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Mexican Government Supports Trump Administration Plan for Asylum Seekers to Stay in Mexico; Trump Allowing Troops to Use Lethal Force to Protect Border Patrol; Paris Protests Over Rising Gas Prices & Macron Turn Violent; Roger Stone Associate Jerome Corsi in Plea Agreements with Mueller; Mueller Uses Papadopoulos' Tweets Against Him in Court Filing; What the Diary of a Missionary Killed by Isolated Tribe Reveals; Trump, Chief Justice Spar over Trump's "Obama Judge" Remark; Trump Facing Criticism over Lack of War Zone Visits Hints at Doing So; Cindy McCain: "Don't Know If I'll Ever Get Over" Trump's Attacks. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 24, 2018 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:01] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Fred.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. So glad you could join me.

We begin with a new report that could give a huge boost to the president's border fight. The "Washington Post" is reporting that the incoming Mexican government will support a new Trump administration proposal that would require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their applications are processed in U.S. courts. Now, this would effectively end the long-standing asylum process, which the president often refers to as Catch and Release.

One of the "Washington Post" reporters who is broke this story is joining us now, Nick Miroff.

Thanks for being here.

I want to clarify first that no formal agreement has been signed but how would this work exactly?

NICK MIROFF, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: That's right. There's no formal agreement in place yet, but the Mexican government and, most importantly, the incoming Mexican government that takes power on December 1st has reached this deal with the Trump administration. And what it will essentially do is require asylum seeker who arrive at the Mexican border to remain in Mexico while their cases are processed. So they wouldn't be able to cross into the United States until their court appearance.

CABRERA: Of course, some of the Mexican border states are pretty dangerous areas, drug cartel territory, and you have the mayor of Tijuana asking the Mexican government and the United Nations for aid as one of these caravans has arrived at their doorstep. Why would Mexico agree to this?

MIROFF: Well, I think there are a couple things going on here. One is that Mexico is, like the United States, worried that more caravans will come, and if a large number of the people who are camped out in Tijuana do manage to enter the United States, that will encourage more Central Americans to arrive this way. I think that the Mexican government was disturbed at the sight of the first caravan, kind of forcing its way across the border and past Mexican federal police last month. And then on top of that, I think the new incoming government of Mexico and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador want to start off on a good foot maybe by doing a favor to the Trump administration.

CABRERA: You also mentioned that there are jobs to be had in Mexico, and they see the migrants being potential workers there?

MIROFF: Yes. That's right. I mean, one of the things that the Mexican officials we spoke to really emphasized was that, you know, with the United States only processing a limited number of asylum seekers every day, there's already essentially a de facto policy in place that's making the vast majority of these caravan members wait on the Mexican side. And Mexico says it's doing everything possible to kind of alleviate the situation. It's working with local businesses, particularly in the Tijuana area, to offer jobs to the Central Americans who are waiting there, and they say they have thousands of jobs available in Tijuana and 100,000 jobs across the country that Central American asylum seekers could take.

CABRERA: To someone who wants stricter border policies, this may look good on paper, but what are the concerns? What are human rights groups saying?

MIROFF: Well, the biggest concern is that Mexico simply isn't a safe place and certainly not the border states and border cities where a lot of these asylum seekers may end up having to wait. The United States, you know, has State Department travel warnings discouraging Americans from visiting a lot of these places. The Mexican government is going to have to, and the U.S., is going to have to do more to ensure that these folks are not in danger while they're waiting on the Mexican side. So that's going to be a challenge.

CABRERA: All right. Nick Miroff, Thanks for sharing your reporting with us. I appreciate it.

MIROFF: My pleasure.

CABRERA: Let's broaden the discussion. Joining us are two CNN political commentators, Steve Cortes, the former head of the Trump Hispanic Advisory Council, and Patti Solis Doyle, a campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.

