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Haley Says, Top Aides Tried To Recruit Me To Save The Country By Undermining Trump; GOP Defends Trump's Ukraine Call Ahead Of Public Hearings; Bloomberg Gears Up For Potential Presidential Run. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired November 10, 2019 - 18:00   ET





MOOS: New York.


ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN Newsroom, and in a week, that we'll already see historic public impeachment hearings and this to the mix, the president's former ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, just revealed details of what she calls an offensive sidebar plan to undermine the president while she was at her post. The new memoire obtained by The Washington Post, Haley describes how she was approached by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

She writes, Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren't being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. It was their decisions, not the president's, that were in the best interest of America, they said. The president didn't know what he was doing.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: It absolutely happened. And instead of saying that me, they should have been saying that to the president, not asking me to join them on their sidebar plan. It should have been go tell the president what your differences are and quit if you don't like what he's doing. But to undermine a president is really a very dangerous and it goes against the Constitution and it goes against what the American people want. It was offensive.


CABRERA: Haley also wrote that Tillerson told her people would die if President Trump was left unchecked. CNN has reached out Tillerson, Kelly and the White House for comment.

Let's get right to our guests, Washington Post Congressional Reporter Karoun Demirjian and Reuters White House Correspondent Jeff Mason.

Jeff, this isn't just an anonymous source. This is the chief of staff and the secretary of state, according to Nikki Haley, saying they had to save the country from this president and that people could die if left unchecked.

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Yes, and that's coming from the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. So, obviously, in her book and on camera, so also not an anonymous source, clearly is showing that there was very, very deep concern at the top levels of President Trump's inner circle, but also, in this case, sort of bolstering Nikki Haley's position that when she disagreed with the president, she would say something to him, but also was a loyal foot soldier. And I think that's being said with an eye to her political future as well.

CABRERA: Is there anybody inside the White House now who says no to this president?

MASON: That's a good question, and certainly a lot of people who were around the president who were sort of checks are gone and a couple of them are the ones that the former U.S. ambassador just mentioned. Right now, he's got a chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who has certainly not been known to try to check the president. And that's true for a lot of people who were around him now too.

CABRERA: Karoun, Nikki Haley kind of started this rumor by saying there was no truth to rumors about her replacing Pence as V.P. She's painted herself certainly as loyal to this president. What does she get out of all this?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think everybody knows that Nikki Haley is a bright light in the GOP, potentially a rising star, probably has aspirations to get back into government in some fashion. And I think people in the party look at her as potential presidential material down the line.

So to put out this book right now kind of puts a ribbon on her years in the Trump administration, sets her up as somebody who was not disloyal to the president but also considered to be independent thinking enough that people approached her to potentially work around the president. That kind of sets her up with her foot in both camps and in the middle of things, really, in a GOP that is often at war with itself right now, that is going to be struggling to find what its place is post-Trump.

We don't know if that's a year from now or five years from now or significantly longer than now if he mandates that the current president still wields great, considerable amount of influence in the party going forward. But Nikki Haley is one of those figures that is seen as the potential future for the GOP and she's staking her -- telling her story right now in a way that is kind of playing at both sides here in a party that is going to be trying to find its way.

CABRERA: Here is what the president tweeted just a short time ago. Quote, the call to the Ukrainian president was perfect. Read the transcript. There was nothing said that was in any way wrong. Republicans, don't be led into the fool's trap of saying it was not perfect but is not impeachable. No, it's much stronger than that. And in big capital letters, nothing was done wrong.

Jeff, it sounds like he's smacking down Republicans with that tweet.

MASON: Yes. And he's going into a week where there will be public hearings for the first time on impeachment. And he's trying to give them direction, basically saying, hey, have my back, I expect you to stay in line.

CABRERA: Not just have my back, but you should defend me to the utmost level.

MASON: 100 percent.

CABRERA: Nothing was wrong, not just he shouldn't be impeached over this.

