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Two Republican Senators Claiming That President Donald Trump Did Not Use Explicit Word During The Immigration Meeting; A Fire On A Casino Shuttle Boat Leaving At Least A Dozen People Injured; Hawaii People Are Angry Right Now; How Our President's Vulgar Remarks About African Immigrants Being Received By The Americans Who Voted For Him; Iran's President Took Aim And Mocked President Trump; The Devastated Town Of Montecito, California Will Honor And Mourn 20 Lives Lost To Mudslides With A Candle Light Vigil; A Six-Year-Old Shot Five Times In That Texas Church Shooting Got To Go Home In Style. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 14, 2018 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Two Republicans senators who originally claim they could not recall whether the President called African countries s-holes have had a moment of clarity. The congressman now claims three days later they are positive that President Trump did not say such words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying the President did not use the word that is being so widely reported?

SEN. DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA: I'm telling you he did not use that word, George. And I'm telling you it's a gross misrepresentation. How many times you want me to say that?

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: I didn't hear that word either. I certainly didn't hear what Senator Durbin has said repeatedly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Not only have senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue's memories become more clear but they contradict what we have heard from other lawmakers who are also in that room.

Democrat Dick Durbin said the President did say those exact words. And a colleague says Senator Lindsey Graham told him the reports were quote "basically accurate."

The question now, who is telling the truth in this he said/he said about what he said.

Let's get straight to CNN's Boris Sanchez. He's live in West Palm Beach where the President spent the weekend.

Boris, I mean, the stories just took another turn here. We have senators Cotton and Perdue now essentially accusing their colleagues of lying? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And going kind of

going back on what they said just a few days ago when they said they couldn't recall exactly what the President said. It seems that their memory was shaken. And now that they are denying outright that President Trump said these reported derogatory comments about African nations and about the number of visas being granted to Haitians.

There is a very divided response to this reporting on the President's comments during the Thursday meeting with lawmakers about two dozen Republicans have come out and condemned them. Some of them like Lindsey Graham sort of had a mixed response. He didn't outright say that the President said it though he did a statement say that he confronted the President about his remarks.

And then as you noted, he apparently told his fellow South Carolina Republican senator Tim Scott that the President did say something like that. He also have others like Jeff Flake who wasn't actually in that meeting but heard from some people who were shortly after it took place. Listen to what more of the Arizona senator had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKES (R), ARIZONA: All I can say I was in a meeting directly afterwards where those who had presented to the President our proposal spoke about the meeting and they said those words were used before those words went public. So that's all I can tell you is I heard that account before the account even went public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: So you have a disagreement between lawmakers over what the President did or did not say. And the backdrop of that is the division between lawmakers over the policy that was even being discussed specifically a legal solution for the legal status of DREAMERs. Those 800,000 or so young Americans that were brought into the United States illegally as children. And as of mid-March, the program that gave them legal status is set to expire. So the discussion of their legal status has been brought into the conversation, the broader conversation about a government budget and approving a budget deal.

Keep in mind on Friday, the government is set to run out of funding. So it's possible that we may see a resolution to the issue of DACA along with this budget deal. It's possible that lawmakers may not come to a resolution and end up kicking the can further down the road as some lawmakers including John Cornyn of Texas have suggested.

It's also possible that as several Democrats have threatened, we may see a government shutdown if Republicans don't concede with them to come up with a solution to the issue of DREAMERs' legal status, Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez in West Palm Beach, Florida, thank you.

And to be clear, this issue is not whether the President used a specific curse word because even if he hadn't cursed, even if he had said why do we want people from African countries, why not more people from Norway, the sentiment would be the same and that sentiment is racist.

