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Sources: White House Waives Privilege on Secretly Recorded Trump-Cohen Tape; Bush 41's Former Doctor Shot and Killed by Bicyclist; Who Is Maria Butina?; Philly Artisans Revamp American Classic Ice Cream. Aired 12n-1p ET
Aired July 21, 2018 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- reporter, Sarah Westwood joins us live from nearby Trump's golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is this weekend. So, Sarah, what more do we know about what the White House wants to say about what happened?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN REPORTER: Well, Fred, despite the intense backlash to President Trump's performance alongside Vladimir Putin this week, Trump is essentially doubling down on his Russia policy by making plans to host a second summit here in the U.S.
The White House stunned even some of Trump's own cabinet members on Thursday when it announced plans to invite Putin to the White House later this fall. Trump asked National Security Adviser John Bolton to relay that message to Moscow even as the fire storm on Capitol Hill was still raging over how Trump had treated Putin.
And even some Republicans who typically withhold their criticism of Trump when he breaks with them on issues of GOP orthodoxy like trade and immigration had slammed Trump's approach to the summit.
Now the White House so far had still revealed very few details about what Trump and Putin discussed five days after the Helsinki meeting. And Republicans and Democrats alike are apprehensive to say the least about moving forward with plans for a second summit before they even know results of the first.
And perhaps in a sign of that apprehension, GOP congressional leaders have already made clear that Putin will not be receiving an invitation to visit the hospital when he's here in Washington next year or later this year -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, thanks so much.
Now for a look at how the Trump administration is handling the news of a second summit, CNN's global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, joining me with more on that. What message are you hearing from the world of diplomacy and those circles?
ELISE LABOTT, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, I would say there's a lot of confusion and indeed frustration on the part of administration officials who don't know what went on at the summit. There's been no instructions from the Trump -- White House, there's been kind of no coordinated messaging strategy. Usually there's more of a strategic campaign to lay out the benefits of the summit and what was agreed to and what the next policy steps are.
There's really been none of it here. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may be one of the only people that, you know, in addition to maybe some of President Trump's other top aides who know what went on.
Secretary Pompeo had lunch with President Trump yesterday and take a listen -- on Thursday, take a listen to what Secretary Pompeo said yesterday at the United Nations about talk about a possible second summit with Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm happy that the two leaders of two very important countries are continuing to meet. And if that meeting takes place in Washington, I think it's all to the good. Those conversations are incredibly important. We have our senior leaders meeting all across the world with people where we have deep disagreements with.
It is incredibly valuable to the people of the United States of America, President Putin and President Trump continued to engage in dialogue to resolve the difficult issues that our countries face between each other. I think this makes enormous sense and I'm very hopeful that meeting will take place this fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: Now, a lot flowery words about the benefits of a second summit, but nothing in terms of what it's building on, Fred, from the first summit. I think that's what confounding not just the administration officials but the American public.
It's hard to see why there should be a second summit when nobody really knows what happened to the first. Of course, everybody realizes that the U.S. and Russia need to talk. There's a lot of important issues like Ukraine, like Syria, like nuclear proliferation.
But at the same time, you haven't really heard anything from President Trump himself. Only the Russians who are shaping the narrative here about how wonderful it was and what was agreed to.
WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott, thanks so much. I want to bring in Congressman John Garamendi, a Democrat from California, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman, good to see you.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Good afternoon.
WHITFIELD: You are, right, you are still one of those lawmakers who does want to see the interpreters, you know, questioned by your committee.
GARAMENDI: Well, I don't think we're ever going to hear from the interpreter but what we have to hear from is the president. What did he agree to? I think all of our heads are spinning. This is the most incredible week I guess actually following on previous incredible weeks.
The president of the United States sat down with an adversary who is actively engaged today in trying to disrupt the 2018 elections and also continues to engage today in hacking into our vital infrastructures. The electrical grid and on and on. There is a cyber war going on.
