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Trump: Social Media "Discriminating" Against Conservatives; What Happepned To Trump Hiring The Best People?; Husband Arrested In Murder Of Pregnant Wife, Daughters. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 18, 2018 - 20:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York, thank you for being with us. We begin this hour with breaking news.

A top White House lawyer now said to be a central witness in Robert Mueller's investigation. "The New York Times" reporting, White House Counsel Don McGahn has been cooperating with Mueller's team for the last nine months, sitting down with investigator's voluntarily for no less than 30 hours on at least three separate occasions.

President Trump insists he let McGahn do it tweeting this, "I allowed White Counsel Don McGahn and all others requested members of the White House staff to fully cooperate with the special counsel. In addition, we readily gave over 1 million pages of documents." And the President, again, referring to the probe as a witch hunt.

Let's go straight to CNN's Ryan Nobles. And, Ryan, McGahn, he said to have given Mueller's team information that they wouldn't otherwise have. Do we know why he decided to talk and what he has shared?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, this all began, Ana, because it was the President's personal legal team, his criminal lawyers who are advising him on the Mueller probe who suggested that Don McGahn in this capacity as White House counsel should sit down for the series of interviews with Robert Mueller in the special counsel's office.

But it was after their suggestion that accord thing to "Times" that Don McGahn and his attorney, William Burck, got a little bit concerned about exactly what the White House was planning and they were worried that perhaps McGahn was being set up, that there was the possibility that they were maybe attempting to use him as a fall guy.

So Burck and McGahn came up with a plan and decided that they there going to be as honest as possible with the Special Counsel throughout this entire investigation. And it's important to point out that there are few people in the Trump orbit that know as much as Don McGahn knows about every machination of the Special Counsel investigation as it relates to Donald Trump.

Here's just a couple of example of the things that Don McGahn has intimate knowledge off. He knows about Donald Trump's comments and his conduct and his actions leading up to the firing of James Comey, which is of course a flashpoint for this investigation. He also knows about the President's obsession with putting loyalists' in-charge of the probe and, of course, the President's attempts to fire the special counsel.

There was at one point a showdown between McGahn and the President where McGahn warned President Trump that if we were to fire Robert Mueller that McGahn would resign in his position as special counsel.

Now, the President is insisting that he has nothing to hide that's why he told his counsel that he was completely OK with McGahn sitting down for the series of interviews and the key to all of this, Ana, is that they waved the executive privilege -- they waved the attorney/client privilege as well, which allowed McGahn freely to cooperate with the special investigation and, of course, this makes him a cooperating witness which could be a key to the Mueller investigation, Ana.

CABRERA: That's right, no limits to what they could discuss. Ryan, we also saw the President's tweet, but who else is reacting to this?

NOBLES: Well, I got a comment tonight from William Burck, who is the attorney representing Don McGahn in this case, and he was very clear about the role that Don McGahn is playing in all of this.

This is what William Burck told me. He said, "President Trump through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn's testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the Special Counsel team's questions fulsomely and honestly as any person interviewed by federal investigations must."

And, of course, Sarah Sanders said in a statement to CNN as well that the President's relationship with Don McGahn remains strong and that they have nothing to hide as it relates to all of this.

But if you read through the -- read between the lines of the statement given to us by the McGahn attorney, it seems pretty clear that the bulk of "The New York Times" story is accurate and that Don McGahn revealed everything that he knows about this investigation up until this point. Ana?

CABRERA: Did not hold back, whatever that means. Ryan Nobles, thank you.

The idea of a White House Counsel turned cooperating witness might sound familiar. You might be drawing the same parallel to Richard Nixon's White House Counsel, John Dean, and apparently that's exactly what McGahn did.

"The New York Times" writing, "Worried that Mr. Trump would ultimately blame him in the inquiry. Mr. McGahn told people he was determined to avoid the fate of the White House counsel for President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean who was imprisoned in the Watergate scandal." I talked to John Dean just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CABRERA: "The New York Times" quoting a former White Water investigator saying that this is like having the keys to the kingdom. Is that how you see it?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR PRES. RICHARD NIXON (via telephone): Well, it certainly does give them a good guide as to where the problems may or may not be. As the clarifying remark that McGahn didn't in any way incriminate the President, we don't know if that's true or not. Probably McGahn doesn't know if it's true or not.

[20:05:04] He gave them the knowledge he had which was in that -- would be invaluable to an investigator.

