Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

House Impeachment Inquiry Is About To Jump-Start This Week; Republicans Continue To Move The Goalpost When It Comes To Defending Trump; Iowa Inmate And Convicted Murderer Says His Life Sentence He Was Serving Was Fulfilled When He Briefly Died. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired November 10, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:38]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. And thank you much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

It is a critical week on Capitol Hill. For the first time we'll hear public testimony in the impeachment inquiry. That testimony scheduled to begin on Wednesday in the House. It will feature three officials who have already shared damning details about President Trump's alleged quid pro quo with Ukraine. They did so in front of three House committees.

This time the House voted to begin this process mostly down party lines, but will the open testimony change minds when it comes to the final vote? And less clear in the Senate where Republicans will ultimately decide if Trump should be removed from office. Still, they control the majority in the Senate.

But today new signs of potential cracks within the president's wall of support. Days ahead of these highly anticipated public testimonies, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, responds to details in her new book to be released on Tuesday. And in the book she says former Rex Tillerson and chief of staff John Kelly attempted to recruit her to work around the President in an effort to, I'm quoting now, "save the country." Haley told the U.S. she thought quote "that would be a dangerous thing," end quote.

Right now, CNN is reaching out to both Rex Tillerson and the White House for comment. And according to the "Washington Post," when they reached John Kelly for comment, he said that if providing the president quote "with the best and most open legal and ethical staffing advice from across the government so he could make an informed decision is working against Trump, then guilty as charged."

Joining me right now, CNN political analyst Julie Pace and CNN political contributor Salena Zito, who is also the author of "The Great Revolt," a book just out.

And according to "The Washington Post" -- ladies, good to see you. Haley writes in her book, I'm quoting now, "Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren't trying to be insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. It was their decisions, not the president's, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The President didn't know what he was doing," end quote.

So Julie, you first. What do you make this decision -- Haley's decision to come out now with this book telling all about her interactions with these two cabinet members like this?

JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So there are a couple of things that are going on here. First of all, we have known for some time there has been some effort within the administration to try to, depending on who you talk to, to protect the president from his worst instincts, to try to overrule some of his decisions, to push him in directions that some people inside have felt are more appropriate, more ethical, and in some cases, legal as opposed to what he was trying to do. And I think what Haley is attempting to do here is say, hey, I wasn't one of those people. She is trying to make sure the fingers are being pointed at other people. And she's doing it at a crucial time, at a time when we're hearing firsthand from people who have witnessed what they think are problematic interactions between the administration and Ukraine.

WHITFIELD: And, Salena, I understand that you were actually on a recent "Washington Examiner" panel with General Kelly. Does what he said at that event jibe with what we're hearing now about him here by way of Nikki Haley?

SALENA ZITO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Right. We had a political summit, "the Washington Examiner," at the island in Georgia just 10 days ago. And Kelly said there was a little more nuance. Kelly said he believed his job was to be the nomad in the room, which you know, most people will tell you in a corporation, whether in the White House or corporation, there is always someone in the room that puts the brakes on big ideas. And that he thought that was his job every day, to advise the president, this is why this thing won't work, or that thing won't work.

And he even went on to say that he regretted leaving the White House because he thought that while he was there, he was able to keep the president away from an impeachment process and that he is concerned that there is not a nomad in the room.

I didn't get the sense either while on the panel with him or talking to him privately that there is animosity. He just thought that that was his job, to do the best thing for the office of the presidency. And in his mind, that meant for the greater good of the country.

[14:05:26]

WHITFIELD: So, then, Julie, what about for Nikki Haley? Do you see at operations being revealed here by way of the way in which she presents her point of view of what it was to work with this president, what it was to work with others in the White House? PACE: Nikki Haley is certainly somebody who is seen as having greater

political ambitions. She is someone a lot of Republicans hope has bigger, higher political aspirations. And she is looked at as a presidential candidate at some point down the line. And Haley has been pretty smart. If you look at how people have departed the Trump administration, most people in high-ranking jobs do not leave with a lot of credibility, or they leave with a lot of attacks from the president leveled upon them. Haley left with a really positive reputation. She left, I think, with her reputation with Trump's supporters intact, and she sounds --

WHITFIELD: She got great praise from the president on her departure. And in that departure, she even said, you know, next year I'm going to be, you know, campaigning for that one. She pointed to the president.