Steve, if this agreement goes into effect, it would be a victory for the Trump White House. Yet, earlier this week, a judge in California has already blocked the administration's effort to deny asylum to those who cross the border illegally. Do you see this moving forward?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I sure hope so, Ana. And not just a victory for Trump but a victory for America and for Mexico. I've said for a long time the idea of a wall, people who want to paint that as anti-Mexico, in fact, Mexico will benefit from a wall and from a secure southern border of the United States. Good fences often make for good neighbors. I think that's the case for the United States and Mexico. Mexico itself has suffered tremendous problems from Central American economic migrants. And that's what most of them are, not asylum seekers. They're economic migrants going through their country and now causing a lot of problems in Mexico trying to get to the United States.

CABRERA: Patti, is this something Democrats will support?

[15:04:55] PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have to disagree with Steve here. Primarily, these people are women and children seeking asylum because they're fleeing their own country because of violence or a threat to their children. And the idea that they would have to stay in Mexico, which, you know, it pains me to say, given my parents are from Mexico, I am Mexican, Mexico right now is a very dangerous country. And so the idea that they would need to stay on the Mexican border waiting to, you know, hear whether or not their asylum has been granted is dangerous for them. They've been fleeing danger.

So first of all, I think we need to hear more. I think this is something that Congress is definitely going to want to take look at. And it is unclear whether or not the president can actually do this without congressional approval. And as we know --


CORTES: Patti --


CABRERA: Go ahead, Steve.

CORTES: For you to say it's primarily women and children is empirically untrue. That is not correct.

SOLIS DOYLE: It is correct.

CORTES: Most people in this caravan are young men. They are economic migrants.


CABRERA: I don't think -- I've got to push back on that, though, because I don't know if we can say most people are young men, Steve. I do know according to --


CORTES: Are you saying the majority are women and children?


CABRERA: Hold on a second. Hold on.


CABRERA: Hold on. Hold on. Let's put out the facts there. What we know of this caravan is there are people who are fleeing poverty, there are people who are families fleeing violence and poverty, so it does include women, children, and young men. But I don't know if you can characterize it --


CORTES: Includes? Primarily is an important term.

CABRERA: Right. And I don't know --


CORTES: Patti said primarily.


CORTES: It is not primarily women and children. Let's just be honest about this. It is not. It is not.

SOLIS DOYLE: It is not primarily terrorists and M.S.-13. It is not that.

CORTES: Agreed. Agreed.

SOLIS DOYLE: It is not what President Trump has painted it out to be, this invasion of terrorists where he had to send American troops out to, you know, to keep at bay, which is ridiculous. We all know that was a political stunt, Steve. We all know that he talked about the invasion prior to the midterm elections, and right after the midterm elections, all that talk seemed to go away until, of course, he had to face the troops --


SOLIS DOYLE: -- during Thanksgiving to explain to them why they were sent there.


CABRERA: Steve, could this remain a Mexican policy?


CABRERA: Could this mend the president's demand for the border wall?

CORTES: No. As a matter of fact, as I said, I think it reinforces the case for a strong border. Again, I think not only is a porous border bad for America, it's bad for Mexico. We're seeing that right now. It's going on in Tijuana.

CABRERA: Why does it reinforce the need for a border wall, though, if Mexico and the U.S. have an agreement? CORTES: Because what we see in Tijuana right now, for instance, is

not a lot of women and children. What we see is a lot of young men who are angrily demanding, waving foreign flags, Honduran flags, demanding entry into the United States. Not only is that bad for us, it's bad for Mexico. It's a security concern for them. And so a strong border --


CABRERA: Mexico apparently doesn't believe that if they're willing to hold onto these people in order for them to process asylum claims, Steve.

SOLIS DOYLE: Correct. Correct.

CABRERA: I don't believe that the majority of people that you're trying to paint as part of this caravan are those that you are describing.

CORTES: I didn't say majority.

CABRERA: There are some of those people. We've seen those pictures. But let's not paint with broad brush strokes because that takes the situation out of context.