CABRERA: Could the President have stepped in and prevented McGahn from talking openly?

DEAN (via telephone): I think he could. He could do it on a couple of basis. First would be the attorney/client privilege, which would cause the independent -- see the Special Counsel to have to catch that and go to court and get it resolved and there is no privilege for government attorneys, personal privilege like that. So that would be the one issue.

The other -- even probably a stronger basis would be executive privilege where the President can say that he doesn't want people who is helping him in his deliberation process and making his decisions testifying before other bodies like the Congress or the courts. That's what Nixon did with his tapes. He said they were subject to executive privilege. The court said, "Well, that's not true when a grand jury sends a subpoena for them."

CABRERA: John, what do you make of this idea that McGahn was worried about being thrown under the bus?

DEAN: That's one I understand. You know, that was what Trump could be. I didn't talk to the media during Watergate or ever when I was in government.


CABRERA: How are President Trump and Don McGahn getting along these days? A source telling CNN, their relationship is now akin to, "an old married couple complaining about each other."

Joining us now to discuss further, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Josh Campbell, former FBI Supervisory Agent and former Special Assistant to ex-FBI Director James Comey. And also with us, Donald Trump biographer and author of "The Truth About Trump," Michael D'Antonio and CNN Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley.

Douglas, I'll start with you since we just heard from former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean, do you see a parallel between Dean and McGahn?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, to a degree. But, of course, John Dean went before Congress and testified and, you know, he made that stunning revelation about the Watergate tapes, the Nixon tapes, which ended up dooming the President.

The good news here is that McGahn's on the right thing, he is cooperating with the Mueller investigation like he should if only President Trump would have take a lesson from McGahn, just talk to Mueller if he have nothing to hide, quick spinning Rudy Giuliani language about a perjury trap and all. Let's just tell the truth. Let the chips fall where they may.

So I think McGahn is looking good for cooperating, but it does raise questions of why Donald Trump is in -- here in late August finally sitting down and talking to Mueller.

CABRERA: Josh, McGahn talked for 30 hours during three separate occasions. Put that into perspective. Is that a lot? And why would he be called back three times?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Talk about an important witness here. And, you know, when I read the story, the thing that struck me was not so much the length of time that he sat down and spoke with investigators for 30 hours, but the number of instances that it occurred more than once that we have here potentially three separate occasions.

Now, when you're an FBI agent or a prosecutor and you're trying to glean information from a witness, a lot of times if you think about the scope of Mueller's investigation, how long this is going on, you're going to learn new pieces of information as the investigation proceed.

So if you have someone like Mr. McGahn who is in a very important position to provide information, you may want to bring him back and ask him about new revelations. What may be worse for the White House is if Mr. McGahn then remembered things that he then volunteered to Mr. Mueller and wanted to come back and provide that information.

So either way, it doesn't look good for the White House when you have someone in that position that is talking to investigators over a period of time, you know, more than one time.

CABRERA: Just in from CNN's Dana Bash, Rudy Giuliani now saying Don McGahn was encouraged to speak to Mueller and beyond that they think that this information is now coming out, "As we think it was leaked to get the President to testify that he would get angry at him, McGahn, the way he did at Omarosa and would want to testify."

Michael, what do you make of that since you know inside Trump's mind given all the time you spent with him and his family in the pasts?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO: Well, it sort of seems to me like Rudy Giuliani is improving his Roy Cohn imitation. So this was what the President has complained about that he doesn't have a Roy Cohn by his side and now he does in the former mayor of New York who is now speculating rather widely about Mueller leaking when there's never been any evidence that Mueller has leaked at all and there's ample evidence of a lot of this information about the investigation is coming from inside the White House and may be coming from either the President himself or Mr. Giuliani.

[20:10:07] You know, there's one thing that I would like to observed about the difference between the Nixon situation and the Trump situation and that is that the people around Nixon at least understood that he was shrewd, that he remembered what he had said, that he was aware of the peril that he was in.

I think the President hasn't been reliable in his communication with his attorneys. He's lying to them, so now in the case of Mr. McGahn, he's protecting himself. I think he doesn't want to be the scapegoat here.

CABRERA: The White House was quick to point out that they didn't fight McGahn doing these interviews. Their statement, Doug, was sounds a lot like nothing to see here. I mean, is this a big deal? Give us some more historical perspective.

