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A Counter Intelligence Investigation Launched By The FBI Into The Actions Of President Trump; Today Is The First Full Day Since Nearly One Million Federal Workers Missed Their Paychecks; Sister Pimentel Fondly Known As The Pope's Favorite Nun Sat In On A Roundtable With President Trump; Rep. Steve King Under Fire for Racist Comments; Catholic Nun Disappointed She Didn't Meet Trump during Border Visit; Jeff Bezos Target of "The Enquirer" in Biggest Investigation Ever. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired January 12, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You are live in the NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
And today an exclusive, explosive report I should say, inconceivable if it were not from such a reliable and credible source, "the New York Times," details of an allegation against the American President that has never been made before, ever.
A counter intelligence investigation launched by the FBI into the actions of President Trump. It's the type of criminal investigation normally reserved for spies and saboteurs. People who want to damage the United States from the inside. The FBI was so concerned about things the President did and said, that they started looking seriously into whether or not the President was working for the Russians.
The FBI's interest was peak during his campaign. But then afterwards, Trump fired James Comey, the FBI director. And his public and private reasons for doing that, just didn't exactly line up. For that and other reasons, the FBI officially started investigating President Donald J. Trump as a possible threat to national security.
As he tends to do, the President fired off a barrage of tweets this morning. And this is just one of them.
Wow! Just learned in the failing "New York Times" that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons opened up an investigation on me for no reason and with no proof after I fired lying James Comey, a total sleaze.
CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us at the White House.
Boris, people close to the President are now coming to his defense today. Who are they?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Ana.
Yes. We just heard from secretary of state Mike Pompeo on this. More on that in just a moment.
But I did want to point to the statement for that by press secretary Sarah Sanders last night in which she calls this "New York Times" story absurd. It is a very aggressive statement.
She also goes after former FBI director James Comey, calling him a disgraced partisan hack.
Back to the secretary of state, he was interviewed today for one of the Sunday morning talk shows. The full interview is scheduled to air tomorrow. But today, the secretary of state dismissed this reporting in the "New York Times" and the suggestion of the President could be whether wittingly or unwittingly, an agent to Russian interests.
Listened to Mike Pompeo now, calling the story ludicrous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to comment on "New York Times" stories. But I will certainly say this. The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to clarify since you were CIA director, did you had any idea that this investigation was happening?
POMPEO: Margaret, I have answered this question repeatedly indeed, on your show. The idea that's contained in the "New York Times" story, that President Trump was a threat to national security is silly on its face and not worthy of a response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: We will likely hear more tomorrow, not just from Mike Pompeo, but potentially from other lawmakers across the Sunday morning talk shows.
As for President Trump, you pointed out that tweet he sent out earlier. There were a barrage of tweets the President sent out today, not only attacking James combing, but also aiming at Hillary Clinton as well suggesting that Robert Mueller is protecting James Comey, saying that nobody has been tougher on Russia than he has and aiming in general to try to discredit the Russia investigation.
Meantime, as the days have passed, we have learned more and more coming from this investigation, that have led to more questions about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the accusation there that President Trump and people on his campaign worked with Russia to help him win in 2016.
Case in point, what we learned from Paul Manafort's attorneys earlier this week that the former Trump campaign chairman in the middle of the 2016 campaign shared sensitive internal polling from the campaign with a person believed to be a Kremlin operative, Ana. So clearly the President fighting a PR battle here that the facts just don't stand on his corner. [16:05:01] CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez at the White House,
Joining us now Michael Shear, White House correspondent for the "New York Times" and Steven Levin. He is a former federal prosecutor and assistant U.S. attorney who worked with Rob Rosenstein, the man who appointed Bob Mueller as special counsel.
Michael, help our viewers understand just how significant this report is. How it is different from what we already knew and advances the story?
MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So I mean, it is really a remarkable story, Ana. I mean, as you said at the top, the idea that the United States government, the law enforcement of the United States government is targeting for investigation and inquiry, not just some random employee of the government for potentially trying to subvert American democracy and American national security, but the President himself. That's a remarkable thought. And I think my colleagues at the paper who produced that story are remarkable reporters, you know. And I think people should pay attention to it.
