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Feud Between Trump and Sessions Escalates; Rep. Denny Heck: "Walls Closing in on President Trump"; Weisselberg Like a Trump Family Member & Cooperates with Special Counsel; Cindy McCain: Family Overwhelmed by Outpouring of Love; Trump's Early Endorsers Plagued by Scandal; Trump Goes on Attack as Legal Troubles Mount & Doorman Claims Affair Produced Child; Pope Francis in Ireland Addressed Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired August 25, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:07] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thanks for being with us on this Saturday.
We start this hour with open warfare at the White House with the president of the United States firing another loaded tweet at his attorney general, this time, saying Jeff Sessions doesn't, quote, "understand what is happening underneath his command position. " He went on to say, "Highly conflicted Bob Mueller and his gang of 17 angry Dems are having a field day as real corruption goes untouched. No collusion."
This latest blast comes just days after the president says the attorney general never took control of the Justice Department. That shot drew out Jeff Sessions, firing back, saying he won't be compromised over political considerations.
CNN White House reporter, Sarah Westwood, is joining us now.
One of the president's tweets honed in on the message that the attorney general serves at the pleasure of the president. Sarah, the president obviously very unhappy with his attorney general. What are you hearing from there on this relationship now between the president and the A.G.?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Ana. President Trump's anger at his attorney general was on full display this week as his associates face a growing wave of legal problems. Sources tell CNN that Trump has privately raised the idea of firing Sessions several times within the last several weeks. Trump has long been dissatisfied with his attorney general both over the progression of the Russia investigation and over the lack of progress at the Justice Department of what Trump considers what should be an investigation into the corruption he sees at the FBI. But aides and allies have counseled Trump against removing Sessions, both because it could have implications for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. There's an obstruction of justice component to that investigation. And because it could have major political ramifications heading into the midterms. On Capitol Hill, Trump's Republican allies have been warning him about the difficulty he would face if he tried to get another attorney general nominee confirmed right now.
But, of course, the feud between Trump and Sessions is heating up this week with senses, as you mentioned, firing back at the president for the first time and President Trump raises up his attacks on his attorney general -- Ana?
CABRERA: Sarah Westwood, at the White House, thank you.
The walls are closing in on President Trump. That is what my next guest says about the president's growing legal problems. That was before Paul Manafort was guilty, before Michael Cohen, the president's long-time personal attorney pleaded guilty and implicated the president on the campaign finance allegations.
Washington Congressman Denny Heck is joining us from Seattle. He's a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman Heck, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.
I want to get to the closing in walls in just a moment. But first, let me ask you about the president's newest attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The president seems to be laying the groundwork for firing Mr. Sessions. And Republicans seem like they're giving him the green light. What do you think, what would firing the attorney general mean?
REP. DENNY HECK, (D), WASHINGTON: Well, he may or may not be getting to the point of firing. Instead, he just may be trying to change the subject or deflect from all the incredible bad news he had this week. There are a couple deterrents from pulling the trigger on this, although he may. The first is that deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, would become the acting attorney general. And we all know how President Trump feels about that. Secondly, it is not clear whatsoever, Lindsey Graham's tweet notwithstanding, that the president could get enough votes to actually get another attorney general confirmed. Senator Sass, from Nebraska, made it pretty clear he wouldn't vote for anybody to replace Attorney General Sessions. And I suspect there are other Republican U.S. Senators who have feel the same way. So to be determined, Ana.
CABRERA: Would you support replacing the Attorney General Jeff Sessions because you have been a critic of his, as have many of your Democratic colleagues?
HECK: I never would have voted for Jeff Sessions to become attorney general in the first place, Ana. But just to remind you that the advise-and-consent function in the United States Constitution rests with the United States Senate. I have the privilege to serve in the United States House. We don't have a vote on it.
CABRERA: But where do you stand? Do you support the attorney general as A.G. currently?
HECK: I don't think that the attorney general should be fired for the reasons that the president has indicated. I do, however, have significant policy differences with him, whether it has to do with his opposition to criminal justice reform or how it is that he wants to treat states who have legally authorized the use of medical marijuana and adult use of marijuana. There are lots of reasons to be concerned and object to Attorney General Sessions tenure as attorney general. But the president isn't offering a good one.
