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President Trump Hammers Immigration Policy; President Trump On The Mueller Report; Three Churches Burned To The Ground; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota Interviewed About The Mueller Report; Fact- Checking Trump's Claims on the Border; Government Court Filing Says Could Take Up to 2 Years to Identify Thousands of Families Separated at Border; Trump Says Barbara Bush Had Right to "be Nasty" to Him; Russia's Vladimir Putin Flexes Muscles in Arctic Polar Region. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 6, 2019 - 17:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So Congress must end catch and release so that illegal border crossers can be quickly and safely returned to their home. Get out, sorry. Get out, sorry, we can't handle it. And I told my people yesterday, our country is full. We're full. Our system is full. Our country is full. You can't come in. Our country is full. What can you do? We can't handle any more. Our country is full. You can't come in. I'm sorry.

And the asylum program is a scam. Some of the roughest people you've ever seen, people that look like they should be fighting for the UFC, they read a little page given by lawyers that are all over the place. You know lawyers. They tell them what to say. You look at this guy. You say, wow, that's a tough cookie. I am very fearful for my life. I am very worried that I will be accosted. People I never (ph) sent back home. No,no. He'll do the accosting.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: This follows a week of back-and- forth threats to close the border all together followed by a threat to increase tariffs on Mexican cars.

CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez joins us now. Boris, the president was speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition. How was his message received?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Yes, this was a mostly friendly crowd, so there was applause and laughter, as you heard there when the president made those comments about refugees seeking asylum.

The president used the opportunity to talk about Israel and tout his record on Israel, talking about recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights; also about moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. And the president also talked about his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, saying that if Jared couldn't get Middle East peace done, then no one can. The president also took the opportunity to bash Democrats,

specifically going after former President Barack Obama for the Iran nuclear deal, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over the green new deal. And he also went after Ilhan Omar. Listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And a special thanks to Representative Omar of Minnesota. Oh. Oh. Oh, I forgot. She doesn't like Israel. I forgot. I'm so sorry. Oh. No, she doesn't like Israel, does she?


SANCHEZ: So, the president making a joke there. He had been rattling off a list of pro-Israel Republicans and mentioned her name in there. Of course, Omar was criticized for comments she made about pro-Israel political action committees that were deemed by some to be anti- Semitic. The president using that as an opportunity to try to curry some favor here with Jewish supporters.

The last thing I wanted to point out is that when the president talks about these UFC fighters among the asylum seekers. Part of the reason that we're hearing from Customs and Border Protection and other government agencies that there is a national emergency on the border, that it's unlike anything we've seen before, is because of the kind of person that's trying to get into the United States.

It's not a large influx of adult males, but rather women and children, families that are looking to get away from some of the problems that we're seeing in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Not the kind of person the president is talking about who is, in his eyes, looking to come to the United States to cause all sort of problems -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez in Las Vegas. Thank you.

I want to bring in our CNN Political Commentators Van Jones, Host of "The Van Jones Show" airing tonight at 7:00; and Alice Stewart, Republican Strategist and former Communications Director for Ted Cruz.

Alice, former Obama senior advisor, David Axelrod, he reacted to Trump's speech this way. And I read his tweet here. Stunning to me, as the son of Jewish immigrant who fled persecution in Eastern Europe to hear a president to declare to today's refugees that our country is full. And yet, right now, he is speaking to a Jewish audience seeking their votes. Hard to square.

What's your response to that?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's important to take into context what he is saying. And he has been quite clear all along that he is going to stand firm on immigration and securing the border. And when he's saying or country is full, he is specifically referring to people trying to come into this country illegally. And that's the context of what he was referring to. And this is on the heels of him being down at the border, him taking a look at the border, and reaffirming his commitment to building this wall. That it was a major campaign promise for him, and that is something that really rallies his base. So, that's the context in which he was saying. And keep in mind --

[17:05:00] CABRERA: But what we heard is he was making fun of asylum seekers.

