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U.S. Troops Leaving Syria, Moving to Iraq; Trump Increasingly Frustrated with Mulvaney; Trump Backs Down Hosting G7 in Doral Resort; Republicans Push to Censure Adam Schiff; Elie Honig Answers Legal Question on "Cross-Exam"; Felicity Huffman Behind Bars; Hong Kong Protest Into its 20th Week; High School Coach Disarms Student with Shotgun. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 20, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us. We begin with breaking news out of northern Syria where the largest U.S. troop withdraw from the region is now underway.

This is exclusive video from CNN's cameras on the ground showing hundreds of truck there carrying U.S. personnel heading east to their next destination, Iraq.

So at least now it appears they are not coming home despite what President Trump said repeatedly over the past week. And as more U.S. troops leave, Turkish and Syrian Democratic forces are accusing each other of violating a U.S. negotiated ceasefire.

Witnesses report violent clashes now along the Syria-Turkey border while Trump administration officials continue to tout the shaky agreement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think overall, the ceasefire generally seems to be holding. We see a stabilization of the lines if you will on the ground. And we do get reports of intermittent fires this and that. It doesn't surprise me necessarily. But that's what we're -- that's what we're picking up. That's what we're seeing so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The president offering a similar assessment on twitter despite calling his defense secretary Mark Esperanto, not Mark Esper. President Trump would later correct it, but stuck with the rosy description of what's happening on the ground, which America's now former Kurdish allies in the fight say, it's flat out false.

They say Turkey and its mercenaries are routinely breaking the ceasefire and that 16 of their fighters were killed in one 24 hour period. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is following U.S. troop movements. He is on the ground in northeastern Syria. Nick, what are you witnessing?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana today, we saw part of this -- the largest troop movement that the U.S. has done inside Syria to withdraw some of their number here.

We understand that within this troop movement, there will be 500 or so American personnel. Remember, you heard from Marl Esper, the secretary of defense, that 1,000 will be taken out of Syria and moved into surrounding nations, but mostly Iraqi-Kurdistan.

Earlier today, we saw at a military base near Hasakah, essentially the rallying point for various different convoys from around northeastern Syria where the U.S. had been based, gathered there, refueled, rested and then began we understand in the hours and days ahead for the long journey from there up east to Iraqi-Kurdistan where they'll enter into there and then repositioned around the region though.

A deeply symbolic moment though, the departure of this exceptionally large convoy moving through areas still populated by Syrian Kurds who have lost over 10,000 of their sons and daughters fighting ISIS, with the U.S. in support and seen this remarkable collapse of that alliance in just the past fortnight.

Beginning with Donald Trump's phone call with President Erdogan, that removed troops from the buffer area and allow the Turkish incursion to the collapse of security here that led to this precipitous U.S. withdrawal.

This withdrawal, an extraordinary move to carry out in the best of times. Huge amounts of hardware being moved. We saw certainly 100 to 200 trucks being put together to start this particular journey. Extraordinary the areas they have to travel through, too. Areas where perhaps the vacuum may allow for resurgence of ISIS or the Syrian regime maybe trying to move back in to establish authority.

This particular convoy will have air cover. It will have all the assets that can be provided to ensure this motion is safe and perhaps most of it begun it seems its journey from the Kobane landing zone, which is an airstrip way out west near the cement factory known Lafarge, which was the main coalition headquarters in that years long fight against ISIS.

But so much of this has collapsed now. Policy in this region frankly, shattered to the point where the new deployment plan for these troops is not to bring them home. No, the U.S. recognizes there is still a fight against ISIS to be had.

Instead, brought into the KRG, the northern part of Kurdistan run by the Iraqi-Kurds, so a northern part of Iraq run by Iraqi-Kurds where they continue that mission, even launching themselves back into Syria (inaudible). A historic day for U.S. leadership in the region, Ana.

CABRERA: Okay, we wish them obviously a very safe journey. Nick Paton Walsh in northeastern Syria for us. Thank you. I want to go now to CNN military analyst, retired Air Force colonel, Cedric Leighton. Colonel, as we witness the sudden withdrawal, are Russia and Iran sharing right now?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Oh, yes, most definitely, Ana. They are looking at this and saying we can't believe we've actually gained territory in Syria and we can't believe that we're going to have increased influence in the Middle East all because of one decision that President Trump has made.

