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Democratic Candidates Preparing For Upcoming CNN Debates; U.S. Signs Asylum Agreement With Guatemala; U.S.-Born Teen Detained by ICE Told: You Have No Rights; Rep. Elijah Cummings Responds after Trump Calls His District "Infested"; Baltimore Mayor Responds to Trump's Cummings & "Infested" Rant; Mueller Testimony Falls Short in TV Ratings; Hong Kong Protests Turn Violent; 560 Arrested in Moscow in Crackdown on Opposition Supporters Demanding Free, Fair Elections. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 27, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. Thanks for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Just three days now until the large field of Democratic candidates takes the national stage all together again. CNN is hosting two nights of political debates, this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll be live in Detroit. Many of the Democratic hopefuls spending the weekend on the road, meeting voters, talking and listening.

To name a few, Senator Bernie Sanders canvassing today outside Detroit. Mayor Pete Buttigieg as well as former HUD secretary, Julian Castro, and Senator Michael Bennett all doing meet and greets in Iowa. And Senator Elizabeth Warren inviting voters to a town hall in New Hampshire. That's where CNN's Rebecca Buck is now, Dairy, New Hampshire.

And, Rebecca, as we see behind you, the crowd is there. What's the turnout for this event and what do people there want to talk to her about?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, an enthusiastic crowd here today, no doubt about it, Ana, to see Elizabeth Warren in New Hampshire. And there's no question that here campaign, at this moment, is having a moment, really, is having a great deal of momentum, hoping to carry that moment, of course, through the CNN debate next week.

This week Elizabeth Warren hit a very significant campaign milestone, one million donations to her presidential campaign. Of course, she's only been raising this grassroots money and none of these big, high- dollar fund raisers that some of the other candidates, like Joe Biden, have been doing. So, a lot for Elizabeth Warren to be happy with right now.

Really leading up to the CNN debate, it's going to be a tale of two campaigns. We have, on the one hand, the campaigns that are under pressure to have a moment in this debate. You look at what's been going on over the past week between Senator Cory Booker and former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden, of course, had a shaky first debate, especially that moment against Kamala Harris in the first debate.

Now, Senator Cory Booker has been questioning his record on criminal justice reform, his role in the 1994 crime bill. And so, it's likely we could see a clash between these two candidates who are going to be sharing the debate stage. In fact, standing right next to each other on that debate stage on Wednesday in Detroit.

But, on Tuesday, you're going to have Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as the top two candidates on that stage. And Warren has been taking a very different approach. She says Bernie Sanders is her friend. She's delighted they're on the stage together. She isn't under any pressure, it seems, to try to draw contrast with him.

But she is speaking very strongly today about Donald Trump. I want you to take a listen to what she said earlier today in Bough, New Hampshire, in response to some of the president's divisive rhetoric. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He says, to the people of America, if your life isn't going well, if you feel stretched financially, if you're anxious about your future, blame them. Blame people who don't look like you. Blame people that aren't the same color as you. Blame people who weren't born where you were born. Blame people who don't worship like you. Blame people who don't have the sexual orientation as you. Blame them, blame them, blame them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCK: And this is some of the strongest language, we've heard recently, from Warren, as it relates to President Trump. She typically focuses on her own record, her own proposals, trying to talk about what Democrats bring to the table and not about the president. But this could be a preview or a shift for Warren. A preview of what they could see on the debate stage in Detroit. Will she be focusing more on the president? Of course, Ana, stay tuned for that this week.

CABRERA: OK. And you mentioned, briefly, Senator Cory Booker and his potential clashing with Joe Biden on Wednesday night. You wrote a terrific piece about him and how he promised to run a positive campaign and how that squares with his recent attacks against Biden. Has Cory Booker's strategy shifted?

BUCK: You know, it is a shift for Cory Booker. But his campaign makes the case, and as I wrote in this piece, they're making the case that this is a natural evolution that happens throughout the course of the campaign. That you begin to need to draw these contrasts with the other candidates. And that they're not going to get in the gutter. They're not going to be insulting Joe Biden, personally. That they're going to keep this about policy.

However, there's no question that this is a new phase of the campaign for Booker. It's also unfamiliar territory for him. He, personally, likes to keep it positive. It doesn't come naturally for him to draw these contrasts, to go negative on other Democrats, especially.

[17:05:00] And so, it's not clear whether this is going to be a successful strategy for him. It's not clear how aggressively he's, ultimately, going go after Joe Biden in the debate.