And we have heard zero, nothing, from the president about this, other than would or wouldn't. I mean, this is just not right. This is a very dangerous situation.
[12:05:08] And to invite Putin back to the United States, to sit him down in the White House and literally kowtow to him is unacceptable. It is simply unacceptable.
WHITFIELD: So, we're hearing on the global stage dribblings coming from Russia. They're leading the narrative on what may have been discussed. What may have been agreed upon. Is it your feeling that the White House is now putting its energies into an upcoming, a part two meeting in the fall somewhere around midterm elections and we may never hear anything concrete? We may never hear details coming from the White House about what happened last week.
GARAMENDI: Well, what we have heard from the Russians is deeply disturbing. There's talk about the American continuation of pulling out. What exactly was agreed to in Syria. There's talk about some sort of a referendum in Ukraine. All of these things are terribly important and, frankly, very disturbing. I'll give you one more example.
WHITFIELD: The secretary of state says, you know, it's good that they had dialogue, but then through the spokesperson with the White House, that nothing was concretely agreed upon. What do you worry about with all of that language?
GARAMENDI: Everything. Everything. I'll give you a specific example. The Republicans in the Senate and the House are pushing to complete the National Defense Authorization Act.
This is the annual $700 billion legislation that tells the military what equipment it has what it needs for everything from Eastern Europe to the war in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as dealing with the terrorism organizations around the nation, our national defense.
The issues of missile defense. The issues of nuclear armaments. All of those things are in there and presumably, at least from the Russians, all these things were discussed. Do we need to modify in any way the National Defense Authorization Act to pull back or increase our presence in any one of these areas?
We do not know and yet the Republicans want to wrap all of this up. It is not right. It is not the way Congress should act, and we must, and we should have information. The president and Pompeo have given us zero, nothing. Only the Russians.
WHITFIELD: So, the U.S. Senate has unanimously put in protections in place to make sure former U.S. ambassador or any U.S. diplomat would not be handed over to the Russians, you know, for grilling, questioning, et cetera.
What other protections do you believe could be legislated at this juncture, not knowing about what details did take place what agreements may have transpired during that meeting. Can there be any other protections legislated?
GARAMENDI: Well, that's precisely what I'm saying with regard to the defense, the National Defense Authorization Act. We may need to write into it. Not just a resolution by the Senate but write into actual law a bill that the president will absolutely have to sign.
WHITFIELD: But do you see that happening -- is that something that can happen immediately or long term?
GARAMENDI: Yes, it can happen this next week because the conference committee is in process, at least according to the Republicans finalizing it and putting it on the house floor this coming week. We don't need to have this thing done tomorrow. It doesn't have to be done until October the 1st.
We absolutely need to know. Yes, maybe we do need to write into it that no, Mr. President, you cannot turn over our diplomats to Russia. And no, we're not going to allow the Russians to come here and question Mueller. We're not going to do that.
If it takes a law, then we can do it in the National Defense Authorization Act along with dozens, it not hundreds of other things that are apparently in process of being discussed between Putin and the president. We don't know.
WHITFIELD: What does your gut say about why the White House would commit, would publicly say, by way of the secretary of state, that there's an upcoming meeting between Putin and Trump without details of what happened in Helsinki and this meeting would happen at the White House last fall. What's your -- how do you answer why as all this happens?
GARAMENDI: For Secretary Pompeo, he is trying to deal with a very erratic unstable and unpredictable boss, the president of the United States, Mr. Trump. So, he's doing his very best to be a good soldier, as he was and, okay, I understand that, but that is not a good reason for America and for the Congress to simply acquiesce.
[12:10:04] It is inexplicable why the president, on the face of the terrible turnout or terrible results of the Helsinki summit, that the president would march right back into that field in the face of the fact that Russia is continuing at this moment.
