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Death Toll Rises In New Zealand Attack; President Trump On Massacre; Candidates Respond To Massacre; Risky Vs. Safe Presidential Candidates; Boeing 737 Planes; FAA's Inspection Program Under New Scrutiny; Trump Signs 1st Veto to Protect Emergency Declaration; Trump Slams "Fake Dossier" Despite Several Claims Being Verified. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 16, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: I want to welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. You are live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

And this week in New Zealand is a nation in mourning. Still deeply in shock just days since the worst ever act of gun violence there. And the death toll has just gone up.

This is the public outpouring of sadness and disbelief in Christ Church. Police officials just announced that now 50 people are dead. All of them shot while attending Friday prayers at two separate mosques in Christ Church. Dozens more people were wounded by gunfire. Some of them children.

Today, we learn the accused gunman, a 28-year-old Australian, sent a long, hate-filled manifesto to the prime minister's office just minutes before the deadly attack began. This is his first court appearance. He's now charged with murder. And officials say more charges will definitely follow.

This is how the shooting suspect was taken down by police on Friday, a half hour after the shots first rang out. We're going to go live to New Zealand now and CNN International Correspondent Alexandra Field. Alexandra, the country's prime -- police commissioner, he just spoke to reporters with the awful news that another victim had died.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this news is certainly weighing heavily on the minds and the hearts of everyone in this community. It is Sunday morning in Christchurch. We are at one of the memorial sites that has sprung up for the victims of this terror attack.

The feeling of shock is still palpable here. The heaviness, the weightiness of all of this being felt by every person in this community. We've seen signs posted along the way here, like stay strong or we stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters. That's really the message that is being delivered at this time of deep grieving. We're hearing from the police commissioner that the names of those who were killed in the attacks have been shared with the families. Family members are also waiting for the bodies of their loved ones to be returned.

At the same time, Ana, we are hearing more about what it was like inside those mosques when the terror unfolded.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AHMED KHAN: And the guy shot at me, but I dodged down. So, he missed me. And then, I run back to the mosque and tell everyone to go to the ground, because there's someone with a gun who's going to shoot everyone. Then, everyone went to the ground and then he started shooting through the windows.

KHALED AL-SHDOKHI: I saw the bullets on the wall. The man came inside and we couldn't do anything. Just I looked -- I was sitting next to the window. I smashed the window and escaped through the window. And many people went after me, and we went -- we went to the backyard.

SUE HARRISON: After the gunshots stopped had stopped for, you know, a few minutes, we peeked out the window and we could see people in the backyard of the mosque sort of milling around. And, you know, they were upright. They weren't running. They weren't panicking. They were just, sort of, walking around. There was wailing going on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FIELD: And there is still so much mourning this morning. The new death toll, as you mentioned, Ana, 50 people. Fifty others injured. Among them children, even a two-year-old.

CABRERA: Oh, that is so sad. All the result of one lone gunman, according to police. Alexandra Field, we know you're going to continue to stay on top of the investigation and the community as they respond to this horrific act.

Fifty people were injured in those mosque attacks. Two are still in critical condition. Police in New Zealand are focused on finding answers. And one item at the center of their investigation, the alleged gunman's manifesto. Page after page of hate and white supremacist language.

CNN Senior National Correspondent Alex Marquardt has more on that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a diatom (ph) filled with hate, anger and vows of revenge. Eight- seven neatly formatted pages of ranting about immigrants, minorities and Muslims. More than 16,000 words that the 28-year-old, who says his name is Brenton Tarrant, posted on social media shortly before the attack. The attacker repeatedly calls immigrants invaders and says immigration must be crushed. And like other white nationalists, he falsely claims there's a genocide of white people underway.

CROWD: Jews will not replace us.

MARQUARDT: It's the kind of toxic message heard in Charlottesville and from the Charleston massacre shooter, Dylann Roof. The New Zealand shooter references Roof's attack in his manifesto. Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Breivik, who killed 77, mostly children, is held up as an inspiration.

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER, NEW ZEALAND: These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and, in fact, have no place in the world.

MARQUARDT: The U.S. president is also referenced once, calling President Trump a symbol of renewed white identity, though he says he doesn't consider Trump a leader.