BRINKLEY: Well, I mean, everything right now is a big deal for Donald Trump. He's in survival mode. I mean, you've got McGahn talking that many hours. And remember, for the Mueller investigation, one little anecdote that he tells could cause on Donald Trump a lot of problems when your talking for that many hours.

Secondly, the Manafort case is (INAUDIBLE). I mean, this week should be the week the jury decides something and we're trying the President -- people are using words like collusion and impeachment, and alike, treason, kind of in the public courts right now, public press on the air and it's a tough week for Donald Trump.

So he's trying to win it day by day, never letting the opposition in his mind get a heads up on him, but it's closing in and you're feeling I think the last few weeks Donald Trump panicking all the time. He's got Omarosa with 200 hours of tapes to taunt him.

And so he's in survival mode and for that, that means killing off his enemies, you know, like he did with Brennan creating his new Nixonian animes lists using McCarthy-like tactics anything to survive. That's what's going on right now.

CABRERA: And, Josh, McGahn's willingness to talk with the President's blessing apparently, does that back up the White House position that they have nothing to hide?

CAMPBELL: So that's a good question. I mean, I don't think I initially buy that because if I read, you know, what Mr. Giuliani said that we're now reporting and you see a statement that came out earlier from Sarah Sanders, I take it would like half a grand of salt what they say because their job is to come out and try to spit, shine and polish whatever new calamity is befalling the administration on a given day.

What I think that is interesting, if you read that report from "The New York Times," what they say and this is something that, you know, Mr. Brinkley falls within his bailiwick is that this a person who -- we're talking about Mr. McGahn, who sees himself not as someone who represents Donald Trump, but someone who represents the office of the presidency.

Now, wherever you come down with the unitary executive theory and, you know, the imperial presidency, I think it's interesting that you have someone who realizes that he doesn't represent a man, he represents an office. And at least according to the reporting, once it became clear that they're trying to make him the fall guy, he realized now is the time to start talking to Mueller.

CABRERA: OK. That was the concern that he might become the fall guy so he was ready to just let it read, to be completely honest and forthcoming.

Everyone standby because days after revoking John Brennan security clearance, which I know we were just touching on, President Trump is now ramping up his attacks against the former CIA director, accusing Brennan of being a loudmouth, a political hack, that's Trump today. What is his strategy here and will it work?


[20:17:39] CABRERA: More than a dozen of this nation's former top intelligence officials are raising alarms today over President Trump's move to strip former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance.

They've issued a joint statement and here's part of what it says. "The President's action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech. As individuals who have cherished and helped preserve the right of Americans to free speech, even when that right has been used to criticize us, that signal is inappropriate and deeply regrettable."

The officials who signed this letter serve both Republican and Democratic presidents and they include people like David Petraeus. Petraeus was actually considered for a position by President Trump.

On top of this, 60 former CIA officers have written a letter of their own also rebuking Trump's decision. But "The Washington Post" reporting that none of this pushback may matter because the White House has apparently already drafted the documents needed to revoke even more clearances, all they need is the President's signature.

So before we go any further, I want to take a look at who issued these clearances and why officials have to keep them even after they leave the government. Here's CNN Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What precisely are security clearances and where did they come from? Security clearances are issued by many government agencies and can come in several different levels offering different access to sensitive or classified material. And even if you have the highest level of clearance, that's not an invitation to plunder all files. You will likely see only materials you need to know about. Who gets security clearances? As a practical matter, they go to people who are intimately involved in the safety and defense of the United States and its allies. Now, this is not all military business. For example, there could be economic information or infrastructure details or negotiations with other countries which might be considered highly sensitive and fall under this umbrella.

But all of this has to do with active government service, so why should anyone who's left the government retain his or her security clearance? Former employees of an agency have experience, they have institutional knowledge and the people who take over for them may need that.

[20:20:04] Let's ay you worked on some classified matter involving another country and a new team comes in, they needs to know what you did, this would assist the new team to be able to talk to you about the current situation as well.

In addition, some private industries, defense contractors, for example, do work that requires private citizens to deal with sensitive government matters. So having a security clearance outside the government can also be useful.

So, why would anyone lose or have their security clearance revoked? Usually that happens because they truly no longer need it or some conflict has risen. For example, they started working for a foreign hostile government or they just get into trouble, they committed crime or they're linked to some elicit or risky activity. But, for criticizing or opposing a politician, no, that has not been a typical reason for such action.


