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Bloomberg Files To Run In 2020 Democratic Primary, Says Won't Compete In Early Primaries & Caucuses; Sanders Criticizes Bloomberg Decision To Skip Early Contests; Steve Bannon Testifies In Roger Stone Trial; Roger Stone Trial Judge Tells Jury Don't Watch "The Godfather"; Cindy McCain Tells David Axelrod Why She Did Not Have Trump At McCain Funeral; The Ukraine Scandal; Trying To Identify The Whistleblower. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 9, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you so much for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Any hopes Republicans had of having the whistleblower testify publicly snuffed out by that anonymous person's attorney a short time ago. The lawyer, saying moments ago, his client will only answer written questions from GOP lawmakers who insist the whistleblower be publicly identified.

This in a statement to CNN today, my client's complaint has been largely corroborated. Nonetheless, I have offered to have my client respond in writing under oath and under penalty of perjury to Republican questions.

That's not what Republican lawmakers want to hear. They submitted a list of witnesses today, and they want to see, under oath and on the stand, in the open hearings. Open not in writing.

Again, Republicans want the whistleblower's identity revealed. Also on that list, among others, Joe Biden's son, Hunter. President Trump today telling reporters that there's another transcript from another phone call he had with the president of Ukraine, a different conversation than the one at the center of his impeachment firestorm. President Trump says that transcript is important, and he'll release it in the coming days.

CNN's White House Correspondent, Jeremy Diamond is joining us now. Jeremy, what do we know about that earlier call with Ukraine's president?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't have a ton of information about the call. But the White House has said that it was a brief congratulatory call after President Zelensky won this landslide election, making him Ukraine's president.

They've also said that it -- the president did discuss rooting out corruption in this call, but we don't know if they got into detail about some of these investigations that we know later on in this July call he actually sought. But, clearly, the president wants this transcript out there, and he wants it out there now. Here's what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, they want to have a transcript of the other call, the second call, and I'm willing to provide that. We'll probably give it to you on Tuesday, Monday being a holiday. We'll probably give it to you on Tuesday. But we have another transcript coming out which is very important. They asked for it, and I gladly give it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And, Ana, look, the timing of this is obviously notable. The public hearings start next week. And the president is also, obviously, trying to divert attention from the mounting evidence that this is not just about his interactions directly with the Ukrainian president. Not just about that July call. But, really, about a broader pattern of behavior a -- at the direction of the president to pressure Ukraine to carry out these politically motivated investigations that the president has really been seeking.

CABRERA: And one thing that's come up in the testimonies that have been revealed is Mick Mulvaney, the White House Chief of staff, and his involvement in orchestrating Ukrainian policy on behalf of the U.S. He did not show up for his own testimony that was requested and subpoenaed. And now, he, I'm hearing, is making a move to try to permanently get off the witness list.

DIAMOND: That's right. Well, we'll have to see how this actually plays out, because Mulvaney was subpoenaed to appear and testify before the House Impeachment Inquiry yesterday.

And then, last night, he decided to file something in court, trying to join this lawsuit, filed by the former deputy National Security adviser, Charles Kupperman, that, essentially, says, look, the White House is telling me not to appear. Congress is telling me to appear. Let's let the third branch of government, the Judiciary, actually decide this. And Mulvaney is now trying to join that lawsuit.

House Democrats working on this inquiry are saying, look, this is ridiculous. Mr. Mulvaney would clearly be willing to come testify if he had information that was exculpatory to the president's case. And it's interesting, because we're also seeing the former National Security adviser, John Bolton.

He is also joining this lawsuit by former deputy National Security adviser, Kupperman. And his attorney is actually trying to get this forward. Because the House, last week, dropped their subpoena for Bolton, saying that this court case is going to take way too long. And Bolton's attorney saying, look, Bolton has personal knowledge of this information that has not yet been discussed.

We're seeing a little bit of a different tactic here. Mulvaney joining the case because he doesn't want to testify. Bolton pushing forward because it appears that he does want to offer information to this House Impeachment Investigation.