CABRERA: Is it unusual for us to be hearing and seeing troop movements in real time to the point of we are being told then when they're refueling? Do you have any concern these troops will make it out of Syria safely?

LEIGHTON: I do have a lot of concerns in that regard, Ana, because you know, when you're working these kinds of deployments or redeployments as this would be, you always are worried about operational security.

[17:05:02]

And the fact that we know things like when they're going to be refueling, what points they're going through, you know, what areas they'll be transversing before they get into western Iraq, all of that of course points to possible vulnerabilities. On the one hand, it may speak to some degree of confidence that the U.S. has that they'll be safe.

On the other hand, it does present a series of risks, but it does also telegraph the position so that hopefully other troops in the area, whether they are Turkish, Russian or Syrian, will actually take care of that and make sure they don't hit our forces, but that's more of a hope than an actual plan or anything like that.

CABRERA: We are told they do have air cover. Now, in a tweet earlier today, President Trump referred to his defense secretary as Mark Esperanto. His name is Mark Esper, and as you mentioned, the president also wrote in that same tweet that the troops leaving Syria were coming home.

He said the same thing on Wednesday and last Monday. That is not the case though. The Pentagon says these troops are being deployed to Iraq and other anti-ISIS positions. Is the president being intentionally misleading do you think or does he not understand his own policy?

LEIGHTON: Well, you know, I would like to believe that he does understand his policy, but I'm afraid that, you know, given the idea that he thinks he's bringing -- he may be thinking that he's bringing troops home then the reality of course is that they're just redeploying within the region.

You know, makes you think that there is certainly some incongruence between what the president has tweeted and what's actually happening on the ground. So I think that the administration isn't organized as it should be.

It certainly is not speaking with one voice or providing one message. And that would be important for the military and for the families of the servicemembers involved.

CABRERA: It also makes you wonder from the get go why withdraw at all then if they're not coming home and that was the reason given. You know, we are talking now about 1,000 U.S. troops, real people, men, women, mothers, fathers, with loved ones who ar anxiously waiting for them to come home.

Having been there, help us understand what they're likely going through right now as they get pulled from Syria and deployed somewhere else in the Middle East while the president repeatedly tells America they're coming home while misspelling his defense secretary's name just today.

LEIGHTON: Well, there's always a problem with auto correct I guess we'll say, you know, in a case like that, but the real issue here is the morale of the families and of the men and women who are deployed. They know that they can't go home.

They know they still have a mission to do and this mission is much more easily accomplished if you're in direct contact with the people that you're trying to help or the people that you're trying to protect. And that's the issue that we're facing with, you know, faced with here. It is a real problem if you go into an area and then you're pulled from that area.

It takes away not only your sense of accomplishment, but more importantly, it really limits operational effectiveness and that's one thing that military people are really keen about, is their ability to execute missions appropriately and efficiently. And this kind of movement, whether it's for political purposes or something else, is really a detriment to that.

CABRERA: Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you very much for joining us and thank you for your service.

LEIGHTON: Thank you, Ana. It's always a pleasure.

CABRERA: CNN's Fareed Zakaria, host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS" joins us now. Fareed, let's talk about the situation on the ground in Syria right now. A quarter million people displaced, our Kurdish allies killed, power vacuum for adversaries like Russia, Iran and Syria as well as terrorist groups like ISIS developing here. What was your reaction when you heard of this from the president?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I view the situation on the Turkish boarder with Syria to be for the United States strategically brilliant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: You know there have been other failures and mistakes that the United States has made. The curious thing about this one is it seems to have no benefit for the United States. We had a very comfortable situation, which was we had created, in a sense, separated these two parties, the Turks and Syrian Kurds.

The Syrian Kurds were allies. They were fighting ISIS. They were preventing ISIS from reconstituting. The Turks were minding their own business, also in some ways helping on that front. Because the two sides didn't like each other, we were the buffer between them.

We remove that, created this -- all the things you describe, a quarter million people displaced, war crimes, ISIS prisoners escaping, the Kurds being slaughtered for nothing. And in a process that seems -- there was no process. It was the whim of the president.

So that's unique. I mean, I don't think that we've ever seen so much destruction produced almost haphazardly, almost absent mindedly, almost like just on the basis of a whim.

