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Trump Confirms ICE Raids Set to Begin Tomorrow; Panicked Migrants Skipping Work, Hiding Out Ahead of Announced ICE Raids; House Judiciary Committee Reschedules Special Counsel Mueller's Testimony for July 24th; Labor Secretary Acosta Resigns over Sweetheart Deal for Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein; Pete Buttigieg Talks Strategy Going into Next Month's Democratic Debates; Trump Bashes Paul Ryan over Criticism Cited in Upcoming Book; Hurricane Barry Makes Landfall; Police Fatally Shoot Man Outside ICE Detention Center; ICE Planning Raids Starting Tomorrow. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 13, 2019 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: It's 5:00 Eastern, 2:00 out west. You are live in the newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Breaking news this Saturday on CNN. The storm called Barry no longer a Hurricane, but no less a major danger to communities along the Gulf Coast today, including Louisiana.

People in towns all along the Mississippi River expected the water to come up and that's exactly what's happening. This is west of New Orleans in Morgan City. The high winds tearing the roofs from homes. And, right now, that city and the surrounding area is 100 percent without electricity.

We have CNN correspondents all over the storm zone. And at the CNN Severe Weather Center, Natasha Chen is in Morgan City where we just showed you those damaged homes and where officials are very concerned about the overwhelming amount of rain that's now falling.

Natasha, how are people handling this storm so far? And this total power outage cannot be helping.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, this is still a very serious wind and rain event. It has not let up, over the last few hours, and the video you just showed of the roof coming off of that mobile home, that is not too far from where we are. Just a few blocks away. And we understand those people, thankfully, were not inside at home when that happened. And they were able to go inside and, sort of, inspect the damage there.

What we're hearing from the mayor is that, thankfully, there aren't any reports of injuries or people needing rescuing in Morgan City, itself, which is great news. He did tell me, within the past hour, that, as far as the power outages, after 6:00 local time, Central time today, they're going to start to try and restore some power, depending on weather conditions and that all depends on how things go. But he says some people may see power restored sooner than others. I also want to update, the level of the river here has risen even higher. This is the highest it's been all day, and we've been here about 12 hours. I think I've pointed out this trash can to you before. It is now almost all the way submerged under there.

So, we have definitely seen water levels rise, and the rain is not helping matters. The city is definitely hoping that the pumps they brought in will work in this situation.

And, of course, there were voluntary evacuations yesterday but not a lot of people left. They're all, basically, hunkered down here today. And the mayor said that there will be another curfew tonight, starting at 10:00 p.m. Central time, lasting until 6:00 a.m. Central time tomorrow morning -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Well, so far so good, as far as those rescues go. Not very many needed because people are heeding the warnings. But the worst is still yet to come. Natasha Chen, thank you for that update, again from Morgan City.

Just moments ago, the National Weather Service just issued a brand-new advisory for Tropical Storm Barry. I want to get right to Meteorologist Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center. Chad, I know you're digging into the new information. What are you learning?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Ana, the numbers are now 65 miles per hour for maximum, sustained winds. And I think what the biggest takeaway from this 5:00 advisory is going to be, if you look at the satellite presentation here, 95 percent of this storm is still in the Gulf of Mexico, even though the center of the storm is on land. The northern half of this storm has never had a lot of activity with it.

But now, as the storm moves to the north, guess where the southern half is going to be? Right over parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. So, as the storm moves north, that part that's down there is going to rise onto land. And that's where the rain is going to come from.

Heavy rainfall still, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, expected tonight. You can't even see the rain that's actually occurring here, because it's too far away for the radar to see. The radar is just going over the top of it because the land falls away, because, well, the earth is round, if you didn't know that.

There is the radar. And now, I'm going to take you on a wider angle and show you that there's so much more out here that the satellite can see, but the radars can't see. And all of this has to come up onto land, and that's why the rivers are going to rise. And that's why we're going to see significant, almost 20-inch rainfall, totals before it's all done.