CABRERA: Tom Foreman, thank you.

Back with us now, Donald Trump biographer, Michael D'Antonio, CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley, and former FBI Special Agent, Josh Campbell.

Gentlemen, the President ramping up his attacks against Brennan today. He writes this, "Has anyone looked at the mistakes that John Brennan made while serving as CIA director? He will go down as easily the worst in history and since getting out, he has become nothing less than a loudmouth, partisan, political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country"

Josh, what's your reaction to "The Washington Post" now reporting the President's team is readying further clearance revocation that that all they need is a signature from the President?

CAMPBELL: So, I think the tweet that you show, there is Exhibit A in the case that this never had anything to do with national security and this is simply about petty politics. And the reason we know this is because the President's getting personal.

He's going after Mr. Brennan who to be sure has been no fan of the President as, you know, spoken out very seriously (ph) against him. But the fact that you have the chief executive, the President of the United States, who've now getting personal shows that this is just an effort to discredit.

With respect to "The Washington Post" reporting that we may see additional revocations that are coming down the line, you know, it's funny. I kind of said half jokingly whenever this first happen. You know, we were covering the breaking news that I was certain that White House has on a shelf a list of topics that they can grab to throw out and launch and distract anytime they're facing uncomfortable news and I think now we see that in this "Washington Post" reporting.

We've seen this actual, you know, detailed that we have people that are now gathering information about possible, you know, former officials that they want to revoke security clearances for and they're waiting to time that just right, just in, you know, if there is something that happens that unfavorable to them, some new cycle that they don't like that they can then launch. I think it shows it as petty politics. It has nothing to do with national security.

CABRERA: I mean, just think about the timing. They initially revoked John Brennan during all of the drama around Omarosa and her tapes and they put out this press release announcing that his security clearance was gone with a date that was for July 26th. So what you're saying, he put two together isn't too much of a stretch. But the President continues to deny that this has something to do with free speech, that he's trying to silence people. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no silence. If anything, I'm giving him a bigger voice. Many people don't even know who he is and now he has the bigger voice and that's OK with me because I like taking on voices like that.


CABRERA: Michael, you know the President well. Do you believe him?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I think he's realizing that he's giving Brennan more of a voice and that's something he now has to accommodate and explain in a backwards way. We are so far down the road with the President's dereliction of duties that I think we forget that a normal president coming into office after Russia really attacking our election process would have brought John Brennan in and said, "What can you tell me about this?"

He would have enlisted the wise men and women at every rank with security clearances and have them pursue this to the very ends of the earth so that we would all know what happened. But this is a President who puts himself above the country. He's far more interested in playing defense than in playing offense against Russia.

And so we now have this real spectacle of him violating the norms for all of the time that President have dealt with security clearances and going after someone personally and politically and it's disgraceful. CABRERA: I want to read you the President's official reasoning for revoking Brennan's clearance. These are some of the key words in his White House statement. He says Brennan made, "unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet and the television." He also accuses him of lying and making frenzied commentary. Douglas, couldn't this all describe things the President does?

BRINKLEY: Exactly. I mean, John Brennan is not the loudmouth, Donald Trump is and we all know that. Brennan has an incredibly distinguished career. He's always balanced.

[20:25:00] Yes, he was very angry and upset when President Trump was in Helsinki standing next to Vladimir Putin and dissed American intelligence services while praising the KGB at hands running around Helsinki.

He seemed to be over and over again never willing to criticize Putin, but always willing to make fun of mock people in our Justice Department, CIA, FBI. Brennan had enough and he had the right for free speech.

I focused this past week on William McRaven, 37 years in the Navy, the person who over saw the killing of Osama bin Laden in Operation Neptune Spear and wrote a scathing denunciation of Donald Trump, but he's not a political person. He's one of our great SEALs and he saw what Donald Trump's doing is an embarrassment to the country, having this kind of enemies list that Trump has reversing clearance on great Americans.

He's threatening to do it to Susan Rice and James Clapper and many others is just beyond the pale and that's why so many Americans are speaking out against Donald Trump. People in the no are saying that it's a bridge way too far.

CABRERA: A total of nine people, by our count are risk of losing their security clearance according to the President. There are there pictures.

Michael, all of these people speaking out, the dozens of intelligence officials. Does that make this President more or less likely to take away more?