STEWART: But I -- as -- again, this was speaking to a group of supporters, the Republican Jewish Coalition. His way of commenting on this issue and reaffirming his message and his commitment to securing the border and immigration is different than anyone else. And what some see at making fun of people, this is Donald Trump's way of communicating.

I don't support and I don't condone and I don't agree with a lot of the method in which he conveys his message. But I do agree with the message that we need to get tough on immigration. We need to secure our borders. We need to enforce existing immigration laws.

And this is his way of communicating his message, one that is not foreign to anyone who has supported Donald Trump. And this is him speaking on a critical issue for him out in the -- basically, at a campaign event. And we're going to see much, much more of that as we move closer to 2020.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: You know, I appreciate that, you know, Alice doesn't like the way he's talking from a tone point of view. But also, just substantively. What he's saying is just not true. First of all, the idea that it's about illegal immigration or undocumented immigrants. It is not illegal to come and seek asylum, period. It's just not illegal.

In fact, the United States led the world, to David Axelrod's point, what had happened in this country. Let's not forget our history. We, shamefully, turned Jewish people away who were fleeing Hitler's ovens, fleeing the Nazi death troopers and storm troopers, and tried to come to America. And we, literally, turned boats back and sent people back to the ovens. And Americans, as a country, said we will never, ever do that again.

If you are a refugee, we will at least hear your story. We'll at least give you a chance. We'll at least give you an opportunity. And setting that standard in the last century, led the world toward having a much more compassionate understanding about what refugees are going through. You cannot tell the truth about the people who are showing up on our doorstep today, because who's showing up are kids and moms who are fleeing, you know, death squads and all the kind of terrible stuff that's going on.

So, instead, it's not just the tone that's bad and the mocking and that kind of stuff, it's the fact that he's lying about who's coming. It's not a bunch of tough UFC people. It's a bunch of children. And he knows that Americans are better than that. And if he told the truth about who's coming here, it doesn't mean you're going to let everybody come in. But you would at least have compassion toward the people who are on our border.

And so, I just feel that this is one of those situations where, you know, if you're -- if you -- there's no way, on the left or the right or any other place in American political spectrum, you can support a president who's not only mocking people who are in trouble, but lying about who they even are.

CABRERA: Alice, do you disagree with that?

STEWART: I disagree with some of that. And, look, I agree with what a lot of Van said. But there are families coming to this country to seek refuge. There are women and there are children. But you can show any frame of video that we have of people coming into this country illegally, you will see a lot of single men coming into this country not for assimilating into this country and not for seeking a better life for themselves.

CABRERA: Let me stop you there for just a second, Alice.

STEWART: But I think it's important --

CABRERA: Let me stop you there for just a second, though, because the facts are important. And we do know, according to the president's administration, that the majority of people they're seizing cross the border right now are women, children and unaccompanied minors. But families and unaccompanied minors make up 60 plus percent of those who are currently crossing the border.

STEWART: I'm not disputing there are a large number of women and children and families coming into this country. But we cannot ignore the fact there are also many people coming here that are involved in gang activity, that are involved in human smuggling, sex trafficking and drug activity. And those are the types of people that the president was specifically referring to today. Those are the kind of people that we need to be more vigilant, and stopping them at the border and turning them around and apprehending them.

JONES: Can I say something about that?


STEWART: Those are the ones that this president is specifically talking about.

JONES: Well, here's the deal. Sure, that's a problem. The reality, though, is that the undocumented immigrants have the lowest crime rate in the country. They have a lower crime rate than black folks, white folks and everybody else. So, let's just be clear, if we're concerned about gang activity, et cetera, we've got a lot of native-born Americans that are involved in that.

But the more important point is this. Most of the people who are involved in that smuggling activity and that stuff, they're not presenting themselves at the border and asking for asylum. They're sneaking through and they're doing other stuff that Democrats and Republicans both have said, they're interested in drone technology and other technologies that deal with that.

So, again, to smear the refugees with this idea that they're, you know, mostly or all or in a significant number, gang members turning themselves in for asylum, I just don't think that makes a lot of sense.

[17:09:58] CABRERA: OK, let me move on to taxes because I know the president and the Republicans maybe are focusing on immigration. They think that is a topic that works for them politically. The president, perhaps, says he's looking ahead to 2020.

