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CNN NEWSROOM

More Light On The Brutal Murder Of A "Washington Post" Journalist; President Trump And China's Xi Jinping May Have Calmed Investors By Reaching A Truce On Trade And Tariffs At The G-20 Summit In Argentina; Wall Street Will Also Be Watching A Big Meeting Overseas That Could Affect Crude Oil Prices Which Have Fallen Sharply In Recent Months. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 2, 2018 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: That gives the folks working trying to repair those roads, you know, a much narrow window in which to work. That's pretty tricky.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They just keep working around the clock. It doesn't matter. They are used to not having some light up here.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much, Stephanie Elam. Appreciate it.

And thank you for watching and joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitefield.

So much straight ahead in the NEWSROOM with Ana Cabrera right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with me on this Sunday. It is something you will only see on CNN today.

Brand new details throwing more light on the brutal murder of a "Washington Post" journalist. Jamal Khashoggi died two months ago in what the CIA says was a hit ordered by a prominent member of the Saudi royal family. This weekend the "Wall Street Journal" and the "Washington Post" are both reporting that crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was personally texting the killers in the hours before and after Khashoggi's death.

And here's the part exclusive to CNN. Only we have been able to get access to text messages sent from Jamal Khashoggi himself sharing some very troubling thoughts about the man now accused of ordering his death.

CNN's Europe editor Nina De Santos is with us now from London.

Nina, what is in these text messages and just how are they helpful?

NINA DE SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Hi, Ana. Well, what they do is show a different picture of Jamal Khashoggi than we have seen so far. Somebody engaged in dissident activity with known dissidents and had also promised large amounts of funding for the project. This is a snap shot of why potentially Jamal Khashoggi may have been targeted in such brutal fashion, allegedly by his own country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DE SANTOS (voice-over): These are words you won't have read in Jamal Khashoggi's columns. Instead, they are What's Up messages never seen before sent by Khashoggi in the year before his death. They lay there his disdain for Saudi Arabia's crown prince, saying quote "he is like a beast, like Pacman. The more victims he eats, the more he wants."

In another, may God rid us and this nation of this predicament.

The words were exchanged with Omar Abdulaziz, a fellow critic in exile in Canada.

OMAR ABDULAZIZ, SAUDI DISSIDENT: He believes that MBS is the issue, is the problem. And someone has to tell him that, you know, you have to be stopped.

DE SANTOS: Talk like this is dangerous for those from a country as one of the world's worst record for human rights. And it wasn't just political views of the Paris trading, but plans to hold the Saudi state to account, creating an army of so-called cyber beast on social media, leveraging Khashoggi's name and the 340,000 strong twitter following of his confidant.

ABDULAZIZ: In the beginning, it was a bit difficult for us to have this kind of relationship. For me I was a dissident. And he was a guy who worked for the government for almost 35 years.

DE SANTOS: Khashoggi pledged funds and Abdulaziz bought the hardware, hundreds of phones, sim cards to send back home, enabling dissidents to avoid detection.

In one message, Abdulaziz writes, I sent you a brief idea about the work of the electronic army. Brilliant report, Khashoggi replies. I will try to sort out the money. We have to do something.

How much money did he originally say he would commit to the project?

ABDULAZIZ: He said 30,000.

DE SANTOS: $30,000 U.S.?

ABDULAZIZ: Yes.

DE SANTOS: How dangerous is a project like that in Saudi Arabia?

ABDULAZIZ: You might be killed because of that or might be jailed. They might send someone to assassinate you.

DE SANTOS: Just like Khashoggi, Abdulaziz believes that he was also targeted after two Saudi emissaries were dispatched to Canada, he says, last May to coax him into the embassy there. He made these secret recordings of their meetings and shared them with CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have come to you with a message from Mohammad bin Salman. I want you to be reassured. We don't have to approach someone from an official department or the state security. The Saudi Arabian embassy awaits you.

DE SANTOS: When Abdulaziz refused, they got to him another way, hacking his phone. According to a lawsuit Abdulaziz filed this week against the Israeli firm behind the spy ware. When the firs plans were discovered, Khashoggi panicked. God help us, he wrote.

How much of a target did that make both of you?