[17:05:04] The suspect claims to not belong to any organization and decided to carry out the shooting, which he admits is terrorism on his own. An attack he said that he'd been thinking about for two years and chose the targeted mosques three months ago. He expresses no remorse for those he planned to kill, even the children.

With white nationalism growing in the U.S. and in Europe, the gunman points to a number of global events that fueled his hate, including a terror attack in Sweden's capital in 2017 when an asylum seeker plowed a truck into a crowd killing five.

MARQUARDT (on camera): New Zealand is usually a calm and peaceful place. And the gunman said, that's why he chose to carry out the attack there, to show that nowhere is safe. As for the choice of the weapons used in this slaughter, guns, he said it was made specifically to rile up the debate here in this country, the United States, over the Second Amendment.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: The New Zealand police commissioner says more charges will be filed against the suspect in this case. His next court appearance is scheduled for April Fifth.

And joining us now with more on the investigation and the impact on the Muslim community, Wajahat Ali, contributing op-ed writer for "The New York Times" and Asha Ringappa, former FBI special agent and a CNN Legal and National Security Analyst.

And, Wajahat, let me talk to you first. Synagogues are closed today. We know there's heightened security at places of Islamic worship. I'm just wondering, how is the Muslim community feeling today? How are you feeling today?

WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": So, Thursday night is when I heard. I'm sitting in Virginia. I get a WhatsApp message from an American Muslim father of two teenagers. He reads about 49 people who are killed while going to Jumuah prayer.

For the audience at home, for those who don't know, Jumuah prayer is Friday prayer. It's like Sunday mass. Early afternoon. Kids, family members, you take everyone. You go. You pray. You hear Arabic in the background. Your kids are running around. And afterwards, you know, you eat some falafel (ph) or have a plate of biryani (ph). Forty-nine people went to pray and they didn't come back. That was their last prayer. That's in New Zealand.

I'm sitting in America. And an American father says to me on WhatsApp, how will I keep my kids safe? Why? This affects all of us. The memory is fresh from October, just a few months ago, when a shooter with the similar type of fear and ideology, the great replacement, right. He said, I want to punish HIAS (ph) and any other group that is bringing refugees to invade our country. I'm going to go in and screw the optics, and I'm going to get them before they get us. He killed 11 worshippers where? In a synagogue.

The shooter in New Zealand references the shooter in Quebec who two years ago, walked into a mosque and killed six people. A white supremacist attacked aashiqui Hardrada (ph) few years ago. This affects all of us. And this is a globalized ideology of hate. All of these white power movements. All of these white nationalist movements. They're anchored by a white supremacist ideology that says the white man or the white civilization is inherently superior. The Jews are the head of a Kabul that are using immigrants, black people and Muslims to overpopulate us, weaken us and subordinate us. We're going to get them before they get us. He used the word, invasion, Ana, several times.

CABRERA: He did.

ALI: Do you know who else used the word invasion? Donald Trump.

CABRERA: Just yesterday, in fact.

ALI: Just yesterday while trying to be presidential.

CABRERA: And Asha, just -- I'm, kind of, you know, at a loss of words, when you think about where we are in this world right now. After an attack like this, is there a heightened risk of copycats or greater threat of another terrorist taking action?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. And I do think that both law enforcement and Facebook did the right thing by trying to take down videos that then, you know, inadvertently, if not consciously, kind of, glorify the violence and might encourage that.

You know, I want to point out, with regard to what was just said about this being a globalist ideology. I do think that law enforcement in the United States should start thinking about this as an international terrorism ideology the way we do with other extreme ideologies. We continue to think of white nationalists, KKK as, kind of, domestic threats. And you don't have the same investigative or, you know, terrorism -- anti-terrorism tools to fight that the way that you do when it's considered an international phenomenon.

CABRERA: You have --

ALI: I agree with Asha. I made a reference, an analogy, for audience members to understand. It's white ISIS. And people say, how can you say that? Counter terrorism experts say that violent extremists, whether they join Al Qaeda or white supremacists, they share the same DNA. The same -- the same pathway towards radicalization. The same factors, aggrieved people, angry, dislocated, who find purpose in community online. That's where they're radicalized. They find an ideology that gives them a sense of purpose, Ana. These people think they're heroes. He thinks he's saving western civilization.

[17:10:02] Some people choose violent Islamic radicalism. Other people choose white supremacy. No gray area, right? Us versus them. It's very similar. And it's a global infrastructure. The ideological infrastructure of white supremacy is thriving online. They use it to recruit. The use it to radicalize. And they use it to target.

