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The Trump Presidency; Trump Slams Report He's Eyeing Impeachment Lawyer; Crucial Election; DOJ Sues California Over "Sanctuary City" Policies; Traces Of Nerve Gas Agent Found At U.K. Restaurant, Pub. Aired 3-4pm ET
Aired March 11, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:03] BILL WEIR, CNN HOST (on camera): The Pope said recently, if you split up families because of immigration, you can't be pro- life.
SISTER NORMAL PIMENTEL, AMERICAN NUN, RIO GRANDE VALLEY: That's right.
WEIR: You agree with that?
WEIR (voice-over): Sister Norma works on the Texas-Mexico border and says this Pope is her model for how to treat everyone who crosses it.
PIMENTEL: We feel encouraged that we're doing the right thing. That his presence, his words, his message is a sense of strength for us.
WEIR: Francis has tackled so much in his first years, but opening hearts in a world of closing borders may be the biggest faith project of all.
Bill Weir, CNN, Vatican City.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: "Pope, the Most Powerful Man in History" premieres tonight at 10:00 p.m. only on CNN.
All right, hello again, and thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York today. President Trump is sharpening attacks ahead of Tuesday's all-important Pennsylvania special election. At a campaign rally, Trump's speech touched on everything from drug dealers to being presidential to Oprah Winfrey but he did not mention the Russia investigation.
Well, today that changed. On Twitter, Trump blasting the Russia case saying the only collusion was done by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. But as those tweets came out just hours ago, Trump's own CIA Director was contradicting the message on national TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: The Russians attempted to interfere in the United States elections in 2016.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you say Russians, Russians with ties to the Kremlin, Russians with ties to Putin's regime?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's bring in CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez. So, Boris, the President is going against his own Intelligence Community yet again all while he shifts his focus now on 2020?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. This isn't really something new. We've seen the President contradict his own Intelligence Community a multiple times before, specifically when it comes to the issue of Russian meddling. More recently, White House staffers have kind of pushed back on the idea that the President denied that Russia had meddled in the election. They're trying to argue that when he calls the Russian investigation a hoax that he's zeroing in on this idea that members of his campaign may have colluded with the Russians.
Despite that, on his Twitter account and through multiple things he said in public, even in the last two weeks, it's clear that the President still hesitates to say that it was solely Russia who meddled in the 2016 election and not China or perhaps a, you know, 400-pound person on their bed as he has famously said.
The president gave a speech last night in Pennsylvania going on the attack, similar to the tweet we saw attacking a number of Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren. And then he lampooned critics who say when he does that, he's not acting presidentially.
Listen to Donald Trump here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember I used say how easy it is to be presidential? But you would all be out of here right now. You would be so bored. Because I could stay in that, right? Thank you.
I'm very presidential. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here tonight. Rick Saccone will be a great, great congressman. And then you go, God bless you and god bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.
See, that's easy. That's much easier than doing what I have to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: The President also did something unexpected off script last night. He announced his slogan for 2020, keep America great, something I'm told by a White House official familiar with the remarks that were prepared for the President last night, was not part of the plan at all.
I can tell you, though, that as far as the midterms go, we may see more of this from the president down the road, campaigning in districts that he won, of this district that he's campaigning for, Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania District 18, he won by 20 points. We know that officials at the RNC and others within the administration have counseled the President about which races he could really help in and which he may have to stay in the background for when it comes to getting Republicans elected to the House and Senate later this year in November.
The other question and really the underlying question here, specifically for Rick Saccone at special election on Tuesday, is whether the President popularity ultimately translates into votes. We've seen a certain races with the President has helped, others even campaigning strongly for candidates like Luther Strange and Roy Moore, that generally helped Republicans at all, Fred.