But we also know Democrats are more focused on oversight of this president and holding him accountable. They want to get their hands on his taxes. And a Trump official tells CNN, the president will go all the way to the Supreme Court to keep his taxes secret, saying, quote, "This is a hill and people would be willing to die on it."

Van, is this a hill Democrats are willing to die on?

JONES: Look, I think there's -- first of all, the Democrat Party now has a duck -- a bunch of different camps. You have the people who are running for president, and they are not focused on these type of issues. They're focused more on, you know, jobs, health care, the economy, and stuff like that.

But you do have a bunch of folks in Congress and those people feel that there has been a lot of oversight. And that there is a threat to the country, not understanding what Trump owns, where his money comes from, and it makes it very, very hard to know if he's violating the emoluments clause or any number of other things without us having that information.

And so, I think that there are some Democrats who are willing to die on that hill. And, listen, I don't understand why, as proud as he is of his fortune, he wouldn't want more people to know about it. But this is going to be an ongoing fight.

CABRERA: Alice, there's a letter we have from Trump's attorneys. And in it, they argue that if the IRS were to acquiesce to this request from the House Ways and Means Committee, it would set a dangerous precedent. But didn't Trump set a dangerous precedent by not releasing his tax returns, like basically every president before him?

STEWART: Ana, he set a precedent. I'm not sure if it would be deemed dangerous but it is concerning. I was one of the many Republican challengers against this president who pounded our fists on the table, asking for him to release his tax returns. I think American people should see the financial interest in the taxes of those running for president and certainly as president.

But I can pretty much take this to the bank that if he has made it this far without releasing those tax returns, it will come heck or high water before these are released. And this is something that he has been quite clear on, the administration has been quite clear on, and his reelect campaign. That's something that he is simply to not wanting to release.

And he can continue to say that he's under audit and they cannot be released. And I would imagine that he will continue to say that until he absolutely cannot say it anymore. I just don't expect we will ever see his tax returns. I think moving forward, there should be some movement to make sure that if you run for president, that your tax returns should be released. The American people should see this.

But Van makes a good distinction. I think that many of those Democrats that are asking for this are those currently in Congress, whether they're in the House or Senate. And it is a -- it's good and I think a wise move by many of those running for 2020 are focusing on the other issues that are of concern to Americans, such as jobs and the economy and those types of issues. They're not getting sidetracked with this, which I think that's a wise political move if you're running for president. It's focus on what your constituents and what the Democratic base wants to hear, and let those in Congress worry about the tax returns.

CABRERA: OK. So, as we have this battle over the tax returns, we also have this fight to see the full Mueller report. And tonight, I know, Van, you talked to Amy Klobuchar, speaking of 2020, about Attorney General William Barr and how he's handled the Mueller report. Let's listen.


JONES: Do you trust Bill Barr? I mean, Bill Barr, he put forward that four-page summary. He's the attorney general. Do you trust him?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did not support the attorney general. I didn't vote for him because I was so concerned. He wrote, a few months before he got named, a memo that was 19 pages. It was like a job application in which he basically espouses belief to have unlimited power for the president, called executive power. And that made me really concerned that he was putting in that position that you're supposed to be upholding the laws, not the White House. And so, that's what makes me concerned.

On the other hand, I am glad that he's said he's going to make this report public and he's going to do it soon. And I just don't want to find out that he's redacted every sentence in the report.

JONES: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: So, we're going to wait to see what he does.

CABRERA: Van, today, the president tweeted this. The Democrats, no matter what we give them, will never be satisfied. Is he right?

JONES: Well, he's right about some. I mean, there's no -- there's no doubt it. You do have a Mueller mania that was going on for a long time in our party. And if people, I think, still want -- they want to see it, if they see it and they don't like it. But that is a minority.

I think the majority of Democrats in this party, they just want to make sure that before we close the book, we've read all the chaps. And I think that's fair. And I think there's a good reason to be concerned, when you do have leaks and whispers of people who worked on the report, saying Barr's summary was awfully, you know, tamed compared to what we actually put in the report. And I think that has given Democrats real passion about finding out what's in it.