Joining me for perspective, CNN political commentators Maria Cardona and Scott Jennings. Maria is the Democratic strategist. Scott is former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Scott, just three days ago, Senators Perdue and Cotton couldn't remember what the President had said. And now they suddenly remember he didn't say it. But in the meantime there has been like this huge global backlash. How do you explain this sudden shift? Is it believable?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, you don't explain it. I mean, it's certainly an odd way to try to message out of something. I mean, there have been other reports that the President was bragging to people that he knows that he did say it and he thought it would help with his base. And now a few days later we have people trying to come in and clean it up.

Look. At the end of the day, this is been kind of a blown messaging operation coming out of this unfortunate incident. What's really important is they get the policy right and Boris talked about it in his report. We cannot shut down the government and we cannot leave these DREAMERs hanging. They do need a solution. They deserve a solution.

So when all is said and done, Ana, what I hope the Republicans were able to do is what the President said earlier this week, bring forward a bipartisan bill, a bill of love, he said, that solves the problems for the DREAMERs and also includes border security and other immigration reform.

[19:05:12] CABRERA: I want to talk about immigration reform in a minute. But back to this question now about credibility of what was said there.

Maria, does this go away until we hear from graham On the Record or other Republicans in that room?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, those Republicans should absolutely come out. And I think what is clear, Ana, is that when this first was reported and the White House itself came out with the statement, they didn't deny it because they knew that this is something that the President of the United States said. And of course he is denying that now because he is getting slammed into the media and he is getting slammed by allies and he is getting slammed by people from his own Republican party who understand not only how racist those comments are, but how damaging it is to the country as well as to the future of the Republican party.

And this is not new for the President. We knew what he was like which is why the majority of the American people didn't vote for him, which is why he now is in the low 30s in terms of approval rating.

This President has proven time and again with his vial future (ph) rhetoric that is coming out of his mouth. He has shown us his dark heart and his ugly core. And at the core of it he is a racist, he is anti-immigrant and he is a xenophobe and he is bigot.

Regardless, we have some work to do. We have policies to pass. We have to protect the almost one million young DREAMERs that are in this country. I know Republicans want to do that. The President hopefully, you know, I don't know when he lied when he said he wanted to protect them or when he said he wanted to deport them. But I'm hoping the Republican Party understands how important it is and that we can move forward with the deal.

CABRERA: Let me just quickly follow-up though on something you said just a moment ago there, Maria. You point out that the President was what he was. He said what he said similar comments to these during the campaign and yet he did still win the presidency. So Scott, it kind of begs the question, do voters care about this?

JENNINGS: Well, voters certainly care about solutions. And I think what the President has said all along is that he wants some solutions to what have been some of the most intractable problems in American politics. Immigration reform, border security, fixing the issue with the DREAMERs.

This stuff has been stalled out really comprehensively for years. And we appear to be maybe knocking on the door of some actual solutions after years of stalling. So I think what they really care about is that we don't have another moment where we get right up to the cusp of doing immigration reform and then doing nothing. And a, it would be a disservice to the DREAMERs. B, it would be an extreme let down to the American people who really kind of waited for a solution. And they expect a solution. And frankly, I think they expect a bipartisan solution.

CABRERA: You seem to be saying the same thing there. But Republican congressman Mia Love, don't forget, this is very personal to her. She is the first Haitian-American elected to Congress. She wants an apology from the President for one. But here is what she said on the "STATE OF THE UNION" about striking a deal on DACA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIA LOVE (R), FIRST HAITIAN-AMERICAN ELECTED TO CONGRESS: We have to give a little. We have to make sure that everyone, all of these interested parties are in the room, talking about what's good for the American people and what's good for our country. So I think we have to do more. We have to make sure that we get as many opinions in the room as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Maria, what does that look like? Who should be in that room?

CARDONA: I think that who should be in that room are the people that actually look like America, not just a group of white men making racist immigration policy. Let's be very clear, I do think that many Republicans want this

because they understand, again, how damaging it would be to the country if they don't do this and how damaging it would be for the party if they don't do this. You have Jeff Flake, you have Lindsey Graham, you have Marco Rubio. I think all of those Republicans understand and more how important it is.