[15:05:03] WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much from the White House. All right, the President spends much of the campaign rally taking jabs at his opponents rather than endorsing his party's candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Can you imagine covering Bernie or Pocahontas, Pocahontas, how about that, and Maxine Waters, a very low I.Q. individual. Did you ever see her? I'd love to beat Oprah. I know her weakness. No, no, I know her weakness. Sleepy eyes Chuck Todd. He is a sleeping son of a bitch at Washington D.C. I got a lot of evil there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me to discuss, CNN political commentator and member of the Trump Advisory Board, Paris Dennard in D.C. today and CNN political commentator and Board Director for Stand Up Republic, Tara Setmayer here in New York with me.
So Paris, you first, the President really seemed to be enjoying this rally, even as he faces, you know, the headwinds, including the Russia investigation, the Stormy Daniels saga. How important do you suppose this kind of validation from the crowd is for this president particularly at a time like now?
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I would kind of push back on that. I don't know if it's all doom and gloom, as he tried to describe it. This been actually a very good week for the President. He had job numbers come out that had --
WHITFIELD: But overall, you still have the cloud of Russia, you've got the Stormy Daniels, I mean that's not going away and the President knows these things, but, so I guess the question really is, you know, does he get reenergized from a crowd-like this, a setting like that in Pennsylvania, knowing that that clouds still hangs over the White House, knowing that those problems have not gone away? You do agree with that, right?
DENNARD: Sure. There are some issues that are media chooses to focused on day-in and day-in 24/7 but there's also some good things that are going on and that happened this past week under this administration as the things that everyone of those people who can't -- those thousands of Americans in Pennsylvania who came out to hear the President, they came out to hear because they agree with his message. They agree with his policies and they want to make the country great again and they want to support this candidate. It's all about turnout.
This is the district where the President won, I believe, 19% or 20% -- percentage points and so they should support the candidate who's running there. And it was a great opportunity for them to hear from the President --
WHITFIELD: But is this --
DENNARD: -- and be energized to go out and vote for the candidate come Tuesday.
WHITFIELD: And I don't meant to interrupt you but I mean, you know, he spent majority of his time talking about kind of himself, his campaign, looking ahead. And if this was a rally for that candidate, Saccone, I mean, he spent, the President spent more time than on everything but Saccone. So, you know, is the translation to that, that the President feels like he needs this from the crowd?
DENNARD: Well, I don't know if you've ever attended a political rally or stood for hours on in to actually wait to hear the person at the podium, they can hear from Saccone. They all meet multiple times throughout the course of this campaign trail. But for the President of the United States to come there, they came to see President Donald J. Trump. They were there and stood there for hours to hear from the President.
And so, it was about President, it's about his agenda and a president who received 19 or 20 out some at percentage points in Pennsylvania was unprecedented. That enthusiasm is hopefully going to translate over to the candidate running for Congress.
So by now means it wasn't a problem. It was a good thing for him to be there. It was a good thing for him to tell his successes and talk about the things that they wanted to hear from because they agree with the President and they want to hear from him and that's what he did.
WHITFIELD: OK. And among those things that he talked about, he talked about his slogan, you know, Keep America Great, you know, exclamation point. And the President also talked about a few other things including how to tackle the drug epidemic and any focus on how other countries are actually dealing with the issue. Here's an example of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When I was in China and other places, by the way, I said, Mr. President, do you have a drug problem? No, no, no, we do not. I said, huh. Big country, 1.4 billion people, right? Not much of a drug problem? I said what do you attribute that to? Well, the death penalty. So honestly, I don't know that the United States, frankly, is ready for it. They should be ready for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: OK. So, Tara, to you, so the President was also talking about ideas before him in the past, you know, praise the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte about, you know, how drug dealers and users would be killed in the country and now he's talking about the death penalty. Is the solution oriented or is this is kind of style, or is he really giving us an insight of the direction which he wants to go.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is a terrible idea. The fact that the President of the United States would even entertain the examples of a totalitarian country like China or the Philippines where their president is engaged in extrajudicial killings as something that we should consider here in the U.S., no, I have a death penalty for drug dealers.
[15:10:10] WHITFIELD: Can you take him seriously or is this --
SETMAYER: Well, you can't do without legislation.
WHITFIELD: That's where it came out.