ABDULAZIZ: The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal. I'm really sorry to say that. We were trying to teach people about human rights, about freedom of speech. That's it. This is the only crime that we committed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DE SANTOS: And Ana, we should point out also that Saudi Arabia, we have contacted the government of Saudi Arabia. We are still awaiting some kind of response and the deadline has long passed. But there's also the issue of the Israeli firm that created this spyware at the center of that very lawsuit that is being filed in Israel today. We are awaiting for a response from them. In the past they have said they do acknowledge that they have sold such spy ware to states to help them deal with debunking terrorism and plots. A caution that in some authoritarian regimes, the difference between this type of activity and terrorist plots is often seen very differently than it is in countries where you are and where I am in Great Britain today.

[18:05:30] CABRERA: Nina De Santos Thank you for that reporting.

And joining us now, Republican congressman Lee Zeldin of New York. He serves on the House foreign affairs committee.

Congressman, great to have you with us.

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: Great to be with you.

CABRERA: Thanks for spending part of your weekend here.

I want to get your reaction to this new reporting that we are seeing this week and that the crown prince was actually exchanging messages with a senior aide who oversaw the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in the hours before and after his murder. What do you make of it?

ZELDIN: The evidence just continues to point to the crown prince himself. And you know, sometimes when you have a case, you don't have the smoking gun. Sometime you have a collection of a lot of evidence that when you add them all up, be able to find conclusion. That's what CIA did. That's what out intelligence community did and we are seeing just additional evidence to add on to that since.

CABRERA: I want to you hear what we heard this weekend from the secretary of state Mike Pompeo speaking with our Wolf Blitzer. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I have read every piece of intelligence that is in the possession of the United States government. And when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there is no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is an accurate statement, is an important statement, and it is the statement that we are making publicly today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Is this administration too quick to give MBS the benefit of the doubt?

ZELDIN: I wouldn't give -- I believe that he was directly connected to it. I stand with our CIA. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo was also a former CIA director. And even the CIA report said there was no direct link but sometimes you have to form a conclusion based off all the other evidence that points right to the Saudi crown prince.

CABRERA: So why do you think he is responding in the way he is? You mentioned, he was the former CIA director. He knows how weighty that evidence is.

ZELDIN: Yes. I don't know what the nature of his conversations have been with the other person of United States on the topic. The secretary of state is, you know, he is a smart guy. Went to West Point, a former army veteran, and served in our House adequately and the CIA director, exceptionally. He was only there a few months but I know him personally.

But what I can't speak to is the nature of what type of conversations had taken place, you know, with the President himself and others around him.

But you know, to that point about they are not being a direct connection, that evidence is one, even the CIA has acknowledged as well. But they have formed a medium to high probability when adding up all the evidence that they conclude. And I believe it is important when you are out in public, whether it is here nationally or internationally, to stand 100 percent with our intelligence community and acknowledge, even though there may not be a direct link. This is what our intelligence community found and we stand with them.

CABRERA: Let me ask about the President's time in the G-20 summit. We know he had canceled his meeting with Vladimir Putin because of what happened with the (INAUDIBLE) with the Russians taking this Ukrainian naval and the crew, the naval ship and the crew that was there now almost two weeks ago. Should they have met?

ZELDIN: No, I think it was right move to cancel this meeting that took place. And I also think -- it may have been in this case a good decision to cancel the press conference. What I thought was really good about this particular summit was, that the President was prepped and he stayed disciplined. There was no twitter activity that was a distraction. There were no photos like what we saw that horrible, that chilling photo between the Saudi crown prince and Vladimir Putin. You didn't have those kinds of moments. You had an important signing with regards to a negotiation that has been taking place between the United States, Mexico and Canada. You have the President's dinner with the leadership of China to discuss some important issues there as well.

And I think part of the prep is to ensure that you are able to stay on topic and to stay focus. And I think that this summit, when you compare to some of the other summits that have taken place in the past, we are talking about the topics that I believe that United States wants to be talking about right now on those top priorities.

CABRERA: The President could have used the summit as a chance to confront Putin over the Ukraine incident, to confront him again about election meddling. In fact, we are learning just this weekend, the Russians are still meddling in U.S. elections. Here's the secretary of defense, Jim Mattis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: There is no doubt the relationship has worsened. He tried again to muck around in our elections just last month. And we are seeing a continued effort along those lines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:10:10] CABRERA: Why hasn't Russia been deterred?

