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Poisonous Gas Or Chemical Attack Outside Of Damascus; WH Chief Of Staff John Kelly Threatened To Quit; Deadly Fire At Trump Tower In New York; Bus Carrying A Junior Hockey League Team Collided With A Semitrailer In Saskatchewan, Canada; Migrants Caravan in Puebla, Mexico Spotted; With Immigration And Trade, Trump Governing By Impulse; Trump Defends Pruitt: "Scott Is Doing A Great Job"; Two U.S. Soldiers Killed In Army Helicopter Crash; Tennessee Father Of Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Charged With Killing Son; Trump Adviser Played Key Role Pursuing Possible Clinton E-mails. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 7, 2018 - 20:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:00:15] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera from New York.

And we have disturbing breaking news right now on CNN. It is shocking. It is heartbreaking. These images coming out of Syria right now. Civilians, adults and children dead and dying. The victims of what witnesses with calling a poisonous gas or chemical attack that happened today just outside of the capital, Damascus. We are about to show you some very horrific images. But let me warn you, they are very graphic.

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CABRERA: This is in the town of duma, a suburb of Damascus. People we are in contact with there say those still alive after the attack, including many women and children, are paralyzed, convulsing and showing signs of being exposed to chemical agents. This is a residential area, not a battlefield, and the victims are innocent civilians.

Let's go to Damascus live right now to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen.

Fred, first of all, how far are you from the scene of this horror? What can you tell us about what happened?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hi, Ana.

We are about, I would say, eight miles away from where this all took place earlier this evening. In fact, we have actually been seeing some airstrikes that have been going down in that Duma area, just outside of Damascus, earlier today.

Now, what we are hearing from there, that apparently, around 8:22 p.m. local time here in Damascus, a helicopter dropped a set of what they call barrel bombs. And they, apparently, contained some sort of toxic gas, as several rebel organizations say.

Now, we are trying to piece together what exactly the death toll is, but does seems as though everything is still very much in flux. There are groups that are speaking of dozens of people who were killed. There is others who are putting the death toll at around 25. We really don't know at this time.

We also can't verify the images that we are seeing from there which, as you have noted, of course, are absolutely disturbing images of those women, children and men, of course, some of them suffering from the aftermath of it. Some of them dead, as well.

So we are trying to verify those. We haven't been able to authenticate those. But it certainly is a disturbing situation.

Now, it's interesting because the Syrian government that is fighting against these rebels has come up with a statement, saying that it is absolutely untrue. They say it is not necessary for them to use chemical weapons because they have been pushing an offensive on this rebel stronghold just outside of Damascus, and they have been fairly close to taking it back. They say that all of this is just a distraction from what they say have been their victories on the battlefield, Ana.

CABRERA: Tough to see these images, Fred. And we are now getting a statement from the U.S. state department is lengthy. So let me read you some of the strongest parts and I quote here.

"We have seen multiple very disturbing reports this afternoon regarding another possible chemical weapons attack, including reports of a number of many more families, including children, hiding in shelters, but believed to be dead."

The official added, the regime's history of using chemical weapons against its own people is not in dispute. It goes on to say, as we have said, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the brutal targeting of countless Syrians with chemical weapons.

So Fred, do you see parallels to the chemical attack that happened last year, almost exactly a year ago, that prompted a military response from President Trump?

PLEITGEN: Well, look, I mean, that's the interesting thing is that -- I think the cruise missile attack that the Trump administration launched in return was pretty much exactly, almost to the day, one year ago. I mean, certainly, some of the images that we are seeing today seem to be very close or very similar to some of the ones we have seen a year ago. But again, we are very early in the stage of the game at this point.

But you know, one of the things I think sticks out in that statement is the state department saying that they believe Russia bears ultimate responsibility. And certainly, one of the things we can see here on the ground is as far as outside players in Syria, the Russians certainly are the most important ones and the most powerful ones. They are, of course, the main backers of the Assad government. And also, the ones really calling the shots on the outskirts there of Damascus.

They have actually been in negotiations with the rebels that are still in the Duma regions, trying to get them to give up. So they certainly are the most powerful ones on the ground and certainly also ones the state department says are ultimately responsible for any sort of actions that would be breaching conventions against chemical weapons - Ana.

CABRERA: And Fred, this comes on the heels of the Trump administration discussing the U.S. role in Syria this week and a potential drawdown of U.S. forces.