CORTES: I never said majority. Look, the point is we don't know who's in the caravan. That's the only thing we can empirically say is true, is we don't know. That in itself is --


CORTES: That's pretty scary.

SOLIS DOYLE: They're legally seeking asylum, and we will -- the United States will adjudicate each case, Steve.


CABRERA: Let me ask you really quick also about the president now saying he's going to expand the authority of troops at the border. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they have to, they're going to use lethal force. I've given the OK. If they have to. I hope they don't have to. But, you know, you're dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals. So I'm not going to let the military be taken advantage of. I have no choice. Do I want that to happen? Absolutely not. But you're dealing with rough people.


CABRERA: Again, I want to be careful about the numbers. We don't know where the president got his numbers from, but we do know the people who are applying for asylum are often young children, mothers, people fleeing violence.

So my question is this to you, Patti -- and I'll give you a quick response after that. Does the president really want troops to make the call of using force in such a chaotic scenario, or is this a tactic to once again make the border crisis seem more dire?

SOLIS DOYLE: Again, this is part of President Trump's M.O., to demonize immigrants, to demonize people of color. He --

CORTES: These aren't immigrants.

SOLIS DOYLE: We already have Border Patrol at the border. We have National Guard at the border. There's no need for U.S. troops to be there and be given the authority to shoot at will. That is part of his, again, fearmongering tactics that, frankly, Steve, did not work very well in the midterm elections. You know?

[15:10:11] CORTES: All right. Look --


SOLIS DOYLE: He used it right before the midterm elections and he lost the House, and he lost several governorships and he lost several statehoodships and did not win as many Senate seats as he thought he was going to win using these tactics.

CABRERA: Steve, your response.

CORTES: He lost the House just as President Obama did and President Clinton did. I'm not shocked a t that. His number, Ana, of 500 is directly from Homeland Security who says there are at least 500 known dangerous gang criminal members of the caravans. That's where he got that number.

But, look, the important point, it's totally improper, Patti, for you to conflate immigrants with illegal immigrants because they have nothing to do with other. Legal immigrants to this country are a treasure to this nation, particularly for those of us who are Hispanic.

SOLIS DOYLE: Agree. Agree.

CORTES: Illegal immigration is a scourge upon this country. And people saying they can show up on their own waving a foreign flag and demand entry into our country and hop the line and cheat the system --


SOLIS DOYLE: They're seeking legal asylum. They're not demanding -

CORTES: Asylum --

SOLIS DOYLE: They're seeking legal asylum. It is legal.

CORTES: Asylum has become a back door -- it has become a backdoor way to get into the United States. A decade ago, there were 5,000 asylum seekers. Now there's almost 100,000 per year in the United States. It's clearly a way that people have used, unfortunately, a lot of them coached by American leftists, quite frankly, to try to game our system rather than seeking legal immigration, which, again, we love.

CABRERA: OK. Thank you both. I appreciate the spirited discussion. Good to see you. Thank you for being here, Steve Cortes and Patti Solis Doyle.

SOLIS DOYLE: Thank you.


CABRERA: All right, also breaking this -- happy Thanksgiving as well to you.

I want to take you to Paris now. Stunning pictures coming out of there. Protesters filling the most famous street in France, the iconic Champs Elysees, with fire and explosions.





CABRERA: In a second weekend of protests, the usual scene of tourists and Parisians enjoying cafes and luxury shops replaced by burning vehicles as 8,000 protesters clashed with 3,000 police in riot gear. The demonstrators, who call themselves the Yellow Vests, are angry over rising fuel prices. Police used tear gas and water cannon in an attempt to break up the demonstrations.

CNN's Jim Bittermann joins us from Paris.