[17:15:01] And, by the way, it's not just Democrats. The entire Congress voted, saying they want the report released, Democrats and Republicans. And the American people, 80-90 percent, want the report released.

So, I think that, you know, the Democrats are more passionate, but they're representing, I think, the vast majority of Americans.

CABRERA: Van Jones and Alice Stewart, I've got to leave it there. Guys, thank you so much. Be sure to tune in to Van Jones show featuring senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar and actress, Taraji P. Henson. That's tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Suspicious fires destroy three black churches in just 10 days. All in the same Louisiana parish. The FBI now joining the investigation. We'll have the latest on what they're uncovering ahead in CNN Newsroom.


CABRERA: An FBI investigation is now underway after three historically black churches in the same Louisiana parish burned in the last 10 days.

[17:20:00] Each of these churches has a large African-American congregation, prompting suspicion among the state's fire marshal and authorities. CNN's Kaylee Hartung following this for us. Kaylee, no injuries have been reported. Whew. But authorities are not calling this string of events coincidental. What do we know?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, because these fires burned in the middle of the night, thankfully no one was hurt. But the similarities extend beyond the timing of these three churches being burned to the ground in the last 10 days. Each of these churches is very active in their community. The St. Landry Parish in Louisiana for more than 100 years. And each of these buildings is located on or near a rural highway in that area.

Now, authorities have not yet been able to say that they can conclusively connect these three fires. But they say they see some similarities, in that they have identified what they're calling suspicious elements in each case. And they say those are being thoroughly probed.

But the state fire Marshall cautions that any arson investigation, it takes time. It could take months. It's one of the most complicated and unconventional crime scenes that investigators can work in because all of the evidence was burned. And these three churches all reduced to not much more than rubble.

But, Ana, the sheriff in Ranger Parish says he hears the pleas in the community to solve this crime and he says progress is being made.

CABRERA: I understand the FBI has now joined this investigation. What do they think a possible motive could be?

HARTUNG: So, authorities haven't come to any conclusions about motive. But given that we're talking about three churches with African-American congregations, there is a recognition that it could have been racially motivated. Authorities are cautioning not to jump to any conclusions. And the pastors for these three churches, they came together for a conversation with other pastors in the community. And they say, you know, they don't want to be stoking fear in this community.

And Reverend Harry Richard, at the Greater Union Baptist Church, he said, we don't know who's doing this and we don't know why. But he says he doesn't want to be the one to inject race into the conversation until they have more answers. He is praying that this community doesn't panic.

And in the meantime, Ana, he has a sermon to plan for his congregation who will meet in a temporary location. Listen to the message he hopes to deliver.


REV. HARRY RICHARD, GREATER UNION BAPTIST CHURCH: God's grace is on undeserved merit. I know we don't deserve this, but he gives us something better than this. And that's undeserved grace. I thank god for grace.


HARTUNG: Authorities say they are allocating extra manpower. They have authorized overtime for some to work on this investigation to determine who's responsible and why, Ana. And also, to protect people as they go to church this weekend.

CABRERA: I know. It's going to be very unnerving. Thank you, Kaylee Hartung, for that update.

New information today about thousands of migrant families separated at the U.S. southern border. We're learning it could take up to two years to reunite moms, dads and kids who were separated under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy.

Ahead, I'll talk with an ACLU attorney who says that's not fast enough to fix the damage. You're live in CNN Newsroom.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CABRERA: The government is now admitting it could take up to two years to identify potentially thousands of additional immigrant families who were separated at the border as part of the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy. We'll have more on that in just a moment.

But first, let's fact check the president's border policy and rhetoric. As much as the president likes to threaten closing the southern border.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I will do it, just like you -- you know I will do it. I don't play games.


CABRERA: Experts say that's not even possible to physically close the entire border. The southern border alone is almost 2,000 miles long. Only about of 650 miles of that has some sort of barrier currently in place. The Rio Grande also runs along a big chunk of the border.