But there's no question he's been lagging in the low, single digits, nationally, and in these key early states. And so, he does need a little boost in his campaign, a moment in the spotlight. It could be his moment on Wednesday, when he's on stage with Joe Biden -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. Rebecca Buck, thank you for your reporting, joining us live in New Hampshire this weekend.

Let's pick up on Rebecca's reporting with Neera Tanden. She's the former Domestic Policy director for the Obama-Biden 2008 campaign. And Molly Ball, National Political Correspondent for "TIME" magazine.

Neera, how much of a brawl do you expect between Cory Booker, who's now polling at one percent or two percent, and Joe Biden who's seen his poll numbers rise in just the past week? What can you expect on Wednesday night?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I think they've actually had a full exchange on this issue, over the last several days. So, it could be that they re-hash that exchange. If I were Cory Booker, I would, actually, think of new exchanges or new lines. Because this one has seen well joined already. The vice president had a response to it, talking about Senator Cory -- sorry, Senator Booker's record. So, I think -- I think there is -- this one might have well played itself out.

But I expect that you'll see, on Tuesday, a lot of engagement on policy issues and the record, because that was such a central issue in the last debate.

CABRERA: Molly, I want to show you the key primary state of South Carolina. Monmouth polling out this week shows Biden with a massive lead. Not only among likely voters across the board, but, specifically, among African-Americans. You don't see Booker there, because he's not even in the top five. He comes in at just two percent in each category.

How much of an impact does he need to have on Wednesday?

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, all of these candidates who aren't in the top few candidates need to have that breakout moment. As Rebecca mentioned, this is really getting to be make or break time for those bottom-dwelling campaigns. So, whether it's Cory Booker or anyone else who is not pulling above single digits or, in most polls, above, you know, one percent or two percent.

They've got to make an impression, right. In many cases, voters don't dislike these candidates. They just haven't been exposed to them in a way that have shifted them off their, sort of, place holder first choice which, for most voters, has been the former vice president.

And so, you know, Biden's biggest strength, so far in the primary, has been his steadfast support from African-American voters. I think that's part of why you see the other candidates, particularly, trying to get at him on these issues, where they think he's vulnerable. But they also, potentially, see an opportunity, potentially, think some of that support might be soft and might be vulnerable to those voters turning away from him, if they learn something that they don't like.

But, you know, with this many candidates on the stage together, it's really hard to predict, if you're one of them, who am I going to have an exchange with? Who am -- what is going to be the topic, when I get my chance to shine? So, I think you're going to see a lot of very anxious candidates, who have been doing a lot of preparation.

CABRERA: I also wonder who they will be targeting in some of these exchanges, Neera. Because Biden, obviously, as the front runner, I'm sure he'll have a target on his back. But who else could be vulnerable, do you think, to rivals maybe ganging up on them? We've seen some movement in the front of the pack.

TANDEN: I mean, my advice to candidates is that it doesn't really help you that much to go after people who are not on the top tier. We saw -- we had Secretary Castro, he went after Beto. It helped him a little bit, but his numbers in the polls have moved maybe one or two points.

What happened with Senator Harris is that she showed -- you know, she had been arguing that she could make -- you know, that she could really prosecute the case against Trump. And then, she demonstrated, in the debate, by going after the top tier candidates.

So, my take about all these issues, I think one of the reasons why Joe Biden, the vice president, has the support he does amongst African- Americans, is that he is seen as the most electable candidate. I think one real thing to do in this -- in this debate is to demonstrate that you were strong enough and tough enough to take on Trump. Because I think that's how a lot of people are evaluating this race. Who can make it? Who can be a strong candidate against Trump?

CABRERA: President Trump is angry, right now, at Fox News, because of the new poll that shows Biden with a 10-point lead in a head-to-head matchup with the president. Molly, is the White House nervous?

BALL: Well, it depends if you're talking about the president's political operation or the president specifically. The president like -- doesn't like to admit that anything rattles him or makes him nervous. But, you know, if the president's political advisers are smart, they are looking at these numbers and not in denial. You know, the president sees a poll like this, and he just immediately pronounces it fake.

These aren't fake numbers. These are very consistent numbers, in a large number of polls. And it isn't just Biden either. It's numerous candidates who, in these head-to-head matchups which, of course, it's too early for this to be predictive. All the usual caveats with a poll like this, the election is a state by state, not a national vote.