However, you have the President of the United States who says one thing and Scott just mentioned it, he said he wanted a bill of love. He said he would sign anything that came to his desk if it was bipartisan. But then what happens? He hears people like Anne Coulter saying that she will not back the President if he does this. He hears people like Steve King who is the most anti-immigrant congressman -- Republican congressman in the House of Representatives. He knows that he will be in trouble with his base if he actually accepts this deal, so he goes back on his word. Shocker, right?

And so again, this is up to now the President of the United States, Scott. And Republicans who will hopefully push him to keep his word and to accept a bipartisan deal that has protections for the DREAMERs, that has increased border security in it and that has all of the things he talked about that he would accept. We are at the verge. We are at that door. It's up to the President of the United States not to slam that door in the face of this country, in the face of Americans and the face of 800,000 DREAMERs who are looking for solutions.

[19:10:07] CABRERA: Scott, today the President has tweeted that Democrats don't want DACA and it's their fault if there's not a deal. I mean, let's remember the President himself sort of created this DACA crisis. He rescinded the program. He repealed DACA that was in place. And then of course there was bipartisan deal that was brought to him on Thursday which he rejected. Can he credibly blame this on Democrats if there is no deal?

JENNINGS: Well, first of all, let's remember how we got DACA. We got it through a legally dubious executive order from Barack Obama. The President's own justice department decided along with a federal court that it was illegal which caused the President then to put a deadline on this of March.

Look. I'm going to choose the glass half full route here. I know Maria has taken a lot of shots at the President tonight. And frankly, this is why it is so difficult to deal with Democrats because they spend most of their time in these meetings and on television insulting the President, insulting Republicans.

CARDONA: Because the President insults the majority of Americans.

JENNINGS: Let me finish.

CABRERA: Let Scott finish.

JENNINGS: Let me finish. Most Republicans, I will agree with Maria on this, do want this solved. They do want a solution for the DREAMERs. And they do want this to solve what has been this intractable problem of immigration reform. But they are not going to do it unless they can get credible border security and credible reforms to an immigration system that they believe is broken. So the President didn't get that in the first deal, according to his own values and principles that he has laid out that was brought to him, but that doesn't mean they have to stop working.

And what I have come to believe is tonight they are still working. More bipartisan work is being done. And I believe that Congress will likely pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open this week as they continue to negotiate this.

The critical issue here is that they not stop. They are close. They are not there. But they cannot stop. And I think the President, despite what he said in his tweets, does believe a solution can be found.

CARDONA: And Democrats are absolutely willing to accept increased border security. They always have. But I will not accept you Scott or any Republican blaming Democrats or other Americans for calling the President out for incredibly racist remarks that he makes in these meetings that he knows will scuttle the deals because his anti- immigrant base is pissed off that he is on the verge of making a bipartisan deal that will give protections to 800,000 immigrants which he knows his base does not want. And I think at his core, he does not want because he has shown us time and again that he is a racist and a xenophobe and a bigot.

We have to work around it. No question about that but we will hopefully succeed in spite of him, not because of him.

CABRERA: Got to go, guys. Maria Cardona, Scott Jennings, thank you, both.

CARDONA: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, fire off the Florida coast. A boat goes up in flames forcing people to jump in the water. Passengers and rescuers are now telling their stories.

Panic in paradise. New information on that false incoming missile alert. What caused it and what's being done to keep it from happening again?

And hero caught in the out. A helmet camera capturing a firefighter making a dramatic catch saving a baby.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:17:15] CABRERA: Now to the breaking story we are following out of Florida. A fire on a casino shuttle boat leaving at least a dozen people injured. This happened off the coast of Port Richey, near Tampa.

And take a look at this. The entire boat engulfed in flames. People onboard forced to jump in the water to escape. Officials say roughly a dozen people have relatively minor injuries. We are now hearing from passengers who were on that boat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It was crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything else you want to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lot of flames and fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Let's get right to correspondent Kaylee Hartung in Miami for us.

