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7-Year-Old Jakelin Caal Maquin Died In U.S. Border Custody; Secretary Of The Interior, Ryan Zinke, Announced He Is Out; Joe Biden Tops The Latest Polls In The Democratic Primary; Beto O'Rourke Is The Newest Name In The Democratic Primary Candidates; Yemen War Has Driven Millions To Brink Of Starvation; NYT Op-Ed Calls For End OF Saudi-Led War In Yemen; Federal Judge Strikes Down Affordable Care Act; Return Of The Notorious RBG. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 15, 2018 - 20:00   ET



[20:00:19] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with us.

And we begin this hour with unanswered questions surrounding the final hours of a young migrant girl who died in U.S. border custody, 7-year- old Jakelin Caal Maquin and her dad were picked up in remote part of New Mexico on December 6th.. Her father says she got sick just after they boarded a bus, some 90 minutes from the nearest processing station. Jakelin died less than 48 hours later. Despite protest and finger pointing at President Trump's border policies, we are told the girl's grieving father has quote "no complaints with how U.S. agents treated them." Still, the girl's family is calling for a thorough investigation. And CNN has learned a U.S. House delegation will tour the patrol station, where the agents were taking that girl and their father. More on that in just a moment.

But first, I want to go to CNN's Ed Lavandera who is joining us now from El Paso.

And Ed, what is the latest on the investigation?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the first time since this story came to light, we are hearing at least indirectly some statements from the father of this young girl who is still here in El Paso, Texas.

In a statement written by the attorneys of the father, those attorneys go on to describe that the father is grateful for the efforts of first responders including border patrol agents and the medical personnel that tried to save his daughter's life.

I also spoke with the Guatemalan consul who has been here in El Paso and meeting extensively with the father as well. He also goes on to tell me that the father told him that he has no complaints about how he and his daughter were treated while they were in border patrol custody. And that the medical - the border patrol agents and medical personnel did everything, he believes, that they could to try to save his daughter's life. That man is still here in El Paso. The father, he has been housed in

a shelter that helps migrant refugees here. The director of that shelter spoke with reporters just a few hours ago and addressed the whole issue of how the father felt they were treated while they were in custody.


RUBEN GARCIA, ANNUNCIATION HOUSE DIRECTOR: He is very grateful with what he saw, the response and the attempts that were made to save his daughter's life. At the hospital, his daughter arrested a couple of times and they were able to revive her.


LAVANDERA: The Trump administration officials have been very critical of the father for putting their daughter through that journey. But the people who have been speaking with this father say that they actually came through Mexico from Guatemala on a bus, and that they say that the young girl had been fed and given the proper hydration and water throughout the journey, that there were no problems like that before crossing the border into the United States.

So at this point they are hard-pressed to believe that that played a factor in the girl's death. But there is still a chorus of criticism of the Trump administration and they say that this case has really highlights the problem with the Trump administration immigration policy and making it so much difficult at the border at legal points of entry for migrants refugees to seek asylum, and this other cases. And that is forcing families like this 7-year-old girl and her father into the far more remote and more dangerous areas of the U.S./Mexico border -- Ana.

CABRERA: Ed, have we learned anything more, though, about the cause of death?

LAVANDERA: Not at this point. There has been like some early speculation as to what might have led to the girl's death. But one of the things that the family's statement put out today, it was really urging people to stop speculating exactly on what caused this young girl's death. They say they are still awaiting the official, the autopsy report from the medical examiner here in El Paso. And that no official cause of death has been ruled yet. And they hope that people stop speculating as to what might have caused her death -- Ana.

CABRERA: Such a tragedy. Ed Lavandera in El Paso, Texas. Thank you.

Now let's fast forward to Tuesday when a delegation of House members will head to the border patrol station where agents took that young girl and her father. And one of those attending is a congressman Marc Veasey of Texas. He is joining us now. Congressman is also one of the several Democrats who wrote a letter to the department of homeland security and border patrol leadership demanding answers.

Before I get to you, I want to read part of what you asked them. You write, her death raises significant questions about the leadership at department of homeland security, DHS and CBP's ability to appropriately respond to the humanitarian crisis happening at our southern borders and the agency's ability to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.

Congressman, thanks so much for spending part of your evening with us.