Jim, tell us why these protesters are so angry.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRSEPONDENT: Well, I think it started off as a fuel protest a week ago, Ana, but, in fact, over the last few days it's generalized a lot. People are just dissatisfied with the Macron government. His approval rating has dropped to 25 percent. They're worried about the rising cost of living, about pension payments that aren't really making ends meet. So it's just a generalized anger about the state of the economy. And of course, Macron, President Macron has vowed to continue forward on his ideas of reforming the economy here. So I think people just have had enough. And we've heard a lot of people say that today, a lot of people calling for Macron's resignation.

Here on the Champs Elysees, this is not the scene you would expect on a Saturday night following Black Friday. You would think there'd be a lot of people out and that sort of thing. People today were protesting throughout the day. Only about an hour or so ago did the police make a move with a major assault on the avenue with multiple trucks and hundreds of police to clear away the demonstrators. And for most part, they've succeeded. There are still a few pockets of resistance along here.

We haven't heard from Macron all day until very late this evening when he put out this tweet. He said, "Thanks to all the law enforcement." You expect that. But he said, "Shame on all the people who assaulted them. Shame on those who voluntarily assaulted citizens and reporters. Shame on those who tried to intimidate our elected officials."

So you have him taking a very kind of professorial, paternalistic tone, something he's been criticized for in the past -- Ana?

CABRERA: Jim Bittermann, in Paris for us, thanks for filling us in.

Meantime, Robert Mueller is busy back in the U.S. Now one of Roger Stone' associates is in the talks with Special Counsel Robert Mueller for a plea deal. Why Jerome Corsi is a name you need to know in Russia probe.

Plus, some of the U.S. missionary's chilling last words, "God, I don't want to die." What a diary reveals about an American who was attacked with arrows and killed on a remote island by one of the world's most isolated tribes.






[15:14:50] CABRERA: And Black Friday shoppers storm a Victoria's Secret store, terrifying an employee and forcing her up onto a table.


CABRERA: Big developments in the Russia probe. An associate of the president's friend and a longtime adviser, Roger Stone, is in, quote, "plea negotiations" with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Jerome Corsi is his name. He's a well-known conspiracy theorist. And his role in this investigation revolves around the possibility he may have been an intermediary between Stone and WikiLeaks, the site that released the hacked e-mails of the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta, in the leadup to the 2016 election.

During a radio interview, Roger Stone was on the defense and he said there's no way he could be incriminated as a result of this deal with Corsi.


ROGER STONE, POLITICAL OPERATIVE & TRUMP ADVISOR (voice-over): This idea that Jerry Corsi could implicate me, there's simply no evidence whatsoever that would show that I knew about the source or the continent of any allegedly stolen e-mails or any allegedly hacked e- mails that were published by WikiLeaks. Just not so.


[15:20:03] CABRERA: Stone also said Corsi is under a tremendous amount of pressure and he is being asked over and over to say things he does not actually believe occurred.

Meantime, disgraced former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, is learning the hard way Robert Mueller is keeping an eye on his Twitter feed. In two days, on Monday, Papadopoulos is set to begin serving a 14-day prison sentence as part of his plea deal that he struck after lying to the FBI in connection with the Russia probe. His lawyers want that sentence postponed but the special counsel is saying, no way, noting in court documents that Papadopoulos' initial statement of remorse doesn't line up with what he is saying publicly, including a tweet in which Papadopoulos declares the FBI investigation is, quote, "the biggest case of entrapment," and another tweet in which he says he was considering withdrawing his guilty plea because he believed he was framed.

Joining us now to discuss, defense attorney, Randy Zelin.

Randy, if Mueller is reading Papadopoulos' tweets, he must be reading the president's? What message does that send?

RANDY ZELIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Where to begin? These people have such a curious relationship to the truth. You have Mr. Papadopoulos saying, I lied, now I lied about lying, so do they cancel each other out? That means I told the truth. You have Dr. Corsi who basically is more or less admitting he lied when he met with the special counsel and testified to the grand jury.

CABRERA: Because he was expecting an indictment --


ZELIN: Exactly. Now you have Mr. Stone, who doth protests too much and, by the way, he's under a tremendous amount of pressure, so he must be lying that he lied. It really -- it's fascinating.