SETMAYER: He can't do without legislation but it just gives you kind of an insight into where his mind is and his adulation for strong man, which should concern every American.
I figured I'm not alone when I watch that rally last night and actually my stomach was in knots. There was so many things that this president did during that rally that were stomach turning for me. As an American watching these Democratic norms and ideals and where common decency is now no longer currency anymore, no longer something to be expected for the President of the United States.
Watching these people clapping for a president behaving that way, it concerns me. And I think we, as a country, need to take a look at what's going on here. It seems to me like rhetoric is more in control of what reality is coming from Donald Trump and his supports as opposed to what's truthful, what's factual, those are casualties under this president.
Yes, that's great. The economy is doing well and the people have jobs, it's wonderful. But is it really about policy outcomes anymore and at what cost? The stress on our democratic norms and ideals I think is way too important. These kinds of examples of the way Trump behaves and the way people accept it and enable it, this is how democracy dies and dictators rise. And I think that we need to stop this claiming to tax cuts then, well, the economy is great and completely ignoring what this president is doing to the office of the presidency.
WHITFIELD: So one example of, you know, you talked about some inaccuracy as one of that --
SETMAYER: A lot about.
WHITFIELD: -- you know, women of voters and so, Paris, you know, the president had this to say about support from women in the 2016 race. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Didn't we surprise them with women during the election? Remember, women won't like Donald Trump. I said, have I really had that kind of a problem? We got 52%, right? Fifty two, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: But the numbers don't, you know, really back that up. A CNN exit poll from 2016 shows 52% of white women voted for Trump, but overall Hillary Clinton actually won the women vote by 54%.
So Paris, you know, what is your response to that? Why does the President, you know, intentionally either spout half truths, you know, inaccuracies altogether or he just that, you know, he thinks he's telling the truth and he just doesn't have all the facts? What's going on there in an example like that?
DENNARD: When I look at your graphic, the President said he got 52% of women voters and you said he got 52% amongst white women voters. I mean, I guess you could have put the --
WHITFIELD: White women versus all women.
SETMAYER: Right. He lost overall women.
DENNARD: So, but -- that he got 52% of white women voters was a factual statement. Another factual statement is that he got 8% of the African-American vote what we'll show that he thought he was going to get. He got double to support for Hispanic votes was nobody (INAUDIBLE) going to get.
WHITFIELD: Out numbers showed 4% of the African-American vote but go ahead.
SETMAYER: But because the --
DENNARD: Are you (INAUDIBLE) that based on fact that he got 4%. He did not get 4% of the African-American vote. I don't know what (INAUDIBLE).
SETMAYER: That's according to our CNN polling numbers right there. DENNARD: Well, your CNN polling is wrong. He did not get 4%, he got double digit support with the African-American -- I mean, he got 8% support for the African-American community but at the end of the day, we can pick and shows on which poll we look at and which number he gets.
Look what the President is doing, you look at the women that are serving in his cabinet, the women that are serving in that White House in senior position, it is impressive and it is diverse and it's a positive thing that everyone of those voters in that auditorium can support.
I saw tons of women near that were actually cheering enthusiastically about the President is doing because it is his passes. You can focus on the negative all you want to but the voters and the American people who are outside of the bubble, outside of the belt way and outside the planetary of people like Tara Setmayer understand what this president is doing and they appreciate it and they support it. And I want to stand to voters rather than standing with somebody who is coming on show and trying to pick and choose on what the president is not saying.
He got 52% of white women voters and that is true.
WHITFIELD: All right.
SETMAYER: You're talking about the vote. You're about 35%--
SETMAYER: -- of the American people. You're not talking about the overall American --
DENNARD: -- and he is the president. Get over it, Tara. He won. Get over it. He won.
SETMAYER: You know what, stop talking --
DENNARD: That's how we won.
SETMAYER: See this kind of petulant, like get over, he won. Oh, my gosh. Like, that attitude right there is why so many people feel that what Donald Trump has created in this country is bigger than just, oh, he won and he you didn't cross over.
SETMAYER: There's nothing to do with that.