One of the things that I think it helps to move along is this great mystery that we have all had for the past maybe two or three years even predating the time when President Trump got into office. And that is this question of why does he do the things he does, on behalf of the Russian government, right?
He was, you know, hesitant on Russian sanctions. He stood there in Helsinki, next to President Putin who he often praises, he pulled now Syrian troops out of - American troops out of Syria which benefits Russia. I mean, so there's always been this sort of mounting questions, why does the President do what he does. And this shows that it's not only us in the media and people outside the government that were trying to answer that question and who look into that position. But the FBI itself, the counterintelligence team itself which is trying to figure out what is it and is there some motive that we should all be worried about that makes Donald Trump do what he does?
CABRERA: So Steve, of course, Jeff Sessions had recused himself as the attorney general overseeing the Russia probe because of his involvement during the campaign. So Rod Rosenstein, now the deputy attorney general was overseeing the Russian investigation. We have been told this could not have happened without the DOJ's knowledge.
STEVEN H. LEVIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, that's right, Ana. And on one hand, it doesn't take much to open up for the FBI to open up an investigation the predicate is pretty low. It's a question of, was there -- is there some information that a crime may have occurred or a crime may be occurring or did a crime may occur in the future, and an investigation will result in the disclosure of information about that crime.
So on one hand, the predicate for opening up a criminal investigation or a counter intelligence investigation is fairly low.
CABRERA: But into the President of the United States.
LEVIN: Exactly. When you are talking about the President, there is going to be a lot of concern about the consequences of a leak. Of it becoming known it's the President - that the President is under investigation. So I'm sure there was a lot of care taken before this investigation went into the direction it apparently went in.
So DOJ was certainly involved. I have to believe that is the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein was involved in blessing this investigation.
CABRERA: Michael, we don't know whether this counter intelligence investigation involving the sitting President is ongoing, but in light of this stunning report, do you look at anything you have learned from the Mueller probe in retrospect now as indication that they have kept up this particular part of the investigation?
SHEAR: You know, I don't - I certainly don't and I don't think as a media generally, we have a lot of kind of insight into the specifics of what pieces of the investigation might be on going or where those pieces have maybe terminated. I think, you know, it's not -- there is a distinction to be drawn between criminal investigation and a counterintelligence investigation.
But let's face it, all along, these questions, the broader questions about his motivations, the extent to which he and others in his administration have been in contact for Russia for what purpose, that's all been part of the broader narrative that Mueller is trying to put together. And so, I'm not sure that in the end when the Mueller report comes out when we are all sort of seeing the kind of - the great tapestry of whatever he has, that we are all going to look back on this and say the big question or the big moment, the big reveal was this question about whether or not there was a counter intelligence investigation.
I think the investigation at large is going to be the big, you know, is going to be the big important piece of this, not what it was called or sort of which piece of it was started when.
[16:10:05] CABRERA: The President has been attacking James Comey on twitter today and the FBI using words like corrupt, total sleaze, and there was no reason and no proof to often the investigation, he says.
Steve, how do you view President Trump's response now to this report? Is this an effective defense?
LEVIN: No. And in fact, I think it undercuts his defense. If his defense is he was not working on behalf of the Russians, what he is doing exactly what the Russians were attempting to do in 2016 and likely are continuing to do. That is to affect the election in 2016, to undermine the democratic values of the United States. And what President Trump is doing is attacking the past Presidents. He is attacking the former FBI director. He is doing exactly what the Russians want him to do. So I don't see how his response can be an effective defense. SHEAR: Can I just say, Ana? I mean, I do agree with that generally
and certainly from a legal perspective. But from a political perspective, you know, this is what President Trump settled on over a year ago. It was a strategy to undermine the credibility of all of the people who are looking into him and investigating him and looking into his past whether they be at the FBI or the justice department or anywhere else, the media, anywhere else. And I actually think that, you know, that's been one disciplined and consistent part of this White House and this President is the attempt to undermine that credibility because he knows that whatever Mueller has and whatever Mueller produces is going to be seen and viewed by Americans through the lens of the person who is delivering that message.
