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CNN NEWSROOM

Rudy Giuliani Says President Trump Has Power to Pardon Himself; Several Stranded by Lava Despite Warnings to Get Out; Interview with Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz; Devin Nunes Faces Test of His Defense of Trump in California Primary; California's Quirky Primary Could Spell Trouble for Dems; Celebrities Visit White House, Keeping Decades of Tradition; Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 3, 2018 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: -- indicted. I don't know how you can indict while he is in office, no matter what it is. If he shot James Comey, he'd be impeached the next day. Impeach him. And then you can do whatever you want to do to him."

Our correspondent Boris Sanchez is at the White House.

Boris, we have to look twice at this to make sure it wasn't a parody or a bad attempt at a joke. But it seems Rudy Giuliani really said this. Any reaction from the White House?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: None yet, Ana. I've reached out to multiple officials within the press shop to find out their thoughts on this. Again, no response. Often when it comes to questions from Rudy Giuliani, we are referred to outside counsel, that is Rudy Giuliani himself.

CNN is now trying to get clarity on these statements from him. Certainly not the most tactful way to make the argument that the president cannot be indicted, something that we've heard repeatedly from a number of officials on the White House legal team. Giuliani essentially is making an argument that we've heard from the legal team before, arguing yet again that the president is protected because of the virtue of his position, not only on the issue of an indictment, but further on the question of whether the president can end any investigation even one that focuses on him specifically.

Giuliani said that he wouldn't necessarily go that far, that he's not attempting to defend the president in this way. But theoretically he says the constitution is clear. Similarly he made the same case on the issue of pardons. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: He's not, but he probably does. He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably -- doesn't say he can't. I mean, that's another really interesting constitutional law, can the president pardon himself. I think the political ramifications of that would be tough. Pardoning other people is one thing, pardoning yourself is another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: So to be clear, Giuliani's making these arguments in theory, not necessarily in practice. He believes the political uproar would be too great if the president were to pardon himself. He did mention this morning, though, that if there were any subpoena to come from the special counsel, he would challenge it in court, and further, he said the president reserves the right to try to push the legal idea that the investigation, the Russia probe is illegitimate -- Ana.

Thank you, sir. Let's get to our panel, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti and former White House attorney Jim Schultz. Giuliani arguing that the president could shoot someone and not be indicted. What do you think White House lawyers are thinking right now?

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez, at the White House. Thank you, sir.

Let's get straight to our panel. Joining us, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, and former Trump White House attorney, Jim Schultz.

Jim, first to you. Giuliani arguing right now that the president could shoot someone and not be indicted. What do you think White House lawyers are thinking right now?

JAMES SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, here's the deal. The Justice Department has a memo which prohibits the president from being indicted while in office. Now that is true as it relates to federal crimes. That does not necessarily relate to state crimes. So the shot in the office thing, I'm not too sure about on that. But the issue of whether the president can be indicted, that's something that's been addressed by Mueller's team purportedly and they have said that they have no intention of bringing criminal action against the president. At least that's what the reporting says. And that's consistent with a long-standing Justice Department memo.

CABRERA: Renato, we hear from Giuliani, he can't be indicted even if he shoots somebody in the Oval Office. He can't be subpoenaed, he can't obstruct justice. What's your reaction to Giuliani's comments?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think those legal arguments are extreme and they're really ridiculous, to be very blunt with you. They're -- you know, the word that a lot of legal analysts are saying are novel. In other words new. They've never been made before. But I think it's important for viewers to realize that the reason that these positions have never been taken before is that they are very much outside the mainstream.

These are dangerous views. Essentially the view is that the president can start or stop an investigation for any reason. So he can investigate his enemies. He can stop investigations of his friends. He can pardon people for any reason, even in -- you know, in exchange for a bribe or for some corrupt purpose.

I don't really believe the courts are going to side with those arguments. And I think even making the arguments is dangerous. Now there's no court opinion that has ruled on these issues yet, and

that's because no one has made the argument before, but it is very difficult for me to believe that a judge would sign off on these positions. And I think viewers with their commonsense at home can understand that very easily.

CABRERA: Jim, are these arguments dangerous?

