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Manhunt for Killer of 5 People in Louisiana; John Podesta Reacts to Stone Arrest; Roger Stone Says No Evidence of Collusion with WikiLeaks, Russia; Wages Flat for Workers in Booming Economy; Democrats Look to Raise Takes on Rich to Help Environment, Reverse Wage Gap. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 26, 2019 - 17:00   ET


ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: It's 5:00 Eastern, 2:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera. You are live in the CNN Newsroom. And for the first full day in more than a month, 35 brutal days for government employees, finally over. As the president and Congressional Democrats come to an agreement to reopen the government for three weeks as they negotiate border security and Trump's quest for a border wall.

That temporary relief for federal workers comes with price, a sour mood in the White House. One Trump adviser telling CNN it was, quote, "a humiliating loss for a man that rarely loses." More on that in just a moment.

But, first, we begin with Roger Stone. The man known in some Washington, D.C. circles as the prince of darkness. The long-time friend and confidant of President Trump now indicted on a list of federal charges handed down by Robert Mueller's special counsel team. Charges like witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstruction of justice.

Stone was arrested and released on bond yesterday. Three days from now, his formal arraignment will happen. The charges draw the clearest line yet, between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Roger Stone told CNN's Chris Cuomo, they're all 100 percent wrong.


ROGER STONE, TRUMP ADVISOR: First of all, I always said there could be some process crime.


STONE: There's no evidence whatsoever that I had advanced knowledge of the topic, the subject or the source of the WikiLeaks disclosures. I never received any of the WikiLeak disclosures. I never communicated with Assange or WikiLeaks, other than the limited communication on Twitter, a direct message, which I gave to the House Intelligence Committee last September, I guess it was.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Our Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz joins us now. Shimon, Roger Stone is pretty adamant there saying no evidence. But there are other people mentioned in this indictment. They aren't names. He signed, we may soon know who they are.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, they aren't named, Ana, you're right. They're referred to as campaign officials, a senior campaign official. And in that paragraph where they referred to that senior campaign official, what the indictment says is that the senior campaign official was directed by someone in the campaign to go and reach out to Roger Stone to find out what kind of information he had.

So, certainly, Roger Stone, he denies having any kind of outreach to or talking to anyone in the campaign about it. He would know who he spoke to. Obviously, the Mueller team knows everyone that they spoke to.

And here's how Roger Stone described, last night to our Chris Cuomo, you know, if he was asked to cooperate and if he was asked to come in testify against anyone. And here's what he had to say about that.


CUOMO: You say you will not testify against the president. You would not bare false witness. I think that's an interesting phrase. But you are open to telling the truth. And is there any chance that the truth you have to tell can compromise other people who were part of the campaign?

STONE: Well, certainly not the president. I have --

CUOMO: Anybody?

STONE: -- no information. You know, I have to know what the circumstances would be. But it's highly unlikely. First of all, this idea that I was in regular contact with the campaign after Paul Manafort left is not true. Frankly, I didn't have a high regard for many of the people working there. The people in the grassroots, yes, but the people in Washington, many of them had no idea what they were doing. And they are not close associates of mine. So, this idea that I was trying to curry favor with them, I have no reason to do so.


PROKUPECZ: You know, Ana, I think also it's important to keep in mind that the idea that the Mueller team or that the FBI or anyone here would even want Roger Stone to cooperate and to provide information, it would have to be something pretty extraordinary for them to go ahead and do that. Because, by all accounts, they have not talked to Roger Stone. They have not reached out to him before the arrest.

So, there does not seem to be an avenue for any kind of cooperation. And Roger Stone, there, simply says that he has no plan to cooperate and that he's going to fight. CABRERA: All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much. Let me

get Political Commentators S.E. Cupp and Van Jones in here with me. OK, S.E., he's been indicted for lying. Do you believe anything he is saying?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Roger Stone is a performance artist. He is the Cajun Cunningham of politics. Sometimes that's, sort of, comical.

