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Freed American in Uganda Kidnapping; Mulvaney, Democrats Never to See Trump's Tax Returns; Buttigieg in LGTBQ Fundraiser; Bernie Sanders' Town Hall in Iowa; Interview with Rep.Judy Chu (D-CA); Motel 6 Settles at $12 Million; DHS secretary Meets with President Trump. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 7, 2019 - 17:00   ET




HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think your strength is that you've been a strong president.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: That's true. I agree. I agree. I'm simply saying everything has to be played now in terms of how we survive.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: An all-new episode of "Tricky Dick" tonight 9:00 eastern only on CNN. Thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The "Newsroom" continues with Ana Cabrera, right after this.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: It's 5:00 eastern, 2:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with me live in the "CNN Newsroom." An abducted American tourist found alive. We begin this hour with a stunning release of an American woman kidnapped in a popular safari park just days ago.

President Trump weighing in this afternoon tweeting, "Pleased to report that the American tourist and tour guide that were abducted in Uganda have been released. God bless them and their families." The freed American is Kimberly Sue Endicott, a 35-year-old from southern California.

Tonight she is safe and unharmed, but her kidnappers managed to escape as well. Authorities in Uganda say all suspects remain at-large. Five days ago, Endicott and her tour guide were on an evening wildlife ride in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park when armed gunmen appeared yanking them from the car.

Their captors used Endicott's cellphone to demand a hefty ransom, half a million dollars. Sources today telling CNN, ransom was paid to secure today's release of Endicott and her tour guide. How much ransom was paid? Well that remains a mystery right now.

I want to bring in journalist Robyn Kriel. Robyn, an amazing rescue. Walk us through what we know about today's release of American Kimberly Endicott. How was she freed?

ROBYN KRIEL, CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Ana, it's not often that we get to have these positive endings to these kinds of stories. We understand according to the tour company, who paid the ransom, we understand that it was a peaceful and uneventful handover. The Ugandan authorities though, Ana, calling it a rescue operation so, we're not exactly sure how it all went down.

We hope to get those details in the coming hours. We do know that the United States did state earlier, the State Department said that they were aware of this recovery operation of Ms. Endicott and also said that they couldn't speculate more or couldn't say anymore because of privacy concerns.

The U.S. embassy issuing a criminal sort of warning on the day that this happened, stating that American citizens should be aware of crimes of this nature particularly by the DRC border. That is a very volatile area, Ana. There are a lot of different armed groups operating there at any given time trying to make money in some form or fashion, some from minerals, others from kidnappings like this.

But this is the first time to my knowledge that we have seen something happening on the Uganda side. And some questions, Ana, was she targeted because she was American? Did these kidnappers know specifically that an American was going to be in that vehicle in that tour at that time?

We do not know if the American agencies or authorities were involved in this, what Ugandan authorities are calling a rescue. We know that they do have military advisers on the ground in Uganda, that's because of the war with Al-Shabaab in neighboring Somalia, but we don't know if they were in an advisory role or perhaps not involved at all.

CABRERA: Thousands of Americans visit this popular wildlife park every year, Uganda's Queen elizabeth national park. How safe is it? Has anything like this happened there before?

KRIEL: Not to my knowledge but there have been increasingly volatile episodes happening in the DRC and in those parks, the Virunga Park, especially rangers being targeted. We know of at least one episode where an American journalist had to hide out for days fearing for her life. So, a number of these smaller episodes, even in some cases westerners being gunned down on the DRC side, but on the Uganda side, not to my knowledge.

And the Queen Elizabeth Park, beautiful, known for its lions that climb trees, known for its gorillas, but we have never known anything like this. And you know, this is going to be something that is concerning and it will definitely have an impact on that park, which unfortunately when the U.S. and other western nations issue travel alerts like this, usually you do see quite a slowdown of tourism in that area.

CABRERA: Like you said, a happy ending. A lot more to learn. Thank you, Robyn Kriel, reporting tonight. Back in the United States, President Trump's right-hand man in the

Oval Office is telling Democrats they can forget about ever seeing the president's tax returns. Acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, made it pretty clear today, his word, "not going to happen."

[17:05:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: Keep in mind, they knew they are not going to get these taxes. They know what the law is. They know that one of the fundamental principles of the IRS is protect the confidentiality of you and me and everybody else who files taxes.

BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS HOST: To be clear, you believe Democrats will never see the president's tax returns?

MULVANEY: No, never. Nor should they. That is not going to happen and they know it. This is a political stunt by my former colleagues.


CABRERA: Not going to happen, never. But it's not what the president has said many, many, times.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I'd decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns, absolutely.

I'm releasing when we're finished with the audit.

I will release my tax returns against my lawyer's wishes, when she releases her 33,000 emails.

I will release them when the audit is completed.

As soon as that is finished, whenever that may be, and hopefully it's going to be before the election, I'm fine with it.


CABRERA: CNN's Boris Sanchez live at the White House. Boris, this isn't the first time the president and people in his inner circle have sent different messages. Mick Mulvaney says, "Nope, never. Forget about the tax returns." Do we take that to the bank or wait to hear the president say it?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, the president previously said the Democrats would have to speak to his attorneys and the Attorney General and you heard him sort of switch position in that montage that you played. We should point out, we've heard from sources on this and behind the scenes, the way that they're aort of portraying this.

It sounds like Democrats are going to have to pry these tax returns from the president's hands. The White House is preparing for a legal fight one that could potentially go all the way to the Supreme Court. Now the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, who is spearheading this effort of transparency, he has said that he believes this is perfectly legal. Listen.


RICHARD NEAL, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: The last eight presidents have released their tax forms, and we think here that there is a mechanism where these forms could be reviewed in a nonpartisan basis and then we would have a chance to decide from there what to do with them.


SANCHEZ: Now you heard Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney previously say that this is a political stunt. Some of the president's attorneys have said that this request is illegitimate. I want to you listen to Jay Sekulow, one of the president's attorneys. He says that giving Democrats what they want would set a dangerous precedent. Listen


JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER OF PRESIDEBT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: This president decided not to because he has an ongoing IRS audit. This idea that you can use the IRS as a political weapon, which is what's happening here is incorrect both as a matter of statutory law and constitutionally.

We should not be in a situation where individuals -- indivdual private tax returns are used for political purposes. As you just said, George, what stops another party from doing the same thing?


SANCHEZ: Now Ana, we have to point out President Trump broke with precedent. He was the first candidate in more than 40 years to not share his tax returns with the American people. That has brought up all sorts questions about what kind of business dealings he has overseas, about how much income tax he pays. Of course, there's no sign yet that he intends to hand those over, Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez, thank you.

Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu of California. Congresswoman, you are on the House Ways and Means Committee chaired by your colleague, Richard Neal, who is seeking Trump's taxes from the IRS. Mick Mulvaney says Democrats will never obtain President Trump's tax returns. What say you?

REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): Well, this is typical Trump administration bluster. I would say to them, read the law. The law is quite clear in Section 6103 of the tax code. It says that the tax returns of any individual shall be provided if requested by the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee or the chair of the Joint Committee on Taxation.

It does not say they may be provided. It says it shall be provided. And the fact this law was passed nearly 100 years ago to stop corruption and to have oversight over the finances of anyone in the United States, but especially the president, who is the most powerful person in this country who has the unique ability to sign federal bills into law and by himself directs an entire executive branch of the government.

CABRERA: The White House --

CHU: It is so important.

CABRERA: The White House is saying they're willing to die on the Hill for this. They are willing to take this fight to the Supreme Court. Why do you think they're willing to fight so hard to keep the president's tax returns secret?

CHU: Well, I'm wondering what they are hiding especially since as you pointed out in your previous segment, the president said many, many times over that he would reveal his tax returns.

[17:10:03] Now, every president has revealed their tax returns over the last four decades. And they've done it because the American people need to know that their president is complying with the tax laws o this nation. That they are paying their fair share and that they aren't taking deductions that should not be taken.

These are things that inspire confidence in the American people and we want to make sure that the president is operating properly.

CABRERA: As Mulvaney points out however, voters were willing to elect Trump without seeing his tax returns. So, how hard are Dems willing to fight for this?

CHU: Well, remember that President Trump wasn't voted in with a majority of the American people's votes. But nonetheless, we still have the oversight responsibility as the tax committee of the House Ways and Means. We are the ones that need to make sure that there is proper compliance.