PACE: She is one of the few people that Trump has been so effusive about on her departure. What she is trying to do has have some subtle distinction sometimes. She mentioned a few points, a few areas where you can see her trying a distinction on foreign policy, but she has managed to walk that line very carefully, keeping her relationship with Trump intact and preserving the ability to distance herself when she thinks that's the appropriate political move.

WHITFIELD: So Salena, in any way, given the timing. We are just days out from these, you know, public testimonies in this phase of the impeachment inquiry. Do you see in any way the release of her book might be influential or might be any way of sign posting for Democrats or Republicans in their line of questioning?

ZITO: Well, there might be. You know, Nikki Haley has that unique distinction of being both respected by Trump's base that's sort of new populist coalition, but also, for the most part, being respected by the old guard, the establishment. So, you know, I think there might be her support of him, maybe, you know, viewed through the prism of how she sees him since she worked so closely with him. But I don't know, this is such a really interesting time in our elections. Who knows what happens with anything?

WHITFIELD: I know it's also unpredictable.

All right. Salena Zito and Julie Pace, thank you so much.

All right. Meantime, timing is something else. All this while Republicans are largely are kind of using up their defense of the President as the impeachment inquiry enters this first now public phase this week.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond here is with me now.

So Jeremy, we're on the eve of a very big week in Washington. Largely, what are Republicans saying?

JEREMEY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Fredricka, I think it's important to take a look at what we have learned so far and what we are going to see now actually in public as these witnesses come forward in a public setting. And what we have seen is that there have been numerous credible witnesses current and former Trump administration officials who have essentially said that there was a politically motivated quid pro quo, pressuring Ukraine to carry out these politically charged investigations into Joe Biden in and the origin of the 2016 election interference and at the same time withholding military aid over Ukraine. And now what we are seeing is at least two Republican senators essentially saying, look, quid pro quo? No big deal. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): People will say they are impeaching President Trump for exactly the same thing that Joe Biden did. He threatened the aide if they didn't fire someone. And supposedly the President did if they didn't investigate someone. So it sounds exactly like what Joe Biden did. And if they weren't going to impeach Joe Biden, they look like hypocrites in a way for going after President Trump and not having a word to say what Joe Biden did.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The quid pro quo, in my judgment, is a red herring. There are only two relevant questions that need to be answered. Why did the President ask for an investigation? And number two, and this is inextricably linked to the first question, what did Mr. Hunter Biden do for the money?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And this is why here you see these Republican senators getting at these questions of an intention behind it, something that would be very hard, of course, to prove. But it's interesting, Fredricka, because the president, when this was first reported a week ago that Republican senators were considering this strategy, the president took to twitter and said that it was a false story that Republicans are saying Trump may have done a quid pro quo. And the president also saying, but it doesn't matter, there is nothing wrong with that.

What you also heard Fredricka, was those Republican senators focusing on Joe Biden. And that is something we increasingly seeing Republicans doing as they call witnesses forward in these public hearings, Hunter Biden being one of them. But of course the House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff making clear that that's not going to happen -- Fred.

[14:10:30]

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thank you very much for that. I appreciate that.

All right, still head this week, it is said to be the most crucial to date in the impeachment of the president, the first public televised hearings starting Wednesday.

Nest, the key players and why their testimonies matter.

Tensions flare on Capitol Hill as Republicans accused Democrats for singling out the president. I will speak to a Democrat who says her mission is to make her fellow Democrats play it fair.

And this bizarre story, a man with a life sentence suddenly dies in prison and is then resuscitated against his wishes. Why he says he should be legally set free since he technically died.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: The House impeachment inquiry is about to jump-start this week with three key witnesses scheduled to testify in public for the very first time. But this won't be the first time House investigators have heard from them.