SCHULTZ: I mean, it's pretty clear that -- it is. But at the same time, it isn't in that as it relates to impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors, that is the remedy that's taken against the president while he's in office. And Giuliani's right, after he's -- after a president has been impeached and is out of office, if that were to happen, then any other -- any criminal action can be taken against him as it relates to what happened while he was in office.

And let's get back to the pardon power, whether the president can pardon himself.

[20:05:03] The Constitution is very clear that the president has broad pardon powers. And in fact, you know, they debated whether the Senate should have a say in this when they were drafting those provisions and said no, they shouldn't have a say in this.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Although --

SCHULTZ: So to the extent the president has pardon powers --

CABRERA: Although, Jim, let me --

SCHULTZ: It's a novel legal argument as to whether he can claim himself.

CABRERA: But we have Michael Zeldin on here earlier and he pointed to a document, a court document from 1974 in which basically it was already sort of put out there, this idea of the president pardoning himself, and that was disputed by the courts. I'd have to ask him to tell me the exact article that it was that he was referencing.

(CROSSTALK)

But, Jim, you mentioned impeachment being --

SCHULTZ: But the court -- the court hasn't ruled on that.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about the impeachment idea, though, because Giuliani also said today that the president would almost certainly be impeached if he were to pardon himself. And others agreed. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: The president of the United States pardoning himself would just be unthinkable, and it would lead to probably an immediate impeachment.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: There's no way that will happen. And the reason it won't is because then it becomes a political problem, George. If the president were to pardon himself, he'll get impeached.

PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think if the president decided that he was going to pardon himself, I think that's almost a self- executing impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Everyone seems to agree, Jim. And if that's the case, why even make this argument involving the president and murder?

SCHULTZ: So, I think -- I don't get the murder argument. Let's set that aside for a second. But when you talk about impeachment, when you talk about the president and his ability to hire and fire folks who are in the executive branch of government who are Article 2 appointees of the president, all of this feeds into an executive power argument. And I think what they're trying to drive home is, if there's an executive power argument here, and that the president has an argument that the -- that the subpoena power should be limited, or the ability to interview him should be limited in scope.

And I think they're just trying to make a broad-brush argument relative to presidential powers and executive powers under the Constitution to negotiate those issues with Mueller's team.

CABRERA: I want to switch topics for just a minute, related of course, but we learned about this letter that President Trump's legal team sent to Mueller's special counsel team in January. And in this letter, his lawyers admit Trump did dictate his son's misleading statement about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.

Now Trump's lawyers had previously said multiple times he did not dictate the letter. Listen to what Giuliani said about this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: I mean, this is the reason you don't let the president testify. If -- you know, our recollection keeps changing or we're not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption. In my case, I made an assumption, then we corrected it and I got it right out as soon as it happened. I think that's what happened here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Renato, what would you do if your client had a poor recollection?

MARIOTTI: I would not go on television and make statements about what that recollection was. Frankly, I find it interesting the recollection seems to -- about past events seems to get better over time, instead of worse. It's really interesting. But I will say regarding this particular recollection, it seemed like everyone in the president's team had a very good recollection of the fact that he didn't dictate the statement, even though this was an event, this dictation that happened last year while he was at the White House, and there was a lot of other people involved like Hope Hicks, et cetera. And it raises a lot of important questions, right?

What did he know about what was at the Trump Tower meeting? Why was he so concerned about covering up what had happened there? So it's very problematic and I think it really shows I think a problem with how that legal team is operating with no regard for the truth, and I also think a lack of discipline on their end.

CABRERA: But whose fault is it when you talk about no regard for the truth, Jim? Do you think the president was being less than truthful with his attorneys about his role in dictating that statement?

SCHULTZ: Look, I think there's a danger anytime you have a lawyer talking about conversations or facts associated with a particular matter. If you -- in the public forum, the way this is playing out. And it's dangerous because you have privilege issues and it's going to open more questions. So I'm not sure that's a smart strategy.

As it relates to the legal issues, I think it is a smart strategy to have a discussion about executive powers because that relates to whether or not the president is going to sit for an interview or not.

CABRERA: So what are the chances that Trump ends up testifying, whether by choice or force, Renato?

MARIOTTI: Well, we've never had an instance in which a president has been subpoenaed and sat for an interview. Bill Clinton was subpoenaed but ultimately he -- the subpoena was withdrawn when he voluntarily agreed to an interview after being subpoenaed.