So, in America, we have no problem going after ISIS and Al Qaeda. But there's a double standard. When the suspect is Muslim, media covers it seven times more than when it's a white suspect. Look at the labelling, lone wolf versus terrorist.

And Asha is completely right. We're failing from the top down. Donald Trump is completely impotent when it comes to white supremacist and Putin. When it's an ISIS member, he tweets. He talks about extreme vetting. He talks about the Muslim ban. He can't even say terrorist. I don't think he has yet.

When it happened in Charlottesville, again, I want to make the connection here, the New Zealand shooter, his manifesto is called the great replacement. What were the white supremacists in Charlottesville saying? The Jews will not replace us. Donald Trump said, very fine people. You have to name it. You have to prosecute it. And we need to actually have an equal standard when attacking the ISIS recruits and white supremacists. It's very similar.

CABRERA: Well, let me -- it's not just President Trump, though, who are making comments, as you point out. I mean, just today, in fact, we have the interior minister in Italy saying this. The only extremism that deserves attention is the Islamic one. That was his response when he was asked if attacks similar to the one that took place in New Zealand could happen in Italy due to his aggressive rhetoric.

Asha, what's your reaction to that?

RANGAPPA: It's just wrong. I mean, from a national security and international security perspective, it's simply wrong to not understand the commonalities, as we just heard from them. And remember that social media and the Internet has really changed the landscape. There are no longer boundaries, in terms of disseminating this ideology. These platforms are made for virality, to increase, you know, the circulation of them. And it's also designed to keep people online as long as possible. So, when you have people who are not engaged in their community or their church or sports or their friends, the people that are online all the time are people -- precisely the people that are going to be the most vulnerable to finding a community -- an extreme community of one kind of -- or another, and getting sucked into that vortex and potentially committing violence.

So, you know, one kind of extreme versus another, making distinctions is really not helpful from a legal point of view.

CABRERA: Asha Rangappa, Wajahat Ali, thank you both for being here.

ALI: Thank you.

CABRERA: We have information about how you can help the victims of the New Zealand terror attacks. Just log onto CNN.com/impact. We'll be right back.

[17:13:02]

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CABRERA: Welcome back. President Trump is, again, facing criticism for his response to a deadly hate attack. Here was the president after the world learned of the slaughter of 50 people by an avowed white supremacist in New Zealand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These sacred places of worship were turned into scenes of evil killing. You've all been seeing what went on. It's a horrible, horrible thing. I told the prime minister that the United States is with them all the way, 100 percent. Whatever they need, we will be there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see, today, white nationalists as a rising threat around the world?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's a case. I don't know enough about it yet. They are just learning about the person and the people involved. But it's certainly a terrible thing. A terrible thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joining us now, Julian Zelizer, a historian and professor at Princeton University. Also Michael Schear, White House Correspondent for "The New York Times." Michael, why can't President Trump directly call out white nationalism?

MICHAEL SCHEAR, WHITE HOIUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know, this -- I mean, that's a good question, Ana. I mean, it has been evident since at least Charlottesville, when he struggled, obviously, to call out the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville who were -- you know, who were chanting such horrible things about Jews and others. And he only was able to, kind of, condemn them in a -- in a, sort of, everybody's equal kind of way, condemning the counter protesters as well.

And what we've seen, time and again, is that the president doesn't affirmatively go out and try to -- and try to condemn this kind of hatred. When the synagogue attack happened a while ago, the Jewish leaders in Philadelphia said, look, you have to come out. And we don't really want you to come here until you come out and condemn this kind of hatred. And he didn't. I mean, he ended up going anyway. But it -- this is just the latest example of his hesitance that, I think, leaves everybody scratching their heads.

CABRERA: Julian, as a historian, you've studied past presidents. How should a president respond? What words should he say after horrific events like this?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, part of this is to show his empathy with the people who have suffered and the people who were killed. But, then, a president needs to be resolute about the problem at hand. And we've seen President Trump do this with other sorts of problems.

So, President Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which happened here in the United States lots of love for the families that lost loved ones in building. Followed through on that by trying to crack down. That's what a president needs to do, not wishy washy, not tweeting about other matters right after this event happens.