This is finally tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Probably still 50 percent of the rain still offshore. So, another half of a day or so after that, before we actually get the significant rainfall still to come here on the graphic. Some of these are going to be in the 20-inch rainfall and still Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and even west of Keter, much, much more rainfall to come. At least five to 10 inches there.

[17:05:05] Somewhere along this spine, between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, there could be easily 15 to 20 still to come down because the storm isn't here yet. I know we're in the land of instant gratification, but there's nothing with this storm. It's just not here. We have to wait. It's going to be one of those patience, wait and hope it doesn't happen. But we know it will --Ana.

CABRERA: And is it the combination of the rain falling and the rivers rising that are the biggest concerns then?

MYERS: Sure. I mean, if you're anywhere from about Baton Rouge to Lafayette at here south of Alexandria. None of that water, that's going to fall, actually gets into the Mississippi, because there are levies all along the shore, all along the side of it, not allowing the water in. That water goes around the Mississippi, keeping the water that's in the Mississippi in there from the north.

The Mississippi River is so high right now because of rain that fell in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Kansas three months ago, two months ago. It's taken that long to get all of the way down there. That's why the river is so swollen right now which was the risk of if we got a big storm surge, what could happen to those rivers. And there is the Comey River right now, and we have Randi Kaye standing there, looking at that river waiting to rise, just waiting for the river to start, really -- Ana.

CABRERA: And we're going to go Randi Kaye right now. Chad Meyer, we'll come back to you, as you continue to track the latest numbers there. Plenty of wind, plenty of water in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And there is more to come, as Chad just pointed out, as Barry moves inland and loses steam.

CNN's Randi Kaye joins us from the banks of an already swollen Mississippi River. Randi, Chad just told us the Baton Rouge area could see one of its rivers, not the Mississippi but Comite River rising 34 feet in 36 hours. I'm still trying to wrap my head around those numbers. How much have you seen where you are?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's about a foot an hour. That is a scary number for sure. And that is the last thing that folks here in Baton Rouge, Ana, want to hear, because they are concerned about flooding and the rain. And we have to continue to wipe our lens, just so you can see what's going on over here.

But I've been watching the Mississippi here. And there have been some --you know, some small, little baby white caps out there. It's definitely gotten rougher since we last spoke. The trees are still blowing pretty good. The gusts here are pretty strong. I mean, they come and they go, probably about, you know, 65 miles an hour, as Chad was saying. But it's definitely rocking this river here for sure.

And, from what I understand, the worst of it is going to hit Baton Rouge, you know, as it gets dark here, and even into midnight, and 1:00 a.m., and as we wake up in the morning. So, the worst is yet to come. As Chad was saying, this is definitely not over. And people here are still living through what happened to them in 2016, when there was the huge storm and it dumped a foot and a half of rain in about two days. Some people got up to five feet of rain in areas outside Baton Rouge.

But there is a lot of trouble happening here already. There's 15,000 people without power here, we understand. The good news is that people seem to be listening to the warnings. We've seen a few runners out here, but a lot of people are staying inside. They see water like this and they're definitely staying inside and taking care.

The National Guard is here. They have about 3,000 troops here in this area. And they are working to make sure that people are safe. They have the high-water vehicles which, judging from what we're hearing, in terms of the rain numbers and the flooding that could be headed this way, that's really important so they can get to folks who might be stranded in their homes.

And also, the public works folks have been out in the streets, making sure that the drainage system is working properly, because that's the real concern here. We know this water has nowhere to go. It is just going to hang out, because the Gulf is pushing the water up. And this water is just going to stay in the --in the --in the Mississippi and in the other rivers around this area. So, that's a real concern.

The shelters are filling up. There's two shelters. They are pet friendly, so that's good news that folks won't stay at home --won't stay at home just to keep an eye on their pets. So, they'll stay safe and they'll get to shelters when they need it -- Ana.