[20:10:05] But we do know that the Supreme Court upheld the subpoena for documents for Richard Nixon and also the Supreme Court held, in the case of Bill Clinton, that he was not immune from a civil lawsuit when he was in office. And the court famously said there that the president is not above the law.

I suspect that in court, if he is subpoenaed, the president will lose and he will ultimately have to sit for an interview. At that point then, however, he could take the Fifth just like any other citizen.

CABRERA: Jim, I think most citizens are asking if the president did nothing wrong like he says, shouldn't it be easy for him to sit down and just tell the truth?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think public opinion is going to play a very large part in this and has played a large part in the president's commentary from day one on, you know, him being willing to sit down with Mueller's team and Mueller as it relates to an interview. And I think that's going to be a very significant factor in determining whether he's going to do that.

Now lawyers are going to try to constrain precisely what they're going to ask as it relates to potential obstruction, as it relates to the Russia investigation and collusion. And they probably want to limit that as much as they can to facts that are germane to those questions.

CABRERA: But to answer that question specifically, shouldn't it be easy for the president to sit down and answer questions? Why is there a fight over this if he says he's innocent and that is the truth?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think Rudy Giuliani said it succinctly the first weekend he came on, which there needs to be an element of fairness, and they have to have an understanding and belief that there's fairness on the other side as it relates to the questions they're going to ask. Secondly, there has to be -- the questions have to be germane to the issue at hand, which, you know, folks have talked about obstruction and folks have talked about Russia. And constraining those questions is very, very important.

CABRERA: All right. Got to leave it there, guys. Jim Schultz and Renato Mariotti, thank you, guys.

Up next, trapped by the lava. A dozen people in Hawaii stranded after the Kilauea volcano cuts off their escape route.

Plus, students and parents in Parkland, Florida, get a surprise at graduation today. We'll tell you who showed up. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[ 20:16:21] CABRERA: Emergency airlifts are now happening in Hawaii despite the warnings to get out. Nearly a dozen people who chose to stay put are now stranded, cut off by the fast-moving lava. Now authorities are having to airlift those people out. At last check, they had rescued three people so far.

CNN's Scott McLean joins us now.

Scott, fill us in on the very latest.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana. So believe it or not, it is now one single volcanic fissure essentially, it's not far from here. You can actually see the smoke in the background if you look closely, that is feeding a massive river of lava that stretches for miles, almost all the way to the coast. It's about 400 yards away from there and there are entire neighborhoods in between that are obviously in some level of danger.

As you mentioned, it has stranded originally about a dozen people who refused to leave when authorities went through for one last sweep, to say, hey, your final escape route is about to get cut off. A lot of those people said they simply had nowhere better to go. But they have no power, no water, no working landlines and there's no cell signal out there as well. So they're essentially cut off from the outside world.

Authorities they're using helicopters now to fly over that area, looking for any signs of distress, signs that people want to get out. They've actually already rescued three people already. It was early this morning local time as you said, Ana. Two men and one woman, though we have not yet gotten any details from authorities on what exactly prompted that evacuation.

CABRERA: And Scott, we're hearing a record 500 quakes have rattled the summit of Mount Kilauea in the last 24 hours?

MCLEAN: Yes, that is one earthquake every three minutes or less, Ana. It is absolutely mind-boggling. Now most of these are pretty small, but some of them have been as strong as 3.5 magnitude. But believe it or not, the experts say we actually shouldn't read too much into that. What we might pay attention to, though, is the fact that the Kilauea summit, this massive crater, has actually been pretty quiet over the past couple of days in terms of explosions.

That means that either Kilauea is getting ready to go into a long slumber and stop exploding, stop erupting, or perhaps there could be a much larger explosion in store down the road.

CABRERA: I hope it's the former, not the latter.

Thank you, Scott McLean, for keeping us updated there.

MCLEAN: Of course.

CABRERA: Graduations are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for the students who survived February's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, today's ceremony was bittersweet. Students celebrated their new futures, while holding on the memory of four classmates who should have been there donning their caps and gowns alongside them. Instead, relatives of these fallen students walked on stage to claim the diplomas that should have gone to their loved ones.

Some survivors of the shootings sported orange lipstick at the ceremony. Orange is a reoccurring theme in the fight for stricter gun control, inspired by the color hunters wear to protect themselves. And in a moment of much needed levity, students and families alike were surprised to see "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon as the guest speaker in today's graduation. He urged students to push forward despite their hardship, saying, don't let anything stop you.