CABRERA: Like you said, where do you begin? Let's talk about those tweets for a moment. Do you think the president should be worried if he's seeing what's happening in the Papadopoulos situation?

ZELIN: I don't know that the president is necessarily capable of worrying. Right now, if I were Mr. Papadopoulos, I don't think he understands that just because he's been sentenced that he is insulated and can only be looking at 14 days. Because based upon those tweets, he has admitted to having committed perjury. Because when he went before the judge and entered a plea of guilty, he was sworn under oath, and the judge, I can assure you said, Mr. Papadopoulos, think carefully, because anything you say from this point forward, if you're lying, you will go to jail for perjury. Those tweets are an admission that he lied to the judge when he admitted lying to the FBI.

CABRERA: So you're saying he could actually be in deeper trouble than he was to begin with?

ZELIN: He could be in a whole world of hurt. And if I were him right now, I would make a motion for a stay of my surrender date because he's got one argument, which is, wait for Andrew Miller to go to all the courts to say that the special counsel has no business being there. It's unconstitutional. Therefore, my investigation, my prosecution was unconstitutional and let me go home.

CABRERA: Right. That's another case. I don't want our viewers to be confused. Andrew Miller is another person who's been subpoenaed to testify who is now fighting that because he says that he believes Robert Mueller's appointment was unconstitutional or his investigation.

ZELIN: It should all go out the window.

CABRERA: Let me talk about Corsi, a Roger Stone associate, who now talking about having a plea deal or in negotiations. If he's in negotiations right now, does that mean he's kind of already given up the goods to them or that he's willing to give up the goods as long as he gets a good deal?

ZELIN: The federal government works like this. You want to rent a car. The government walks in and says, I'm going to drive your car, I'm going to put a few thousand miles on it, and if I like it, I'll pay you. That's the way that it works. So, no, you don't dictate to the government. What happens is you come in, you come in to the government, you sit in a conference room with your lawyer and the prosecutors and the agents. You get a piece of paper that says that you will not get in trouble for the words that come out of your mouth so long as you tell us the truth. And the government tests you. And you audition for the government. That's what we call a proffer. And that hopefully will lead you to a cooperation agreement. But the government makes no commitments until they're satisfied that they're happy with what you have to say. So Dr. Corsi, if he's looking for a cooperation agreement -- and why -- he wants a better sentence.


ZELIN: He wants the government to go to the judge and say don't worry about --


CABRERA: The government has to think he has thing beneficial to the --

ZELIN: Before that happens. Yes.

CABRERA: -- investigation, right?

ZELIN: The key is substantial assistance. And before the government determines if you can provide substantial assistance, they want to hear everything you have to say, not only about other people, but they want to know they can trust you, so you have to implicate yourself, which means your own case is over. [15:25:02] CABRERA: Oh my goodness. This investigation gets more

complicated with more characters all the time. That's why we keep on hitting it week after week, because we want to keep you with each step.

Thank you, Randy Zelin. Good to have your expertise as always.

ZELIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Just ahead, the chilling last words from the American who was killed on a remote island by one of the most isolated tribes in the world. What his diary reveals, next.


[15:29:50] CABRERA: Welcome back. It's been one week since the death of an American missionary on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, and authorities have yet to recover his body. John Allen Chau was killed by tribesmen on North Sentinel Island last Saturday when he illegally visited this isolated community.

We're just getting a look at his final journal entry. Chau writes, "You guys might think I'm crazy in all this, but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people. God, I don't want to die." But he also wrote, "Do not blame the natives if I am killed."

CNN's Polo Sandoval has more.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is one of the oldest and most isolated tribes in the world, and authorities say they're responsible for last week's killing of American missionary, John Allen Chau.




SANDOVAL: This archived footage from Survival International provides some of the few existing images of the tribe known as the Sentinelese. They live in complete isolation on the tiny island of North Sentinel.