CABRERA: Well, we know that the rain is starting there. We see your camera men wiping the lens. And you mentioned this flood that happened in 2016 that we know cost billions in damages. It took several lives. Given that is, you know, in the background of this, I'm wondering what they've done in Baton Rouge to try to prevent, you know, a similar scenario and prevent the vulnerability that existed at that time from happening again.

KAYE: They're really doing the best they can. I think that's what they're -- It's checks and it's staying alert and staying vigilant. What they're doing is just trying to make sure that the drainage system doesn't fail them. That's why they've been going around to make sure that there isn't any debris clogging the drainage system throughout the city throughout the area.

Just a few weeks ago -- I mean, in terms of, you know, what has improved here, just a few weeks ago, a man died in a low-lying area. His car flooded. He couldn't get out, when there was a storm in June.

[17:10:05] So, there hasn't been a whole lot that's been done. They're just trying to stay vigilant and stay on top of it to make sure, at try and keep everybody safe here. There hasn't been word of any injuries or fatalities here or any flooding yet. But, again, it sounds like the worst is yet to come.

CABRERA: Right. OK, Randi Kaye, thank you for that reporting live in Baton Rouge for us. We'll continue to track Tropical Storm Barry as it moves inland. Stay with us for updates on the storm and its impact that it's having on the ground. Plus, bracing for raids. ICE is targeting migrant families in nine major American families and the operation is scheduled to start tomorrow.

You're live in the CNN Newsroom.


CABRERA: We continue our breaking news. Barry has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but the Coast Guard warns it remains a very dangerous storm. A mandatory evacuation has been issued for parts of Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana. A storm surge of up to six feet is expected in some areas.

Let's bring in CNN's Nick Watt. He is just outside of New Orleans in Youngsville, Louisiana. Nick, power is now out for more than 118,000 people statewide. What are you seeing and experiencing there?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Youngsville, the power is still on. But we've just heard from the mayor of Morgan City, just a little bit towards the coast. The power there completely out.

[17:15:00] And we also just heard that the water is beginning to lap across Highway 23. That is down by the coast. And they are trying to evacuate that parish, but that's going to be problematic if that road route 23 is covered in water. There are now, I believe, partial evacuations in four parishes down towards the coast. Here in Youngsville, we're low lying. We are flood prone. And we have been getting bands of wind and rain coming through the past couple of hours. And they are forecast to continue until maybe sundown on Sunday. So, the question is, just how much water will Barry drop in that time?

Now, the governor of Louisiana has made it clear that this is far from over. This is going to be one of those storms that we're going to feel for days. It is just a question of how much water Barry is going to drop. This isn't one of those storms with idiots like me, hanging onto flagpoles in the wind. This is all about the water. And, surely, we're actually going to head back up to Lafayette, because the Vermillion River there, that is forecast to rise by about 12 feet in less than 24 hours. And that could cause some flooding up there.

But, right now, the priority is to get those people out of those coastal parishes where they are in danger and to prepare for the worst. Three thousand National Guard spread out across this state. Many other first responders waiting for the impact of all that water --Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Hold on to your hat, Nick. Grab a flagpole if you need one. We'll check back with you a little bit later. Thank you.

Stay with us for the latest on Tropical Storm Barry as it slams the Gulf Coast. Plus, targeting migrant families, ICE agents in nine cities are scheduled to begin raids in less than 24 hours. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: Thousands of migrants across at least nine major cities are preparing for tomorrow's ICE raids. And, yet, it's one city that isn't on the list garnering a lot of attention right now and that's Tacoma, Washington. Police say early this morning an armed man was sending incendiary devices over this area outside of Tacoma ICE Detention Center. The suspect was fatally shot during a confrontation with officers.