And that there is indeed transparency for this president so that we can answer the questions that the American people have about this president, about whether the tax law that the president was so eager to pass benefitted him, about whether he has foreign income. And of course, about whether he has paid his fair share of taxes.

CABRERA: I hear what you're saying but that wasn't what Chairman Neal specified in his letter in terms of why he wanted to get his hands on these tax returns. And we're hearing from Trump's lawyers like Jay Sekulow arguing this is just for political gain. It's about scoring points.

CHU: Well, oversight is extremely important and in fact what is key and critical in Chairman Neal's letter is that he wants to see whether our proper audits that were done of President Trump's tax returns. We don't know if there have been thorough audits. We don't know what the results of those audits are.

And we know that Richard Nixon was given a clean bill of health at first by the IRS, but then when the Joint Committee on Taxation looked deeply into his taxes, they found that he had underpaid by $472,000. Then the IRS re-audited him and found that, oops, well actually he really does owe over $400,000.

So, do we know whether President Trump has been properly paying his taxes and whether the audit system is really working? The IRS says that it's auditing the president and vice president every year, but we don't know whether it's being done on a proper basis.

CABRERA: So, if Chairman Neal wins and gets his hands on these tax returns my understanding is he's the only one who will have access to those returns. It's not like they will be made public, right? So then what?

CHU: Well, he will be able to look to see what is going on with these taxes. He can go into executive session with us, the members of the House Ways and Means Committee. But first he needs to see what is there and he will have the expertise to be able to analyze what issues are key and critical and especially whether the audits are being done properly.

CABRERA: Congresswoman Judy Chu, I really appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

CHU: Thank you.

CABRERA: 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg getting personal about his relation ship with his husband. Next, his pointed message for Vice President Pence. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom."


CABRERA: A busy Sunday for Democrats and the race for 2020 including South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Taking direct swipes at President Trump and Vice President Pence at an LGBTQ advocacy event in Washington.

Mayor Pete as he is known back home says it was his deployment to Afghanistan that gave him the courage to come out as gay. But is America ready for a day president? He addresses that too. Watch.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTTIAL CANDIDATE: My marriage to Chasten has made me a better man. And yes, Mr. Vice President, it has moved me closer to God. Struggle is not over with transgender troops, ready to put their lives on the line for this country, have their careers threatened with ruin one tweet at a time by a commander-in-chief who himself pretended to be disable in order to get out of serving when it was his return.

So, next time a reporter asks me if America is ready for a gay president. I'm going to tell the truth. I'm going to give the only answer that I can think of that is honest, and it's this. I trust my fellow Americans but at the end of the day there is exactly one way to find out for sure. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Buttigieg is one of several Democratic contenders out on the trail today. Look at the map. And we have CNNs Ryan Nobles in Malcolm, Iowa where Senator Bernie Sanders is holding a town hall and I understand is still going on. What's the big headline there so far, Ryan?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, a little bit of history being made here in Malcolm. We're told that this is the first time a presidential candidate has ever visited this tiny town just off of I- 80. In fact, it has population of less than 300.

And in this little hall behind me, there may be more than 300 people listening to Senator Bernie Sanders give his pitch to these Iowa voters asking them to build on this revolution he believes started here four years ago when he challenged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

And you know, Bernie Sanders usually sticks to kind of a very narrow, not narrow, but usually sticks to his talking point at events like these, but over this weekend he's actually been taking some questions from some of the folks here in Iowa. That is par for the course when you're making this pitch to voters.

[17:20:02] And one of the things that he talked about that made some news is he had a question directly about the rights of felons when it comes to voting. And Sanders has long been in favor of ex-felons who have left prison getting their full rights back and the opportunity to vote after they served their sentences.

But he was asked a pointed question about whether or not felons should have the ability to vote while still in jail. It's something that they do in his home state of Vermont and Sanders says, yes, that he endorsed that plan and he thinks that is something that the United States should look out a little bit more broadly, that allowing folks that are in jail while serving their sentences the opportunity to cast a ballot.

Now, that may end up being a bit controversial. That's a little bit further out than some of his Democratic opponents have been willing to go, but that's an example, Ana, of how these Democratic candidates are finding a way to stand out. This is a very big field. A lot of different people with a lot of different ideas and there is only so many votes to go around.