According to the national defense director, Mr. Coats, continuing to interfere in the American election, which is just three and a half months or four months away. And that the president is sitting down with the man that is doing that? It makes no sense whatsoever.
We were concerned going into the Helsinki summit and, keep in mind, it is not clear that the president fully supports NATO. Montenegro, a member of NATO, the president literally threw Montenegro under the bus, and then having to extract Montenegro from that terrible situation, where did the president say, well, maybe we wouldn't defend Montenegro.
WHITFIELD: It seemed like he did make it clear where he stood on that, only to then make it unclear by trying to clarify that perhaps he might be --
GARAMENDI: Precisely the problem.
WHITFIELD: -- Montenegro. All right, Congressman John Garamendi, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
GARAMENDI: Anytime, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: A day of fun on the water turned to tragedy. Coming up, the latest as investigators piece together the moment that a Duck boat capsized killing more than a dozen on board.
Later, a doctor for former President George H.W. Bush gunned down near a Houston hospital. The bizarre circumstances and what we know about the man on the bicycle police say is to blame.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We're learning more about the final terrifying moments on a Duck boat as it capsized and sank near Branson, Missouri, on Thursday. All 17 victims ranging from the age of 1 to 76 have been identified. A mother who lost nine family members including her own three children is speaking out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIA COLEMAN, LOST THREE CHILDREN IN ACCIDENT: And when the wave swept over, the last thing I heard my sister-in-law yell was grab the baby. I said, Jesus, please, keep me, keep me, so I can get to my children. Keep me and I can swim, and I was swimming as fast as I could. And I couldn't reach -- I could not reach the life jackets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: My gosh. CNN correspondent, Kaylee Hartung join us live now from Branson, Missouri. Kaylee, what is the latest on the investigation? How this happened? Why that boat was out there?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, four of the 14 survivors are hospitalized including Tia Coleman, who just heard from. Investigators speaking with her other survivors, first responders, as well as any eyewitnesses will be so key to that investigation going forward but this is going to be a long process. The NTSB leading this investigation, one their officials telling us it could be so long as a year before they're ready to release a report explaining how and why that boat capsized and sank and what led to the deaths of those 17 people.
Tia Coleman, as you just heard her shed some light on the question that will be asked, what about the life jackets? As she explains it, she said the crew on that Duck boat told them where the life jackets are but told them not to worry about it because they wouldn't need them.
Then when the swells began to come into the boat, they were all instructed to keep their seats. She says when that boat is found, she believes all of the life jackets will still be on board. That boat still at the bottom of table rock lake behind me, 80 feet deep.
Initially sank in 40-foot waters and then landed on its wheels and rolled down to a depth of 80 feet. That process, too, of safely getting the boat out of the water preserved in condition necessary for the investigation, for it to be useful in the investigation, will take a little bit of time.
Those discussions under way now. It could happen as soon as Monday. Fred, the story that Tia Coleman shares with us is just -- it's so stunning to hear. That she and her family, 11 members of the Coleman family, traveled here from Indianapolis, like so many people do, this is a popular vacation destination in the Ozarks, but only two of them will return home.
WHITFIELD: And Kaylee, it is a very comprehensive investigation, but why is it that investigators, you know, picked that earmark of one year, that it might take them a year in order to get answers?
HARTUNG: It was unclear, Fred. We asked. They said she hoped they would be able to give a preliminary report in the coming weeks, maybe in a month. Investigators from the NTSB will be here in Branson at least for the next week, conducting those interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses and first responders and collecting any of the perishable evidence.
But then they told us it will just take time and at this point, they said it is too early for them to be able to give a better time line. There are so many questions that need to be answered. The question for lawmakers now is what will they be doing in the meantime? If it's going to take the NTSB one year to determine how and why, what will lawmakers do in the meantime to ensure something like this never happens again.
WHITFIELD: Kaylee Hartung, thanks so much.