[17:10:04]

CABRERA: Well, and this is how the president's ally, Lindsey Graham, the senator of course, Republican senator, described what the president did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Number one, the president did not give Turkey a green light to invade Syria, but he didn't say red either. He said, he gave a yellow light and you don't give yellow lights in the Mideast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Yellow light, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Well, I think Lindsey Graham as general, been very critical that that this is simply untrue. The point of the phone call between Erdogan and Trump was Erdogan was telling Trump I'm going to do this unless you tell me no and I want you to withdraw your troops.

This is very simple. If Trump had left the troops in place, there would have been no operation. The Turkish army was not going to fire on American troops, right. So by withdrawing the troops, Trump gave a green light.

Again, as with so many things with Donald Trump, it's not that he had to explicitly mouth the words, but by his actions in a sense gave Turkey the green light and again, we're not sure why. It's not clear what the United States got out of that from Turkey -- as far as I can tell absolutely nothing.

So he destabilized the situation, created conditions where ISIS can come back, betrayed the people who did all the fighting for us, for what? And you know, here's the most important point, Ana. It's likely that in this power vacuum, some bad guys will reconstitute. They tend to dislike America so they will probably start hatching plots, terror plots against the United States.

We will have to do something about that. The United States will have to do something about that. But who is going to do the fighting the next time around? Are the Kurds likely to do any of the fighting? They did 90 percent of the fighting. They were the infantry for the United States Air Force.

CABRERA: And yet.

ZAKARIA: They're not going to do it. So American boys, men and women, are going to have to go in and do that, all this because we betrayed the Kurds.

CABRERA: And yet the president really hasn't seemed that concerned about the well being or what happens to the Kurds or the region. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while. Then people find out how tough the fighting is. These guys know right up here. These guys know. Right? Sometimes you have to let them fight. It's like two kids in a lot, you got to let them fight, then you pull them apart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: If this is how the U.S. is going to talk about its allies, fighters who are giving their lives for a common cause, who's going to be there for the U.S. next time around?

ZAKARIA: Well, that's right. When the fighting starts again and there will be fighting against some terror group, we have been very fortunate, the United States has been able to recruit local forces because what the U.S. has found is we're not very good at that.

It's very hard to do. You need to know the region. You need to know the local areas. You need to know the languages. And then when you conquer land, when you get the bad guys out, you don't want to own real estate in the Middle East or the U.S.

I mean, you know, we tried it in Iraq. We tried it in Afghanistan. It doesn't work. So those forces can occupy those areas without it being seen as a western American imperial action. That's why the Kurds were just brilliant, priceless allies because they were locals. They spoke the language. They could go into these places.

The next time around, what Donald Trump has done is he's forced the United States into a situation where it will have to go in. It will have to occupy because who's going to be willing to do it given what we did. And you know, what's even the saddest part about it is, having done it, he has mocked the Kurds. He has mocked their participation, their heroism. He's questioned whether or not they had mixed motives.

He's talked about how they didn't you know, well, they weren't there for us during World War II. I mean, you know, these are people who have fought and died for the United States. We owed them at the very least honoring them in that sense even if we were going to change that commitment, which we did. CABRERA: Fareed Zakaria, always good to have your voiceyou're your

perspective. Thank you.

ZAKRIA: Pleasure.

CABRERA: We are now learning that people inside the White House were working to oust acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. This as we're learning his boss, the president, is growing agitated with him after watching his T.V. appearances.

Also, President Trump abruptly reverses course and says his Florida resort at Doral will not host the G7 Summit blaming the about face on Democrats and the media.

Plus, new images of what life behind bars is like for actress Felicity Huffman as she serves her two weeks for the college admission scandal. I'm Ana Cabrera. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:15:00]

CABRERA: Breaking news, a source telling CNN President Trump is increasingly frustrated with his acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, after watching media coverage this weekend of Mulvaney's attempts to clean up the admission he made on live T.V., that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Let's get right out to CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Jeremy, what more are you learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, a source familiar with the president's thinking telling me and my colleague, Dana Bash, that the president is indeed increasingly frustrated with his acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

This comes after several days of the chief of staff struggling to clean up that stunning admission that he made during a press conference on Thursday that there was indeed some kind of a quid pro quo involving U.S. security aid to Ukraine and the president's interest in having the Ukrainians investigate the Democratic National Committee in the handling of a server back in the 2016 election.