[17:10:02] But the -- but this is, by some measures, the most unpopular first-term president in the history of opinion polling. If they are not running scared, they're making a mistake. This is going to be a very tough re-election for President Trump.

CABRERA: And, of course, this idea about impeachment and what to do in the House is also becoming part of the conversation, given the election is getting closer and closer, and the list of the Democrats in the House backing an impeachment inquiry continues to grow. It now tops a hundred, but that's still not even half.

Next week's CNN debates are coming, of course, right on the heels of Robert Mueller's testimony and finds that an impeachment investigation may already be effectively underway, although they're not saying that's what it is.

Neera, will each candidate have to be ready on that debate stage with firm answer, once and for all, on impeachment?

TANDEN: I mean, the truth is, most of the candidates have come out for impeachment. Not all of them, but most of them have come out for an impeachment inquiry. Actually, what the House did yesterday is say that they are engaging in an inquiry that could lead to impeachment. I do think that gives them enough ammunition, with the courts, to be able to, sort of, basically, get more and more information.

I would say, I have -- I can't really go without acknowledging the president's racist tweet today and towards Congressman Elijah Cummings, who is part of the oversight of the president. He is chairman of the Oversight Committee.

And I think what's happening with the president, what's happening with his poll numbers is, essentially, he is trying to whip up his base by using racist tweets. And, really, it's up to a majority of the country to say, this is wrong.

And, you know, he's become more -- I mean, I can't think of a better word than, really, vile in the language he uses about members of Congress, about people who oppose him. And I think this is also going to create a lot of, you know, turmoil and a lot of counter and a backlash against what he's doing. And I think his numbers against Biden will get worse, not better, the more he does this.

CABRERA: We will see. Neera Tanden, Molly Ball, thank you, ladies.

The CNN Democratic presidential debate is just a few days away. Two big nights. Ten candidates each night. The first, Tuesday July 30th. The front runners, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They're in the center. And then, on Wednesday, July 31st, you'll see that rematch between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. CNN's debate live from Detroit only on CNN, starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern both nights.

The case started with a stolen backpack and ended in murder. The full story after the break. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.

[17:12:50]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: The Italian police paying tribute to one of their own. The officer, shown in this photo, was stabbed to death in the line of duty. Two American teenagers are now being held in jail in Rome accused in the officer's death. Italian police say surveillance video led them to the pair who, according to authorities, have confessed. Rome Bureau Chief for "The Daily Beast" and CNN Contributor Barbie Nadeau is following new developments in Rome -- Barbie.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Ana, people have been placing flowers here all day long on the site where two 19-year-old American boys, from San Francisco, are alleged to have stabbed to death an Italian carabinieri police officer early Friday morning.

This tragic event occurred during what police say was an investigation into what could be a botched drug deal. The boys are alleged to have purchased cocaine from a pusher who they, then, stole a backpack from. And this altercation was part of an investigation in which the officer, who lost his life, was working under cover.

The boys, then, ran down the street, about half a block, to a hotel where they were staying. Police tell us that they found the bloody knife and the bloody clothing hidden in one of the ceiling tiles of the hotel room. Police also say they were able to get a confession from at least one of the boys, in the early hours of the interrogation. But one of the young men since has hired a lawyer and the lawyer has been telling reporters that his client is no longer cooperating with police -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK, Barbie Nadeau, thank you for that update.

The tale of two detainees, a rapper and an 18-year old, both American citizens. But the president is only vocal about one of them.

And the administration scores a big win. Two of them on immigration. A live report from the White House is next. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.

[17:16:55]

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CABRERA: President Trump is celebrating two victories on the immigration front this weekend. First up, the U.S. Supreme Court giving the green light for the Trump administration to take money earmarked for the military and spend it on building parts of the wall in the U.S.-Mexico border. A Federal Appeals Court had said no to that plan earlier this month.

And, number two, acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, Kevin McAleenan, and his Guatemalan counterpart signing an agreement, as President Trump looks on, on Friday in the Oval Office.

Let's get right to CNN's White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez with more details on both of these victories for the White House. First, tell us more about the Supreme Court ruling on the border wall and how the president is reacting to it, Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, this is a big victory for the White House, albeit potentially a temporary one. Keep in mind, the Supreme Court here, basically, ruled that this $2.5 billion that the White House has secured from the Pentagon could be unfrozen while a lower court, ultimately, decides whether it's appropriate for the president to use that money to circumvent Congress to build his long-premised border wall.