PLEITGEN: Yes. You are absolutely right. And you know, that's certainly something that hasn't gone unnoticed here in Damascus, as well. I mean, it is pretty much unclear whether or not any of this is related. As we said, we are still in the very early stages of what has happened there in the Duma area. But certainly, if you speak to folks her in Damascus, if you speak folks in the Syrian government, and then they will tell you, they don't really factor the United States in, into the future of Syria.

There are many Syrian soldiers that we have been speaking to who say they believe they are going to win all of Syria back. And despite the fact that at this point in time, there are still are American troops there.

And again, from what we can see on the battlefield right now, there's essentially three outside powers that play the biggest role here in this country. Those are Iran, Turkey and Russia. Those are the ones that are negotiating with one another as to what this country will look like in the future. And those are the backers of the main organizations or groups that are fighting here on the ground.

On the one hand, you have the Turks who are battling at some of those anti-Assad rebels. And then, of course, you have the Iranians and the Russians who are backing the Syrian government and its president, Bashar al-Assad. It's certainly all the countries that seem to be in it for the long run. All of them don't believe the U.S. is in it for the long run, Ana.

[20:06:10] CABRERA: Much more to learn in the days and hours to come.

Thank you so much, Fred Pleitgen, reporting from Damascus, Syria, for us tonight.

Back in Washington. Meantime, brand new reporting this hour, the president's chief of staff, General John Kelly, grew so angry with his boss last week that he threatened to quit. According to "the Washington Post," Kelly in a fit of anger said quote "I'm out of here." Some aides saw Kelly's words as they threat to resign. Other say he was just venting frustration.

But his comment prompted officials like secretary of defense, James Mattis, to try to calm him down, even to offer a pep talk. This instance is just the latest in a string of blowups between Kelly and the president and a sign of just how contentious their relationship has become.

With us to discuss now, CNN presidential historian, Tim Naftali, White House reporter for the "Daily Beast" Asawin Suebsang and CNN legal analyst Page Pate.

So Asawin, first to you. "Washington Post" reporter Josh Dossey who helped break the story tonight, write this. John Kelly's time in the White House has been punctuated by oval office screaming matches, resignation threats and mix success in imposing discipline on Trump. He is now diminished. But lingering no longer on many calls or looped into all major decisions.

So Asawin, why is Kelly still there then?

ASAWIN SUEBSANG, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, DAILY BEAST: Well, he is still there out of a sense of duty, among other things. But as Kelly had been telling aides in confidence at the start of his reign last year, he didn't think that he would make it through a full year, or perhaps a year at the most, as Trump's White House chief of staff. And now, what we have been hearing is that he has been telling those close to him, jokingly, but not so jokingly, that he is starting to doubt that he will even make it the full year.

And as Dossey and others have correctly pointed out, it is not just a one-way avenue of frustration here. The president of the United States has been, for months, and has recently been increasingly frustrated with his chief of staff and what he feels is something that's putting a stranglehold on his political impulses and his activity. And as Dossey correctly pointed out, has started to cut Kelly out of discussions and decisions that any normal administration would have the White House chief of staff involved in. And that includes things as consequential as personnel issues and staffing decisions, and things as social as having -- who the president has Facetime with, including sec Gorka, who recently had dinner with the president in the White House residence, who John Kelly famously sacked near the start of his reign.

CABRERA: We also have also heard that he has been cut out of some of the phone calls with foreign leaders, as well, in terms of CNN's reporting.

Tim, Clinton's former chief of staff Leon Panetta has quoted in this "Washington Post" article as saying quote "when you lose that power, you become a virtual White House intern, being told where you go and what to do."

Do you agree with his assessment? Is Kelly essentially deadweight?

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: We don't know yet if he is deadweight, but we have had some reporting in the past week that Kelly is not getting his way on some very important matters. Apparently, he had really like Scott Pruitt out. He thinks that Pruitt is a drag on this administration, raises issues of corruption, and it doesn't look like the president -- well, we never know. The president could change his mind on Monday, but the president has sent out the message, I'm with Pruitt. I'm strong with Pruitt. So Kelly -- the problem for Kelly is that his patriotism would keep

him in the job, to try to do the best for the country, but at a certain point, you become - you are humiliated by the behavior of the president. And we don't know if he is reached that point.

[20:10:03] CABRERA: And just how effective is he really, is the other question. If he is really serving the country to the best of his ability or in that role, right?