D'ANTONIO: I think he's likely to do more. I think it's true as Josh said that there is a stack of these orders on a shelf someplace and next to that is a basket of additional tricks that he is going to pull out when he needs to distract and claim to be so oppressed by all of his enemies when in fact many of these folks have been incredibly restrained.

Brennan waited a year before he said anything. And the alarms have been going off ever since Trump came into office. So for him to go after these folks now is really just an example of his long practiced strategy of distraction, of doing so many things we can't keep track of them. But everybody's on to him, everyone knows what he's doing.

CABRERA: All right. Thank you very much for joining us.

Do social media companies discriminate? Are they making decisions about what you see based on political bias? Now the CEO of Twitter is responding to those questions, those claims by critics in an interview with our Brian Stelter. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."


[20:30:14] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: President Trump turning to Twitter, his favorite platform, to rail against social media companies. Yes, you heard me right. The president today against twitting against Twitter. Writing in part, "Social media is totally discriminating against Republican/conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump administration. We won't let that happen. They're closing down the opinions of many people on the right while at the same, doing nothing to other."

Twitter recently suspended far-right conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, who has falsely the Sandy Hook school shooting is a hoax, among other things.

Joining us now, Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES."

And so, Brian, you literally just flew back from an interview that you had with Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. How is he responding to the president's claim?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I asked him about the president's continued criticism of Twitter on Twitter. This has become a rallying cry on the right. It's being used to raise money in the midterms, being used as a wedge issue in the midterm elections.

Even today we've seen some lawmakers speaking out, claiming there's conservative censorship of ideas that the conservative ideas are being punished by the Facebook and Twitters of the world.

Now, these companies strongly deny that. They say -- and Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter said to me directly, we do not take action based on ideology or specific ideas. He said if we are -- if we are down ranking an account, if we are making someone -- if we are suspending someone temporarily, taking away their account, it's based on their behavior and based on violations of rules, not based on whether they lean left or right.

But I do think this rallying cry that they are trying to silence us, it's a very powerful rallying cry on the right, right now. It's a version of saying the media is biased against conservatives. Now, these same folks are saying it's the tech companies that are biased against conservatives. And I think we're going to hear a lot more of it, even though the Facebooks and the Twitters of the world are defying it and trying to be very clear about it.

Now what Dorsey did say to me is we have to be more transparent, we, meaning Twitter, these tech companies, have to be more transparent about how they make their decisions. We're talking about complaints on the right, some others complaints on the left about President Trump's sort of account saying, why is he allowed even have a Twitter account at all? He's posting hateful things. Why isn't he violating your rules?

So I asked Dorsey about that. Here's what he said about the president's Twitter account.


STELTER: You've been public about the policy, about world leaders, keeping accounts up that otherwise might get suspended or blocked. What would President Trump have to say on Twitter to get blocked?

JACK DORSEY, CEO, TWITTER: Well, I mean, we -- stepping back, we think it's really important for the world to see how global leaders think and they act and they treat the people around them. We think that's important. We think it's important to get into their minds and actually see how they think because it can be more predictive around how they're going to act in the future. It can be informative as to whether you should vote for them again in the future or you should now support them.

[20:35:17] STELTER: Take Trump out of it. If a dictator called for a minority population to be killed, would you delete their accounts?

DORSEY: Anything that would insight violence or is illegal or against our terms and service, we're going to -- we're going to consider and consider taking action. But we have to take it in a context of where they are of who they are, of the global conversation and whether it does serve the public conversation or whether it distracts from it.


STELTER: All of these issues, complicated questions about where the line is and who crosses the line and how often and when do these powerful, private companies, these technology giants, when do they take action?

I think Mike Allen of Axios said it really well this morning. He said, these tech giants, the Facebooks, the Twitters, they're caught between on the one side conservatives saying you're biased against us. You're hurting our free speech.

And on the other side, people saying what about all the conspiracy theories and hate and misinformation that's spreading on your platforms? These companies are under pressure from multiple directions to try to manage the ugly public discourse we all see online.

CABRERA: No doubt.

Stelter: And these are really difficult questions to answer.

CABRERA: And maybe think of when we get criticism from the left and the right. It makes you think, OK. We're doing our job. I'll be curious to see what the response is to Dorsey's answer in your interview and of course, you talked a lot more with Jack Dorsey.