It's certainly possible that, once this case likely reaches the Supreme Court, they end up saying that it's inappropriate for the president to use this money. Albeit, the president still celebrating anyway. Here's a tweet he sent out just a few moments ago. He writes, quote, "such a big victory for our country." He cites a Fox News article about the Supreme Court decision. Then, he goes on to say, "We will be fully reimbursed for this expenditure over time by other countries." Certainly, a different tone than what we heard from President Trump on the campaign trail a couple years ago, when he promised that Mexico would pay for the wall.

Now, the president, here, reiterating the idea that through trade deals, like the U.S. embassy, Mexico would eventually wind up paying for the wall. Keep in mind, the U.S. embassy has not been ratified by Congress. And even if there is some kind of indirect funding brought to the Treasury Department through the U.S. embassy, it's unclear that it would reach a level necessary for the border wall that the president has promised -- Ana.

CABRERA: And, Boris, talk to us about Guatemala and why -- what is this asylum agreement? Why is it a win for President Trump?

SANCHEZ: Yes. Well, in some ways, this is a way for the administration to lighten the load of asylum cases being brought through the U.S. immigration system. Essentially, the U.S. and Guatemala have agreed that Guatemala would offer asylum to migrants moving through that country before they get to the United States. If those migrants then decide to move to the United States anyway, to try to get through Central America to the U.S., they would automatically then be returned, deported back to Guatemala.

So, this is a way for there to be fewer asylum cases in the United States. The president feels this is a win. It's the way he's describing it. Listen to what he said on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are now at a point where are -- we just get along. And they're doing what we've asked them to do. And I think it's going to be a great thing for Guatemala. They don't want these problems either. So, we're able to get this done, and we got it done fairly quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: So, the president, the White House presenting this as a win. But I can tell you, Ana, that I've privately spoken to White House officials who are afraid that this agreement may not be as effective as advertised. Not because of the legal framework, but rather because there are questions about whether Guatemala's infrastructure can sustain the amount of migrants that are moving through that country. There are questions, logistically, about whether Guatemala can handle this.

[17:25:10] So, whether, ultimately, this ends up working out for the White House or not is un -- it's unclear. But the president, likely, will keep calling this a win as we get closer and closer to 2020. And he frames immigration as the central issue of his re-election campaign -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House for us. Thank you.

The president continues to insert himself in the case involving an American rapper in Sweden. President Trump saying Sweden has, quote, "Let our African-American community down in the United States by not freeing American rapper, ASAP Rocky, being held there on an assault charge."

A spokesperson for Sweden's prime minister responding, saying that all people in that country are equal before the law. Now, this is a sharp contrast to the president's seeming indifference, regarding another nation's legal system, Saudi Arabia and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. Resident.

It's also very different to how the president responded, or didn't respond, to the case of another American's detention right here at home; 18-year-old Francisco Galicia born in Dallas. Was picked up and detained by border patrol and later ICE, despite having his Texas I.D. and a birth certificate with him. He spent weeks in detention, finally freed this week. So far, no comment from the White House on this case.

CNN's Nick Valencia spoke with Galicia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Francisco Galicia is home at last, but the reminders of his detention are never far away. Sitting in his south Texas home, the 18-year-old American says what he went through should never have happened, even if immigration officials alleged he's partly to blame.

(on camera): Immigration officials say that there was confusion about your status because there was conflicting documents. Do you think that this was about the documents or do you think that this was about something else?

FRANCISCO GALICIA (translator): They thought they were superior. They looked at us with such distaste. I think it was like a certain type of racism.

VALENCIA (voice-over): For three weeks, he slept on the concrete with nearly 70 others who were doing the same.

(on camera): And they didn't even treat you like human beings.

GALICIA: No.

VALENCIA (voice-over): He survived of bologna sandwiches and says, every three to four days, he was given a wet wipe to clean himself.

(on camera): You shouldn't shower at all?

GALICIA: No. It was for 23 days.

VALENCIA: You didn't shower for 23 days?

GALICIA (translator): For 23 days with a bad diet. I lost nearly 30 pounds.

VALENCIA (voice-over): In his 27 days in custody, Galicia said no one ever believed he was American. At one point, tired of trying to explain himself, he considered self-deporting to Mexico.

(on camera): They just mess with your mind.

GALICIA: See.

VALENCIA: How? Explain.