SETMAYER: It has to do with the fact that this country, again, I will emphasize, Democratic norms, ideals, common decency, telling the truth, expecting the President of the United States to behave like an adult, are apparently these are things that are sour grapes all the sudden. If Barack Obama did a fraction of what Donald Trump did, just at that rally last night alone, you, Paris Dennard, would be on here going off about how unpresidential Barack Obama is. So I don't want to hear it about --
DENNARD: I've seen and I wouldn't, so not (INAUDIBLE) -- I'll tell the people what I will do and that's not true.
SETMAYER: -- (INAUDIBLE) you have get involved about to call the President of the United States that was being a liar and being dishonest and acting like a child from the podium when he supposed to be President of the United States. So there's nothing to do with about who won and who lost.
[15:15:15] We could have had the same kind of policies right now as we are actual Republican and at many of the ones that we have running that were qualified and understood how to run government that didn't have porn star scandals, that weren't liars, that weren't under investigation for colluding with the Russians. They didn't have all the baggage Donald Trump has.
DENNARD: He's not under investigation.
SETMAYER: So don't even try it that's just because the things are do going well with tax cuts but that this makes it all worth it. Is it really?
DENNARD: Well, I think you could be respectful to the President of the United States and try that on with rhetoric towards him. We need more talk about Democratic norms.
SETMAYER: He should be respectful of the office of the presidency. When he acts like a President of the United States, then I'll show him the respect that that office deserves but until then, then I will continue to call up the fact that none of this is normal.
DENNARD: Well, the American people who voted for him, the people in that rally disagree with you.
SETMAYER: Thirty five percent, 35%.
DENNARD: He still won.
SETMAYER: Overwhelm, he lost the popular vote at overwhelmingly. Right now he's unpopular.
DENNARD: And he still the President of the United States. Go back for --
SETMAYER: He is for now.
DENNARD: -- basic on how it happened. You win the Electoral College vote. It worked for Clinton, it worked for Obama, it worked for Bush and it worked for him. SETMAYER: Yes, he did.
DENNARD: So, get over it.
SETMAYER: And a lots of consequences. And --
DENNARD: And that consequences is a low unemployment that we have..
SETMAYER: Get over what? So I'm supposed to be OK with the President of the United States behaving like that? I'm supposed to be OK with that?
DENNARD: The consequences that we have is the fact that this president is bringing international (INAUDIBLE) and he's going to have cutting the deals with North Korea. And that is that we have there moving the Embassy in Jerusalem. He is doing positive things in the international stage, he's doing positive on the domestic state. We'll you look at the executive order that he put out talking about performance (INAUDIBLE).
SETMAYER: In the meantime where a lot of (INAUDIBLE) of the world again. People are no --
DENNARD: You maybe just be upset because your person did not win the election.
SETMAYER: I'm not upset about that.
DENNARD: That the American people --
SETMAYER: I'm upset because the President of the United States is embarrassing this country and he's behaving --
DENNARD: No, he's not.
SETMAYER: -- like an authoritarian. And he does that (INAUDIBLE) rule of law --
DENNARD: That's why the President of France is coming here for the state dinner. He was set the embarrassment, they wouldn't be coming here.
SETMAYER: I'm upset about the fact that the President is more concerned about crowd size and performing for people than he is about governing for what's in the best interest of this country, not his own ego.
DENNARD: No, he's about how -- about policy and policies.
SETMAYER: That's what I'm upset about. DENNARD: That was a political rally. That's what they want the President to do. He needs to do it and hope he did --
SETMAYER: I don't want the President to behave like a reality show joker. No, I don't want that.
DENNARD: Well, he's not doing that. I'm sorry that you feel so passionate about the situation. Get over it. He won.
SETMAYER: Yes, I'm passionate about the fact that the office of the presidency is being disrespected everyday by a man that lie, who perform with the reality show joker like this is some lounge, big lounge act and the rule of law doesn't seem to matter, the constitution doesn't seem to matter to the President of the United States as long as his own ego is fed.