CABRERA: OK, it's not just Attorney General Jeff Sessions that we have been hearing a lot about from this president. In fact, this week, the president over the past few days at least has indicated he may try to take over the Mueller probe. He may get involved in that investigation. At one point, he said he could replace Mueller and run it himself. What would be the next step for Democrats if the president tries to take over this investigation?
[15:05:14] HECK: Constitutional crisis immediately. It will be real interesting to see what happens, especially along Republican members of the U.S. Senate if he were to do that. Frankly, I'm not convinced he's going to do that, because I think enough people are making clear to him what the consequence of that would be. But I would qualify what I just said with the following. As you indicated at the top of the program, the walls are closing in on him. I have predicted that for quite some time. I predicted that before his money man, Mr. Weisselberg, agreed to the immunity agreement with the Department of Justice, which I think is incredibly threatening to the president because Mr. Weisselberg knows from the money and where it's gone and for what purpose. So remains to be seen there as well.
CABRERA: Rudy Giuliani, another of the president's attorneys, says Special Counsel Robert Mueller needs to wrap up the investigation, falsely implying there's a law prohibiting investigations in the 60 days before the election. What do you think of that pressure, though, being put on Mueller? Will it affect him at all?
HECK: Zero, zip, nada. Ana, if you look back over the course of Bob Mueller's entire career, it has been nothing but a progressive assumption of increased responsibilities because of the professionalism with which he's undertaken every job he's had, beginning way back when he was a young Marine officer serving in Vietnam where he earned the Purple Heart and was decorated. This is the highest caliber of professional. In Bob Mueller, I trust. And I think the best thing that could happen for our constitutional form of government is for him to be allowed to complete his investigation. And until such time, until such time as the Mueller investigation comes anywhere near the two-and-a-half-year investigation of the Benghazi incident that I any such talk frankly is foolish and can be seen for what it is, which is a political charade.
CABRERA: Let's talk about Michael Cohen. He spoke to the House Intelligence Committee, your committee, last year. And I'm guessing he didn't reveal the same things he revealed in court this week, correct?
HECK: Ana, I made a pledge not to reveal exactly what it is that any of the witnesses said during our closed interviews. And I'm going to keep by that pledge. But let me say this, I think that Mr. Cohen is in a new phase of his life, a more candid phase of his life. And, yes, I absolutely would like to see him come back before the committee and answer some of the questions put to him before as well as new ones based on the most recent revelations.
CABRERA: Do you also want to hear from David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, the two members of the Trump inner circle who were granted immunity in the Cohen case?
HECK: Absolutely. But there's a long list of people that we should have heard from that we didn't. And the list grows on a daily basis.
Ana, if you step back and think about all that we have learned just over the course of the summer that we did not know since the Republicans in the House prematurely terminated the Russian investigation, it is an amazing amount of information. So we didn't complete our work in the House. The Republicans put it to bed before it was finished. And I think that there's an awful lot to be learned that the American public has a right to know.
CABRERA: Quickly, if you will, have they, the Republicans in the House, given you any indication that they may be changing their mind and want to bring back some of the witnesses or start a new investigation of some sort?
HECK: None. None whatsoever. I think they have kind of made their deal to try to get through the midterms and see where they're at. I believe that the political calculus they make is that they are more at risk if they take on the president because they have seen the viciousness with which he attacks anybody who stoops to disagree with him in my way, shape or form. And so they just buckled up and they are going to do their best to get through the next 74 days and then re-evaluate where they are. At that point, we may see a shift, but we won't know until then.
CABRERA: Let's talk about the political calculus of your party. I want to ask you about the "I" word, impeachment. The president himself laid out what he thought his impeachment would mean for the country. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't -- I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job. I'll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor. Because without this thinking, you would see -- you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe in reverse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The "New York Times" reports there seems to be a split among Democrats, some thinking and concerned that impeachment talk could serve to energize the Republican base. Where do you stand?
[15:09:54] HECK: I think there are way more Republicans talking about impeachment than Democrats. Democrats are wanting to prosecute this midterm election on the basis of what it is that we can do to lower prescription drug prices, what it is we can do to protect people who have pre-existing conditions, what it is we can do to raise the average wage of Americans, what it is we can do to substantially increase our investment in an infrastructure that is decaying and that is holding economic growth back in this country.