Is there risk of going too far? President Clinton, after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 which happened here in the United States, had very -- words of love for the families who lost loved ones in that government building.

[17:20:00] But, then, he went after both white nationalists and the toxic atmosphere in which they were emerging. And, actually, followed through on that by trying to crack down. That's what a president needs to do. Not wishy washy. Not tweeting about other matters right after this event happened.

CABRERA: But is there risk of going too far? Because President Clinton was criticized, in part, for his response for calling out conservative media, for example, and tying that to what happened in Oklahoma.

ZELIZER: It -- there is a danger, although he stood by that. And he said the danger of rhetoric is something that needs to be taken seriously. It was one of his most important speeches. And he said we can't ignore what words do, especially when they come from reporters and politicians. And, now, I think that problem is even greater.

So, I think even if there is a risk of some kind of backlash, President Clinton showed it was actually the right call. And the situation's gotten worse.

CABRERA: Michael, we don't have to wait to see how the president's view differs from some of the Democrats looking to replace him. Let's watch Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker in Iowa today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In this country, we may look different. We may pray different. Right? We may love different. But what unites us is this shared, shared belief in our dreams for America. It is the same part of the world, where you have a small group of people that actually doesn't want to see other people that don't look like them in this nation and in this world. So, it's our job to stand up against that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This toxin, this viral evil, it' not -- we don't have a monopoly. It's America. Look what happened in New Zealand. This is a scourge of humanity. Bigotry and hate. And we need to know that we are more in danger right now --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Michael, is this going to be the driving theme of Democratic contenders in the coming days?

SHEAR: Well, I think it's going to be a driving theme, because what they want to do is draw a contrast between themselves and the president.

And, look, I think Julian's right, that there is an affirmative responsibility for any president to, sort of, look at what should be said. But I think this president, in particular, you know, has his own rhetoric to deal with. Right? His own past rhetoric to deal with. This isn't a president who has been neutral about this subject and, now, an incident happens and he has to say something.

This is a president who uses many of the same phrases, many of the same -- much of the same language that white nationalists use. The -- in the manifesto that this alleged shooter made, he talked about an invasion of immigrants. He talked about people pouring across the borders in Europe. Those are exactly the same phrases that this president uses.

And so, I think the Democrats, understanding that people have seen that kind of rhetoric from President Trump, are trying to do anything they can to distinguish themselves. Because when -- because, ultimately, one of them is going to have to run against the president. And that distinction is going to be important to building the case for voters to vote for them and not for him.

CABRERA: Julian, I want to pivot the conversation, just slightly, and stay with 2020 because we have another candidate who just joined the race this week, Beto O'Rourke. That's make, I think, 13 candidates, by CNN's count of official declarations of being part of the presidential race for 2020. You have a piece on CNN.com, exploring risky versus safe candidates. Who's in your risky category? Who's in your safe category? And how do you define them?

ZELIZER: Yes, I roughly put in the safe category, obviously, Joe Biden, who I think many Democrats see as the person who could probably beat President Trump. Klobuchar, in many ways, I think, has taken that lane as well as one of the safer candidates. The ones who are seen as risky. Beto is, obviously, one of them but so is Senator Sanders, in some respects. Can you run someone who's been a social Democrat? Senator Warren is often painted add someone too left.

But my article argues that the least safe candidate was the one who won for Democrats in recent history, 2008, Barack Obama. And the person who's seen as the safe candidate might not, actually, be able to inspire and organize. So, Democrats have to sort out exactly what is going to be necessary for 2020.

CABRERA: All right, Julian Zelizer, Michael Shear, always good to have both of you with us. Thank you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

SHEAR: Sure.

CABRERA: In the wake of the global grounding of the Boeing 737 Max fleet, new questions are emerging about the outsourcing of FAA inspections. And why are Boeing employees overseeing their own employer? A CNN investigation is next.

[17:24:40]

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CABRERA: We could be closer to finding out what caused the crash of the Boeing 737 over Ethiopia last weekend. Reuters is reporting French investigators have successfully downloaded the cockpit voice recorder from the jet's black boxes. The French say they didn't listen to the recordings but forwarded them to Ethiopian investigators.