GALICIA (translator): The truth, threatening me that they were going to press charges. Charges for falsifying documents. The whole time insulting me that how could I not know where I was from?

VALENCIA (voice-over): This all started on June 27th when Galicia, along with his brother and two friends left their home in Edinburgh and headed north. They were stopped at a checkpoint in Falfurrias, about a hundred miles north of the border, while on their way to Ranger College in central Texas for a soccer camp.

Galicia, who was born in the U.S., but grew up in Mexico, was carrying documents proving he was an American. But he also carried a tourist visa that mistakenly listed his birth country as Mexico. This individual provided conflicting reports, regarding status of citizenship after being apprehended. Situations including conflicting reports from the individual and multiple birth certificates can and should take more time to verify. CBP and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said in a joint statement, Galicia thinks border agents would've believed he was American if not for his broken English.

VALENCIA (on camera): There are going to be people that watch this interview and say that you live in the United States. You're an American. You should be speaking English. What do you -- you smile. What do you say to those people?

GALICIA (translator): I don't speak English. But I'm going to learn it and I'll speak it later.

VALENCIA: Is this more of a reason to learn English now?

GALICIA: I have to learn it to talk to everyone and everyone so that the next time this happens, they'll believe me.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Somehow, he's able to laugh about his time in custody, which he said ended after media picked up his story. But just a few days removed from detention, he spends a lot of time thinking about those who aren't as lucky.

(on camera): Our president talks about how there is a lot of bad actors, a lot of -- a lot of people that are here to do harm among those that are coming to this country. But you're telling me you felt more scared being in a presence of the ICE officials and the officials -- immigration officials than you did with the migrants. When you were -- when you were there, how many of the migrants, would you say, were here to do harm to do harm to the United States?

GALICIA: None. None wanted to come to do harm. All came in search for a better future.

VALENCIA (voice-over): After being locked up with them, he now considers some of them friends. He keeps a handful of phone numbers on tiny pieces of paper he received from those friends while in the facility. He's calling families in Central America to tell them their loved ones are still alive.

[17:30:05] GALICIA: To see the suffering of other people, it made me understand many things. One can live his life here in a certain way while others suffer.

VALENCIA (on camera): You speak for them now?

GALICIA (through translator): Yes. I mean I try to because they can't talk. I'm like their eyes and ears from there inside.

VALENCIA (voice over): Walking outside, Galicia says the air to him smells fresher than before. Things look and feel different, too. And so does he.

Even though he lives on the border, prior to his detention, he never paid attention to the migrant crisis. Now he's lived it.

Nick Valencia, CNN, McAllen, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: President Trump back at it this week and on the attack on his favorite medium, Twitter. He's going after a prominent African-American lawmaker and insulting the city that lawmaker represents. Now Congressman Elijah Cummings is firing back.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Per usual, President Trump on the attack today, but this time, aiming his ire at Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, calling his Baltimore district, "disgusting, rodent-infested and filthy."

Congressman Cummings hit back on Twitter saying, "Mr. President I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up and fight for my neighbors."

Moments ago the mayor of Baltimore responded to Trump's tweets. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[17:35:04] BERNARD "JACK" YOUNG, (D), BALTIMORE MAYOR: I guess everybody in the 7th district will be insulted, including me. The 7th congressional district and see all the developments we have done. And we're still working to rebuild some of the areas that need the help the most. So for him to say that was an insult to me, as a resident who lives in the 7th congressional district. It was a total insult.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

YOUNG: We are not going to ignore anyone degrading anyone in the city, no one.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

YOUNG: I don't --

(CROSSTALK)

YOUNG: -- fueling the fire. I look at it as defending the city where I live.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, is with us.

You've been following developments in this story, Brian, and the timing of the president's attacks was interesting because it came after a FOX News segment?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Yes. He clearly heard about this on FOX News at 6:00 in the morning and then tweeted about it in the 7:00 a.m. hour. This was all started by a "FOX & Friends" segment where a conservative commentator said, look at west Baltimore. This is Cummings district. Look at the row houses and the dilapidated buildings and the rats.

That is true, but this is the 7th district from Howard County up to Baltimore county. And, yes, parts of Baltimore city, as well. This is a district of 700,000 people representing a wide swath of the state of Maryland.

I'm a Marylander so I know this region well. We are talking about small towns like Woodbine and beautiful cities like Columbia and the wonderful parts of Baltimore City and some rural areas up in rural Baltimore County.