Here to help us break all of this down, CNN's Marshall Cohen.

Marshall, good to see you. These hearings scheduled to begin on Wednesday, and first up, Bill Taylor and George Kent. What do we expect to hear from them?

[14:15:16]

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Well, we are going to hear a lot because they have already told a lot to the House impeachment investigators. So let's just go through them right here.

Bill Taylor, he was the former ambassador to Ukraine. He is now in a similar position there as the top-ranking American on the ground in Kiev. And he basically has already confirmed that in his understanding of events, there was in fact a quid pro quo with Ukraine in exchange for Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, announcing those investigations into Biden and the Democrats, then Ukraine would get quote "everything they wanted." A White House invitation, much-needed military assistance. That is damning testimony right there.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Bill Taylor, he is the one in the text, you know, when he had a clear understanding of what was being, you know, withheld, military aid in exchange for -- he is the one who said, you know, this is crazy. Am I clear on this? And you know, to the U.S. ambassador to the EU, Sondland, who eventually said, you know, hold on, call me.

COHEN: He said call me.

WHITFIELD: And there will be five hours that will pass before there was some clarity. "This is no quid pro quo."

COHEN: Right. And sort of diving into that conversation and exactly what he was told by Gordon Sondland will be important because, of course, they did get Sondland's testimony as well, so they are going to be comparing notes and see if everybody is telling the same story.

WHITFIELD: And then with George Kent. Why is his testimony significant?

COHEN: Yes. So he actually has served on the ground in Ukraine as well. He now is based in Washington and oversees Ukraine policy. You know, his testimony rebutted a few of the bigger points that Trump has been trying to make. He testified that investigating Joe Biden is not actually anti-corruption, it's more like a selective prosecution. He said that that was bad for the rule of law in Ukraine, bad for the rule of law in the United States. He told lawmakers that this was exactly what the U.S. has been telling Ukraine not to do. So if he makes that case publicly, I don't think it's going to look very good for President Trump.

WHITFIELD: And then, of course, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yavonovitch, who believes that she -- you know, there was a campaign against her to push her out because she, too, was feeling very uncomfortable about what was being suggested. Her testimony is also this week.

COHEN: That's going to be on Friday. So it will be a really busy end of the week next week. She testified that she felt threatened and uncomfortable by what she was hearing from President Trump, who, you know, ordered her removal from Ukraine. And she testified. And she will probably say this again in her public testimony. She said that when she was told to get out of Ukraine, she was talking to secretary of state Mike Pompeo's number two, and he told her, you have done nothing wrong, but the president wants you to go.

WHITFIELD: But she was also given kind of an ominous warning, too, right? She testified she was told, you know, to watch her back.

COHEN: Yes, watch your back because there are forces out there that are trying to undermine you, undercut you. The warning was actually about Rudy Giuliani and some of his associates that were basically running a parallel shadow foreign policy in Ukraine.

WHITFIELD: All of that potentially impactful testimony starting Wednesday.

Marshall Cohen, thank you so much.

COHEN: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about what to expect. With me now is Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. She is a Democrat from Michigan and serves as a senior whip.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. So with the public hearing phase of the impeachment getting underway this week, you know, what do you want to hear from three witnesses we just spelled out with Marshall Cohen? What do you want them to solidify or say?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I want them to tell the truth. I think that these public hearings are very important because we need to be transparent. The American people need to understand what the issues are to get the facts and we need to bring them along. I'm very worried at how divided this country is. And I think the president tries to pit people against each other. So now public hearings that are transparent in telling the facts help everybody understand what those issues are. WHITFIELD: So Republicans -- you've heard them, you know. They have

put forward a list of other witnesses that they want to testify during this phase. And among them, the names are Joe Biden's son Hunter and the whistleblower. In fact, GOP senator Lindsey Graham said any impeachment will be invalid if those two do not testify. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[14:20:05]

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I consider any impeachment in the House that doesn't allow us to know who the whistleblower is to be invalid because without the whistleblower complaint, we wouldn't be talking about any of this. And I also see the need for hunter Biden to be called to adequately defend the president, and if you don't do those two things, it's a complete joke.

