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President Trump Tweets Criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Juror in Paul Manafort Trial Discusses Her Experience; Tropical Storm Hits Parts of Hawaii; John McCain Discontinues Cancer Treatment; Russia's Continuing Attempts to Interfere in U.S. Midterm Elections Examined; Pope Francis Visits Dublin, Ireland. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired August 25, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:17] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, 10:00 on the dot on this Saturday. We're always so grateful to have you with us. I am Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I am Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. You are in the CNN Newsroom.
PAUL: So listen, in the last hour, President Trump really seems to be hitting the Justice Department, calling out Attorney General Jeff Sessions in this barrage of tweets from the president where he said Sessions must get control of the Justice Department or he may, quote, "have to get involved." The big change from what he said earlier in the week. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I really feel as long as this is going on, I don't have to do this, but I will stay uninvolved, and maybe that's the best thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: CNN's Ryan Nobles with us now from the White House. Obviously a major escalation from what he just said a couple of days ago.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, I think you predicted this, right? You said we should expect some tweets from the president this morning. You were right. It is like you have been down this road before.
And yet the president clearly trying to draw a line here in the investigation into his campaign's activities with Russia. And to a certain extent he's trying to distract from that investigation and then focus back on Hillary Clinton and the investigation into her e- mails. This is what the president wrote on Twitter this morning. He said "big story out of the FBI, ignored tens of thousands of crooked Hillary e-mails, many of them which are really bad. Also gave false election info. I feel sure that we will soon be to the bottom of all this corruption, and that at some point I may have to get involved." The president we believe referring to a story that's out this morning
from Real Clear Politics which is an investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails which CNN has not been able to confirm at this point, but the broader point here is the president continuing to ramp up pressure on the Justice Department. The president mentioning Jeff Sessions by name a number of times this morning in tweets. He also quoting Lindsey Graham, talking about how the attorney general serves at the pleasure of the president. That's something we're all aware about.
But even though the president continues to hammer Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department at large, there's only one person that controls Jeff Sessions' future, and that's the president himself. If he wanted to do something about it and he could. For some reason he is refusing to do that. So how this impacts the investigation going forward other than to put this pressure on Jeff Sessions and the people in the special counsel's office remains to be seen.
But at this point, Victor and Christi, the president clearly unhappy with this heat that's being turned up in his direction.
PAUL: It would be interesting to know who he is listening to, because so many people have opinions about what he should or should not do before or after midterms in this case as well. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.
NOBLES: Thank you, guys.
BLACKWELL: Joining me now, Jon Marshall, assistant professor at Northwestern University, and author of "Watergate's Legacy and the Press, the Investigative Impulse." Jon, good morning to you.
JON MARSHALL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, NORTHWESTER UNIVERSITY: Good morning to you.
BLACKWELL: So let's start here with Jeff Sessions. The president has criticized, he's called weak and beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions for more than a year, but this last week he's really gone after the A.G. Do you believe that his job is seriously in jeopardy this time around?
MARSHALL: I think Jeff Sessions is definitely vulnerable. I think Rod Rosenstein is vulnerable. We saw it during Watergate where Richard Nixon wanted to get rid of the special prosecutor who was investigating him, Archibald Cox, and ended up firing the attorney general, Elliot Richardson, and pushing out the Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus. So I would not put it past Trump to try to do the same thing. It could hurt him politically, but the amount of anger and frustration and fear that he is feeling could lead him to do it.
BLACKWELL: The frustrations that Nixon felt versus the ones that Trump is feeling now, the Nixon frustrations were shared in private. The president is broadcasting his on Twitter and on television and in speeches. Is there any real material value of the public airing of these frustrations to potentially Robert Mueller? MARSHALL: You're exactly right, Victor. Nixon did most of his fuming
in private, although there would be the occasional outburst, and Trump is very public about his anger. And I think it serves a purpose for him of continuing to fire up his most ardent supporters and keep the narrative going that this is just a partisan, unfair witch hunt against him, and that Sessions and Rosenstein have fallen into that as well.
[10:05:10] BLACKWELL: This week we heard from Senator Lindsey Graham saying that the president deserves, and I'm paraphrasing here, an attorney general who serves at his pleasure. We heard from California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who said essentially that if he's not going to do, A.G. Sessions is not going to do what the president wants, he should quit.