There's also this. "The New York Times" is reporting investigators at the crash site recovered the plane's jack screw, a device that helps raise or lower the plane's nose. And it was set to dive, setting up a scenario similar to the October crash of a Boeing 737 in Indonesia. Now, this happening as CNN's Drew Griffin reports the FAA's inspection program is coming under renewed scrutiny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DREW GRIFFIN, CORRESPONDENT: It may make no sense to you, but it's all about the cents or dollars the FAA just doesn't have. Because the FAA doesn't have the resources, the federal agency tasked with making sure new airplanes are safe is allowed to outsource inspections to delegated organizations, or ODA, which are designed to perform the authorized functions of the FAA.

[17:30:07] Who are they? In this case, they are Boeing employees hired by Boeing, paid by Boeing to oversee Boeing. DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Not a mischaracterization. The

fact is, through the Organizational Designated Authority, Boeing hired their own people, they certify their own people, they oversee their own people with how they get this airplane manufactured. The FAA has very little if anything to do with the actual manufacturing of the aircraft once it's been approved to be manufactured.

GRIFFIN: Boeing and other manufacturers oversee certification of aircraft, engineering design, manufacturing, operations and maintenance on behalf of the FAA. The FAA says it does oversee that work, telling CNN: "Teams of FAA engineers and inspectors conduct regular oversight of an ODA to ensure any approvals or certificates issued meet the FAA's strict safety standards."

The FAA considers these designees an arm of the FAA. And for the most part, it has worked. But in light of recent crashes and concerns over a redesigned Boeing plane, critics say the ODA program may need an inspection of its own.

SOUCIE: I do believe it's time to relook at this and to see if the activity or involvement between the FAA and Boeing is enough.

GRIFFIN: Past inspector general reports have highlighted potential risk that inspectors hired by companies would have inadequate qualifications or a history of poor performance to approve certification projects. Another report found the FAA cannot be assured it has the right number of people in the right places to oversee the ODA program. The FAA did report indicated it was developing a new ODA process. It's unclear from the FAA if that has happened.

The inspection process and its oversight is exactly what Congressman Peter DeFazio is concerned about in the recent crashes involving the reengineered Boeing 737 MAX.

For some reason, that approved redesign did not include retraining pilots on a new automated computer system to prevent aircraft stalls and steep assents. Following the crash of Lion Air 610, Boeing did issue a bulletin. But pilots have complained they had no idea the system was on their planes or how it worked. DeFazio wants to know why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER DEFAZIO, (D), OREGON: The question here is, why did this plane go out without requiring pilot retraining. The argument apparently made by Boeing was, it was the same as all the other 737s. It isn't. It has a system that none of the other 737s had. So people needed to be trained on it, and it -- they weren't. There's questions of how the FAA approved the manual that didn't even include any mention of the MCAT system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN (on camera): Boeing got back to us, telling CNN that even though it does employ its own inspectors, the company insists Boeing employees serving in this capacity act independently on behalf of the FAA when performing in this role. Meanwhile, the investigation into both crashes continues.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: A rebuke on the border. Twelve Senate Republicans blocked Trump's emergency declaration. Is this a sign of Republicans are now breaking from the president?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:37:45] CABRERA: President Trump makes good on his promise and issues his first veto since taking office. It follows a rebuke by a dozen Republican Senators. They voted with Democrats to reverse his national emergency declaration to fund the border wall.

Matt Lewis is a senior columnist at "The Daily Beast" and a CNN political commentator, and Alice Stewart is a Republican strategist and also a CNN political commentator.

Matt, you wrote an op-ed praising the 12 Republican Senators. You wrote, "It's a rare instance of Congress showing itself to be strong and willing to stand for itself against the executive branch."

The vote is going to override this veto will come up short. Why was this so momentous to you?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I don't know if Democrats would have done this, if President Obama did something kind of similar like this with DREAMers, where he had said, I can't -- I'm not a dictator, I'm not a Caesar, I can't just make this sweeping immigration decision, and then he later did it, I don't remember a lot of Democrats standing up to him and saying, that's wrong, that unconstitutional, that that went against separation of power. So the fact --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: It's different than the national emergency declaration the president did using the power of the purse, right? This president -- current president, Trump, has done a number of other executive orders that Republicans haven't stood up to and said, no, you can't do that.

LEWIS: No, look, I do agree that this is worse than what Obama did. I think it's somewhat similar. My point is this, the fact that you have 12 Republicans who courageously stood up and said, no, Mr. President, I don't care that you're Republican, this is wrong, I think that's a step in the right direction.