Let me bring CNN Correspondent Polo Sandoval who's been tracking all the details for this. Polo, what do we know, at this point, about this armed man who was shot?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was quite the tense situation this morning, Ana, that was unfolding just outside this ICE Detention Center. A police spokesperson with the Tacoma Police Department telling us four officers were initially called out to the scene there in the Northwest Detention Center, to reports of a man armed with a rifle, throwing these incendiary devices, basically all over the place. A car was on fire is what some witness reports describe here. Those four officers eventually forced to open fire, shooting and killing the man.

A really important point to make, though. A motive has not been established here. So far, it seems that the only thing right now that this incident has in common with these ICE raids, that are expected to begin tomorrow, is the timing, Ana. We still don't know if, perhaps, this was a message that this man, who was shot and killed, was, perhaps, trying to relay. We just don't know. The investigation should eventually reveal that. We should mention, no officers were involved in this. And, again, this investigation is still ongoing as to what exactly led to this. We do know, though, that he was, obviously, disturbed. That's how investigators are describing him right now.

CABRERA: Well, let's talk a little bit about the raids that are set to take place tomorrow.


CABRERA: We know a senior administration official told our colleague, Jim Acosta, that the President may have put this operation now in jeopardy. What can you tell us?

SANDOVAL: Well, you know, it was, initially, the president who made this very clear this was going happen. That, initially, when this was going to take place just last month, he took to Twitter, announcing that these -- what was supposed to be millions of deportations, eventually turned to 2,000. But, then, on June 22nd, he said that he would give now Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, another three weeks to try to sort out what he describes as this asylum loophole. Here we are, three weeks later, and we are told that this --that this is supposed to resume, basically pick up where he left off. And we are expecting close to 2,000 people to potentially be deported. These are people who have outstanding orders of deportation. These kinds of ICE-led operations are certainly not new, right. We've covered them before. What is different, though, is how these families now, essentially, are being prioritized, versus criminal undocumented families.

But I should mention, I've spoken to some law enforcement officers, members of the law enforcement community. They are genuinely concerned that when these kinds of operations are put out there, that you're, essentially, eliminating the element of surprise.


SANDOVAL: I've been on these raids before covering these. And I can tell you, they usually don't actually broadcast where they're going to go or who they're going to go after.

CABRERA: Let's get insight for someone who knows about it. Polo Sandoval, thank you --

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: -- for all of that. Joining us now, Leon Rodriguez. He is the former director of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services under President Obama. Thank you for being with us. I want to ask you about these raids because President Trump was referred to by some immigration advocacy groups as the deporter-in-chief. He actually deported more immigrants than President Trump. How are these raids under President Trump different?

LEON RODRIGUEZ, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZEN AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They're different, first of all, in the respect that Polo mentioned in that more and more, you are seeing individuals who don't have a criminal history, haven't engaged in drug trafficking and violent crime, being placed in priority categories for deportation. So, that's something that's very fundamentally different.

What we're seeing happen this weekend is really unusual in the 30 or so years that I've been involved with U.S. law enforcement. I've never seen a situation where you had this level of advanced warning from multiple senior administration officials about the fact that the raids are occurring in the first place.

CABRERA: Why would they give the warning? Can you think of a reason in which it would be beneficial from an enforcement perspective to put the warning out?

RODRIGUEZ: I can imagine there is a desire, not necessarily focused on operational effectiveness this weekend, but rather, sort of, looking longer term to instill fear in immigrant communities.

[17:25:00] And there's a lot of things that have been happening to create that kind of fear. This new situation where people are being -- having $500,000 fines imposed on them for not departing the United States. Warning about raids going on this week, this creates an atmosphere of fear, particularly in immigrant communities throughout the United States.

CABRERA: I talked to Ron Vitello earlier. He's the former acting director of ICE under President Trump. And here's what he said about the families that could be targeted tomorrow.