Frankly, before we even get to the issue of impeachment as the walls continue to close in, I think it is more likely that the president will at some point begin to consider resignation. Because the pressure on him is about to be multiplied times 100 of what it is even today. And it is considerable today. And all of that is before Director Mueller finishes his work.
I stand by the rule of law. And the rule of law in this instance provides for Director Mueller to complete his investigation.
CABRERA: You're not there yet, then, in terms of impeaching or starting the impeachment process of the president?
HECK: I'll tell you where I am yet, however, Ana. And I have been clear about it. It brings me no joy to say it. I think Donald J. Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States, let alone leader of the free world.
CABRERA: Congressman Denny Heck, thank you for joining us on this Saturday.
HECK: Thank you, Ana. Go Cougs.
Indeed, go Cougs. He knows my alma mater in the state of Washington.
He's a member of Trump's circle who would know where any financial bodies are buried. Trump's top money man granted immunity by the federal prosecutors. Could Allen Weisselberg be the latest and greatest threat top Donald Trump yet?
And live pictures from Dublin where Pope Francis is greeting crowds after an emotional meeting with victims of the clergy sex abuse scandal. His comments, next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:15:55] CABRERA: Welcome back to the NEWSROOM. And we have developments involving Allen Mr. Weisselberg. He is the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization. And according to a course familiar with the matter, he has been granted immunity in the Michael Cohen investigation. Weisselberg, by all accounts, is someone very close with Trump. Some say he was like a family member.
Just listen to the people who worked for Trump for years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knows everything about Donald. And in terms of the money trail, Donald can be hurt a great deal by Allen Weisselberg.
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: He knows every financial transaction. He's responsible for creating the they businesses they had there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe that he got more and more involved as time went on. And Donald Trump trusted him. He was almost a family member.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: But you don't have to take their word for it. Donald Trump wrote himself in his 2004 book, "Think Like a Billionaire," quote, "Weisselberg is so tough that most banks would rather I negotiate the deal than him. He's a loyal employee and he's the ultimate master at a playing the cards of business."
But now a source tells CNN that Weisselberg's interview with investigators focused on Cohen's hush money deals to silence women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.
The news comes after the "National Enquirer" publisher, David Pecker, told prosecutors what he knew about the payments.
So to review, you now have two long-time Trump allies granted immunity and three other former Trump associates cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. So is it any wonder that this is what President Trump has to say about people, quote, "flipping?"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've had many friends involved in this stuff. It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal. You get 10 years in jail, but if you say bad things about somebody, in other words, make up stories, if you don't know, make up stories, they just make up lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Randi Kaye has more.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Allen Weisselberg knows where all the financial bodies are buried. That's according to a former Trump Organization employee who spoke to CNN.
Weisselberg is the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, the top bookkeeper, who likely has knowledge of everything from Donald Trump's tax returns to the hush money paid to silence two women claiming they had an affair witness Trump before he became president, something Trump denies.
If Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment to porn star, Stormy Daniels, as his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says, then perhaps Weisselberg can corroborate that for federal prosecutors.
When Trump won the White House, he put his sons and Weisselberg in charge of the family business.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has relinquished leadership and management of the Trump Organization to his sons, Don and Eric, and a long-time Trump executive, Allen Weisselberg.
KAYE: Weisselberg, who hasn't returned our calls for comment, oversees the family's trust. He's prepared his tax returns and was the treasurer for Trump's charity. Weisselberg has also been privy to Donald Trump's real estate transactions both here and overseas, including where all the funding was coming from.
(on camera): There's no doubt about how vast Weisselberg's knowledge is. He has a long history with the Trump family going back decades. In the 1970s, he was an accountant for President Trump's father, Fred Trump, and then moved over to the Donald Trump Organization. The "Wall Street Journal" reported Weisselberg oversaw many of Trump's personal transactions, including household expenses, as well as the purchase of planes and boats.
(voice-over): Tristan Snell, a former assistant attorney general who helped lead the prosecution of Trump University, says, "Weisselberg is the single most indispensable person in the Trump Organization."
In that case, he said, Weisselberg knew where every dollar in the Trump Organization came from and controlled where every dollar went.