CABRERA: And, yet, I talked with one of the Congress members who are behind these inquiry investigations right now, saying, we don't, really, need to hear from Bolton. We have enough already.

DIAMOND: Right.

CABRERA: It would be the icing on the cake, but we don't need that icing. So, Jeremy Diamond, we'll see where it goes. Thank you for keeping us updated.

Before next week's public hearings, I want to take a moment to talk about logic and facts. Because the president, and his defenders, have tried to confuse and muddy the waters so much they seem to be betting on the idea the American people won't keep track of what's true and what's false.

So, we're going to help you out. Let's start with the basic pillar of the president's defense.

[17:05:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No quid pro quo. No quid pro quo. No quid pro quo. No quid pro quo. No quid pro quo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: OK. But, then, as more details began to emerge, including the White House's own rough transcript or memorandum of that call, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney says the exact opposite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the -- into the Democratic server happens as well.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy. And I have news for everybody, get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: He walked those comments back, but the GOP went from arguing no quid pro quo to arguing, essentially, no harm, no foul if Ukraine didn't know about the aid being held up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: How do you have a quid pro quo when the person who is the subject of the pro said it didn't happen?

REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R), TEXAS: Neither he, or any other witness, has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. You can't have a quid pro quo with no quo.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Ukrainians never knew that aid had been withheld. And then, of course, maybe most importantly, we have the simple fact the Ukrainians did nothing to get the aid released.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: OK. But then, the guy the White House literally cited as proof there was no quid pro quo blew it up. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, revised his testimony and revealed he told a top Ukrainian aid that the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement. And just take a listen to how the president's opinion of Sondland, who he once called a really good man and a great American, changed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hardly know the gentleman. But this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo, and he still says that. And he said that I said that. And he hasn't changed that testimony. So, this is a man that said, as far as the president is concerned, there was no quid pro quo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Not true. Sondland, by the way, gave $1 million to Trump's inauguration. Moving onto another argument you may have heard, you can't trust people like the whistleblower who started this because they only have secondhand knowledge of what happened with Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call, heard something.

GRAHAM: We're not going to try the president of the United States based on hearsay.

JORDAN: He had no firsthand knowledge. He heard something from someone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I understand it right, it's from someone who had secondhand knowledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he heard this from other people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The complaint relied on hearsay evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's always, I talked to somebody else. It's hearsay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A secondhand account of something someone didn't hear isn't as good as the best evidence of what was actually said.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: OK. But then, we actually did hear from people who were on the phone call, like Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. The National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, who testified that he was so concerned about what he heard, he immediately went to his supervisors to say something. But the president's allies say, don't trust that person either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: Here we have a U.S. National Security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the White House, apparently against the president's interests, and usually they spoke in English. Isn't that kind of an interesting angle on this story?

JOHN YOO, ATTORNEY: I find that astounding. And some people might call that espionage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Vindman is a purple heart recipient who was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

So, what's happening here? Perhaps John Dickerson of "60 Minutes" said it best. And I quote. "It used to be that public shame meant that people would give answers that range from A to D. They might not give you the God's honest truth, but they'd be too afraid or embarrassed to go beyond D. Now, many politicians have no fear. They give responses instead of answers, and the range is between A and Z.

Maybe it's even worse than that, because it's hard to figure out what letter in the alphabet would cover this logic-crushing explanation from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward the Ukraine, it was incoherent. It depends on who you talk to. They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Just to be clear, you're now supposed to believe the Trump White House is so inept, they couldn't have possibly pulled off a quid pro quo. Senator Lindsey Graham, you just heard there, was a friend of late Senator John McCain. McCain's wife, Cindy, sat down with CNN recently, and here's what he said her husband would think of his party, if he were alive today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[17:10:02]

CINDY MCCAIN: I mean, I think he'd be disgusted with some of the stuff that's going on. I really do. I think he's be -- what he'd be saying was is he'd be railing against what's going on. And I think John provided a lot of cover for other members. And when he would do it, then they could get behind him, kind of thing. And I'm not seeing a real rudder in the Senate right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: A quit note, you can see more at Cindy McCain's interview coming up on "THE AX FILES" tonight at 7:00.