Based on what we are now learning including the father saying he has no complaints with how his dear daughter's care was handled, has your perspective on the situation changed?

[20:05:16] REP. MARC VEASEY (D), TEXAS: No, my perspective on the situation hasn't changed at all. And the complaint that I have is just the lack of transparency from the Trump administration on this issue of immigration.

Ana, and I talked to some of your CNN people several months ago when I headed to the border with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to look at conditions of people that -- refugees that are being detained on the border near McAllen, near San Antonio, at shelters and what have you.

And the secrecy, the lack of transparency, members of Congress not being able to ask people that have been detained, refugees that have been detained questions, as basic questions about what type of care they are receiving at various facilities, the shroud of secrecy regarding immigration from this administration is just very troubling. And the fact that the person that was the head of customs came to testify before Congress and didn't even mention that there was a death of a 7-year-old raises a whole another spectrum of questions that need to be answered.

And so, I want to find -- I think there needs to be an investigation. The inspector general needs to issue finding quickly. And we need to know exactly what happened to this young woman, this young girl, because this is a tragedy, that a 7-year-old that was full of life and joy would lose their life like this. It's awful.

CABRERA: Right. But we don't know why she lost her life exactly, what the cause was, as we just heard in Ed's report. And I hear what you are saying. We are also seeing the tweets from potential presidential candidates, Democrats, you are among those heading to the border to bring more attention to the situation. But again, in light of what the father is saying, essentially praising border patrol, are Democrats at risk of politicizing this girl's death?

VEASEY: No, not trying to politicize the death at all. We just want answers. And again, there have been troubling instances before the death of this 7-year-old girl. And we need to know answers. There needs to be more transparency on immigration policy and how immigration policy is administered from this administration moving forward. There just has been so much secrecy.

Again, this young woman -- this young girl died. And he was in Washington, D.C. and didn't bother to let members of Congress know when he was there testifying that there had been a death? I mean, that's a big problem. Members of Congress should have been notified 24 hours after this 7-year-old's death. And that did not happen. Those are the type of answers that we need. It's not politicizing it at all, to want to know why a 7-year-old girl died.

CABRERA: Fair enough. I want you to listen to what the administration is saying.


HOGAN GIDLEY, WHIT HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It's sad time but it's also senseless, it's a needless death and it's 100 percent preventable. If we can just come together and pass some common sense laws to disincentivice (ph) people from coming up from the border and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way, then those types of deaths, those types of assaults, those types of rapes, the child smuggling, the human trafficking, that would all come to an end. And we hope Democrats join the President and get something to do.


CABRERA: Congressman, what's your response to that?

VEASEY: Ana, let me say a couple of things. The first is that Stephen Miller, who has made very provocative comments when it pertains to immigration, he needs to go. If the President wants to show the country that he is serious, that there's empathy on the death of a 7-year-old girl and the way migrants have been treated in the past, Stephen Miller will go.

CABRERA: That wasn't Stephen Miller. Of course, that was part of the press secretary team.

VEASEY: I know that wasn't Stephen Miller, but I'm saying that Stephen Miller needs to go. For him to be leading immigration in the White House, for him to be the head person is just bad.

The second thing that I will tell you is that there have been measures that have been put in place to help migrants that are trying to lawfully immigrate to the United States and the administration have cut so many of those programs. Programs that are specifically aimed and tailored for Central America. There have been aid and humanitarian assistance programs where people can apply for asylum within those countries without trying to make a trek here to the United States. And the administration has cut those programs.

They are actually cutting programs that would reduce the number of migrants trying to make their way to seek status here in the United States. And the administration that has in to those programs.

The second thing that I will tell you is that since I have been in the U.S. House of Representatives, since 2013, there was always a lack of Republican leadership in the House to move something forward. As you know, comprehensive immigration reform was passed in 2013 on the Senate side.

[20:10:14] CABRERA: Right.

VEASEY: Nothing ever happened on the House because they politicized this thing. And there would have been security measures in there. There have been other measures in place that would have allowed the lawful immigration of migrants that were trying to come to the United States. And none of those things happened.