Up next, death toll disparity, a stunning jump in the number of people who died in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria has many demanding answers. The mayor of San Juan joins us live next.

[20:19:57]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Dozens or thousands? Nine months on, we still have no definitive answers about how many people died, were killed when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September. For months the official number was 64 dead. But two days ago, the Puerto Rican government updated that figure, saying an additional 1400 people died in the months following the storm, compared to that same time the year before. That information came out days after a Harvard study estimated at least 4600 Maria-related deaths in Puerto Rico.

Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz is the mayor of San Juan and she joins us now by phone.

Mayor, it wasn't until that Harvard study came out that the government acknowledged the death toll might be much higher than the original 64.

[20:25:10] How did that number jump so dramatically, so suddenly?

Yes. And that is correct. And this has been something that myself and a lot of other people have been just reaching out and making sure that it was part of the conversation. We knew from the onset weeks after Hurricane Maria that the neglect of the Trump administration and their inability and bureaucracy was going to take a toll, and it did take a toll.

You hear of mayors talking about the amount of people that they have, you know, they know that have died. And you hear people saying, well, my grandfather died because he was just with a C-pap machine and our generator gave out. It just simply -- or we couldn't afford to get it done. Of hospitals that were operating with the light on the doctor's cell phones. So it is truly one thing of a neglect and then the other thing that we have to take responsibility in Puerto Rico is about the silence of the Puerto Rican government on that neglect and about their really unwavering support for actions that they knew would turn into something like this.

It has been appalling. It has been something that the Puerto Rican people have been mourning. And unfortunately, the central government in Puerto Rico spent many days last week, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, kind of poking holes on the Harvard study and on the methodology that was used. Only after international pressure, pressure from the news organizations such as yourself, which I have to say CNN was one of the first ones that from the onset was talking about the real cases that they were seeing on the ground, only then did they say that 1,397 deaths more in the same period since September and December.

So it's appalling and, you know, in a humanitarian crises, you have two choices, you either speak up and speak out, or you stand down and eventually become an accomplice to the neglect that turned out to take a toll literally on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

CABRERA: Mayor, you have been one of the more outspoken officials on the ground there, I know. But I'm still trying to understand because the numbers are continuing to be all over the map. We still don't really know how many people died. Why don't we know how many people died nine months in?

CRUZ: There's a couple of reasons. And believe me, this is one of those times where you wish you were wrong and everyone could point a finger at you. One of the reasons is that at the onset, the central government of Puerto Rico was unwilling to say that deaths that were related to the hurricane, but not just based on the passing of the hurricane. So you didn't fall because a tree fell on your house, and that alternately, you found, you know, your brother or sister dead. But for example, a child that was born premature and that didn't have appropriate access because the hospital that they were in did not have any electricity, and that child had died. Since that number, Harvard number of 4,645 came out, there was a --

kind of a monument of sorts where people placed more than 2,000 pairs of shoes in front of the capital building.

CABRERA: Right. We saw that. In fact --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: That was so touching, because our Leyla Santiago who's been reporting on the ground, she brought us those images in a live report yesterday. I also spoke with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas yesterday. And she said she would support a 9/11-style commission to investigate the government response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Do you think that's what needs to happen? Or what is the answer?

CRUZ: I wholeheartedly think that should happen. These deaths, however many there are, and listen, we're not going to be happy if there are 1500 versus 6,000. One person that died is one person that died. And if they died of neglect and because governments didn't do what they were supposed to do, then people should be held accountable for it so I wholeheartedly stand with what the senator said.

And it's something -- we have so many things that we can learn from this worst-case scenario. And one of the things that we're doing in San Juan from learning from that is we are even more looking to communities, establishing what we call CTCs, Centers for Transformation of Communities, where there will be a headcount of each family in a community.

[20:30:14] We would know how many people are bed-ridden in that family, there will be a center with solar panels and batteries and refrigerators so that people can have their insulin. We're working together with the Illinois Institute of Technology, Carnegie Melon University and potentially a university in Puerto Rico, to come up with some sort of a little gadget that will keep your insulin refrigerated when you have no electricity.

CABRERA: Right.

