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Trump Cancels Taliban Meeting; The Aftermath Of Hurricane Dorian; Rep. Ryan Questions Whether Biden Has Energy To Take On Trump; Prosecutors Want Felicity Huffman To Serve A Month In Prison; Man Arrested In Wife's Disappearance: I Think She's Alive; Scientists: Loch Ness Monster Might Be Giant Eel. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 7, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers in United States and around the world. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Breaking news tonight, the president revealing he was going to have a secret meeting tomorrow at Camp David with the leaders of the Taliban. But he's decided to cancel and suspend the peace negotiations, laying out his entire rationale on Twitter.

Let's get right to CNN White House Reporter, Sarah Westwood. Sarah, what is the president saying?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Ana, President Trump revealing that tomorrow he did have high-level talks, a high-level meeting at Camp David with the Taliban, with the president of Afghanistan.

But in a surprising series of tweets tonight, he's announcing that summit will no longer take place. Writing, just moments ago, unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the president of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday.

They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great soldiers and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations.

And it's unclear what President Trump means when he says he ended these peace talks. The lead U.S. negotiator with the Taliban, the special envoy to Afghanistan, had announced less than a week ago that the Taliban and the U.S. had reached an agreement, in principle, that would have involved the U.S. pulling out some troops from Afghanistan, in exchange for the Taliban meeting certain conditions.

But a major, major setback here with the bombing that claimed the life of one U.S. service member, 11 other people, when a car bomb exploded near the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Thursday. So, Ana, it's unclear what the fate of that preliminary deal may be. The special envoy to Afghanistan had already announced that he was heading back to do Dohadit (ph) to continue negotiations. Unclear, Ana, if those are going to continue.

CABRERA: OK. Sarah Westwood, we know you will come back to us, if you get more information.

But let's discuss, with our analysts and our reporters CNN Military Analyst, and former Pentagon and State Department spokesman, Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby is with us. "New York Times" columnist and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, Nicholas Kristof, is here. And CNN Pentagon Reporter, Ryan Brown is with us as well.

Admiral Kirby, before we even begin to talk about Trump and how he revealed this on Twitter, first, I want to ask you about the significance, this idea of trying to get Taliban leaders to the U.S. for the first time.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes, truly remarkable, if true. I mean, just stunning. We have not allowed them on U.S. soil, at least since we started combat operations there in 2001. And for good reason because we don't want them to rule Afghanistan again and they are very much and have been the enemy, at least one of our enemies, in Afghanistan.

This would give them -- regardless of whether the talks were successful or not, this would give them a boost of political legitimacy that they don't deserve. Certainly not at this stage in negotiations, at least it would seem. And would be a huge propaganda victory for them. Not to mention, I think, at the Afghan government and President Ghani, when they haven't really even been brought in appropriately to these discussions, to this point.

CABRERA: Ryan, the president cited the killing of a U.S. soldier as the reason he broke off this secret meeting that no one previously knew about. But 16 U.S. troops have been killed in combat this year in Afghanistan. He was still planning on hosting the Taliban at Camp David. Does his explanation hold water?

RYAN: Well, it's an interesting explanation, Ana. As you mentioned, there have been a number of combat deaths in Afghanistan this year, many of which have been claimed by the Taliban.

This one did take place in Kabul, close to the headquarters where the international forces are located. It was a little bit more high profile. As the president noted, several Afghan civilians were killed as well. And this has actually led many the Afghan government to call for a suspension or at least pause to some of these peace negotiations.

However, officials familiar with the matters are telling CNN that this, in fact, the decision to call off this round of talks in Camp David, was actually made by the White House and the State Department, not by the Afghan government, despite them asking for these talks to be called off. And it's not clear, at this time, whether the talks are permanently called off or whether the suspension will continue. Officials are planning for potential future meetings, we're being told. So, where these talks are right now is not entirely clear.

CABRERA: Nick, what do you make of the reason President Trump is giving, at least publicly, for cancelling this secret Camp David meeting with the Taliban, pinning it on the death of a U.S. soldier this week?