CABRERA: Let me stop you for a second, though, because I know - I feel like you are pointing the finger backwards. And let me remind everybody, though, when there was a Democratic president, he became the deporter in chief. And at this point it's easy to point fingers, it's easy to say what has been done wrong. Democrats are going to be taking over the House now, come January. What are you going to do on this issue of immigration besides pushing back on the border wall?

VEASEY: Oh, immigration is going to be one of our top legislative priorities. And I hope that Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley will also see that this is a top priority for the Senate as well so we can get something to the President's desk.

And again, the

President needs to put people in place, people unlike Stephen Miller, in place that are going to negotiate with the House and with the Senate on something that we can get pass and finally have legislation that the American public has been demanding for a long time now.

CABRERA: Congressman Marc Veasey, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

VEASEY: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Let's stay in touch too after your visit on Tuesday to that border patrol station.

OK, Two big changes at the White House we are tracking this weekend. Ahead, the man who will now take over as President Trump's chief of staff. Plus a cabinet member ousted accused of numerous ethics violations.

And which Democrat will take on Donald Trump in 2020? It all starts in Iowa and we have new poll numbers just released minutes ago.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:16:00] CABRERA: Names and titles getting jumbled once again inside the Trump administration. We now know who will replace John Kelly as White House chief of staff for the short term, anyway. And today, the secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke, announced he is out, saying the weight of more than a dozen ethics accusations, which he calls false accusations, is too much for him and his family. Zinke now joins a big group of men and women who have either left or are in the process of leaving the Trump administration.

CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us from the White House. Boris, we don't have the time here to list all the things that Ryan

Zinke is accused of doing that may violate ethics rules but what are some of them?


Yes, 15 inquiries in all by the inspector general of the department of the interior. Here are some of the highlights. Zinke I should say has raised questions with his use of agency resources for lavish travel. His wife has apparently been using government vehicles. There are still questions about that. He apparently took part in a casino deal in Connecticut that has raised questions. And the one case that was referred by the inspector general to the department of justice was this, a land deal that he struck in Montana, his home state, with the head of Halliburton. That one is still under tremendous scrutiny.

As you noted, Zinke has denied all of the allegations. In a tweet today he justified his departure by saying he didn't want to spend thousands of dollars in trying to defend himself. And you can imagine that with Democrats taking over the House, they would be likely to push for him to testify and open further investigations into his behavior, something the White House certainly was not looking forward to. Though we know that they were closely watching his legal situation.

Of course here, Ana, the other big news this week is acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The President announcing last night that he would replace John Kelly as his chief of staff. The notable thing about that is that he is the acting chief of staff, not just chief of staff. The notable thing about that is that President Trump ultimately couldn't come to an agreement with Nick Ayers, vice president Mike Pence's chief of staff, overtaking the position because Ayers only wanted it for a temporary term. Here, the President appears to have settled on making it a temporary position for Mick Mulvaney who will remain the head of OMB, Ana.

CABRERA: Right. And Boris, I understand the President just made some comments at the White House. What did he say?

SANCHEZ: That's right. Tonight is the congressional ball where the President is welcoming members of Congress and members of his own cabinet. Actually, I we should mention that Ryan Zinke is here. So his presence is still felt despite the fact that he is leaving the administration. The President talked about criminal justice reform, a bill that will likely be brought up in the Senate next week at least according to comments this week made by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. There was some debate about that. The President also talked about a ruling yesterday in Texas regarding Obamacare. Listen to some what the President said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe we are going to get really good health care. Exciting things have happened over the last 24 hours. And if everybody is smart, because we have a lot of Democrats here tonight and I'm very happy about that, people don't realize it, I have a lot of friends who are Democrats. And we have Democrats here. And if the Republicans and the Democrats get together, we are going to end up with incredible health care which is the way it should have been from day one. It's going to happen.


SANCHEZ: Considering that so much of the energy we saw on the Democratic side during the midterm election hung on the balance of that issue, health care, and a push to protect Obamacare, it will be interesting to see exactly who the President is talking about when he says the Democrats may help him moving forward on that issue, Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you.

Who will Democrats nominate to face Donald Trump in 2020? Well, the race begins in Iowa, home of the first primary.