MASON: Which is also a slam down on what part of the Republican strategy has been. I mean, I think you've seen some people along with the president and the White House who are just trying to discredit this entire process.


But you've also had some Republicans say, look, we don't like what he did. It wasn't great but it's not impeachable. That doesn't seem, according to this tweet, to be acceptable or enough to President Trump.

CABRERA: And, Karoun, so we have these public hearings starting this week, like it or not. What is the GOP strategy for these public hearings?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, I think it's going to be interesting to see how they coalesce around trying to defend Trump in an environment where they're going to be facing witnesses who are in no mood to defend Trump, who think that things have happened poorly all the way up the chain.

But the first three witnesses that will cede did not really directly engage with the president. They got their information filtered through people in the president's inner circle, who were deputized to work with Giuliani. Sometimes Giuliani himself was informing other people in the administration.

But I think what the GOP is going to be trying to do is separate the witnesses that are before them that have very incriminating accounts of what occurred with Ukraine that would reflect poorly on the president from the president by pointing out that these people that were in the middle could have mistranslated the president's message, could have been freelancing somebody, maybe to blame if there's anything uncomfortable or untoward here. Although I doubt you will see anybody in the GOP actually say that it was bad or impeachable, what went on, when we're talking about doing all this in public and in front of the cameras. But you're going to see a counter-narrative or potentially just counter-questioning that draws these accounts which are not firsthand accounts at least for this week into question and throws any potential blame on other figures that are not President Trump.

CABRERA: Right. Karoun and Jeff, thank you both for being here.

From Watergate to Iran/Contra, Clarence Thomas and the Clinton impeachment, we have seen decades of remarkable public hearings in this country where Americans watch, captivated around the television in living rooms, offices and restaurants, and it's about to happen again this week.

Public hearings in the run-up to a House impeachment vote will begin on Wednesday. And there are three big witnesses you need to know about. To explain who they are and why they matter, I want to bring in CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond.

Jeremy, for those who haven't been following every twist and turn, it's hard enough for us to stay on top of it, give us just a quick run-through.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that is the goal of these public impeachment hearings is, really, to bring all of this to life. There have been these closed-door depositions for weeks. We've seen the transcripts of many of these depositions come out. But for many Americans, it may be harder -- it may be easier to grasp at least if this comes out in public. You can see it on television. You can see these officials actually talking about these allegations. And we will have the first two key witnesses on Wednesday. Top of the list, of course, is the current top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor. And he has made those allegations of a quid pro quo.

Here is a key line from his testimony so far. He has said, that was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the president of Ukraine committed to pursue the investigation. That, again, is kind of the crux of this quid pro quo allegation. George Kent, another top State Department official, will testify also on Wednesday alongside Taylor, and he will offer compounding information about that allegation.

He has already said in testimony, POTUS, that is the president of the United States, wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton. And, again, that speaks to the president's personal intent, the president's personal interest in these politically-motivated investigations.

And then later in the week, we will also have the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted by the president back in May. She has already commented on the president's conversation with Zelensky in July, where he said that Yovanovitch was going to go through some things. And she said in testimony, I didn't know what it meant. I was very concerned. I still am. She is asked in that testimony, did you feel threatened? And Marie Yovanovitch answers yes. So, again, these three testimonies will be very important to kind of better understand and to better elucidate for the American public the allegations the president is facing. The president, for his part, will, of course, try and shape the narrative himself and we will have him on Wednesday. He's now having a joint news conference as the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, comes to visit the White House, so another opportunity for him to shape the narrative there in his own way.

CABRERA: Okay. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

Former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin is with us now.

Michael, Bill Taylor will testify first. We know that during his closed-door testimony, he directly linked the investigation involving Biden to this military aid. He testified under oath, quote, that was my clear understanding, Security assistance money would not come until the president committed to pursue the investigation. Question, so if you don't do this, they are not going to get that was your understanding? Taylor answered, yes, sir.