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, to me, the explanation simply doesn't compute. It doesn't compute, partly, for the reason that you said, that, indeed, there have been a lot of other American deaths there.

[20:05:00]

But, in addition, you know, this bombing, that he refers to, happened Thursday morning Afghanistan time or Wednesday night our time. And so, it seems odd that he would only be cancelling now, when, in fact, you know, planes would be in the air bringing people here.

And so, I wonder if it wasn't, in fact, you know, something else. And I think one plausible reason would be that President Ashraf Ghani had a lot of reservations. He was critical of -- he was very concerned about the proposed deal. And especially in a run up to the Afghanistan elections. I think he didn't want to have a deal that made it look to the Afghanistans as if the U.S. was pulling out. So, I think he may have refused to show up and it would be impossible for a President to meet with the Taliban without President Ghani.

You know, and, look, in addition, I mean, John Bolton seems to have been pretty much frozen out of the discussions. He may -- he may have had a fit. And President Trump may also have simply realized that the political implications of bringing the Taliban to Camp David and meeting with them and having, you know, images of him celebrating with them, a peace agreement, you know, really wouldn't look good.

So, I wonder if it wasn't some combination of these other factors, rather than the one that he mentioned.

CABRERA: So, what do you see as the impact, then, on the ongoing negotiations for U.S. troop withdrawal?

KRISTOF: So, I know -- I would -- look, you know, I was stunned by this. But my best guess is that, at the end, this is going to be more of a bump than a permanent halt to the process we've been in. And I think that's, partly, because President Trump really does want to bring out U.S. troops. I think that there is, you know, a strong pressure, from both the U.S. and the Taliban, to try to work out a deal.

And it -- I wonder if, after the Afghan elections, maybe there -- you know, something will happen. If this isn't more of a delay than a real end to the process. But I would -- I would sure be surprised if there is any major negotiation happening at Camp David. I think the idea of the Taliban coming to Camp David is, kind of, overwhelming and probably will not ever end up happening. CABRERA: Admiral, what could the U.S. hope to accomplish in a meeting

like this?

KIRBY: Well, it -- you would have to assume and hope that if they were going to have a meeting at this level at Camp David that they were that far along in the process. So that it would be, really, just nailing down the details, some verification procedures for both sides. You know, sort of ink in all the final inches of the deal. That's what you would hope or you would expect with a meeting with the president of the United States at Camp David.

And I just -- I -- Ana, I spoke to Afghan officials, just recently as this weekend, who are close to the process. And I got no assurance from them at all that they were that confident that we are anywhere near that stage.

In fact, I sensed and heard great frustration that they had been left out of it, to this point. That there hasn't been any consultation. President Ghani was simply showed the draft agreement. He wasn't even allowed to hang onto a copy of it. So, it doesn't appear like we're anywhere near that level.

And I agree with Nick, I don't think this will stop it or end it. But it certainly -- it certainly does demonstrate how difficult this is. And don't forget, the Taliban, just eight days ago, conducted a very coordinated major attack in Kunduz. They have been fighting all along these negotiations and have proven really no -- little to no willingness to stop the violence while they are, in fact, negotiating.

CABRERA: And, Admiral Kirby, the fact that the president made this announcement on Twitter.

KIRBY: Yes, I mean, I wish I could say I was stunned by that. I'm more stunned by the invitation to the Taliban to Camp David, and the fact that they thought they were far enough along -- enough along to have this meeting than I am that he did it on Twitter and cancelling it on Twitter. It seems to be modus operandi for this president This is the way he conducts policy. There is no real process, no inner agency discussion.

As Nick point out, John Bolton seems to be a man left out here. This is just -- this is just the way this guy continues to conduct foreign policy.

CABRERA: But why publicize it? If the meetings were going to be a secret in the first place and now they're not evening happening, why publicize it?