RONALD VITIELLO, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, ICE, CHIEF OF BORDER PATROL: Many of the people who were --you know, applied for asylum or wanted to go to an immigration hearing did not go. They refused to go when the court noticed them. I subsequently noticed them again. And, again, they refused to go. And now, they've been ordered by the judge in absentia and they've become targets for the Fugitive Operations Team.


CABRERA: I know the ACLU has said that some of these families didn't actually receive the orders, because they were mailed to the wrong place or there was a mix-up in dates and times. What's your take on this?

RODRIGUEZ: I think that's certainly true. I think what former commissioner vitello, who I respect a lot, said it's probably, to some degree, true. There is a factor here, though, that people don't pay attention to. Which is, when asylum seekers are represented by counsel, they go to their hearings. And one of the things that has been an issue, really for a very long time, is you don't have a reliable system for making counsel available to asylum seekers.

So, you know, we need to make sure that the process is really working in a fair way, and not just point to this one --you know, a handful of instances where people haven't shown up. But really look, overall, at how the asylum is not working. In many respects, it's not working well.

CABRERA: And why is that?

RODRIGUEZ: It -- well, it's partly because it's over overburdened. You know, one of our quite significant problems is that we don't have enough immigration judges. We've not made the kinds of investments in having immigration judges available, so that you really do have rapid hearings. We have to make similar investments, with respect to having asylum officers, both at the boredom --border rather, and in U.S. cities as well. So, there is --there is a lot that needs to be done, really, to make this a more efficient and fare system for these individuals seeking asylum, and for the country as a whole.

CABRERA: The vice president, Mike Pence, toured a couple of the migrant facilities yesterday. One that houses men. One that houses children and families. First, we'll give you a look at where the families are being held. We are told this is a new facility to help with the overcrowding. And Pence had said the families in this facility, he believes are getting, quote, "excellent care."

But it was a totally different situation and different image that we all got to see from where the migrant men are being held. You can see the men crammed into cells. There were no beds. They don't have access to water inside these cells. They have to ask for it. They've been held, in some cases, for weeks without a shower. That's what Pence witnessed, even when they knew he was coming and cameras were going to be with him. Pence admits the conditions here are unacceptable. I also asked Vitello about these conditions. Here's what he said.


VITELLO: We had --we faced similar challenges in 2014, when lots of kids and families with children came to the border in unprecedented numbers. That -- in 2014, that problem was a quarter of what it is today. We are being overwhelmed in extraordinary conditions at the border.

CABRERA: Are those conditions acceptable to you?

VITIELLO: They're not acceptable to anybody, but what is the alternative? The Border Patrol is required to take these people into custody and put them in proceedings.


CABRERA: Leon, is there no alternative? Is the Trump administration doing the best with what they have?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, there are a bunch of alternatives. First of all, you'll recall that, back in the Obama administration, we had an in- country refugee processing program, the Central American Minors Program, that gave us at least one tool that, in fact, we were hoping to expand, to have people seek, essentially, the equivalent of asylum, but from the country --from their country of origin. There's nothing really like that, fully operational, right now.

I mean, I think it is true. I have no doubt Secretary McAleenan was very forthright about this. The system is overwhelmed and it's going to stay overwhelmed. I think we need to ask yourselves, what are the conditions two and a half years into an administration that has been promising aggressive enforcement? Two and a half years in, this problem is actually worse than it was at the beginning. That suggests that the people coming here are in a desperate situation, and they're going to keep coming until there's some relief for that situation. And we shouldn't inflame the situation with rhetoric that, in fact, in some respect, has actually driven people to come here quicker for fear that, in fact, the borders would close.

[17:30:02] So, we need to think about a more holistic approach. We need to think about supporting the northern triangle countries in fortifying their law enforcement institutions, combatting poverty, promoting rule of law. And until we have a more comprehensive solution, this problem will not only persist at its current level, it will actually get worse. ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: All right, Leon Rodriquez, we will continue

the conversation and we'll have you back.