The point is President Trump heard about a little snippet, a little, small slice of reality in the worst most poverty stricken areas of Baltimore cities, regions that really need help, and from that, he extrapolated and attacked Cummings' entire district, 700,000 people, and said no human being would want to live in that district.

There are some people who might want to move out. There are other people who want to move in. This is a very diverse district with a lot of wonderful things going on.

And the president's tweets there so hostile, so hateful, and pretty clearly the result of what he saw on FOX News. I think it's just one of these examples of the president governing via television instead of real life.

If he actually knew more of what he was talking about, he wouldn't have tweeted that. And it does fit into the pattern of racist and incendiary rhetoric from the president, in this case, provoked by TV.

CABRERA: The president tweeted about Mueller's testimony.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: And we were talking about whether Mueller's testimony would have a big impact. Would it be the case of people not wanting to read the report but being glued to the TV watching the television version of all of this. What do the ratings say?

STELTER: The ratings were tepid, almost a bust, I would say, given that this was broadcast on all of the major networks from CNN to ABC, NBC, FOX, and all of the rest. For the better part of the day, about 13 million viewers tuned in at any given time during the day. That's a decent number, but this did not reach the same audience that James Comey hearings or Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings last year. It didn't seem this was must-see TV.

I think many viewers kind of sensed this was a re-run or a repeat. The book version had come out of this story. And the fact that Mueller was not an especially inspiring witness, someone who was willing to answer every single question in detail, someone who was stumbling at times. That certainly didn't help the Democrats' cause.

Now I wonder, do the Democrats have other witnesses that they think would be more compelling, that would be more interesting from a television perspective. And I think that's an unknown, a great unknown for the Democratic Party.

CABRERA: I think it was interesting what our colleague, Oliver Darcy, wrote about all of this when he talked about Mueller's traditionalist approach and how it may have backfired.

STELTER: Yes.

CABRERA: He writes, "In the age of information wars, everything is weaponized for political purposes. And by not understanding that, Mueller allowed his message, a very important one, to be hijacked by those who aimed to discredit it."

Was Mueller's convention investigation and his way of disseminating the findings, was it flawed, if the goal was to make sure the facts and the truth was clear?

STELTER: The truth was clear. And even folks like Attorney General Bill Barr and President Trump have tried to make it less clear and tried to confuse people about what had actually happened.

I think that point was spot on. Robert Mueller was praised for two years and not speaking and letting his filings speak for themselves and not having an office that leaked. However, in this environment where everyday President Trump was spreading lies and misinformation about the Mueller investigation, perhaps that was the wrong strategy.

Perhaps that was a strategy better suited to the '70s and '80s than the 2000 teens, when we are in this so-called information war where links are wielded like weapons.

And conservatives on FOX News and other places were trying to denigrate Mueller's project every single day. Only history will say for sure.

[17:40:11] But I think a lot of folks who put their faith on Robert Mueller have to do re-evaluating now. Even though some of the findings in the report were damning on their own.

It's now been more than three months since the report was publicized and it has not moved public opinion in the dramatic fashion.

I think it has, though, in the daily dribs and drabs way. We've seen several more Democratic lawmakers come out in favor of impeachment since the Mueller hearings. So there's something happening.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Clearly, the president didn't think that Robert Mueller did a service to him enough because he's still attacking Robert Mueller, whereas, before, when the report came out, he was trying to praise the findings.

STELTER: And say he was exonerated. And the most important part of the story that I think Mueller emphasized on Wednesday is that this is still happening and that there are Russian operatives trying to interfere in current and former elections. I hope that wasn't lost during the hearings.

CABRERA: Definitely an important message.

Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Thanks.

CABRERA: So good to have you with us as always.

Tune in tomorrow morning for "RELIABLE SOURCES" at 11:00 a.m. Eastern on CNN.

Protests turning violent in Hong Kong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Careful, careful, careful, careful! Careful! (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Police storming a train station with batons and tear gas. One of our own CNN crews gets caught in the chaos.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[17:45:22] CABRERA: Two massive protests today, one in Moscow, the other in Hong Kong.

In Moscow, more than a thousand protesters have now been detained at election demonstrations. And more on that in a moment.

And in Hong Kong, police pushing back as tens of thousands of people take to the streets for the eighth consecutive weekend. The action is centered in a small town near the border to China. Protesters turned out in force against today for the continuing pro-democracy protests.

