aides who have carried the football tell CNN they undergo or had to undergo rigorous psychiatric and emotional screening and so does everyone else in the nuclear chain of command, everyone except the commander-in-chief.

After one group of faith leaders announces their support for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, another group is now coming out against him. You will hear from those pastors this morning.

PAUL: Also, 25 years after Bill Clinton's presidency and, yet, Democrats feel forced to either defend or condemn his past misconduct. Is it time for Democrats to turn their back on the former president? We will talk about that.

BLACKWELL: Also, "Saturday Night Live" spoofs the Russia investigation again. Look how they started this show.


[07:15:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The targets file, Manafort, Flynn, Gates, Papadopoulos and possibly leading to the oval office and the president himself. These are the Mueller files.



PAUL: Nineteen minutes past of the hour right now.

And just a day after another group of faith leaders threw their support behind Senate candidate Roy Moore, there's another group of faith leaders that are coming forward to echo the word of his accusers. Listen to what they said in Birmingham.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unlikely that any of Moore's accusers can definitely prove that he sexually assaulted them 30 years ago upon the defiant former judge knows well. But even and this is critical, particularly for the media to hear, and where we stand as Christian ministers, even before these allegations made national headlines, it was clear that Moore's policy agenda endangered the children of Alabama.


[07:20:08] PAUL: Joining us now is a Reverend Dr. Lawton Higgs Sr. He's with the Birmingham Progressive Christian Alliance.

Thank you so much for being with us.


PAUL: Of course, of course. Reverend Angie Wright of the Greater Birmingham Ministry calls this move of pastors coming out really against Moore and on the other side of other pastors, extraordinary. She calls it unprecedented. Why do you feel so strong to be a part of it?

HIGGS: Well, I have a great deal of compassion for all of the people of Alabama and what we are concerned about are the needs of the underserved and the low income and the poor of Alabama, and the policies that Roy Moore has put forth and Republican Party here in Alabama has resulted in a great deal of suffering. You know, we have one of the highest poverty levels of any state in the United States and we suffer a great deal of poverty and lack of resources here in the city of Birmingham.

And so, we are concerned that someone who has not supported the children and the people of Alabama in the past, we have come to a point where it's really critical and we want to stand up for a compassionate Alabama expansion of health care --

PAUL: What is it specifically about Roy Moore, though, that makes you come out against him?

HIGGS: Well, we are against Roy Moore's policies. You know? We are concerned about Roy Moore. I'm sure he is suffering a great deal with accusations against him and the challenges that are there.

But our concern is not so much against Roy Moore but against the policies that he has represented and that his party has represented here in Alabama, and we think it's time that Alabama move forward with a more inclusive position and concern and passion for all our people. We want someone who is strong and responsible and cares for all of the people of Alabama.

PAUL: No doubt about it there are divisions here. No doubt about it. I wanted to read a quote to you from A quote from Pastor Franklin Radish of the Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministry who said that in Hollywood and elsewhere, there is a war on men going on, saying more women are sexual predators than men. Women are chasing boys up and down the road, but we don't hear about that because it's not PC.

Where does this come from?

HIGGS: Well, you know, we have serious sexual issues in our culture but I don't think is there a war on men. In that sense, there is a call for sexual responsibility in all aspects of our culture from us as Christian pastors. We need to have responsible strong leaders that are going to respect the dignity and worth of all people, and relate to them in ways that reflect that kind of love and care that we represent as Christian pastors.

And we also want strong leaders that are going to take care of the health care of our children, will make sure all of our children get high quality public education. We get funding for public transportation and we have living wage jobs and that our -- you know, the poverty levels here in Alabama are devastating.

PAUL: Yes. Do --

HIGGS: A lack of concern for that is what we are about, about policies of compassion and care for all of the people of Alabama, yes, ma'am.

PAUL: When they say -- I want to switch gears here real quickly because we only have a minute left. I understand that you're featured in a documentary, Reverend. A film called "A Recovering Racist." Talk to me real quickly about that culture that you grew up in and how you've grown and how you've changed real quickly.

HIGGS: Well, you know, Alabama has a strong history of racial problems in inequality and during the first reconstruction of blacks and whites came together to build a just society and then the white southern redeemers. A radical Christian group came together to write our 1901 constitution, and remove the influence of black people from political participation and resources from them.

[07:25:03] Then, of course, we had the same -- we had the same issue that --

PAUL: But you've grown. You've grown.

HIGGS: Civil rights movement.

PAUL: How did you change your views?

HIGGS: Huh? Well, my faith in God and God's love for all people and the dignity and worth of all personality, and also the wonderful impact of the great spiritual leaders here in Alabama, Martin Luther King, (INAUDIBLE) Rosa Parks have taught us we need to move beyond this racialized past to a new beloved community where we care for all people.