And I want to read a quote from your book here where you point out that reporters and political commentators often expressed frustrated surprise at the steadfast support of President Trump for most Republicans in the House and Senate, but they shouldn't as it has happened before. Remind us where and how.
MARSHALL: That's right. During Watergate, the Republicans in Congress and other Republican leaders stood by Nixon until almost the bitter end. Gerald Ford, who had been the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, used the word political witch hunt, used that phrase. Others called it hysteria, called it mudslinging, the same kinds of words that we hear today were used by Republicans in Congress then. And the idea that it was a bipartisan era is really myth. There were the same kind of bare-knuckled politics going on during Watergate that we see now.
BLACKWELL: All right, Jon Marshall, author of "Watergate's Legacy and the Press, the Investigative Impulse," Jon good to have you.
MARSHALL: Thank you very much for having me.
PAUL: One of what may have been one of the most devastating moments for the White House this week was the conviction of the president's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke with one of the jurors who says she approached the trial wanting Manafort to be innocent but just could not reach that conclusion after seeing the evidence. Take a look.
PAULA DUNCAN, JUROR IN MANAFORT TRIAL: We had one juror who held out her vote. We had two, one that would flip-flop from one day to the next, would say she was pressured and change her vote. We had some of that. But in the end, it was one person who, even though we could put the paperwork in front of them again and again, they said they had reasonable doubt, and therefore that's their right as a juror.
We tried very hard to make sure that we weren't a hung jury. Eleven of us, 10 for sure were positive from almost day two. And the rest of us, the other two, were not sure. And we spent a lot of time deliberating, and doing due diligence like we were supposed to as a jury. And in the end, even though we could tell her that the defendant met the criteria to charge him as guilty, she would in the end say she just had reasonable doubt.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I read that you said I wanted Paul Manafort to be innocent but he wasn't. I know you're a supporter of President Trump and you're skeptical of the special counsel investigation as a whole. To those that may hear that and wonder, well, why did you vote to convict, what would you say?
DUNCAN: Because your civic duty as a juror, as Judge Ellis said, was -- the defendant has the presumption of innocence. And you accept the witnesses, you accept the evidence, and you make your judgment based on those things. And there are those that said I shouldn't have been a juror because they say I was biased according to social media, at least that's what my daughters are telling me. And that's not true. If I were biased, I would have said -- I would have been the holdout vote, and I was not the holdout vote.
COOPER: Number one, I would recommend your daughters not read social media, because I can tell you from personal experience, no good will come of that.
COOPER: But I've got to say, you give me faith in the system, the fact that you're exactly the kind of juror somebody would want, that you can put aside whatever your political beliefs might be and just look at the evidence and make a decision based on that.
DUNCAN: I think coming out, the Trump hat thing wasn't going to be part of what I had to say until the last bit. But I thought, you know what, if it shows people that we can have differences of opinions and still work together to get justice done, I thought it was an inspiring thing to hear about.
COOPER: The Trump hat thing for people who don't know, you have a Make America Great Again hat, but you kept it in your car.
DUNCAN: I did. And it is actually my husband's hat, just for clarification. We don't need two.
DUNCAN: But I mean, we're both Trump supporters, and we feel that President Trump deserves a chance to try to do the job without all of the other stuff going on around him, unless of course it is illegal. The law is the law. And my job as a juror and the rest of my fellow jurors was to make sure the law was upheld, and I feel we did.
[10:10:05] I wish we could have convicted him on all 18 counts. I feel there was enough information to do that. And that's -- I thought America need to know it was 11 to one.
COOPER: I know you said that you believed the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt. If the Mueller investigation hadn't happened, there's no guarantee that Paul Manafort would have ever been brought to justice for the financial crimes. Does that justify the Mueller investigation at all to you?
DUNCAN: No. He should be punished for his crimes, it just shouldn't have come about in the way that it did, in my opinion.
COOPER: Do you think the president should pardon Paul Manafort, or how would you feel if the president pardoned Paul Manafort?
DUNCAN: I feel it would be a grave mistake for President Trump to pardon Paul Manafort.