CRUZ: And mind you there's no storm in Puerto Rico, but our electricity grid is so weakened, that, you know, in my house --

CABRERA: There's still thousands at this time, I know.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Right. That's -- in fact I think the latest report we had yesterday was like 11,000 or something along that number was without electricity yesterday when the people are --

CRUZ: And, Ana, you have to know that when the government says 11,000, they're talking about clients. And the average Puerto Rican family is a family of four.

CABRERA: And it could be more. CRUZ: So you're talking about 44,000 to 60,000 people.

CABRERA: Yes.

CRUZ: Who still don't have electricity to this day.

CABRERA: Wow. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, thank you for joining us.

CRUZ: Thank you for the opportunity.

CABRERA: Still ahead, will House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes lose his seat in Congress? The latest on his primary battle and the backlash he's facing for his defense of President Trump.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:57] CABRERA: Republican Congressman Devin Nunes out with a new fundraising letter this week, claiming he is being targeted for exposing scandals and cover-ups in the Obama administration. The House Intelligence Committee chairman now potentially at risk of losing his seat after his controversial moves to defend President Trump in the Russia investigation.

CNN's Nick Watt reports from central California.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California's Central Valley is deep red farm country and a longtime lock for Devin Nunes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like his values. I like the way he's represented Central California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That one just had a calf. So they move from this pen as they get close. This is the maternity area --

WATT: A son of the soil, a third-generation dairy farmer, in 2010, Nunes ran unopposed. In 2016, he pummeled his Democratic opponent by 35 points. But there are now small weekly demonstrations outside his often empty district office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A congressman who has no interest in serving the seniors.

WATT: And three billboards outside Fresno funded by Fight Back California, a PAC cofounded by former Democratic Californian Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher.

ELLEN TAUSCHER (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Lots of people are upset that he is, you know, as they said, in the local paper, Trump's stooge, spends most of his time playing Inspector Clouseau back in Washington. WATT: Where he chairs the House Intelligence Committee that released

a report from the panel's GOP members disputing the Intelligence Community's assessment that Russia tried to help elect Donald Trump. Recently Nunes also issued a subpoena to the Justice Department for documents about a confidential FBI source that the president falsely claims infiltrated his campaign.

TRUMP: A very courageous man. He's courageous. Congressman Devin Nunes.

TAUSCHER: I think that Mr. Nunes can be beaten.

WATT: Here's his most likely challenger.

ANDREW JANZ (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Devin Nunes, I believe, wholeheartedly, is a threat to our national security.

WATT: Andrew Janz, prosecutor, Democrat, political rookie who's raised more than $1.8 million for his campaign, nearly half a million since April 1st.

(On camera): Does Andrew Janz have a snowball's chance now?

TAD WEBER, FRESNO BEE EDITORIAL PAGE: Maybe what's most important of all is the voter registration. So 42 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat, 20 percent decline to state. Now maybe in that third group, Janz can pull some votes.

WATT: Yes, Andrew Janz is talking about education, veterans' affairs, health, and water here deep in farm country. But here in his campaign office in Visalia, it is very obvious what the number one focus is over this campaign.

JANZ: He's forgotten us here. He hasn't held a town hall since 2010, a real town hall.

WATT (voice-over): Nunes disputes that. Janz slams him on Russia.

JANZ: I don't know if he himself has some sort of potential liability or if it's out of some misguided attempt to protect the president of the United States.

WATT: It's just possible Robert Mueller's report into Russian election meddling might provide California's 22nd District with an October surprise.

WEBER: Are there going to be any findings? How might that reflect on Devin Nunes?

WATT (on camera): If he delivers it before November, it could have a huge impact on this race?

WEBER: It could. Because Devin has been a staunch supporter of the president, highly critical of Robert Mueller.

WATT: If you were a betting man, Nunes would win? WEBER: Yes. Today. Standing here today now. But we're a long way,

right? You know this.

WATT: Yes.

WEBER: We're a long way from here to November.

WATT: We reached out to the Nunes campaign for comment, for an interview, we did not hear back. Now Tuesday's primary is going to be crucial because there have not been any reliable polls yet here in the 22nd District. So Tuesday's primary is going to be the first concrete indication as to whether Devin Nunes really is in trouble.

Nick Watt, CNN, Fresno, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Thanks, Nick.

California, one of eight states holding their primary on Tuesday.