PAUL: Yes.

HIGGS: And, of course, a lot of that is what is behind our policies.

PAUL: Right.

HIGGS: And it is that white southern redeemer religion that is so infect so many of our right wing folks in Alabama that we as pastors are standing up against.

PAUL: All right. HIGGS: You know, God loves all people and we want policies that reflect our great constitutional principles of caring for the common welfare and --

PAUL: We are living in extraordinary times.

HIGGS: -- and justice.

PAUL: Yes, we are live in extraordinary times.

HIGGS: Yes, we are. And --

PAUL: Thank you so much, Reverend Dr. Lawton Higgs. I'm so sorry but we've run out of time, but it's been a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you.

HIGGS: Well, thank you for having me and we appreciate you focusing on this issue on your show. Thank you very much.

PAUL: Thank you.


BLACKWELL: All right. Democrats at crossroads after Bill Clinton's past is part of the current conversation about sexual harassment. Also, there is a Democratic senator who suggested that he should have resigned after the Lewinsky affair. Is the party's relationship with the Clintons changing?


[07:31:17] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We are thankful to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

Last night, Bill and Hillary Clinton, I should say President and former Secretary Clinton, they made a trip down memory lane as they celebrated the 25th anniversary of the president's election. But the current administration was clearly part of the conversation.

Secretary Clinton took the opportunity to talk about the president's favorite topics, at least one of them.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 -- maybe that's the whole point.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: The Clintons' appearance comes at a difficult time for a lot of people in politics in light of the sexual assault allegations on Capitol Hill. Some say the president's past is coming back to haunt Democrats. You may read that in some opinion pieces this weekend. Some feel force to defend or condemn his history of sexual misconduct.

But how much is defending or abandoning his past helping the Democratic Party's prospects in 2018 and beyond?

Joining me to discuss, CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill, and President Obama's former southern regional director, Theron Johnson.

Gentlemen, good morning to both of you.


BLACKWELL: Marc, let me start with you.

Undoubtedly, there are some who -- and you heard it there -- who enjoyed Hillary Clinton's kind of clap back of the president and all of the tweets. I counted 37 since inauguration from President Trump about Secretary Clinton. But there are some who would like the Clintons to just enjoy their retirement and stop with this back and forth. Are comments, the ribbing we saw from Secretary Clinton, is that problematic for Democrats?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's problematic for Democrats. In general, it would be, because in general, there sort of unwritten rule and cultural ritual in American politics that former presidents and even many people who run against presidents don't speak out against the sitting president. In other words, you won't see Obama or Bush or someone else speak out against the person in office.

But Trump has ushered in an entirely new era of politics. Trump continues to needle people he has already defeated in elections. Trump continues to attack President Obama in many interesting and problematic ways. And so, it's not uncommon for someone like Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton or the Bushes speak back. It's almost necessary.

I think what Hillary Clinton is doing is actually galvanizing the base. Now, whether her political analysis is always right on point is different question. But the idea of critiquing Donald Trump is not only reasonable, but it's also necessary at this moment.


JOHNSON: Yes, I agree totally with Marc. I think, listen, whenever you see Donald Trump talking about Hillary Clinton he is distracting us from the real issues that the American people care about. This is a president who is under investigation for Russian interference in his election and I think that at a time where the Clinton's have paid a tremendous amount of debt to the party, have been holding us up for 20-plus years now, I do think as we go into the future, we've got to rally and get more young people and different people involved.

But, again, I think that Hillary Clinton is not going to stop criticizing this president. We remember a time when Mitt Romney was defeated by President Obama, and Mitt Romney will hold fund-raisers. He would oftentimes appear publicly criticizing President Obama. So, I think it's very fair for Hillary Clinton to continue to talk about the issues that matter most to the American people and at a time when we got a president that wakes up every morning trying to figure out how he can divide this country, I think we should speak out against it.

BLACKWELL: Tharon, let me stay with you for this. And, Marc, I'm going to come to you with same question after.

This week, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who actually filled the seat once held by former secretary and former Senator Clinton told "The New York Times" that by today's standard, former President Clinton should have resigned after the entire Lewinsky affair. Now, in the context of the conversation we are having nationally about sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, to hear that from a senator who accepted support, accepted endorsements, accepted fund-raising from Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton as well, is the relationship, the big question here between the Democratic Party and the Clintons changing?

JOHNSON: Well, any sexual misconduct or sexual harassment should be basically investigated and all of these women should feel totally comfortable coming forward and talking about their horrific experience.