DUNCAN: Justice was done. The evidence was there. And that's where it should stop.
COOPER: One of the things the president campaigned on was draining the swamp. And that's obviously something that people on both sides of the political aisle don't like the way Washington works. To you, is Paul Manafort part of the swamp? Is he the epitome of the swamp?
DUNCAN: Well, there's the irony. Maybe he is. I think my favorite thing Trump said of course is make America great again. And I have gotten a lot of flak over this, and I've had people calling worried about my safety. And I like to think I'm braver than that. When peaceful Americans' views are silenced from fear, then America is certainly not a great country. So maybe what we need are caps that say make America kind again.
COOPER: Do you think that's a hat the president would wear, make America kind again?
DUNCAN: I challenge President Trump to wear a hat that says make America kind again, because I think once we're kind, then we will be great. Tolerance is important. I want people to get out and vote. No matter who you vote for, get out and vote. That's your duty. Voting and serving on a jury, that's so important to who we are. So many people have fought for that right. And I don't care what side you're on, just vote.
COOPER: Paula Duncan, thank you.
BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Tim Naftali, CNN presidential historian now. Tim, good morning to you.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: So that conviction of Paul Manafort, one of several events this week that were a blow to the president and the president's current and former team. You have the Cohen confession and conviction there, the immunity for two close Trump allies. I wonder, as we look at the tweet from the president this morning saying that he may have to get involved in the Justice Department, he has done that before, but he has now done it after all the bad headlines this week. How do you receive this latest threat from the president?
NAFTALI: This latest threat implies a willingness to obstruct justice. Let's not forget that, as we just heard, a panel, a jury of Mr. Manafort's peers found him guilty on eight counts. Mr. Cohen has pled guilty. And two people, one being the CFO of the Trump Organization, Mr. Weisselberg, apparently has sought immunity. That means our Justice Department, our justice system is working. For the president to say I need to get involved, he is sending a signal that he wants to somehow stop this process. That's an obstruction of justice.
BLACKWELL: Would the pardoning of Paul Manafort, if the president decides that, would that qualify on its own as potential obstruction of justice?
NAFTALI: It depends. Well, now we're treading into legal waters, but two things, Victor. One, it's going to send a signal that certain crimes are pardonable. Mr. Manafort cheated on his taxes. Mr. Manafort engaged in wire fraud. So it sends a very bad signal.
The second issue is, does Mr. Manafort have more things to tell federal prosecutors? If he does, pardoning him would prevent him, obviously would mean that he wouldn't tell that. If that's the case, then the president is engaging in obstruction of justice because he is basically saying to Mr. Manafort stay quiet, don't say anything. I will reward you.
[10:15:05] BLACKWELL: So there have been analysts who say that this has been the worst week of the Trump administration, but there have been a lot of worst weeks. Charlottesville was a bad week for the president. The travel ban was a bad week for the president. "Fire and Fury's" release was a bad week for the president. But what did this week change for this administration, for this Republican Congress, for the president's supporters and his detractors?
NAFTALI: Well, Victor, Charlottesville was a bad week for our country, all of us. This week was a bad week for Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization. This was a great week for America. It's very -- not because these people pled guilty or were found guilty. What's really important is for us to believe that our institutions are strong. And whatever political pressure might be applied on our institutions, they will do the right thing. They will follow the law. They will follow the constitution. So this is a very, very good week for those that believe in American institutions.
As for Mr. Trump, or President Trump and the Trump family, the fact that Mr. Cohen has pled guilty to participating in a criminal conspiracy, or conspiracy to commit felonies if you will, same thing, with a candidate, and that candidate is obviously the president, now President Trump, that's terrible. And the fact that the CFO of Don Jr. and Eric's company is now under immunity, which implies that he committed crimes, is also very bad for the Trump Organization. So for Mr. Trump and his family, this was a terrible week. For the United States, the American people, and for American institutions, it showed the strength of our constitution.
BLACKWELL: Presidential historian, Tim Naftali, always good to have you.
NAFTALI: Thank you, Victor.
PAUL: Oahu may have dodged a bullet from tropical storm Lane, but look what other parts of Hawaii are dealing with. We are going to update you on flash flood dangers and massive amounts of rainfall that already devastated some of these areas. But what's to come?