All right. Coming up, secret recordings, Michael Cohen says he has proof President Trump knew about payments to an alleged mistress. So, why now is the White House waving client-attorney privilege on the tapes.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:24:12]
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Two sources say the White House has waived a client-attorney privilege on a secretly recorded conversation between Donald Trump and long-time former fixer, Michael Cohen. That means the FBI can now assess the recording as part of the investigation into Trump's former lawyer.
On that particular tape, then Candidate Trump and Cohen are reportedly heard talking about a payment to a former playboy model and it's not the only recording that Cohen made. CNN national correspondent, Athena Jones has the story.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stunning revelation that Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, secretly recorded conversations between them and not just once, a source familiar telling CNN when informed of one of the tapes, Trump said, quote, "I can't believe Michael would do this to me."
[12:25:01] Trump's current attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tells CNN one of the conversations, which took place two months before the 2016 presidential election, in that then-Candidate Trump's Tower office, was about payments to former playboy model, Karen McDougal, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006, an affair Trump denies.
KAREN MCDOUGAL, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH TRUMP: We were together 10 months before I chose to end it. So, we saw each other quite frequently.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, dozens of times you were together?
MCDOUGAL: Many dozens of times, yes.
JONES: Giuliani told "The New York Times" that in the tape, Trump advises Cohen to pay McDougal by check, if he does pay her, so that there's a record. Giuliani said the payment was ultimately never made and the tape shows Trump did nothing wrong.
In the end, McDougal reached a separate $150,000 deal for her story with American Media Inc., the parent company of the "National Enquirer," before the election. AMI, whose chief, David Pecker, is a close friend of Trump's, never ran the story.
McDougal has accused Cohen of secretly taking part in the AMI deal. Trump's campaign denied any knowledge of the AMI deal. In a November 2016 "Wall Street Journal" report on the agreement.
The FBI seized the McDougal tape and others during an April raid of Cohen's office, part of the Southern District of New York's criminal investigation into his business dealings, including the $130,000 payment he made to porn star, Stormy Daniels, days before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump that Trump also denies.
COOPER: And you had sex with him? STORMY DANIELS, PORN STAR: Yes.
COOPER: You were 27, he was 60. Were you physically attracted to him?
COOPER: Not at all.
JONES: Prosecutors are looking into whether those activities violated federal campaign finance laws among other things.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The closer it gets to the election, that raises a bigger question about whether it was some type of loan to the campaign to help effect his chances in the election.
JONES: The secret recordings may provide an answer to one of the biggest questions facing the president. Just what does Cohen have on him? Trump's former fixer --
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I protect Mr. Trump.
JONES: -- has sent signals in recent weeks that he is willing to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, although, it is not clear what kind of evidence Cohen will be able to provide in that probe. According to Giuliani, the McDougal tape is the only one of true substance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, did Michael Cohen betray you, sir?
JONES: And Trump's attorneys do not believe it is a problem for the president.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks, Athena. Let's discuss this now. Joining me right now, Alice Stewart, who is a CNN political commentator and Republican strategist. Matt Bennett is a Democratic strategist. Also, with me, Larry Noble, who is a CNN contributor and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission. Thanks to all of you. Good to see you.
So, Larry, you know, the president's attorney waiving privilege on that secretly regarded conversation between Trump and Cohen. It's a conversation that did occur, you know, just two months before the election, raising questions about possible campaign violations. So, as a lawyer what do you make of the decision to waive this attorney/client privilege?
LARRY NOBLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first, I have to say, with anything we're hearing out of the Trump organization from Giuliani, we're not sure if it's true. Exactly what went on. So, let's assume for a moment they did waive privilege. I'm not sure why they would. If the privilege attached, then the prosecutors could not see it. It is possible privilege did not attach because if this was a discussion of a furtherance of a crime or a fraud, then the privilege would not attach. So, you know, they say they waived privilege. Maybe they thought they were on shaky ground.