Kaylee, what is the very latest you are hearing?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, a tweet from the U.S. coast guard just a short while ago telling us that all people board the "Island Breeze" during the boat fire have been acted for and are ashore. This very welcome news after hearing a bit earlier from local officials that they did not believe anyone was left in the water. But as they compare the manifest of the passengers on the boat to those ashore, there was one person unaccounted for that they thought could have left the scene on their own.

Now this shuttle boat was taking its passengers to a casino offshore. It was around 4:00 this afternoon when the boat's captain became aware of a fire in the engine room. He then made every effort to turn that boat around. The boat was about 100 feet from shore when people became literally abandoning ship, jumping into the 59 degree water.

Incredible challenges for the first responders here. Listen to this account from an officer who dove right into the officer to assist those in need.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water is very cold, like you are adrenaline starts kicking in and you reserve back to your training and basically bringing people in and we had other, you know, other -- we drag them to the shoreline and then there is neighbors able to help them up out of the water. There was some seniors having difficulty. There was a couple of seniors that face down in the water when we first arrived on scene. We were able to get those out of the water safely to the shore. It was definitely a chaotic scene.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: Officials say 15 people have been transported to local hospitals with nonlife-threatening injuries. But Ana, when you see these dramatic pictures it is such a relief to hear from the United States Coast Guard that all people are accounted for and ashore.

CABRERA: Good news there. Thank you, Kaylee Hartung.

Some more breaking news we are following right now. President Trump just spoke out moments ago from his Florida resort. He was at the Trump international golf club having dinner apparently with Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don't want security at the border. You got people pouring in. They don't want to stop drugs. And they want to take money away from our military which we cannot do. So those are some of the --

[19:20:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Did you see what various senators in the room about my comment? They weren't made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: No. I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to make a deal, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I don't know if there will be a shutdown. There shouldn't be. Because if there is our military gets hurt very badly. We cannot let our military be hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, that was a state thing. But we are now going to get involved with them. I love that they took responsibility. They took total responsibility. But we are going to get involved. Their attitude and what they want to do I think is terrific. They took responsibility. They made a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, we hope it won't happen again. But part of it is that people are on edge but maybe eventually will solve the problem so they don't have to be so on edge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you communicated with Kim Jong-un? Can you clear up your comment?

TRUMP: We will see what happens. Couple meetings scheduled, couple additional meetings scheduled. We are going to see what happens. Hopefully it's all going to work out. We will see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you talked to him?

TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE). But we are going to see what happens with North Korea. We have great talks going on. The Olympics you know about. A lot of things can happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you take your responsibility to make a deal on DACA?

TRUMP: We are ready, willing and able to make a deal on DACA. But I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal. The folks from DACA should know the Democrats are the ones that aren't going to make a deal. Thank you, everybody. Enjoy yourselves. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Again, the President speaking just moments ago. We just turned that tape for you. The headline there clearly when he said I am not a racist responding to the question about that following the comments in recent days. Him saying I am the least racist person also commenting on DACA saying he is ready to make a deal and he was also asked about North Korea in which he said we will see what happens with North Korea. We will of course continue to follow any more developments that come from that.

Meantime, let me take you to Hawaii where people are angry right now. They want answers and they want things changed. Somebody made a mistake, a big mistake this weekend, blasting out an urgent message that a ballistic missile was on its way. People all over Hawaii started panicking because they didn't know for a whole 38 minutes that this was a false alarm.

And now just in to CNN, we have learned exactly what happened there yesterday in Hawaii. CNN's Sara Sidner is in Honolulu and also with our intelligence and security analyst Bob Bear.

So Sara, I understand you just talked to Hawaii's top emergency officials. What is their account of what happened?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very simply there was a shift change and during that shift change they do test quite often. This is not an unusual thing to do the test. But the test is normally done within the emergency management agency. It does not go out to the public.

