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President Today Steering The Trump Tower Meeting Story In Another Direction Again; The President Doesn't Tell The Truth At Least Seven Times A Day On Average; Wife Of A U.S. War Veteran And Former Marine Deported By The U.S. Government Under President Trump's Immigration Policy; Cal Fire Officials Now Know What Sparked The Car Fire In Redding, California. Sparks Apparently From A Flat Tire Causing The Blaze That Has Claimed Seven Lives Venezuela's President The Victim Of An Apparent Assassination Attempt; President Trump Withdrew From The Iran Deal; Strange Right Wing Conspiracy Group Is Turning Up More And More At Trump Rallies. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 5, 2018 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: This was a meeting to get information on an opponent. Totally legal and done all the time in politics. And it went nowhere. I did not know about it.

Now the problem with the President's new tweet is it is the exact opposite of a statement his son released last summer, a statement we now know was dictated by the President himself. That statement read, we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children. Again, President Trump's attorney has now admit the President actually dictated that misleading statement. But they are originally said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I do want to be clear. The President was not involved in the drafting of the statement and didn't issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr. So that's what I can tell you because that's what we know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So why the changing stories? Why say the President had nothing to do with his son's statement before admitting that he did? Here's what the President's lawyer Jay Sekulow, that same lawyer, said about it today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEKULOW: I had had bad information at that point. I made a mistake in my statement. I talked about that before. That happens when you have cases like this. I think it is very important to point out that in a situation like this, you have over time facts develop. That's what investigations do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Facts develop. Bad information. Let's go to CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez in Berkley

heights, New Jersey, where the President is spending his summer break.

And Boris, bottom line here, the truth about what happened, it matters a lot because we know this Trump tower meeting is a piece of the special counsel investigation.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is a huge piece of the puzzle that Robert Mueller the special counsel is investigating, Ana. And in that tweet that the President sent out today about the meeting, he also dismissed recent reporting by CNN and other outlets that indicates that he is growing increasingly concerned that this Russia probe could mean very serious legal trouble for his son Donald Trump Jr. and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Sources told CNN that the President has become agitated and aggressive in his attacks against the special counsel because of that concern. Now we should point out that the White House has made a strong, swift switch here not only did we hear months ago from the President suggesting that no one that he knew had anything to do with Russia. Built as you noted, there have been shifting explanations for the explanation that the President gave and that his son gave about this meeting.

Recently we have heard from the President and several close to him, several people close to him suggesting that this meeting was not improper and it wasn't illegal. And again, that suggestion that collusion itself is not illegal.

Let's listen to Jay Sekulow, one of the President's attorneys on one of the Sunday morning talk shows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says the meeting totally legal done all the time in politics but according to the email that special counsel Robert Mueller has, this was a meeting to get information from the prosecutor of Russia on Hillary Clinton's campaign. How is that legal?

SEKULOW: The question is how is it illegal? I mean, the real question here is with a meeting of that nature constitute a violation? The meeting itself constitute a violation of the law?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now critics have pounced on this, Ana, suggesting that the President and his legal team are moving the goal posts despite calls for this investigation to wrap up by the President and his attorneys. We did get an indication last week that special counsel Robert Mueller is trying to zero in and get an interview with Emin Agilarov. Remember, he is one of the key figures that was involved in that June 2016 meeting at Trump tower. He is a Russian pop star. His father is actually an oligarch with deep ties to Vladimir Putin. Sources indicate that for more than a year now the special counsel has been working to secure that interview. Unclear if it actually does take place. But it will be interesting to

see how that wrinkle of this investigation plays out -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez, thank you.

Let's dig into this more now with CNN senior political analyst and former advisor to four U.S. president, David Gergen.

David, I'm always glad to have you on our show. Jay Sekulow, he said the reason he originally said Trump wasn't involved in drafting his son's statement is because he had bad information. I mean, is he basically saying his client, the President, wasn't even honest with him to begin with?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There are so many things strange about this, Ana. I think we start with a proposition that this goes back to the old truism from Watergate. The cover-up is often much worse than what may have occurred, whatever crime may have occurred.