CABRERA: Alice, do you agree with, Matt, that they really sent a message here? ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They sent a message,

however, the problem with that is that the president was within his lawful authority to declare a national emergency. It's within the president's discretion to use powers to declare a national emergency. He did so. You may not like it, you may wish we had gone about securing the border in a different fashion, but it's the president's discretion to determine what the national emergency and he did so.

CABRERA: You don't think those Republicans agree with you? A lot of them agree that there needs to be something done about immigration. However, they said this is beyond the president's power.

[17:40:07] STEWART: They certainly -- obviously, we have different views on this, or they wouldn't have voted in the way they did. The problem is, a lot of them have spoken with many of them. They feel as though this sets up a precedent for future presidents. If the next Democratic president comes up, he could use his executive authority to make sweeping changes with regard to climate control, gun control or the like issue. The reality is here, the president is using his lawful authority to declare a national emergency. Look, I never thought Mexico was going to pay for the wall. I wish we had had bipartisan consensus on how to secure the border, how to go about building a wall or making sure that we have safe -- along the border as well as sweeping immigration changes. We haven't gotten there. If the president was ever going to flex his veto muscle. This is the issue to do it.

LEWIS: Why do we even --

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: This is his signature -- this is his signature campaign issue --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS; Why do we have a Congress, though?

STEWART: To flex his muscle on this.

LEWIS: Why -- if this -- why have a Congress though, right? It doesn't matter if it's a good idea or a bad idea to build the wall. Donald Trump went to Congress and said, give me the money to build the wall. They said no. He said, OK, I'll shut down the government if you don't give me the money. They said, OK, shut down the government. Then he said, guess, what? I don't need Congress. If he didn't need Congress, why did we go through six months of asking Congress? Then he decided to go around. Why have a Congress if the president can declare emergencies and do what he wants?

CABRERA: You're right, Alice. This is the president's signature issue. He couldn't get Republicans to go along with him here.

STEWART: You absolutely need bipartisan cooperation to get this done. Ideally we would have gotten this done during the first two years of his term when we had Republicans in control of the House and Senate. But to Matt's question, why do we have a Congress, we have a Congress

so they can get things done.

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: We can all agree, we need to secure the border. We need immigration reform. This is what Americans want. American do want to make sure -- we also protect --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: The majority of Americans don't believe the border wall is necessary, not do they agree with the president's --

STEWART: Right.

CABRERA: -- emergency declaration on that move.

Matt, when you talk about the 12 Republicans really breaking with the president, and what a courageous move that may have been, you look at the list here, and only Susan Collins is planning to run for re- election. The rest of them aren't running for re-election in 2020. How big a risk was it for them to stick their necks out.

LEWIS: I think that tells you all you need to know about how courageous a vote this was. It's dangerous.

Ben Sasse is someone who should have been on the side of the Constitution, should have been on the side of separation of powers. I think he caved in. And the argument -- maybe it's a plausible one -- he had to, right? You look at Thom Tillis down in North Carolina. Wrote an op-ed in the "Washington Post" a couple weeks ago talking about how unconstitutional this move was. He ended up backtracking and completely caving. Why? Because he wants to be re-elected. It's not a popular thing to do to go against the president. Most voters think we elected a Republican president and we elect Senators to be a rubber stamp to do what the Republican president wants. I happen to think that Congress actually is a co-equal or maybe even superior branch of government that has the power of the purse, that gets to decide whether or not to spend money. That is a novel notion in the Republican Party and the conservative movement these days, sadly.

CABRERA: Matt Lewis, Alice Stewart, good to have you with us.

STEWART: Thank you.

CABRERA: Always appreciate when we have different opinions, too, especially when you're both conservatives.

The president is ramping up his attacks on the Steele dossier, calling it fake. But new evidence shows a lot of it is turning out to be true, not all of it though. We'll take a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:48:31] CABRERA: We have new information this weekend on the Steele dossier. Former British spy, Christopher Steele, admitted in a deposition that he used Internet searches and unverified information to support details he gathered about a web company mentioned in the dossier. Steele describing some steps he took to verify information in 2016, including polling from a user-generated Citizen Journalism Initiative operated by CNN iReport, which no longer operates.

All this as President Trump once again slammed the dossier on Twitter, calling it, quote, "the fake dossier paid for by Hillary."