One of the workers there pulled up the wrong template, clicked on that template, that template was the one that would send it out to the public and then it also asked him do you want to send this or not and he clicked yes or that person clicked yes. Not sure if it's a he or she.

So at this point in time, we have learned from the administrator that the worker that did that is actually been basically disciplined. They have him working. He is not fired but he has been reassigned for the time being as they investigate what happened. But they are putting contingencies now in place where there has to be two people who verify that anything even is sent out even when it's a test within the emergency management agency. And they have something that they added to this template which is a false alarm. That didn't exist before this which is why they say it took 30 something minutes for them to get a new message in place to send that out to the public telling them that this was a false alarm, that there was no inbound missile.

Yes, people here are frustrated. They are angry, partly because they were terrified. There were families huddling inside the small rooms in their homes, worrying their children, worrying that we were at war. They are worrying that they are never going to be able to either survive this or ever speak to other family members again. Lots of phone calls going back and forth to family members telling them good- bye. So there was a lot of anxiety that happened.

Hawaii is sort of going back to its normal cool and calm self, if you will. But yes, there was panic here. And a lot of frustration on legislators' parts who want some answers about how this would happen and want to make sure this will never happen again - Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Sara Sidner there in Honolulu. Thank you for bringing us that updated information.

Let me bring in Bob Baer now.

And Bob, officials there in Hawaii now just say this was a big mistake. You heard the latest explanation about how it happened. What's your biggest takeaway?

[19:25:10] BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, there should have been double authentication, Ana. I mean, it's normal for military systems from missile launches and the rest of it. That is a huge mistake in the system in the software that they couldn't send out a message saying this was a false alert. You should at least two people should authentic one of these things. And I can't understand why Hawaii didn't have that in place but they didn't.

But you know, what disturbs me about all this is we don't have a failsafe system, you know, dealing with North Korea at all. I mean, this could happen with the military. We have shot down civilian airliners in the past by accident, misreading radar and the rest of it. So the situation with North Korea is very tense, obviously. And the quicker we talk ourselves down from this crisis, the better, get it solved. Because any time there could be an accident worse than this one, of course.

CABRERA: And when it comes to the reaction that this incident triggered once those false alerts were put out and then how the U.S. then responded and sort of the disconnect between like the federal officials and the state officials because now we know at the state level they didn't have some kind of system in place to be able to put out an additional message immediately saying that was a false alert, could anybody see that as a vulnerability if it's an adversary watching this play out?

BAER: Well, they could see it as vulnerability. But what the North Koreans understand now is that our warning system doesn't work all that well. And they are worried about us all the time too, you know, misreading a potential launch out of North Korea.

I would prefer to see the federal government, the military in-charge of missile alerts. I mean, how would the state of Hawaii ever know except by a phone call whether there were incoming missiles, but if you had the military in charge of something like this it's less likely to go wrong.

CABRERA: Bob Baer, thanks so much for your take.

BAER: Thank you.

CABRERA: Now back to our top stories. How our President's vulgar remarks about African immigrants being received by the Americans who voted for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would give him overall a seven, seven over ten.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: We had to the heart of Trump country and get voters reaction.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:55] CABRERA: Vial, hate filled, embarrassing, all words we have filled out of Washington in the wake of the President's calling African nation s-holes. But the familiar outrage build a familiar divide. In 2018 there are two Americas that see what they want to see in the President's words.

Gary Tuchman went into Trump country and asked what they thought.

Gary what did you find?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, what do Trump voters in Trump country think about his controversial comments? We came to Calhoun County, Alabama where Mr. Trump received about 69 percent of the vote in November 2016 to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me a break.

TUCHMAN: The Rock and Roll billiards bar in Aniston, Alabama is in the heart of Trump country and Bob Hollingsworth say loyal Republican who voted for Donald Trump.

What do you think of the job Donald Trump is doing so far? BOB HOLLINGSWORTH, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I would give him overall a seven,

seven over ten.