NAFTALI: Right now, he doesn't look very effective. And he hasn't looked effective, really, since the Rob Porter scandal.

CABRERA: So let me ask about another new development. Tonight, Page, as I turn to this new attack Trump's launched against the FBI and the DOJ, here is his tweet this evening. What does the department of justice and FBI have to hide? Why aren't they giving the strongly requested documents un-redacted to the House Judiciary Committee? Stalling, but for what reason? Not looking good, exclamation point.

The president appears to be referring to a request the committee made for FBI documents really being to the handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and potential abuses of the FISA warrant process.

Page, the FBI and the DOJ are run by officials Trump appointed. Do these attacks make sense?

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They make absolutely no sense at all, Ana. And we have never seen anything like this. Trump needs to remember that he is in-charge of the executive justice, in the department of justice, the FBI, they are part of the executive branch.

He needs to have their back. And these tweets, while they are not devastating, you know, one or two of them, they are chipping away at the credibility of the FBI and the department of justice. And I understand the president may be more concerned about his self-image than the image of these institutions. But this damage can be lasting and can have consequences far beyond the Russia investigation, as these agents and these career prosecutors try to do their job.

Now, I understand the FBI has said, look, we may have been a little slow in responding initially, but we put double the team on it now. We have got them working in shifts to try to answer these document requests. So they are trying to get it done. I don't think this presidential pressure really helps anything in this situation.

CABRERA: Tim, we have reporting here on CNN in the last 24 hours that the President has begun preps for A, perhaps, historic showdown with Bob Mueller. He is also prepping for a historic meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea. I mean, this is the world that we live in now.

You are the historian. You ran the Nixon library. Of course, Nixon made history going to China, made history with Watergate. Put this into perspective for us.

NAFTALI: Well, you don't have to go back to Nixon to see the problems - the potential minefield that the president would walk into if he were to sit down with Mueller. I mean, his golfing partner, Lindsey Graham, who was, let's remember, one of the impeachment managers, for the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton, he might remind the president that you do not want to sit down with a federal official with an investigator if you have anything to hide. Anything to hide.

So, I have never thought, honestly, that the President intended to sit down, Ana. I always felt this was part of a game. He wants to show people that he has nothing to hide. Si, of course, it is very alpha thing to do. Of course, I'll sit down with Mueller. But then his lawyers would find a technicality so that he can say he was asking for too much.

What has happened is his lawyers are disappearing. So maybe the President thinks that he can charm or bully his way through a meeting with Mueller, which would be a mistake.

CABRERA: Gentlemen, lots to get to tonight. So thank you, all, for joining us with the thoughtful discussion. Tim Naftali, Asawin Suebsang, and Page Pate. I appreciate it.

We have other breaking news right now we are following. A deadly fire at Trump tower here at New York.

CNN's pol Polo Sandoval is there for us.

Polo, what more can you tell us?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. Fire officials still at the scene here in midtown Manhattan after officials now confirming a fatal fire at Trump tower. The first family certainly not home at the time that this fire broke out. After the break, more details on what we are learning about what is now considered a fatal blaze. Stick around.

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[20:17:53] CABRERA: Welcome back. Back to the breaking news.

A deadly fire at Trump tower in New York. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in New York for us.

Polo, what is the latest?

SANDOVAL: A short while ago, FDNY officials confirming the death of the resident of that high-rise apartment that caught fire inside Trump tower earlier this evening here in midtown Manhattan. You may be looking at some of this pretty incredible video here of some of the flames and some of the smoke billowing out of that north side of Trump tower. This located on the 50th floor.

Important to mention that the President's residence is actually the top three floors of this 68-story building. The President, the first family, certainly not here at the time of the fire. But officials, along with the secret service and the firefighters, did go into the President's residence here at Trump tower and located some smoke, but not much more.

But again, the main information right now that's being put up by officials here is that the resident of that 50th floor apartment that was, in essence, destroyed, did -- was taken to the hospital where he died a short time ago. Four firefighters did sustain some non-life threatening injuries, according to the fire commissioner, but not much more.

But to really just give a sense, Ana, the scope and the magnitude it took to try to gain the upper hand on some of these flames here, close to 200 firefighters had to be deployed here to try to make sure that the fire didn't spread.