In this case, the constant evolution, constant changing of evolution of this story coming from the White House, coming from these key players is making things look more and more suspicious about this Trump tower meeting.

As you pointed out, the White House began with the proposition that it was a nothing ball meeting. It was just to talk about adoptions and that sort of thing. And we now know from the President himself the purpose of the meeting is to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. That's what he himself said today. We were then told that the President had nothing to do with the statement explaining this and then we have learned since that in fact he dictated the statement.

The question is now arising, did the President know in advance of the purpose of the meeting? And here's where the trouble may arise for Donald Trump Jr. He has said he testified to Congress that in fact the President did not know in advance about the meeting and that we now know in the last now days that Michael Cohen is telling his friends and others that in fact the President did know and he is willing to go on the witness stand to say that in a court of law.

So given all of that, this has built up now to be a substantial problem. And the President, I assume, is stirring because he realizes that if Donald Trump Jr., if his testimony is shown to be false, that is a crime to lie to Congress. And that can put him in legal jeopardy. I don't know about Jared. But all along, right from the beginning, lawyers speculated that Mueller's real aim would be to get up to one or two of the kids and be able to put them in jeopardy and then the President himself will talk more freely.

[19:06:32] CABRERA: And we will see if that is in fact what ends up happening. But it does seem like Mueller investigation has started wide and is narrowing in closer and closer to higher levels of power.

GERGEN: Yes.

CABRERA: People who are closer to the President.

Here is what his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said about the President's handling of the Mueller investigation.

Quote "with the great feel for public opinion and how to deal it, he has a sense of what would work, what to say. He sort of determines the public strategy and we get his approval and input for the legal strategy."

Now you see where that can be problematic. I mean, can there actually be a public strategy and a legal strategy? Or should they really be one in the same?

GERGEN: They should be one and the same. There is also a conflict, Ana, between the communications people and he lawyers. The lawyers typically are much, much more cautious and the public relations people want to be bold and makes their own statements.

And the problem becomes if you are strong statements are later shown to be false, you know, with time, and things become clearer, then it undercuts your whole capacity to played anybody.

You know, (INAUDIBLE) in Watergate famously said, you know, came out to the podium when it was clear that there was a smoking gun and Nixon had lied all along. You know, he said all previous statements from the podium were inoperative. Inoperative. And you knew at that moment this presidency is done. I don't think Donald Trump is anywhere near that line. That's not what I'm trying to argue now. What I would say is this tower meeting has achieved a significance far beyond what it first appeared to have.

CABRERA: And there have been another mixed messages, to say the least, coming from the President and his White House about Russia's election interference, just the heart of this issue and the heart of the investigation where it all began. The President still calling it a Russia hoax.

Here is how his administration attempted to clarify this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: When he talks about the hoax, he is talking about this fantasy, this unproven fantasy that somehow the campaign that I successfully manage for the successful part of the campaign was in cahoots with Russians.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think what he is saying about it hoax is the idea that the Russians directed and controlled his campaign or directed control his administration that there was some conspiracy or some violation of U.S. law in 2016.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: David, why hasn't the President been that specific if it's as simple as that? GERGEN: Well, because I don't think it's true. The argument is not

being made that Russians somehow controlled his campaign. The argument is whether the Russians attempted to influence it and whether the Russians interfered. And his national security people have all now come out unanimously to say that they have. They don't see this is a hoax. And indeed they just tell the press conference, reportedly, at the President, with the President's blessing to say that the Russians are continuing to interfere and we are not ready for the 2018 elections.

So, you know, I don't know why they have so much trouble sort of getting their story straight. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the President is impulsive. He wants to be the bold one. He pushes this envelope. And I don't think the lawyers take a second seat behind this in their -- they try to make the best statements they can given the -- given very odd and unusual circumstances. But to say the least.