And I think that today was just a continuation of that strategy which just sort of standing, you know, kind of objectively has probably been a pretty effective strategy at, you know, questioning, getting people to question the legitimacy of Comey and Sessions and everybody else that had been looking into him -- Rosenstein.
CABRERA: You are right. It's not a new strategy. And the last polling though shows that American people weren't buying -- at least the majority.
Steve, I know you spoke to your good friend and former colleague Rosenstein just days ago. We know he is planning to leave in the coming weeks. Is he really leaving 100 percent on his own terms or was he pressured to leave?
LEVIN: I have no doubt that he is leaving on his own terms. I think it's a credit that he has lasted as long as he has. He has been there longer than the average deputy attorney general who leaves after 18 months. I think he would not be leaving if he thought that the Mueller investigation were at risk or a report wasn't going to be fourth coming shortly after he left, if not when he leaves. So I don't have any doubt he's leaving on his own terms.
CABRERA: All right. Steve Levin, Michael Shear, good to have both of you with us. I really appreciated guys. Thanks.
SHEAR: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: Breaking news just into CNN. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo planning to meet with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman during a trip to Saudi Arabia. We have details. Stay with us.
[16:17:15] CABRERA: We have just learned that secretary of state Mike Pompeo will meet with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman during a trip to Saudi Arabia, that begins tomorrow. Now Pompeo says, he will bring up the brutal murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the one who was killed by Saudi agents on the crown prince's orders, according to the CIA.
Pompeo told CBS' "Face the Nation," he will make it clear it was quote "an outrageous act and unacceptable murder," end quote.
Today is the first full day since nearly one million federal workers missed their paychecks. Their pay stubs literally say zero dollars. This is one of them. They are getting nothing right now even though some are still having to put gas in their cars and show up to work, find a way to afford lunch while they are there, pay for child care and make it all the way back home.
Now the President knew this could happen and he said he would be proud of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shut down the government for border security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Later, when federal employees just started realizing that the money in their pockets was all they were going to have for a while, the President was asked about a potential safety net, and here is how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are saying months and possible a year for the shutdown. Do you have in mind a safety net for those who need their checks?
TRUMP: Well, the safety net is going to be having a strong border because we are going to be safe. Many people you are discussing, I really believe that they agree with what we are doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The safety net is the strong border, he says. But how does that help people buy food, pay their mortgages, afford daycare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOANNA MCCLELAND, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL EMPLOYEE: It's quite possible even if we open this week I don't see a check before the 1st of February. And where is my rent going to come from?
CHRISTINE VITEL, TSA EMPLOYEE: I'm a single mom. My son just graduated his first two years of college. He is going back. I'm not getting paid. I just bought a house. I'm not going to pay my mortgage.
LYNN STRATTON, FEDERAL EMPLOYEE: I have enough for more mortgage payment and I got to go CarMax tomorrow to sell my car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to sell your car?
STRATTON: I have to. LORIE MCCANN, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKER: If it goes on much longer,
I'm going to have to figure out what I'm going to do to sustain my lifestyle and just to be able to eat, honestly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Again, the billionaire President was asked if he can relate to these struggling workers. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I can relate. And I'm sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments, they always do. And they will make adjustments. People understand exactly what's going on. But many of those people that won't be receiving a paycheck. Many of those people agree 100 percent with what I'm doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:20:03] CABRERA: Not only does the President say he can relate, but there's that claim again that federal workers support this shutdown. Is that really the case? .
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTEN HEALY, FEDERAL CONTRACTOR: I don't feel like it's worth shutting down the entire government over something that certainly not going to solve an immediate crisis because it is going to take at least 10 years probably before any wall would be fully built. So it doesn't seem like it is really solving any immediate crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm tired of having this President make decisions that, you know, he could have had passed over the last two years but he has decided this is a crisis. There is no crisis on that border. It's a manufactured crisis by a madman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Now those are just a couple of federal workers. We can't interview all 800,000 and ask them individually whether or not they are OK with giving up their paycheck in order to get a border wall. I did just speak in the last hour with somebody with customs and border patrol who was working without getting paid and he supports it. But even if many people support this shutdown, they are hurting too, they are going without pay just like everyone else. So again, this week, the President was asked, when could these workers see some relief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Realistically, how long do you think the shutdown will take?