TUCHMAN: He doesn't get a higher grade, says Hollingsworth, because of some of his personal behavior, including what he just said.

HOLLINGSWORTH: He used shithole countries.

TUCHMAN: So what do you think of the President using that term?

HOLLINGSWORTH: We could have done better there. But I think he talked in more so in terms of forcing that against the leadership of the country (INAUDIBLE).

TUCHMAN: Right. But the fact that he used that word at all in describing the country in a way shape of form?

HOLLINGSWORTH: Not Presidential, no. Not Presidential. Shouldn't have done it.

TUCHMAN: We found that to be a common sentiments in downtown Aniston among people who generally liked the President.

Rodney Purser works in a restaurant. With the President using that word how do you feel about that?

RODNEY PURSER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He should have been more professional about it. He shouldn't use that word.

TUCHMAN: And as far as the restaurant customers go --

TRACY WRIGHT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think that that was unprofessional and I would think that that shows a little bit of lack of morals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably un-presidential.

TUCHMAN: Gene Robinson feels a little bit different, though. The store owner is a former mayor of Aniston. And he isn't even registered Republican, but strongly defends the President.

GENE ROBINSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I don't think that he would intentionally insulted any country and that just came out of his mouth and that's the way he operates. He operates from the hip.

TUCHMAN: So you think it's just a mistake that he said that?

ROBINSON: Yes, I do.

TUCHMAN: You don't think he's being derogatory.

ROBINSON: I don't think he is being derogatory toward anyone.

TUCHMAN: Back at the billiard's hall, Bob Hollingsworth rejects accusations the President is racist.

Do you think he ever would have said that about a country that is mostly white? The countries he said that about are mostly black?

HOLLINGSWORTH: That's a good point.

TUCHMAN: Would it affect you when you vote in 2020? Could it make you say you're not going to vote for him this time?

HOLLINGSWORTH: Crude, but I can live with it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: Notably, many people we talked to here haven't even heard about President Trump's comments. And that has a lot to do with Mr. Trump and what people are used to with him when it comes to controversial comments. When we told people what we said, we didn't see any shock and very little surprise - Ana.

[19:35:12] CABRERA: Gary Tuchman, thank you for that.

So just to put things into perspective here, instead of talking about what's going to happen with DACA or if there's going to be a government shutdown, we are talking about whether or not the President's comments were racist.

Joining us now CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, also a presidential historian.

Julian, just moments ago President Trump asked the question, was asked the question are you a racist here's what he said?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No. No, I'm not a racist. I'm the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I am not a racist. I am the least racist President you will ever interviewed. Just the fact that he is having to answer that question, what does that tell you?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Once you have that kind of debate going on and once the President has to answer this question, you already have a problem. And this doesn't just come out of the comment this week. This comes out of a long line of comments and incidents we have seen since day one of this campaign and since before he even ran for President.

CABRERA: Right.

ZELIZER: That makes this so explosive.

CABRERA: And put it into his context for us, because he is not the first President to use vulgar language, to make racist remarks. So how is this different?

ZELIZER: Right, absolutely true. If you listen to the Lyndon Johnson tapes, he says all kinds of derogatory remarks including against African-American. Richard Nixon was famously anti-Sematic. But we are a long way since then. So we would hope the Presidents are doing better than back in the 1960s and 1970s and that's part of what's troubling. And then this isn't just cursing or swearing, it's kind of the context of what this meant about certain countries, about a kind of nativism that some see in the President of the United States. And that's why many people are really troubled by the fact this came up in a meeting with legislators.

CABRERA: We heard in Gary's piece there the term un-presidential, but the bottom line was a lot of his supporters don't care about him being presidential. They care about the economy. They care about jobs.

ZELIZER: Right. And so some of his supporters are focused on other issues. And some of his supporters say this is unprofessional, which is one way to characterize it. But that doesn't make it right. Just because your base supports something you do, you don't step back and say well, it's OK for a President to do that.