I remember, just by way of anecdote, many years ago, he summoned me to a dinner to try to convince me to run for mayor of New York City. Not to win, just to mess with people. And he ended up, because I declined, endorsing Kristen Davis, the Manhattan madam.

He's an agitator. And that's all fun and games until it affects national security.


CUPP: And I think Roger Stone got a little too close to people who were a little too close to the president. And his fun and games, his agitating performance art got real dangerous. And now, he's -- now, he's in trouble.

[17:05:02] CABRERA: Is that what this is, Van, after his indictment, just an effort to agitate? Or -- you know a lot of people have said, why is he going on and doing these interviews? I mean, isn't that risky? Who do you think he's speaking to?

JONES: I don't know but --

CABRERA: Is he trying to try his case in the court of public opinion?

JONES: Well, clearly, he's trying to do that. But, you know, play time is over. Game time is over. The FBI is for real.

CUPP: It's serious.

JONES: And, you know, you don't want to mess with these guys. And so, I think he was shocked by the show of force that the FBI, you know, brought to his doorstep. That is not a pleasant experience for anybody to go through. I know he's concerned about his wife, his dogs, that sort of stuff. They're fine. He's not.

And he needs to get off television and quit trying to, you know, talk his way out of trouble. He's talked the country into trouble. He needs to be quiet.

CABRERA: He has said he will not bare false witness or make false statements about the president. I mean, is he going to -- but is he going to --

JONES: But it's not just --

CABRERA: Do you think he's going to stay loyal? JONES: Roger Stone, all he does is bare false -- I mean, when Roger

Stone said four nouns and verbs together that weren't false, he has a whole stick. I mean, he loves saying that he's the prince of darkness. He -- you watched the documentary about him.

So, I think what he's trying to do is signal to President Trump, he's going to stay loyal. I think he's trying to play for a pardon in case he gets trouble. The think that's much more of what he's up to.

But the idea that Roger -- Roger Stone lies about the lies that he lies about. That's his whole thing.

CUPP: In fact he -- I mean, there was talk, some time ago, that him being a known liar would actually save him. That he's be able to, sort of, use that as a defense. That this was -- this was just his thing. That this is what he did. I mean, that's how --


CABRERA: But it was like lying in his communications with the president. But let me -- let me bring up a tweet. You talked about this idea of a pardon, Van. And is that what Stone is asking for? We don't know.

But this is what the president has tweeted. This was in December. I will never testify against Trump. This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue, an out-of-control prosecutor, to make up lies and stories about President Trump. Nice to know that some people still have guts. Do you think, S.E., that that is signaling a possible Stone pardon? Is that where this is headed?

CUPP: I think that's what he is probably hoping for. He knows the president rewards loyalty.

CABRERA: But is that what President Trump, do you think, is trying to tell Roger Stone? You stay with me, and I got your back?

CUPP: He's done that before. And so, I think probably.

JONES: Yes, that's message sent, message delivered.

CUPP: Message received.

JONES: Message received. Message received. That's got a, like, I see you. I've got you. I mean, that's the only -- I mean, that's the only reason --

CUPP: Secret handshake.

JONES: Yes, secret handshake. A little -- a little like a -- what do you call it, like a --

CABRERA: A wink and a nod.

JONES: Yes, a wink and a nod. Little hand signals.

CUPP: Roger Stone has the decoder ring.

CABRERA: We joke but this is -- this is serious stuff, when you think about it.

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: I mean, think about this. Let me show you the image here with our now six people. The sixth associate is Roger Stone to be indicted by Mueller, who's connected to the president. And this is the first time Russian hacking and WikiLeaks are connected directly to the Trump campaign, through this indictment and the allegations that are laid out.

S.E., will this change the GOP loyalty to Trump?

CUPP: If that's where this ends up, and we have to wait and see what comes out of this. But I imagine it would. Look, this was all, sort of, delaying the inevitable. You know, Devin Nunes pretending at Oversight, kind of burying a lot of -- a lot of these transcripts so that -- so that Mueller couldn't investigate.