According to Indian officials, Chau illegally paid fishermen to take him to the isolated island hoping to convert the tribe to Christianity. Authorities believe he first commuted to shore on November 16th, deliberately disregarding an established perimeter around the island.

According to journal entries left with the fishermen and shared with the "Washington Post," the 26-yeawr-old wrote, "I hollered, my name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you." Then he was reportedly shot at by a member of the tribe with an arrow piercing his Bible. The next day, Chau made a second attempt but never returned. The fishermen he hired later reportedly seeing the young man's body buried on the beach by tribe members.

Chau's last journal entry reads, "You might think I'm crazy in all this, but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people. God, I don't want to die."

In 2006, the same tribe killed two poachers illegally fishing near their island. Survivors International, a group advocating for tribal people, believes the native peoples' decision to remain isolated should be respected.

SOPHIE GRIG, SENIOR RESEARCHER, SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL: They've made it very clear they don't want contact. Somebody comes, they have no idea what he's coming for and why. I think it's far more self-defense than it is murder.

SANDOVAL: On social media, Chau's family wrote their son, "loved God, life, helping those in need, and had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people. We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death," they wrote. All they can do is wait to find out when or if their son's body will be recovered.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: A war of words erupting between the commander-in-chief and the chief justice on whether federal judges are politically biased. We'll fact-check the president's claims next.


[15:37:13] CABRERA: The White House is asking the Supreme Court to take up the administration's transgender military ban. The policy, which the president first tweeted about in July of last year, has so far been blocked by district courts across the country. And now the administration wants to leapfrog federal appeals courts and go right to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting a decision before the current term ends in June.

The filing comes after the president and Chief Justice John Roberts got into a very public dispute this week about the independence of the judiciary. Roberts taking the president to task proclaiming that a recent ruling against the Trump administration was a disgrace from a, quote, "Obama judge." And as rare as it may be for a Supreme Court justice to comment on a president's behavior, what isn't rare is this president lashing out at judges and the judicial system when things don't go his way.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The courts are not helping us, I have to be honest with you. It's ridiculous.

Somebody said I should not criticize judges. OK. I'll criticize judges.

I have had ruling after ruling after ruling that's been bad rulings, OK? I've been treated unfairly.

A really big problem with the court system.

It's a bad system, let me tell you.

And I listen to these judges talk and talk and talk. So unfair.

People are screaming break up the Ninth Circuit. I'll tell you why -


TRUMP: -- that Ninth Circuit, you have to see. Take a look at how many times they have been overturned with their terrible decisions. Take a look.

It's really sad whenever single case filed against us is in the Ninth Circuit, we lose, we lose, we lose, then we do fine at the Supreme Court. What does that tell you about our court system? It's a very, very sad thing.


CABRERA: Let's discuss with CNN's Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic.

Joan, as we just saw, the president has been attacking judges and courts for quite some time, and yet here was the comment that prompted the rebuke from Roberts. Let's watch.


TRUMP: Well, you go to the Ninth Circuit and it's a disgrace. And I'm going to put in a major complaint. This was an Obama judge. And I'll tell you why. It's not going to happen like this anymore.


CABRERA: Robert responded with, "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

Joan, it's widely known who appoints a judge, if it's a Republican or a Democrat. So is what Trump said any different?

[15:39:51] JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: There's a distinction, Ana. Republican presidents tend to appoint judges who will narrowly interpret the Constitution and who want elected legislators to solve society's problems. Democratic presidents tend to appoint judges who expansively read the Constitution and federal law. They have more liberal, progressive views of the Constitution as an evolving document. So there are ideological differences that the two sets of nominees often have. That's a given. And that's why we will often cite who the appointing president was, because it's relevant. What Donald Trump is talking about is something different. It's much

more in a purely political context and an automatic context. He's essentially saying to the American public and to the judiciary that I expect automatically that judges appointed by President Obama, President Clinton, Democrats, would automatically rule against him, and conversely, which is worrying, that judges appointed by President Trump, maybe President George W. Bush, would automatically rule for him. He's saying it's essentially a done deal and suggesting a certain kind of beholden nature of a jurist who's appointed.