[19:10:04] CABRERA: And his lawyers, his national security adviser, his counselor, David, I want you to stay with me because I want to talk to you more about Trump and the truth and his attacks on journalists whose job is to fact-check the President, the whole people in power accountable. So stay with us.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:14:27] CABRERA: The President doesn't tell the truth at least seven times a day on average. "The Washington Post" had been keeping tracks of every false or misleading statement the President has made since taking office. And so far, he has made 4,229 false or misleading statements in his first 558 day. That's an average of seven-and-a-half mistruths a day. At the same time, the President is telling that you it is the media that is really misleading you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They can make anything bad because they are the fake, fake disgusting news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:15:05] CABRERA: His messaging seems to be having an impact. A recent CBS poll found that among Trump supporters, 91 percent say they trust the President to give them accurate information, 63 percent say they trust their family and friends to do the same. Just 11 percent say that of the mainstream media.

Let's talk more about it with David Gergen who is back with us.

David, what do you see as the impact of the President's 4,000 plus misleading or false statements?

GERGEN: The primary impact has been that he has kept his base solid. And that he remains a very viable force in our politics and he can win re-election. And you know, so he is exploiting it for his own purposes. But Ana, he is current damaging the presidency and he has become a real threat to first amendment rights. That as when he was sworn in as President, he took an oath to promote and defend the constitution, the constitutional rights of all American citizens and the first amendment that definitely includes journalists. And I must tell you that I think a lot of what he says is just obnoxious, you know. That there are horrible people. There are lesson (INAUDIBLE). Even his daughter disagrees -Ivanka has disagree with him publicly in the last few days and some elements to that.

But what is far is worse and far more dangerous is this label he has given the press of enemy of the people. Enemy of the people. That phrase, as you know, Ana, has a storied history. It goes all the way back to the French revolution in the late 18th century. A bloody revolution in which if you were found and declared to be an enemy of the people, you were headed to the guillotine and violence followed.

And I'm just saying to you, when Mr. Sulzberger (INAUDIBLE) went in to see the President's publisher of "The New York Times," what he warned him is Mr. President, please understand that calling people enemy, calling journalists enemy of the people really can lead to violence. And that's the danger here.

I have said it once, I will say it again. If we have violence, bloodshed of journalists, that blood will be on the President's hands.

CABRERA: The President would like to argue the exact opposite. Let me read you the tweet. He sent out today about the media, David. He writes the fake news hates me saying that they are the enemy of the people. Only because they know it's true. I'm providing a great service by explaining this to the American people. They purposefully caused great division and distrust. They can also cause war. They are very dangerous and sick.

GERGEN: Well, see, that takes it even a step further. The enemy of the people could cause war? What are we talking about here? I do think the President has a point that he is -- that a lot of his accomplishments are not making it through the country. He is not getting credit for a lot of that. Because a lot of the coverage has been, you know, has been negative. And we all sort of try to weigh on what is right here.

But one of the reasons the President -- that coverage has been so negative is because of his antics, because of the lies. And going back to that "Washington Post" study of his lies and misleading statements over seven-and-a-half decades, the pace of that is doubled in the last few months over what it was last year. So it's gotten worse, Ana.

You know, I think that is, you know, that is very, very problematic. And I will tell you that -- he can't get through the fog very well. What our best Presidents are most memorable Presidents have done is to try to strike up a professional, respectful relationship with the press. You are never going to get all positive press. That's just hopeless.

CABRERA: Right.

GERGEN: You shouldn't get all positive press. You should be judges fairly. But if you go back and look at the Presidents we remember Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, all of them had very, very positive relationships with the press. And they were respectful and that I possible to do.

Look, I work for Reagan on the communications side. People say he has never going to get a fair break from the press because the press is too liberal. He is too conservative. They are always going to beat him up. That simply was not the case. Reagan had a very, very good relationship.