TRUMP: I don't know. That I can't tell you. All I can tell you is that I feel very badly for people that have family members that were killed that should never have happened, OK. Those are the people I'm thinking most about. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The President may not know when the shutdown will end. But the federal workers know one thing for sure. No wall, no paycheck.
Someone experiencing that firsthand is joining us now. This is Jim Marinitti, a 30 year air traffic controller.
You look like you are 30 years old. Timeless.
JIM MARINITTI, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: I appreciate that. Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: I know, Jim, you're a nonessential worker who isn't being paid. I'm sorry for circumstance. How are you and your family holding up? What does not getting paid mean for you?
MARINITTI: We are holding up for now. I will tell you that it has been the surreal became very real yesterday when we started getting the pay stubs in and showing zero. We are proud of the job we do, and the public trust is sacred to us. And we are starting to get the reports in now. Just the lead up was an issue. And now that people are seeing zero and it's literally hitting them at home. How do they take care of their child care? How do they take care of their bills, their mortgage, the car? We have single parents with children taking care of medical issues. They have got younger controllers trying to payoff student debt and they are having to make a decision how to do that. They shouldn't be worried about those things when they are trying to keep the sky safe.
CABRERA: And so, you and your colleagues have this important duty and American safety in your hands. Are you concerned about the impact of this added stress?
MARINITTI: Well, it is absolutely a concern. On a good day the job can be very stressful. And now what we are seeing are the layers of redundancy, the safety layers that we rely on, starting to become peeled away.
Right now, I know we talk about nonessential workers that aren't forced to go to work. But as an air traffic controller, those are very essential workers that aren't force to go to work. But as an air traffic controller, those are very essential workers for us. There's no QA, there is no quality assurance, quality control, no support staff, equipment upgrades are not being taken care of, aircraft certifications, new equipment, new initiative that we have been working on for years getting to rollout, planning to be rolled out at major towers throughout the country.
None of this is taking place right now. The entire aviation system in United States right now is on hold. The only ones working are the air traffic controllers on the front lines. They are the single threat holding the national airspace together right now.
CABRERA: You are a civil servant. You are also a veteran, I understand. What is your message to the government? Are they holding up their end of the bargain?
MARINITTI: Well, you know, we are not in the business to place blame. We work toward solutions. We have been working through multiple faces over the past couple of weeks to try to bring some common sense to this. Their email campaigns call in. A rally this past Thursday when we had both Republican and Democratic legislation on Capitol Hill in support of the aviation safety professionals in this country.
So, you know, the fact that we are being used as political pawns in this game really, really is unfortunate. It is unfair to the workers that go to work every day, keeping the sky safe. And we just believe that the sooner this is resolved, the better for everyone. You
CABRERA: You used the word political pawn or the phrase. How does that make you feel to be a political pawn?
MARINITTI: So we are at a 30 year low for certified professional controllers in this country. That's exacerbated by the fact that the FAA came while the new hires and all the training takes place is closed indefinitely. There is no pipeline of new blood coming into the system.
Nearly 20 percent of our workforce is eligible to retire today. What is the incentive for them to stay? You know, most of the flying public is unaware of what is happening behind the curtain. But from the moment you push back from the gate to the moment you pull into your destination, there is an air traffic controller who is being backed up by technicians and staff support specialists all along the way to ensure your safety.
It's unconscionable to think that we would play Russian roulette with the safest, largest and most complex air traffic control system in the world. This shutdown truly needs to end as soon as possible.
[16:25:39] CABRERA: Well, thank you so much. We appreciate the work you do, Jim Marinitti. Thanks for being with us and sharing your perspective with us.
MARINITTI: Thank you.
CABRERA: We hope the shutdown ends too.
