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Trump: "This Is Rigged," "Sick System from the Inside"; Special Counsel Has 400,000 Documents in Paula Manafort Case; Donald Trump Jr Invoked Attorney/Client Privilege as Lawmaker Questioned Him on Russia. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 9, 2017 - 17:00   ET

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


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[17:00:32]

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It's 5:00 Eastern, 2:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us.

Unfortunately, in California, right now, it is in flames. Six separate fires are still burning, nearly 300 square miles already scorched, 700 structures destroyed and now the first fire-related fatality, a 70-year-old woman has been found dead along an evacuation route near the Thomas fire in Ventura County.

As the governor tours the devastation today and some families return home to find out what if anything is left, the high winds remain a major threat today. We will take you live to the fire lines in just minutes.

But first to Alabama and last-minute push on right now for votes in the state's hotly contested Senate race with just three days left until the election, both campaigns are pulling out all the stops there.

President Trump stumping for accused child molester, Roy Moore, last night giving him a full-throated endorsement at this rally in Pensacola, Florida. That's part of Mobile, Alabama TV market.

And our CNN national correspondent, Alex Marquardt is there in Alabama, joins us from Montgomery. Alex, tell us about the president's message and the impact there in that state.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Ana. Well, there had been some question as to what extent this rally just across the state line of Pensacola would actually be a Roy Moore rally.

It was billed as a campaign style rally for the president, but it was clear that its secondary role was to reiterate his full-throated endorsement for Roy Moore. The Moore campaign had encouraged people from across the state, their supporters to go and attend this rally.

I met a number of people from Alabama in attendance and the president certainly addressed and re-endorsed Moore there saying that he needed Moore in the Senate to advance his agenda. He called in to question the allegations of the number of women who have accused Roy Moore of sexual misconduct.

And he said that he needed Moore in the Senate to stop the Democrats from advancing their own agenda. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We can't afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can't do it. His name is Jones and he is their total puppet, and everybody knows it. He will never ever vote for us. So, get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: So, to what extent will that actually change the dynamics in this race? Well, you have to understand that Roy Moore has been a known quantity for more 40 years. He has a very passionate base of support that has stuck with him through thick and thin, and who for the vast majority will turn out in this special election next Tuesday.

Now where it could help is on the margins. For those Moore supporters, those Republicans who had started to question their support for Judge Roy Moore in the wake of these allegations, he might be able to assuage their fears and bring them back into the folds.

But he also might help galvanize people on the other side by injecting himself into the raise, to some extent this is a referendum about himself. So that could help Doug Jones get people out to the polls as well.

Remember, this is a special election in an off-year in mid-December when it is cold and Christmas is coming and people aren't really thinking about politics. So, this really could escalate, raise the level of the race and cause people to come out in bigger numbers on both sides -- Ana.

CABRERA: It does seem it is about voter turnout for both sides. We have the Democrat in the race, Doug Jones, really looking to turn out the black vote there in Alabama. This weekend, we know that he will be taking the stage here shortly at a campaign rally and he had some star power helping him across the state today. Tell us about it.

MARQUARDT: Doug Jones needs every vote that he can get all across the board, but there is no doubt that one of most critical block of voters is African-Americans. And he needs them to turnout in huge numbers and he is telegraphing that with his activities this weekend. He has had a number of events today.

The first was in Selma with the former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, that was at a church called the Brown Chapel AME Church. It played a significant role in the civil rights movement.

[17:05:06] And then later today at Alabama State University, which is a historically black college, he is holding an event with Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey. These are two of the biggest names in African-American Democratic politics.

And so, this is an absolutely crucial voting block, but to give you an idea of how -- what he really needs in terms of turnout, Barack Obama in 2012, his last presidential race, he got a 28 percent African- American turnout.

In order to stand a chance of winning on Tuesday, Doug Jones needs almost that amount, around 25 percent. So that is a very tall order -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Alex Marquardt in Montgomery, thank you.

Joining us now is former CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to four presidents both Democrats and Republicans, David Gergen. David, we saw the president go all in for Roy Moore last night.

In many ways, President Trump has been the one who sort of flipped the switch, he made an accused child molester palatable for some Republicans, who initially were running the other way. Now we see the RNC throwing money behind him. Could this come back to haunt the president and the RNC?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, good to be here. But Donald Trump's visit to the panhandle of Florida broadcasting right into Alabama is likely to help Roy Moore in turning out voters, sensing momentum. It does not play well nationally.