Sid Blumenthal, a Democrat wrote a book about the press relationships with Reagan and called it on bended knee. He was very angry - Sid was angry that press wasn't tough enough. But Reagan understood that truth matters. And if you have a truthful respectful relationship, the presidency works better, the country works better and you will be more successful at governance of this great country.

CABRERA: What I don't understand why you can't be convincing of your positions or your viewpoints by using facts to back up this position.

David Gergen, we are out of time.

GERGEN: I agree in it. OK, Ana. Great to talk to you.

CABRERA: Always good to you have. Thank you so much.

Tears and hugs as a mother and wife of a U.S. veteran kissed her good- bye before being deported back to Mexico.

Congressman Darren Soto who was at the airport with this family when she left joins us live next on the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:24:41] CABRERA: Now, the wife of a U.S. war veteran and former marine deported by the U.S. government under President Trump's immigration policy. Her name Alejandra Juarez, the mother of two kids both U.S. citizens. And now a Florida congressman is waging a battle to bring her back home to the U.S.

This is Alejandra Juarez on Friday at the Orlando airport moments before her tearful good-byes to her loved ones and moments before she and her daughter boarded her flight back to Mexico.

Joining us now is Congressman Darren Soto, a Democrat representing the district where Juarez lived.

Congressman, thanks for being with us. Tell us more about this family. Why was there an order for Mrs. Juarez's removal? Why was she deported?

[19:25:23] REP. DARREN SOTO (D), FLORIDA: It started with an innocent traffic stop a few years ago. But it was Trump's zero tolerance policy that broke the family up.

You know, Alejandra was -- is the wife of a marine veteran who served in Iraq and northern Africa during that time period she raised two beautiful daughters. And it was an emotional scene this week at the airport. Because one daughter has to now go back with her to Mexico and the other remains with the father. So we have a family separated with no justice being served. All it was tragedy. And obviously, our community is outraged.

CABRERA: Now I understand she did have a removal order that kind of stemmed from an incident in 1998 in which she was deported, had signed some paperwork saying she wouldn't come back into the country. And yet, she did. And so that ultimately was against the law. Created the legal jeopardy situation she was in which she was deemed a criminal and that's why they followed through. Did that make sense to you?

SOTO: Well, certainly that was the justification. But prior administrations including the Obama administration had given her extensions, deemed her low priority. And given this particular case, she is a patriotic spouse that raised two daughters while her husband defended that country.

This is the perfect case where both parties can come together and come up with a solution. They could have simply given her a further extension and maybe a future administration would finally do the job of giving her residency. But what we saw is just a major blow to the military and it is major blow to our community as we are still sitting here suffering from this family being ripped apart.

CABRERA: You tried to stop her deportation by introducing some legislation in support of the family, other military spouses perhaps facing deportation. Where does your legislation stand?

SOTO: So we filed a private bill. We also filed major legislation giving spouses of marine veterans and veterans in general that as grounds to try to stay in the country. It's no secret that Congress is divided on immigration and has not moved.

The real point of those bills and the letters that were -- in bipartisan fashion were to put pressure on I.C.E. to simply give her extensions to be able to stay. And they chose under the zero tolerance policy to divide this country. Literally split the family in half and it was just a really emotional scene this week as cameras circles the family, as they had to break apart and the younger daughter has to go back or is now back in Mexico with Alejandra and Timo (ph), the marine veteran father is still in Poke county along with their eldest daughter.

CABRERA: So why did they do that? Why did they split up the two sisters? The one daughter going back to Mexico with mom and then the older staying with the father?

SOTO: The older one is still in high school and is able to take care of herself after school. Timo, the marine veteran husband works in the construction industry. So he is away for most of the day. So it was a real practical matter that the younger daughter still being in grade school really need to have an active parent around during the day. And so she ended up going back with Alejandra to Mexico, to a country that she knows neither the language fluently or the culture well enough. So it's going to be a tough situation for them.