You can see the whole interview, with Brian Stelter's interview with Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, tomorrow morning on "RELIABLE SOURCES" at 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Brian, thanks so much.

STELTER: Thank you.

CABRERA: Trump promised to hire only the best before he was elected. A year later, are his personal choices coming back to haunt him? We'll take a look.


[20:40:18] CABRERA: The New York Times reporting that White House counsel, Don McGahn spoke with Robert Mueller's team, fearing he was about to be thrown under the bus by President Trump.

And he's not the only one who has felt the need to protect himself. The White House is trying to discredit Omarosa. As she releases secretly recorded tapes. The president going so far as to call her crazed, a lowlife and a dog. But don't forget the president hired her and he didn't give her just any old job. Omarosa had a senior most title and a top salary. She earned a whopping $179,000 a year. The same as chief of staff John Kelly and press secretary, Sarah Sanders.

And remember what Trump promised about who he'd hire?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to make America great again. We're going to use our best people.

I'm going to get the best people.

We're going to deliver. We're going to get the best people in the world.

We don't want people that are b-level, c-level, d-level. We have to get our absolute best.

We're going to use our smartest and our best. We're not using political hacks anymore.

It's a sophisticated chess match, but I have the best people lined up.


CABRERA: Well, here's how that panned out. Fifty-seven percent of Trump's top staffers have left the White House in just the first year and a half alone. That's about on par with other previous administrations at the end of their first term.

Here's another visual for emphasis. Every single person in this photo is gone. Cory Lewandowsky, out. Omarosa, as you know, fired for integrity violations, now leaking tapes she secretly recorded in the White House. Anthony Scaramucci. You'll recall lasted 11 days. Sebastian Gorka, also out. He was recently caught handing out fake Fox News Business cards. And Rob Porter, there in the back. He was fired after allegations that he abused two of his ex-wives.

Here's also another photo. Everyone here except for the vice president also gone. Reince Priebus, fired. Steve Bannon, out. Sean Spicer. He's on a book tour. And finally, Michael Flynn. He is now cooperating with the FBI and its investigation into possible collusion and obstruction of justice by the president.

And those are just White House staffers. The turnover among Trump's cabinet is equally as stunning. Seven officials have already left there. Tom Price was ousted after a scandal involving his use of private jets.

And who can forget Scott Pruitt? He resigned after scandals began to drop weekly, sometimes daily about his use of taxpayer dollars.

These are the people Trump hired after promising he'd only enlist the very best.

All right. They were the picture-perfect family until a shocking crime brought it all to an end. The mystery surrounding a husband now accused of murdering his entire family.

And this just in. We're learning about the number of injuries at a Backstreet Boys concert. All the details live in the CNN NEWSROOM, next.


[20:45:46] CABRERA: New details are emerging in the horrific killing of a pregnant mother and her two young children in Colorado. Police now suspect their own father and husband, Chris Watts, murdered them. He has been arrested and court documents say some members of the family may have been strangled.

The mother Shanann, was found dead on the property of an oil company where Chris used to work. A defense motion obtained by a local CNN affiliate reveals the bodies of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste were found in an oil storage tank.

Now just a few weeks earlier Shanann shared a video announcing she was having another baby.




C. WATTS: That's awesome.

S. WATTS: Oh, my goodness. Now give me a hug. Oh. I love you guys. BELLA WATTS, DAUGHTER OF CHRIS WATTS: I'll give the baby a hug.

S. WATTS: You want to give the baby a hug? Oh, I love you, Bella. Come here, sweetie. Give me a kiss.

B. WATTS: For me.


[20:50:00] CABRERA: Kaylee Hartung now has the latest on the investigation. Kaylee.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, authorities have shared very few details with this to this point in the investigation. That fact- finding mission for us, even more difficult because a judge has sealed Chris Watts' arrest affidavit and other court documents. But with the help of some of these court filings from Chris Watts' defense team yesterday, we are learning more.

An insight to the suggestion that some of these victims could have been killed by strangulation. The defense team is asking for DNA samples to be taken from the two little girls' necks and from their hands. Also from their mother's hands and underneath her fingernails.

It's not clear what motivated the defense team to make this request and it's unclear to us whether the judge has allowed this process to take place, but you can only imagine that process of gathering more information and DNA samples, especially from those little girls, will be more difficult because we've now learned those two bodies were found in an oil well after sitting in crude oil for about four days not far from here.