ZELDIN: So the Russia - I mean, Vladimir Putin thinks he is seven feet tall. He wants to put the USSR back together again. He meddles. It is unacceptable. He has meddled in the United States and elsewhere with elections in the past. It is unacceptable. He can't do it again.

There's a lot of friction between our two countries. There is a lot of tension between our nations. Vladimir Putin may not be deterred through economic pressure. He may not be deterred through bilateral or multilateral diplomacy or pushing back on Russian aggression whether it is in Russian, their surroundings or further away like in the Middle East.

But we are in a cybersecurity cyber warfare between our two nations. There's a lot of conflict there. And it is one that I don't expect there to be like one silver bullet that all of the sudden Vladimir Putin is going to decide that he no longer wants to put the USSR back together again. He will no longer be offensive the way he (INAUDIBLE).

As we go forward, you know, now we have to negotiate a new nuclear arms treaty between out two countries. And that - so it is important that we don't stop all diplomacy. And one of the questions that you just asked, would it be good if they got together? Now, apparently, there was an impromptu gather between the two of them at dinner. Hopefully we can get more details as to what was discussed. It was actually Putin who said that President Trump expressed a different view than what Putin has as far as that conflict with Ukraine. One thing that would be very dangerous is for us to just cut off all diplomatic relations.

But yes, as far as deterring Vladimir Putin, it really needs to be full enforcement of the diplomacy, information military economic, the dying principle.

CABRERA: Are we there yet?

ZELDIN: Are we there yet? Well, we don't want the M. The military option is one that you want the M option to be real but that is the last possible option that's really bad. Economic pressure has increased. One of the reason why was the chemical - the biological international treaty that was violated by Russia. And there are sanctions that resulted. So the department of treasury, the state department implementing new sanctions, that helps. The counterterrorism effort that we see in the Middle East, pushing back on Russian aggression in Syria, there is a lot to do. North Korea, we didn't even discuss North Korea and China and some of the other issues that exist.

CABRERA: There is a lot going on in the world right now and they all intertwine.

Thank you very much congressman Lee Zeldin for being here. We appreciate it.

ZELDIN: Got it.

CABRERA: President Trump is calling a truce with China after he said he has made one of the largest deals ever made at the G-20 summit. So what's in that?

Details ahead live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:16:55] CABRERA: President Trump and China's Xi Jinping may have calmed investors by reaching a truce on trade and tariffs at the G-20 summit in Argentina. President Trump called it an incredible deal. But things aren't exactly locked in place.

Here is what we know about this agreement. President Trump will keep tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods at 10 percent instead of raising them on 25 percent in January which was originally planned. In return China will buy what is being called a very substantial amount of agriculture, energy and other goods from the U.S.

Also part of the agreement, China has agreed to reclassify fentanyl as a controlled substance. So that means anyone in China who sells the synthetic opioid to the U.S. will be subject to China's maximum penalty under law.

Important to note, the trade and tariff issues of this deal come with a new deadline from the Trump administrations setting a 90-day limit - time limit to reach consensus on things like cyber theft, intellectual property protection and forced technology transfers. It is not clear exactly when the clock starts on that window.

Joining me now, Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

So Fareed, we don't have all the specifics, but what is your assessment of what was accomplished between President Trump and President Xi?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: I think probably the most important way to think about this is there are two views about Trump and China. One was, Donald Trump has been a protectionist his whole life. He was against Japan when he thought they were ripping America off. He campaigned viciously against China. He is surrounded by very hawkish anti-China advisers. This is going to mean a very real new cold war with China particularly on trade.

The second view which is Trump is a businessman. He is scaring people. He is raising the stakes. He is raising the anti, but he wants a deal. What this suggest is more the latter than the former. That at the end of the day, Donald Trump wanted to pivot to some kind of deal and you are beginning to see the makings of it.

But the truth about Donald Trump is this very important to point out, nothing is permanent. He may have decided this week because he needed a win. Because he has had bad news all week with Mueller and all that. That this was a week to have a nice handshake with Xi Jinping. Next week it may be different.

So we can't be sure but it does seem to suggest that the fears of a kind of big trade war between U.S. and China which would have been catastrophic globally because they are the number one and number two economies in the world. Those fears have awaited (ph). And so it is more likely than not that what we are looking at is the jockeying for a deal.