Now, this source tells me that much of the president's thinking is being driven by the news coverage that he's been watching over the last 24 hours including Mick Mulvaney's struggle to defend his walk back during a Fox News interview earlier today. And this source says it's also driven by allies of the president who he's been speaking with who are criticizing the acting chief of staff and his handling of all of this.

Of course, we do know there has been criticism from Republicans of how the chief of staff handled that press briefing on Thursday. But this morning when he was asked whether or not he had considered resigning as a result, here's what he said.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Did you ever offer or think to offer

the president your resignation?

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, absolutely not.

WALLACE: Was that ever discussed?

MULVANEY: Absolutely positively not.

WALLACE: Okay.

MULVANEY: No, listen, I'm very happy working there. Did I have the perfect press conference? No, but again, the facts are on our side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:20:05]

DIAMOND: Now, Ana, despite the president's frustrations with Mulvaney, we know that it is not uncommon for the president to grow frustrated with his staff and the source insists that by no means is it clear that the president will be ousting his chief of staff.

What we do know is that Mick Mulvaney has previously already been the source of frustrations inside the White House before even this impeachment saga developed. We're told that top White House aides were reaching out to potential Mulvaney successors, at least two of them, according to sources.

So certainly not the first time and perhaps not the last time that Mick Mulvaney will face this kind of scrutiny from the president and from other aides at the White House, Ana.

CABRERA: Okay, so that's the fate of Mick Mulvaney, still to be determined. But speaking of damage control, the president had to reverse course and now cancel the plan for a G7 summit at his golf resort in Doral. What can you tell us about that?

DIAMOND: That's right. It was a pretty stunning reversal, particularly from a president who so rarely backs off in the face of criticism, but after two days of criticism of his decision to host the G7 forum next year at his own resort in Doral, Florida, the president deciding to backtrack.

Announcing Saturday night on twitter, that he will no longer be hosting it there and will instead be looking to other potential sites including Camp David, which again the White House chief of staff as he was attempting to defend this Doral decision, said that Camp David had been a miserable location for a previous G7. Now it appears its back on the table.

CABRERA: All right. Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thank you.

We're going to discuss more on Mick Mulvaney and Trump with our panel coming up next including new reporting that the impeachment inquiry may have saved the president's acting chief of staff's job. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:00]

CABRERA: Updating you on this news we just learned, a source telling CNN that after a weekend spent watching media coverage, President Trump is frustrated, agitated with how his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has fielded questions on impeachment.

It comes after CNN learned Mick Mulvaney was facing the threat of being ousted even before the impeachment inquiry got started. Joining us now is CNN presidential historian and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, Tim Naftali, and White House correspondent and associate editor for "Politico," Anita Kumar.

Tim, let's start with Mick Mulvaney and the drama around this latest acting White House chief of staff. Do you think his job is safe given we're in an impeachment inquiry and he could become a star witness?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN WHITE HOUSE HISTORIAN: Well, President Trump doesn't like to admit mistakes. If he were to fire Mick Mulvaney right now, apparently Mick Mulvaney was on his way out before the impeachment inquiry started.

If he were to fire him now, that would raise all kinds of questions about -- more questions about the quid pro -- Mulvaney's admission that there had been a quid pro quo. Now, you don't need a quid pro quo for the president's actions to be impeachable.

But since the president himself said there was no quid pro quo with regard to our relations with Ukraine, that has made it harder for him to defend himself.

For you to fire Mick Mulvaney right now, it's just not very good for the president. I suspect Mick Mulvaney has managed to hold on to his job a little bit longer, but we'll see.

CABRERA: I mean there is also the question of a replacement, Anita. If Mulvaney left, Trump would be looking for his fourth chief of staff. Who would want that job?

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: That is a very good question. It's a very tough job working for President Trump. I have heard from one source in the White House that the president really likes his White House counsel and though he doesn't have that experience behind him as a chief of staff, that he would consider him.

But I don't know. I tend to agree what you all -- with what you all said, but there's one thing you have to remember about President Trump, which is he really does look at what is playing on television and how that appears and the publicity around it. And so if he feels that Mick Mulvaney has really giving him bad publicity, he might let him go.

CABRERA: Tim, in all fairness, President Obama had four chiefs of staff in his first term. Does that high turnover rate tell you anything about what the dynamics are inside the White House?