Do you think Taylor is a strong first witness?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. He is the table setter. He is the one who the Democrats have to rely upon to set a coherent, comprehensive narrative of the president's -- the allegation that the president abused the powers of his office for personal gain. He has got an impeccable resume and he has no real axe to grind in this, not having been a political appointee, but rather having served in the State Department for 37 years and having been brought back to Ukraine at the behest of Mike Pompeo. So he's got to be the star of the foundational aspects of the Democrats' strategy here.

CABRERA: Michael, let me read you -- we have something just in from The New York Times reporting that not long before the Ukrainian president was inaugurated in May, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, says he was directed to go to Kiev and warn the country, open an investigation into the Bidens or else the U.S. will freeze aid and Mike Pence won't attend the Ukrainian president's swearing-in ceremony.

I have to note, there are contradictions in this story. Giuliani denies it, as does a separate Giuliani business associate who was also at that meeting. And in the end, we know Pence did not attend the inauguration. The aid was frozen but it's not clear whether that was connected to this specific threat.

Michael, if true, how big would that be?

ZELDIN: Well, it brings this activity of Giuliani and Parnas and Fruman and then the three amigos, Sondland and Energy Secretary Perry and Volker all into a narrative that says, starting in May and continuing through the July phone, call the president and his men were dead set on making it clear to the Ukrainians that unless they went to the microphone and publicly said they were going to investigate the Bidens and allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, then there would be consequences for them, whether it be no White House meeting or no military aid. But there was the beginnings of what looks like an offer they couldn't refuse.

CABRERA: Impeachment aside then, what kind of legal jeopardy is Rudy Giuliani in if it's true he directed an associate to deliver this threat to the Ukrainian government?

ZELDIN: I'm not sure that in and of itself that constitutes a crime. If he was doing so, as he had said, remember, I was doing everything I could on behalf of my client. So presumably he was doing this with the imprimatur of his client, the blessing of his client. And I'm not sure that amounts to a crime, but it does set out in motion this notion that the president abused the powers of his office for personal political gain.

And we don't need criminal activity to be a predicate for there to be an impeachable offense. This whole notion that without proving a criminal quid pro quo, you can't have impeachment is just constitutionally incorrect. So this lays out, Ana, the abuse of power timeline setting it back all the way to May.

CABRERA: All right. Michael Zeldin, good to have you here with us. I appreciate your expertise.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Thank you.

2020 Democrats are wary of Michael Bloomberg crashing the White House race with some potential rivals suggesting he'd be trying to buy the election.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: For Michael Bloomberg and his presidential ambitions, is it better late than never? The former New York City Mayor officially filed to run in the 2020 Alabama primary last week and he's expected to do the same in Arkansas before Tuesday's deadline there. While Bloomberg hasn't said for sure that he'll run, it appears he is laying the groundwork.

How's the rest of the field reacting? Watch.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When people look at the White House and they see this multimillionaire including, by the way, independents, moderate Republicans, and now he's messing up so many things, I don't think they say, oh, we need someone richer.

I think you have to earn votes and not buy them. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we need is a dynamic democracy, not some billionaire who decides that he wants to run president of the United States because he's a billionaire.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that our elections should not be something bought by billionaires.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that Mike is expressing concern about this primary field and he should not have concern.

JOE BIDEN (D), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Michael is a solid guy. And let's see where it goes. I have no problem with him getting in the race.


CABRERA: With us now from Iowa is CNN Political Director David Chalian. David, good to see you. Is there a viable lane for Bloomberg this late in the game?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN OLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, they're going to try to test this, right? If indeed this very public trial balloon comes back and says, hey, there's some response here, there's some data that suggests there's a path, we'll see if they pursue it. I will tell you this, Ana, It would be an unprecedented path.

Skipping the first four states in this contest, trying to run a national campaign with all those delegates available in the Super Tuesday states and other March states, national campaign, not building that door-to-door grassroots campaign that Iowa and New Hampshire have a proud tradition of in delivering a nominee for both parties, that would be unprecedented.