KIRBY: Because I think -- again, I think they're -- I want to -- I keep going back to what Nick said because I think what he said was very impression -- I think there's probably more reason to this than just the fact that there was an attack in Kabul. And I think he's covering for that. I think he wanted to be the one to say he cancelled it. He stopped it. He ended it. And it's the Taliban's fault. When actually it's probably much more complex than that.

CABRERA: Ryan, what does this breakdown of talks then mean for the 14,000 U.S. troops still stationed in Afghan?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, that's a great question, Anal. You know, the president and his chief negotiator, Ambassador Khalilzad, had both said that the plan was to withdraw a significant number of those troops, going from about 14,000 down to 8,600, within about 125 days after signing of an agreement.

[20:10:03]

Now that the agreement's fate appears to be in a bit of jeopardy, it's unclear exactly what's going to happen to that troop drawdown. You know, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, he spoke on Thursday. He said that this deal was going to be conditions based. And he actually -- he, himself, you know, said, look, it's not clear that the Taliban are going to live up to this deal. And that they're going to have to watch this carefully.

And he said that if the Taliban don't, kind of, play ball here, that he wouldn't be surprised if these negotiations unraveled. Again, foreshadowing, perhaps, a little bit, that the complexity of dealing with this insurgent group, that is waging a very violent, very active assault on the Afghan government as these talks are ongoing.

CABRERA: Nick, this week marks 18 years since the 911 attacks. Do you see the timing of that as significant?

KRISTOF: You know, only in a sense that I think that President Trump has a tendency to like the drama of an international meeting. You know, we saw this a little bit with the Singapore meeting, with Kim Jong Un. And, normally, these international meetings are all prepared and ahead of time and, you know, diplomats have put all the rabbits in the hat so that the leaders can pull them out.

That has not been President Trump's style. And, in fact, he has tended to focus much more on the drama and the imagery. And I think from that point of view, he may have welcomed something that is closely linked to the -- to that time schedule.

But to -- I mean, to me, at least that would all -- I mean, that's also kind of troubling because I think, for a lot of Americans, any kind of anniversary of 911 is not a moment you want to have the Taliban at Camp David.

CABRERA: Admiral, a source close to National Security Adviser John Bolton told CNN earlier that even if he has been sidelined on Afghanistan talks by State Department officials, for the moment, he is still voicing his criticism directly to the president. Any sense of the role critics of a drawdown may have played here?

KIRBY: It's hard to know. I mean, I just -- there is no normal interagency discussion and process here in this administration. So, I would like to think that the -- that the critics of a drawdown, or a too hasty drawdown, had an ability to shake the president's thinking and to continue to have access to his ear.

Because, look, I mean, even if there was going to be a deal this weekend in Camp David, the war in Afghanistan would not be over. They're already talking about leaving 8,600 troops there for counter terrorism operations, because there's real need, because there's terrorist networks still operating out of Afghanistan. So, men and women in uniform are still going to be in harm's way. I would like to think that there is that kind of discussion going on and a reality check on the president.

But, honestly, Ana, we've seen no indication that this White House administers itself and manages the policy-making process in anything like what we've seen before.

CABRERA: And, Ryan, I think about, you know, other meetings in which the president has been criticized, with Putin, with Kim Jong Un. Has the Taliban even earned the right for a meeting like this?

BROWNE: Well, it's an extremely (ph) unusual move. Of course, the United States doesn't recognize the Taliban as an official government, unlike some of these other high-profile meetings in which you referred to. The Taliban is an insurgency. Several of its leaders are connected to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. So, they've long -- the U.S. has long kept them at arms-length.

Now, they did allow them a political office in Doha and Qatar to facilitate these negotiations. But that's far cry from elevating them to the status of a leader of a state, of a country, putting them almost on equal status with the president of Afghanistan, if reports about the president in Afghanistan also coming to Camp David.

So, it would be, in a way, elevating this insurgent group to the level of a leader of a country. Something that they have long sought and the U.S. has long resisted.

CABRERA: And, Nick, does it strike you that a meeting with the Taliban, scheduled for Camp David, is the president reaching, trying for something big and historic?