NAFTALI: Well, I think the most -- I think the key question for us right now is whether the chief of staff has any capacity to reign in the president when the president is about to do something that is misconduct or impeachable.

Mick Mulvaney apparently had no such ability to restrain the president. Indeed, the way in which he responded to the media this past week indicates that he actually is in the same world view as the president.

They share the same world view at about the propriety of mixing domestic politics and foreign affairs. So Mick Mulvaney is a bad influence on the president. But will the president get rid of him? Will he admit that he's a bad influence?

My sense is it's going to be hard, increasingly hard to find people in Washington who are going to want to put themselves in legal jeopardy by being this president's chief of staff.

CABRERA: And then you look at what's happening inside the House and dynamics among, you know, Republicans versus Democrats and where things are headed with this impeachment inquiry, Anita.

There's Republican outrage against House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff right now over this moment from a hearing where he says he parodied the president's phone call with the Ukrainian leader.

KUMAR: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you though. And I'm going to say this only seven times so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it, on this and on that.

I'm going to put you in touch with people, not just any people. I'm going to put you in touch with attorney general of the United States, my attorney general, Bill Barr.

He's got the whole weight of the American law enforcement behind him. And I'm going to put you in touch with Rudy. You're going to love him, trust me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:30:00]

CABRERA: Anita, we are now learning that House Republicans plan to vote on whether to censure Schiff tomorrow night. What are the implications of that?

KUMAR: Well, since they're in the minority, probably not too much. I don't think it would go too fat, but there are a lot of Republicans obviously on Capitol Hill, but close to the president who feel that Chairman Schiff went too far.

If he had a good case, why would he use that language, and they feel if they could sort of get that message out to the American people, they would know that the Democrats are overreaching.

I just am not sure that voters across the country are catching all the nuances of, you know, this particular statement and that particular statement, so it's a little bit unclear whether that would make a difference in this impeachment and how Americans feel about it.

CABRERA: I wonder Tim, what you think about all this because that's what Republicans are choosing to focus on right there, focusing on schiff. They're focusing on the process that Democrats are going about this impeachment inquiry. And yet you felt, as we talked during the break, that this week may have been a turning point that would create more bipartisanship.

NAFTALI: I think this was a week that was a tough week for Republican partisans. I think the combinations of Mulvaney's admission, of the G7 Doral decision and nondecision or retraction, and of Syria, are creating this pattern of a presidency gone awry that is particularly difficult for Republican base.

Evidence of a presidency gone awry, well, there's been quite a bit of that especially since Charlottesville. But for the base of the Republican Party, which includes military families, this week was a horrendous week.

This was a week when the U.S. government sacrificed a people in the Middle East then undermined those people. Those are people who had helped us fight ISIS. Undermined those people then lied about undermining them and then embraced those people's attacker, Turkey.

Anybody who follows these issues and military families have to because their loved ones are serving our country abroad. They know that we committed that this was not only a debacle, this was betrayal. So I think this week was a tough week for the Republican partisan who need their base to remain strong.

Now, to one more point, which is even though that is true, Democrats still ought to bend over backwards and do what they can to bring down the public rhetoric. A lot of what's going on secretly now is being done with Republican staff members, too. It's not just Democratic staff members who are doing the interviews, Republicans too.

CABRERA: Right. Right.

NAFTALI: But the rhetoric, I would tone it down because we're going to reach a point where all members of Congress are going to be jurors and those jurors have to come into the process without their minds made up. Now, that may sound naive, but we need Americans to be constitutionalists first and then partisans. So the Democrats could be helpful by just toning down the rhetoric some.

CABRERA: All right, Tim Naftali, Anita Kumar, great to have both of you with us. Anita, I owe you the first question next go around. Thank you.

All eyes are on Capitol Hill this week as more witnesses will come before Congress in this ongoing impeachment inquiry and the Ukraine saga, but will the White House try to block them?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:35:00]

CABRERA: After such an astonishing week in the impeachment inquiry including that admission and then the subsequent walk back from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulcaney that the president held up Ukraine aid to get it to investigate Democrats.

We thought you might have some questions so what better time for "Cross-Exam" with CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig. And Elie, one viewer wants to know to what extent did Mulvaney's public comments undercut Trump's no quid pro quo defense and can the House use Mulvaney's comments against the president?