That message has gone south for him. The kind of red meat he threw out last night, his Pew poll numbers down to 32 percent approval. We haven't seen a president that low in a long, long time.

So, this isn't working, but it may help him in Alabama. I would tell you that I think it was offset today by the civil rights museum and the kind of effort now that is being made on the Doug Jones Democratic side in Alabama to get the black vote out.

The visit by the president I think accentuated perhaps unfairly to him but accentuated the divisions between white and black in Alabama and may help the turn out for the Democrat.

CABRERA: In some ways, this race is a bit of a litmus test for the Republican Party and David Brooks penned this op-ed for "The New York Times" titled "GOP is rotting." And I want to read you a quote.

He writes, "The Republican Party is doing harm to every cause it purports to serve. If Republicans accept Roy Moore as a United States senator, they may for a couple of years have one more vote for a justice or tax cut, but they will have made their party loathsome for an entire generation." Do you agree or is he overstating this?

GERGEN: I thought that was an extremely important column by someone, David Brooks, who has been a star in the firmament of the moderate Republican to Republican conservative side. He is clearly in personal agony over the Trump presidency.

But I think he speaks to an awful lot of Republicans outside Alabama and Mississippi, who are just deeply troubled and are having a hard time figuring out what to do about it. But I do think that was the important column read it with great interest because it was so tough, and David Brooks is generally a moderate voice, but he took the gloves off on this one.

CABRERA: It's almost like he is sort of crying out to other Republicans. That was the impression that I got and do you think that make senses to you?

GERGEN: I thought what he -- Brooks is coming from, yes, I do because I think the party will be badly split. But there were indications these past few days that Mitch McConnell, who was originally condemning Roy Moore and then said we'll leave it up to the voters of Alabama, late in the week, he talked about an ethics probe.

So, it may well be that -- and some friends of Mitch McConnell's tell me that they think that if Roy Moore is elected, he is going to ask those women to come up and testify and tell their story to the Ethics Committee.

That could be a real -- that could make it difficult for Republicans to keep Roy Moore in the Senate or could be -- it could really divide the party very seriously. So, this story may well go beyond Tuesday.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about something else the president said last night at this rally in Pensacola. He once again launched an attack on American institutions. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is a rigged system. This is a sick system from the inside and, you know, there is no country like our country. But we have a lot of sickness in some of our institutions and we're working very hard.

[17:10:08] We have a lot of them straightened out, but we do have -- we really do, we have a rigged system in this country, and we have to change it. Terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So as he said, our elections are rigged. He has said the FBI is in tatters recently. He has encouraged crowds chanting that his political opponents should be in jail. He slammed our constitutionality protected free press as fake and he has received push back just since those comments last night.

Jeff Flake, the senator from Arizona, who is not planning to run for re-election wrote this, "This is not a sick system, Mr. President, nor is it a rigged system. Let's not so distrust in our democratic institutions."

David, do you think the president understands the potential long-term consequences of comments like those?

GERGEN: I think he may understand, but he doesn't care. Equally fascinating piece, it is now on the website of the "New York Times," Maggie Haberman and other journalists for the "New York Times" have a fascinating piece about the president feeling under siege that his whole presidency has been protecting himself from an onslaught that he feels people are trying to delegitimize him.

He's watching television as much as four hours a day and sometimes has it on as long as eight hours a day and just growling back and sending tweets. This is a president who feels like he is under assault and he is trying to protect the legitimacy of his election. And he can't let it go and he keeps coming back to Hillary and the like.

She is having a hard time personally, but she is not speaking in the same way. But he is clearly -- most presidents move on after the election especially if you win. That sort of validates you in of itself, and he did win. You know, he was elected.

CABRERA: He won over a year ago.

GERGEN: Yes, exactly and why he can't let it go is leading to this Maggie Haberman type story, but it's also raising questions in many circles these last few weeks about whether he is increasingly unhinged, whether something is going on that is triggered this barrage from him that we heard last night in the speech again.

And so, you know, there is a lot of inner I think anxiety and turmoil in the conversation in the country about where we are and where we're going under Donald Trump's leadership.

CABRERA: All right. David Gergen, we always appreciate your input. Thank you.

GERGEN: It's good to be with you.