CABRERA: Although the irony is, the transcripts from Stone's interview, --

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: -- with the House Intel Committee --

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: -- when Devin Nunes was overseeing it in December, were given to Mueller. That's when the transcripts were given.

CUPP: Well, right. And I think a lot of people thought, well, we've got Republicans in Congress who are willing to run cover for me. And that was going to fall apart, at some point. Devin Nunes can't live forever. In fact, he didn't live forever as chair of Oversight.

So, this was all going to come out, at some point. And Roger Stone, I think, was just, sort of, crossing his fingers, hoping, well, I've got enough friend who will cover for me. Roger Stone has no friends. Roger Stone's M.O. has always been to have enemies and to, you know, use them against one another. So, no one's coming to save Roger Stone.

CABRERA: Jay Sekulow, the president's personal attorney, Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary for the White House, have said adamantly that these charges, this indictment has nothing to do with the president. Is that how you see it, Van?

JONES: Well, no, I don't. And the president's behavior lets you know that there's something wrong here. If you've ever seen a guilty person, they act just like this. They're upset about everything. They're looking around every corner. They are -- they change their story every 15 seconds. There was -- they're mad (ph) at this person. They're trying to acquit this person.

[17:10:00] That's how guilty people act in the hood, and that's how the guilty person is acting in the White House. It's just -- it's that more than anything else. He cannot stop the tell. He's -- it's a tell about the way the president is behaving.

Now, what in particular he's trying to cover up or he's worried about, that remains to be seen. But there's something going on here.

CUPP: I would just say. I don't think we have to rush to indict or implicate the president. I think that will bare out. And if anyone other than Trump, I would say -- I would say you're right. But he has always operated from a defensive crouch. That has always been him, long before this criminal spotlight of an obstruction inclusion was shown on him. He always, sort of, acts defensively.

So, I don't know, we'll find out. I mean, this thing is coming to bare soon, and we'll know a lot more than we do right now.

CABRERA: S.E. Cupp, thank you. Van Jones, stay with me. Don't forget, S.E.'s show is at the top of the hour, "UNFILTERED," at 6:00.

The other top story we're covering today, the government finally reopened. But is this just a band aid or the start of a real negotiation?

We're also following breaking news out of Louisiana. Five people are dead and the suspected gunman on the run. We'll have those details. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.


[17:15:00] CABRERA: A humiliating loss, that's how one Trump adviser describes to CNN the deal the president struck to reopen the government. Remember when he said this on Christmas?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can't tell you when the government's going to be open. I can tell you, it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they'd like to call it. I'll call it whatever they want.


CABRERA: Well, after 35 days, Trump changed his tune, agreeing to reopen the government for three weeks, while the White House and Congress continue to negotiate funding for border security. A deal that was originally proposed weeks ago, back in December.

CNN's Boris Sanchez joins me now from the White House. Boris, the president was adamant that he would not go back -- he would not back down without his border wall. What changed?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, a number of things. For one, the president closely watches cable news. And, as you know, over the past few weeks, we've seen several polls indicate that the president's support was slipping as his disapproval rating was going up during the shutdown.

Secondly, on Thursday, it appears that the president got a phone call from Mitch McConnell. A source telling us that the Senate Majority Leader reached out to the president, telling him he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold Republican senators together over the issue of immigration. Apparently, several of them became frustrated, voicing displeasure with the way that the White House had handled the shutdown. Saying that there was no clear strategy for the White House to end the government shutdown.

Then, of course, yesterday, we all saw delays across the country at airports because air traffic controllers, people who had not been paid during the government shutdown, were calling in sick. So, all of that put pressure on the president who, ultimately, relented. And, though, now, he's saying that did not concede. That he did not give into Democrats. He gave Democrats exactly what they had been asking for several weeks, while getting zero sense for his border wall. Not even that dollar that Nancy Pelosi jokingly promised him for border wall funding.