In the meantime, though, Ana, just a little bit about what we are seeing here in midtown. Certainly, many of those streets along Fifth Avenue where Trump tower is located have been closed off. Certainly has drawn quite the crowd here, as they try to see exactly what is going on here. But for now, the fire contained at the 50th floor apartment, and at least one confirmed death as we try to find out exactly what could have caused this fire in the first place, Ana.

CABRERA: Well, the President and the family has tweeted their thanks to the FDNY tonight. Do we know any more about this person who died?

SANDOVAL: Not too much information, Ana. Earlier, at the time when the information was initially put out here at the scene, they said that it was a gentleman who was listed in critical condition. But sadly, that latest update coming out from FDNY that he just come to his injuries at a nearby hospital. Do not know much more. Simply, it is a male resident of the 50th floor apartment that caught fire earlier today.

[20:20:22] CABRERA: All right. Much more to come on this story as the investigation continues.

Polo Sandoval, thank you.

A grim update meantime in the investigation into a troubled family's mysterious and fatal SUV crash off a California cliff side involving two parents and six adopted children. The Mendocino County sheriff's office says a body was found in the Pacific Ocean surf near the crash site in West Port, California. The body is identified as an African- American female. Still no sign of the free hugs boy, that is 15-year- old Devonte Hart, photographed here hugging a Portland police officer during a 2014 protest. This photo was snapped one day after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to indict a white police officer in connection with the shooting death of 17-year-old African- American Michael Brown.

Now, investigators are treating this SUV crash that killed at least five members of one family as a crime. Parents, Jennifer and Sarah Hart, were found inside the SUV last month. The bodies of three of their adopted children were found on the rocks and in the water.

Coming up here in the NEWSROOM, 15 are dead in Canada after a bus carrying a junior league hockey team crashes. The details straight ahead.

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[20:25:59] CABRERA: A small town in Saskatchewan, Canada, is in mourning after a bus carrying a junior hockey league team collided with a semitrailer, killing at least 15 people. This bus was carrying coaches and players of the Humboldt Broncos who were on their way to a junior playoff game. Fourteen others were injured, three of them critically. And we have a photo showing three of those injured holding hands in the hospital. This picture has gone viral in social media as people are sending their condolences. Toronto Maple lead's coach Mike Babcock actually choked back tears as he talked about this crash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE BABCOCK, TORONTO MAPLE LEAD'S HEAD COACH: I can't even imagine being the parent or the wife or the kids at home, going through something like this. So it hurts. The hockey world is an unbelievable world. You can't make up for lost. You can't. It is going to rip the heart out of your chest. We pray for those families and are thinking about them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: President Trump also tweeted. Just spoke to Justin Trudeau to pay my highest respect and condolences to the families of the terrible Humboldt team tragedy. May God be with them all.

From up north to the U.S. southern border now. CNN tracked down the caravan of migrants. President Trump has been tweeting about all week. The President warned of a quote "dangerous band of Central Americans traveling through Mexico, posing a threat to the U.S. border." He has sent hundreds of National Guard troops to the border now to beef up security.

Trump claims the caravan is a place where female migrants are quote "raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before."

CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago has been speaking to these people and found very different descriptions about what is going on, as she met up with the caravan in Puebla, Mexico.

So Leyla, tell us more about these people you met.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, there are hundreds of Central Americans here in Puebla. We have been spending days with them, hearing their stories, hearing their plans for their future, hearing what they are fleeing in Central America.

Most of these are families. You can see right now where they are. A playground, playing together. Mexico has given many of them permission, many of them, permission to be here for 20 or 30 days. Some will seek asylum here in Mexico. But many we are talking to say they still have dreams and hopes of getting to the United States of America. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Valentina has become quite popular. She is the reason her mother says they are even here. For them, this is about the search for a better life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANTIAGO: We are human beings, she tells me. Adding, if Jesus had to migrate, why shouldn't we?

Most of the people here didn't know each other two weeks ago, but it is part of an organized caravan, an annual pilgrimage that united to head north, leaving behind violence and poverty in Central America, they tell us. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANTIAGO: (INAUDIBLE) says her sister and uncle were both killed in Honduras. She doesn't want to be next. And yet (INAUDIBLE) can relate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANTIAGO: When her son's life was threatened, she says they fled immediately. Both women hope to reach the U.S./Mexico border so they can seek asylum. They say gangs in Honduras controlled where they lived, and poverty makes it tough to find a way out.

