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Doral Mayor Says No One Told Me Beforehand about G7 Summit; Trump Awards His Resort with U.S. Taxpayers Footing the Bill; Hillary Clinton Suggests Russia Is Grooming Gabbard as Third Party Option; Mattis Criticized for Joking About Trump, Instead of Candid Criticism; Trump Thanks Perry And Names New Energy Secretary; "Washington Post" Says Diplomat Testifies that He Raised Concerns about Hunter Biden's Ukraine Work In 2015. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 18, 2019 - 15:30   ET



MAYOR JUAN CARLOS BERMUDEZ (R) DORAL, FLORIDA: We talk about that all the time at the U.S. Conference of Mayors where I am on the advisory board. And that's the way I approach this. I'm in a non-partisan position and I basically look at this as, if it's going to take place in Doral then it's my responsibility, our responsibility, to make sure we work with Miami-Dade County with other intergovernmental agencies to make sure this event is as successful at possible.


BERMUDEZ: And I leave those decision-making issues to those in D.C.

CABRERA: But you're an elected official. So I'm sure you can think about it through that lens. The President here is lining his own pockets with taxpayer money and that of foreign governments. You don't see an issue with that?

BERMUDEZ: Well, look. I've had some residents have reached out to me from both sides and as I've told both residents, I think both sides, there is a process, and as I understand it, there's still a process being looked into as to whether or not this actually will eventually be able to take place where it's planned which is in Doral, which we'd love to see it happen. You know, ethics is something that is very important in government. It's one of the reasons Americans -- and by the way, this is not an issue just that applies to our President. It applied to the prior President and Presidents before that.

And I think we as Americans have to make sure that the rules are followed, and there is a process. And I could see where some people do feel there is an issue. Some of my residents have expressed that point of view and I understand their point of view. But the way I look at it, it's my responsibility if it's going to take place in Doral, which I was not part of that process, to make sure that people are safe, that the visitors that come and our residents are bothered as little as possible and that the event goes off successfully.

And it gives us an opportunity as a city much like it gives south Florida and Miami-Dade County, even the United States, an opportunity to show an area that may be others were not aware is a great area to live, work, play and learn in.

CABRERA: You talk about the impact to your city and to the economy there. The "Washington Post" has been reporting that Doral has been losing revenue. That this resort specifically. That also raises questions about the selection. Doesn't it? Has it been losing money?

BERMUDEZ: Yes, I think, look, I think that the resort is, you know, it's not a secret that even the 50-year golf tournament that was one of the longest running sporting events that took place at the resort was moved due to obviously what may have been political differences or issues. It certainly is an issue, but as a signature property, you know, the name of the city comes from Doral Resort. Doris and Alfred Kaskel went out to West Dade way back in the late '50s and built this beautiful resort. And I think that for me, again, the most important thing is to make sure that this succeeds and goes off without a hitch, if possible.

You know, I don't -- we would love to see the resort be a success. I'm not privy to their information as to whether they're getting better or worse due to whatever the President's positions are. But I think all of us, regardless of party affiliation in Doral and regardless whether this event takes place in Doral or not, believe that the resort is the signature property in our city -- or one of the signature properties, because we have the United States Southern Command. We have large corporations like Carnival and Univision


BERMUDEZ: But we believe you know that we'd like to certainly have it succeed.

CABRERA: Right. Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, thank you for joining us.

BERMUDEZ: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Two retired four-star military officers are speaking out about President Trump. One used wit. The other used the written word. Both have the same idea. Their message up next. And why Hillary Clinton appears to suggest Russians are grooming Congresswoman and 2020 candidate Tulsi Gabbard for a possible third party run.



CABRERA: Hillary Clinton says Russia is planning something big for the 2020 election. She says they've already got an eye on a Democratic candidate to back as a third-party challenger. In a podcast with former Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, Clinton also called out this 2016 third party challenger Jill Stein saying she's a total Russian asset and called President Trump quote, Vladimir Putin's dream. CNN's Dan Merica is here with us now. So Dan, tell us more about what is she saying about Russia grooming someone for 2020?