Last week, a mob attacked demonstrators with iron bars and sticks leaving dozens of people injured.

Today, police in riot gear fired tear gas and things got extremely violent in a subway station.

That's where our Anna Coren and the crew got caught in the chaos, right before they were about to go on air. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Just wait.

(SHOUTING)

COREN: Oh, my god!

(SHOUTING)

COREN; Cut to it!

(SHOUTING)

COREN; Careful, careful, careful, careful. Careful! Careful! Careful.

(SHOUTING)

COREN: Come on!

Are they coming to us?

Linda? Linda? Let me talk to you. Linda, let me tell you what is happening.

We have just been charged by riot police into the train station. This is absolute mayhem. They have just come at the protesters, wielding batons. It is pandemonium inside here. I have no idea how they are planning to disperse these crowds. It is absolute chaos.

(SHOUTING)

COREN: We were just chased -- outside. (INAUDIBLE) They were absolutely chaotic scenes. I have never witnessed anything quite like this where there was a peaceful, peaceful demonstration inside. These protesters are not trashing anything. All they were doing was standing here and they were pushed on. And all of a sudden, these riot police charged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That was Hong Kong.

Now to Moscow, where Russian authorities have banned a number of independent and opposition candidates from taking part in municipal elections in September.

CNN senior international correspondent, Frederik Pleitgen, is in the thick of it there as protesters make demands for free and fair elections.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's another huge round of protest in Moscow. And the police are out in full force with riot police. They've been on the scene for hours before the protests started.

The cops have been quite aggressive in their strategy. They started arresting people even before the protests took place. And we saw, at one point, people by the minute getting hauled into police vans and into police buses. We also saw some smaller skirmishes as well. At least two protesters, you see their bloody faces.

And while the protesters have not been able to go where they wanted to go, which is the mayor's office, they are still out here in force.

If we look in the other direction, you can see there are a lot of people trying to get past this police barricade. You can see a lot of them are wielding Russian flag, which is something, under Russian law at a protest, they're not even allowed to do.

Now, on the face of it, this protest is about the local election here in Moscow where several opposition candidates have been barred from taking part. However, of course, there's a larger element to this, as well. Some

of the chants have we've heard here has been against Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Back here at home, when you think about things that go bump in the night, this probably isn't one of them.

[17:49:48] You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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CABRERA: Every week, we honor "CNN Heroes," everyday people doing extraordinary things to help others. Becoming a "CNN Hero" begins with a nomination from you. Taking a few minutes to fill out an online form could turn a mentor or someone whose work you admire into a "CNN Hero" and change their life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met my hero when we were volunteering.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: He's making a big difference --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: -- for kids in our area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is my second mom. My mentor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like it was very important for people to know about sister.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt honored that I was able to honor her in such a significant way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was so proud of myself, because I was like, oh, my goodness, for everything she's done for me, I did something for her, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That could be you. If you know someone that deserves to be a "CNN Hero," nominations close Wednesday night. Go to CNNheroes.com right now.

Boston Red Sox legend, David Ortiz, has been released from the hospital in Boston. It comes more than a month after a gunman shot Ortiz in the back in the Dominican Republic. Surveillance cameras captured the moment Ortiz was shot while sitting at a crowded patio bar. Police arrested a handful of people and are searching for others.

Authorities say that Ortiz was not the intended target of the shooting. According to the team spokesperson, there will be an update on his condition early next week.

Check out this San Diego Coast Guard chasing down suspected drug smugglers. In the video, the suspects are seen throwing large bags from their high-speed boat. The Coast Guard says, in all, 2,300 pounds of cocaine were seized in this chase.

[17:55:14] The haul made up to 26,000 pounds of drugs. The Coast Guard offloaded yesterday. The Coast Guard says an estimated $350 million worth of cocaine was seized between late June and the middle of July off of the coast of Mexico and Central and South America.

Finally, this hour, when you hear something going bump in the middle of the night, better check the pool for alligators. This seven-foot alligator decided to take a midnight dip in a Florida woman's swimming pool. She heard an unfamiliar sound when the children were sleeping. When she spotted the gator, she picked up the phone to call police.

Authorities sent a private trapper to the home in Port Charlotte, Florida, just south of Sarasota. The trapper said he was going to take the seven-foot gator to a farm to be released for mating.

I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. See you back here in an hour.

My colleague, S.E. Cupp, continues our coverage of today's news after a quick break.

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