Now, I want to bring in S.E. Cupp, the Host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" at the top of the hour here on CNN; and Democratic Strategist, and former Clinton White House aide, Keith Boykin.

So, S.E., you heard Cindy McCain there. Do you see anything that could change how Republicans are defending the president and their attitude toward this impeachment inquiry?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, thus far, I don't think Republicans have had -- have felt much incentive to walk away from the president. That's disappointing. We'll see what the senators do. The stakes are higher in the Senate. You know, they're legacy builders in the Senate. And I think they're thinking a lot harder about what they're going to do and what they're going to hear, during this trial that will be an impeachment inquiry.

And so, we'll see if someone like a Mitt Romney decides to really, you know, stick to his principles and wants to go on record for the sake of posterity, for the sake of history, and say, I did not support this president and what he did.

Now, are they going to, you know, vote him out of office, convict him and remove him? I doubt it. But you might see some senators saying, publicly and aloud, I don't support what this president did. To me, it's the least they should do. But we might -- we might start to see some.

CABRERA: Well, we've seen some of them say that. But, again, where's the spine, when it comes to taking action? Like, words are words. Action's another thing.

CUPP: Right.

CABRERA: Keith, but we already have 2,600-plus pages of transcripts that were released this week, from the depositions that have been happening on -- behind closed doors. I just wonder, you know, will the hearings and actually hearing from these people in the public hearings, which start this week, be a game changer?

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm not sure if it'll be a game changer for the Republicans in Congress, but I think it could be a game changer for the public. Because, right now, there's been a great deal of muddying of the waters. And the Republicans have been doing a good deal -- a good job of, sort of, moving the goalpost, if you will. And, first, they said the whole story was fake news. And then, we find out it wasn't fake news because of the whistleblower complaint. Then, they said, well, it's just hearsay. But then, we find out it wasn't hearsay, because we had Vindman and others who were actually on the phone call. Then, they said, well, the process isn't fair because you didn't have a vote. So, then, they voted and they're still not happy with it. Then, they said, well, it can't be fair because it's in private. It needs to be public. So, then, they're going to have it public and Trump, last week, was saying they shouldn't even be having it public.

So, where does this end up? I mean, every time you have a scenario where they say you have to jump over this hoop in order to prove that this is legitimate, then you jump over that hoop and they still say it's illegitimate. I don't think there's any way to convince these guys, until the American public sees it and starts to recognize that this is unacceptable behavior for the president of the United States to be extorting a foreign leader for his personal benefit.

CABRERA: Democrats say they want to make sure the hearings are focused on the task at hand, and the, you know, kind of, burden of proof with the American public and explaining what is an impeachable offense here. The Republicans now have a list of people they want to be part of this process. Witnesses they want to testify and hear from publicly. Here's that list. And among them, of course, is this whistleblower.

Also, Hunter Biden is on that list, Joe Biden's son, who, again, no wrongdoing has been proven. No evidence of wrongdoing between -- of Hunter Biden or Joe Biden here. What do you think of that list?

CUPP: I think there are two aims here that we can -- we can read from that list. One aim is to embarrass and prosecute Hunter Biden. And, as a proxy, Hillary Clinton. There are a number of people on that list who were affiliated with Hillary Clinton's campaign, and I think Republicans want to try and tie some impropriety or construction or scandal back to Hillary Clinton.

And then, the second aim, I think, is clear from that list is they want to distract. They want to throw other story lines in there, so that it's, sort of, a don't look at this; look over here kind of process. Because, as Keith mentioned -- and, by the way, you left out several of the excuses --

BOYKIN: Oh, yes, there are plenty of other things. Yes.

CUPP: -- and affections. There was -- there was also, you know, Republicans saying, well, he did it but that's fine. And it's not impeachable. I mean, I think, to your point, they'll want to say, well, if you're going to talk about this, then we're going to talk about that. Because they can't defend him on the substance.