Bernie Sanders trying to find at least one issue that can he stand out from the crowd on and try and convince these Iowa voters ahead of their caucus coming up next year. Ana?

CABRERA: Ryan Nobles in Iowa. We will check back. Thank you.

After claiming total exoneration, President Trump continues his twitter assault on Democrats and the Special Counsel's Russia investigation. But if he has nothing to worry about, why does he keep bringing it up. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." [17:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAL)

CABRERA: A witch-hunt, a waste of time. President Trump airing his grievances with the Mueller investigation with his go-to line as the attorney general's own deadline for the release of the full Mueller report quickly approaches. A.G. William Barr has promised lawmakers that he will deliver as much of the report as possible by mid-April if not sooner.

And as Democrats chop at the bit to get a full look at the unredacted version, the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says there's nothing left to see.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I know Bill Barr for many, many years. I think people in this town know him. He's a man of the highest integrity. Also, everything he's doing is also being run by Rod Rosenstein. That report was put out by Barr and Rosenstein.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The four-page summary?

GIULIANI: Rosenstein started the investigation, supervised the investigation, allowed the Special Counsel due things that I thought were kind of off base. He certainly gave him full scope to do their entire investigation.

There'd be no reason why Rod Rosenstein would sign his name to something that says they found no evidence of collusion, no evidence of obstruction. They couldn't reach a conclusion on obstruction.


GIULIANI: So then Rosenstein and Barr did no obstruction. I guarantee you except for little quibbles I'm not worried about the report at all. There's no way those two good lawyers would have written that kind of letter if there was any issue.


CABRERA: CNN political commentators Anna Navarro and Keith Boykin are joining us now. Anna, does Giuliani have a point?

ANNA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, if there's no issue, if there's nothing left to see, then what's the problem with letting the American people see it? I just, you know, I think its circular logic.

And I think that there should be nobody with more interest in having this be seen than Donald Trump and his legal team so that the American people have some trust in the system and have some trust that the president of the United States did in fact not act illegally and inappropriately.

CABRERA: So, Barr says its coming. Democrats though are digging in. They are demanding the documents unredacted right now. And here's House intel chair Adam Schioff and House judiciary chair Jerry Nadler.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If Republicans think that's perfectly fine because it doesn't amount to crime of conspiracy, then we are going to company and I'm going to stop making the point that we should hold our president, our campaigns, our elected officials to a higher standard than mere criminality.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And you have no regrets of anything you have said in the last couple of years?

SCHIFF: I don't regret calling out this president for what I consider deeply unethical and improper conduct, not a bit.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You can commit shameful acts. You can commit complete betrayals of the public interest without committing impeachable acts and if you did that, the public want to know that too. And the standard here is not an impeachment.

The standard is what was -- the standard is we have to protect the public from presidential misconduct, from anybody else's and the public has to know about it. And we have to get all of the evidence so we can subject to protecting certain classified information decision that the judiciary committee has always made in the past and can make now. The public ought to know all of it.


CABRERA: So Keith, we're hearing the Democrats make the case for why it is necessary to get their hands on the full report, unredacted versions. What happens if the Democrats don't get what they want?

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well the Democrats are -- well, Congress has the right to get the report under the federal law -- excuse me, not on the federal law. I'm thinking about the taxes because there is so many things that Trump is hiding.

CABRERA: Well, we're talking about taxes too.

BOYKIN: Exactly. OK.

CABRERA: So keep that line and that train of thought going.

BOYKIN: Right. But I mean, the American people have the right to get this information because the American people are the ones who paid for this report. The American people are the ones who need to know whether the president of the United States is acting in the way that's legal and responsible and ethical.

Regardless of whether it's actually at the level of an indictable offense, is he acting in a way it's ethical? This is a president who has hidden his tax returns, he has hidden his information about his business. He has hidden a lot of stuff that people need to know in order to make judgments about his behavior.

[17:30:03] And so, if there's nothing in here that is damning of the president, if it's completely exculpatory, if it exonerates him as Bill Barr says, as Rudy Giuliani says, let the American people see the report so we can decide. Let Congress at least have the ability to review the unredacted version of the report so they can make their own judgments about what type of oversight to exercise.