But I'm not sure why they would waive privilege because this does not show, what we've heard about it from Giuliani, does not necessarily show that the president didn't do anything wrong.
And also shows the president lied when he had hope hicks say right before the election he knew nothing about AMI making any deals with Karen McDougal and they also denied he had an affair with Karen McDougal.
So, it's not clear why they would do this, but I have to say, sometimes I think they're playing 12-dimensional chess but they're 6- year-olds. So, it's really hard to tell exactly what they're doing.
WHITFIELD: So, you said, may not show that he did anything wrong, but it does show there was knowledge when he said that there wasn't knowledge, which then raises the -- and also said, you know, use a check and not cash. I mean, it shows that there was some kind of cooperation about this payment.
NOBLE: Right. I don't mean to say that it doesn't -- that it shows he didn't do anything wrong. In fact, it does raise the potential for what campaign financial violations. So, for one, AMI, by this time of the tape apparently, AMI had already bought the story from Karen McDougal.
If AMI knew about this or had been in touch with the Trump campaign prior to buying the story, then they may have committed campaign violation and the Trump campaign may have committed a campaign violation by accepting the help from AMI.
Ami, if AMI is now offering to sell it, to Trump, and I think the way Giuliani put it, they were reimbursing AMI for it. That may suggest there was a loan and there was an understanding about what would go on.
So, it doesn't exculpate them from violation. It raises the questions. That's why it's really hard to understand why they would waive attorney-client privilege on this.
WHITFIELD: So Alice, there may be a campaign violation. It also kind of, you know, puts the magnifying glass on trust but then in your tweet yesterday, you say at the end of the day, sex, lies and audio tapes only matter to a spouse and to the opposition party. Further explain that. Because you're inferring that, you know, the electorate really doesn't care about the whole issue of trust or possible campaign finance violations.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, sadly, Fred, it's true. Look at the popularity amongst its base. It's in the 80 percent and 90 percent amongst Republican base voters. They knew about his private life while he ran for office and he was the nominee and he eventually became the president.
So, this is clearly something that has not detracted from his base. And the reality is sex, lies and audio tapes are exciting to talk about but as Larry mentioned, the key focus here is on whether or not he and Michael Cohen were involved in some kind of campaign finance violation and that's what we really need to get to the bottom of. But a lot of this we probably already knew.
And from a communications standpoint, the best way to avoid having this come out there, first and foremost, don't cheat on your spouse. Second of all, don't pay off porn stars and playmates. And third of all, when you know there's evidence, and there was evidence months ago when this first came out, tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth because now we're still talking about something that could have been cleaned up quite a long time ago.
And while I believe there are many more tapes, I do believe this is probably the only one that has some significant information. Maggie Haberman reported yesterday this is, as far as she knows, one that has concrete information or information that can be used against them. A lot of the other ones are probably mundane.
WHITFIELD: So Matt, is that the issue, that it really just doesn't matter especially among the base or at least among Republicans, where his approval rating remains high?
MATT BENNETT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I think that's exactly the issue. And to Larry's question about why do this now, I think the answer's pretty clear. This is the worst week of the Trump presidency. The summit was on Monday. They're calling it the treason summit. There are Republicans in Congress who for the first time are willing to break with him.
Meanwhile, we still have kids essentially being tortured after being removed from their parents, and we have a trade war that's going to drive up prices, a trade war that we're fighting for no reason whatsoever with our allies and with China. So Trump is very skilled at changing the subject. And I think the Giuliani tweet, while Giuliani has not proven himself to be a strategic genius, that tweet, the tweet from Trump this morning about the NFL, these are all efforts not to talk about Russia and family separation and the trade war.
WHITFIELD: Or Larry, it's a piling on. It's just a lot more to talk about because people are so perplexed about Helsinki and especially as we're now looking ahead to the fall of another meeting this time in the White House. So, you know, this issue of the tapes, how worrisome should it be for the White House?