CABRERA: Meantime today, President Trump took a step forward, he hopes, in honoring African-Americans and specifically civil rights heroes of the past at the same time. He has been blasted by prominent civil rights figures of the president -- of the present.

Jackson, Mississippi is where the president attended the official opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum today and two U.S. congressman including John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement chose not to attend the ceremony simply because the president was there.

Democrats John Lewis and Bennie Thompson say the president's policies are an insult to the people honored at the museum. Here's what the president said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: These museums are labors of love, love for Mississippi, love for your nation, love for God-given dignity written into every human soul. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN national correspondent in Jackson right now, Athena Jones, is with us. So, Athena, it is not just Congressmen Lewis and Thompson, who were get against the president's visit.

We had board members of the NAACP saying that their group respects the office but not the president's attitude and division of the nation. So, where are things now after this visit?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. You're right, the NAACP chose not to attend. They held a separate, a sort of parallel event to mark this official grand opening of the museum, and several of Mississippi Democrats and civil rights activists, decided not to come.

But the president did come, and he gave brief remarks after touring the museum, touring several exhibits including one about Medgar Evers, who was a civil rights activist, assassinated here in Jackson in 1963.

Medgar Evers' widow, Merle Evers Williams was with Trump inside the museum when he delivered his remarks. Here is a little bit more of what he had to say today. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Civil Rights Museum records the oppression, cruelty and injustice inflicted on the African-American community, the fight to end slavery, to breakdown Jim Crow, to end segregation, to gain the right to vote.

[17:15:07] And to achieve the sacred birthright of equality here. That is big stuff. That is big stuff. Those are very big phrases, very big words. Here we memorialize the brave men and women who struggle to sacrifice and sacrificed so much so that others might live in freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: So there you heard some of what the president had to say, very different from his speech last night in Pensacola. Gone was the fiery rhetoric instead he delivered a measured, calm tribute to the people he called American heroes, civil rights activists.

But as you mentioned, his invitation by the Mississippi governor, Phil Bryant, caused a lot of controversy. You've had folks like Congressman Lewis and Thompson skipping the event and also other local Mississippi Democrats.

And you had protesters greeting him when he arrived, about a hundred folks, some of whom kneeled, some of whom turned their backs on the motorcade. And among the criticisms that we've heard from all these critics of President Trump is that he has been racially insensitive.

He has not been a defender of civil rights and some of his policies have just proportionately affected or hurt people of color like budget cuts, for instance. We've also heard folks say, look, this is a president who was a big part of the birther movement, questioning the legitimacy of America's first black president.

This is also a president who has endorsed an Alabama Senate candidate who said America was last great during slavery. So, a lot of controversy greeting him as he attended this event today -- Ana.

CABRERA: Athena Jones, thanks for that in Jackson, Mississippi.

Still ahead, this hour, newly released court documents revealing just how much evidence Robert Mueller has collected in the case against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. A former Watergate special prosecutor gives us his take coming up.

Plus, a dire warning from California's governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some scientists are saying Southern California is literally burning up and burning up as maybe a metaphor or a description not just of the fire right here, but what we can expect over the next years and decades.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Six separate fires leaving hundreds of thousands of Californians fleeing for their lives and the conditions continuing to get worse. Live to Ventura County next. You're watching CNN.

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[17:21:42]

CABRERA: Welcome back. I'm Ana Cabrera. You are watching CNN. And take a look at these pictures, it is not officially winter yet, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the scenes from the southeastern part of the U.S. today.

Snow from Texas to the Carolinas, some places saw as much as 10 inches and of course, this is a region that doesn't typically see a whole lot of snow. Some people taking advantage of it, having a little bit of fun.

The chilly weather will stick around in the southeast. As for the snow part of it, the storm system is quickly moving up the east coast to the north, Washington, New York can both expect up to 6 inches of snow by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in Southern California, the southwest, high heat and strengthening winds continue to challenge crews battling a string of dangerous wildfires. Look at these pictures. This is just some of what firefighters are facing.

These flames have scorched 175 acres. They are threatening thousands of homes. The largest of the fires is the Thomas fire. It has burned 148,000 acres alone. And with the Santa Ana winds expected to still pick up even more tomorrow, that means things could soon get worse. California Governor Jerry Brown has been touring some of the fire damaged areas in Ventura today and a short time ago, he talked about how he worries these massive and very dangerous fires are going to become even more frequent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: We're facing a new reality in the state where fires threaten people's lives, their property, their neighborhoods, and of course, billions and billions of dollars. So we have to have the resources to combat the fires and we have also invest in managing vegetation and forests, and all the way we dwell in this very wonderful place, but a place that is getting hotter.