CABRERA: Along that same train of thought when it comes to transparency and turning to the fight over the president's tax returns, the White House is now vowing that Democrats who have requested the IRS for at least six years of document to the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, that they will never see them. Listen to Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.


MULVANEY: Keep in mind, they knew they're not going to get these taxes. They know what the law is. They know that one of the fundamental principles of the IRS is protect the confidentiality of you and me and everybody else who files taxes.

HEMMER: To be clear, you believe Democrats will never see the president's tax returns?

MULVANEY: No, never, nor should they. That is not going to happen and they know it. This is a political stunt by my former colleagues.


CABRERA: So first of all, the president once said he promised to release them if he were elected president. Then he said well, after they're audited. And now Mulvaney is saying never. I keep coming back to this, Anna, almost every president before Trump has made their tax returns public. So why fight so hard to keep them secret if there is nothing to hide?

NAVARRO: We go back to almost, you know, the same question then with the Mueller report.


NAVARRO: If there is nothing there, then why not just get the issue over with and show them? Particularly because it's not once that he said that he would release his taxes and show the American people his taxes. He said it many, many, many times.

Frankly, Ana, I think this is one where Congress should pass a law, and anybody who was running for president of the United States should show their taxes because there is a lot that American voters can learn from seeing those taxes.

And we are having the same discussion when it comes to Bernie Sanders, for example. This should not be a partisan issue. This should be about giving Americans the most information possible so that they can do their due diligence on candidates and make their decisions based on as much information as possible available on each candidate.

I believe that there should be a requirement, a legal requirement by law, by Congress that every presidential candidate who chooses to run, right? So they are choosing to give out their information --

CABRERA: They're choosing transparency --

NAVARRO: They're choosing to give out their health record. They're choosing to give out certain information. So, you know, they are at different levels of privacy or lack thereof than regular Americans. Should give it to all Americans.

CABRERA: I know Keith you probably feel similar but did you want to add something there?

BOYKIN: Well, yes, there has been this meme that's been name circulating on twitter recently about Donald Trump. He is rich but you can't see his taxes. He is exonerated but you can't see the Mueller report. He's supposedly smart but you can't see his transcripts. And he's got this health care plan but you can't see it until after the election.

This guy is not transparent about anything. He's the king of con artists and the American people can see through it. They deserve to know what's going on. He's not a king in the literal sense and he doesn't have the right to act as one. The American people need to know what's going on and he can't hide this.

CABRERA: Let me play a devil's advocate, maybe he doesn't have anything to hide but it's now about sort of principle or precedent. Listen to Jay Sekulow kind of taking that tact.


SEKULOW: This president decided not to because he has an ongoing IRS audit. This idea you can use the IRS as a political weapon, which is what is happening here, is incorrect both as a matter of statutory law and constitutionally.

We should not be in a situation where individuals -- individual private tax returns are used for political purposes. As you just said, George, what stops another party from doing the same thing?


CABRERA: Keith, would it set bad precedent?

BOYKIN: The precedent is every president of the United States should release their tax returns. That is not something that is based on one party or another. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, independent, whether it's Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Donald Trump, every one of them should release their tax runs.

Every candidate for office should release their tax returns if you're running for president of the United States. The American people deserve to know whether the person who is leading our country is compromised, has some sort of financial conflicts of interest that are affecting their decisions.

And their failure to do that, it's strange credulity why the government, the White House or people in power would allow this to happen and allow the corrosion of trust in government because of that.

CABRERA: Got to leave it there. Thank you so much. Keith Boykin and Anna Navarro, always appreciate both of you.

[017:35:01] All right, the hotel chain Motel 6 hit with a $12 million lawsuit for routinely providing guess lists to ICE agents. We have the details, live in the "CNN Newsroom."


CABRERA: Three Democratic congresswomen who plan to visit a government-run center for unaccompanied migrant children in Homestead, Florida tomorrow say they are being kept out. Representatives Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsael-Powell are blasting the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services saying it violates a new law mandating congressional access.

HHS insists it can deny entry for safety reasons and requires a minimum two weeks' notice. The congresswomen wanted to visit following an announcement that this facility is expanding to more than 3,000 beds. And they are concerned about that because they say their visit to this same facility in February revealed children living in cramped, prison-like condition and they worry an expansion would make the situation even worse.