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: She doesn't say the person's name but it doesn't take a detective to figure that she is referring to Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii Congresswoman who has had these accusations leveled against her in the past. Now experts say that Gabbard has been covered more by certain Russia propaganda arms and has had moments of her campaign trumpeted by bots and trolls on Twitter that do have ties to Russia. Now Gabbard has vociferously denied these claims on the debate stage earlier this week. She called them smears and she's also very notably on CNN ruled out a third-party challenge. But take a listen to what Hillary Clinton had to say about Gabbard and Stein in this podcast interview.



HILLARY CLINTON (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're also going to do third party again, and I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on somebody who's currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She's a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. I will guarantee they'll have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most need it.


MERICA: Now Ana, obviously this matters to Hillary Clinton because she feels that Stein really hurt her in key states that she lost in 2016. And that that could happen again in 2020 to whoever the Democratic nominee may be. But as somebody who covered Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign it is pretty shocking to me to hear her use these terms. Her campaign wasn't known for throwing caution to the wind. She certainly wasn't in 2016, and these comments about Gabbard and about Stein certainly show that she's doing that. Now part of the reason is she's a former Secretary of State. She cares a lot about issues dealing with Russia, Ukraine and meddling but it's also because she thinks 2020 is so important and doesn't want what she believes happened to her to happen again in 2020.

CABRERA: Again, these comments in a recent interview with David Plouffe. Dan Merica, thank you for bringing that to us.

MERICA: Thank you.

CABRERA: Two former top military brass came out the same time against the Commander in Chief. But they went about it in a couple of different ways. One of them, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis cracking jokes in his critique. More on that in just a moment. And then there's retired Navy Admiral William McRaven who oversaw the Bin Laden raid taking a much more serious tone and warning that President Trump is working to destroy the country.


ADMIRAL WILLIAM MCRAVEN (RET.), COMMANDER WHO OVERSAW THE BEN LADEN RAID: You know, if you want to destroy an organization, any organization, you destroy it from within. You destroy it from without, and then what you do is you convince everybody that you're doing the right thing. So when you look at what the President has done, he's undermined the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, the Department of Justice, the State Department.


CABRERA: Frieda Ghitis is with us now, she covers world affairs as a contributor. Let's start with what we just heard from McRaven when you heard him say that, how startling is this coming from a top military leader?

FRIDA GHITIS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's really an astonishing development. I think people should really read the op-ed he wrote in the "New York Times." He is saying the United States is under attack, the republic is under attack, and it is under attack from the Oval Office. And he concludes just give you the spoiler, he concludes by saying that Trump has to be removed from office. It's really an extraordinary development, because military people in the United States even when they are retired, they're very reluctant to get involved very directly in politics. They are known for being -- trying to take a step back and we saw that from General Mattis. So this is really, really a change.

CABRERA: And compare that to what we're now hearing from General Mattis. This was at the Al Smith Charity dinner in New York.


JAMES MATTIS, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'm not just an overrated general. I am the greatest, the world's most overrated. I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump, because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals. I earned my spurs on the battlefield, Martin, as you pointed out and Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor. So --


CABRERA: There he is making fun of President Trump. That's more than we've heard from Mattis on his former boss.

GHITIS: Yes, it is. And if you look at the commentary in Twitter and in social media about this little barrage of jokes that Mattis had at Trump's expense, the commentary is from people saying, go harder. We need to hear more. Mattis has not wanted to attack Trump. The strongest thing we heard from Mattis when he resigned last December, when he did it after Trump said he wanted to move out of Syria and Mattis sent a letter in which he said that he disagreed with Trump, particularly, in his approach to America's friends and America's foes. That the United States needs to be very clear-eyed, that the President needs to be clear-eyed about who are our friend and who are the malign influences in the world.

And that lines up much more closely with what McRaven said. That the United States under Trump is taking sides with the wrong people. McRaven said that we need to stand on the side of good, which is what we did in the past and we are not doing it anymore.

CABRERA: Right. Frida Ghitis, thank you for joining us.

And we have this just in, I want to bring it to you. The President thanking his outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after we learned Perry will be leaving this year. Perry, of course, a key player in the Ukraine scandal, he said the President asked him to work with Rudy Giuliani on this pressure campaign.


Here's the President's tweet today.