CABRERA: Yes. And, of course, I want to just give the viewers that context that the father is a naturalized U.S. citizen. And as you point out, he has served this country in the military. He is decorated war hero. And the couple's daughters are both American citizens as well.

This story has really sparked strong reaction calling on the President to fix this. I know you have tried to appeal to the President by saying this is about supporting veterans. Do you think the President will act on this issue because of that?

SOTO: You know, I'm not very helpful but we are going to keep trying. Because if there is the perfect case of where this zero tolerance policy is failing American families, it's this case where you have a woman who protected her family on the home front as her husband protected our freedoms abroad in combat, in Iraq, in northern Africa. If President Trump says he wants to protect military families, this is a prime example where he can do so.

CABRERA: Real quick. Federal judge just on Friday upheld the order that DACA must be restored. Do you see this latest ruling as a win?

SOTO: Absolutely. We can see August 23rd, not only the DACA program continued but new applications can be entertained. The judge basically said that they did not submit anything resembling a considered legal assessment which is basically saying they didn't give a good reason why they ended the DACA program. It's like they submitted some note from their mom written in crayon, you know. They really didn't present anything professional to say why they need to end DACA. And it's a valid use of the executive power. You could prioritize who is a low priority versus who is high priority like criminals. And then ultimately Congress needs to make the final solution.

[19:30:37] CABRERA: Which we know where that has ended up at this point and before midterm election here. It doesn't sound like there is any chance that's going to move at the moment.

Congressman Darren Soto, thank you for the time. Keep us updated on that family's story.

SOTO: Thank you.

CABRERA: President Trump has long promised to build a wall along the U.S. Mexico border. But in the meantime, he has sent more military personnel for protection.

CNN's Martin Savidge did a ride along with border patrol agents and the National Guards stationed at the border and found the military's role isn't what most people think.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Maybe you were expecting to see military trucks and troops on the border. They are not here. Instead of hunting drug traffickers or drug smugglers, Sergeant Francisco Robles is tracking down a pickup truck's electrical problem. He is a mechanic in the border patrol motor pool in Nogales.

Specialist Gerardo Duran is at the border. But instead of a rifle, he has got a welding torch. Some National Guard troops have even served by cleaning the stalls at border patrol stables.

Operation guardian support is a long way from the President's top talk of military money.

TRUMP: Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with our military.

SAVIDGE: You're not armed, correct?

SPECIALIST GERARDO DURAN, NATIONAL GUARD MECHANIC: Correct. None of our soldiers and our men are currently on operation guardian support are armed.

SAVIDGE: And they are not out there walking right beside the border patrol.

DURAN: Correct. These are positions that are back off the border.

SAVIDGE: Despite President Trump's claim we haven't really used troops on the border patrol before, we have. In 2006, the Bush administration sent 6,000 soldiers to the border. In 2010, President Obama sent 1200. But they were in full gear and armed.

When specialist Duran's welding at border, he needs two border agents to protect him since he is not allowed to carry his gun.

It is possible the public has the wrong impression of this mission.

DURAN: It's a support role. And they may have ideas about prior missions that's not that anymore.

SAVIDGE: Yet, despite their diminished role, National Guard troops are making a difference.

Thanks to sergeant Robles, the U.S. border patrol has more vehicles on patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Omaha, it's going to be a great day.

SAVIDGE: And thanks to the senior airman Adriana MacGyver, border patrol agents on horses closing in on three suspects have an extra pair of eyes watching their back. As she and other guard members monitor dozens of remote cameras.

For many guard members, this is the first time to really get a sense of what is going on at the border, the good and the bad. And do you see it?

SENIOR AIRMAN ADRIANA MACGYVER, U.S. AIR FORCE: Yes, sir.

SAVIDGE: Do you?

MACGYVER: Yes.

SAVIDGE: It is busy?

MACGYVER: Yes, extremely.