And this is always been part of the Trump appeal. He has played to some of the sentiment. Again, day one of the campaign was about Mexican quote/unquote "rapists and murders." He started with this and criminals. He started with this issue. And it's always been part of the Trump package. And so I think that's why not everyone is surprised to hear these remarks from the President but they are deeply troubled by it.

CABRERA: And you are deeply troubled by it. You write in your op-ed for CNN.com, if the political class and the public we start to brush these moments off as Trump being Trump or nothing worse than what we have seen, we will lower the bar so far it will be impossible to ever repair the presidency. So you are actually worried about the long- term impact on the office of the presidency.

ZELIZER: Absolutely. I think it is something serious to consider. The normalization of some of the rhetoric he has used and some of the actions he has taken is dangerous because it then lowers the bar for the next President and the President after that. And this becomes a normalized part of Presidential politics. It's not unconventional. It's not out of the realm of what you can do.

You can speak this way. You can say these things. And this is part of what the U.S. presidency will become and we can't do that. This is an important institution and the norms that a President upholds and how they speak and what they say and what values they represent are essential to our democracy and that's why these kinds of moments matter. They are not just distractions. They are not just that's just a little part of the presidency. This is at the center of what the President does. The value he upholds and the rhetoric that he uses is very important.

CABRERA: Julian Zelizer, thank you very much.

You can read Julian's full op-ed again on CNN.com. It's titled Obama's stern warning for Trump. Well, a moment of triumph after a horrific tragedy. A Texas boy hit

five times in a church shooting gets a homecoming he will never forget. We will bring that to you live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:43:38] CABRERA: In a candid speech today, Iran's President took aim and mocked President Trump. Iran's President says Trump tried and quote "failed to kill off the Iran nuclear deal."

Now, on Friday President Trump signed a waiver on some Iranian sanctions. That was part of the deal. Remember back in 2016, though, candidate Trump vowed to rip up the Iran nuclear deal.

Let's talk about it with Elise Labott, CNN global affairs correspondent.

Elise, Trump approving that all important waiver on Friday, is this being viewed as admitting defeat like Rouhani claims?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly the Trump administration isn't saying that. And I think, you know, one of the things, Ana, you can say one thing on a campaign trail. But the realities of governing are something much different and President Trump's advisers told him that, you know, if he really wants as he says to look at Iran's behavior in its totality and we are talking about the missile activity, the support for terrorism, human rights, it would be better to stay in the deal and meet U.S. commitments while Congress tries to work on a fix to the legislation which governs the deal while the U.S. works with the Europeans to try and strengthen some elements that President Trump found troublesome. And so I think they would say it's not necessarily defeat, it's just a recognition that you are going to be able to maintain more international unity if you look at the deal in the totality of the other behavior.

[19:45:01] CABRERA: Rouhani has tried to downplay the significance of those recent violence even deadly protests across Iran. Is there a split in Iran right now that might actually give the U.S. some leverage going forward?

LABOTT: Well, during the protests what officials told me is they saw a fissure between with the regime and the kind of Mulahs and clerics and the Iranian revolutionary guards corps which is really in-charge of the foreign policy, really in-charge of the military and has a real drain on the economy. Was trying to kind of saw more discontent, not necessarily in the government but the fact that the regime holds such a close grip on the economy. And so officials says, well, we want to sew this division. This is an opportunity for us.

Now if you look at what Rouhani is saying that the protesters have some points that not only on the economy but on censorship, President Rouhani points to the overthrow of Bashan (ph), the Iranian revolution saying that didn't work out so well for you. If the administration really did want to saw this discontent, it might have to talk to members of the government such as President Rouhani, such as Iranian foreign minister Zarif.

I'm not sure that the administration has that kind of wide ranging strategy at this point. I think it's more focusing on additional sanctions on some of that other activity and just hoping that this -- these protests won't go away.

CABRERA: Elise Labott in Washington, thank you.