Over the years, Weisselberg has kept a low profile. One former colleague telling the "Wall Street Journal" that Weisselberg, quote, "fits in with the wallpaper." Suddenly, though, he seems to be a household name.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
[15:20:10] CABRERA: Three long-time Trump confidants flipping, to use his word, on the president. Allen Weisselberg, the money man, Michael Cohen, the fixer, David Pecker, the tabloid boss, all cooperating with authorities, telling what they know about Trump's secret hush money payouts to women in the runup to the 2016 election.
Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, also senior editor of "The Atlantic."
CABRERA: Ron, what a week this was.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Incredible.
CABRERA: And all we're hearing from Republicans is crickets. What gives?
BROWNSTEIN: Crickets. Right. First of all, you can't understate how consequential these actions that Michael Cohen pled guilty to were. We're talking about an election decided by 80,000 votes in three states. It is hard not to imagine what the impact would have been if the American public knew at the time that the financial operations were underway to buy the silence of various women who claimed relationships with Donald Trump. I mean, this was not -- this was not a controversy on the edge of the campaign. This was at the heart of, you know, the siding events in 2016. So the gravity of it, I think, cannot be overstated. And yet you have seen among the Republicans in Congress -- first of all, the president, for all intents and purposes, was named as the unindicted co-conspirator in the Cohen pleading for the first time since Watergate. And the fact that Republicans have not reacted in any meaningful way. I mean, even to raise alarms about this, just broadcast -- amplifies the message they have been sending to voters, for better or worse. What they are saying is we are circling the wagons. And if we maintain unified control of government, they are not going to move in any way to perform oversight, much less constrain the president that many Americans are at best ambivalent about.
CABRERA: Just think about this. Hush money payments to women who alleged affairs, the president implicated in a federal crime, and also being part of a cover-up, so to speak. Do Trump voters care about this?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, here's the amazing thing. People usually say Republicans are silent because they are afraid of the Trump base in a primary. I don't think -- that's part of the story, but it's a mistake to view that as the whole story. Most Republicans, I think, have bought into what is the strategy of the political strategy of the Trump administration, which is that constantly double-down on trying to mobilize and energize their base with very little regard whether in policy or rhetoric. Or in the way they are dealing with the Mueller investigation for the views of any voters outside of that base and try to avoid the usual midterm turnout slump for the president's party, which is part of the reasons why the president's party usually loses seats in the first midterm.
The risk is obvious in all of this, which is that you are sending an unequivocal message to independent less-partisan voters, many of them in the big suburban areas around the metros. And you are not going to do anything to constrain or put any limits on President Trump and President Trump's approval rating in most of the districts that matter is at least somewhat under water. It is the defining gamble of Republicans on 2018. And we will see how it plays out in about, what, eight or 10 more weeks.
CABRERA: Do you think it's the swing voters in which this week could make the difference in the midterms?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I do. I mean, I do. And I also think it's going to mean more Democratic turnout. Again, because the political impact of everything we're seeing is difficult -- it is difficult to know where prosecutors go next. They don't -- they don't intend to challenge the rulings of the Justice Department under Nixon and Clinton, and admittedly, there were self-interest reasons for the Justice Department to reach that conclusion at that time, that a sitting president can't be indicted or prosecuted. The only response, while Donald Trump is still in office, would be through Congress, either further investigation, impeachment at the far end, or censure as a step in the middle. And I think the message that Republicans are sending unequivocally this week is they are not going to do any of the above. In fact, you know, you have seen the rather anomalous circumstance, people like Lindsey Graham, once thought of for his independence, sending a signal to fire the attorney general just as soon as they get past the kind of shoals of the election. That's the real significance here, that Republicans are sending a clear message and basically saying we are all-in on this strategy of locking arms with a president, who is still, even on his best days, at a 42 percent to 45 percent approval rating, and is way below that in some of the key states that are on the ballot this fall.
CABRERA: And, yet, there's still the data that shows about 90 percent of Republicans support this president.
CABRERA: I'm sure that is factoring into the mindset of the Republican lawmakers as well.
Ron Brownstein, always good to have you with us. Thank you so much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
[15:25:00] CABRERA: A sad announcement about the health of a true American hero. Senator John McCain stopping treatment for the brain cancer he's been battling for more than a year. We'll go live to his home state of Arizona, next.