ELI HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that was certainly an interesting press conference. We saw Mulvaney get behind a microphone and very publicly engage in an act of self-destruction. He admitted there was a quid pro quo, but he told us get over it. Ana, I've seen some weak and desperate legal defenses in my time, but get over it I think is a new low.

Now, the White House was not over it. They very quickly walked it back, ran it back and came up with a spin. Well, Trump is actually, he's really about busting up corruption. The problem is it's completely contrary to facts and reality.

Now, can Mulvaney's statement be used against Donald Trump? Yes. There's a doctrine in law called statement by a party agent and what that means is if I have somebody who speaks for me, an attorney, a spokesperson, a chief of staff and they say something relating to that relationship, then yes, it can be used against me.

But let's keep in mind this is impeachment so the normal courtroom rules of evidence do not apply. Really the house and senate can consider whatever they deem appropriate, but I do think Mick Mulvaney's statement is very much in play and will prove very damaging to Donald Trump.

CABRERA: This week, we saw the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland go to Capitol Hill. He testified behind closed doors to Congress, under subpoena that he was directed by President Trump to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine, and one viewer asks this.

Can the president order government employees to defy a House subpoena and what are the consequences if that employee disobeys the president?

HONIG: So the president certainly has been trying. They've been stone walling this impeachment inquiry from the start, giving a blanket order that executive branch employees should not obey subpoenas. That said, we saw that stone wall start to crumble this week as a

parade of career public officials came in and gave testimony. They essentially said all due respect Mr. President, we got subpoenas, we are going to testify.

There's really only one thing that the White House can do to stop it. And that's to go into court and get a restraining order stopping these people from testifying. But it's difficult to do that legally and importantly, they did not do it this week.

So I think the White House called its own bluff. The other potential remedy is they could fire people who testified, but that would be politically reckless and I think would cause a serious public backlash.

CABRERA: The president and his legal team have given all sorts of reasons for not releasing the president's tax returns. He's under audit, voters don't care. They're too complex, just a few examples of the excuses.

[17:40:00]

But one viewer wants to know what happens next in the courts on Congress' effort to obtain his tax returns?

HONIG: So, important ruling from the federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. They upheld the congressional subpoena to MAzars, which is the accounting firm that has Trump's tax returns. The Court of Appeals made an important ruling; Congress has broad, not unlimited, but broad subpoena power.

And importantly, the court said the House does not need to take a full vote in order to start an impeachment inquiry. I think it's worth noting by the way, the committee that served the subpoena here was the House Oversight Committee chaired by Elijah Cummings who passed away untimely this week, but he was a long proponent of congressional oversight. I think the subpoena will be an important part of his legacy.

The White House has two cards left to play here. First, they can seek what's called en banc review, which means all 17 judges on the Court of Appeals in D.C. hear the case. It's very rare. I do not think it's likely they'll get it.

And number two, they can try to get it to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court only takes a very small fraction of cases, under 5 percent. If the Supreme Court takes it, of course, they'll have the final say. If not, it's over and those returns have to go over to Congress.

CABREA: All right. And your questions for the week ahead.

HONIG: It will be another interesting week. First of all, we'll have testimony from more career public officials. Most interesting will be Bill Taylor. He's the one who famously text, it's crazy to withhold assistance for help with political campaigns. Second of all, how will the House respond now that the White House has

ignored its subpoena for documents? And third, who knows what will happen next in the saga of Rudy Giuliani. I just have to say as a Southern District alum, it's jarring to see the leader, the former leader of that office now in its cross hairs.

I don't know what's going to happen, but I know this, if the evidence is there and the case is just, he'll be charged. If not, he won't. The Southern District will do justice one way or the other.

CABRERA: All right, Elie Honig, as always, thank you --

HONIG: Thanks Ana.

CABRERA: -- so much for answering all of our questions, and make sure you ask your. You can go to cnn.com to submit them.

Coming up, a new look at actress Felicity Huffman in prison wearing a green jump suit. So what is life like for a celebrity behind bars? A closer look, next. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."

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CABRERA: Actress Felicity Huffman is in the middle of a two-week sentence for her role in the college admission scandal. And we're getting a new look at her life behind bars. The actress who paid $15,000 to inflate her daughter's test scores was spotted wearing this green jump suit at the California prison where she is serving her time. CNN's Alexandra Field has more on what prison life is like.