Thank you for being with us.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

CABRERA: Those ICE raids targeting migrant families are expected to begin in a matter of hours. Ahead, what some undocumented immigrants are saying about this imminent roundup.


CABRERA: Ahead of tomorrow's ICE raids, many immigrants are skipping work or going into hiding out of fear they could be among those picked for deportation.

The raids are expected to start tomorrow in these cities. Nine cities. And our understanding is they'll target around 2,000 family, I should say, who recently arrived in the U.S. and have been given orders for removal.

But the "New York Times" reports there could also be collateral deportations, meaning immigrants who weren't the original target, but are on the scene could be detained as well.

Usually, we don't know about the raids before they happen, but President Trump has changed that. He talked about them on Twitter and talked about them on camera.

CNN's Sara Sidner is talking to the undocumented immigrants about their fears ahead of this round-up. Watch.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This undocumented father says he's never felt this much stress and fear in his 15 years living and working in the United States.

(on camera): What did you think when you heard that the raids would be happening again?


SIDNER (voice-over): "It's very stressful. It's like you have a disease that's killing you like cancer, something that makes you feel desperation," he says.



SIDNER: Fear and desperation are exploding in immigrant communities across the country after the Trump administration announced raids by immigration and customs enforcement agents set to begin this weekend. "Psychologically, you live in fear. You live thinking that any day,

any moment you will get a knock on the door."


SIDNER: He lays out his documents to show he pays his taxes. He's worked hard as a repair man to achieve the American dream.

(on camera): Do you think the president has achieved his goal of making people who are here undocumented want to leave?


SIDNER (voice-over): "Yes, he's achieved that. There are many people who don't have a choice," he says.


SIDNER: But he knows the life he built with his wife together in California could be wiped away with a knock on the door --


SIDNER: -- from an ICE agent.

He says he left El Salvador for economic reasons after his first wife died in childbirth and he could not make enough money to provide for his three children there.

He entered the U.S. illegally via the Rio Grande in 2005, missed a court date, and a court ordered his deportation.

He says that is his only crime.

He's been trying to remedy it through the courts, which includes making scheduled visits with ICE, which leaves him even more vulnerable.

At his church --

UNIDENTIFIED CHURCH PASTOR: I'm putting myself, my church at risk.

SIDNER: Pastors make clear they're willing to face the consequence of helping the undocumented.

UNIDENTIFIED CHURCH PASTOR: This is what we need to do. We need to walk beside the vulnerable.

SIDNER: Their church is a member of a network of churches preparing emergency shelter for people to go into hiding in the short term and, if need be, indefinitely.

UNIDENTIFIED CHURCH PASTOR: We have a higher law, the law of law, compassion, and the law of God.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CABRERA: Sarah Sidner reporting.

And we are watching Tropical Storm Barry. It is hammering parts of the gulf coast with rain.

Plus, changing the date. Why Robert Mueller's congressional testimony has been moved. We'll ask a legal expert about the limitations Mueller's team wants on the testimony.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:41:31] CABRERA: Welcome back.

The long-awaited public testimony from Robert Mueller has been pushed back one week. It has to do with negotiations about how long the special counsel will spend answering questions, also whether Mueller's deputies will be questioned.

According to the House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, the appearance had been delayed at the special counsel's request, so it is now set for July 24th.

CNN legal analyst, Renato Mariotti, is joining us.

Renato, what do you make of the limitations that Mueller's team has put on his testimony to begin with?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, it's clear that the members are wanting to have much time to ask Mueller questions. We know Mueller doesn't even want to go beyond the four corners of his report. He's reluctant to be there. And I think that this additional delay is to allow members more time to ask questions because it will be hard for them to develop much of a line of questions within five minutes.

CABRERA: Presidential candidate, Bill Weld, is predicting that Bob Mueller's testimony, whenever it happens, will be huge. Listen.