BLACKWELL: Plus, this is Dublin, Ireland, live, where the Pope is on the move, on his way to St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral. Moments from now, Pope Francis is set to answer questions. Will he address the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church? We are live there.
PAUL: What you're listening to there are 65 mile an hour winds in Hawaii. That's the effects of tropical storm Lane today, the biggest storm to swamp the state in decades. It is weakening, which is the good news. But its impact is still very strong and very dangerous.
BLACKWELL: That's because the pain is not coming from the wind, it's coming from this, the water, the torrents of rain and flash flooding. They're the main concern. More than 40 inches of rain have already fallen in some areas. CNN's Nick Watt is in Honolulu. What is happening now, Nick?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Oahu, as the mayor says, has dodged a bullet. The eye of this storm is now about 150 miles or so southwest of here and moving westward, out into the Pacific, and away from these islands. As you mentioned, 40 inches of rain. We've had four weather stations down on the big island, reporting more than 40 inches of rain. One of them clocking at 44.8 inches, making this the sixth biggest storm in terms of wetness, in terms of water that has ever struck the United States.
And this has been a rare event for Hawaii. We don't usually see hurricanes. They usually track a little further south. But this one was pushing north, this one was heading straight for Honolulu until it weakened and moved out. But the issue has been it's so slow moving, which sounds like a good thing. It is a good thing in a way in that it slows and then winds can push it out to sea, but it is a bad thing in that it hovered over places and dropped just so much rain. That was always going to be the problem with this storm surge and water.
We've also strangely had some wildfires, brush fires down on Maui which now are now under control. And the storm now is moving out to sea. Victor?
BLACKWELL: Nick Watt for us there in Honolulu. Nick, thank you.
PAUL: Listen, when we come back, there are tributes to Senator John McCain as we learn that he no longer is undergoing treatment for brain cancer. We're live from his home state in Arizona.
BLACKWELL: Plus, Pope Francis is in Ireland. Moments from now the Pope is going to take some questions. This is his first visit to Ireland, the first Papal visit in almost four decades. We have more on that in a live report from Dublin.
BLACKWELL: Live pictures here of Pope Francis. This is Dublin, Ireland. The Pope's first visit to Dublin, or to Ireland, and the first Papal visit in almost four decades. In just a few moments, Pope Francis will be praying over candles for the victims of sexual abuse.
PAUL: Earlier this morning he addressed the latest sex abuse allegations. He said in part, quote, "The failure of ecclesiastical authorities, bishops, religious, priests and others, adequately to address these appalling crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share those sentiments."
But take again a look at the Pope in his Pope mobile as he is going down the road. Obviously, you can hear the cheers of the people. He is so revered still, even amongst changes that have happened amidst the Catholic Church and the way it is viewed in Ireland over the last 40 years. We're going to take you to Dublin live here in just a bit, talk about what his message is and what's ahead for him. People are still hoping that they're going to hear something else from him today there.
Senator John McCain, meanwhile, he is this man known for his tireless service, his sacrifice to his country. He has been called a maverick, a patriot, an American hero. So news that he is discontinuing cancer treatment has really left a lot of people sad.
[10:30:00] We're talking lawmakers in Washington and beyond, of course. The 81-year-old senator has been battling brain cancer more than a year now, but as McCain wrote in his memoir, "The Restless Wave," his life has been, quote, quite a ride. Stephanie Elam is in Sedona right now. Stephanie, what do you know about how he is doing and how the family is doing right now?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have to assume at this point, Christi, that if they came out with a statement Friday that things are progressing, right after that we saw a tweet from his wife, Cindy McCain, also a tweet from Meghan McCain, his daughter. So they are there for their loved ones, there for the senator as he makes his transition. And here in Arizona he is a beloved icon of this state. He was elected six times to the U.S. Senate representing Arizona. He also ran for president twice. So he has a long history in politics and of representing the state.