SAVIDGE: So far according to the U.S. border patrol, the National Guard facilitated more than 1200 arrests and the seizure of more than 1300 pounds of marijuana along the Arizona border alone.

We are looking at Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, (INAUDIBLE).

SAVIDGE: Sitting beside border agent deputy Dixon looking out from her lonely perch at the border, there is not a single soldier in site.

People may have thought they would be patrolled right along this fence like here, they have a rifle slung over their shoulder and they would be riding along with you. That's not happening. That's not the way it was meant to happen.

STEPHANIE DIXON, U.S. BORDER PATROL AGENT: No. That's not at all. They are helping out the overall mission. And they are putting more of us out here on the border to secure the border.

SAVIDGE: Border agent Dixon may not see the soldiers, but she is glad they are here. Somewhere.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: That was our Martin Savidge reporting.

A year later, a hopeful sign --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unbelievable that a fire could destroy a whole subdivision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The quiet scenes of wreckage replaced by the sounds of power tools. Why the recovery of those who lost everything in last year's tubs fire is giving hopes to victims of another deadly California fire.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM:

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:39:04] CABRERA: Now to southern California, I should say northern California where firefighters are battling 17 major wildfires. Some 450,000 acres of land have been consumed over the past couple of weeks. Cal fire officials now know what sparked the car fire in Redding, California. Sparks apparently from a flat tire causing the blaze that has claimed seven lives.

Take a look at this animation. This tracks the Cal fire spread from July 23rd to today. Nearly 155,000 acres have been scorched by this fire. And it is only 41 percent contained. Officials say the car fire is now the sixth most destructive wildfire in California history. The most destructive fire was last year's Tubbs fire.

Dan Simon returned to Santa Rosa where entire neighborhoods were wind out. He found residents there are still working to rebuild their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Tubbs fire last October left an endless trail of destruction. The worst wildfire in California history, it destroyed more than 3,000 homes. Almost half of them in one neighborhood, Coffee Park.

[19:40:11] JOHN WIMMER, LOST HOME IN WILDFIRE: I mean it's just like wow.

JODY WIMMER, LOST HOME IN WILDFIRE: Devastating.

JOHN WIMMER: You can't put words to it.

SIMON: We met John Wimmer and his wife, Jody, last fall as they walked through the charred debris of the house they lived in for 30 years.

What has been the most overwhelming aspect to all of this?

JODY WIMMER: Everything is gone. Everything is gone. It's unbelievable a fire can destroy a whole subdivision.

SIMON: But now ten months later, Coffee Park is on the rebound. The ashes and twisted metal have been removed and one by one the houses are being rebuilt.

Hundreds of homes are currently under construction with hundreds more slated to begin over the next few months. No one really knows how long it will take for the community to fully recover but the quiet scenes of wreckage have been replaced by power tools and heavy equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I kind of prefer this to the bed side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is eerie. It was like surreal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this was a ding room.

SIMON: We met John at the same spot where soon construction workers will break ground on his new house. The story of Coffee Park's resurgence perhaps could be an

inspirational once the community of Redding, California, now grappling with another historic wildfire. More than a thousand homes there destroyed.

For the people there who are feeling totally hopeless right now, what do you tell them?

JOHN WIMMER: Reach out to your neighbors, friends, family. Comfort each other. Reassure each other.

SIMON: What really helped, he says, is his neighbors formed a support group called coffee strong, meeting regularly to discuss all aspects of rebuilding their lives and their homes.

JOHN WIMMER: Set aside some time to mourn, to be sad, you know, you want to cry, go ahead and cry. But group together with your friends and neighbors and you might be able to pull some strength from them.

SIMON: Simple yet meaningful advice from someone who has been there.

Dan Simon, CNN, Santa Rosa, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Venezuela's President the victim of an apparent assassination attempt. Who he is blaming next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:46:54] CABRERA: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he is alive and victorious after an apparent attempt on his life. It happened during a speech. Several drones armed with explosives flew overhead. At least one detonated. Maduro was unharmed. But seven members of the Venezuela's National Guard were injured.