We have live pictures from Dublin where we are waiting for the pope to address a large crowd, some 70,000 people, amid the ballooning clergy sex abuse scandal.
And just a quick programming note. Discover the inspiring life and career of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the CNN film, "RBG," airing on Labor Day, at 9:00 p.m., right here on CNN
[15:30:02] CABRERA: We have pictures now out of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. These pictures are from moments ago where there has just been a deadly collision involving a commuter a train and a commercial truck. Arlington police say two people inside the truck were killed and that passengers on the train have been taken to hospitals. We'll stay on top of this and bring you more information as we get it.
An outpouring of support, prayers and gratitude after John McCain's family announced he decided to end treatment for his brain cancer. Social media erupting with tributes to the long-time Senator, a war hero and one-time prisoner of the North Vietnamese.
McCain's wife, Cindy, tweeting this earlier today, "The entire McCain family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from around the world."
CNN's Stephanie Elam is joining us from Sedona, Arizona, where the McCain family resides.
Stephanie, this is an emotional time for McCain's family and for people in that state in particular. What are you hearing now?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is true, Ana. You are talking about a man who has spent six terms in the U.S. Senate. Obviously, he's a beloved state icon of the state of Arizona. And no matter what you feel about his political beliefs, you can pretty much say John McCain has been a man who has spoken what he has felt is the right thing for the country, even if it isn't popular. And you can see here that people are very supportive of him, of his family's messages of support, and also just knowing that this is a man who has lived life on his terms.
In fact, he spoke a bit about how he has looked at his career in politics. Take a listen to the Senator in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: It has not been perfect service to be sure. And there are probably times when the country may have benefited a little less from my help. But I tried to deserve the privilege as best I can. And I have been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, with a satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a big player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so grateful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM: And Senator McCain's birthday is just four days away. He would be turning 82 years old.
But obviously, this is an emotional week for the family as they are spending time with him as we understand. But as you can expect, too, there are a lot of people from around the world also sending in their well wishes to him -- Ana?
CABRERA: Stephanie Elam, in Sedona, Arizona, thank you.
Remember this famous campaign promise?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to Washington, D.C., it is time to drain the damn swamp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Coming up, a look at the scandals now plaguing the earliest supporters of the drain-the-swamp president.
Plus, an incredible scene in Dublin where the pope is set to speak at the Festival of Families. These are live pictures right now of the pope earlier meeting with several victims of the clergy sex abuse scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:37:59] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): We're at the North Fork Championship. It's the hardest whitewater course in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you meet whatever imposes a lot of risks and a lot of unknowns for us as kayakers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are racing in a really hard river. I was really nervous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's certainly aggressive. It can be violent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were to break a paddle, it is super dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes the waves crash and you find yourself on your head and just try to roll up. Hopefully, you haven't hit a rock by then.
GUPTA: No risk, no reward.
Set in the rapids of Idaho's Payette River, the North Fork Championship is one of the world's most premier kayak competitions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the world's best kayakers are here. Olympians now are here, which we have always wanted, but not winning every round, so it is cool to see other athletes doing well against the fastest-known people in the world.
GUPTA: A select group of 30 athletes race a section of the river known as Jacob's Ladder, an expert-level class-five rapid. The fastest time wins. And the race begins with one big drop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For a lot of people, the ramp looks really intimidating. Once you are out there, there's no turning back. You are off an eight-foot ramp.
GUPTA: If the rapids weren't hard enough, racers have to paddle through a set course, forcing them to make difficult moves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to go on either side of the gate, or go around it, coming back upstream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They make you go to places you would never go. And it's complicated, there's rocks, the water is moving really fast, so any mistake you do, you can crash really bad.
GUPTA: And if riders accidentally hit a gate, they're penalized with time added to their run.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've lost the race in the past because of that. I would have had the fastest time but hit a gate and got a five-second penalty.
GUPTA: This time, a man from Spain came out on top of the world-class field at one minute, 49 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you win, you get a crown. You're kind of the North Fork championship and bragging rights. This is the event that every kayaker wants to win. It is unbelievably exhilarating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:39:58] CABRERA: Long before he was president or even before he had won the most Republican primaries, Donald Trump had very few friends in Congress who were willing to get behind his campaign. Well, now more than a year and a half into Trump's presidency, he has gained more supporters on Capitol Hill. But his earliest endorsers haven't fared so well.