Just ahead, we have new poll numbers released minutes ago.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:24:20] CABRERA: Whether you are ready for it or not, election 2020 is a huge topic already. Who will the Democrats put up against President Trump? Will any Republicans challenge the President in a primary? And who will be that wild card candidate that comes out of nowhere? Remember, don't discount the wild cards. One of them is in the White House right now.

I want to get CNN's Ryan Nobles in here with me now.

And Ryan, let's talk Iowa, the state where the early pulse is taken to try and gauge which way the country as a whole may be leaning politically. And let me just throw up a picture for a moment. It is six prominent Democrats mentioned by people in Iowa who say they will probably take part in the Democratic caucuses and who they would like to see run for president. We have these percentages because a new CNN/"Des Moines Register" poll is out tonight.

So Ryan, talk us through the poll numbers. And what else the survey is showing us?

[20:25:10] RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And Ana, we should point out the "Des Moines Register" poll often thought of as the gold standard when it comes to polling in Iowa. And right now, it seems that Iowa voters are really on track with the rest of the country.

These numbers align pretty closely with national numbers released earlier this week. And there is one name that's impossible to ignore and that is Beto, Beto O'Rourke. We knew that he gained a lot of attention during his run against Ted Cruz in Texas. It was a campaign, of course, that he lost. But we are now starting to see that attention crystallize into tangible support. He is sitting at double digits in the first caucus state. And for a candidate that at this time last year most Iowans probably had never even heard of, is pretty impressive.

Meanwhile, it's also pretty clear that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, they remain in the poll position. They are the top two in this survey by a pretty wide margin. And that is really based largely in name recognition. And it's also clear, like some of those big powerhouse candidates that we are watching closely, people like Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Kamala Harris, the senator from California, she is a clear favorite for many experts. They still have a lot of work to do. But Ana, lucky for them, there's of course still a long way to go.

CABRERA: Yes, a lot of time. Any wild cards that we can maybe pull from some of this, these early results?

NOBLES: Yes, we actually asked specific questions about potential wild cards. And of course the name Hillary Clinton, she remains a wild card for sure, right? There's no indication that she is going to run. And right now, most Iowans would prefer that she just sit this race out. Seventy-two percent view her as a candidate who would actually distract from this race. And those numbers show that they are ready for perhaps a fresh face. And while her numbers are slightly better, there's another name out there, Oprah Winfrey, who some people are talking about as a possible candidate.

But look at what Iowans think about her as well. They think that if she got in, she would also distract from the race. Fifty-five percent believe that she should also not get involved in this campaign. So we don't expect Oprah or Hillary Clinton to run, Ana. In fact both of them have said that they have no plans to run. But if they got in, and of course it's a long way from 2020, this is at least the early glimpse of what Iowans think of that.

CABRERA: For those just tuning in, Ryan, and they are saying, why are we talking about poll numbers in Iowa? Remind our viewers why this state is so important to the national picture.

NOBLES: Well, you know, Ana, you have to go back to Bill Clinton. In fact the race before Bill Clinton, since Iowa Democrats did not pick the eventual nominee for the Democratic Party in the race for president. They supported John Kerry. They supported Barack Obama on two different occasions. They also supported Hillary Clinton the last run around. Iowa Democrats are usually the group of people that at least give that Democratic field the early glimpse into what the rest of America thinks in terms of the Democratic voter ship.

And you remember, that Barack Obama, when he faced Hillary Clinton that first time around, there were many people who did not expect him to have any kind of a chance at winning and he pulled out the victory there. And that catapulted him to the nomination.

And one of the things that Iowans view very important is that they want to elect someone out of their caucus who they believe can ultimately win. And you see those numbers. It tracks very closely this year as well. Fifty-four percent are more concerned about picking somebody who can win and can beat Donald Trump, even more than they are someone that aligns closely with their views. They are not looking for a purity test here, Ana. They want the person who can win the presidency.

CABRERA: All right. Ryan Nobles, thanks for breaking that down for us.

Let's go to straight to the place where those important poll numbers come from now, Des Moines, Iowa and talk to a reporter from "the Des Moines Register," Brianne Pfannenstiel.

Brianne, why do you think Joe Biden is polling so high with Iowans there?

BRIANNE PFANNENSTIEL, REPORTER, DES MOINES REGISTER: Well, one of the questions that we asked was, would you rather see a political newcomer or a seasoned political hand and which type of candidate is best positioned to take on Donald Trump in 2020.