KRISTOF: Yes, I think that's exactly what it sounds like, and his tweet seemed to reflect that. You know, it's his penchant for drama, for the global stage, for the cameras, for making great T.V., rather than for, it seems to me, the hard work of substance.

And also, a neglect of, I don't know, I'd say propriety. And I think that bothered a lot of people about the meeting with Kim Jung Un. Initially, a sense that this made great T.V., but it also legitimized Kim Jong Un without really getting anything in exchange for it. And it seems, you know, to me, rather more problematic with the Taliban.

Look, I'm all in favor of negotiating with the Taliban.

[20:15:00]

But bringing them to Camp David, at a time when they are blowing up Americans and other people, Afghans when they've recently been throwing acid in the faces of schoolgirls. I don't understand the reason for having that kind of a moment on cameras at Camp David, rather than a more finale (ph) but less photogenic peace process somewhere else.

CABRERA: Nicholas Kristof, Admiral Kirby, Ryan Browne, thank you, gentlemen, for the discussion. Much more to learn in the coming hours and days.

This hour, a desperate situation in the Bahamas is getting worse as the Bahamian prime minister describes a catastrophic death toll. We are getting a first look now at the areas ravaged by Hurricane Dorian. We're live on scene, next.

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CABRERA: It's a major humanitarian crisis just off the coast of the United States. Dozens of people confirmed dead in the aftermath of the category five hurricane that slammed into the Bahamas. That number almost certain to rise, because rescue and recovery crews are finding bodies this weekend. Finding them in the wreckage of homes and all that storm debris that now covers much of the Bahamas' northern islands. Officials set up these mobile mortuaries in the city of Marsh Harbour. Their purpose, to process human remains.

[20:20:00] CNN camera crews saw bodies brought into those mobile morgues today. Crowds of people from the devastated islands are trying to make it out, either to the Bahamian capital, Nassau, or to the U.S. In some places, there is literally nothing. No power. No shelter. No food. No drinking water. A cruise ship today arrived in Palm Beach, Florida carrying more than 1,400 evacuees from the Bahamas. The United Nations estimates about 70,000 people in the islands lost their homes. They're now homeless.

Let's go live to Nassau and CNN's Paula Newton is there. Paula, the government says a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the days since this hurricane. What is causing people there the most anxiety?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The most anxiety now really is what happens next when they have nowhere to go. You just quoted it, 70,000 people homeless. When they say they're homeless, it's not like their homes are gone just for a few weeks. They have been obliterated. Those homes absolutely obliterated. And, on top of that, they are also going through a lot, in terms of just trying to get through the trauma of everything they've been through.

And remember, Ana, we still do not know the true death toll from this disaster. I want you to listen now to William Davis talk to us about what it was like for him to ride out the storm in Marsh Harbour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CL IP)

WILLIAM DAVIS: My son and a couple of my other employees were in that building. And the water just tore down the hole building. We had to jump out the back window. Some survived. Some didn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: You know, he, then, told me that four people in the building next to him had lost their lives. Four people. I spoke to other people who had loved ones who had passed away. They hadn't reported that they were even missing. There are other people that I spoke to that had missing relatives and had no idea if they were dead or alive yet. Had no place to go, in terms of a central Web site or anything like that.

You talked about those mobile mortuaries. We talked to three morticians today. They were hired by the government here to go there and handle the situation. Their quote to me, Ana, was that we haven't started our work yet. What does that mean? It means search and recovery, it's going very, very slowly. And, of course, it will be quite a challenge to even identify these people.

And when we were at the port today, with all of that on their shoulders, that burden, people were trying to leave a place that was unlivable. I asked a woman, did she have enough food or water? She said, who can have food or water? I just want out of this place.

CABRERA: Wow. I think we're all bracing for the true depth of destruction and the final numbers, once we really learn how many people were killed are revealed.

Paula Newton, thank you for your ongoing reporting there. You're working so hard and bringing us what is happening and what they need. If you want to find out how you can help the victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and here in the U.S., just head to CNN.com/impact.