BILL WELD, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: I think his testimony's going to pack a wallop because all a member has to ask him is, Mr. Mueller, did your report conclude that Mr. Trump instructed the director of national intelligence to lie to obstruct the investigation. Yes. And did your report conclude that he instructed a national security official to lie for the same purpose? Yes. And did your report conclude that he instructed his own legal counsel to fabricate a false document and put it in the file in order to cover the president's tracks and obstruct the investigation? Yes.


CABRERA: Weld has worked with Mueller before. But, Renato, is that how you expect it to play out?

MARIOTTI: I don't think that Mr. Mueller is going to be quite as cooperative as Mr. Weld was with himself.

I think that Robert Mueller is going to be very careful. He's not going to want to seem like he is part of a political exercise. So I think he's going to give answers that are going to sound very careful and lawyerly, sort of like that statement that we heard from him.

There were certainly some important moments there. I think it did shift things. And there was no question that it did shift the way Trump and his allies treated Mueller. No question about it. They started going on the offense against Mueller afterwards.

And I think it will matter because most Americans and many members have not read the full report. That said, I think he's going to be lawyerly and I think he'll be careful. And his answers will not be as succinct as Mr. Welds.

CABRERA: We'll have more time to talk about the Mueller testimony next week since it's been pushed back a week.

And let me move to Jeffrey Epstein and the sex abuse case. Trump's Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is now out over his handling of this case and the sweetheart deal that he cut for Epstein a decade ago, back when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida.

Listen to Acosta's reasoning for stepping down.


ALEXANDER ACOSTA, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: I have seen coverage of this case that is over 12 years old that had input and vetting at multiple levels of the Department of Justice. And as I look forward, I do not think it is right and fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as the focus rather than the incredible economy that we have today.


CABRERA: Democrats on Capitol Hill say they still want Acosta to testify about his handling of the Epstein case. Do you think that matters now that he stepped down?

[17:45:03] MARIOTTI: I think it matters. I think this matters to everyone because I think we're all concerned as to whether or not who are rich and powerful or who have influence get the same level of access to justice that other Americans do.

And I think I'm concerned, as somebody who had investigated and prosecuted human trafficking cases and sexual exploitation cases, I don't want victims to think that they aren't going to be heard or they're not going to be treated seriously or with respect by law enforcement.

So I think it's important when there's a deviation from that, as there appears to be in this day, that we do everything possible to call -- bring those questions forward and to call him into account.

CABRERA: Renato Mariotti, good to have you with us. Thank you.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

CABRERA: Last fall, we shared the story of Luke Michelson, a top-10 "CNN Hero" from Twin Falls, Idaho, who saw a need in his hometown and ended up quitting his dream job to follow his newfound passion, which is giving kids a good night's sleep by building free bunk beds. In less than a year, his project has taken off in ways that this small- town farm boy never would have imagined. Take a look.


LUKE MICKELSON, CNN HERO: We went from just one little community to over almost 200 communities now, over 30,000 volunteers.


MICKELSON: We've also received over 50,000 bed requests.

We're here to deliver beds. You want to show me where they go?


MICHELSON: All right.

We started a new program in 2019 to help those kids that have been affected by natural disasters throughout the country.

Probably the best, huh?


We bring dignity, self-respect.


We're bringing something they own and can be proud of.


You like it?



CABRERA: And how many beds can one man build in a day? Go to "CNN Heroes" to learn more about Luke's story and to nominate someone that you think should be a "CNN hero."

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:50:39] Presidential debates are often remembered for the zingers and the heated exchanges. But what about the candidates bringing a different style to the stage?

CNN's senior political commentator, David Axelrod, sat down with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for a brand-new "AXE FILES" to see what his strategy would be going into the next round of debates this month.


DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "THE AXE FILES": I thought you did a fine job in the debates but you didn't get the headline because you didn't throw the punch.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), SOUTH BEND MAYOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think people right now are looking for a president who is steady. I am a competitive person. This is a fierce contest. And I will be competitive with my Democratic competitors, just as I plan to be fiercely competitive with the president when the time comes to take him on.