I want to thank Secretary of Energy Rick Perry for the outstanding job he has done. He'll be leaving at end of the year to pursue other interests. Rick was a great Governor of Texas and a great Secretary of Energy. He is also my friend. At the same time, I am pleased to nominate Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette to be the new Secretary of Energy. Dan's experience in the sector in unparalleled, a total professional. I have no doubt that Dan will do a great job.

So that's the news there who he is now nominating to replace Rick Perry.

OK. With the White House in cleanup mode we are learning new details about the latest testimony in the impeachment inquiry. What career diplomat George Kent had to say about Hunter Biden.



CABRERA: A career diplomat who testified before Congress this week in the impeachment inquiry says he voiced concerns in early 2015 about former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter and his business ties to Ukraine. According to "The Washington Post" citing three people familiar with George Kent's testimony, Kent testified that he worried that Hunter Biden's work at a Ukrainian natural gas company could undercut American efforts to convey to Ukraine the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest. And Kent claims he even took his concerns to the then Vice President's office. President Trump jumped on these reports about Kent's testimony to again attack the Bidens.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But what just happened is Ambassador Kent, who I have never had the privilege -- I don't believe -- of meeting, I don't know him. But he excoriated the Obama administration and Joe Biden and Joe Biden's son saying that has tremendous problems, tremendous problems with Joe Biden's son and the Ukraine.


CABRERA: CNN's Abby Phillip is covering these developments. Abby, what more do we know about what George Kent said and how is Joe Biden responding? ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, George Kent who is career State Department official as part of his deposition he talked about back in 2013 going to Vice President Biden's office and telling a staffer -- who not identified in this report -- that he had some concerns about what this looked like, about the optics of all of this. Kent said that he believed that it would make it more difficult as you said for the U.S. to say to the Ukrainians that his kind of appearance of a conflict of interest was something that they should avoid. He also worried that Ukrainian officials would actually view Hunter Biden as a conduit to his father Joe Biden.

Now these concerns don't necessarily say that Kent actually believed that there was, in fact, a conflict that Hunter Biden -- that Hunter Biden actually used his position to influence his father. But Kent said that the Biden official told him that Joe Biden was too preoccupied. He did have the, quote, bandwidth to deal with this issue because his other son Beau Biden was at the time suffering from cancer. Beau Biden later died in May of 2015, months after George Kent raised these concerns.

In response to all of this, here is what the Bidens have to say. They are pivoting right back to Donald Trump saying this.

Donald Trump's unprecedentedly corrupt administration is melting down because of the scandal he touched off by trying to get Ukraine to lie about Joe Biden and as the Vice President said yesterday on Wednesday, he should release his tax returns or shut up. On Joe Biden's watch the U.S. made eradicating corruption a centerpiece of our policies toward Ukraine including achieving the removal of an inept prosecutor who shielded wrong doers from accountability.

But, Ana, all of this seems to really show what a double-edged sword this impeachment inquiry might be for Joe Biden even while it puts Donald Trump and his aides in the hot seat, it also potentially raises some questions about the appearance of impropriety of his son Hunter Biden being on this board -- Ana.

CABRERA: Abby Phillip in Washington, thank you for bringing us that reporting.

Our coverage continues. New fallout over Mick Mulvaney's bold admission that there was a quid pro quo. This as one Republican Congressman says he cannot rule out impeachment.

Plus, new trouble for Boeing after text messages reveal employees knew of problems on the 737 Max before things turned deadly.



CABRERA: Now proof that one person can make a big dent in cleaning our oceans. eight million tons of plastic end up in the world's oceans every year. This week CNN Hero took it upon himself to tackle this global problem by first recruiting a neighbor to help him clean up his childhood beach, then word spread on social media. Meet Afroz Shah. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AFROZ SHAH, CNN HERO: The whole beach was like a carpet of plastic. For the first time in my life I didn't want to be near the water because the garbage was like five and a half feet. The problem of pollution created by us and with this in my mind I started to clean the beach. And I told myself it will be difficult for a single man to do it, so I said why not take this personal journey to others. If this huge ocean is a problem we have to rise up in huge numbers. We have complicated problems and sometimes solutions are simple.


CABRERA: To see how the first beach he began cleaning looks now, go to