So, now, as we head into the rest of these negotiations for another 21 days, Democrats are emboldened as Republicans are figuring out exactly what this president is going to want -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. What is the mood like behind the scenes there at the White House?

SANCHEZ: Well, the president, no need to say, he is frustrated. Beyond that, some of his aids are concerned because of how much political clout has been spent on this border wall. And how much time. We've, essentially, spent 35 days fighting for something that the president does not appear to be any closer to getting.

People who are close to the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, apparently say that he has approached the president about tackling other domestic policy issues. Perhaps lowering drug prices or infrastructure. But the president doesn't seem to be interested in any of those. He is fixated on this wall. And, again, it doesn't look like he's going to get it anytime soon -- Ana.

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

While the longest government shutdown in history is finally over, workers across the country are still facing uncertainty. I talked to a TSA screener earlier who is still waiting on that paycheck. And he told me this.


ALLEX HUTCHINS, SCREENER, TSA: Ana, I'm kind of feeling a little frustrated. Even though we're opening the federal government back up, it's temporarily. And so, pretty much what you're doing is you're kicking the can down the road. We're trying to plan and live our lives not by 21 days. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Back with me now to discuss, CNN Political Commentator Van Jones. Van, when you look at the approval rating for this president, 37 percent only. And, yet, 53 percent disapprove of his job. Combine it with the polls that show the majority of Americans blame him for the government, 53 percent, compared to 34 percent who blame Pelosi and Democrats. Doesn't the question become not did Trump cave, but rather how could he not cave?

JONES: Yes. Well, listen, he got whooped, stomped, just beat. I mean, Nancy Pelosi, all my fellow progressives were saying, Nancy Pelosi, she's finished. She's yesterday. We don't want her any more. But you better be glad you had a seasoned, tried and true warrior there with the speaker's gavel to deal with the situation. And she dealt with it.

And, listen, it is just a humiliating, just butt whooping for the president. And Nancy Pelosi looks like a superstar because she just says, we're just not going to do this. We can't give him one penny. Because if we do this, he's going to be throwing these temper tantrums for the next two years, maybe six years. We're going to take it on right now and say we're going to -- if you want to have this conversation, you do it through regular order, regular committees. Do all the stuff you ordinarily do. You don't get to throw a fit, hurt people and get your way. And grandmama Pelosi showed up and Trump is in a time out.

CABRERA: Grandmama Pelosi. A lot of people have focused on what this means for the president. What do you think this means for Nancy Pelosi?

[17:20:02] JONES: Well, I think Pelosi is -- she proved -- you saw it when they were sitting in the Oval Office together. It was -- you know, Schumer was there, and he did a good job. But it was really Pelosi that was taking the president on. And she was trying to assert something, which I think we forget in our culture, that Congress is a co-equal branch of the presidency. We don't have a --

CABRERA: And, remember, there have been a few who weren't supporting her to even be the speaker.

JONES: Well, that's what -- that's what I was saying. We had a lot of progressives in our own party that say, we don't want her to be speaker. They were saying, oh, she's too old. She's too this. She's too that. Nobody could have handled that better than Nancy Pelosi.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about your show coming up at 7:00 here tonight. You talk to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Here's a preview.


JONES: Strategically, first, do you think you could beat Trump in Ohio?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I would say that I will beat Trump in Ohio where they know me best. And I'll beat him in my home state. I'll beat him in his home state, New York, where they know him best.

JONES: How's that, huh?

BROWN: I've been working on that.

JONES: That was awesome.


CABRERA: He says he's been working on that. So, did you get an answer on whether he's going to run?

JONES: You've got to watch my show. You've got to watch my show. I'm not going to give it away. But I tell you what, he is a -- he is a rarity in American life. He ran in the state of Ohio where Trump I think won by eight points. And he run -- he won his race by six points. So, in other words, he won by a landslide in a state where Trump won by a landslide. So, you had a lot of people who voted for Trump and him.

Why? Because even Republicans feel Sherrod Brown's on their side. He's on the side of working people. When he starts talking about, you know, waitresses and what they go through. It's arresting because you just don't hear senators who have that kind of touch and feel for the working class.