And I think when you look back over his time either while he was a war prisoner to becoming a war hero, through all the way up even as most recently as July, this is a man who has spoke his mind. He has been speaking his mind and sticking true to his own values. So for a lot of people, even if they don't agree with his politics, they respect him and the respect the fact that he always tried to put America first in his own vision. And it is a difficult time for this family as well, Christi. Four days away from his 82nd birthday, and this is where they are after a year of him battling brain cancer.
PAUL: A lot of people certainly keeping him in thoughts and prayers, and the family today. Thank you so much, Stephanie Elam, there live for us in Arizona.
BLACKWELL: Joining me now, A. Scott Bolden, chair of the National Bar Association PAC and former chairman of the Washington D.C. Democratic Party, and Scott Jennings, CNN political commentator and former special assistant to President George W. Bush. Gentlemen, welcome back. Scott and A. Scott.
BLACKWELL: So let's get straight to it. The president's tweets this morning, Scott Jennings, going after Jeff Sessions again. Look, as I said at the top of the show, the president has been attacking Jeff Sessions for more than a year now, but this week it has really happened more often and has seemed to be a little more fierce, the attacks from the president. But many in Congress are supporting the president. Here's California Republican Dana Rohrabacher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, (R) CALIFORNIA: The fact that Jeff Sessions has not quit is a disloyalty to this president and to the country. The fact is, if he disagrees with what the president wants him to do, he should resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Is that the standard, Scott Jennings?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think if Donald Trump wants to get rid of Jeff Sessions, he can just fire him. He does serve at the pleasure of the president. And it's clear that Jeff Sessions has made the decision that he is not going to be run out of town. So right now, they're left with the decision of whether to fire him or not. I think they should not fire Jeff Sessions. I think it would send a terrible signal and be politically disastrous for the president to try to decapitate the Department of Justice.
I also think Jeff Sessions has done a really good job implementing the president's agenda. I know the president is upset about the Russia investigation, but across the board on his entire policy agenda at DOJ, Sessions has been a remarkably good leader. So I really think the president is angry about this investigation in general and he's taking it out on Sessions, but I'm not sure that's warranted.
BLACKWELL: A. Scott, it is a mixed-up world when Democrats are now defending Jeff Sessions. But that's what we're seeing from some.
A. SCOTT BOLDEN, NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION PAC: Well, I think Democrats are defending righteousness, and what's important to this country when you have a GOP House and Senate and a president that seemed to have a problem with doing that.
Let me tell you about Sessions. The president in his attack, he wants Sessions to resign so he doesn't have to be accused or put another feather in Mueller's cap vis-a-vis obstruction of justice. And so if Sessions hangs in there, then you just have this kind of uneasy detente. But Sessions' message to Donald Trump and the public statement was more to his team, his troops at DOJ. He does not work for Donald Trump, and while he has been silent, look for him to respond more and more as pressure mounts on Donald Trump and the screws, the screws tighten in regard to those around him giving up evidence against him as well as the Mueller investigation.
BLACKWELL: Speaking of screws tightening, A. Scott, I want you to listen to Congressman Al Green, he was on with Michael Smerconish last hour, and talking impeachment. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AL GREEN, (D) TEXAS: I do believe that the president is now an unindicted co-conspirator, and I think that carries a lot of weight with it. I think members of Congress have a duty and an obligation to fulfill the mandate of Article Two, Section Four of the constitution. If the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, he ought to be impeached.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[10:35:12] BLACKWELL: Should that be a marquise message for Democrats headed to November?
BOLDEN: I think inherent in the Democrats as they head towards the blue wave in October or November is that impeachment is always on the table. The reality is, though, Democrats and Republicans ought to want the best for America. We have a president that's been identified in an indictment or plea agreement as having directed someone to do something illegal. You couple that with the suppression payments, you couple that with his other bad acts with Comey, with Cohen, obstruction of justice, perhaps perjury -- not perjury, but lying as a general basis, we've got a problem with this presidency.
And remember, obstruction of justice is one of the few crimes in the federal criminal code where you don't have to complete it. All you have to do is to attempt it. And with his public statements alone, that makes him subject of the Mueller investigation, and he may become a target at some point.
BLACKWELL: Scott to you. I would imagine this is one of the few areas on which you agree with A. Scott that for Democrats' impeachment always being on the table would be a good message in this case for Republicans.