And then, there's this. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, about $1.7 billion worth of goods go between the U.S. and Mexico daily. So, a shutdown would threaten 5 million jobs that depend on trade between the two countries. And U.S. auto plants would have to close down within a week, we're told.

According to economists, some of the effects of a border shutdown that you, me, everyone in this country would feel, including nationwide shortages of key medical supplies, shortages of foods, like avocados and strawberries.

Last year, when the busiest land crossing in the western hemisphere, San Ysidro, was closed for five hours, the Chamber of Commerce says the U.S. lost an estimated $5.3 million in just those five hours. So, a border shutdown would hurt American farmers, consumers and manufacturers nationwide.

Now, one of the key reasons President Trump says a border wall needs to be built is to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants. But the truth is, most of those who are undocumented in the U.S. right now came here legally and overstayed their visas. According to the Department of Homeland Security from 2016 to 2017 alone, more than 700,000 people overstayed their visas. And a majority of them came through airports, not through this southern border.


The president also claims building more sections of wall will stop drug trafficking. Well, the truth is most drugs from Mexico enter through official and legal ports of entry. That is coming from the president's own drug enforcement administration Drug Enforcement Administration. And the president's new call for staffing to be moved to focus on the areas between ports of entry is prompting lawmakers to express their concern even more drugs could sneak through, disguised as commerce.

While the president likes to say his wall is already being built, that's not true. Congress has appropriated almost $1.4 billion for 55 miles of new border fencing, but construction hasn't started yet. There have been barriers replaced or fixed, like where the president visited yesterday, with funds approved to do that work well before Trump became president, making plaques like this misleading, at best. Under President Trump, not one new linear mile of border wall has been completed in his more than two years in office.

Back now to the government's new plan to -- or new information that the government might literally take years to reunite families under President Trump's zero-tolerance policies, these families that were separated in the last couple of years.

I'm going to talk to Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, who runs the ACLU's Immigrant's Rights Project.

Lee, let's get your reaction, first, to this news that it could take up to two years to reunite families that were separated.

LEE GELERNT, ATTORNEY, IMMIGRANT'S RIGHTS PROJECT, ACLU: I don't even know what to say at this point. It's really shocking. I think this is one of the most shocking moments in a year about family separation. The government is saying we may have separated thousands more we didn't tell but it, we didn't tell the court about it. It only came out because of an internal investigation. Then the government took the position in court, we don't want to try and find these families. It's too much of a burden. The court said, no, we need to try to find these families. In a civilized society we find these families. Now the government is proposing a plan saying they may need up to two years. There's absolutely no reason why they need two years to identify these families. What is really going on here is that, a year into this, the government refuses, refuses to prioritize the health of these children. What doctors have said, the medical community, there's absolute consensus, the longer each child is separated, the more damage that's done, the more permanent it's likely to be. This is shocking what the government is proposing.

CABRERA: Aare you still working with the government on a solution to reunite the separated families?

GELERNT: We are. We have no choice. The government holds the information. At this point, the government is not even saying that the government may take up to two years. They're saying it may take up to two years just to identify the families and give us contact information. At this point, we're not even asking the government to do the reunifications. And all going to put together another team to calls these families and see what needs to be done. And we're doing is asking the government to give us information. The government can put resources in. They put plenty of resources on when they wanted to separate the children, take the children away from their parents. Now when it comes to trying to reunify them, all of a sudden, the government doesn't have enough resources.

CABRERA: It sounds like you're not confidence the right steps are even being taken to get the families back together.

GELERNT: This is only a proposed plan. We intend to push back very hard on this plan and go to the court and say this has to be reject, there has to be a new plan, and we need to do this immediately. We cannot leave these children without their parents for another two years. They're already been separated eight months at least. This is really shocking the government is saying, well, maybe they can be separated for another two years, because we're not going to put sufficient resources on to try and find these families. The government separated them, broke the law in doing so. The judge said this shocks the conscious what the government did. The government didn't track the families. Hard no tracking system. And now they say, well, it's a burden to try to reunite them because we don't have a tracking system. The government should have never separated them, but if they were going to separate them, they should have a tracking system, and now they're using their own callousness to say we need two years.