It's impossible to bring this case forward, in my view, fairly without any of us knowing who the whistleblower is and having a chance to cross-examine them about any advice they may have. So if they don't call the whistleblower in the House, this thing is dead on arrival with the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And of course, Adam Schiff has already said, you know, calling hunter Biden is not likely to happen, you know. This kind of process is not going to be used as a vehicle, you know, to underscore any kind of political aspirations. So what do you think here, you know, to what Lindsey Graham is saying and to other Republicans who are saying, you know, this can't be a valid process if you don't now redirect some questions to Hunter Biden?

DINGELL: So I have very strong feelings on both of these witnesses but in very different ways. I think chairman Schiff has told the Republicans he won't give a serious look at the witnesses that they have recommended, they are all going to talk about it as a committee.

But this is the president trying to continually, on the subject of Hunter Biden, try to use it for political purposes. And chairman Schiff has said we will not use these hearings for political purposes to undermine politics of a presidential election down the road.

As it comes to the whistleblower, I think Senator Graham is irresponsible. And I really think more of him than what he's doing on this. The whistleblower law that we have protects people and protects our national security so that someone can come forward when something is a danger or we need to know something that is endangering people from something that is drug related.

This is national security. By witnesses that are willing to be public, the information that a President Trump-appointed inspector general said is credible, urgent and a real threat to our national security. Other witnesses are saying it. And senator Graham is undermining law that has been passed in a very bipartisan way in this country, and quite frankly, threatening our national security. WHITFIELD: We have heard from many Democrats who say the evidence is

there to support the president being impeached on the basis of bribery or even abuse of power. Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. has a new book out. It's being released Tuesday on head of it. She has already commented and this is her point of view on the road ahead toward any impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The Ukrainians never did the investigation, and the president released the funds. I mean, when you look at those, there is just nothing impeachable there. And more than that, I think the biggest thing that bothers me is the American people should decide this. Why we have a bunch of people in Congress making this decision?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: What's your response to that?

DINGELL: Well, first of all, I'm looking forward to reading this book because all these different excerpts are sort of out of context and prizing me. Is she or isn't she for or against this president? I think she's trying to play both sides. And I shouldn't say that because I have great respect for her, but I have been hearing comments like that on both sides of the issues.

I think that the purpose, when we voted before we left for veterans week, we established a process to investigate the facts. I am somebody that is very committed to getting the facts. I'm not sitting in those committees. I know what you know. I know what we are reading in the paper. We need to have the facts followed.

When Republican inspector general says there is a threat to our national security, it's my job to defend our democracy, to make sure that the rule of law is being followed, and no one is above the law.

So we have a transparent, open process. It's methodical that's going to follow the facts, and the American people and many members of Congress are going to learn at the same time what these witnesses are saying, and then we will see where it takes us.

WHITFIELD: And you see that the public opinion is vital in this process for people -- for lawmakers to be able to gauge what public opinion is before any ultimate vote is taken?

DINGELL: I'm going to say two different things. One, nobody is above the rule of the law. So our job is to make that rule of the law the glue that holds us together as a civil nation that respects each other. So that for me is part of it.

But I am worried. I don't think public opinion, or even our forefathers when they wrote the constitution, knew that public opinion cannot always drive what is -- you know, some people are louder, et cetera. I am worried about not only how divided this country is, but we are seeing intelligence agencies around the world warn us that Russia is trying to divide us, trying to weaponize us, and trying to destabilize democracies around the world. That's also part of my job. So that's why it's so important to try to be as transparent as possible, keep people together, and we all need to recognize people are trying to pit us against each other.

And we are Americans first. We live in the most wonderful country in the world. And we have got to protect our democracy and take things that we learned in grade school and thought were just, oh, yes, we've got those. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of press are not things that we can take for granted anymore.