I think that what the senator was saying is that we live in a different time now. But back then, the president was impeached. He was not removed from office because he was not removed from the Senate votes. But I think what she is trying to say is, is that in 2017, where you just see 19 plus accusers coming out against President Trump and all of these 30-plus accusers coming out against Roy Moore, it's just that people have got to be a little more sensitive and a little bit more responsive.

Now, here's the bottom line, if there is new evidence that comes out against Bill Clinton about some of these past allegations of these women and these accusers, it should be litigated and it should be fully looked into, but we cannot get to the point of continuing to negotiate things that happened in the past. The bottom line is, is that we have a president and we have a Republican nominee for senator in Alabama that's currently under investigation.

BLACKWELL: Yes, you have one Al Franken who will soon be under a Senate ethics investigation.

But, Marc, let me come to you on this question. This is not the first time a nominee or there has been someone accused in politics of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment and the Clinton's name has come up. But now you have a sitting member of the Senate saying, yes, he should have resigned.

Is this a new relationship? A new characterization and new framing of the Clinton's in this environment?

HILL: Well, it is. I don't want to call it a profile in courage. I mean, the Clintons have been out of office for a while now. I'm not sure if you see that same honesty and political courage if the Clintons had something to offer people politically at this current moment, and I was speaking specifically of the Democratic Party.

But nevertheless, this is a different moment. Hopefully, it's a brighter moment, one where victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual misconduct can speak freely. Even if it's 30 years later, we should hear them, we should listen to them and we should believe them.

And I'm glad that it's happening right now, hopefully, that ushers in a moment where these types of things don't happen again, because the stakes is so much higher, because you can't just issue an apology and keep your job, because you can't just deny it and demonize the accusers. Instead, we humanize the accusers. If that's happening right now, I think it's a new moment not just in American politics, but American culture. That's something that we must do as Americans citizens, not just politicians, but all citizens everywhere and it's not just Clintons. It's about everybody.

BLACKWELL: Marc, Senator Al Franken this week admitted to groping and apologized for groping Leeann Tweeden who was -- she's a television host, a news anchor also, on this USO tour before the senator took office. He and others have called for this Senate ethics investigation that will likely happen.

But we have two CNN Democratic analysts, Bakari Sellers, Symone Sanders, who say that Al Franken should resign. What do you say?

HILL: I agree. It's one of those things where our grander principles have to trump the urgency of politics at the moment. I understand why people don't want to lose a seat or they don't want to lose what has been at least absent this issue of principled senator who has attempted to readdress some important policy issues in America.

And again, I don't agree with Al Franken on everything, but at least he has been a solid member of the Senate for those who identify as Democrat. The problem is, this is a bigger issue and a resignation would signal to the American people that the Democratic Party is principled on this issue that we don't prioritize winning an election or winning a vote or winning an initiative over the lives, the bodies, the stories of women.

I think it's important for Al Franken to resign. I think it's necessary. And again, it's a signal of a shift, not just in American politics, but American culture in life. We must do it now.

BLACKWELL: Fifteen seconds to you, Tharon, do you think he should resign?

JOHNSON: I do and I think Roy Moore should resign as well. I mean, at a time where you've taken office to be honest and ethical in this stance and to immediately come out and apologize is a distraction to the party, but more importantly, it's a distraction for the progress of America.

BLACKWELL: All right. Tharon Johnson, Marc Lamont Hill, thank you both.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

HILL: Thank you.


PAUL: So, up next, "Saturday Night Live" spoofing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, this time regarding his House testimony this past week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you, Jeff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I say I do not, you say, recall! I do not!

CROWD: Recall!

[07:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not!

CROWD: Recall!



PAUL: So, listen, if you've got a family dog, they soon maybe having a high tech way to really be your best friend. Here's CNN's Jacqueline Howard.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH WRITER (voice-over): This Border Collie is testing a device that could eventually led dogs alert 911 when its owner is in distress.


HOWARD: The dog taps a collar pattern and signals for help.

CLINT ZEAGLER, RESEARCH SCIENTIST, GEORGIA TECH: This uses IR or infrared technology. This allows the screen to get messy but still be functional and be able to use.

Good boy.

HOWARD (on camera): Researchers are finding ways to help all dogs big and small to communicate when their owners need help.

VOICE: My owner needs your attention. Please follow me.

MELODY M. JACKSON, DIRECTOR, GEORGIA TECH FIDO PROJECT: Dogs naturally as puppies can pull things, they can touch things with their noses, they can hold things in their mouth, they can bite things. So, we just taught them, OK, you're going to do that behavior you already know on the sensor that you're wearing.

HOWARD: For people with certain medical conditions, the technology could be a life safer.

JACKSON: A person with diabetes could have an episode where they become very disoriented and they might not be able to make a phone call or call 911. So, it's extremely important that the dogs can do that. These creatures are man's best friend for a reason.