We have new CNN reporting that the president is privately expressing concerns about the economy, even as he boasts publicly everything is going great. We'll discuss why it is so important to his chances of re-election, next.

[20:23:13]

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CABRERA: President Trump tweeting unbridled confidence on a topic he hopes to ride to re-election. Our economy is doing great, he writes. Notice the five exclamation points there. But sources tell CNN he is privately expressing concern amid warnings of a possible recession. They say he's ordering aides to have plans ready to roll if the economy takes a turn for the worse ahead of the 2020 election.

Ron Brownstein CNN Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor at "The Atlantic." As always, so much to talk about, when it comes to the president, --

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Ana.

CABRERA: -- including the news here that the House Judiciary Committee is ready to bring a vote on an impeachment inquiry. We'll get to that but let's just start with the economy for a moment. Just how important is it to Trump's re-election campaign?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I -- you know, it's interesting because the president has been getting the usual downside of the economy without getting all the upside. And by that, I mean if you compare his approval rating to past presidents, you know, the vast majority of people who say the economy isn't doing well have always said they disapprove of President Trump. And that's very similar to say Obama or Bush.

The difference is that he runs way below any previous president, among people who say the economy is doing well. And his approval rating among people say the economy is doing well is about 20 points below what it was for Obama or Bush. And that's because of all the reasons that we -- you know, that we've seen over the years. The volatility, the behavior, the kind of flip-flopping and sudden zigs and zags that you were talking about earlier tonight in Afghanistan.

So, the problem he's got now is that as the economy has slowed down, after failing to, kind of, maximize the benefits of the good economy, now the balance is shifting. And you have more people saying the economy isn't doing well.

And, in particular, they're worried that it won't be as strong a year as it is now. That weighs on him. But a good economy by itself is not enough to save him, I don't think, because of the other concerns that exist. He'll have to -- he'll have to resolve some of those, I think, in order to get re-elected.

CABRERA: Ron, you wrote a great piece this week on the power of the geographical divide in this country. You say, even if --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CABRERA: -- Democrats win the White House, hold the House, and win a majority in the Senate, there is still enough seats to block actions on guns or to address the climate crisis. Explain how that works.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I mean, you know, there's going to be -- if Democrats get unified control of government in 2020, which obviously is still a -- you know, a longshot for them, because of the difficulty of winning the Senate, even if they win back the White House. But if they do get unified control of the government, I think guns and climate are going to be the two issues that create the most pressure to end the filibuster in the Senate, which, of course, requires 60 votes in order to pass most legislation.

And the reason is that Republicans are now so dominant in states where there is a high-level gun ownership and a -- and a strong gun culture. And also the states that are most tightly tied into the fossil economy. In states -- and there's an overlap between both of those groups.

In states in both of those categories, Republicans hold so many of the Senate seats that they are really right on the brink of the 41 they need to sustain a filibuster. And there's no sign at those states, which are mostly interior heartland states in the Great Plains and the Mountain West are going to be more receptive to Democrats even if Donald Trump is defeated. And Democrats, you know, squeeze out enough seats to get to 50 or 51 in the Senate. I mean, that looks like kind of a permanent block. What I call the brown blockade, for example, on environmental issues. It's very hard to see how in any reasonable timeframe Democrats could overcome that on either guns or climate.

And I think, as a result, there is going to be enormous pressure on those two issues the next time Democrats have unified control of government to end the filibuster.

CABRERA: OK. We all need a good laugh. So let's listen to what sounds like a slip up today by Joe Biden that got some giggles.

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JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But if Donald hump -- Donald Trump is re-elected, Freudian slip.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The audience seemed to get a kick out of Donald hump.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CABRERA: You know as well as I do, words don't always come out right.

BROWNSTEIN: Right, right.

CABRERA: Although I think -- you seem just to get it with no problem.

BROWNSTEIN: No, no, no.

CABRERA: Compared to me.

BROWNSTEIN: We all get them.