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CABRERA: So give you more perspective as we head out to Kyung Lah there in Ventura, I mean, these fires have consumed an area about the size of New York City already. It is one of the most devastating fires in California history. Kyung, tell us about what firefighters are up against.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What they are up against right now is a forecast of growing winds. This is a dry hot wind event that picks up some of the embers, you can see some of it flying around in this shot just as I speak with you.

All of this picks up in the air. If it is on fire, then it hits something dry and then that starts another fire. So, firefighters are trying to get the upper hand today. While even though it's windy, it's not expected to be as bad as tomorrow.

This fire, the Thomas fire, one of the worst -- it is the worst of the six fires currently burning and you can see how much devastation here, 500 homes. This is just one neighborhood and we're surrounded by destroyed homes.

Mandatory evacuations still in place in this area, but a bit of bright news, the fire is 15 percent contained. But don't pay attention to that firefighters say, look at the forecast, they are hoping that they will avoid more people losing their homes like the man we met today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID KARIAN, PARENTS LOST HOUSE IN FIRE: My lifetime, a couple lifetimes. Like I said, they are 84, 83, my mom and dad. They have been living here for 30 years. They built it themselves.

[17:25:09] There is not much, but if there is a few things that will help them, you know, have some connection to the past, that is what I'm trying to do. It's what it is, material stuff, but like you said, memories of a lot of years.

And we'll see where it goes from here. I don't know what they will do. It's a process. It's a shock still. Trying to understand. A little box. A little lizard. Don't ask me. But you know what, if it helps, it helps.

Despite all the loss, we're fortunate. We have family close by. We have other options, and, you know, it is material stuff. Other people are doing so much more, have so much more tragedy in their life. We have nothing to complain about. You have to just focus on that, makes the rest of it easier to deal with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: So, how quickly can this kind of damage happen? Well, here is one example, Ana. We were in the San Diego fire yesterday, the Lilac fire. It started as a small half acre fire. In 20 minutes, it became 500 acres just in 20 minutes. So, we are talking about minutes and then this type of devastation can happen -- Ana.

CABRERA: Real quick, Kyung, I mean, what is behind you? Can't even recognize what that was.

LAH: This looks like it is part of a wall. It looks like maybe this was the kitchen and the living room, and I mean this is a sizable home, maybe four or five bedrooms. The cars are still parked in the driveway. We don't know how these residents got out. We know that no one died in this neighborhood.

But all you see here are chimneys. That is really the tell of a devastating fire. It is the brick and the steel left behind and people will pick through just trying to find perhaps a piece of porcelain that they remember that might be treasured in their family.

CABRERA: Incredible. Kyung Lah, thank you. Our hearts are with those folks there in Ventura.

Coming up, 400,000 documents, we are now learning just how much evidence Robert Mueller has collected in the case against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. A former Watergate special prosecutor joins us next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:59] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: "Lock her up," that's what the crowd at President Trump's rally chanted about Hillary Clinton last night, more than a year after this president was elected. He didn't even try to stop them. Instead, he said this about the country he now leads as commander-in-chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a rigged system. This is a sick system from the inside. And, you know, there is no country like our country.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: But we have a lot of sickness in some of our institutions. And we're working very hard. We have a lot of them straightened out, but we have, we really do, we have a rigged system in this country. And we have to change it. Terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Questioning the system, calling it rigged. Sounds a little like the president's strategy to discredit the Russia investigation.

I want to talk about that with our CNN legal analyst, Richard Ben- Veniste. He's a former Watergate special prosecutor.

Richard, I want to read you a quick tweet from Walter Shaw, the former director of Government Ethics, who wrote this yesterday: "I'm increasingly worried Trump may go after Mueller. As a country, we must be prepared. Congress should signal now that such action will result in impeachment."

I know this has been on your mind since July when you urged Congress to put protections in place.