So, he's an unusual person. I would say he's the best leader you never heard of in America. Do you know what I mean? And it was an amazing interview.

CABRERA: I'll make you a deal. I'll watch your show at 7:00 if you watch my show at 8:00 following your --

JONES: Happy to do it. Oh, it -- that's a deal.

CABRERA: All right, deal, deal. We'll shake on it after the segment.

JONES: right.

CABRERA: But I do want to ask you as well about another new role you will be taking on as CEO of the Reform Alliance. This is an organization started by Jay-Z and Meek Mill, aiming to reduce the number of people serving unjust parole and probation sentences.


CABRERA: Why did you want to take this on?

JONES: Well, listen, I've been doing criminal justice reform work for 25 years. I graduated from Yale Law School in 1993 and moved to Oakland, California. I've been working on this stuff for years and years. This was a huge opportunity.

It's not just Jay-Z, which is amazing, and Meek Mill, which is amazing. It's Robert Craft, you know, the billionaire owner of the Patriots. I mean, there's two wrappers and six billionaires that all came together and said, look, you've got people stuck in this revolving door of probation and parole who end up going back to prison, not because they were a car jacker or robbed a bank. But because they were 10 minutes late to a meeting with their probation officer, now they've got to go to prison for -- or jail for six months. They lose their house, their jobs, their kids. They have no appeal.

This is happening all across the country. We talk about the 2 million people who are locked up. But there are 4 million -- 4 million people we who are caught up in the revolving door of a broken, too punitive probation and parole system. If you can fix that, you can shrink the overall system by quite a lot.

Meek Mill who ended up going back to prison, he was given two to four years because he popped a wheelie on his motorcycle. And that was the straw that broke the camel's back. People all around the world said, this is ridiculous.

And Meek Mill, to his credit, he said, when I get out, I'm going to help everybody. Everybody says it. Nobody does it. He did it. And his big brother, Jay-Z, stood beside him. And now, you've got a big movement happening now around probably and parole reform. Something people hadn't really thought about.


JONES: But affects 4 million Americans badly.

CABRERA: They're putting their money where their mouth is.


CABRERA: And, Van Jones, you're part of it.


CABRERA: And we look forward to seeing where it goes. Congratulations. Good luck --

JONES: Thank you.

CABRERA: -- on the project.

JONES: Good to tell you about it.

CABRERA: Thanks for being here with us. As always, tonight at 7:00, Van talks to both Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Meghan McCain. That's only here on CNN. Don't miss it.



CABRERA: Breaking news out of Louisiana. Five people are dead. A massive Manhunt is underway for a suspect believed to have killed his parents and three other people. We're going to go right to our Kaylee Hartung for an update on this story. Kaylee, what have you learned about this suspect?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, this morning when Elizabeth and Keith were shot in their home and police responded, they were able to identify their 21-year-old son, Dakota Theriot, as the man who shot them. Both of them later died in the hospital.

And as the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Department began searching for this killer on the loose, meanwhile in neighboring Livingston Parish, they were investigating the murder of three family members there, Billy, Summer and Tanner Ernest. When these two departments spoke with one another, they came to believe that all five murders were, in fact, committed by this man, Dakota Theriot. Dakota known to have a relationship with one member of the Ernest family.

Now, this is all unfolding in the southeast Louisiana, just outside of Baton Rouge. Here's more from the Ascension Parish sheriff.


BOBBY WEBRE, SHERIFF, ASCENSION PARISH SHERIFF DEPARTMENT: The good news is, we know who did this. And we will soon find this person and put him in jail where he belongs. This is probably, I would say, one of the worst domestic violence estimates I've seen in a while. For a young man to walk into the bedroom and kill his mother and father and then kill friends in Livingston that he had a connection with.