[14:25:41]

WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell thanks for your time in this Sunday. Thank you so much.

DINGELL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Next, as Democrats work to build evidence in the impeachment inquiry, can Republicans get on the same page and offer their best solid defense?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: As Washington gears up for the first set of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry this week, President Trump is sticking with his go-to defense.

[14:30:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a perfect call. An absolutely perfect phone conversation.

It was perfect.

That was perfect.

I made a perfect call. Not a good call, a perfect call.

This is an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation, right, taken by very talented stenographers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. We have heard it over and over again. For weeks the President's drum beating the man has been to say read the transcript. So much so, the trump campaign even had it printed on t- shirts. But the reality is it's not as simple as just to read the transcript because the White House did not release a full transcript. Instead what we can do is read a summary of Trump's call with Ukraine's President Zelensky because that's all the White House has been releasing, so let's do that.

And a reminder, July 25th, President Trump calls Zelensky to congratulate his party on winning the party election in Ukraine.

Zelensky then goes on to thank Trump for his great support in the area of defense and says quote "we are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps," end quote.

And then Trump says, I would like you to do us a favor, though. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine," end quote.

Trump continues to push, saying quote "I would like to have the attorney general call you or your people, and I would like you to get to the bottom of it," end quote.

Zelensky then says, I guarantee, as the president of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly.

And now, here is where President Trump brings up Joe Biden. Trump says, there is a lot of talk about Biden's son that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.

Zelensky responds by saying, he or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company Trump mentioned.

The call eventually ends with Zelensky asking for a meeting in Poland on September 1st, in which Trump replies, we can work that out. And the rest is history.

Meantime, Republicans continue to move the goalpost when it comes to defending Trump. The most recent line of defense coming from Republican senator Rand Paul who now seems to argue that politicians have every right to have quid pro quo with foreign countries, including the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: I think it's a big mistake for anybody to argue quid pro quo. They didn't have quid pro quo. And I know that's what the administration is arguing. I wouldn't make that argument. I would make the argument that every politician in Washington, other than me, virtually, is trying to manipulate Ukraine for their purposes. Melendez tried it, Murphy tried it, Biden tried it, Trump tried it. They are all doing it. They are all trying to manipulate Ukraine to get some kind of investigation, either end an investigation or start an investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, I want to bring in Bill McCollum now to discuss all of this. He is former Florida attorney general and one of 14 House impeachment managers who represented the case against President Bill Clinton to the Senate.

So Bill, good to see you.

BILL MCCOLLUM, FORMER FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to see you too, Fred.

WHITFIELD: So what is your opinion of how Republicans will use this transcript now to defend the president? We keep hearing it, I mean, like a mantra. Just read the transcript. But the transcript, does it not incriminate the President, who says, do me a favor, though? Isn't that quid pro quo?

MCCOLLUM: Well, I don't think it is myself. But whatever you think of it's a question that's been there all along. And that is, what is the motive of the President? Was there anything criminal here? I don't think there's anything criminal. I don't see any crimes. I have never seen any -- certainly not in the four corners --

WHITFIELD: I keep hearing from the lawmakers the word "bribery" and that Democrats will say this is bribery.

MCCOLLUM: It's not there at all. Because you have to have a money exchange, you have to have something of value. The courts and the justice department and others --

WHITFIELD: An investigation to look for dirt for your potential political opponent, isn't that why there is also talk about a possible FEC violation?

MCCOLLUM: There is no FEC violation. It does not constitute a bribery to have that kind of information exchanged. It's just not there. I was chairman of the crimes in the House for six years. I was on it for 20 -- 18 of them, actually. And was attorney general. I can just assure your viewers there is no actual crime here.

Now there may be abuse of power. That will be the more likely article of impeachment that the Democrats will try to draw out of this. I don't think there is abuse of power, either, because the President has the right to, under the constitution, conduct foreign policy.

WHITFIELD: Wait a minute. Is that foreign policy? So a blanket foreign policy when you are asking for a foreign country to look for dirt on a potential political opponent, which is asking them to interfere in a U.S. election.