WHITFIELD: All right.
DENNARD: It matters to the American who voted for him and he's the president.
WHITFIELD: We will leave right there. All right, we will leave right there. I appreciate that you both so passionate about your points of view and I think it was important to hear you both.
DENNARD: Thanks Fred.
WHITFIELD: Paris Dennard, Tara Setmayer.
SETMAYER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
All right, coming up, more traces of a deadly nerve agent found in Southern England, the new warning from police. Could they be closer to learning the motive behind a brazen murder plot against a former Russian spy? Plus, White House former Trump aide says, the Mueller probe is not a witch hunt.
[15:22:17] WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York.
President Trump pushing back on a report in the "New York Times" that claims he is looking at adding an impeachment lawyer to the White House team. The newspaper says the President met with lawyer Emmett Flood in the Oval Office. He represented Former President Bill Clinton during the impeachment process.
Trump reacting in a tweet, saying, I am very happy with my lawyers John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job and have shown conclusively that there was no collusion with Russia, just excuse for losing.
Here to break it all down for us, CNN Legal Analyst Page Pate. He is a criminal defense attorney and constitutional attorney. Good to see you. So what do you believe that meeting in the White House between Emmett Flood, no I just -- Emmett -- has meant, Emmet Floods, sorry, if that meeting did indeed happen what that means?
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The meeting did happen, and it's not at all unusual for the President would be considering bringing on additional counsel as this investigation moves to another stage. So, we know that Ty Cobb was involved in producing documents to the special counsel's office, arranging for certain White House interviews.
But now that the special counsel's office is bringing indictments, getting guilty pleas, having cooperating witnesses and moving toward in eventual consideration of an indictment among people within White House now, it certainly makes sense to consider a lawyer who has been through this process before, including an impeachment process.
WHITFIELD: And they did meet before, the President and Mr. Flood. They met last year and Emmett Flood said, no, not interested in working with him. Why would he this time, in your view?
PATE: I don't know. I mean, it's easy to see why a lawyer would not want to represent President Trump. I mean, it appears that he doesn't listen to his lawyers 90% of the time. He doesn't clear his tweets, his messages, his off-the-cuff remarks about the investigation, about people within the White House. So he would be a very difficult client for a lawyer to represent.
But it's the type of case that if you do this sort of work and you're involved in Washington legal matters, and you want to have a potential impeachment case, I mean, you'd have to jump at the chance to represent the President, as difficult of a client as he appears to be.
WHITFIELD: OK. So meantime, former Trump aide, Sam Nunberg, is talking about his grand jury testimony. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP ADVSER: There was nothing subjective. They don't want to know my opinion. They didn't want to know what I think happened.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC NEWS HOST: They're asking for facts.
NUNBERG: For facts. What do I know, what was this, what was that, what did you see here, what didn't you see, and that was it.
[15:25:04] And there was nothing there from what they wanted to know from me where they were looking once again, well, Sam, what do you think? What do you think about this?
WITT: Yes. Did you refuse to answer any questions?
NUNBERG: No, absolutely not. They don't ask me anything about obstruction of justice because I wasn't in the White House and I wouldn't know anything firsthand about obstruction of justice. So, of course, they didn't ask me and that's why I'm also saying this isn't a witch hunt. This is not a witch hunt. And the taxpayers are getting their money's worth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. So what's your reaction to that?
PATE: I think it's been clear to most of us who are watching the special counsel's investigation that it is not a witch hunt. Robert Mueller has been very methodical about going through the evidence, gathering documents, taking testimony under oath. He's produced indictments, he's produced guilty pleas. So, I don't think there's ever been a realistic concern by people who are watching this investigation that it is a witch hunt.
Now, it's interesting how Nunberg's comments now are very different from what he was saying before, when he into the grand jury.
WHITFIELD: When he didn't want to be cooperative, et cetera.
PATE: Right, right, right.
WHITFIELD: But then he has a changed of heart.
PATE: But now it's being part of that process being questioned in front of a grand jury. I think he gets it now that the special counsel is focusing on facts, that the facts are there to lead to a conclusion that there was collision that Robert Mueller is going to pursue it.