[07:45:42] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I say I do not, you say, recall! I do not!

CROWD: Recall!


CROWD: Recall!

Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is a recall and response calling. That's my catch phrase. My catch phrase.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. Yes, I noticed you said that a lot during testimony. Do you really not remember meeting with George Papadopoulos will Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you know, Colin, I've had memory problems stemming from a childhood trauma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A childhood trauma, what was that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The passing of the Civil Rights Act.


PAUL: "Saturday Night Live" standing up The House testimony of Attorney General Jeff Sessions it's in their script and I bet they go off script. They're clever. They are so clever.

BLACKWELL: Yes, they are. The Russia investigation has given them a lot of material for their show. But last night, they also spoofed the Trump sons and Julian Assange.

Joining us now to talk about this, Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" coming up later this morning.

Brian, you know, typically, "SNL" is most potent and riches during an election cycle, a presidential election cycle, but it seems like this has continued over their break and now into their new season and they are spot on with it.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: A side effect of our permanent campaign, right? As you were mentioning Hillary Clinton earlier this hour, how she was saying that president Trump is obsessed with her. All of this material, of course, benefiting "SNL" and other late night shows.

But I got to say when Alec Baldwin is not on "SNL", it feels like something is missing. Last night, for example, he wasn't there playing President Trump. The show is not quite the same without him.

We actually have a special documentary coming up tomorrow about late night in the age of Trump. We took a look at Baldwin as Trump.

Here's a preview.


STELTER (voice-over): It's debate night on "SNL." October 2016, this was Alec Baldwin's debut at Donald Trump.

ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: Our jobs are fleeing this country! They are going to Mexico! They are going to Gina!

STELTER: After that night, Baldwin's rendition of Trump was forever cemented in America's psyche.



BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: "Saturday Night Live" has a permanent character. They always have presidents but this is now this, you know, iconic, "Saturday Night Live" character. A lot of it is just funny and all credit goes to Trump for that. He sets that up.

ANNOUNCER: It's "Saturday Night Live"!

STELTER: Trump gave "SNL" a record shattering season.

BALDWIN: Come on over here to daddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Alec Baldwin is absolutely brilliant. Folks get upset when Alec Baldwin portray Donald Trump but you know what I learned? Man, you don't cut funny.

STELTER (on camera): So, Trump should embrace these caricatures?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Donald Trump should invite Alec Baldwin to the White House.


STELTER: I don't think that's going to happen. But I love that point from Joe Piscopo, you don't cut funny no matter whether it's about Republican or Democrat, you do what's funniest when you're on these shows. So, that's part of our late-night documentary on Monday night, 9:00 p.m. here on CNN.

PAUL: Yes, looking forward to that.

But he, Piscopo said something a lot of people have said, that he should embrace this.

BLACKWELL: Yes, but --

PAUL: That the president should embrace this.

BLACKWELL: I don't know if Alec Baldwin should stand by for the embark invitation to the White House.

STELTER: You know, when Piscopo played Reagan, Reagan brought him to the White House in the '80s. So, hey, never say never.

BLACKWELL: And George W. Bush, he brought his impersonator to the White House too from "SNL."

STELTER: That's right.

BLACKWELL: Brian, thank you so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

PAUL: Yes, and don't miss his special tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

We're back in a moment.


[07:53:51] BLACKWELL: On tonight's episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN", Anthony Bourdain is in Seattle.

PAUL: Yes, chefs there are really getting creative in the kitchen to make the perfect bagel. How is that done? Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is actually amazingly robust. Although we've got lots of recipes, recipes aren't as important as understanding the fundamentals of what's going on. And once you do, it's -- it's really quite forgiving.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, PARTS UNKNOWN: Few things are more mysterious and unknowable than the bagel. Can one perhaps create the perfect bagel and toppings that don't fall off?

As a New Yorker I'm inclined to say no, but now I'm not sure. And what is this? Bread in a jar? But, but, what?

What is going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the kind of sick thing we do. We wondered, could you can bread? By god, you can. This is rum babas --

BOURDAIN: Oh, I love them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- which is a bread in the sense it uses yeast --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and we canned them. And now, watch what happens when we open it up.

Isn't that awesome?

BOURDAIN: It's really good. And how long will it stay in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine months and it --

BOURDAIN: So, I could have perfectly fresh bread in nine months if I just pop the top of that thing.


PAUL: Now, Victor's hungry.

BLACKWELL: I had egg whites this morning and just that looks so much better.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: "ANTHONY BOURDAIN'S PARTS UNKNOWN: SEATTLE" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m., right here on CNN.

PAUL: Hey, make some great memories as we head into the holiday week. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" starts right after this short break.