It's clear to any sentient being that he did what he is accused of doing. He's admitted he did it, in fact. So, I think the only game plan for Republicans will be to distract. I think that's what we're going to see.

CABRERA: Let's pivot to what's happening today. And the president is in Alabama. He's at the Bama-LSU game. And here is the reception he received.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[17:15:07]

ANNOUNCER: (UNIDENTIFIED.)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: A different reception than he received at The World Series or the UFC fights.

BOYKIN: Well, I mean, if you go to Alabama, a state that votes Republican every presidential election going back to 1976, I think, it's hard for you, as a Republican, not to get a positive reception at a football game. If you don't, then you are really, really unpopular.

CUPP: You're doing the wrong thing.

BOYKIN: It's already bad enough that he went to a baseball game and was booed at the baseball game in Washington, D.C., The Nationals of The World Series. It was bad enough that he was booed and applauded, (INAUDIBLE) a full reception at the -- at the UFC fight. But why does Trump keep going around at the sporting events looking for a favorable audiences? That's his job. Doesn't he have corruption and golfing to do besides this?

CABRERA: But let me just push back. I was thinking -- you know, I think it's somewhat telling, though, that he would go to a football game. And, you know, his history, when it comes to some of these athletes and the comments that he's made that have been very controversial. And, yet, he's still getting that kind of applause.

CUPP: Well, I think it's also worth pointing out, Alabama told its students that if they protested Trump's visit, they would lose their season tickets. And so, I think maybe a little of this was, you know, acting polite so that they could keep those tickets. That's religion down there. They don't want to lose the rest of their football games over the season.

CABRERA: Yes. You speaking of controversial, look who's in the box with the president. It happens to be Jeff Sessions' Alabama primary opponent. That's Bradley Burn there. And, of course, this is just days after Sessions made sure voters knew he had never gone against the president, when he made the announcement he's jumping into the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS (R), CANDIDATE FOR SENATE, ALABAMA: When I left President Trump's cabinet, did I write a tell-all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the president? Nope. Have I said a cross word about our president? Not one time. And I'll tell you why. First, that would be dishonorable. I was there to serve his agenda, not mine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: How do you guys see this playing out?

CUPP: It's pathetic. It's so pathetic.

BOYKIN: It's embarrassing.

CUPP: I mean, that's a grown man. That is a grown man groveling for the president's approval, saying I'm getting back in this race. Please don't hurt me. Please don't say bad things about me. I didn't say bad things about you, even though you fired me and humiliated me over and over and over again. I'm embarrassed for Jeff Sessions.

CABRERA: But maybe it works, Keith. Because the president was asked about Jeff Sessions, and he didn't say anything bad about Jeff Sessions.

BOYKIN: Trump can change his mind tomorrow. Wakes up and decides somebody says something and makes him mad and he'll go off on Sessions, again. There's no loyalty with Trump. It's a one-way street. You're either loyal to him. He's never loyal to you.

But what's sad is it's not just Jeff Sessions. It's Lindsey Graham, who's, basically, spineless on Capitol Hill. It's Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and a lot of other Republicans.

CUPP: Rand Paul.

BOYKIN: And Rand Paul and others who were very critical of Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign and said negative things about him. And now, they refuse to say anything bad about the president of the United States, because they're afraid of being primaried by the Republican base. That's a sad and pathetic state. That you're afraid of your own base, and you won't stand up and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

CABRERA: Keith, S.E., thank you both.

CUPP: Yes.

CABRERA: "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" at the top of the hour, don't forget, right here and on CNN.

As the president and some Republicans demand the whistleblower testify publicly, one social media giant is taking steps to block his or her name from being revealed. We'll have details on that just ahead. Plus, another billionaire toys with the presidential run, but does Michael Bloomberg stand a chance, especially this late and in such a crowded field?