Republican congressman Steve King, meantime, is facing backlash from both sides of the aisle after questioning why the term white nationalism is offensive. Up next, how the party's lone African- American senator is now reacting to his own party.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:30:33] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Some high-profile Democrats throwing their hats into the 2020 ring and launching their presidential campaigns this weekend.
Iraq war veteran, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, announcing her 2020 run during an interview with Van Jones, which you'll hear later tonight at 7:00 p.m.
And former HUD secretary, Julian Castro, making his presidential bid official today. He's the only Latino candidate in the 2020 race so far. He says he wants to be Democrats', quote, "anecdote to Trump." His twin brother serves as a Congressman from Texas. And Castrol focused on his family during today's announcement in San Antonio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO, (D), FORMER SAN ANTONIO MAYOR: When my grandmother got here almost 100 years ago, I'm sure she never could have imagined that, just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: In the meantime, Senator Elizabeth Warren in the all- important state of New Hampshire today, holding her very first event there since launching an exploratory committee for a 2020 bid.
We have to talk about a lawmaker who has already won an election, Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa. He's won several races. He's been in Congress since 2003. King has a history of making racist remarks by comparing immigrants to dirt. He's made another questionable comment. This time to the "New York Times." King saying to the paper recently, quote, "White nationalists, white supremacists, Western civilization, how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"
King addressed those comments yesterday on the House floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING, (R), IOWA: I regret the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and in my congressional district. The people who know me, know I wouldn't have to even make this statement because they do know me. They know my life, they know my history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN national correspondent, Kristen Holmes, is following the story for us.
Kristen, that did not sound like an apology.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It did not sound like a denial. It should be noted that King only addressed this after major blow back from members of his own party, including South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican Senator, who wrote a blistering op-ed in the "Washington Post" attacking both King as well as Republicans' reactions to him.
And one thing I want to point out here, he wrote, "Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism. It's because of our silence when things like this are said."
He wasn't the only one who reacted like that. We also heard from House Republican leaders, and Jeb Bush, as well as Iowa Senator Joni Ernst. She tweeted this out today: "I condemn Steve King's comments on white supremacy. They are offensive and racist and not representative of our state of Iowa. We are a great nation, and this decisiveness is hurting everyone. We cannot continue down this path if we want to continue to be a great nation."
Representative King has a long history of using white nationalist and deeply anti-immigrant rhetoric. Just to rattle off some of the few things that happened the last couple years, he endorsed a white nationalist for mayor. He retweeted a white supremacist. He asked what minorities had contributed to civilization. He suggested electric border fences, like the kind used for livestock. And he predicted Hispanics and blacks will be fighting each other. He also said diversity was a weakness.
Despite all of this, he continued to be re-elected, which is likely why, when asked by reporters, he said he wasn't worried by all of this blow back, that he wasn't worried it would hurt his chances in 2020.
Ana, it remains unclear if there are going to be any consequences of him using this rhetoric. Republicans stopped short of saying whether or not there should be some kind of punishment. Nancy Pelosi, however, left the door open to some sort of House action that might constitute a punishment for King.
CABRERA: We heard a lot of strong words condemning his words from fellow Republicans, but to your point, no action yet, at least.
Thank you very much, Kristen Holmes.
[16:35:00] She's been cited by the pope for her work on the U.S./Mexican border. But despite being invited to Trump's roundtable, Sister Norma didn't get to speak to him. What this Catholic nun wants the president and all Americans to know about life in south Texas. She'll join us live when we come back.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.
CABRERA: As the shutdown over a border wall is now the longest in U.S. history, it seems everyone has an opinion about what needs to be done to solve the situation at the border. But few have seen the reality of life there, like Sister Norma Pimentel.
The Catholic shelter she operates, the Humanitarian Respite Center, services some of the most vulnerable people coming across the border, families with very young children. And Sister Norma, known as the pope's favorite nun, sat in on a roundtable with President Trump during his visit to the border this week, which also included other local leaders, Border Patrol officers and both Texas Senators.
Sister Norma joins us now from McAllen, Texas.