This community of Frederick, a rural area just north of Denver is in mourning. You saw the community come together right here in the Watts' front yard last night. A candlelight vigil. You heard the sentiment. You can't imagine this happening anywhere, but you absolutely wouldn't think it would ever happen right in your backyard.

We've seen the pictures and videos on social media of this family seemingly looking very happy and neighbors here saying they saw that same picture in real life. One neighbor telling me it was a familiar sight to see Chris Watts driving his little girls in their wagon down the road right here to my left, to the community park or pool.

Ana, as this community continues to learn more, the healing process continues.

CABRERA: That's such a heartbreaking story. Kaylee Hartung, thank you.

Earlier, I spoke to the host of HLN's "CRIME & JUSTICE," Ashleigh Banfield and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson, about what the legal strategies could be in this case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HLN HOST: The only reason that anyone is suggesting that strangulation might be a possibility here is because of a defense motion that was dismissed. The defense hired a DNA expert and the expert for the defense said, hey, by the way, make sure that you get DNA from the necks of my children and from the neck of my wife and her fingernails because maybe there's some DNA that oil for four days wouldn't wipe away.

And, Joey, you're the attorney, but I see this as a potential strategy for a defense because if you exclude the fact that you could not find any DNA on the neck or the fingers, then maybe you could actually say we don't know the cause of death and if you don't have the cause of death, a murder charge becomes more difficult.

CABRERA: What do you think, Joey?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: In real life -- in real life, I'm a defense attorney. I used to be a prosecutor so let me put that hat on now. Who cares, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, whether it was a strangulation, he hit their head or something else. The fact remains that they are dead and they are dead at his hands. The fact also remains presuming his confession is admissible that he admitted to doing this.

And indeed, after admitting to doing this, what in front and looked at everyone in the media and talked about how he wanted them back. The compelling issue here is that they're dead. I, ladies and gentlemen, don't have to prove motive at all. It is not an element of the charge. The only element is intent to kill and here we have that because he told you he did it and their bodies were found. And so, I don't want anyone, viewers at home, to get lost in whether it was strangulation or anything else. That's irrelevant. The fact is they're no longer here and it's his fault.

BANFIELD: I agree with you except for the fact that this is a death penalty state. And so when it comes down, when the chips are down, you fight with everything you have. And if he only led them to the bodies, then he could say she was away on a trip and then I found out about this affair and then he showed up and this mystery man killed them and I was so scared that they would think it was me I disposed of the bodies, but I didn't kill them. So there are all sorts of arguments, I think, they could put forward.


CABRERA: Prosecutors have until Monday to formally charge Watts.

Some breaking news we're just getting in. We are now learning several people have been hurt in a Backstreet Boys concert in Oklahoma after a metal structure fell in bad weather. This happened in Thackerville just before the sold-out concert featuring both the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. One witness says a handful of people left in ambulances.

Backstreet Boy band member, Kevin Richardson, just tweeted out that emergency crews are on the scene and that some people are injured. Before we go, a quick programming note. It was the era when cell phones became smartphones. Here's a sneak peek at a new episode of the CNN Original Series, "THE 2000S," I Want My Mp3.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to boycott them for their music and we're going to boycott you for playing it and if you don't stop playing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, man, that was the last one you're going to hear.

CHRIS CONNELLY, JOURNALIST: Country radio overnight turns its back on the Dixie Chicks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a result of statements made by members of the Dixie Chicks at a concert, two radio networks banned the Dixie Chicks with a playlist on a chain level.

[20:55:07] CONNELLY: In a way they were more daring than any punk band.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) we return to the scene of the crime.

CONNELLY: They took on the establishment that wanted to own them and they refused to not go under.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought I'd sing something brand new and just say just so you know we're ashamed the president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've asked artists for decades to be barometers of culture and be voices of dissent. And in the wake of 9/11 it was just seen as a bridge too far.


CABRERA: "THE 2000s," I want My Mp3 airs tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

I'm Ana Cabrera, thank you so much for joining me. I'm back at 5:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. Don't go anywhere. "The 2000s," Yes, We Can, is next.


OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN MEDIA PROPRIETOR: I'm voting for Barack Obama not because he's black. I'm voting for Barack Obama because he's brilliant.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This is very personal for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Presidential campaigns are business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel change in the air. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Democratic Party has thrown us women aside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to Washington and we're going to shape things up.