Venezuela's attorney general has ordered an investigation into this apparent assassination attempt. And there is late word tonight that arrests have been made.

Maduro is blaming Colombia for this attack. National security adviser John Bolton says this morning, the U.S. government was not involved in any way and suggested it may have been staged.

Now this brings us to your weekend Presidential brief. A segment we bring you every Sunday night highlighting some of the most pressing national security information the President will need when he wakes up tomorrow.

And joining us now is CNN national security analyst and former national security council adviser Sam Vinograd. She spent two years in the Obama administration helping to prep for the President's daily brief.

So Sam, President Maduro making a lot of accusations about this reported assassination attempt. Where do you think it's headed?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, President Maduro said that a shield of love protected him from this assassination attempt. But Ana, I think you would be hard pressed to find any Maduro admirers these days. In light of the fact the conditions in Venezuela are so dire. It should be a rich country. Has abundant oil reserves. But more than half of the population lives in poverty. Hundreds of thousands have fled because of extreme shortages.

At the same time, Maduro runs a virtual dictatorship. The administration has sanctioned Maduro and his regime three times because of their abuses of power and their corruption. And Maduro likes to blame everybody else for what's wrong in Venezuela.

And in light of this attack, I think he is going to stay true to form, bring the usual suspects, the government of Colombia, the political opposition in Venezuela, even ex-patriots living in the United States. He wants to shift the blame from the transgressions. Point the finger at someone else and silence the opposition.

SAVIDGE: I mean, unlike Venezuela, Iran is an oil rich country. But its economy is also struggling, has been for years.

Since President Trump withdrew from the Iran deal, we now know U.S. sanctions are set to go back into effect as soon as this week. What can we expect?

VINOGRAD: When President Trump withdrew from the deal, he initiated a two-step process for re-imposing sanctions. And the first step will go back into effect tomorrow on things like Iran's ability to purchase dollars, to engage in significant transactions of its own currency. Then in November, the energy sector sanctions come back in.

And Iran's own economic mismanagement and the threat of sanctions really crippled the economy. It grew 12.5 percent when sanctions were lifted in 2016. It's plunged. Its currency is really at an all-time low. Inflation is high. And regime is really worried. Energy revenue is going away. So I think they will protest the sanctions tomorrow verbally and with shows of force. But they still want to tell the world they don't deserve the energy sanctions in November.

So they will probably behave for now. But sanctions enforcement is going to be really tough because most countries don't want to impose sanctions on Iran again. And they just have to look at North Korea and see that people are evading sanctions and getting away with it.

[19:50:06] CABRERA: When you talk about North Korea and Iran looking to see what is happening in that situation, do you get a sense this maximum pressure campaign is wearing off?

VINOGRAD: I think we are in a low pressure environment. On every metric, Iran is (INAUDIBLE) sanctions - imports, exports, financial transactions. And they know that their patrons in China and Russia are going to carry their weight on a global stage and push back against additional sanctions. China and Russia are saying we should ease sanctions on North Korea despite the fact that they are engaging in bad behavior.

So from Kim's perspective it is kind of a wait and see game. Let's wait and see what happens with China and Russia's efforts to lobby for sanctions relief while they gate revenue from sanctions invasion in the interim.

CABRERA: Thank you so much, Sam Vinograd. Always such good information.

Supportive of a fringe (ph) right wing conspiracy group now becoming a common sight at Trump rallies. So our Gary Tuchman went to Pennsylvania to talk to some of these people about QAnon and he found one common thread, a mistrust of the media, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What does that even mean? Like you say stuff that doesn't mean anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conspiracy theorist.