[16:40:06] Sister, nice to see you.
You invited the president to come to your center. Even though you were invited to that roundtable, you didn't get a chance to speak to the president. What did he miss by not talking to you about what's happening at the border?
SISTER NORMA PIMENTEL, DIRECTOR, HUMANITARIAN RESPITE CENTER: Well, I think he would have -- he missed the opportunity to really get to know who we are at the border, what we do, and how we view the border. Our local leaders would have had so much to say to him.
CABRERA: President Trump says there are drugs, criminals and terrorists coming across the border making for a serious national security crisis. Do you feel there's a sense of urgency there? Are you afraid of who and what is coming across the border?
PIMENTEL: I've lived here all my life. I feel safe in my community. It's a very loving, generous community. By no means, it's not safe. It's one of the safest places in the United States.
CABRERA: You worked with some of the people coming through the ports of entry, perhaps others who are crossing illegally and captured by Border Patrol there. What do you see?
PIMENTEL: I see the families that come. They're very poor, vulnerable families, who are asking for protection. They want safety. They would be the first ones -- victims of criminal violence in their country and throughout their journey and when they arrive here to this border. And so they need protection. They need safety. They're the first victims of criminal violence. When you see them, you can see there's no difference from us, from our brothers and sisters, nephews and kids. They're not criminals. So I think that to only paint a picture that everyone who crosses the border is a criminal, I don't think that's correct.
CABRERA: The president today sort of changing his tone, talking about the humanitarian crisis at the border before he was talking about the criminal element that was impacting border security and national security. Do you believe it's to the extent that there should be a national emergency declared?
PIMENTEL: Well, there's a humanitarian reality that is happening here at the border, and it's caused mostly because of the difficulty of people. These families are not able to enter through a point of entry. They have to wait on the south side of the border, the Mexican side. And if you go there, that is truly a humanitarian crisis. We see hundreds of families that, some volunteers from this side of the United States go and feed them every day. They're just waiting there seven, eight, nine, 10 weeks. They're just waiting there, taking their -- when they're going to be allowed to cross the point of entry to request asylum. When you see all of this, it breaks your heart. That's truly a humanitarian crisis. CABRERA: You have an interesting perspective. You work hand in hand
with Border Patrol. You just recently wrote in the "Washington Post" this week, you say, "Our team has cultivated a culture of neutral respect and dialogue. Our center staff, in communication with the Border Patrol, prepared to receive groups of immigrants who have been released. We try to meet the need. It's vital we keep our country safe. And I appreciate the work of the men and women in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection who are vigilant as to who enters our country. I pray for them daily."
You're talking about the reality. It's not a them-versus us- mentality. Do you feel you're on the same team?
PIMENTEL: Most definitely. Border Patrol are human beings just like the immigrants are human beings. We should not see them as our enemies, either one of them. They truly are part of the human race. And we must respect and protect all of them. And recognize the Border Patrol is keeping our country safe. And the immigrants are asking to be safe. We have a responsibility to help and to be joined together in making this right for everybody.
CABRERA: When you talk about some of the families in need that you are seeing and interacting with and experiencing, I want you to listen to a rancher that my colleague talked to on the border this week, who has a different perspective and different experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTO ESCOBAR, RANCHER LIVING ON THE U.S./MEXICO BORDER: One night, two mean, two armed men, stood right in front of the gate right there, and they stopped my men from coming to shut down the pump. They told them, we're going to shut the pump down. They said, we need this place. This place is ours tonight. What were they going to do with it if they were armed like that? They were passing -- they were going to smuggle drugs or humans. I have no idea. I didn't come to check. It's not my part. It's my government's duty to secure my border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:45:19] CABRERA: He didn't provide any proof of nefarious motive of those people. But is there a way to humanely address the plight of some of these families while still allowing people like this rancher to feel safe?