Homes destroyed, roads filled with boulders and debris after a devastating mudslide engulfed a California town. We will take you there live where the search is still under way for people who are missing.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:51:05] CABRERA: Tonight, the devastated town of Montecito, California will honor and mourn 20 lives lost to mudslides with a candle light vigil. Crushing mudslides have devoured entire chunks of this upscale enclave in southern California creating rivers of mud and debris. The town of Montecito is now facing huge challenges, first fires, then floods and mudslides. The water supply is now unreliable. Trees and debris are blocking some roads.

And our CNN's correspondent Paul Vercammen is on the ground there in Montecito, California.

And Paul, I mean, the scene behind you is so dirty obviously, but so much is buried now underneath that mud. What are you hearing about the efforts of first responders now working around the clock?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are working so hard, and they are being praised for their work. And let me just tell you something. This is somber, Ana, but this is reality.

Look at the 101 freeway just covered in all of this debris. What the first responders are reckoning with is just so much mud and they have turned this, the sheriff said it just a short time ago, it is not search and rescue. This is search and recovery. We know there is 20 dead. We know there is four missing. So they are trying to clear this major artery here. This is between basically southern California and Los Angeles all the way up to San Francisco, feverishly working on getting this clear.

And here's a reminder, look in front of us, surf boards and kayaks, well, we understand from these business owners from the north, I have been talking to people at riding stables, at kayak rental centers as far north as (INAUDIBLE), more than 100 miles to the north, people in the valley and (INAUDIBLE). What they are saying is this happened to Montecito, but don't forget us. Because as this area needs to come back on its feet, they are going to need visitors. They rely heavily on tourism. And that's why this clean-up effort is so important over here as well. They have got to have it open.

Southbound, you can tell, look at that sign, how far it's buried, that's how much progress they have made today. Removing something like 100 or clearing I should say something like 135 yards of this. This has been a sunny day. A great weekend. And is this going unappreciated? No way.

We caught up with a guy I like to call a serial hand shaker. He went up to every single first responder that he could find in a staging area, he walked up to all of them and basically congratulated them and thanked them for a myriad of reasons, and not the least of which is he knows there were bodies pulled out. And he said that they showed so much reverence. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN GRIFFITH, MONTECITO RESIDENT: The dignity and the class that they showed my wife's deceased friend was how they show the same respect when a fellow policeman or fellow firefighter passes away. They stood at attention. They covered the body. They took their hats' off. They shed a tear. And they treated that body like it was one of their own.

I want to say thank you for your sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir. Thank you, sir.

GRIFFITH: I want to say thank you for your blood, for your sweat, and for your tears.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: Raw emotion here. I have been here firsthand. They are just breaking their backs to get this community back up. And people have asked, how can we help? And the thing I would like to say, around the country and the world, when they get this place back up and even if they don't, these other places are open. Don't ignore the 805 area code. I will admit, I'm from here. They need your business. They need your love. They need your help. And they are going to need a lot of people to come through here in the coming weeks because there are so many folks who are either given a massage or serving at a restaurant or whatever it is, and they rely on those visitors -- Ana.

CABRERA: An important message. Paul Vercammen, thank you for keeping us updated on what's happening right now there.

And dramatic moment caught on camera, firefighter making a life-saving catch. Wow. Details on this story coming up live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:59:12] CABRERA: Welcome back.

In a week filled with ugly headlines, here is one to give you just a little hope. A six-year-old shot five times in that Texas church shooting got to go home in style.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING) CABRERA: Fire trucks escorted Rylan Ward home on Thursday. Forty- five minute drive from the hospital to his house now ends. A more than two month journey that started when a gunman murdered 25 people and wounded 20 at the boy's church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Rylan lost his two sisters and his stepmother in that massacre. Doctors thought he might not make it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHY CUTZER, RESIDENT, SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TEXAS: He is a fighter. God has a purpose for that little man. He is a fighter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Out of this terrible tragedy, some see his survival as a miracle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.