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ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Actress Felicity Huffman, now federal inmate number 77806-112 reported this week to prison in Dublin, California, a low security lock up once dubbed by Forbes magazine in 2009 as one of America's ten cushiest prisons.

It's far from the Hollywood star's Hollywood Hills home, but close enough for her husband actor, William H. Macy, to visit. Thirty-five miles outside of San Francisco, Dublin has more than 1,200 female inmates. Like the rest of the prison population, Huffman will wear a khaki uniform and wake up by 5:00 in the morning.

She can buy some personal items and food at the commissary and there's a wellness program that includes arts and crafts and team sports. The small screen star who shot to fame as a desperate housewife isn't the prison's first famous inmate. Patty Hearst was sent there in the '70s. In the '90s, the so-called Hollywood madam, Heidi Fleiss, did time in Dublin. She later described the low security prison as anything but easy.

HEIDI FLEISS, FORMER DUBLIN PRISON INMATE: You're in a very antisocial environment. It's very hostile. You know, there were times when I felt like oh my god I'm going to have to go to the weight pile and kill this girl and I'll be stuck here for the rest of my life, you know. There are some scary situations.

FIELD (voice-over): Huffman's sentence, just 14 days, was handed down in a Boston courtroom last month. The actress pleaded guilty in May to paying $15,000 to inflate her daughter's S.A.T. scores.

In a letter to the court, she wrote, "In my desperation to be a good mother, I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot. I see the irony in that statement now because what I've done is the opposite of fair. I have broken the law, deceived the educational community, betrayed my daughter and failed my family."

Huffman is one of more than 30 mostly high profile parents facing charges in the nation's largest college admission scandal, Operation Varsity Blues. Many have already been sentenced, others are still fighting the charges including actress Lori Loughlin who could face as much as 40 years behind bars. Alexandra Field, CNN, New York.

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CABRERA: And now, a programming note. Be sure to tune in tonight for the CNN special report, "Scheme and Scandal: Inside the College Admissions Crisis" airing tonight at 9:00 right here on CNN.

A coach's heroism caught on camera, his unbelievable actions when face-to-face with a student holding a shotgun, next.

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CABRERA: Tens of thousands of protesters packed the streets of Hong Kong today as anti-government demonstrations stretched into their 20th straight weekend. While some protests Sunday were peaceful, others erupted into violence.

Police say some in that crowd vandalized shops and tossed petrol bombs. Riot police responded firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. The blue dye from the water hit a mosque.

A high school football coach and security guard is being hailed a hero and newly released surveillance videos shows why. It reveals the moment when a coach convinced a distraught student to give up his shotgun and then he embraced him. CNN's Polo Sandoval has this remarkable story.

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POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angel Granados Diaz walked into his northeast Portland, Oregon high school campus back in May armed with a shod gun and loaded with a single shell. This newly released surveillance video shows us what happened next.

That's campus coach and security guard Keanan Lowe encountering Diaz at the entrance to a classroom. He grabs the gun with one hand and reaches for the crisis stricken 19-year-old with the other. What follows was a consoling hug and a conversation allowing police time to respond and take control.

Coach Lowe has kept a relatively low profile for the last five months only discussing that moment publicly a few times including this interview with "GMA" after it happened.

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KEANAN LOWE, HIGH SCHOOL COACH WHO DISARMED A STUDENT: I feel like I was put this that room in that very moment for a reason to protect those kids. I ended up getting the gun from him, you know, getting the gun with my right hand and holding him off with my left hand and calling for a teacher to come grab the gun from me.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The surveillance video confirms accounts from witnesses and likely re-assures parents who had feared the worst on that summer day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the grace of God nobody was hurt in this one so I'm very thankful for that.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Earlier this month, Diaz pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and was sentenced to three years probation. As part of the deal, he'll get mental health and substance abuse treatment.

In a statement, the deputy district attorney confirmed Diaz never intended to hurt anyone other than himself. The D.A.'s office also determined the weapon did not fire when Diaz pulled the trigger, giving a consoling coach time to act. Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

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CABRERA: This just in, former Baltimore mayor and brother to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have died. Thomas D'Alesandro II served as Baltimore's mayor from 1967 to 1971 and led the city during the 1968 riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The "Baltimore Sun" says D'Alesandro died at home today after complications from a stroke. He was 90 years old. In a statement, Speaker Pelosi described her brother as the finest public servant she ever knew.

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You are live in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Ana