CABRERA: And yet we don't know what all these specifics are. And he touts this is going to great for farmers but we need to see the details.

ZAKARIA: We can be sure that the deal will not be as good as he says is. Only because Donald Trump exaggerates wildly about everything. And so, I think you know, the chances of being as dramatic as he says are very low.

CABRERA: I want to you look at an image that has many raising eyebrows from the G-20 summit. Vladimir Putin and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman greeting each other. What did their exchange tell you?

[18:20:09] ZAKARIA: Well, what it really tells us and what we have always know. Look, Russia doesn't care about the human rights record of any government, any leader. Frankly, given the fact that Mohammed bin Salman might have ordered the assassination of a journalist is not going to, you know, is not going to sit heavily on Vladimir Putin's conscience. How to you think he, you know, reports suggests that he has done plenty of those himself. So I mean, if possible that there is even a shared bond, but I think it is important to remember that's the normal. Russia doesn't care. China doesn't care.

CABRERA: They didn't care about the optics.

ZAKARIA: And that's - that part is not Putin and MBS. That has been true for a-while. It is the United States that - that this is the odd part of the story. The United States has traditionally been concerned about human rights. Been the leader on some of these issues of liberty, democracy and freedom of press. You know, it is the American President that has always found himself in an awkward position when these things happen. Donald Trump is a different kind of President. But in general, what shouldn't surprise is that Russia and China are in different to human rights. That is all the more reason why it has historically been so important for the United States to do this because without American leadership, it is very likely we would live in a very different world.

CABRERA: Fareed, you have a special tonight here on CNN. It is a CNN Special report, "Presidents under fire, the history of impeachment." Here's a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are seriously talking about impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will immediately try to impeach the President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, on our way to impeachment.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): The word impeachment has been used by our count at least 12,000 times this year. And that's just on cable news.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The drum beats of impeachment are here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thousands are in the streets this evening.

ZAKARIA: This was just one day after Donald Trump was elected President. Six months later -- Americans marched in 45 cities. There was a TV campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has brought us to the brink of nuclear war. Obstruction of justice at the FBI. If that isn't a case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, what has our government become?

ZAKARIA: One year in, formal action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resolve that Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is unfit.

ZAKARIA: None of these have gone serious yet, but the outcry is hardly surprising. Donald Trump is the most polarizing President in an already bitterly divided America. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will impeach him.

We will impeach him. The people said, but he hasn't did not done anything wrong. Oh, that doesn't matter. We will impeach the President.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Fareed, you showcase through tonight's special that this idea of impeachment in some ways has become a go-to battle cry. And not just with President Trump but really over the last few presidencies. Do you think we have reached a point in America where Americans have become somewhat desensitized to the seriousness of that word?

ZAKARIA: I think that's precisely the danger. When Bill Clinton was impeached, that was the first impeachment since Richard Nixon. And when Nixon was almost impeach that was the first one in 100 years after Andrew Johnson.

Since Bill Clinton, with every President there have been serious efforts to impeach. One-third of Americans at the end of George W. Bush's presidency thought he should be impeached. One-third of Americans at the end of Obama's presidency thought he should be impeached. One-third of Americans at the start, day one of Donald Trump's presidency, thought he should be impeach. I think that, you know, we have gone into a new world where what was once considered a kind of nuclear option, the constitutional nuclear options to deal with the president has become the routine way that you describe a President you really don't like.

CABRERA: We look forward to seeing your deep dive on the issue.

Fareed Zakaria, thanks for being here.

And Fareed's CNN's special report, "Presidents under fire, the history of impeachment" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

In the meantime, the President's trade truce with China could give the markets a boost when trading opens tomorrow morning. Wall Street will also be watching a big meeting overseas that could affect crude oil prices which have fallen sharply in recent months.

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine romans has more.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana.

Oil prices could stabilize after plunging further into a barrel market. Last week, U.S. crude oil prices briefly dipped below $50 a barrel for the first time in more than a year. Oversupply concerns have pushed oil prices down more than 30 percent this year. And for you, the driver, it means lower gas prices - gas prices are down 30 cents a gallon in the past month.

On Wednesday, OPEC producers and partners meet Vienna. Saudi Arabia has indicated it wants to cut production to raise prices. But it doesn't want to do it alone. Investors are watching to see if other nations agree to cut supply, by how much? And if they do, look for President Trump to react.