So if you are looking for someone who has been there, done that, Joe Biden certainly is that candidate. And as you guys were talking about beforehand, a lot of this is name I.D. You know, Joe Bide ran in 1988. He ran in 2008. He was just back ahead of the midterms campaigning for Iowa Democrats. He is well-known here. He is well- liked here. That certainly contributes to the numbers that we are seeing.

CABRERA: We are still nearly two years away from the 2020 election. So what's your biggest takeaway from these results? Does anything surprise you based on what you are hearing there on the ground?

PFANNENSTIEL: Well, I think one thing that's really important to note, when you look at poll results this early, is we are 14 months away from the Iowa caucuses. And so, as one Democratic operative put it to me, that's not just a long time in campaigns, that's an eternity. So I think we are going to see a lot of shifting over the next couple of months. You guys were talking about Beto O'Rourke being number three there. And so, it will be really interesting to see if and when he does come to Iowa, what that reception is like.

[20:30:04] CABRERA: What kinds of things would shake things up between now then? What are the big issues?

PFANNENSTIEL: Well, I think right now, you know, the big thing is taking on Donald Trump who is best positioned to do that going into 2020. So I think issues, as you mentioned are -- a lot of these Democrats are very similar on some of those issues. Some are more progressive, some are more moderate.

But I think in the end, those are going to kind of work themselves out a little bit as Democrats look for who is best positioned to take on Donald Trump.

CABRERA: All right. Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register, thanks for being with us.

PFANNENSTIEL: Thanks for having me.

CABRERA: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is back, just a month after breaking three ribs in a fall. We'll share what she had to say tonight about her health, that's just ahead here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.


[20:35:14] CABRERA: A move aimed both at ending the war and expressing anger at the Trump administration's handlings of relations with Saudi Arabia, the Senate this week overwhelmingly approved a resolution by 56 to 41 vote that would require the U.S. to end its military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

But any sort of peace in Yemen will come too late for many living the daily nightmare that is life there right now, the horrors of war sparing neither the young nor the old. The piece you're about to see is hard to watch but must be seen. An entire family, from a 1-month- old baby to a 64-year-old grandfather is either dead, dying, or injured.

Any sort of promise to ceasefire a distant dream. We're about to show you scenes that may be graphic and disturbing to some viewers. The footage captured by a Houthi rebel-backed group and obtained by CNN provides a rare glimpse into the strategic port city that is at the epicenter of Yemen's civil war.

CNN senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir has one family story.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An ambulance screeches up to one of the few remaining hospitals in Hudaydah. What we're about to show you is incredibly difficult to watch.

In a jumble of bodies, a boy in yellow searching for his mother. She's dead.

Little bodies are carried in draped in blood-soaked cloths. Everywhere, shock and blood and death.

This man searching for his wife. He finds instead the body of his 3- year-old sister Raq (ph). It's too much to take in.

"My wife," he asks. "In surgery. The baby is fine." A glimmer of hope but all too quickly lost. "My mother, she's dead."

Even as the peace talks continued in Sweden between Yemen's warring parties, the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, so too did the violence on the ground.

This footage was sent to CNN by the Houthi-rebel-backed Ansar Allah Media. Eyewitnesses tell CNN the members of this family were killed during an artillery strike on the coalition air cover, a charge the coalition denies. Saying the Houthis continue to target civilians in Hudaydah.

This is just a glimpse into what it's like almost every night in this besieged city.

In spite of U.S. Government promises in October to deliver a cease- fire within 30 days, that month has long since passed. Much of what was filmed here is so graphic, we're not going to show it in full.

Outside, two with lifeless bodies, side by side, waiting for loved ones to claim them.

This man lists a litany of loss. His daughter and her son, his other daughter and her husband. It's too much. Inside, the boy in yellow finally finds his sister as he comforts her.

Other children are carried out. There's just no more room at this hospital.

Outside, his grandmother begins to wail and he attempts to comfort her. It's all too much.


CABRERA: That was our senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir.

A coalition spokesperson denied responsibility for that attack, telling CNN we have no knowledge of this and it is widely recognized that the Houthi militia is continuing to target civilians with all types of weapons in Hudaydah province and its cities.