[17:18:58]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, the whistleblower is a disgrace to our country. A disgrace. And the whistleblower, because of that, should be revealed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That was the president, once again, demanding to know the identity of the whistleblower who sparked his impeachment inquiry. But last night, Facebook and YouTube said they were actually removing content that mentioned the potential name of the Ukraine whistleblower. Both companies say it violates their harm policy, which prohibits outing of witnesses, informants, or activists.

And I want to bring in CNN Senior Media Reporter, Oliver Darcy, because, Oliver, there's even more news, when it comes to Facebook and social media and this whistleblower. Now, we're hearing that social media accounts were actually sharing photos that they claimed were of this whistleblower, and particularly among the right-wing social media accounts. But they were completely wrong, right?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: If you take a step back, right-wing media, over the past few weeks, has been absolutely obsessed with trying to figure out who this potential whistleblower is. And so, there has been a lot of interest in figuring it out. And also, painting this person as a potential partisan.

And so, what you're saying is several accounts, a lot of accounts actually, were plastering the wrong image of the wrong person, identifying this person as the potential whistleblower. This person spoke to CNN, our colleague, Brian Fung, and actually said, you know, I'm not the whistleblower. In fact, I couldn't have been the whistleblower because I left government before all this Ukraine stuff went down. So, it's not me.

That said, these images have been plastered all over the Web. People are identifying him as the whistleblower. And he's received a lot of threats and hate mail, as a result of this. And so, yesterday, what happened, Facebook comes out, YouTube follows them.

And they say, basically, they are going to be removing any content that mentions any potential whistleblower in there. So, YouTube has video, so they're using machine learning and human review to scrub content that mentions a potential whistleblower. And Facebook saying, if you mention it, it's going to be taken off our platform.

One particular thing of interest is one of the Web sites that actually has named a potential whistleblower is Breitbart, this far-right Web site. And Breitbart was just selected as a partner in Facebook's news tab for high-quality news, which they've received a lot of scrutiny for.

CABRERA: Yes.

DARCY: And they've actually had to take down some of the Breitbart stories because of this. So, kind of interesting. CABRERA: Wow, that is an interesting twist. Meantime, the other an interesting here is Fox News, which is always so positive for the president, is, sort of, going against what the president has asked here.

[17:25:02]

In that the president's calling for the whistleblower's identity to be revealed. And, yet, Fox News has put out some kind of mandate, choose anchors and personalities, to not reveal the name. Right?

DARCY: Yes. So, again, right-wing media obsessed with identifying this potential whistleblower. If you watch these Fox shows, if you -- if you listen to talk radio, this is one of the sole focuses of the right-wing media. And so, it's extended to Fox, some of the primetime hosts, like Sean Hannity, have claimed that they have identified the whistleblower.

That said, Fox has issued guidelines to their anchors, to their personalities saying, do not name the whistleblower. Even if you think you know who it is, if the network has not confirmed it, do not name it. And so, as of now, you know, the Fox personalities have refrained from doing so. There was a blip earlier where a guest said a name on a show. But, for the most part, the anchors and the personalities have refrained from naming any purported whistleblower.

CABRERA: Now, let me ask you about some testimony we got from the transcripts that were released just yesterday. Trump's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, called out a Fox News contributor, John Gallman (ph), for reporting that she says what she says, like, he lived in the same universe, essentially, as info wars. And I quote this. "It's become part of what's become a very large universe of information and stories that are out there on the Internet that is really affecting an awful lot of people's judgments." How significant is that?

DARCY: Fiona Hill, if you read her testimony, it's a -- really a searing indictment of the current information ecosystem that we find ourselves in. She is someone who has seen conspiracy theories and misinformation affect United States foreign policy. She is someone who has been a subject of conspiracy theories herself.

And if you read her testimony, she talks about the death threats she's received. The hate mail she's received. She says a neighbor reported someone hammered at her door while she was away. She understands this information ecosystem, and she really paints a picture of this alternate universe of information that has been held up by Fox. And where people, like Rudy Giuliani, they subscribe to this.

And I actually thought a really good example of this alternate universe and the people that subscribe to this information is -- came in Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's testimony. He -- that testimony was released yesterday as well. And he's being interviewed by a pro-Trump Congressman in part of this.