Take Congressman Chris Collins, of New York. He was the first lawmaker ever to endorse Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHRIS COLLINS, (R), NEW YORK: Donald Trump is the individualist president that can lead this country and we reclaim our great state and we provide a bright future for our children.
And I'm very confident that the cabinet he puts together would be the best cabinet ever assembled in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Fast forward to this month, he's been indicted on charges of insider trading and is no longer running for re-election.
Another early supporter, Congress Duncan Hunter, of California. You have probably heard his name recently. That's because he and his wife who were just charged with using campaign money to support their lavish lifestyle. Congressman Hunter is pinning the blame on his political enemies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R), CALIFORNIA: The deep state and the silent coup of government officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice trying to delegitimize President Trump's election and get him out of office in the only way they can, and that is using the Department of Justice. That is the exact same thing that has happened here.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: The indictment says the Hunters misused more than $250,000 worth of campaign funds, spending $24,000 on family vacations, $600 to fly their pet rabbit, along with food and alcoholic beverages.
Another early Trump supporter is Congressman Tom Marino, of Pennsylvania. He was supposed to become President Trump's drug czar but was forced to withdraw after some shady dealings were uncovered by the "Washington Post" and "60 minutes." Apparently, Marino took nearly $100,000 from a pharmaceutical lobby while advocating for an industry friendly drug law.
Joining us, S.E. Cupp, the host of CNN's new show, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED," premiering tonight.
S.E., President Trump ran as the "drain the swamp" president. Why does it seem the swamp is so swampy?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED": Well, you are the company that you keep in many cases. I don't think there's any coincidence that a lot of these people were drawn to come out early. And it was a risk at the time to come out early as a congressional member and support Trump, and they did. And I don't think it's a coincidence that you're starting to see some of these scandals finally come to light.
Duncan Hunter has been investigated for going on two years now. This didn't just happen overnight. By the way, it has nothing to do with the deep state. The attorney general investigating Duncan Hunter is a Trump appointee.
But, you know, you have to wonder what Democrats are going to do with all of this. If you remember back in 2006, painting Republicans as having a culture of corruption, it was very successful. Will they do that now? Or will they decide, no, we still want to run on policy. We still want to run on health care and an agenda. This kind of stuff is too good to pass up.
CABRERA: You wonder what not only Democrats are going to do, but what are Republicans going to do. Because right now they seem to be just towing the presidential line.
There's a new story today, exclusive reporting from CNN, about a former doorman at Trump World Tower, who has been released from a contract that kept him from speaking out about the alleged child that President Trump allegedly fathered out of wedlock. Now, couple that with the headlines this week of Paul Manafort being convicted on eight counts, Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, pleading guilty, and implicating the president himself, and now immunity deals for Allen Weisselberg as well as David Pecker, also part of the Trump world. Is this president, as "Time" magazine puts it, "in deep?"
CUPP: Yes, this has been a terrible week. August is usually pretty slow as news goes. This has been a terrible week. Indictments, guilty pleas, convictions, immunities for everyone, which is spelling bad news for President Trump. Because now all of these people feel free to speak on the record. And in many cases, according to reporting, they have proof of some of the things that Trump has alleged to have said, maybe implicating himself in some campaign finance violations. It's not good. It's all bad. And I think Trump's sort of swinging at Jeff Sessions, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is proof that he is looking for any distraction he can get to sort of turn the page from this week of terrible news.
CABRERA: He's tweeting about Jeff Sessions today, essentially saying Jeff Sessions doesn't do his job.
CABRERA: And I know you had a chance to talk about Jeff Sessions with a Republican Senator, Tim Scott, who is going to be in your show tonight. Let me get a quick preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:44:58] SEN. TIM SCOTT, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Here's the truth, the president should have a cabinet that he's confident in and comfortable with. When that is not the case, it is his right to replace those individuals.
What would I do if I were president is a different question than what do I think President Trump will do? I think President Trump has been pretty clear what he plans to do. I think Jeff Sessions has been a good, consistent attorney general. So for me to pretend that I have any skin in the game and any ability to persuade the president to do or not do something is not true. So I'm going to focus on what the president can do, and is it legal and ethical and moral, I think it absolutely is.