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, that's correct. And in fact, I testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the subcommittee headed by Senators Graham and Whitehouse. And I emphasized the obligations I thought the Judiciary Committees in both the Senate and House had to protect Robert Mueller from some tweet storm and subsequent attempt by the president to remove him from office, to make absolutely the same parallel as Watergate where Richard Nixon, in obstructing justice, fired to Archibald Cox, who was leading the Watergate investigation. I can see no difference between those two events. And not only does Congress have to be galvanized against it, but the American people have to understand that, if it happens, it is a signal blow to our democracy in the form of government that we cherish. It is of the utmost importance that we take that seriously.

CABRERA: What makes you think we could be headed that direction right now, that there will be another Saturday Night Massacre?

BEN-VENISTE: Well, we have seen President Trump come up to the line before, being urged by some of his supporters, to dispense with the Mueller investigation. He already fired Comey for reasons which are now getting more and more clear, to protect General Flynn, who has now pleaded guilty. And we will, in short order, I believe, hear what General Flynn has to say about some of the motivations for what has gone on behind the scenes. And the president taking the extraordinary step of telling the director of the FBI, you ought to go easy on Flynn, instead of being outraged that Flynn would lie, not only to his own vice president and chief of staff, if that is what happened, but also lie to the FBI.

[17:35:37] CABRERA: I want to ask you about the scope and pace of this investigation. Because we now have two people who have pleaded guilty, Flynn and George Papadopoulos. We have two people who have been -- two other people who have been indicted on other charges. And we now know a little bit more about the evidence that the Mueller team is building against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Newly released court documents show that this is what he has accumulated, 400,000 documents, 36 laptops, phones, hard drives, thumb drives. All of this is evidence collected against Manafort and Gates alone.

As someone who has prosecuted a high-profile case, Watergate, does this seem like a normal amount of documents to you and information for a case like this?

BEN-VENISTE: And as a defense lawyer for over 35 years, going on 40, I will tell you that it is not unusual to see that many documents be accumulated in a case that involves the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the tax evasion, FARA violations. There are a variety of things that Paul Manafort has been charged with. There are probably 2,000 or so hot documents, those particularly relevant to the charges against him. This is not an unmanageable amount of documents to sift through, by any means.

CABRERA: That alone is surprising to hear you say that. But what does it tell you about the pace of the investigation and what Mueller may have on others like Michael Flynn?

BEN-VENISTE: Well, he is making good progress. I believe he's got plenty against Flynn. Flynn plea bargained basically to plead to one count, a five-year felony. There were a variety of different things that could have accumulated a substantially greater amount of time for him that he would be facing. And I believe Mueller is savvy enough, as are his associates, not to buy a pig in a poke. There was, I'm sure, a great deal of pre-negotiation and disclosure prior to the guilty plea. There is also, attached to the guilty pleas, the condition that Flynn at any time must submit to polygraph examinations. And if anything he says is shown to be true, he loses the deal.

CABRERA: Not true. If anything he says isn't true.

BEN-VENISTE: Not true.

CABRERA: All right. Richard Ben-Veniste, we appreciate your take. Thank you for being here.

BEN-VENISTE: You're welcome.

CABRERA: Up next, with Donald Trump Jr under increased scrutiny in the Russia investigation, how is that impacting the relationship between the president and his son?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[17:43:01] CABRERA: The president's oldest son is not an attorney. The president is not an attorney. But when investigators asked Donald Trump Jr to detail a conversation he had with his father, he refused to answer, invoking attorney/client privilege. The conversations and discussions were on how Don Jr should handle emerging news reports about that now-infamous meeting with Russians at the Trump Tower. The president's son did acknowledge speaking with senior White House aide, Hope Hicks, to craft a response, but he stopped short of providing any details about any communications with his father, claiming that because an attorney was present during their exchange, he didn't want to violate attorney-client privilege.

And joining us now is, CNN contributor and Trump biography, Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth about Trump."

And, Michael, we know the president and his son haven't always had the smoothest relationship. The "Washington Post" reported that the two barely speak or see each other, and that Don Jr Had struggled to carve out more of a connection with his father. How did Don Jr's heightened profile now in the Russia probe impact that?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it will be difficult for both father and son. And what you said that "The Post" reported about Don Jr and the president throughout their relationship is true. I think, of all the Trump children, Don Jr, has been the one who has both wanted to be his other than own person, very much, while existing in the shadow of Donald Trump, and that is a big shadow. He also wants to impress his father and to be that loyal son that I think he imagines the president expects him to be at all times.