CABRERA: But there's a moment like that given the criticism that Biden has faced and some of the scrutiny he's been under, does a moment like that help or hurt him?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think that by this point, you know, Biden has been in public life almost 50 years, which is incredible number. We talked about it before. If he is not nominated, he will have gone the furthest from his initial election to becoming his party's nominee of any nominee in American history. He's been around a long time. And I think gaffes are kind of baked into what people expect of him.

But there is this, you know, this issue that he does face and you saw today at that New Hampshire Democratic convention where so many of the candidates were saying, look, we have to turn the page. We need a new generation of leaders.

Julian Castro saying Democrats do best when they nominate young leaders who kind of look to the future. They didn't say the name Joe Biden but it was pretty clear who they were talking about.

Right now, Biden's biggest strength in the race is his hold among older voters, both white and African-American voters and the sense that he is the best -- he has the best chance of beating Trump.

But if all of this begins to erode that, I think that is -- that is dangerous. And on the other hand, the fact that he is still, so far, ahead of anyone else in polling when Democrats are asked who has the best chance of beating Trump, I think is a bigger safety net under his candidacy and makes people more forgiving of these kind of lapses than he's often assumed.

CABRERA: You brought up the fact a lot of these 2020 contenders are attacking Biden, arguing it's time for fresh leadership of the party.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CABRERA: Tim Ryan told Bloomberg he believes, "Biden is declining." He says he doesn't have the energy to take on President Trump in a general election.

Do you think Ryan's comments, concerns, resonate with the Democratic voters or will this be seen as an act of desperation by Ryan trying to get some traction?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, he's not the ideal messenger. But, yes, as you were saying, I think there is a portion of the Democratic Party that is worried about that about precisely that, about whether Biden has the kind of political stamina and dexterity to deal with Trump.

On the other hand, there is a lot of polling out showing Biden consistently beating Trump in the places that matter by nine points in Wisconsin last week. By double digits in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and the most recent polls there. Of course, those are the three states that decided the election.

One big advantage Biden has over some of the other Democrats is precisely because he is such a well-defined quantity in the eyes, I think, of most Americans. It's hard for Trump to completely remake him in the way that might be possible, more possible for some of these other candidates about whom Americans have less deep kind of impressions.

So, yes, there are reasons for concern. But the fact that Biden is where he is in polling against Trump is something, you know, not to be entirely dismissed. I mean, he is doing, at least, in polling at this point exactly what he said his candidacy was supposed to do and then he's just winning back a lot of those blue collar white voters, especially women.

CABRERA: Ron Brownstein, you always make us smarter. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, celebrities go to bat for Felicity Huffman and the College admission scandal, but will their letters to the judge save her from jail time?

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[20:35:50]

CABRERA: Actress, Felicity Huffman, is asking a judge to spare her prison time for her involvement in the college admission scandal. Federal prosecutors are arguing for a sentence of at least a month behind bars followed by supervised release. Huffman is asking for a year probation, community service and a $20,000 fine. This is after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have her daughter's SAT exam answers corrected to boost her scores.

Let's discuss to CNN Legal Analyst, Joey Jackson. And, Joey, Huffman is scheduled to be sentenced this Friday. Which way do you see the judge going?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think she certainly could get leniency, Ana, for a number of reasons. The first of which is courts value and, oftentimes, encourage people to be contrite. They encourage people to tell what they know and to not waste judicial resources. Everyone is innocent until presumed guilty. Right? She pled guilty, thereby admitting her responsibility and she did it relatively quickly.

And I think her whole demeanor here, her whole comportment. There's no question that this is massive scandal. There's no question that it offends the sensibilities of so many. So many parents who do things the right way. Tell their kids what to do, serve as proper role models. Take SAT scores and SAT exams properly right, without the whole cheating and everything else.

[20:40:05]

But I think it's certainly probable giving the leniency that the D.A. is recommending, excuse me, the U.S. I think it's probable she could walk away with probation.

CABRERA: I mean, let's talk about these letters that people have now submitted to the judge on her behalf from her husband, William H. Macy, and from her celebrity friends including Eva Longoria.