[17:30:02] HARTUNG: The sheriff went on to say, they believe this is an isolated incident. They don't believe anyone else is a target for murder. Ana, when this man is on the run armed and dangerous, the sheriff cautions anyone he comes into contact with could be a target.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: What should people be looking for then. You have a description of the car?

HARTUNG: That's right, Ana. You see in pictures of the suspect at this point, Dakota Theriot. Police are sharing a picture of the pickup truck. They believe this man is headed east toward Mississippi. You see this gray 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck. That's a Louisiana license plate on it, C583-809.

The caution that this man is armed and dangerous. Dakota Theriot on the run, suspected for the murder of five people this morning.

CABRERA: Kaylee Hartung, thank you.

Now to the reaction coming in to that predawn arrest of Roger Stone. The guns drawn, the FBI took Stone into custody yesterday morning. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charging Stone, that Stone the stolen e-mails from WikiLeaks that could damage Hillary Clinton's campaign while coordinating with senior Trump campaign officials. Stone calling the charges politically motivated. Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, who the e-mails were stolen, reacted to Stone's arrest in a "Washington Post" editorial. Let me quote for you, "To anyone keeping abreast of this unfolding event in the Mueller investigation, this level of sleaze is not at all surprising. The walls have been closing in for some time. As a key member of Trump's inner circle, Stone and his course of conduct during the campaign and after have exemplified a culture of cronyism and corruption that ignored all ethical standards and rewarded fabrication over the hard truth of reality."

Another member of Clinton's 2016 campaign team, Karen Finney is joining us now as a CNN political commentator.

Podesta was a direct target. Karen, you were a member of Clintons campaign as well. What's your reaction to Stone's indictment and the details we learned from it?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, my initial reaction was the quote from Martin Luther King about the arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice. That was the first thing I thought of, as the Mueller -- as this process has gone on, and the pieces start to fall into place. And obviously we'll learn a lot more when hopefully we get to see the final report from Mueller. We're starting to see the pieces align. And in the middle of the campaign certainly that summer of 2016 into the fall was very clear that something -- we knew about the Russians. And then we saw the DNC hacking going on. Just the way the bots were releasing information, it was clear something bigger was going on here. But we just didn't have all the pieces. And I think what we've seen since this investigation has been on going is that now that we're starting to learn the truth. We are starting to see what really happened.

CABRERA: Here's how Stone defended himself last night here on CNN.


ROGER STONE, LONGTIME ASSOCIATE OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: Where's the Russian collusion, Chris? Where's the WikiLeaks collaboration? Where's the evidence I received anything from WikiLeaks or Julian Assange or passed it on to Donald Trump or the Trump campaign?


STONE: It simply does not exist.


CABRERA: He says no collusion in this indictment. Is he wrong?

FINNEY: Well, a couple things, right? This is a little bit of a verbal game that Trump and his cronies have been using all along. Just because it's not in the indictment doesn't mean -- that we're seeing, doesn't mean that it didn't happen. Doesn't mean we won't see it later. I think we've all come to realize that there are certain things that Mueller has been careful about, not naming certain individuals, and I think putting certain things in some of these documents, I think that's as much a testament to wanting to hold some things back. Here's the other problem Stone has. You can't have it both ways, right? You can't go around bragging about being a dirty trickster, and how you had dinner with Julian Assange, which he did. That piece turned out not to be true. We know from factual evidence he was in communication with an intermediary who was in communication with WikiLeaks which we now know was an arm of Russian intelligence. You can't say it's true and then on the other hand say it's not true. And then when there's just the hard, cold facts that prove it, you can go on television and say it's not true, but as we've seen over the last couple years, that doesn't mean it's not a fact.

CABRERA: But is it possible that Stone was unaware that Russia was behind the hacked e-mails in.