Two weeks ago he tweet, hopefully, Saudi Arabia and OPEC will not be cutting oil production. Oil prices should be much lower based on supply.

All right, the monthly jobs report also due this week. In October, the U.S. economy added 250,000 new jobs. The unemployment held steady at 3.7 percent. That's a 49-year low and wages grew at the fastest phase in a decade. Did the job market strengthen even more in November? We will find out on Friday.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

[18:26:23] CABRERA: Thanks, Christine.

This evening we are remembering the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. I will talk to the late president's personal photographer next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:31:29] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The nation is poised for a week of mourning and celebration as we remember the life of President George H.W. Bush. Preparations are now underway to fly President Bush's casket from Houston to the nation's capital tomorrow.

The late president will then lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda until Wednesday, designated a national day of mourning. And during that time, the public can pay their respects. And the memorial service will be held at Washington National Cathedral Wednesday morning before the President's body is returned to Texas later that same day.

Our next guest is one of the few people in the world to get up close and personal access to the Bush family. David Valdez served as the Bush's official White House photographer, and he captured some of the most iconic political and personal photos of the 41st president and his family.

Valdez spent eight years photographing President Bush, first as vice president and then later as president. They traveled together to at least 75 countries and experienced some really key moments in history side by side. And he joins us now.

David, I'm so glad you could share some of your thoughts and memories with us. A photographer's job is obviously to capture the essence of a moment or a person. What do you think was the essence of President Bush?

DAVID VALDEZ, FORMER CHIEF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER: Watching him over the years and knowing his history, of all the things that he did, it seemed like the most important thing to him was his family, his faith, and his friends, and everything else was gravy.

But as president, he was in awe of the institution of the presidency, the whole idea of the presidency, and showed respect for it. Even though he was president. But as we traveled around the world, every once in a while, he would just like hit me with his elbow and say, can you believe this, us two guys from Texas here doing this?

CABRERA: Yes.

VALDEZ: So he was very humble and a caring, compassionate person.

CABRERA: You saw him through the highs, the lows, the ups, the downs, the challenges, the victories. Do you have a favorite story?

VALDEZ: Well, the favorite story is a story on me, my very first trip to Kennebunkport. He was walking me around their property. And he was telling me, as a little boy, I used to go swimming there by the dock.

And, you know, I was dressed in my work clothes and have my cameras. And he said, you and I ought to go swimming here. And I was like, no, you know, it's -- that's the Atlantic Ocean. He said, no, it's OK.

So we walked back up to the house, put on some swimsuits. We both walked back down. He said, on the count of three, we'll jump. So, one, two, three, I jumped. And he walked back to the house. So I was --

(LAUGHTER)

VALDEZ: So I was initiated but, you know, from then on -- you know, we had a lot of fun, but there were a lot of serious things that went on during his presidency. You know, the removing of Manual Noriega from Panama and taking down Saddam Hussein, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the fall of the Soviet Union and communism.

All in a short, short period of time and -- but in between all that, there were a few horse shoot tournaments and some grandchildren were born.

[18:35:00] CABRERA: Yes.

VALDEZ: So we had a lot going on.

CABRERA: So much, so much. You talked about his love of his family. You talked about his sense of humor.

Just hitting that point about how much he valued his relationships with those around him, his loved ones, here's a picture -- I want to show everyone -- of Barbara Bush sitting on the White House steps waiting for her husband to return from a trip. And we're told she did that for many of his travels. And that picture says a lot about their love, doesn't it?

VALDEZ: Oh, yes. One of my favorite photos is them, George and Barbara Bush, in bed with their grandchildren. And that photo, it was originally going to be shot by "Life" Magazine. The President didn't --

CABRERA: There it is.

VALDEZ: The President didn't want that to happen. They asked me if I would do it. I talked to Barbara Bush, and it was her suggestion to come over at 6:00 in the morning and just see what happens.

So I get up to the house, sit on the end of the bed, and waited a little while, and all the grandchildren that were there started coming in. I stood up, took that photo, and it's become an iconic photo. And it says a lot about the love that the family had for each other.

And I just saw a story that on the last couple days of President Bush's life, the last day, his son George called, and they had him on speakerphone. And he said, I love you, dad. And the last words that President Bush said was, I love you, too.