NOBLE: Well, I think they have to worry about it. And I think Matt may very well be right. I think this may well be to an extent you can find the strategy of let's get this out there and get people to talk about sex, lies and videotape and that way they won't talk about possible treason. It is a strange but possibly necessary strategy with this administration to, you know, see what is the least offensive thing we can talk about. One thing I do want to point out is that it was reported back in April that Michael Cohen had these tapes. And that it was suggested -- some people suggested that Trump knew that he was recording other people at least and Trump had heard some tapes from other people. So it is interesting to find out what other tapes are out there. And I don't necessarily trust Giuliani when he says, oh, this is the only bad one or, you know, this is exculpatory.
He has been wrong almost every time he's come out the gate with a statement about what's going on and then later he has to retract it and say oh, I just pointing the facts. So I think there's a lot more to be seen and a lot of other shoes to drop on this.
WHITFIELD: And so Alice, if this is a potential distraction, you know, the issue of the tapes, you know, from what did or didn't happen in Helsinki, it seems it will be really difficult to overlook what still isn't known about Helsinki as the White House puts its energy into planning for the fall around midterms by the way with a continued adversary but this time right in the White House. What will be different or what should be different this go around potentially?
STEWART: First and foremost, Fred, I hope we get a lot better readout of what happened in that private meeting. And what was agreed to and what kind of action items were outlined. And I hope that more of our Intel community has read in on that. And we do see some progress, some accom -- verifiable accomplishments from that first meeting before we move into the second one.
[12:35:03] I'm not a 100 percent convinced that the second meeting will happen. But if we can show that there has been a tough line on pushing back on Russian interference in our election and being firm on the sanctions and talk about Crimea and these other issues that are important for them to have this conversation on and show that we are moving the ball down the field, I think it will be important and it will be hopeful if we can get all of those things lined up in advance of this next meeting.
I see it being helpful to the president for the midterm elections and interim Republicans who are supportive of his policies.
WHITFIELD: And Matt, are you convinced that it would happen?
BENNETT: No. And I think Alice is right. If we can do those things, that would be terrific. But there is zero evidence that that is in any way possible.
The president came out and kowtowed to Putin at every turn in that press conference. There is no evidence he's confronting him on anything, on interference in our elections. On Syria, on Ukraine. Nothing.
And so if there is no pushback to this tyrant and this foe and there's just this continued effort to suck up to Vladimir Putin, this summit shouldn't, and probably won't happen.
WHITFIELD: And so Larry, does President Trump end up looking like the strong man in this meeting or does he end up as a consequence of this summit looking like the weaker man that he's always, you know, criticizing?
NOBLE: I think he's going to end up again looking like the weaker man. Look, we keep hearing that Trump is going to become normal at some point. He's going to start acting within the normal wings of what we expect.
He did not do it in Helsinki. I think that if this does go forward, it's going to be another disaster. He's going to come away from it looking worse. And one of the problems he has is the Republicans are turning on him now over this.
And I think another really bad show in meeting with Putin, I think he's going to be a lot more trouble with the Republicans. So I don't think this is going to work out for him almost he expects. I don't think he's capable of really traveling down the normal road on these things. I think he -- his ego gets in the way. And I think he's going to, you know, have more secret meetings and he's going to be saying other things that we're not going to be able to believe so I'm not at all confident about what's going to happen.
WHITFIELD: All right, Larry Noble, Alice Stewart, Matt Bennett, thanks all. We appreciate it.
STEWART: Thanks, Fred.
NOBLE: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. He was the cardiologist for President George H. W. Bush. So why was he shot right near his Houston hospital? The mystery police are trying to unravel, next.