[17:34:56] FINNEY: It doesn't appear that way. It's pretty clear he knew -- here's the thing to remember about Roger Stone. He's been a dirty trickster since the '70s. And he was in business with Paul Manafort. They were lobbyists, we know that with regard to Manafort, we know they were lobbying and a lot of work in the Ukraine, and a lot of questions to the Russian oligarchs, it strains cred credulity to think he wouldn't have known. There were all sorts of -- we knew that the Russians frankly again had -- were -- had been hacking -- behind the hack of the DNC. We knew the Russians were -- remember some of the timing of this, that's what I mean by some of these pieces. We know that in the summer you've got Roger Stone comes and says, you know, I've got some -- a link to someone that has some@ dirt on Hillary. Then we know there's the Trump tower meeting happens. Then we see, which is in June, then in July, Stone sort of brags about knowing that something's coming, then something hits. And then a couple days later, you have that speech where Trump says, well, I sure hope if the Russians have this information they -- right?

CABRERA: Hope they're listening.

FINNEY: That's right. And so -- it's just too many coincidences. And I'll -- one more thing, Ana, that I think is really important that John put in that editorial, and that is, this is a White House that, from day one, has been lying to the American people about the truth. And the problem with doing that, even on things -- small things is that right -- that now, you can't believe anything they say. And certainly, Stone has clearly lied about all sorts of things, small and large. And so this is -- you know, that makes it hard in a moment like this, to say, well, let's give him the benefit of the doubt, when you have the facts and you have the other fact that these are people that are consistently willfully lie to the American people.

CABRERA: Well, it goes back to the evidence not just being what people are saying but actual documents, texts, e-mails, tapes, we don't know. But he's got those things that apparently corroborate the charges that he's bringing.

Thank you so much, Karen Finney, for being with us.

FINNEY: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Tragedy in Brazil after a dam collapses. The death toll is continuing to rise. We'll have the latest just ahead.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



[17:42:34] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're happy to get paid, but the damage is done. People's lives are damaged over -- you know, those people who lost careers, people that -- their credit is messed up, all kind of damage is done. People can't afford medicine. People -- yes, we're happy it's over, but at what cost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both me and my wife are federal employees. I was furloughed, she was working without pay. So we went -- you know, we went a month without any sort of income or any sort of note knowing what's going to happen next. Which was -- it puts your life on hold.


CABRERA: The plight of workers left unpaid during the government shutdown has -- it's the reality we see playing out through these government workers who are just one missed paycheck away from financial disaster.

We keep hearing about the booming U.S. economy. You look at Wall Street, stock prices are soaring. The Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 all going up, up, up. The job market appears upbeat. The unemployment rate remains low.

Here's what's not headed in the right direction, your wages. When compared to inflation, real wages have been flat or going down. The point is very simple. You don't need an MBA to grasp it. This should be a strong robust economy, yet so many middle-class Americans are struggling. We've seen minimum wage workers trying to get $15 per hour. We've been told to accept the reality of the new economy. Now the government shutdown has let us see the plight of even those with government jobs that come with benefits.

Joining us now, Robert Reich, a former Labor secretary for President Clinton and adviser to a number of Democratic presidents. He's also CNN senior economic analyst. The author of "Saving Capitalism for the Many Not the Few."

Robert, thanks for being with us.


CABRERA: Let's forget Pelosi, forget about President Trump. What does this situation tell us about America's middle classes? Even the government workers are one missed paycheck away at a time when so many people should be prospering.

[17:45:02] ROBERT REICH, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: It tells us that prosperity is not broadly shared in this country, even though on paper it looks good. It looks like the United States over all in terms of the economy is doing gangbusters, actually average working people are not doing so well. A job security is a thing of the past, and 78 percent of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck. They don't have any savings, they certainly don't have even $500 for an emergency. This kind of thin ice that American workers are skating on is a big, big social problem, that's a political problem, but most of us, it's a moral problem. Why should so many people in the richest economy in the world be so close to poverty?

CABRERA: Let me read a tweet from earlier this week. "I urge federal workers who continue to toil without pay to stop working, and those who are furloughed to picket their workplaces. Trump's callous disregard for all of you and the public welfare must end."

You tweeted that before the shutdown ended.

Does the temporary end to the shutdown change your mind or do you think those federal workers should dig in and demand more?