But if the facts are not there, he's not going to pursue it. It's not about opinion, he's not out to get somebody. He's out there to do his job. And it appears so far that's exactly what he's doing.
WHITFIELD: All right, Page Pate, thank you so much.
PATE: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. All eyes on what has become a crucial Congressional race in Pennsylvania. Why it hearts and what it could mean for the 2018 midterms. Next.
[15:31:16] WHITFIELD: All right. As we mentioned at the top of the show, President Trump gave a raucous speech in Pennsylvania to stump for a Republican Congressional candidate. It's a district Trump easily won in 2016, but the special election on Tuesday is turning into a tough battle. As poll show the underdog Democratic running neck and neck with the Republican.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Go out on Tuesday and just vote like -- you got to get out there. The world is watching. This -- I hate to put this pressure on you, Rick, they're all watching. Because I won this district like by 22 points. That's a lot. That's why I'm here.
Look at all those red hats, Rick. Look. Look at all those hats. That's a lot of hats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's get more on this critical Congressional race. CNN's Jason Carroll is covering this special election for us in Pennsylvania.
So, Jason, the President easily won this district when he ran. Is the GOP confident that their candidate can win this time?
JASON CARROLL, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if they were so confident, one might say that the President would not have paid the district not just one, but two visits, obviously the one last night. Obviously there is some concern here. Look, there's been some talk within GOP circles that Rick Saccone has run somewhat of lackluster campaign, that in terms of fundraising, he didn't do all that he could do. Some thoughts that he thought that all he could do possibly is ride the President's coattails onto a win. Clearly, that's not the case.
The polls show that this race is much closer than it should be, given that as you heard the President say, he won this district by some 20 points. So that's why you see the President coming in not once, but twice. The Vice President coming in as well, all in an attempt to remind voters here why they supported Trump, and the hopes that some of that energy will then transfer over to Rick Saccone and defeat the man who just wrapped up here just short while ago, Connor Lamb.
Connor Lamb getting the endorsement of the United Miners, that's really important feather in his cap in terms of this particular part of the county. You'll recall that this part of the county is very rural. There are a lot of Trump Democrats in this part of the county.
You've heard President Trump on many occasions talk about the mining industry. And so, there was some thought that the mining community would be behind Rick Saccone, but not necessarily the case. So, a lot of folks that just came out that we spoke to say that they liked Connor Lamb, had to say especially when it came to the idea of protecting their pensions. And if Connor Lamb, Fredericka, has to have any shot of an upset, he's going to have to win over some of those Trump Democrats that we saw out here today. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right. Jason Carroll, thanks so much for that.
All right. The State of California is locked in a bitter battle of words and will with the U.S. Justice Department over immigration. It started when the Justice Department sued the State of California over a series of laws that allows state officials to limit the information they share with Federal Immigration officials. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions blasted the law saying they undermine federal policies, even going as far as to call elected officials radical extremists.
And last night, President Trump took aim at the mayor of Oakland, California for warning citizens there that ICE agents would be carrying out raids in their city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In Oakland, you have a mayor. And she -- and she told people that we're going to be captured in a big rig that there's going to be a raid. Can't do it. You can't do it, folks. We've got to get smart.
My administration believes our city should be safe havens for American people, not for American criminals, OK? Not for American criminals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:35:11] WHITFIELD: All right. I want to talk more about this with Kevin de Leon, a Democratic member of the California State Senate who, we should note, is also running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Dianne Feinstein. All right. Good to see you.
So you sent out a statement saying in part, "It has become abundantly clear that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy, not American values." Strong words. So why do you feel like these policies are based on white supremacy?
KEVIN DE LEON (D), CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE: Well, good afternoon, Fredricka. Let me say this, last night was, again, proof positive that this President demonstrated to the nation and the world that he is disconnected from reality. If this was about rounding up hardened, violent criminals, if it was about rounding up MS-13 gang members, he wouldn't be deporting clerks working a third shift at 7-Eleven. He wouldn't be running up farm workers after toiling under the hot sun delivering food to America, abandoning their children involuntarily because they've been arrested and they're locked alone at elementary schools.