[12:41:48] WHITFIELD: A mysterious murder in Houston has police on the hunt for a bicycle shooter. Dr. Mark Hausknecht was President George H. W. Bush's former heart doctor. According to police, while riding his bicycle near the Texas Medical Center, the cardiologist was fatally shot by a passing bike rider. CNN's Polo Sandoval has more. Polo?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Hausknecht, Fred, he had been practicing for nearly four decades. Somebody who many people have described as a very well respected, a pillar in the medical community in Houston, Texas. This afternoon, detectives are trying to find his killer and a motive.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Police in Houston searching an area near the Texas Medical Center for a murder suspect after cardiologist Mark Hausknecht was gunned down, Friday while riding his bicycle to work. Police say the doctor was riding north when he passed the shooter also on a bike going the other direction. EXEC. ASST. CHIEF TROY FENNER, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: The suspect was on a bicycle as well. Drove past, rode past the doctor, turned and fired two shots. The doctor immediately went down.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): A private ambulance passed by the scene and EMTS stopped to help before the Houston Fire Department arrived.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I seen somebody flagging us down. I said, you know, something's wrong. And then I drove up a little further and I see a gentleman sprawled out on the floor with blood all over him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stopped, rendered aid to the best of our ability.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Authorities say investigators don't know if the shooting was targeted, random or caused by road rage. A few people may have witnessed the attack and police are looking at surveillance video.
FENNER: Our homicide investigators are interviewing people. Another good thing about our medical center, as you know, there's a lot of cameras so we're hoping that we can get some footage of this.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Dr. Hausknecht was a well-known cardiologist. One of his patients, former President George H. W. Bush whose spokesman issued this statement. "Mark was a fantastic cardiologist and a good man." President Bush said in a statement, "I will always be grateful for his exceptional, compassionate care. His family is in our prayer."
A Houston Methodist Hospital spokesman said, "not only was he revered by his patients but Mark was highly regarded among his peers and colleagues. He was recently recognized as a super doctor."
SANDOVAL: So where are detectives when it comes to their suspect? They haven't said much, only saying that they have been able to describe him as either a white or Hispanic male in his 30s. At the time of the shooting yesterday, he was riding a light colored mountain bike, also wearing a hoodie. Of course, much of that likely has changed now, Fred.
What they're doing at this hour, detectives are in Houston pouring over surveillance video and hoping that somebody will call them with that potential case solving tip. The shooting did, after all, happen during rush hour yesterday morning.
WHITFIELD: Wow, all right, potentially a lot of eyewitnesses and that surveillance tape around the area. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
All right, her charges read like a spy novel but prosecutors say she's a real Russian secret agent sent to win influence in the U.S. So who is Maria Butina and how was she able to infiltrate some inner circles? We'll take a look, next.
[12:49:31] WHITFIELD: Maria Butina is a 29-year-old Russian national and a gun lover, but this week she pleaded not guilty to charges that she acted as a spy working with the Kremlin-connected banker to spread influence in the U.S. In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry says her arrest is unacceptable and demands her early release. Prosecutors say Butina conspired with a Russian official in a plan spanning several years. The charges appear to be part of a wide- ranging Russian attempt to influence U.S. politics prior to the 2016 election.
[12:50:06] But how did it all get to this point for Butina? CNN's Sarah Murray has more.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The young Russian gun lover twice applied for visas to attend the National Rifle Association's glitzy annual meeting. Twice Maria Butina says she was denied.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maria, thank you very much.
MURRAY (voice-over): Then the NRA came to Moscow. Butina hosted a gun conference and charmed NRA board member David Keen and his associate political operative Paul Erickson. By April 2014, visa in hand, Butina was on her way to Indianapolis for the NRA's 2014 annual meeting. There, she snapped a pic with NRA chief Executive Wayne LaPierre and began blazing a path in U.S. political circles in what authorities allege was a covert operation.
Her relationship with Erickson quickly turned romantic. Whether he was duped by his young lover who used him for political connections or willingly lured into a spy operation to influence U.S. politics ahead of the 2016 election is unclear. An unlikely match, Erickson is nearly twice Butina's age.