The violence of war isn't the only threat people in Yemen are facing. The nearly 4-year-old conflict has driven millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation.

Last month Save the Children estimated that 85,000 children under the age of 5 have died from extreme hunger or disease since this war began.

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has written a column this week, highlighting the story of this 12-year-old Abrar and calling for an end to what he calls this shameful war. And he writes this. "I'm giving up most of my column space today to introduce you to Abrar Ibrahim, a 12-year-old girl in Yemen who weighs just 28 pounds. Nothing I write can be as searing or persuasive or true as Abrar is in this photo."

[20:40:14] Nicholas Kristof joins us now to talk more about this. And, Nicholas, you are right, that picture, it is just gripping. I know you were there about a week ago, among the people who are suffering. What kind of impact did your visit to Yemen, to seeing this with your own eyes firsthand, have on you?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, Ana, I've covered a lot of famine and malnutrition over the years in a lot of places, but this was different in a couple of respects. One is that, typically, famines are caused by drought or extreme weather. And, no, this is caused by war.

And second, this is caused by a war that the U.S. has been backing for 3.5 years.

So to travel around, to talk to these moms whose kids are dying and to realize that my tax dollars are paying to starve these kids, is just devastating. And I was so admiring of the courage of these people who were willing to talk to me and be civil to me and let us photograph their children and recount their suffering to try to -- because they had some faith that perhaps if the world realized their distress, then perhaps the world would not continue to persist in this war.

CABRERA: Wow. Tell me what you were hoping to accomplish with your column featuring Abrar.

KRISTOF: Well, Saudi Arabia has tried to bar journalists from reaching rebel-held parts of Yemen. And that's why these photographs are not more common. That's why camera crews are not more able to reach places like Sanaa, Yemen.

And Saudi Arabia doesn't want you to see pictures like that precisely because it recognizes the power of those images. And so my hope is that by bringing those stories and, more importantly, those pictures, maybe Americans can appreciate that this isn't about geopolitics and it's not about standing up to Iran. This is about kids who are starving and kids who are starving as a consequence of our policies.

And I think that if people understood in conference rooms as they try to work out these policies, the human consequences of this war and of our alliance with Saudi Arabia and persisting in this war, then maybe we would tell the Saudis, OK, it's time to pull out.

CABRERA: Well, there is a sign that maybe something's changing. On Thursday, the day after your piece published, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen. There was a floor debate, of course, with Senator Bernie Sanders who cosponsored the resolution. He stood alongside a giant picture of a Yemeni child.

You know as well as I do, we don't see bipartisanship often these days let alone a bipartisan rebuke of the administration in the way we saw on Thursday. Do you think lawmakers have been awakened? Are the pictures, the stories, the innocent lives, finally breaking through?

KRISTOF: You know, I think they are. And I think a couple of things are going on. One is that there isn't really any compelling security interest on the other side, there's no security reason why we need to continue this war.

In fact, the war itself has in fact empowered Al-Qaeda and empowered Islamic State. So it has undermined our security, at the same time that, it has brought 12 million Yemenis to the brink of starvation. So there's no real argument on the other side.

And the other thing is that the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist, I think really woke people up to the nature of the Saudi regime today. And I think it made people more willing to distance themselves from that war.

And Jamal was my friend, and he wrote about the war. And I think that one consequence of his murder may be to help save the lives of Yemeni children.

CABRERA: Very quickly, Nicholas, because I'm almost out of time, but I think it's important to note that if the U.S. pulls out, this war doesn't necessarily end. So what is the answer? What is going to help these innocent people fighting for their lives?

KRISTOF: So, look, the roots of the poverty and the hunger are complicated. But fundamentally, the war is the major reason behind it. And Saudi Arabia can't continue without us. It can't really continue without American weapons.

And so I think that if we were to tell Saudi Arabia we are suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia until you pull out of the war, I think that would end the war very, very quickly and avert mass starvation.

[20:45:05] CABRERA: Nicholas Kristof, good to have your perspective on this. Thank you for your reporting and helping to shine a light.

KRISTOF: Thanks for covering it, Ana.

CABRERA: Thank you.