CABRERA: So is the current system -- is the new current system now set up to prevent a similar situation from happening again? Do you think the tracking in that place now? And one would hope there's no longer separated families.

[17:34:59] GELERNT: That's a great question. To begin with, they are still separating families. We're just learning that and trying to get more information. They know they can't systematically do it because of the court order. Now what they're doing is saying, we're going to separate this family and that family, because we believe the parent is a danger to the child. When we learn about the situation, we learn they're claiming the parent is a danger for nonviolent offenses, even DUIs. That can't stand. We are back in court on that. And the judge has made clear he wants to see a tracking system. If there are more separations, he does not want to be told that the government can't find them anymore. We're trying to work with the government and the court to create a tracking system to stop future separations. I think the government assumes that the American public will take their eye off this horrible situation, I don't believe the American public will take their eye off. I think that for a while the American public thought it was under control. I hope they learn that it's not under control and there are thousands more parents sitting without their parents. They'll be out like they were this past summer.

CABRERA: I want to ask you about the leadership of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The president is saying Ron Vitiello is not the guy to lead ICE. He's currently the acting position, was the president nominate, but the president unexpectedly pulled his nomination. And here was his explanation for doing that.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going in a little different direction. Ron is a good man, but we're going in a tougher direction. We want to go in a tougher direction. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: A tougher direction. Lee, what do you think he means by that?

GELERNT: I don't know, but the recent policies we have seen starting with family separation to denying asylum a fair opportunity to present their claims, are patently unlawful, and they're cruel. I hope people remember their own histories, when the administration talks about cutting off roots to apply for asylum. There's a lot of people whose relatives got here only because we were willing to take asylum seekers. And a lot of relatives should remember what happened during World War II when we sent people back. This is a very dangerous situation. It's not consistent with American values. We will be in court on these policies. We already are. We've already got injunctions, and we will continue to fight in court on these.

CABRERA: Lee Gelernt, with the ACLU, thank you for being here.

GELERNT: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: President Trump says former first lady, Barbara Bush, was right to be nasty to him. Details on that ahead in CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:41:44] CABRERA: President Trump says Barbara Bush had a right to, quote, "be nasty" to him. He was responding to anecdotes from her biography. The book recounts, at the time of her death, she no longer considered herself a Republican due to Trump's rise in the party, and she kept a clock near her bedside counting down the time he was in office. The "Washington Times" quotes the president in an interview this week, saying, "I have heard she is was nasty to me, but she should be. Look what I did to her sons."

In the 2016 primary campaign, Trump called Governor Jeb Bush "low energy," and also criticized former George W. Bush for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Joining us is Mark Updegrove, presidential historian and author of "The Last Republicans, Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George. H.W. Bush and George W. Bush."

Mark, we've talked before about the former first lady's disdain for this president but, again, as a historian, you look back at other situations, what do you make of a very public spat like this?

MARK UPDEGROVE, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: I don't know that it was that public back at the time. They took exception to the way that Trump saw Jeb, and he knew she was a big draw in his campaign, but whenever you see somebody tangle with one of your kids, you'll get involved. As a parent he probably understood this instinct.

CABRERA: This week's series focuses on George W. Bush as he becomes the president of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three weeks after the war begins, American troops take Baghdad. President Saddam Hussein is in hiding.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Bush, in a triumphalist moment, flies onto the USS Lincoln."

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended in the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's impossible to imagine George Herbert Walker Bush standing under a banner that said, "Mission Accomplished." He would not have done that. He was too modest.


CABRERA: George W. Bush governed through some intense times, the Iraq War, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 financial crash. Mark, how is history starting to judge how he handled those events?

UPDEGROVE: You know, it takes about a generation, at least, for us to give a president any kind of a fair assessment about his presidency, because it takes that long for passions to cool. We need to kind of get a sense of the times and look at a presidency alternates more dispassionately. I think what president Bush is getting credit for now is his compassionate conservatism. I think people will see he had good values. They might not have always agreed with the decisions he made as president, but I think they appreciated his good moral judgment for the most part. It's going to take a lot longer for us to sort out the war in Iraq and the financial crisis, and those very complicated and very messy times. But I think it looks pretty certain that the war in Iraq will not be looked kindly upon in history.