JENNINGS: Yes. I think there's a reason that Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team tried to tamp down talk of impeachment among the rank and file Democrats, because they know it is a political loser. Even though most every Democrat out there wants to impeach the president, America politically does not want to go down the road of dysfunction and gridlock where that will certainly take us.
I do believe the Democrats will try to impeach the president in January, and I do believe continued talk about impeachment is going to rally Republican voters to go out and protect the president. I don't think we're anywhere near the need for impeachment. Democrats seem to want it. And I think that they're going to find this is a political loser for midterms. It is like we're reliving the '90s all over again. We had a political party in the 90s that overreached on impeachment and it cost them politically. I think we're going down the same road just in reverse this time around.
BOLDEN: But Donald Trump drives that narrative. It is not that the Democrats want to impeach Donald Trump. Donald Trump's leadership or failed leadership and his bad behavior at every level of his presidency dictates that impeachment process.
BLACKWELL: Scott and A. Scott, we've got to wrap it there. Always good to have you.
BOLDEN: Thank you.
JENNINGS: Thanks, Victor.
PAUL: A "New York Times" report says Russian spies are silent. Why now, and how could this effect the midterm elections? CNN security analyst Samantha Vinograd has some things to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the past, society's conception of what a woman could and couldn't do revolved around traditional ideas of homemaking. In 1954, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was working for the Social Security administration when she discovered she was pregnant. She got demoted. She was lucky she didn't get fired.
In 1973, the year Roe v Wade was decided, banks could still decline a woman's application for credit, unless a man, preferably her husband, co-signed. RBG led efforts to give women power over their bodies and their income. Her work towards 19789's pregnancy discrimination act secured women's ability to work and receive benefits through pregnancy and childbirth. RBG has used her time on the Supreme Court to continue protecting equal rights for all genders. In her own home she proved that equality contributes to a successful partnership.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: When there's a sharing of responsibility, that's the day that women will be truly liberated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch "RBG" on Monday, September 3rd, at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:43:20] PAUL: So many headlines obviously from the Trump White House, and yet Russian president Vladimir Putin is still actively engaged in undermining the U.S. and pursuing his personal agenda around the world. Putting it into perspective, CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd is with us now. So talk to us, first of all, about these new Russian cyberattacks this week.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thanks, Christi. We learned this week that everyone is fair game in Putin's cyberattacks, even children. We know that in the past his digital warriors have stoked online debate around issues that affect kids like school shootings, and now researchers found more than 200,000 Russian accounts engaged in an online debate on vaccination. Like on other inflammatory issues, the Russians this time around were playing for both teams, both pro and anti-vaccination, because all the care about is stoking divisions.
Microsoft also revealed that the Russian government is trying to tank some think tanks. They thwarted spear phishing attacks by the same group that hacked the DNC. It's called Fancy Bear and controlled by the Russian government, and these attacks were aimed as trying to interfere with conservative think tanks that have criticized Russia.
And it is interesting because this intel on Russian interference came from digital footprints, it came from cyberspace. But The "New York Times" is reporting the U.S. intel community is having a tougher time getting actual human sources to share information and shed light on election interference plans. This maybe because Putin is trying to go to extra lengths to warn his team that they will face severe repercussions if they work with us, or sources may have seen the Congressman Devin Nunes out of source in his memo a few months ago. So I think both of these factors may be making human sources in Russia think twice about working with the U.S.
[10:45:08] PAUL: But is President Putin using social media to talk about what we've seen this week, the legal issues President Trump might be facing?
VINOGRAD: Trump's diatribes against the Justice Department, including, by the way, his tweet this morning, are goldmines for President Putin because it looks like the president is trying to interfere with the bedrock of U.S. democracy, which is the independence of the legal system. Putin is getting inside help on his mission to highlight shortcomings in U.S. democracy every time the president issues a tweet like he did this morning.
And I think Putin is also going to try to use this to degrade U.S. influence abroad. Putin's probably playing up the glaring double standard at play here. We condemn, we even sanction other countries when officials try to degrade the independence of their legal system. Now we have tweets that document our president's ongoing direction to the Department of Justice on what to investigate and what not to investigate.