And what Chief Justice John Roberts is saying -- first of all, John Roberts would like to counter both of those messages, but what really concerns him is the latter from President Trump that whoever is appointed by him will automatically favor the administration and vice versa for a Democratic appointee.

CABRERA: And, in fact, we've seen that as not always the case with his own appointees, who have in recent days ruled against him in a couple of cases.

But Republican Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted this: "Chief Justice Roberts rebukes Trump for a comment he made on a judge's decision on asylum. I don't recall chief attacking Obama when that president rebuked Alito during the State of the Union.

He's referencing President Obama's rebuke of a Supreme Court ruling during his 2010 State of the Union address at that time. He called Obama's rebuke on precedents. Justice Alito appearing responding with an equally unprecedented move, mouthing the words as we're showing in the video, "not true."

Are those two situations, what happened in 2010 with what's happening now with Trump comparable?

BISKUPIC: No, they're not. And there are two little fact problems with that tweet from Senator Grassley. One is that President Obama actually did not rebuke Samuel Alito at the time. What happened was this was just a couple days after the justices had ruled 5-4 along ideological lines to rein in campaign finance regulations on corporations and labor unions. And President Obama, during his State of the Union, was complaining about that. He characterized most of the decision accurately. But then he went a little too far and, as he said something that was frankly wrong about foreign money coming into the U.S., Samuel Alito started mouthing "not true." Now the president at the time did not rebuke Samuel Alito. It's just that Samuel Alito got a lot of criticism for that comment. And about eight, nine weeks later, the chief justice was at the University of Alabama and asked about that setting, and he actually did criticize the setting. He said that there they were, as President Obama got to have the -- his lectern up there speaking out against the justices right in front of them with everybody cheering, he felt like they were at a pep rally. And he didn't like it. So contrary to what Senator Grassley said, he did criticize President Obama at that moment.

CABRERA: All right, Joan Biskupic. You're such a wealth of knowledge. I'm so glad to have you on the show. Thank you. BISKUPIC: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: President Trump's hinting he may finally go visit troops in a war zone. So what's kept him from doing it up until this point? We'll discuss.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



[15:48:20] TRUMP: And I appreciate very much. And General, your reputation is an incredible one. Thank you very much for doing the job. I'll see you back when you're in the United States or maybe I'll even see you over there. You never know what's going to happen.


CABRERA: You never know what's going to happen. President Trump hinting on that call with U.S. troops he may take a trip to see them in Afghanistan. Now two years into his term, he's faced mounting criticism for having yet to visit a combat zone. The "Washington Post" reporting the president told advisors he doesn't want to associate himself with wars he views as failures.

Defense Secretary James Mattis revealing he, at times, has advised the president not to go to certain places, saying, quote, "The president is the commander-in-chief and he decides where he needs to go. There are times I don't want him in certain locations, to be frank with you, for his security and the troops' security. So don't worry about that."

Joining me now, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former Army commanding general in Europe and the 7th Army, and a CNN military analyst.

General, always good to see you.

You've said you're fine with the fact the president has not visited a war zone. Why?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I'm fine with it now, Ana. Good afternoon. The reason I said that is because if it takes this amount of pressure to go, it's probably not best to go in the first place. Like you said, you know, this is part of his responsibility, to understand that as the commander-in-chief, with that title, he is responsible for all of those serving in deployed locations and in combat zones. And it would seem that someone that's responsible for that kind of requirement would go visit. He hasn't done so yet. And it seems now he's only reacting to pressure from the press or his opposition that's saying, gee, he hasn't been there in over two years, why hasn't he visited, for him go. That's not the kind of requirement that should force the president to go to a war zone. Not only that, but in all of the engagements with military forces, both on these conference calls, like occurred on Thursday or several other engagements, he seems to have politicized or attempted to politicize the military, asking them questions that they know they should not answer. They're not his --


[15:50:40] CABRERA: Hold your thought for just a second, though, because I would like to play some more sound from that call and then you can continue with your assessment.