And you know, on the president's side of this equation, he has Jared Kushner, who is a trusted aide, and also part of the family by marriage. And now we have General Kelly sort of eclipsing the family's role as day to day contact with the president. So Don Jr must be feeling to some degree like he is the man on the outside.

[17:45:07] CABRERA: Would it surprise you knowing the family dynamics, that Don Jr didn't actually have a direct conversation with the president regarding how to respond to the revelation about that Trump Tower meeting, that he was only talking to Hope Hicks about it?

D'ANTONIO: It would surprise me. It seems completely implausible. Especially given that this was in the run up to the convention, it was long before they had to really get focused on the presidency as the new dynamic for them. He would have talked to his father. He would have wanted to know, wanted to consult with him about the proper response. And I don't think that the president would have been happy getting this through Hope Hicks. I think that this would have been something he would have wanted to be in a command position on.

CABRERA: Now, one thing we've noticed this week, it has been pointed out that the president has tweeted a little less, and some of his tweets have been pretty muted, given what we expect to see from him these days. And it all started after the tweet last weekend, where we were talking about it last weekend right here, about Michael Flynn raising questions over whether the president admitted to obstructing justice. Do you think the president will be able to keep up a level of restraints we've seen this week for very long?

D'ANTONIO: I think so. I actually think we might be turning a corner where this is concerned. He will probably tweet at will about Hillary Clinton. That is an old form of combat that I think he will be able to indulge in without much of a risk. But I think where the Mueller investigation is concerned, and General Flynn and others, who are being brought in to speak with the special counsel, this has to have struck the president, and I think others are telling him this, as something very serious. And, you know, having the president's son invoke client -- lawyer/client privilege in this testimony before the Senate suggests to me that everyone is thinking about the legal ramifications here. And that there is a heightened sensitivity to the fact that there is great peril. And the president, for all of his bombast and bluster, I think he wants a successful presidency. I don't think he is anticipating stepping down or being removed from office. And he would be courting just that, where he could be perceived to be interfering via tweet.

CABRERA: OK. I want to ask you about something off topic here. The White House facing some questions this week about the president's health after he seemed to slur his words during that speech on Israel. And I want everybody to listen and then I'll ask you a question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities.

And finally, I ask the leaders of the region, political and religious, Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Christian and Muslim, to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians and God bless the United States.

Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Michael, what do you hear when you listen to that?

D'ANTONIO: Boy, I don't know. I mean, this is a very difficult challenge for all of us. You know, being that he had some bridge in his mouth that came loose and that he was struggling with that. He is a very vain person, so I don't know that he has ever acknowledged that he wears dentures or that there is some issue with his mouth.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Does he wear dentures? Do you know?

D'ANTONIO: No, I don't know.

CABRERA: OK.

D'ANTONIO: And it certainly wouldn't be something that he would reveal.

CABRERA: Yes.

D'ANTONIO: And we might not even know if he saw a dentist in the White House and may have had a filling. Who knows what's going on with him. We do know that the facts about his health have been obscured. During the campaign, he didn't really release a complete physical. The doctor who spoke to his good health was erratic, to say the least. CABRERA: We do -- we do know he's going to have a physical coming up

early next year. We got word and, hopefully, we'll learn more then.

Michael D'Antonio, as always, good to see you. Thank you.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you.

[17:49:52] CABRERA: We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Voting is under way for the CNN Hero of the Year. We want you to meet one of the five finalists who is using soap to save lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMIR LAKHANI, CNN HERO: No child should suffer because there simply wasn't any soap available.

In the west, we take soap for granted. But for millions of Cambodians, that is not the case.

When children to not wash their hands, they are vulnerable to illnesses, which, unfortunately, take their lives.

Every single day, housekeepers throw used bars away, so I decided to save them and solve a few problems at the same time.

Once every month, we visit a hotel to collect whatever used soap has been generated. We sanitize the bars and remold them into new bars.

Our soap recyclers are all local women who were striving to find some source of reliable income.

We get our soap into the hands of people who need it the most.

My hope for Cambodia's youth is for them to take their own health into their very own hands just by a simple act such as handwashing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:55:46] CABRERA: You can vote for your favorite top-10 hero right now, at CNN heroes.com.

And that's going to do it for me this hour. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. I'll see you live one hour from now in the CNN NEWSROOM.

"SMERCONISH" is next.

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