But I think the made-for-television moments can give you a spike and wear off. What people really want to know is, what are you about.


CABRERA: Earlier, I spoke to David Axelrod about his conversation with Mayor Buttigieg.


CABRERA: David, you were a part of the Obama/Biden administration that came before Trump, maybe this, quote, unquote, "normal" that Buttigieg says people were happy with. Do you think he is right to be concerned about Biden's promise of what once was?

AXELROD: I think that a core of Mayor Pete's message is that he is from the center of the country. He's from a place where Donald Trump did well in 2016. Because over a long period of time, and the economic crisis of 2008, people around that area felt left behind. There are many other areas like it. They are not that nostalgic for that.

The other element of his message is generational. He is trying to present himself as a candidate of the future and, by implication, calling Biden, Trump and others, candidates of the past.

There's no doubt that this was a critique with a purpose. It is central to the message of his campaign.

CABRERA: There's some in-fighting within the Republican Party as well. Tim Alberta, who has this new book out, talked to the former speaker, Paul Ryan, who said he left Congress because he couldn't bear the thought of two more years with Trump and he saw retirement as, quote, "an escape hatch." Ryan also told Alberta this, quote, "I told myself I've got to have a

relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right. Because, I am telling you, he did not know anything about government. I wanted to scold him all of the time. Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions all the time."

President Trump hit back Friday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Paul Ryan was not a talent. He wasn't a leader.

Paul Ryan was a lame duck for a long time as speaker. He was unable to raise money. He lost control of the House. The only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me.

Paul Ryan let us down. Paul Ryan was a terrible speaker. Frankly, he was a baby. He didn't know what the hell he was doing.


CABRERA: The timing of Ryan's comments. What does Ryan get out of criticizing Trump now?

AXELROD: Well, I don't know when he did the interview. The timing was controlled by the publication of the book. Tim Alberta is a great reporter. He has good sources in the Republican Party. Ryan wanted to unburden himself, and he did, about his feelings.

He was always a tortured figure in the drama. You remember, during the 2016 campaign, at the end of the day, he would not campaign with the president. At times, he accused him of racist language. Their relationship was strained.

One thing we know about Donald Trump is, if you say something unkind about him, he will come back 10 times harder at you. Ask the former British ambassador about that. This is his habit. This is how he will always be.

I am sure, when Ryan gave the interview, he understood that Trump would have a hissy fit about it when the book appeared. And we saw that -- we saw that yesterday.

CABRERA: But a lot of people are saying, why didn't he speak out when he had some kind of power.

AXELROD: That is a really good question. He would not have had power if he spoke out. This is the dilemma a lot of Republicans face.

[17:55:06] This is Donald Trump's Republican Party now. You can speak out against Donald Trump or you can continue to serve in your office. But you can't speak out against Donald Trump and continue to serve in your office.

He would have been ousted as speaker of the House if he went hard after the president. And he made the choice he would be more useful being there trying to, in whatever way that he could, moderate some of the excesses of Donald Trump. Whether he was successful, people have to judge. That was the judgment that he made.

And, yes, it is fair criticism to say, why weren't you more outspoken in that period. But one question the book answered is that the reason he left was because he found that balancing act too hard to continue.


CABRERA: Thanks to David Axelrod.

Be sure to tune in a brand-new :AXE FILES," featuring presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg. It airs tonight at 7:00 here on CNN.

On Sunday, don't miss our new original series, "THE MOVIES." From "Titanic" to "The Silence of the Lambs," hear from the actors, directors and people that brought your favorite '90s films to life, get the story behind the screen plays you love. "THE MOVIES," tomorrow night, at 9:00 Eastern, on CNN.

I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. I will see you back here in a couple of hours.

Our colleague, S.E. Cupp, continues today's coverage of the news right after a quick break.