MCCOLLUM: Fred, the idea that the characterization of this is asking to look for dirt isn't the context in which this is. The context is that the President is looking at corruption. That's always what's been there. It's what Joe Biden presumably was looking for. There's been a lot of corruption around Burisma --

[14:35:15]

WHITFIELD: But even a prosecutor in Ukraine had already said that there was -- there didn't appear to be any wrongdoing on the part of Biden.

MCCOLLUM: Well, the reality of it is that the investigations in Ukraine never took place in Burisma. That the prosecutor at the time that the vice president wanted removed back when his son was serving on Burisma's board was wanting to look into that. He never got to do that. And the oligarch who controls this corporation is out of the country. He fled after the revolution in 2014 when -- just before Putin came into Ukraine. So there is a lot to look into here. And I think the Republicans, when they're in open hearing, are going to bring out a lot of these kind of background points that put this into context.

WHITFIELD: So why is it you believe, then, Bill, that so many diplomats were uncomfortable with what they were asked to do, take part in or even observe as it pertains to withholding U.S. military aid that was already approved by Congress to Ukraine? Not having to do with, you know, what the White House is saying is corruption, but instead to say "to look into" the Bidens.

MCCOLLUM: Well, first of all, they didn't like the use of an outside person like Rudy Giuliani to go poking around. State department and career officials, in my experience, never like other people to poke around.

WHITFIELD: But it's more than that. I mean, you heard Bill Taylor in his testimony, and perhaps he will rearticulate that during the public portion, the transcript, you know, that from the text, this is crazy. Is this correct? Are you asking us to say or believe that it's OK to withhold this U.S. military aid for a political favor? You saw that transcript, you saw that text, right?

MCCOLLUM: Obviously some people believe that it was being withheld for that reason, whether you believe the President was doing it or not.

WHITFIELD: But many of these career diplomats testified to that.

MCCOLLUM: Yes. But what's the conclusion that you draw? I draw, a jury draws, in this case the Congress draws, is this so corrupt, is this something that you would call abuse of power when you remove a President for this?

WHITFIELD: That is the question.

MCCOLLUM: People have been trying to get the President out of office since the beginning, and that's why the whistleblower is so important to testify now that we know who he is, because --

WHITFIELD: But if the whistleblower's complaint is already being corroborated by all of this testimony, doesn't it only solidify the complaint?

MCCOLLUM: It shows the history. It shows the pattern from a Republican perspective that the people involved in this, including congressman Schiff, have been out just simply trying to build any case they could to get the president. And they couldn't get it in the Mueller report and they are now going after this.

WHITFIELD: So how closely will you be watching the testimony this week?

MCCOLLUM: Well, I'll be watching as close as I can. I'm not in office now and I have a day job, but I will definitely follow the testimony. I would like to know various things. The questions that are asked are important. This could be open hearing, so I would like to hear the back and forth.

When I was a congressman and I sat there in both the impeachment trials but also in hearings on a lot of other things, I would weigh what I heard and I would encourage the public to do that. Listen, if you can, for yourself. Watch it on c-span as I assume it will be. Consider the biases that are there, the pros and cons of both sides. I don't know what may come out. I'm not going to prejudge that.

WHITFIELD: OK. All right. Well, you can watch it on c-span, you can watch it right here on CNN as well. That's where we are.

MCCOLLUM: Sure.

WHITFIELD: All right. Bill McCollum, thank you very much. Good to see you.

MCCOLLUM: You are welcome.

WHITFIELD: We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:42:54]

WHITFIELD: An Iowa inmate and convicted murderer says his life sentence he was serving was fulfilled when he briefly died. So now he should be free. Benjamin Schreiber claims he should be released because he claimed he died from a kidney infection but was resuscitated against his wishes. Iowa courts call his argument unpersuasive and without merit.

I want to ask criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson about this.