PAUL ERICKSON: If you want power, if you want influence, you see a candidate that you like, show up and work for them. Drop everything.
MURRAY (voice-over): After growing up in South Dakota and graduating from Yale, he sought to make a name for himself in GOP politics. Along the way, he crossed paths with now disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramhoff. And worked as a spokesman for John Wayne Bobbitt, the Virginia man whose wife cut off his penis in the 1990.
Erickson also launched investment schemes and faced lawsuits because of them. He's currently under investigation for fraud by the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Dakota. Butina's upbringing, starkly different.
MARIA BUTINA (through translator): My story is simple. My father is a hunter. I was born in Siberia. For such places like Siberia or forests of Russia, this is a question of survival. Everyone has a gun. MURRAY (voice-over): After graduating from a local university and dabbling in the furniture business, she set off to Moscow to pursue political ambitions. There, she launched her gun rights group and linked up with prominent Russian official Aleksandr Torshin who became a staunch ally.
By fall of 2014, she was trading e-mails with her lover, Erickson about how to obtain long-term visas. Her Russian handlers wanted her to have a more permanent U.S. foothold prosecutors said. By the summer of 2016, Butina was enrolled in graduate school at American University on a student visa, all part of her cover story according to prosecutors.
By then, Butina had already become a fixture at exclusive NRA events. Accompanied Torshin to 2016 annual prayer breakfast and worked with Torshin and Erickson to try to establish back channel communications between candidate Donald Trump and Russia President Vladimir Putin. Erickson's involvement in the alleged Russian operation is murky. Authorities found a note in his handwriting that read how to respond to FSB offer of employment. But it's unclear if the Russian intelligence offer was for him, Butina or something else entirely.
Recently, she grew despondent, lamenting it wasn't safe for her to return to Russia. She graduated from American University in May 2018. But a friend didn't spot her at any commencement celebrations. With school behind her, she was planning a move to Sioux City with Erickson, a man prosecutors say she expressed disdain for living with. A day after buying moving boxes, she was arrested.
MURRAY: Now, U.S. authorities did not explicitly name Paul Erickson in the indictment surrounding Butina, nor he has been charged with a crime in relation to the Butina case. He did not respond to CNN's request for comment. Sarah Murray, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: All right, the White House says another meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin is, quoting now, all to the good. But not everyone is ready to roll out the red carpet for the Russian president in Washington. What a new meeting could mean, coming up.
But first, I want you to check out some Philly artisans putting their own flavor into marketing and revamping an American favorite, ice cream. It's in this week's "Start Small, Think Big."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE ANGEVINE, CEO, LITTLE BABY'S ICE CREAM: People have come here from all over the world to taste things like (INAUDIBLE) or pizza ice cream or even the (INAUDIBLE) vanilla bean.
My name is Pete Angevine, I am one of the owners of Little Baby's Ice Cream. We started on a single tricycle in 2011, scooping strange ice cream flavors outside of random arts and culture events all over the city of Philadelphia. We were all coming from various backgrounds in music and art worlds. Ice cream initially just seems like an exciting blank canvas for imagination.
About 40 percent of our menu is totally vegan and non-dairy. You can find pints of our ice cream throughout the mid-Atlantic. We released what is now a bit of a, I guess iconic plastic viral video on YouTube.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I eat Little Baby's ice cream.
ANGEVINE: Because it really was pretty meaningless and silly.
[12:55:00] I think it has something 13 million views. In rattled some folks but in retrospect, it's been a benefit for us to briefly have been the most hated ice cream company in the world. Not all of our flavors are alienating and bizarre. Many of them are. But then when you try it, it turns out it is confoundingly delicious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
After a week of intense damage control following President Trump's stunning and controversial press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House is remaining silent so far this weekend. Still no official read out on that summit.
But we are hearing details, not from the Trump administration but from Russia. The Kremlin sharing their version --