And the pro-Trump Congressman repeatedly asked about the voracity of a pretty much widely debunked John Solomon reports. And Vindman keeps telling him, you know, this is not right. This is incorrect. The key elements are not correct.

And Lee Zeldin, this pro-Trump Congressman, can't seem to accept that as an answer. He's so committed to this alternate universe of information that you see on Fox, that you hear on talk radio, that he just can't accept that as an answer. And he keeps saying, well, you know, is part of it correct? Are you saying some of it might be correct? And Vindman says, you know, it's not correct. It's -- it was really remarkable.

CABRERA: It is remarkable. Oliver Darcy, always good to have you hear. Thank you.

DARCY: Thank you.

CABRERA: Former New York mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, gearing up for a possible White House run. But potentially joining 17 other Democrats in the race. How some of the front runners are responding, next.

[17:27:57]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:32:02]

CABRERA: Room for one more in the 2020 White House race? If the Democratic field wasn't crowded enough, we are now learning billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, may try to squeeze in at the 11th hour.

The former New York City mayor filed the necessary paperwork in Alabama to get on that state's primary ballot, and he's planning to do the same in Arkansas by Tuesday, we're told.

But his strategy here is risky. If history is a guide, he'll have to do what's never been done to pull this off.

CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now.

Ryan, we're told Bloomberg does not plan on competing in any of the first handful of primaries or caucuses.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Ana. You're 100 percent right that no one has ever made it to the nominating stage of any presidential primary by bypassing Iowa, New Hampshire, and some of these early primary states.

And just a few minutes ago, I caught up with Bernie Sanders, already a candidate for president, and he was highly critical of Michael Bloomberg's decision to get into this race, including that decision to perhaps skip those early contests.

Take a listen to what Sanders had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I talk about this country moving toward an oligarchy, we're talking about a handful of billionaires who exercise enormous power over the economic and political life of this country.

Now, if he decided to run for president, nobody would give a damn. But because somebody that's worth $50 billion and has the capability of literally buying the media in a state like California, everyone goes, oh, my goodness, how important, how monumental that he's running for president.

Well, I happen to be old fashioned. I believe in democracy, one person, one vote.

I really do resent the idea that billionaires, whether it's Bloomberg or anybody else, thinks they have the right -- by the way, they're going to skip Iowa. They're going to skip New Hampshire. They're going to skip South Carolina, Nevada.

You know, we have had five town meetings and events just in this last weekend here. But you don't have to do that. Take out his wallet, spend a billion dollars in California, and thinks he can buy the election.

Frankly, I don't think that's where the American people are right now. I think the American people are sick and tired of the power of billionaires. I suspect that his venture will not succeed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: And so this probably doesn't come as a surprise that Sanders would be so critical of a Bloomberg candidacy.

He's already been critical of Tom Steyer. He firmly believes you shouldn't be able to take your massive wealth, buy your way into an election with a massive ad campaign, without that grassroots support that Sanders and other candidates have at this point.

It's going to be a big choice now for Democratic primary voters if and when Bloomberg enters the race.

CABRERA: And, Ryan, I know you had a chance to talk to the Senator about his health. What is he doing, and how is he doing?

NOBLES: You know, Ana, it's pretty remarkable. We're just a little more than a month since Bernie Sanders suffered that heart attack. He's as healthy as he's ever been, at least, that's what he told me.

In fact, after our conversation, his campaign rolled a basketball out here at Drake University and Senator Sanders challenged me to a quick shootaround here on the basketball court.

[17:35:01]

They want to demonstrate that he is feeling good. You know, he feels like he has all of his arteries are pumping and charging in a way they weren't before.

This has been a very good month for him. He's scored these big endorsements from people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who he's with here in Iowa. Also, other members of the Squad.

He's raised a lot of money. They're back on the campaign in a major way. They believe this heart attack as not stopped him in any way shape or form -- Ana?

CABRERA: I couldn't help but notice in that video as the Senator is making the baskets, Ryan, I saw an air ball. I think you need to work on your basketball hoop skills.