CABRERA: Yes, I love you, too. That's the reporting we're getting from those who were in that room.

David Valdez, thank you for sharing your memories, your work, and just those moments, those precious moments that you shared with the 41st President of the United States. Great to have you with us.

VALDEZ: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: Thank you. Now, during the campaign, President Trump said this about his business ties with Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't deal there. I have no businesses, I had no loans from Russia.

I have no dealings with Russia, I have no deals in Russia, I have no deals that could happen in Russia because we've stayed away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: It turns out that's not entirely true. New details about what Robert Mueller has uncovered next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:42:05] CABRERA: We now know President Trump was working on a deal for a Trump Tower in a Moscow at the same time he was running for office and pushing for better relations with Russia.

The President's former longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, reveals the following in a newly released court document -- one, that he had kept then-candidate Trump updated on the Moscow project as late as June of 2016; two, that he discussed with Trump the idea of traveling to Russia in the summer of 2016; and three, that he had kept Trump family members updated on this project as well.

If you're trying to work out a mental timeline in your heard, here's what this means -- that Trump was trying to secure a business deal with Russia at the same time he was securing the Republican nomination and while, according to U.S. intelligence, Russia was actively working to get him elected. All of this without voters knowing.

Let's bring in the legal experts with us, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Laura Coates and former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.

Laura, let me just start with the most basic question. Is any of this actually illegal? Because you heard Trump in the earlier report say there is nothing wrong with what he was doing because he could have lost the election and would need business to go back to.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, his notion that he has a contingency plan and that really protects him is a little bit odd because we're talking about a conflict of interest here. Remember, what could be the illegal portion of it is still to be determined.

Certainly, can you have some business dealings while you're running for the presidency of the United States? Well, ethical people would tell you no.

But the most starking (ph) thing about this -- stark thing about this is the notion that the President of the United States may have had conflicts of interests that carried well into his presidency and could have driven some of the motivations for his reluctance to condemn Russia or could have facilitated collusion inclusion aspects of it.

That's the part that has everyone intrigued, and I'm sure Mueller is trying to wrestle with that particular question.

Whether the President said it's very cool and very legal as he says, well, he is speaking as if he did eventually become the President of the United States of America, as if he did not eventually have to disclose financial ties which he has not or even tax returns. The ethical aspect of this is the most important.

CABRERA: Michael Cohen originally told Congress that this Trump Tower deal ended in January of 2016. If Trump was still being updated about this deal in June, well, then that means he knew Cohen was lying to Congress. Should the President have spoken up?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Yes, I think that that would have been the normal thing to do and the right thing to do. The problem is there's nothing normal going on with this administration.

And what it tells us, too, is that he probably knew exactly what Cohen was doing and what he was saying. And it may be that we can trace back now and sort of look circumstantially at the fact that he may have very well told him to do that. I mean, this was a whole effort now, according to Cohen, to stay on the political message of the day.

[18:44:59] There's no evidence, I don't think, yet in the plea discussions about whether or not he was specifically directed by the President to give the false testimony. But the fact is that Trump didn't stop him and this story has continued now for years, that I've had no ties with Russia, I've had no discussions with Russia, I've got no business with Russia, I've got -- I've never been to Russia, I don't know any Russians.

I mean, basically, he's denied everything that he possibly can about with Russia. And if there's nothing to hide, I mean, most of the time, you find out that people who lie get quiet when they do have something to hide.

CABRERA: Laura, President Trump says Cohen is lying and that he's lying because he wants a lighter sentence. We know this weekend Cohen's team is petitioning for Cohen to have no jail time because of his cooperation. What do you make of it?

COATES: Well, certainly, the idea of Michael Cohen being a not very sympathetic witness or one that would have zero credibility issues, we passed that exit long ago.

But the idea here that we have a president of the United States who is largely accused of having a credibility crisis, to compare against somebody else who has credulity issues, in large respects, the credibility question is a cancellation of one and the other. That's number one.

Number two, certainly, he is vying for some lighter and more lenient sentence. That's the nature and essence of a cooperation agreement -- you scratch our backs, we will scratch yours.

