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D.C. Mayor Fights Back after Trump Blames Military Parade's Soaring Costs on Local Officials; Democratic Governor Sarcastically Asks Trump to Campaign for GOP in Washington State; New York Governor: America "Was Never Great"; System Analyst Scours Social Media to Unmask Disinformation Campaigns. Aired 11:30a-12n ET

Aired August 17, 2018 - 11:30   ET




[11:31:47] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was one of the greatest parades I have ever seen. It was two hours on the button. It was military might. We may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue. It was really a beautiful thing to see. It had representatives from different wars and different uniforms. It was really so well done. I think we will have to start looking at that ourselves.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It was a dream of the president's, ever since he visited with President Emmanuel Macron in France. A massive show of military force, a military parade. It was on books for November. Then cost estimates came out, reported by CNBC to be upward of $92 million. An eye-popping number no doubt. Even if it is, I don't know, in dispute. Then the announcement was delayed to next year or is it canceled all together? I'm confused. Let's clear it up.

Barbara Starr is joining me to try to offer clarity on this.

Barbara, what is the Pentagon saying about this? Why is D.C.'s mayor getting involved?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I don't think there's any memorial service being planned here at the Pentagon for the parade idea any time soon. The initial cost estimate was reaching well over $90 million, even though it had never been made public. That's absolutely the estimate they were working off of. This led the president to not be very happy about it. And the idea last night was that it would be delayed until maybe 2019. The president, of course, being more adamant this morning saying it is because local politicians came in here in Washington, D.C., with high cost estimates and maybe he will cancel this year and maybe do something else next year.

The D.C. mayor, Muriel Bowser, came out with, in fact, a very itemized cost estimate. When you have these big national events here in Washington, you have to reimburse the local government for the costs that they incur, including security, utilities, the road work, things that need to be taken care of. The D.C. mayor coming up with a cost of $21 million that they would need to be reimbursed out of the $92 million. The rest of it would be actually the vehicles, the tanks, planes, troops, all of it parading down Pennsylvania Avenue.

The veterans groups, many of them, a bit dismayed about that dollar figure, believing that there's a better way to spend $92 million if the Pentagon has that much money to decide what it wants to do.

So there wasn't really a lot of backing for it. It seemed to be a crisis that came of yet another one of the president's ideas -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Even a Republican Congressman on "NEW DAY" this morning saying, cancel it, cancel it, cancel it. That was his advice when all this started coming out.

Thank you, Barbara. Great to see you.

STARR: Sure thing.

[11:34:45] BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, why is a Democratic governor asking President Trump to campaign for Republican candidates in his state ahead of the midterm elections? Sarcasm maybe? We will talk to the governor, next.


BOLDUAN: A surprising invitation from an even more surprising source. The Democratic governor of a blue state says, President Trump, come on down. Here is what Washington Governor Jay Inslee tweeted out last week: "President Trump, the Washington election results last night were deeply concerning for Republicans. They need your help. Please come and campaign for them in Washington this fall."

That invite coming after Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House, she eked out a win capturing the first spot by only 500-plus votes, in a district that President Trump has won by 13 points, in a district where she has won many times before. Second place went to the Democrats. They will face off in November.

Washington's Democratic Governor Jay Inslee is joining me now.

Governor, quite the invitation. I will go out on a limb and think that there might have been some sarcasm in your tweet. What were you trying to say?

[11:40:31] JAY INSLEE, (D), WASHINGTON STATE GOVERNOR: Sarcasm is appropriate on occasion. I think this is one of the occasions. Let me extend this invitation and show a warmer Washington welcome. We will put on a parade for Donald Trump if he comes to the state of Washington. We know the Republicans will be marching behind him. They have been in lockstep with him all the way along, even throughout his division and abuses of the truth, they are still following him. We think it would be a healthy thing for the public to know how the Republican candidates in my state are willing to march over the cliff with him to electoral defeat. The Republicans are in great trouble. The Republicans need a rescue effort. We have 13 incumbent Republicans in my state legislature that are behind the Democratic voters in the primary.

What we know is that Donald Trump is toxic for a good reason. What we know is that Republicans have turned over their party to him. What we know is they have a total lack of leadership in their ranks, who are willing to stand up for a modicum of truth in America. We would like him to come to my state. It would be great.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to venture a guess, though I have not spoken to him, that your idea of a parade is not the parade that Donald Trump is looking for. Just a guess.

Regardless, it's no secret that McMorris-Rogers is facing tough re- election. But when Trump has shown up, he has had success in rallying the base to support the candidates that he is backing, in other states. Any concern that this invitation could backfire?

INSLEE: None. In fact, I will hand him the baton to lead the parade of the Republicans. They will know they have been just competing to see who can shine his shoes. I'm telling you, people do not want people to shine Donald Trump's shoes across America right now. They want someone who will check on his chaos. Somebody who will build an infrastructure program. Instead of waiting for a parade in Washington, D.C., we are waiting for Democratic governors who can build infrastructure, like we have done in our state. We need Democratic governors who can expand and protect health care rather than tearing it down. We think he will energize people to vote to restore some basic civility and unity in our state. We can get on the business of the people's business instead of spending half of his time protecting himself from the Mueller investigation. No, we are confident that parade will be helpful to Democratic candidates and problematic for the Republicans in my state, and across the country.

BOLDUAN: Beyond the fact -- this is a mythical parade that we are discussing. This parade is not happening.

Moving on from this, I do want to ask you, beyond 2018, your name has been out there as a potential 20 candidate. When do you think you need to make a decision of your own?