[20:40:03] Offering yet another glimpse of how November could shake out. And in California, the epicenter of the Donald Trump resistance, the president's stance on sanctuary cities, offshore drilling and continued attacks against the state's governor, Jerry Brown, there's a swell of liberal energy. But that enthusiasm could backfire.

CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston is joining us now from Los Angeles.

Maeve, walk us through how the state's somewhat odd primary could actually hurt Democrats?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, it's been really fascinating this year, Ana. California has a top two primary, meaning that the top two vote-getters will advance to November regardless of party. So you have a scenario here where there's so much Democratic enthusiasm that you could potentially see the vote splinter among many different Democratic candidates and allow two Republicans to advance to November.

That's most likely probably in Dana Rohrabacher's district, California's 48th District, but Democrats have also been very concerned about California 39, where retiring Congressman Ed Royce has represented the district for many years. And also Darryl Issa's seat. So they have been just plowing money into these races, sometimes battering third and fourth and fifth place candidates just to make sure that a Democrat gets into that number two spot. So it's been fascinating to watch.

CABRERA: I'm also curious how President Trump may be factoring into the political strategy on both sides of the aisle going into this primary on Tuesday.

RESTON: Well, these -- you know, the seven big races in California that Democrats have been targeting are in districts that were won by Hillary Clinton but are represented by Republicans. And so they could be a huge piece of a puzzle in terms of Democrats trying to take back the House this year. But because these districts are so closely divided, it's been a little bit of a high wire act for some of these candidates.

Even the Democrats who are really energized to go up against Donald Trump have to kind of hedge their bets just in terms of not wanting to alienate too many Republicans. So you most often are hearing discussions of, you know, universal health care, affordable childcare, issues like that, so that they can preserve their options for November.

CABRERA: Also noteworthy in California is the voter registration. Republicans apparently sliding into third, meaning more registered Democrats, more registered independents than registered Republicans. Does this seem to worry the state's GOP?

RESTON: I mean, the state's GOP has basically been completely decimated at this point. There is no one in this state, Republican in statewide office. They're all Democrats. And so it's been, you know, a downward slide pretty much since the '90s. But they have been able to hold on to power in these -- you know, these seven congressional districts, or Kevin McCarthy's district because the Republican vote is concentrated in those districts.

So we'll really see whether Democrats can deliver a knockout blow this year that just, you know, sends Republicans into history in this state.

CABRERA: CNN political commentator Alice Stewart suggested last month, though, that the Democrats' so-called blue wave is now just a trickle. Is the DNC trying to harness this new passion in California to the benefit of other key national races?

RESTON: For sure. And I think, you know, that's why Tuesday will be such a big night because Democrats are hoping to do really well here, to kind of out-perform the polls, to show that more low propensity voters are showing up. And so far some of the strategists that I've talked to over the weekend say that absentee ballots are looking good for Democrats. More people are turning out. So I think that the party would really like to change the narrative back to the blue wave narrative. And so we'll have to watch on Tuesday night, Ana.

CABRERA: Maeve Reston in Los Angeles. We know you will be working hard in the next couple of days following every last move. Good to have you with us.

President Trump meeting with Kim Kardashian in the Oval Office this past week. Up next, why the White House has long been a revolving door for celebrities.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:48:40] CABRERA: President Trump no stranger to hanging out with celebrities and neither is the office of the president.

Here's CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were two reality stars in the Oval Office this week. Kim Kardashian stopped by to meet with President Trump and Jared Kushner on prison reform.

KIM KARDASHIAN WEST, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: I think that, you know, he really spent the time to listen to our case.

BASH: The Oval Office has long been a magnet for Hollywood's biggest stars, A-listers flocking to Washington, using their influence to push policy.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: It's no secret you've been under great opposition to try to implement some of your climate change initiatives.

BASH: For celebrities, a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue could be to receive a big award.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Artist of the decade.

BASH: Or maybe just to snap that classic Oval Office picture with the commander-in-chief.

SARAH PALIN (R) FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Jesus was booked, so, yes, I invited by buddies Kid Rock and Ted Nugent.

BASH: In fact, entertaining the most famous people in America is a time-honored tradition for American presidents. President Nixon hosted Sammy Davis Jr., and famously visited with the king himself in the Oval. President Harry Truman compared musical notes with jazz legend Duke Ellington.