[17:45:29] CABRERA: George W. Bush, of course, left office in 2008, but he was not the last Bush to run for president. His brother, Jeb, ran in 2016 against Donald Trump, as we mentioned. What was behind his decision to run, do you know?

UPDEGROVE: You know, I think he felt pressured to run in 2016. He was an obvious candidate. He had two solid terms as a conservative governor in his home state of Florida. He had the Bush brand name behind him. It had been lucky twice before. And while the American people are very wary of dynasties, political dynasties, I think there was some hope that Jeb would throw his hat in the ring. But 2016 turned out to be a very, very different election cycle. Had it been 2008, 2012, Jeb Bush may have been the candidate, but the times were simply not with him in 2016.

CABRERA: Mark Updegrove, good to see you again. Thank you. UPDEGROVE: Good to see you, Ana. Thank you.

CABRERA: Be sure to tune in. "THE BUSH YEARS, FAMILY, DUTY, POWER," airs tomorrow at 10:00 p.m., only on CNN.

Vladimir Putin is flexing his muscle in the Arctic Circle at a high- tech new military base, which will become Russia's closest base to the United States. We will take you inside that military outpost, straight ahead.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:51:27] CABRERA: Russia's Vladimir Putin is flexing his muscles hard in the Arctic polar region. Putin making a push to dominate the resources near the Arctic. Moscow has been busy building new military bases and restoring old abandoned ones there.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is traveling with the Russian army to the top of the word to see firsthand how Putin's polar push is going.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Racing north across the frozen Arctic sea on a Russian army chopper.

(on camera): The Russians are making a huge effort to upgrade their military infrastructures in the Arctic. Several of their bases are fully operational. And right now they're flying us to one of their most modern ones.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): They call this base Northern Clover. The Russian army has already deployed coastal defense rockets here specialized Arctic anti-aircraft systems built to perform in the cold.

UNIDENTIFIED RUSSIAN MILITARY OFFICER (through translation): This is adapted for much harsher weather conditions in the Arctic, temperatures as low at negative-50 degrees.

PLEITGEN: It's part of Putin's long-term strategy to dominate the Arctic.

(on camera): This base has a clear mission, to defend and enable Russia's interest in the Arctic north. As the ice here becomes weaker because of global warming, those economic interests are becoming more important.

(voice-over): The Northern Clover base is in a strategic location in Russia's far east. It seems remote until you look at the world from the top and see that this space is one of Russia's closest to U.S. territory.

The base can house up to 250 soldiers. Aside from its weapons arsenal, it also has high-powered radar to make sure America and its allies don't come close. Russia is pouring major resources into its Arctic endeavor. It's the

only country with a fleet of nuclear ice breakers to open up and control Arctic trade routes that could make trade between Asia and the west much faster and cheaper.

Russia is tapping into national resources in the Arctic like liquid natural gas, deploying floating nuclear power stations to fuel its Arctic ambitions.

UNIDENTIFIED RUSSIAN MILITARY OFFICER (through translation): Our base performs radar control, monitors the air space, secures the northern sea route, and eliminates damage to the environment.

PLEITGEN: The Trump administration seems woefully unequipped to challenge Moscow's Arctic endeavors. While Moscow is expanding and fortifying its position in this vital area, America and its allies lack even the same ice-breaking power of Russia's fleet.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, in Russia's Arctic North.


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[17:55:07] CABRERA: I love that! To experience Judge Mitchell's transformative community and to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to right now.

I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thanks for being here. I'll see you in two hours from now.

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

[17:59:49] S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST: Welcome to UNFILTERED.

We have a ton to get to. Let's get going. Here's tonight's headline. Everybody into the pool. In case you lost track, there are officially 17 Democrats running for president with this week's announcement by Ohio's Tim Ryan, that he, too, is joining the field.