The caravan has become the target of President Trump's tweets, calling them a dangerous caravan. While Trump may not understand, they tell me, they find support in each other. They become a community, a village on wheels.

Children playing. Medical teams caring for the ill. Volunteers serving food at dinner. Even the occasional soccer game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANTIAGO: According to organizers, the group started with more than 1,000 people.

People of the caravan are lining up to be counted by organizers. And then, they all have a full day worth of workshops where they will meet with immigrant advocates, as well as legal aid, while they make up their mind on what to do next.

[20:30:04] Headcount this weekend, about 500. Some will stay in Mexico. Others, will break off on their own. As it has in previous years, the group becomes smaller as it heads north. Organizers believe only about half of them will make it to the U.S.-Mexico border. These women are determined to be among those making it to the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANTIAGO: And, Ana, that number is so important. Because today, they did that head count of 500. The organizers told me when they started, they were about 1,200. So, yes, it has become a smaller group. President Trump has said that he toured Mexico, that he wanted them to do something about it. And since that group had been broken up, yes, the number has gone down. But that is typical. Remember, this is a caravan that has been an annual tradition, a pilgrimage, that actually has somewhat religious roots since 2010. And every year, it becomes smaller and smaller as they make their way north. So I'm not sure that you can say that they have broken up because of President Trump. It's just something that happens every time they make their way north. ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Leyla Santiago, thank you for bringing us

their stories.

And we have this just in, President Trump defending his embattled EPA chief, Scott Pruitt. That's next.

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[20:35:46] CABRERA: Illegal immigration, one of the themes dominating the president's focus this past week, coupled with threats of a trade war with China, President Trump is launching critical policy changes in which the president seems to be going with his instincts. And perhaps, against the advice of his senior aides. Thursday, the president was slated to give a speech on tax reform, where he literally threw out his script.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, this was going to be my remarks. It would have taken about two minutes. That would have been a little boring. Little boring.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joining me now to talk more about this, CNN contributor, Michael D'Antonio. He is a Donald Trump biographer. Michael, you recently wrote a piece for cnn.com talking about this. What do you think is behind this week-long rant about immigration and trade?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's a number of things. First, as we noticed in that clip, is that the president has a very low threshold for boredom himself. So I think he was really playing for the attention of the audience there. He loves to entertain. He wants to get a laugh. He wants people to applaud. The same thing happened when he commented at Mar-a-Lago about President Xi of China being president for life. And he thought, well, that wasn't such a bad thing, and everybody laughed. Oh, isn't it funny? And he got what he wanted. So, on one level, that personal level, it is just him playing to the cameras and mugging and shtick.

But on another level, he is definitely trying to distract us from the serious problems in the country. But many of them are self-inflicted. The trade issue is a big example of that. He blurts out that there are going to be tariffs, 25 percent on steel, 10 percent on aluminum. Then he has to follow through. And now, we're in this seeming trade war that is, you know, it's ruining his stock market gains. And that was one of the things he bragged about the most. CABRERA: Are you saying you think -- do you think he's bluffing on this trade war?

D'ANTONIO: You know, I think he will say that he's bluffing if it turns out that it's a bad idea and we see another 500-point drop, you know. He sent his secretary of the treasury out to tell people, well, there is a trade war. No, there isn't a trade war. And everyone is running in every different direction. It's going to be up to the president to pick one that he likes. But we've seen, whether it's gun policies or immigration, where he thought there was going to be a DACA deal and then he reversed himself, that he's not committed to any policy, per se. He's committed to what will advance him right now. It's -- I imagine he's a shark moving through the water, chomping at one fish and then the next fish, and waiting to see what comes along.

CABRERA: Well, what has come along to his liking or maybe just pleasure, either way, we don't know exactly, because the president seems to be kind of trying to have it both ways on the issue of Scott Pruitt, his embattled EPA chief. He has been entrenched in ethics concerns and controversies recently. The president tweeted about him just a few moments ago saying this. "While security spending was somewhat more than his predecessor, Scott Pruitt has received death threats because of his bold action at EPA, record clean air and water while saving U.S. a billions of dollars. Rent was about market rate. Travel expenses OK. Scott is doing a great job."

Michael, what is it about Pruitt that speaks to Trump?