[20:50:02] And Nancy Reagan danced at the White House with Frank Sinatra. Still, when it comes to meeting the president of the United States even stars get nervous.

JOHN KRASINSKI, ACTOR: You're so scared. And he looks he's nine feet tall when you get up to meet him.

BASH: And while the U.S. president may arguably be the most powerful person in the world, they still get star struck.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the president. He is the boss.

TRUMP: I love his movies. And I don't care if it's "Rambo" or "Rocky" I still don't know which I like better.

BASH: For Hollywood's brightest, a trip to the White House may be a chance to try out a little politics. After all in today's Washington who knows where celebrity may lead.

TRUMP: I'm not a celebrity. See, now I'm a politician. I'm so embarrassed by that term.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: That was our Dana Bash reporting. We're back in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:30] CABRERA: Tonight Anthony Bourdain explores Hong Kong and he brought along a famous film photographer Christopher Doyle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS DOYLE, CINEMATOGRAPHER: I want to shoot you guys. How are you feeling with a camera? What are you seeing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying really hard to use filter here.

DOYLE: Really? Why is that? This is one of the most beautiful shots I've ever made. I've never made a shot about cameras before. So tell us what is a camera to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a good thing to hide behind.

(LAUGHTER)

DOYLE: I think, Anthony, we have one of the most beautiful images in all of your films.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": This is why we're on the damn boat.

(LAUGHTER)

DOYLE: Do we have a movie?

BOURDAIN: We have a movie.

DOYLE: We have a movie. Are you sure we -- I'm worried we didn't record.

BOURDAIN: We'll find out in a second.

DOYLE: Then we have to do it in voiceover.

BOURDAIN: Tai O is one of the last fishing villages in Hong Kong on the western side of Lantau Island. The families here have made their living from the sea for generations. For Chris Doyle and his co- director Jenny Suen it's a return to the location of their recent film "The White Girl."

So where are we? Cause I recognize this. DOYLE: We're in the Venice of Hong Kong. Obviously. I mean there we

are. We've got the canals. We've got canals going in all directions here. We've got the most beautiful bridges outside of Venice. Don't forget Hong Kong means fragrant harbor. So it's a good place to eat I guess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I recently spoke with Tony about his journey to this fascinating and complicated city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOURDAIN: Hong Kong is a city that's never been sentimental about its past. It's all about money and moving forward. But it's also a very beautiful place. And the things I really love about Hong Kong have been that old institutions. But what really brought there was for years I wanted to work with or have a guest on the show named Christopher Doyle who's probably one of the three greatest directors of photography, cinematographers, who's in my view ever lived. A genius directed such films -- shot such films as "In the Mood for Love." Wong Kar-wai's masterpieces.

I wanted to have him on the show and look at the -- look at Hong Kong through his eyes as he's lived there for 30 years, speaks fluent Mandarin, he has a Chinese name. And through a bizarre series of mishaps, accidents and good luck, and bad luck, my director dropped out at the last minute. He had to have emergency surgery. I happened to be close to somebody who has directed three feature films, Asia Argento, she stepped in at the last minute. We flew out to Hong Kong.

Somehow we all hit it off very, very well with Mr. Doyle who ended up being director of photography on my tiny little show. The entire episode nearly every scene is shot and DP'd by Christopher freaking Doyle. So for me this is like --

CABRERA: I love that.

BOURDAIN: You know, asking Joe DiMaggio, you know, you're in little league and you ask Joe DiMaggio to like sign your ball and he says, not only will I sign your ball, I will play on your little league team for the rest of the season.

CABRERA: You're like I just hit a homerun, to continue the analogy.

BOURDAIN: I'm still shaken with how incredibly lucky we were. I mean, we went back and shot Chungking Mansions, this giant complex where refugees live from all over the world in Central Hong Kong where he shot another Wong Kar-wai masterpiece, Chungking Express. So to have this great artist return to the site of this previous masterpiece and shoot for us really one of the most satisfying thrills of my professional career. I am still getting the vapors thinking about it.

CABRERA: It sounds so magical.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CABRERA: The premier of "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN HONG KONG" is up next right here on CNN. And then at 10:00 a new episode of CNN's "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" with W. Kamau Bell.

That's going to do it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you so much for joining me. Good night.