[17:40:05] Motel 6 will pay out millions of dollars for sharing private information on thousands of their guests with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. This has been going on for more than two years.

The motel chain is also agreeing to change its privacy policies after being sued by the State of Washington. The state's attorney general says immigration officials received information on roughly 8,000 guests or 80,000 guests, I should say, leading to some being detained or deported, tearing families apart. CNNS Polo Sandoval is here with us now. So, why was Motel 6 sharing this information to begin with?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was one of the big questions in court, in civil court in this case, Ana. As you correctly pointed out, 80,000 Motel 6 customers who, according to the Washington State attorney general, had their private and sensitive information released without consent.

According to the attorney general, this was released between 2015 and 2017. In fact, they're asking that any guest who stayed at a Motel 6 during that time to actually reach out to them to potentially join this case. The hotel chain agreeing to that $12 million settlement. All affected guest are potentially eligible for this restitution.

And according to investigators, there's one particular case where authorities said that Motel 6 employees at two Everett, Washington locations provided ICE agents with guest lists and that those ICE agents would circle the ones with, as the A.G. describes, Latino- sounding names.

What kind of information? Read for yourself -- guest names, driver's license numbers, passport details, room numbers, birth dates, even the license plates of some of their vehicles. In a statement to CNN the Motel 6 chain says, not only are they confirming this settlement.

But they also said that they are implementing these policies and they are also saying that they continue to enforce its guest privacy policy which prohibits the sharing of guest information, except in some cases where a judicially enforceable warrant or subpoena is present.

As part of this agreement, as you mentioned, not only do they have to pay restitution to closely 80,000 guests but put they also have to put these policies in place. And they said they will, and not only did they say they will, they are legally obligated because again, that is part of this agreement, that Motel 6 has reached in court. So, the disclosure of this private information, it is costing them big, $12 million.

CABRERA: And this is not the first time they've been accused of this?

SANDOVAL: No, it's not. In fact, the investigation started in 2017 when there were some news reports out that there were at least two locations in Phoenix that were disclosing information. So what happened is that there was a civil rights group that basically sued claiming discrimination and also that information was being disclosed.

What we're told is there was a tentative agreement that was reached in that case in Arizona. So again, Arizona and Washington, Motel 6 in court for those two separate cases reaching agreements.

CABRERA: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you.

SANDOVAL: Thanks Ana.

CABRERA: So, who is Tricky Dick? The four-part CNN Original series explores Richard Nixon's rise, fall, incredible comeback and political destruction, featuring never-before-seen footage. The series continues tonight at 9:00 here on CNN.


CABRERA: Our breaking news right now on CNN, reports of a possible shake-up in the president's cabinet. The secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, at the White House behind closed doors with the president this afternoon. Let's get straight to the White House and CNN's Boris Sanchez. Boris, what do we know about this meeting?

SANCHEZ: Hey there, Ana. Yes, sources close to Secretary Nielsen tell CNN that she had a meeting scheduled with President Trump as of 5:00 p.m. today and it appears that her status as a member of his administration is unclear at this point.

Sources within the administration have told CNN that Secretary Nielsen was blind-sided by some recent moves made by the White House. The pulling of Ron Vitello's nomination to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the pulling of aid to three Central American nations and that it is expected that President Trump may shake up certain positions within the administration.

The president has clearly been frustrated over the past few months with the immigration system in this country, it is something that is central to his presidency. Sources had indicated in the past that he was unhappy with Secretary Nielsen's performance but some of that changed during the shutdown.

Sources have told us that her standing up to Democrats during negotiating sessions really boosted her standing in the president's eyes and improved their relationship. Again, there's no indication as of right now that she's leaving the administration or that President Trump has any plans to change her status.

But it is clear that there are questions about her future as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. We know that the president is potentially thinking about making some moves. He's frustrated again not just by immigration but by current asylum laws. He definitely wants to see things happen.

That current law does not allow and it could potentially lead to changes within the administration. We are still watching several cameras that we have here in the White House as we speak to see the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, if she's departing the White House. We will, of course, keep talking to our sources and update as you we get the latest information, Ana.