And then one letter Longoria writes in part, "I work with Felicity -- I worked with Felicity from nearly a decade of my life on a television show. Her gentle character and her kind heart immediately opened up to me, and she goes on to recount how Huffman helped her with contract negotiations on the show, "Desperate Housewives."

Writing one of the most significant examples that Felicity's kindness came about when we had to renegotiate our contracts. I was the lowest paid actress by far. Felicity brought that up and said, we should negotiate together. Something we called favored nations. That means we all make the same. Obviously, they're trying to speak about her character. What kind of impact might this have?

JACKSON: I think it's all meaningful. So what happens is in any sentencing, a federal sentencing, you're looking at really three things, right? You want punishment, you want deterrence, and you want rehabilitation. And you want to look at the whole of the person right? Certainly, she needs to be punished for what happened. But then you have to ask yourself the question to what degree should she be punished and what value would it send if we don't put her in prison?

Well, on looking at that, who are you? Have you had any offenses? Who are you as a human being? Do you help others? Do you value others? What do you do for yourself, your family, your community? And so it's a totality of fact, that's what the court looks to.

And when you have people that are singing your praises and people -- you know, and it's not even that they're well placed people, certainly, the letter you just read is. But it gives you a snapshot. We're not ever as bad as we are on our worst day. We're not as good as we are on our best day. The truth and the value of we are lies out somewhere in between.

And I think it's meaningful that she got out ahead of this. She released a statement, she talked about, look, it's not -- you know, my daughter's fault. This is all me, it's on me. I shouldn't have corrected it. And I think that has to have value. And so you have to balance if you're the judge, the gravity of the offense. The offensiveness of the offense, right? And what it did to everyone versus who you are as an individual, and who you are in the snapshot of your life.

And I think on balance, it mitigates very well in her favor. And as a result of that, I think, you know, certainly, if she got probation, I would not be surprised.

Having that, federal judges do what they want to. And, you know what? They don't have to listen to any letter, they don't have to listen to any comments and they don't have to listen to anything else, except what they think their sense of justice is.

But I think on balance, based upon how she is comported herself in this manner, and the value of her wife and what she has done, I think that's going to carry great weight.

CABRERA: OK. We'll wait and see about that.

On Friday, Joey, stay with me because we have another case we're following. Tonight, new twist in the investigation of a missing Connecticut mother of five. The husband arrested again after new evidence is found. And this coming as he says in a new interview he believes she's still alive.

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[20:45:51]

CABRERA: New developments this week in the mysterious disappearance of a Connecticut mother of five. An arrest warrant now reveals a blood like substance that contained Jennifer Dulos' DNA was found in the vehicle her estranged husband had access to the day she disappeared. Photos Dulos' girlfriend, Michelle Troconis told police he cleaned that truck days later saying quote, "Because the body of Jennifer, at some point, was in there." That's according to the warrant.

Now, Police saying they also found alibi scripts written by both Fotis Dulos and Troconis and that Troconis admitted the events detailed in those alibi scripts actually never happened. Troconis turned herself into police and Dulos was rearrested, both posted bond and had been released.

Here's what Fotis Dulos tol NBC's Dateline in an exclusive interview prior to his arrest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fotis, did you have anything to do with Jennifer's disappearance?

FOTIS DULOS, JENNIFER DULOS' HUSBAND: I did not, but I'd like to leave it at that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. But you can say that much?

DULOS: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Jennifer is alive?

DULOS: I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Against all circumstantial evidence or common understanding.

DULOS: I'd like not to discuss this per my -- per my attorney's advice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand. But in your mind she's alive?

DULOS: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I want to bring back CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney, Joey Jackson.

OK, Joey, it's been almost a month now or five months, actually, since Jennifer Dulos disappeared. Blood evidence but not a murder charge. What do you make of that?

JACKSON: You know what? I make of it that if they wanted to produce a murder charge at this stage, Ana, they could certainly do that. I've seen people arrested certainly with less and convicted certainly with less. And if you look at the warrant, you know, look, she went missing May 24th. The fact is, is the warrant reads as if it is a homicide, murder type of warrant.