NOBLES: Well, the campaign said that, in full disclosure, I needed to show that video to the American people. So yes, I had a very, very bad air ball, Ana. Thank you for pointing that out on national television. I appreciate that.

CABRERA: Thank you for that report, Ryan Nobles. You're such a humble person. That's what we love about you.

All right. Quick programming note. Another billionaire, Tom Steyer, will make his case in a CNN town hall event. CNN's Brianna Keilar moderates that, live from Iowa tomorrow night at 7:00 here on CNN.

Former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, back in the spotlight and on the witness stand. Find out what he had to say about President Trump's former associate, Roger Stone, next.

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[17:40:20]

CABRERA: The trial is continuing for President Trump's long-time associate, Roger Stone, and some jaw-dropping moments in the courtroom this week, beginning with Steve Bannon, former White House strategist.

On Friday, Bannon acknowledged that during the 2016 Trump campaign, he and other staffers viewed Stone as the access point to WikiLeaks. To be precise, Bannon said Stone never told him directly he could get info from WikiLeaks, but that Stone implied he had a relationship with founder, Julian Assange.

Speaking of implications, the judge in this trial made a bizarre admonition to jurors, don't download "The Godfather" on Netflix. More on that in a moment.

Let me bring in CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

Joey, never a dull moment with Roger Stone.

Let me just remind everybody of the charges he's facing. Lying to Congress, witness tampering, obstruction of justice. He's pleaded not guilty to all of those charges.

But, hey, Steve Bannon's testimony that Stone was believed to be the access point to WikiLeaks, that can't be good.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, kind of damaging. So you referenced the charges that he is, of course, facing, an indictment, he's facing these seven counts. Most are predicated upon these lies he told.

He's brought in before Congress in September of 2017, specifically the Intelligence Committee, and he's asked to dish about what he knows. He's asked specific questions about all of that, things he knows.

What are those questions? He's asked about whether or not with Julian Assange, was there any contact at all, did you use any intermediaries to contact? If so, how many? Did you communicate with anyone in the Trump campaign at all at any point?

To all of those things, he's deceptive. That's problematic.

There's no obligation to cooperate with authorities, but when you do, be clear if that cooperation is false or misleading in any way, then it becomes a problem.

And clearly, he has a false or misleading problem to the extent, bringing it back to Bannon, that Bannon is saying that he's the access point.

Here you have someone saying, I've had no communication with anyone in the Trump campaign. Last I recall, Bannon was the chief strategist. That would make him a central figure in the Trump campaign.

And then not only to the extent that he communicated with them but, Assange, who's he? And of course, he's given contradictory information. I'm with Assange. I know Assange. By the way, I'm just blustering. I never knew him.

So to the extent that Bannon also says that there's a relationship there, it's kind of troubling. It's what we call damning testimony.

CABRERA: OK. Let me ask you about "The Godfather" and this interesting directive coming from the judge.

I want to play a famous scene from "Godfather, Part II." This is one so many people out there know. This is when the government witness lies to a Senate committee about Michael Corleone's mafia ties. He loses his nerve after Corleone shows up with Frank's brother from Italy. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I was in the olive oil business with his father, but that was a long time ago. That's all.

Look, the FBI guys, they promised me a deal. So I made up a lot of stuff about Michael Corleone because that's what they wanted.

But it's all lies. Everything. I kept saying Michael Corleone did this and Michael Corleone did that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: OK. Help us understand, why did the judge warn jurors not to watch the movie?

JACKSON: This is pretty significant. The reason is that, of course, you have Roger Stone -- remember what he's charged with. Not only is it the obstruction of justice for misleading Congress, not only is it the lying, but it's also witness tampering.

There was a witness that was going to testify before Congress, and he told them to pull a Frank. He said to pull him, right?

What does that mean? It means to act in accord with what we just saw in that clip. Yes, I said all these things. I said, of course, we knew about everything that was occurring, but it was lies. It was all lies.