Joey, this is quite unusual. Does he have a good legal argument that he served his life sentence, he died, but then came back before a second at least on life, not in jail?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, Fredricka, great to see you. I am with the court on this and that the argument is unpersuasive. Understand that he went to district court. That's the first court he made the argument. And essentially he was saying, yes, I know that in 1996 I killed a man with an ax. I know in 1997 I was sentenced to life without parole. But I also know that I was hospitalized in 2015. And at that time my heart stopped. And as a result of my heart-stopping any flat lining, I'm considered dead. And therefore, ladies and gentlemen, you know, people in the court, I'm therefore dead. As a result of that, I served my sentence.

The court said no. In essence it turns on, Fredricka, the meaning of death, right. And so death is something irreversible. Death is something irretrievable. Death is not your heart stop but you brought back to life. And as a result of that, I have served my sentenced. Clever argument. That is what lawyers do, right. We pushed the

envelope. But this is pushing it a bit too far.

WHITFIELD: OK. I feel like I saw him and you all in the same breath there.

That was good, Joey. I appreciate it. All right, good to see you.

JACKSON: Always. Pleasure and a privilege. You are welcome, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Next, Cindy McCain calls out the Republican party in the age of President Trump. Why she says her late husband John McCain would be quote "disgusted."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:48:47]

WHITFIELD: Terribly upset and disgusted. That would be the late John McCain's assessment of where his Republican party is right now, according to the senator's widow, Cindy.

David Axelrod, host of the "AXE FILES" here in CNN sat down with Cindy McCain for a wide-ranging interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CINDY MCCAIN, SEN. JOHN MCCAIN'S WIFE: I think he would be disgusted with some of the stuff that's going on. I really do. I think what he would saying was he would 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 rudder the Senate right now.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN HOST, "THE AXE FILES": Why do you think that is? It seems like there is a reign of terror about taking on the President, criticizing him.

MCCAIN: Yes,, I think it has to do with reelections and keeping their heads down. And I'm not being critical because I understand what it means to get reelected, but at some point you have to do what you were elected to do, and that is represent the country, as well as your local people. But I think John would be -- I know he would be terribly upset by this whole thing. He was upset before he died when he saw what was going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:50:04]

WHITFIELD: Cindy McCain also spoke about the president's recent attacks against Joe Biden. When asked if she would vouch for the former vice president's integrity, she said yes.

And we will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:53:56]

WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories right now. Fewer than 1,000 troops will remain in Syria going forward. That's according to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Miley. He told ABC News that the number will likely be closer to 500 but the objective of defeating ISIS remains intact.

But defense official told CNN last week, the new orders for U.S. also include defending oil fields in Eastern Syria. President Trump abruptly pulled troops from northern Syria last month as Turkish forces prepared to invade the region.

And the baby Trump balloon brought in to fly at the Alabama-LSU football game on Saturday was slashed with a knife and deflated. Demonstrators were flying the balloon at the game to protest President Trump's attendance there. Tuscaloosa police arrested a 32-year-old suspect who tried to flee after allegedly slashing the balloon. He is charged with one count of criminal mischief.

Much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, but first here's this week's "Staying Well."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[14:55:03]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The beat brings out everything that you feel is the best.

KATOYA SUMMER, POUND INSTRUCTOR: Drumming is a cardio jam session. It is a full-body workout inspired by drums. The beat is going and you drum and then keep that rhythm.

We use our core focusing in on glutes, your biceps, triceps. The drum sticks actually called rip sticks, they mimic the drumstick. Having that intensity in the arms will add a little more to the workout.

It's for any age and workout stage. There is never that moment when everyone is just one pound, one strike, hitting it to the ground, tapping the sticks and united to the beat.

DR. DAVID BURKE, REHABILITATION MEDICINE, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Drumming to a certain beat, especially in synchronicity with other people in the room doing it connects a lot of areas of the brain. The (INAUDIBLE) love of music. It is something that has to do with (INAUDIBLE) the harmonics and different tones of voices, sound, vocalizations that we have to recognize to be able to understand our environment. So if you connect with drumming or music to enhance other parts of the brain or body, you are on to something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did it!

(END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)