D'ANTONIO: Well, he's doing what the president wants in terms of policy. And he's doing it very aggressively. So if we have cleaner air and water, it's because of all of the policies that were put into effect prior to the Trump administration. Now, he's got the EPA really serving chemical and petrochemical interests. They see it as a pro business agency, not as a pro-environment agency. And this is consistent with Donald Trump's promise as he took office. So he likes what Pruitt is doing.

[20:40:07] There's also another thing here that I think we have to keep in mind is that this is almost a cultural identifier. If you say that you're skeptical about climate change, for example, you may not believe there's anything wrong with the science, but you're signaling something about what team you're on. And Pruitt is signaling what team he's on. He's on the Trump team. He's on the far right. And this is something the president really prefers. You know, you can make a lot of mistakes and commit a lot of ethical lapses and still please him by signaling in the right way, that you're his kind of guy.

CABRERA: But we have also had reported the president doesn't like negative attention brought upon his administration by members of his team. I'm wondering though about another promise that the president made on the campaign. And that was about draining the swamp. Does he even care about draining the swamp?

D'ANTONIO: No. He never did. He doesn't really even know what that means. I think we have to consider who Donald Trump was before he became president. He was someone who lived and operated in the swampy precincts of business. He's very proud of his four gigantic bankruptcies and how smart that was for him to walk away from his creditors and cheat all kinds of people who invested in his firms. This is the person who created Trump University and then had to pay back all the money that people gave him. He is of the swamp himself. So it's not a surprise that he's got people with ethical problems. He's got an office of personnel that seems like a fraternity House, and they're not really even coming through with the nominees that he needs to fill his government.

So, the drain the swamp thing was just, again, another of these slogans that you can throw out there, like building a wall, you know. The wall became sort of a fence, and then it became transparent. And who knows what the wall really is now?

CABRERA: We'll see. Apparently, the National Guard troops that are being sent to the border are going to help build it here. Michael D'Antonio, I got to leave it there for now. Thank you, as always. Good to see you.

D'ANTONIO: My pleasure.

CABRERA: We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:45:55] CABRERA: A powerful Republican says the U.S. military is in crisis. Congressman Mac Thornberry chairs the House armed services committee. His comments come after two more U.S. soldiers lost their lives in a growing string of military aviation crashes. The two soldiers were doing routine training in their apache military helicopter when this crash happened last night at Kentucky's Fort Campbell. A total of seven U.S. soldiers have died in military aviation crashes in just the last month. Thornberry says, quote, "What has been evidence to me for some time is now becoming clear to the American people. The readiness of our military is at a crisis point. There can be no higher priority for the defense department than ensuring that our aircraft are safe and that pilots get the training they need."

The father of missing 5-year-old in Tennessee has been arrested and charged with criminal homicide. Here's the 5-year-old, Joe Clyde Daniels. He was autistic and non-verbal. He was reported missing by his parents on Wednesday morning. Hundreds of volunteers have been searching for this boy over the past week. According to the Tennessee bureau of investigation, his father, Joseph Ray Daniels, was charged after investigators determined he intentionally killed his son and hid his body. Daniels is currently being held on $1 million bond.

And now to a CNN exclusive. President Trump's legal team is preparing him for potential questioning by Robert Mueller. A White House official and a person familiar with this situation says this is a sign the president's legal team is intensifying its deliberations over whether to allow Trump to be questioned by the special counsel. All of this as we are learning that a Trump foreign policy adviser made efforts to find dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, Joseph Schmitz, played a key role of the search for Clinton's deleted e-mails from her private server.

And CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: CNN learned that a Trump campaign adviser played a key role in an effort to find Hillary Clinton's 30,000 deleted e-mails on the dark web.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.

SCIUTTO: And reveal any damaging information contained within them.

JOSEPH SCHMITZ, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: It's not easy being a whistleblower.

SCIUTTO: Joseph Schmitz, a former Department of Defense inspector general was a foreign policy adviser to the campaign. Seen here seated at a table with then-candidate Trump in March 2016. Meeting with officials at the FBI, state department and the intelligence communities inspector general, he told them a source he called "patriot" had discovered what he believed were the deleted e-mails on the dark web. Schmitz then pushed for the government to review and de-classify the material so he and others could review it without jeopardizing Schmitz's security clearance. All this according to multiple sources with direct knowledge.

Officials at the state department and inspector general briefly interviewed Schmitz, but they declined to review or accept the information. The FBI also interviewed him as part of its ongoing criminal investigation into Clinton's e-mails.

SCHMITZ: They did investigate.