Now, it was a conservative Web site funded by a major Republican donor that first hired the firm behind the Steele dossier, though the DNC and Clinton campaign later helped pay for its research.

As CNN senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown, reporters, several allegations in the dossier have been verified, but not all of them. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New evidence about how Russian intelligence might have exploited a private web-hosting company of Russian technology entrepreneur, Aleksej Gubarev, in an effort to trick Democratic targets into giving up their passwords. The fruits of those hacks formed the basis of the WikiLeaks e-mail dumps that roiled the race. This, according to expert analysis done on behalf of "Buzzfeed" by former FBI cyber agent and CNN contributor, Anthony Ferrante, as part of a civil suit between "Buzzfeed" and Gubarev.

[17:50:01] ANTHONY FERRANTE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR & FORMER FBI CYBER AGENT: The scope of our investigation was to conduct a technical investigation to determine the accuracy of the allegations stated in the Steele dossier.

BROWN: The 35-page dossier by former British spy, Christopher Steele, claims Gubarev played a, quote, "significant role" in the hacking operation under duress from the Russian security agency, FSB. Gubarev has denied involvement in the hack and sued "Buzzfeed" for publishing that portion of the dossier. The analysis does not show Gubarev or his company knew anything about whether the hackers used his company servers.

An attorney for Gubarev tells CNN, "Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted the 12 Russians responsible for the hacking. Those are the folks responsible, not us."

TERRANTE: What we determined was that there were 16 specific and unique instances in which we could tie XBT infrastructure, or its affiliates, to significant malicious cyber activity.

BROWN: But it does not address the more explosive claims, that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But that fraud of the fake dossier, the phony dossier. BROWN: Over the last couple of years, Special Counsel Robert

Mueller's Russia investigation, as well as congressional committee probes, have corroborated some aspects of the dossier, including the claims the Russians tried to develop a closer relationship with Trump by offering him lucrative real estate business deals.

TRUMP: Zero. I mean, I will tell you right now, zero. I have nothing to do with Russia. Zero. Zero.

BROWN: Trump's former fixer and personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified that he and Trump were, in fact, negotiating a potential deal about building a Trump Tower in Moscow, with efforts continuing as late as the summer of 2016, as Trump was clinching the Republican nomination for president.

Despite past denials of ever doing business with Russia, Trump now brushes the project aside.

TRUMP: This deal was a very public deal. Everybody knows about this deal. I wasn't trying to hide anything.

When I run for president, that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to do business. I was doing a lot of different things when I was running.

BROWN: And despite Trump's claims of little to no contact with Russia, prior to his election victory and inauguration, we have learned, in fact, at least 16 Trump associates had contacts with Russians either during the election or the presidential transition. One such interaction took place in June 2016, at Trump Tower in New York, when Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort all met with several Russians who offered dirt on Clinton.

And Vladimir Putin himself has admitted one of the central allegations of the dossier was true, he preferred Trump to win the election, rather than Hillary Clinton.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal.

BROWN (on camera): It is important to note other parts of the dossier have not been verified, including a claim that has gotten a lot of attention. The claim that Michael Cohen traveled to Prague in the summer of 2016 to coordinate with Russians in order to cover up the Russian election meddling. Cohen has denied this repeatedly, including under oath, to Congress, just recently.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Our thanks to Pamela Brown.

[17:53:19] The massacre at two New Zealand mosques is showing how serious right-wing extremism is around the world. And as vigils and memorials for the 50 victims continue, a member of the community will join us here, next.

You're live in the NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK

CABRERA: The death of a parent is a trauma that leaves a lifelong impact on children. After losing her dad when she was 14, Mary Robinson struggled with depression until she finally got help in her late 20s. For two decades now, she has dedicated herself to making sure other children don't lose years of their lives to unresolved grief. Here is why she is this week's "CNN Hero."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: My name is Bella and my dad died.

MARY ROBINSON, CNN HERO: Kids in grief are kids at risk.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: (INAUDIBLE)

ROBINSON: Time does not heal all wounds. Time helps but it's what you do with that time. And what you need to do is mourn.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: When you hear other people's stories, it brings comfort.

ROBINSON: That's why a place like imagine exists, so children can mourn their loss and find out that they're not alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: To meet the families Mary is helping and to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to CNNheroes.com.

[18:00:02] You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thank you for being here.