At the same time, Putin's probably playing up the fact that he has one standard for himself and what the Department of Justice should look at, and another one for everyone else and the rest of the world. And Putin is also very aware of the fact that he has staying power. Putin is around until 2024, when we look at the president and President Trump in this legal cloud hanging over him, midterms are 70 plus days away. And there's a compelling narrative that the president or President Trump may be here today and gone tomorrow.
So if you're Putin, you're probably encouraging counterparts to wait and see what happens with President Trump before you engage substantively, to take a wait and see approach. And Putin will surely be there to fill any empty time in their schedules when they do.
PAUL: So how is he, meaning President Putin, trying to manage these appearances, not just at home but abroad?
VINOGRAD: Putin likes to show off his shiny objects. Right before the election he had that crazy press conference where he broadcast his invincible missile. He puts on a massive military parade every year in Moscow. I have actually been to one. And last week Russia kicked off its army expo and is about to launch massive military exercises with China and Mongolia. They like to show off their military hardware and their military toys.
But underneath these grandiose shows of force, the Russian economy is actually under pressure. Modest growth is expected this year, about 1.8 percent. The ruble hit a two year low when U.S. sanctions went into effect, and investors are not chomping at the bit to invest in Russia for many reasons, including uncertain over potentially more U.S. sanctions.
And that may be one reason that Putin may be taking his show on the road. There were reports in Russian media late last week that Putin is considering a visit to Saudi Arabia. In the past, Saudi Arabia committed $10 billion in investment to Russia, that was back in 2015, so it is highly likely Putin is considering a trip to visit the king and to potentially ask for more investment in his economy.
PAUL: All right, Samantha Vinograd, thank you so much for breaking it down for us. Appreciate it.
BLACKWELL: Live look in St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Right now Pope Francis, you see him here, speaking to people there, members of the Catholic Church. We will take you there live next.
[10:53:00] PAUL: Take a look here as Pope Francis is speaking to members at the St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Ireland there from Dublin right now. CNN correspondent Phil Black, he did address some of the sexual abuse allegations earlier, Phil, but did he satisfy people who wanted to hear more?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the initial reaction, Christi, is that no, he did not. In his opening remarks here at Dublin castle a short time ago earlier today, he did address the suffering that people caused, the mistakes within the church, the failure of the church to adequately deal with that sexual abuse once it was uncovered. And he talked about the righteous outrage of the people of Ireland here as well.
But from the point of view of victims who know this, who've heard all of this before, who've heard the apologies, heard the heartfelt sincere language, what they were looking for is something more than that. Some sort of constructive plan, a real effort to drive the issue forward and show how the church is going to prevent this from happening again and hold accountable those who have abused and those who have covered up the abuse as well.
They did not get that from the Pope's first speech here in Ireland in Dublin today. He is going to speak again. We have been listening to him speak now in that Cathedral where now at the moment he is not concerned with sexual abuse in the church. He is essentially giving out essentially marriage advice. Pope, the marriage counselor. He took some questions from young married couples and he is going through them now and giving them advice how to make their relationships work in the long time.
The importance of the family is one of the big things for the Pope during his visit over the coming two days, but of course sexual assault, how to deal with it, how to prevent it, how to punish those responsible, that's what many people in this country, including committed Catholics, will be listening for during the Pope's other public appearances over the coming two days. Victor, Christi, back to you.
PAUL: Phil Black, we appreciate it so much. Thank you. We'll be right back.
[10:59:06] BLACKWELL: Not having command of the English language can hurt immigrants' chances of getting promotions and health care and becoming part of society. This week's CNN hero has a solution.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the immigrants that made the United States. It was the immigrants that came here to have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of doing whatever they wanted to do. And they're the ones that made this country. We are giving them the key to unlock all doors, and I see the pride when they say I am an American.
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BLACKWELL: See the full story at CNNHeroes.com.
PAUL: We appreciate you taking time for us and keeping us company in the morning. Go make some great memories.
BLACKWELL: Let's hand it off to Fredricka Whitfield now for more of CNN's Newsroom. FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to you guys.
PAUL: Hello. Hello and goodbye.
WHITFIELD: Hello and goodbye.
WHITFIELD: But hello to you, everybody. It's 11:00 on the east coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom starts right now.