There's a lot of information in there. They talk about that is police and the warrant itself lying and wait. You don't lie and wait for someone to say hello to them. You lie and wait to have something nefarious done. They think the police that is, that sometime 8:30, it's been 8:30 and 10:30 or so, that he killed her.

They have all this information in terms of the truck that he used, the blood splatter on a truck that was not his, that he borrowed from a person that he worked with or worked for him, rather. They have the blood as it relates to her blood that were on the seats that he asked this person to change. There's so much there.

And so I think that it's imminent. And the fact is that they re- arrested him. They didn't need to do that. They could have just amended the complaint, amended the indictment, they did that to show that, hey, we mean business.

He's not charged with murder at this point. I think any day, he's certainly will be.

CABRERA: And officials say they have a lot of other evidence. But you started taking through the evidence. I want to just kind of emphasize some of the specifics that were in that warrant. A blood like substance on one of the seats and a car driven by Fotis Dulos, the day Jennifer disappeared.

Troconis told investigators Dulos handed her a stained towel and asked her to dispose it. Blood evidence on the interior and exterior of the vehicle Dulos was driving, as well as multiple areas within their garage that tested positive for human blood as well as attempts to clean the scene. How strong is that evidence?

[20:50:05]

JACKSON: I think it's compelling, Ana. If ever there was evidence which would suggest that he did something nefarious and untoward, illegal killed her, that would be it. That would be it. They have the evidence which would suggest that he went -- he was dumping things that were blood like objects in containers, which they caught to have the surveillance that's directly within the warrant itself.

Look, they can, at this point, keep their eyes on him. He's wearing a bracelet, right? To say that, look, you're not going anywhere. They reset bail in this case. The fact is, is that while it's not a murder charge at this point, it's these hindering prosecution. It's this tampering with evidence.

They have ton because murder, there's no statute of limitations. So I get the fact they want to dot I's and cross T's. But again, there's two types of evidence, right? One is direct. I saw you do it, right? There are witnesses which would say, he did it, there's no question. The other is circumstantial, based upon the circumstance, right? It may not have been raining when I came in here, but when I got out, it's wet, what can I conclude that it rained?

The circumstantial evidence in this case is so important. One other quick point, and that is that Michelle Troconis, who's his girlfriend, I think she provides a significant amount of information. And at some point, she's going to have to crack and say look, it's either going to be me or you. And I think the authorities are working with her. They're firming up, whether her information is credible and reliable. And I think if there's a person who knew where the body was, what actually happened here, it would be her.

And if she goes against him, certainly her credibility is going to be attacked because she's lied before. But boy, does she have, I believe, valuable information that will put him in jail for life.

Cabrera: OK. Let's discuss the next time we have another development. Joey Jackson, thank you so much.

JACKSON: Always. Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: The Loch Ness monster is still a mystery, right? But scientists might have some new evidence for a whole new theory, details ahead.

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[20:55:29]

CABRERA: It's the legend we all want to believe, but get ready for a letdown. The notorious Loch Ness monster might just be a giant eel. Researchers in Scotland busted the myth that has lured so many to the lake where Nessie is believed to lurk beneath the depths. They say DNA samples from the lake show there is no monster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROFESSOR NEIL GEMMELL, UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO: There is absolutely no evidence of any reptilian sequences in our samples. So I think we can be fairly sure that there is probably not a giant scaly reptile swimming around in Loch Ness. There is one idea that remains plausible, the evidence for this is purely anecdotal. There is large amounts of eel DNA in Loch Ness (INAUDIBLE) pretty much an eel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Cabrera: Eels. The evidence leaves little room for interpretation, but when met face-to-face, a giant eel could be just as monstrous.

That does it for me tonight. Thank you for spending time. I'll be back here tomorrow at 5:00 P.M. Eastern in the NEWSROOM.

The story behind one of America's greatest bands now more than ever, the history of Chicago is next.

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