I think the Mueller investigation has to be finished before the president does anything with Jeff Sessions. And if that is his -- if that is his prerogative after the Mueller investigation is complete, that is his prerogative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And the Republicans used to be so quick to defend Sessions. What happened?
CUPP: Well, yes, and just to clarify, the original question I had asked Senator Tim Scott, who I think was very brave to actually come on this week, we just talked yesterday, was should the president fire Jeff Sessions. And his original answer was more along the lines of, well, he has the right to. So, yes, and then he sort of unpacked the rest and kind of wandered down a few tangents.
Look, Republicans are in a tough place. You're right, they used to say Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice is siloed and should be independent, leave them alone. Now you're starting to see more and more Republicans -- Tim Scott is not alone. Lindsey Graham is joining --
CABRERA: And right, Lindsey Graham is the one who said there would be holy hell to pay if Jeff Sessions were fired --
CUPP: No, you're starting to see some Republicans in the Senate give Trump some cover for this.
Whether they believe this should happen now or after the election, that's a different story. And some are quick to point out, this should not happen now. This would look too political. Wait until after the election. But still, it's -- "it is what it is," to quote a Republican Senator from Kansas, who commented on the state of affairs, "It is what it is."
CABRERA: S.E. Cupp, we look forward to your show tonight.
CUPP: Thank you.
CABRERA: Be sure to tune in at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, premier of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED," right here on CNN.
We'll be right back.
[15:51:48] CABRERA: Right now, Pope Francis celebrating World Day of Families in Ireland after addressing the child sexual abuse issue rocking the Catholic Church. The pope earlier today met with eight Irish survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy. The pontiff taking a moment to pray before a lit candle for abuse victims.
The pope's visit to Ireland drew huge crowds, along with protesters. All of this comes in the wake of the stunning grand jury report in the U.S. alleging hundreds of Pennsylvania priests sexually abused children and the Catholic Church knew about it for decades.
I want to bring in correspondent, Phil Black, in Dublin, Ireland.
Phil, what did Pope Francis have to say, and how did the crowd respond?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Ana, when he spoke here, his opening remarks at the Dublin castle behind me, he was welcomed by the prime minister. He responded with a long speech, and buried toward the end, was some limited statements on child sexual abuse. He acknowledged, he said he had to acknowledge the pain, the suffering that had been caused here, the shame, the failure of the church to deal with this adequately. And promised it would be fixed. Now, all of in while also acknowledging, he said the righteous outrage
that people felt here. All of this has to some degree been heard before. That's how victims of sexual abuse by the clergy in this country responded. They heard it. They said what they were looking for is something more substantial. It's what they want to hear from the pope over the course of his two-day visit here, is him outlining, committing to some sort of solid plan of action, concrete measures protecting children and punish, hold accountable those who either abused or those who protected abusers. Such is the sheer scope of sexual abuse and other cruelty. The number of victims in this country -- it is absolutely the defining issue of this visit. And those victims and much of broader Irish society say if the pope doesn't deal with it in a meaningful way while here, then it will be viewed as a failure, this visit.
That said, plenty of people still turned out to watch him as he drove in the pope mobile through central Dublin today. There's a big crowd, some 80,000 people current watching him as he appears as a sporting stadium in Dublin right now as we speak -- Ana?
CABRERA: Phil Black, in Dublin, continuing to cover the pope's visit. Thank you for the update.
A language barrier can hinder immigrants from moving up the ladder at work, accessing medical care, and fully integrating into the fabric of society. This week's "CNN Hero," Florence Phillips, provides a tool to help them overcome the challenges and get one step closer to achieving the American dream.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLORENCE PHILLIPS, CNN HERO: 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 --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on in.
PHILLIPS: -- to unlock all doors. And I see the pride when they say, I am an American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:55:06] CABRERA: And read more about this story or to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," log on to CNN heros.com.
Coming up, former White House press secretary, Anthony Scaramucci, will join us live on President Trump's wild week. There he is.
[16:00:00] CABRERA: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Hello on this Saturday. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York.
We start this hour with President Trump again taking down his attorney general, saying Jeff Sessions doesn't understand what's going on. Here's the tweet: "Jeff Sessions said he wouldn't allow politics --