REICH: Well, I think federal workers really should have our appreciation for working, for five weeks without pay, 24,000 of them, the rest of them furloughed and not given any pay, well, yes, they -- we owe them a great debt of service and a great debt of gratitude, but beyond that, if this starts again from now, I would not be surprised if a lot of federal workers said, look, I'm not going to take it anymore. I'm either going to leave the federal civil service or I am going to call in sick. I think a lot of air traffic controllers did that, and that actually shut down the shutdown. That ended the shutdown when that started. Just hours after air traffic controllers in broad numbers and not in an organized way. I'm not suggesting the union organized them to do this, they called in sick. I think that brought the shutdown to an end.

CABRERA: I want to switch gears, ask you about this issue of a wealth tax that's come up with a number of Democrats. You have Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposing taxing the wealthy as high as 70 percent to fund a climate change plan. And Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is campaigning for 2020, she's throwing out this proposal, a new tax on those whose net worth is $50 million or more. Do you want to see your party get firmly behind these significant tax increases for the very rich in an effort to reverse the widening wealth gap?

REICH: Absolutely. Under Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican president, the marginal tax on the very wealthy was 91 percent. Even with all of the tax credits and deductions are figured, in the very wealthy were paying at least at the margin in terms of their highest incomes, they're paying over 50 percent. That is fair. We have lost sight of that degree of fairness. We can't afford Social Security, Medicare, the military. We can't afford any of the things we are doing for much longer without some sort of a recognition that the very rich who have never been as rich at least since the 1890s, relative to the rest of the country pay their fair share.

CABRERA: What kind of infusion would that mean for the economy. People making more than $50 million had a net worth of more than $50 million were taxed at 2 percent. As she's proposing, and people making over a billion dollars attacks an additional 1 percent? REICH: And that would probably be in the range of $6 billion to $9

billion a year. Some estimates put it at $12 billion to $15 billion a year. Whatever it is, it does mean a huge amount of money to bring down the federal debt and also to do the kind of investments in infrastructure, education, basic research that we need to do to make sure the American workforce does actually prosper in this new world economy. We're not making them and we're living off of investments that were made in the 1950s and '60s.

CABRERA: Robert Reich, good to have you with us. Thanks so much.

REICH: Thanks. Good to see you.

CABRERA: Good to see you, too.

[17:49:30] We've all been there, stuck on the side of the road with a blown tire. We'll tell you who came to the rescue when Colin Powell needed roadside assistance. And how the former secretary of state responded. Coming up next on the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: A staggering tragedy in Brazil, and we may not even have seen the total scope of it. This dam burst near an iron mine, flooding it with water and mud and toxic sludge. Hundreds of people were working inside the mine at the time. At least 34 are confirmed dead. Their bodies were found. At least 400 are not yet accounted for. Dozens have been rescued, some of them literally plucked from the mud. Something similar happened three years ago. A dam burst at a different iron mine in Brazil destroying an entire village and killing 19 people.

A 3-year-old missing for three days after wandering off was found alive and now back home with his family. The boy was playing with two relatives in his great-grandmother's backyard when he apparently took off. Search teams combed through thick woods for three days. A resident reported she heard the little boy crying. He was crying for his mom. The boy's mother says he's good, up, talking, and asking to watch Netflix.

[17:55:09] Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is praising a disabled veteran who stopped to give him assistance when his tire blew out. Anthony Maggert (ph) was wounded and lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan. He spotted Secretary Powell trying to fix a tire. Maggert (ph) pulled over, offered to help. Powell was happy to pose for a little selfie. The four-storm Army general posted this thank you to Maggert (ph) on Facebook, writing, "You touched my soul and reminded about what this country is all about and why it is so great. Let's stop screaming at each other. Let's take care of each other."

So on that note, that does it for me for now. I'm Ana Cabrera. Thank you for being with me. I'll see you back here tonight at 8:00 Eastern.

My colleague, S.E. Cupp, continues our coverage of today's news right after a quick break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)