SCIUTTO: Schmitz then took his information to the House intelligence committee. This is the latest example of Trump advisers mixed up in efforts to find dirt on Clinton.

[20:50:05] Fired chief strategist, Steve Bannon told the House intelligence committee in February that Trump campaign staff will repeatedly contacted by outsiders, suggesting ways to get the Clinton e-mails. This according to a source familiar with Bannon's testimony.

A Trump campaign official tells CNN, quote, "The campaign does not comment on matters of interest to the special counsel or the Congressional committees."

The material was never verified. Cybersecurity expert who also saw the material on the dark web told CNN it appeared to be fake, based on what he read and where it was posted. "I'm pretty sure they were posted on the dark web, equivalent of Reddit," he said.

Schmitz reached by CNN in person and via e-mail declined to comment.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CABRERA: Again, Jim Sciutto reporting for us.

President Trump takes action on global trade and border security as another kind of shakeup could be in the works. A member of the president's own party weighs in and Senator Susan Collins joins Jake exclusively tomorrow morning on "STATE OF THE UNION." That's at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:31] CABRERA: Tonight, a new episode of "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD" premieres on CNN. That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. And Christiane Amanpour takes us to Berlin, the carnal capital of Europe to see how the city's newcomers are cracking the code on love, sex and intimacy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT AND HOST: I've reported on people fleeing war and crises throughout my career, and I've always wanted to ask about how they managed to maintain what makes us all human. Relationships, love and intimacy.

All three generations of this family are sharing this small space, and privacy is scarce.

You've got a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, you've got a new daughter coming. I just want to ask you one personal woman question. Here you are in one room in a camp and you have to have a husband/wife relations. You're pregnant. How difficult is it to do that here with everybody in the same room and, what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): That's a good question but I don't know if you get an answer. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

AMANPOUR: So in this room, you got pregnant?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: I sat down with Christiane for a fascinating conversation. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: You know, sex and sexuality is not taboo. That there's a naked culture in Germany and other parts of Europe where it is completely normal to spend most of your life naked. Not your work life.

CABRERA: So, did you participate?

AMANPOUR: Well, I didn't engage in naked Ping-Pong, but you're going to have to watch the episode to know how much I disrobed compared to my partners across the table.

CABRERA: You know, on a serious note, though, we've seen and we've covered in our day-to-day news the refugee crisis, and there has been a large refugee population that has come to Germany and settled there. Of course, a majority of them come from Muslim nations originally and so they have more of a conservative view when it comes to sexuality. How are they integrating into a much more sexually liberal community?

AMANPOUR: Well, it is a very real collision. A very liberal European culture and very conservative Islamic culture, and the Germans, to their credit, and the refugees, to their credit, have taken to these mandatory lessons and classes, particularly for the men. Because it's not just conservatism around sexuality. There is no such thing as gender equality in their countries. So the Germans have imposed, like many of the European countries, these mandatory gender and sex classes. Sex-Ed classes. That was fascinating to watch. I'm sure the viewers are just going to be blown away by that. I mean, to an extent, there is, well, this is what that organ is, and that is what that bodily part is.

But there's also the talk around consent. Very important in the Me Too world. The talk around fulfilling your woman or your partner. You know, not just banging away at sex, but actually making an intimate, loving experience. These boys are sitting there, they've never heard the word orgasm. They literally didn't know what that meant. In a more poignant way, I talked to a young Afghan refugee, a woman, in what we called a refugee center, which is a school that Berlin had opened to these refugees. She was in her very early 20s, pregnant with her third child. And when I asked her about happiness and does she feel able to ask her husband to satisfy her, she looked at me as if I was talking double Dutch. She looked at me with horror and then --

CABRERA: Like she couldn't even imagine it.

AMANPOUR: Couldn't even imagine it. And then an older counterpart who was being there for long have said, you know what? It's subversive of you to ask these questions to these people who have never even considered that they deserve happiness. I imagine that. It is so mind-blowing. This series is so cool.

CABRERA: Fascinating.

AMANPOUR: On that level. But her daughters are going to grow up in Europe with their rights, with their needs and their knowledge of what they can have as a woman.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Can't you just feel the passion oozing from Christiane Amanpour? "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD" it's tonight at 10:00 only on CNN. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for spending part of this very busy Saturday with me. CNN's "AMERICAN DYNASTIES: THE KENNEDYS" starts now.

END