He wouldn't be arresting mothers and women who are receiving cancer treatment or seeking a temporary restraining order fleeing domestic violence. No. This is not about running at a hard and criminal felons. This is about going after immigrants from all over the world from every ethnicity just because they look different from Donald Trump. And that's why he stated that he is basing his political agenda, both him and Jeff Sessions, on the principles of white supremacy.
WHITFIELD: So, in recent days, ICE agents, you know, carried out a series of operations in Northern California, 232 people were --
DE LEON: Yes.
WHITFIELD: -- arrested over four days. ICE says 180 of them had criminal convictions and were issued final orders of removal or deportation or returned illegally. Some say these people are simply seeing the consequences of breaking the laws. Do you agree with that?
DE LEON: Well, let me say this. No one is ever going to argue that we should remove anyone who is a hard and violent criminal felon. It doesn't make difference if you're from the United Kingdom, from Canada, Mexico or elsewhere. But the reality is this, is that this administration, specifically, Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General, has been focusing on hardworking mothers and fathers. And that's why they're very upset with the great state of California.
The bottom line is this, is that California is not going to lift a single finger or spend a single cent to separate mothers from their children and children from their fathers because we're not that type of state. Now, if we're talking about violent and criminal felons, by all means, we'll work with you and we'll collaborate with you. We'll remove these individuals and send them back to their home country.
But we're talking about hardworking mothers and fathers who are dropping off their children at elementary school or farm workers who are toiling under the hot sun, you can count us out.
WHITFIELD: So the L.A. Times is reporting California received $20 million and grants from the DOJ in 2016 and more than $18 million went to criminal justice programs. Is your state prepared to take that kind of hit if the Department of Justice pulls this kind of grant money?
DE LEON: Well, let me say this. California is a donor state so we send more money to Washington than we receive back. So, those dollars belong to the people of California, first and foremost. Secondly, withholding those dollars by weaponizing these Federal funds is actually illegal. It's unconstitutional.
And with my senior counsel, the 82nd Attorney General of United States of America, Eric Holder, we filed an amicus brief and we sue President Trump and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And in fact, we won of a new one in the first round of court at a federal district level in the State of Illinois.
So let me be very clear, when they attempt to weaponize these dollars from our police officers, they're taking away money to go against -- go after human traffickers, drug traffickers, international drug cartels as well as terrorist cells. So, they're going out of their way to hurt Americans and they're going out of their way to hurt Californians.
WHITFIELD: All right. California State Senator Kevin de Leon, thank you so much.
DE LEON: Fredricka, thank you.
WHITFIELD: Investigators in the U.K. following the trail of poison as they search for a motive behind a nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy. We'll go live to Salisbury for the latest on the findings and their new warnings to residents also.
Tonight "CNN Presents "Pope, the most powerful man in history, the figurehead of over a billion members of the Catholic Church. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the last 2000 years, despite an ever-changing world, Catholics have looked to the Pope for a beacon of faith, morality and divine guidance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there's any other religious figure that people recognized as much as they recognize the pope.
[15:40:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He transcends the Catholic Church.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Pope is where you look towards for an example to how live your life as a Catholic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not like other human institutions. It's a creation, we believe, by God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A symbol of the unwavering faith that Jesus is the son of God.
ANNOUNCER: From one apostle to 1.2 billion followers, witness the evolution of a global icon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:45:18] WHITFIELD: All right. British officials are issuing a warning amidst concerns that residents of Salisbury, England may have been exposed to a nerve agent in a brazen assassination attempt of a former Russian spy.
The spy and his daughter are still in critical condition after being poisoned in a nerve agent attack last week. Twenty-one others were also treated for exposure, and police say they've now found traces of the poison in at least two other locations. CNN International Correspondent Phil Black joins me now. So Phil, how concerned should people be who were in these areas?