The big deal here, however, is whether or not the President of United States or one member of his counsel or somebody in his general vicinity or team has encouraged Michael Cohen either to give false testimony to secure the most lenient sentence of all which is, of course, a pardon, or there were some other antics or statements or actions made by the President or anyone on his team or campaign, et cetera, that would lead Cohen to believe that the sweetest of deals is the one that led to the misleading Congress and not necessarily Robert Mueller.

Either way, though, Ana, the idea that a witness would try to get a more lenient sentence is a very different discussion than whether or not Mueller has corroboration of why believes Cohen is, in fact, truthful and credible.

Whatever he has, I'm sure Mueller believes at the credibility. The staked reputation of the actual investigation is far higher than the accusations of the President of the United States.

CABRERA: I also think it's important to note that the same week, the Mueller team called out Paul Manafort for what they believe to be lies he is telling them after entering into a cooperation agreement.

But let me move forward, Michael, because two sources are now telling CNN that Cohen visited Mar-a-Lago in March of this last year. And he left under the impression that he was going to get a pardon from Trump as long as he stayed on message. If Trump offered Cohen a pardon, is that problematic?

MOORE: You know, the President has a large amount of authority to pardon who he wants to pardon.

And the problem here is that we start getting money close to influence a testimony or influence an investigation, some type of obstruction charge that we could talk about because this is telling people not to tell truth to investigators. Just keep your mouth shut, I'm going to take care of you. That's the problem for the President.

I mean, will we ever know? It's going to be a he said/he said discussion, I'm sure, but think about how unbelievable it is.

I mean, in this situation, we've got people talking about pardons. We've got lawyers for defendants briefing other legal members under a joint defense agreement, tell them what was discussed during the time that there was an interview going on with their client. We're in no man's land.

And I mean -- and I can't imagine being a lawyer representing a client at some point and having an agreement, getting a deal cut with the government, then running back and telling my colleagues, who are also under the -- who represent defendants, hey, here is what was said, let me tell you how it works, something, that's jeopardy for your client and for yourself also.

I think as far as the pardon goes, yes. The short answer is yes, he can pardon him. But is he going to have problems if it's getting to a place where it looks like he's trying to influence his testimony, to get him to make false statements either to the investigators or to a grand jury, that's where the problem comes in for the President.

CABRERA: All right, Michael Moore and Laura Coates, thank you both.

MOORE: Glad to be with you.

CABRERA: Good to have you with us. Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken Alaska following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. How it's impacting repair efforts, next.

[18:49:14] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Welcome back. A series of aftershocks are shaking southern Alaska just days after a massive earthquake struck near Anchorage. The 7.0 magnitude quake happened on Friday, splintering buildings, shattering roads.

Since then, scientists say this area has had more than 1,000 aftershocks in and around Anchorage. And that's where CNN correspondent Stephanie Elam is joining us live tonight.

Stephanie, what more are you seeing there? Walk us through it.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I want to show you, Ana, exactly what's going on here because it's amazing how quickly they are working. Now, this is one of about 40 roads in the area that was damaged because of the earthquake.

And when you take a look here, when we got here yesterday, it looked like some massive monster came along and just clawed part of this roadway away. And this is the busiest road in Alaska. It needs to be up and operating.

So, already, they are making great progress in just this one day, filling in this area that has been clawed out. As you see, these trucks are coming in, dropping earth down, and these other earth movers are coming in and smoothing out this roadway, so they can get this road back open.

The amazing thing is they're hoping to have this roadway open again by Tuesday. They are working around the clock. They don't care that there's not sunlight a lot in this time of the year. They are working around the clock to get this roadway open, and this is happening in this area to get this road opened again.

[18:54:59] CABRERA: All right, Stephanie Elam. Thank you very much.

It is one of the worst possible scenarios. A man in Times Square proposes to his girlfriend and loses the ring right through a subway grate. We have this story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: It should have been one of the happiest days of their lives. Instead, this marriage proposal in Times Square went horribly wrong.

A man gets down on one knee. He pops the question. And then you can see them both on the ground because the engagement ring went down a grate in the street. Can you believe this?

Police joined the hunt but the couple ended up having to leave empty- handed. There is a happy ending, however. The ring was found the next morning by police, and they cleaned it up, posted this picture on social media, asking for help locating the couple.

[18:59:55] And just hours ago, NYPD tweeted that the pair had been found, and arrangements are being made to reunite them with their ring.