TRUMP: So, Colonel, how many people are you commanding right now, would you say?

UNIDENTIFIED U.S. MILITARY COMMANDER (voice-over): About 10,000.

TRUMP: Wow. That's a lot of people.

And what do you see in the region? What's going on in the region? How are they feeling about things? How are they feeling about trade? You know trade for me is a very big subject all over. We've been taken advantage of for many, many years by bad trade deals. We don't have any good trade deals. How are you finding things in the region, Nick?

UNIDENTIFIED U.S. MILITARY COMMANDER (voice-over): Mr. President, from our perspective out on the water, sir, we're seeing there's an abundance of trade happening in the region.

TRUMP: Tell me about the catapult system. So on the "Gerald Ford" they don't use steam, which is the first one I ever heard of that doesn't use steam. I know they have some difficulties which I'm not happy about.


CABRERA: So, General, you talk about the political tone being part of these phone calls. As somebody who has spent years in combat and commanded tens of thousands of troops what would you have liked to hear the president say instead?

HERTLING: Those were just a few very many cringe-worthy moments on that telephone call. I would have wanted him to ask, what's the morale of the soldiers, how's the mission being accomplished over there, what kind of support do you want from the American people, what things should we next look at in terms of your operation, or just making sure the soldiers and the various military forces know that their family members are being taken care of and that they are appreciated. Those are the two number-one things that deployed soldiers want to hear from politicians is they are supported and their mission is important and they are taking care of their family members back home. To go off on all kinds of questions about readiness statures and number of soldiers and whether or not they agree or not with court decisions or even comparing a combat mission with what's going on with the southern border and his approach to that is just the wrong thing to bring up when you talk about an apolitical military. CABRERA: We're also hearing from Cindy McCain speaking out publicly

for the first time this week since her husband's . Here's what she had to say about President Trump suggesting John McCain wasn't a war hero because he was captured.


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: We you hurt when the president said he wasn't a war hero?

CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF DECEASED SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Yes, I was. I thought it was inappropriate and wrong. I really did. It hurt the family, too. You know, and he hurt the other men that served with John, that were in prison as well. It wasn't just about John. It was all about the other people. So I think that was a wrong thing to say. And, you know, I don't know if I'll ever get over it, I'll be honest. I'm the wife, that's my prerogative, I don't have to.


CABRERA: General, quickly, if you will, what's your reaction?

HERTLING: Same as hers. Anybody who has been captured and served time as a prisoner of war understands the challenges associated with it. I think every single military person that had heard him make that comment about Senator McCain -- you don't have to agree with McCain's ideology, many of us did not, but you have to honor the kind of suffering he went through over five years, two years in solitary confinement being tortured. It's incredible. He gave a lot in service to the country. That's what's so denigrating about what the president said about Senator McCain.

CABRERA: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thank you very much for being here. So good to see you.

HERTLING: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: No one knows exactly how they would handle sudden live- altering adversity, but we can all hope it's something like this 2018 top-10 "CNN Hero." Amanda Boxtel was an athlete, dancer and an avid skier. That changed in a blink of an eye. She then turned her pain into purpose.


AMANDA BOXTEL, CNN HERO: Twenty-six years ago I went out skiing and I remember I somersaulted and I landed on my back and I knew in an instant I was paralyzed. But I was determined to show I wasn't going to give up so easily.

I was inspired to create a program that could gift mobility to anyone that has a neurological impairment.


[15:55:19] CABRERA: Go to to vote for her for "CNN Hero" of the year or any of your top-10 "CNN Heroes."

We'll be right back.







[16:00:03] CABRERA: Black Friday turns chaotic inside this Victoria's Secret in Chattanooga, Tennessee.