PHL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, the authorities here stress repeatedly that this is a precaution. They think that the risk is theoretical and really it's long term. What they're worried about is what they describe as trace contamination. They found it in the restaurant behind me, a pub around the corner, a trace contamination all the never agents they believe is responsible for harming the former Russian spy and his daughter.
Hundreds of people are potentially affected by this because what they worried about is the people who were in these two establishments last Sunday when Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were there as well.
What they worried about is if they've got it on their clothes or their possessions that if they're coming into contact with it, even though it's a small amount over a long period of time there could be some impact or some consequence down the track.
What this tells us is really interesting because it suggests that the nerve agent itself was not fast-acting. It paints a scenario of those facts alone whereby at some point Sergei Skripal and his daughter were exposed to this substance on a Sunday possibly over the course of the afternoon that move between the restaurant, the pub over some hours before eventually making their way out to the bench behind this building behind me.
That's where they were found to be really stricken, suffering the serious physical effects of the nerve agent. That's when the alarm was raised. So it points to a slow-acting nerve agent, not a likely fast-acting one. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And then western intelligence services saying that Russia is a leading suspect in all of this?
BLACK: Yes. And angry denials from Russia even though they haven't been formally accused of anything. But there's no doubt people in this country are talking about Russia. In the media, politicians in parliament, but crucially not the government, not the investigators, not the police.
They say they're in the process of building the information, continuing the investigation before they decide who they believe was responsible because shadow of Russia hangs over all this because of their experience with chemical weapons like nerve agents and because of a similar case in London back in 2006 where another former Russian agent was poisoned, but in that case the weapon of choice was a radioactive poison. Russia insists it had nothing to do with that case and it's got nothing to do with this one as well, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Phil Black, thank you so much. And we'll be right back.
[15:52:47] WHITFIELD: All right. There's no name in American politics as legendary as Kennedy. And while you know their name, you may not know their whole story. Tonight, CNN's new original series, "American Dynasties: The Kennedy's" sheds new light on the iconic family and the ways their personal relationships impacted public life on a global scale.
CNN's Dana Bash recently sat down with Kick Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy's granddaughter, and kick interviewed Dana about some of her memories covering the Kennedy family. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KICK KENNEDY, GRANDDAUGHTER OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY: Thank you, Dana, for coming in today. I'm really excited to talk to you.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: My pleasure. It's so nice to meet you.
KENNEDY: So I heard a pretty incredible story, which is that my great grandfather played a role in helping your grandmother emigrate to the U.S. during World War II. How did that happened?
BASH: Not just that, Kick, your great grandfather saved my grandmother's life. He personally did it. This is the lore of my family.
And we went back and looked at some of my grandmother's notes. She was Austrian. It was the throes of World War II. She was Jewish. Her parents sent her to England to basically be a nanny, to work as a domestic, just to get her out.
And while she was there, her parents somehow got to the United States. She was still in England, desperately trying to get a visa to the U.S. My grandmother went to the embassy where your great grandfather was ambassador. She was relentless and the story is that she finally got in to see your great grandfather and he approved it, he personally approved the visa.
BASH: And, you know, the story she used to tell was that your great grandfather said, all right, little lady, you've got moxie, I'll let you go.
KENNEDY: So fast forward a few decades, and Francis, your grandma, granddaughter Dana is covering Joe's son, Ted. You said you've learned a lot from that experience. What are some lasting lessons?
BASH: I learned so much just by observing your Uncle Ted, Ted Kennedy because he was the master legislator.
BASH: And what was so remarkable about him was that he was the most partisan of Democrats, but he also was somebody who understood that you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:55:12] WHITFIELD: Wow. Also fascinating. Be sure to tune in, "American Dynasties: The Kennedy's" premiers appears tonight, 9:00 p.m., only on CNN.
All right. Coming up, President Trump unscripted. Was his 75-minute torrent of name calling and musings a preview of what the 2018 midterms may bring? Details when we come back.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello and thanks for joining me on this Sunday. I'm Pamela Brown in for Fredricka Whitfield.