CABRERA: And Boris, the president and secretary traveled together just as recently as Friday, right?

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right. They met up at the border in Calexico, California. You know, this is something that is essential to President Trump.

[17:50:00] From the first day that he launched his campaign for president, he talked about building a wall along the southern border, and he's been frustrated time and again not only with Congress and his inability to get, you know, funding for the border wall as he sees fit, but also with the way that his administration has responded to certain issues that were sort of self-inflicted pains.

I'm speaking specifically about the zero tolerance policy that led to family separations. We know that the president was unhappy with the way some in his administration responded to that. And you'll remember that Secretary Nielsen famously stood at the podium at the White House and said that this administration does not have a policy of separating children from their families at the border, immigrants trying to enter the United States. That, of course, proved to be false, Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Borris Sanchez at the White House for us. We know you will give us the very latest information as soon as we have any new details. Please stand by, Boris. And I want to bring in Sam Vinograd. She is a CNN national security analyst and here with me now. So, at this point, we don't know again exactly what's happening inside

this meeting, but there is such a high level of scrutiny right now. But what's happening at the border, the president has obviously highlighted this over and over and over again. Would you be on board with a shakeup right now?

SAMANTH VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I wouldn't be on board with a shakeup based upon the fact that we have so many vacant positions in the administration right now. Let's be clear. If Secretary Nielsen is either fired or resigned, someone should constitutionally be nominated to succeed her and then would have to go through a Senate confirmation process.

Right now, we have a shadow cabinet because there are so many empty posts. But from Secretary Nielsen's perspective, let's remember, she was just publicly humiliated by President Trump. She was in Honduras the day that President Trump reportedly decided to cut aid to Central America right after she signed a public agreement lauding the security cooperation with Central American countries.

Of course, we have the other issues related to the border and we have the fact, Ana, that President Trump really likes to have yes men and women and henchmen and women in these positions. He recently withdrew the nomination for the ICE director based upon Stephen Miller reportedly telling him that the ICE director nominee wasn't tough enough.


VINOGRAD: So, that could be playing into this as well.

CABRERA: Well, I also wonder, though, Sam, is it bad for the president and his Homeland Security secretary to be on the same page? And if they're not on the same page, wouldn't it then make sense for him to find somebody who is?

VINOGRAD: There is no reason why senior cabinet officials and the president have to agree on everything. I was in countless situation room meetings where President Obama actually benefitted from hearing members of his cabinet privately disagree with him.

And it's really important, Ana, and this is not something that characterizes the Trump administration. The cabinet officials feel comfortable presenting accurate information and views to the president on, for example, the kinds of risks that are at our southern border and whether closing the border would help or not.

The difference here is that President Trump and his cabinet secretaries are so publicly at odds. Again, the day that Kirstjen Nielsen signed an agreement on the president's behalf about this security cooperation with Central America, he pulled the rug out from under her. There's a difference between privately disagreeing and sharing honest views and publicly being at odds.

CABRERA: Stand by, I want to go back to Boris Sanchez at the White House. You're getting more information, Boris? SANCHEZ: That's right Ana. Some of my colleagues here at the White

House are hearing from sources that indicate that this meeting between President Trump and Secretary Nielsen is still ongoing. They indicate that after that border visit to Calexico, California on Friday, the president had a lot of questions for Secretary Nielsen about different ways to address the immigration crisis.

And that this meeting scheduled for today was meant for Nielsen to address some of those questions. The source that we've been speaking to reiterates it is not her intention to resign. Again, we don't have any clarity on where she stands in the president's eyes right now. We're still watching cameras to see when this meeting maybe over, when she might depart the White House, Ana.

CABRERA: OK, Boris, please do keep us posted. Let me go back to Sam Vinograd who is here with me. So, I hear what you're saying about the lack of people filling some of these positions. At what point does that become a national security risk?

VINOGRAD: Well, it becomes a national security risk at the same time that it's actually a legal risk. Again, the constitution mandates that Congress confirm nominees to positions. And right now, we have an acting secretary at the Department of Defense. We don't have a U.N. ambassador that's been nominated.

And there are other, again, high level cabinet and sub cabinet level positions that have not met the legal requirement to be confirmed by Congress. And if we think about the actual national security risk here, it's really broadcasting to the world that President Trump can't find people that are qualified enough to come into these jobs and, frankly, willing to serve in his administration.