TUCHMAN: Do you think I'm weaponized by the CIA?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe not to your knowledge. That is really - that is unfortunate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:55:47] CABRERA: A light rail service is shut down in downtown Pittsburgh this evening after a freight train derailed. No one was hurt but this scene is rather scary, some of the rail cars not only being held up by power lines, others crashed on to the passenger train track below. It is still unclear exactly what caused this derailment. Port authority officials say people should expect a very long rush hour tomorrow morning.

A strange right wing conspiracy group is turning up more and more at Trump rallies these days. It is called QAnon and some followers we are saying at another one of the gatherings last week. We should not he has never publically spoken about or endorsed them.

CNN's Gary Tuchman wanted to find out first-hand what this group is all about.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Waiting in line in a driving rain? Very motivated Trump supporters wanting to see the President in person in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are Q.

TUCHMAN: Some of these people wearing and holding the 17th letter of the alphabet. Are you holding a big red, white, and blue Q? Why do you have that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a movement, man. It's a shift. I can feel it. Some call it the great awakening.

TUCHMAN: You wear a shirt that says QWWG1WGA. What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It means where we go one, we go all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: QAnon is the people that believe in what Trump's trying to do to change our country.

TUCHMAN: That is a generalization, more specifically what QAnon is, is a fringe movement in which many baseless conspiracy theories are discussed on the internet, organized around the idea of an anonymous but well-connected person or persons nicknamed Q.

Your shirt says the storm is here, QAnon. What does that mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I have been following all the posts since October 28th.

TUCHMAN: On the internet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN: The person or people who say they are Q. What do you think Q is, by the way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an entity of ten or less people that have high clearance, security clearance.

TUCHMAN: How do you know that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm just telling you. This is what it appears to be.

TUCHMAN: What it appears to be. So you don't have any proof of that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you don't have any proof there isn't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have all been gathering in one line and talking together as Americans and uniting.

TUCHMAN: You think it a maybe just to makes you comfortable talking with other frustrated, sometimes angry people?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.

TUCHMAN: But maybe it's not true because there's no evidence of it. It's stuff being talked about on the internet, right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There hasn't been any non-evidence yet.

TUCHMAN: A major mantra among QAnon followers, the press is the enemy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are our enemy.

TUCHMAN: So you don't believe in the first amendment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I totally believe in the first --.

TUCHMAN: You don't. You just said the press are the enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you guys are weaponized. You guys are totally weaponized by the CIA.

TUCHMAN: What is that? By the CIA? I don't know anybody in the CIA except a couple people I have interviewed over the years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's weird. OK.

TUCHMAN: But weaponized? What does that even mean? Like you say stuff that doesn't mean anything. Do you think I'm weaponized by the CIA?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conspiracy theories --.

TUCHMAN: You think I'm weaponized by the CIA?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe not to your knowledge. That's really - that's unfortunate.

TUCHMAN: You believe there's a deep state?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN: And what do you think that deep state is doing? You think they are running this country?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they were. And they are petrified now. Because they're losing their control.

TUCHMAN: But Donald Trump is the President. He is running the country, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but he is having to fight against the deep state.

TUCHMAN: I mean, he said he could do it all himself. I mean, it would be so easy when he came in office. And you think he is fighting with the deep state a -year-and-a-half into his term?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he has been fighting since before he was elected.

TUCHMAN: And who are the people in this deep state? Who are the people in it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely believe that like the Clintons, the Bushes, the Obamas.

TUCHMAN: So you think the Clintons, the Bushes and the Obamas are running this country as we stand here in the rain?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. They are trying.

TUCHMAN: The anonymous Q is a hero to many here. One man actually hoping to communicate with Q by looking straight into our camera. Is it possible you believe in bogus information, yes or no?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it possible I believe in bogus information? I mean, let's see. Let's see, Q. Let's see.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: We are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for staying with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York on this Sunday.

The President today steering the Trump tower meeting story in another direction again. This tweet from the President earlier today. Fake news reporting a complete fabrication that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump tower. This was the meeting to get information on an opponent. Totally legal and done all the time in politics and it went nowhere.