So to the extent you tell a witness to be deceptive, to lie for you, to cover your tracks, it's tampering. So the judge said, because there was a reference to the gentleman we just saw on "Godfather," do not, jurors, go home and watch this clip.

CABRERA: Another thing that may be related to the witness tampering charge involves a man named Randy Credico. He was on the stand.

If viewers recall, as we have been reporting on the Roger Stone case, Roger Stone had threatened him at one point, he says, in which Stone reportedly said, I'm going to take that dog away from you. Credico said he didn't take Stone's threat seriously.

Does that now, I guess, undercut the prosecution's case?

JACKSON: You could argue that.

You know what, it's a question of credibility. Is this a witness here who's trying to protect Roger Stone by backpedaling a little bit and saying, yes, he called me a rat, called me these other things, he was a little hostile, but that's how he is.

[17:45:05]

In the final analysis, it's not so much how he took it. It's whether or not you had a communication with that witness, and in communicating, were you trying to alter or having them deceive members of Congress?

So, I don't think the import of it is so much how the witness perceived it. I think it's more what you were trying to get the witness to do. So I think it has little import at the end of the day. I think the charges to tampering is pretty strong.

CABRERA: We know this could be a couple weeks' trial. You think it might be moving faster. We'll see where it goes.

Thank you so much, Joey Jackson. JACKSON: Always.

CABRERA: Good to have you.

Coming up, the emergency surgery that sidelined a legendary game show host.

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CABRERA: The man known as the original Marlboro man has died. Robert Norris was the face of thousands of Marlboro ads, always with a cigarette in hand or dangling from his lips. Interesting fact, he was never actually a smoker. Norris says he gave up the Marlboro man role after being concerned he wasn't setting a good example for his children. Robert Norris was 90 years old.

[17:50:00]

"Wheel of Fortune" host, Pat Sajak, is recovering after undergoing emergency surgery for a blocked intestine. Thursday's taping of "Wheel of Fortune" was canceled, and co-host Vanna White is now serving as a fill-in host. The show tweeted Sajak is resting comfortably and looking forward to getting back to work.

One of this year's top-10 "CNN Heroes" has dedicated his life to helping an animal that's is often abandoned and abused, giving them a second chance at life and finding them permanent homes. Meet Mark Meyers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK MEYERS, CNN HERO: Donkeys speak to my soul.

That'll come right loose, don't it?

Donkeys are like dogs. They're amazing animals that nobody gets. I understand what they're thinking. And there's so many donkeys in so many places that need so much help.

There's nothing cuter than a baby donkey.

We're saving them. We're improving their lives. I want to see every donkey find its happiness, its happy place, its peaceful place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Mark has saved over 13,000 donkeys. To vote for him for "CNN Hero" of the year or any of your top-10 heroes, go to CNNheroes.com.

We're back after this.

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CABRERA: According to a review from the "New York Times," the last straw for a secret Trump administration official who penned that tell- all book was the president's initial refusal to lower the flag at the White House when John McCain died.

[17:55:03]

The author writing, quote, "President Trump in unprecedented fashion was determined to use his office to limit the nation's recognition of John McCain's legacy."

And tonight, on a brand-new episode of the "AXE FILES," CNN's David Axelrod speaks to Cindy McCain about the decision not to have President Trump at her husband's funeral. Here is a preview.

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DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "AXE FILES": So you had two presidents speaking and one president who wasn't there obviously and that was President Trump. Why?

CINDY MCCAIN: WIDOW OF DECEASED SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I had to -- I had to worry about my family. And the family was somewhat bitter about things that had been said about their dad. And so it would have been very disruptive to my children and so I took their lead on this whole thing.

It was ultimately my choice and my decision. But it just -- I just didn't want any disruption. I didn't want anything to overshadow John McCain that day. That's why we were there.

AXELROD: Because words matter.

MCCAIN: Words matter. Words matter.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: Especially to a dying man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Be sure to tune in. A brand-new episode of the "AXE FILES" airs tonight at 7:00 right here on CNN.

I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. I'll see you two hours from now.

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

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