INSLEE: I don't know the answer to that. Here is what my recurrent message is across the country is that we can't wait for 2020. The nation needs to be rescued in 2018. We can do that. We can elect Richard Cordray, in Ohio, that can help stop the gerrymandering the Republicans have hoisted on America. We can elect the New Mexico candidate, who is doing such good work on clean energy. In Michigan -- Democrats got 65 percent of the vote in Michigan the other day. We elect these people this year, we will be able to restore basic unification of this nation in a civil dialogue, in an infrastructure program, and end to gerrymandering, and improving health care rather than tearing it down. This is what we can do in 2018. I'm excited about our candidates and so are the public. That's why Democrats are doing so well in the elections. I'm looking forward to 2018.

BOLDUAN: I will ask you more 2020 question in a little bit.

Since you are talking about other potential Democratic governors, another Democratic governor, another name mentioned for 2020 actually, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, he is facing criticism for something that he said this week. Listen to this.


ANDREW CUOMO, (D), NEW YORK GOVERNOR: The simple point is all this comes down to this. We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great.


CUOMO: We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged.


[11:45:08] BOLDUAN: His office put out a statement afterwards saying, it's not what he meant. The country has never -- America has never been great? Would you use those words?

INSLEE: No, that's not the language I would use. I don't think that probably it would convey what Governor Cuomo really meant. What I would take is that, of course, this nation has led the world in democracy. Of course, this nation has led the world in continuing to fight for freedom, and in doing so, we have understood that the very foundational document says, in order to form a more perfect union. In this nation, it's a 200-year experiment of continuing to form a more perfect union. We're not done with that project. We have more work to do on health care. We have more work to do in unifying people and being tolerant of who we are regardless of our faith or our ethnicity. We have more work to do. This is why America is the greatest nation in the world. I'm confident that's what Democratic governors believe across the country.

BOLDUAN: I hear you. But do you think -- we know politics and sound bites mean a lot, especially when you look at a campaign ad that can be coming up against you if you look at 2020. Do you think these words will come back to bite Andrew Cuomo?

INSLEE: I won't be using that language. I will tell you that.

BOLDUAN: Governor Jay Inslee, thanks for coming on, Governor. Appreciate it.

INSLEE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a Russian troll's worst nightmare. While you are asleep, this man is very much awake hunting down the real fake news. It's not even his day job. He joins me next.


[11:50:35] BOLDUAN: Do you have a hobby? Gardening, bird watching, fly fishing, perhaps? How about hunting down Russian trolls on the Internet? That's the chosen hobby for one man in Indiana. By day, Josh Russell works as a system analyst. By night, once he puts his two kids to bed, he spends hours scouring social media to unmask the people behind the disinformation campaign, which was a huge issue in the 2016 campaign. He's so good that he's often ahead of the companies and the journalists, quite frankly, who are working with teams of people to do the very same.

Josh Russell is joining me now.

Nice to see you.


BOLDUAN: I read your story and I thought, how the heck does someone end up with a hobby like this? What got you into it?

RUSSELL: It's just kind of something that was a curiosity of mine. There were some reports from CNN that listed the actual names of some of the Russian troll groups, and I picked up on that and it just piqued my curiosity. I kind of have like a collector personality. I kind of just ran with it. So I just keep looking up information on all these accounts that have been confirmed by either social media or the government.

BOLDUAN: How do you do it? How do you figure out if a social media account is really a troll handing out disinformation?

RUSSELL: So the method I usually use is I go back and look at already known, confirmed accounts that might be out there, and I just kind of look up information on those accounts that exist on all these social media platforms already. And sometimes there are links or cross- platform links or little clues that will lead you into finding accounts that aren't currently suspended or currently active Russian troll accounts.

BOLDUAN: This isn't your day job. You have a day job. Why do you keep doing it? Do you find yourself consuming fake news, if you will, and that's part of it?

RUSSELL: Yes, kind of. I had an opinion about things, and I found out that the opinion that I had about those things may have been influenced by Russian online trolls, and it kind of annoyed me. I decided this was a subject I really wanted to dive into and find out every single piece of information that I could find about it.

BOLDUAN: And you're doing it pretty well. I mean, if you're talking about taking on Russian intelligence, which is kind of what this all gets back to, Josh, I mean, that's -- it might be a hobby, but that's a very real-world game to be playing. Are you concerned that you could become a target?

RUSSELL: I am definitely concerned. I have been targeted before. I don't let it bother me too much. I think that this is such an important topic for people to understand what happened and is still happening with our politics and our election and online with social media, that it is worth the risk for people like me to go out and hunt this type of information down.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for doing what you're doing. Keep doing it. Great to meet you.

RUSSELL: No problem. Thanks for having me on.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming in, Josh.

Josh Russell was profiled by CNN Digital as part of a new series about intrigue, espionage, and bravery. For more on his story and much more, go to

[11:54:18] Coming up for us, President Trump says he received a tremendous response after he revoked John Brennan's security clearance. Of course, the criticism has been tremendous as well, especially from the Intelligence Community. More on that ahead.


BOLDUAN: The state of Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate of women in the United States. It has held that record for more than 25 years. That's where we meet this week's "CNN Hero," high-school English teacher, Ellen Stackable. She goes inside prisons to give some of these women a voice and the power to heal themselves.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came here when I was 20. I have a 30-year sentence. After I hit the yard and I kind of got a taste of what prison was, it shocked me that I was here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of feelings in prison, and you don't get to feel them. You're not a person, and your feelings are not valid.

ELLEN STACKABLE, TEACHER & CNN HERO: Many of the women that are incarcerated have been victims of some kind of abuse. We provide a safe place for them to overcome trauma and pain. So it is so much more than just writing. It becomes a therapeutic way for healing to occur.


BOLDUAN: You can go inside that prison and hear more of those stories at