The oldest Supreme Court justice is back in action after breaking three ribs in a fall last month. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg said about her health, next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Welcome back. More now on a federal judge's ruling to strike down Obamacare. Former president Obama jumping on Facebook today trying to reassure people that the court ruling last night quote "Changes nothing for now."

[20:50:01] He used the post to encourage people to sign up for Obamacare. Open enrollment for next year closes tonight at midnight.

And during a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, today, President Trump spoke glowingly about the judge's ruling declaring Obamacare unconstitutional.

Earlier, I asked the chief architect of the health care law Dr. Zeke Emmanuel if this ruling ends up in the Supreme Court, if it can survive, given the addition of two Trump appointees.


DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, HELPED DRAFT AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: Remember, it was the four Democrats, Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Ginsburg, along with Justice Roberts who ruled for the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. And you're not going to change that.

As a matter of fact, the last time a case on the Affordable Care Act came before the Supreme Court Justice Roberts was -- expressed a certain amount of ire that this case was coming up to them. He thought that they had dealt with it and made clear that it was constitutional. And I think you're not going to sway him to the other side now. So I'm actually not that worried.

The second part I would say, though, is that it does mean that the Republicans and the courts, and especially the president have not listened to the American public. They said quite clearly in this last midterm election that they want the protections of the Affordable Care Act, that they want what the Affordable Care Act stands, that everyone should get health insurance and people, regardless of the preexisting health care situations, whether they have cancer, they have heart disease or they have multiple sclerosis, get health care and get it at the same price that the rest of us do it.

And if they keep -- the Republicans keep tinkering with this and keep trying to tear it down, they're pushing people further and further to -- well, maybe we just need Medicare for all or something like that. And I would note that about some recent polls have suggested that as many as 50 percent of republicans are beginning to warm up to Medicare for all. And that ought to tell the Republican Party something.


CABRERA: Now, this case will likely wind up before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court's oldest sitting justice going strong at 85 years old, and back in the public tonight in the spotlight just over a month after breaking three ribs in a fall at her office.

This evening, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat down for an interview at a sold out event at the museum of the city of New York.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The question that probably --oh, I don't know, 70 percent of America wants to know the answer to, that would be the 70 percent who offered you their body parts and organs in case you needed them, how's your health?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And those ribs you busted?

GINSBURG: Almost repaired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's good. And have you gone back to your trainer, Bryant Stevens (ph)?

GINSBURG: Yes. We went back immediately after the fall, we could do legs only. But yesterday, we did the whole routine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole routine?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole routine that most 35-year-olds can't do.

GINSBURG: For one thing, we are, by far, the most collegial institute in town. We all respect and even genuinely like each other. I think you can see that in so many ways. All the things that we do together.

In January, there will be a dinner in honor of the new junior justice, that's a tradition. The person who has just given up the job of being the junior justice makes dinner for the latest arrival.


CABRERA: Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue is joining us now with more. You heard what she said. You were at this event as well, Ariane. Great to hear that she's feeling much better and her ribs are healing.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, SUPREME COURT REPORTER: She wanted to make that absolutely clear, talk about what she's doing with her trainer. But, Ana, seriously, not only her legion of fans were worried about this fall that occurred a month ago, but liberals were too because they're worried that the president would get another seat on the Supreme Court.

Don't forget that he replaced Justice Scalia's seat with a likeminded conservative, he replaced Justice Kennedy, moved the court to the right, Right? With Justice Kavanaugh. They do not want him to get the seat of a liberal justice. But she made absolutely clear that she is back in business. She's feeling much better, keep in mind, this is a woman who has succeeded two cancer surgeries, serious cancer, and a heart issue. So she definitely is showing that she's ready to go back to work which, you know, could be a busy term.

[20:55:04] But one more thing, Ana, I think that's really interesting to point out is that she was criticized during the Obama administration by some, why aren't you retiring then? Right? And she said, "I don't think I'd like anybody they'd replace me with. And now she said she think she might stay as long as 90 years old, so that's five more years. So, he had a clear message tonight.

CABRERA: And no doubt it. It doesn't sound like she's planning on retirement anytime soon. Thank you, Ariane, for that reporting.

And that's going to do it for us tonight. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here. Stay with us for "The History of Comedy," next here on CNN.