PIMENTEL: You know, that is exactly what our Border Patrol and our law enforcement in every city does, protect us from all these criminal elements that take over and take lives. The lives are innocent lives, whether it's ours, our communities, immigrants. That is who we need to address and we must correct. And we must keep our country, our border and our people safe. Our Border Patrol has dual responsibilities. They are caught between two things. Taking care of the border, making sure of keeping all the criminals out. At the same time, they deal with families, innocent victims tht they have to treat almost as social workers, you know. So they need more help to make sure they can address the criminality of --
CABRERA: Right. I don't want to interrupt but I want to ask quickly, if you will, just a yes-or-no answer, do you think the wall is the answer to keep that area safe?
PIMENTEL: There are many ways to keep a border safe without necessarily building walls.
CABRERA: All right, Sister Norma Pimentel, good to have your perspective. Thank you for being with us.
PIMENTEL: Thank you.
CABRERA: We're back in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:51:16] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you hear about Jeff Bezos divorce?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish him luck.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's it?
TRUMP: I wish him luck. It's going to be a beauty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That's President Trump commenting on the revelation that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is getting a divorce. The world's richest man has been slammed by the president time and again since he bought the "Washington Post." And now Bezos finds himself the target of "The Enquirer." The tabloid has gotten the reputation of going after President Trump's rivals. It's now calling its story on the end of Bezos' 25-year marriage to his wife, McKenzie, the largest investigation it has ever done.
Bezos tweeted shortly before "The Enquirer" story was published, saying, in part, "After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends."
Joining us now is CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter.
Brian, we've learned "The Enquirer" tracked Bezos over four states and 40,000 miles. Think about the investment that must have taken. Can you think of anyone else they've gone to this length to investigate?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDICA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": These happen every so often. It's not very common. Think about in the past, John Edwards, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Jackson a while ago, before Jackson passed away, Tiger Woods, O.J. Simpson, decades ago. "The Enquirer" does sometimes catch these big fish in big scandals. It doesn't happen very often. They don't invest this much time and this much money very often. This involved reporters and photographers in several states, as the miles indicate. The intrigue in this case is, given that "The Enquirer" has been so cozy, both before Election Day and after Election Day, your mind immediately wonders, were Trump's fingerprints trying to take out a Trump rival or enemy. "The Enquirer" flipped on Trump a few months ago.
CABRERA: They were given an immunity deal in exchange for working with federal prosecutors to peel back the curtain on how they would work with Trump to kill stories, right?
STELTER: A year ago, you would think, I see what "The Enquirer" is doing here, they're trying to take out a Trump enemy. "The Enquirer" was accused of that. There was an alleged blackmail effort then. We know "The Enquirer" engages in that kind of shady behavior. Now that the magazine has flipped on Trump, they stopped promoting him, putting him on the cover. There's not any evidence in this case. "The Enquirer" is suing Bezos for that reason. I think it shows that Bezos and these Silicon Valley billionaires are the new celebrities of the world. They're the new subjects and targets of gossip columns. This may not be the last time we see one of these tech giants on the cover page of a supermarket tabloid.
CABRERA: OK, thank you, Brian Stelter. I just got the wrap as I was about to ask a question. We'll have to save more questions for another day.
CABRERA: Yes. Exactly
You can catch Brian on his show tomorrow "RELIABLE SOURCES" tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. here on CNN.
We have some news just on CNN. The Congressional Black Caucus now calling for Steve King to be removed from committee assignments following his racist statements. Van Jones is going to react live coming up at the top of the hour.
[16:54:43] And get ready for a new CNN original series. Join fashion and cultural experts for a front row seat for American history. "AMERICAN STYLE" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00 on CNN.
CABRERA: Now we have some new information on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is still recovering after surgery to remove two cancerous nodules from her lung. The Supreme Court says the 85-year- old is getting better but will miss oral arguments again this next week. This past Monday was the first time the Supreme Court justice has ever missed oral arguments because of her health. The court reaffirmed just yesterday, there's no evidence of remaining disease, and Ginsberg will not need further treatment.
Discover the inspiring life and career of Justice Ginsberg. "RBG," a CNN film, airs tonight at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN. Thanks for staying with me. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana
Cabrera, in New York.
[17:00:05] Today, an explosive report, inconceivable really, if it were not from a reliable and incredible source.