At this point, the pool of people, I think, that are willing to come into these jobs is shrinking and that has not helped by the fact that he so publicly insults members of his team when they leave office and sometimes when they're in it.

[17:55:03] CABRERA: There has been a lack of consistency about the president's border policy. This week, for example, he comes out and he says at the beginning of the week we're going to close the border if Mexico doesn't stop migrants from coming across the border. Then he says, no, we're not going to do that. Maybe we'll tariff them or maybe we'll re-evaluate in a year then he says, no, I never said it will be a year. So, does the lack of consistency and messaging also create a bigger issue?

VINOGRAD: I think it makes it hard for anybody working in the U.S. government to do their jobs right now. Typically on policy announcements, which is what the president is doing when he issues these threats about closing a border or tariffing automobiles, those are policy decisions that are often the result of a policy process with people like the secretary of Homeland Security, intelligence professionals and others.

It is possible that they walk away from a conversation with the president with one understanding and then open up their twitter feed and learn that he's completely upended any process that exists with a new announcement based upon a mood swing, something he saw on Fox News or who knows what other input.

And so it's really unclear to me how any cabinet official, how any U.S. government employee thinks that their work really matters from a process standpoint, when the president changes his mind based upon who knows what at this point and then, frankly, Ana, they're left cleaning up the mess.

CABRERA: Standby, Sam. I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem who is also a CNN national security analyst. Juliette, we know this meeting is ongoing between the DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and president right now. Reportedly, she went there to the White House at 5:00 today to discuss what's happening at the border.

We know she came out earlier this week and called the situation similar to a Cat 5 hurricane. They believe there is a crisis on the border right now. What would you expect the conversation to be like in this meeting today?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATINAL SECURITY ANALYST (via telephone): Well, I really don't have much sympathy for Nielsen whether, I mean, anyone who works for Trump knows that there's going to be disagreements, that he's going to undermine you as Sam was saying.

And she really did have the choice to put herself as the name and face of the family separation policy, which really in my mind sort of reflects the president's and Kirstjen Nielsen's strategy toward the homeland, which is essentially, you know, cruelty without any process, sort of animating what they're doing at the border.

Look, there is a difference between a crisis and a public policy problem. This is what -- and the president has created a crisis to sort of make it seem like that it's the only solution. We have a challenge at the border. There are -- and we have a challenge in the sense that there are unauthorized crossings.

Those challenges in the past have been dealt with a combination of a variety of things including, of course, support for countries in Southern America, working with our allies which we sort of refuse to do, from the sort of, you know, Oval Office perch, and then sending more resources to support it.

But the president has sort of focused his resources of course on building the wall, moving money from the military, moving resources from FEMA to try to get a wall built. And so, the crisis is sort of one of Donald Trump's making. I don't know what to make of Secretary Nielsen and why she's there.

She had a really bad week last week, as Sam was saying, not just, you know, being undermined by the president on the Southern America strategy, but of course her choice for the ICE director being pulled by Steve Miller. So, it may be that she's reading up the writing on the wall and either making sure that she has the president's assurances going forward or she won't be the secretary. But this was -- listen, this was a firing or quitting of her own

making, very few people who seemed to, I would say, embrace the Trump policy of family separation more so than Kirstjen Nielsen. For those of us who spent a career in Homeland Security, there's not a lot of sympathy here for her.

CABRERA: I see you shaking your head, Sam.

VINOGRAD: I fully agree with Juliette. And just to be clear, I don't have sympathy for Kristjen Nielsen. She has chosen to serve this president and to be the face and proponent of several of the policies that Juliette named.

And let's not forget as well, she's also been working on the election security portfolio. So every time the president has gone out and talked and said that he believes Vladimir Putin, that Russia didn't interfere in our elections, or when he makes statements about the FBI and law enforcement community and divisions within the United States that helps Russia's attack on her country, that's another mess that she has to clean up. And she has, to Juliette's point, chosen to stay in this role while all of that is happening.

[17:59:58] And so I don't have sympathy for her. I do think it's very possible that the president may have chosen to fire her because she is not willing perhaps this time to publicly support things that he's doing but that would be a change --