So if there is a path, it's one we haven't seen before.

CABRERA: It's pretty clear that Bloomberg's potential bid has a lot to do with Biden's perceived struggles. The former vice president will be making his first primetime appearance since the Bloomberg news right here on CNN tomorrow night.

What do you think his message will be to try to quell those concerns and convince voters that there's no need for somebody like Bloomberg to jump in, that Biden is the best candidate?

CHALIAN: Well, first of all, I would just say I don't know that we know there's some clamoring among voters for a Bloomberg candidacy right now. When you look at polling about satisfaction in the Democratic field, Democratic primary voters are pretty satisfied with their field.

But you are right to note Bloomberg top adviser Harold Wolfson said when they got into this Alabama primary and filed for it, the statement on Thursday night said that Mike Bloomberg had come to a determination that nobody in the field right now looks poised to actually be able to defeat Donald Trump, and that's what they think is most important.

But I think you got a preview of Biden's response there in what you just played, which is that he welcomes him into this race. I don't think Biden is going to show any alarm or concern about what Bloomberg's strategy here and decision-making, how that impacts him.


Clearly, it is part of the calculus. He chose not to get in this race initially because Biden was there and he thought he was occupying a lane. And now he's flirting with getting into this race because he thinks Biden is weaker than perhaps he thought he was at the beginning of this yearend.

So there's no doubt it's part of Bloomberg's calculus, but I don't think Joe Biden is going to show us any of that.

CABRERA: Okay. Before Biden takes the stage there in Iowa, we have a CNN town hall tonight. And so you're there gearing up for Businessman Tom Steyer. He has spent $35 million already on T.V. and radio. That's more than $25 million more than the next candidate, and yet he's polling at 1 percent nationally. What do you think his message will be tonight to try to rally his campaign?

CHALIAN: Yes. I think this is a big opportunity for Tom Steyer to come in here, interact with voters one-on-one, listen to their concerns and be on display in a national CNN primetime kind of forum about how he handles and addresses each of those concerns.

I think the goal here is for him to be somebody other than just the man they see on their television screens in all that paid advertising that just bombards the air waves here in Iowa. This is his opportunity to really give the voters something that they could envision him as president sitting in the Oval Office. That's the task ahead of him tonight.

CABRERA: Do you think he will have to address the recent controversy of two of his staffers allegedly involved in improper campaign activities?

CHALIAN: Yes. I don't know if he'll get that question or not, Ana. But one of those incidents was here in Iowa and did get some local news coverage here in addition to a national coverage. And so we'll see if that's top of mind for any of the voters in the audience tonight.

CABRERA: All right. David Chalian, we look forward to what's to come. Thank you.

And don't forget to tune in. Again, it's at 7:00 Eastern, CNN's town hall with Tom Steyer. That's tonight. And tomorrow, CNN will host another town hall with former Vice President Joe Biden at 9:00 P.M. Eastern on CNN.

More than 2,600 pages of impeachment testimony was already made public, and now we're getting a clearer picture of the national security issues raised behind closed doors.

But first, here is Julia Chatterley with this week's Before the Bell.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. The big question we've been asking is just how strong is the U.S. consumer. Well, this week we'll get some clues.

On Friday, the Commerce Department releases October retail sales numbers. Now, if you go back to September, they fell for the first time in seven months. And at that time, it raised fears about a deepening economic slowdown.

Another big indication is we'll hear from Walmart on Thursday when that company reports quarterly earnings. Last quarter, the world's largest retailer beat estimates and they raised their guidance for the rest of the year.

Now, although tariffs on goods from China are hurting many U.S. stores, Walmart actually has less exposure than some of its rivals. Two-thirds of its merchandise is actually made here in the United States. Shares right now up around 30 percent so far this year.

The broader market also on fire as well. Stocks hit fresh all-time highs last week as hopes grew for a trade deal and fears of that broader slowdown, recession fears eased. This week marks the next milestone.

Meanwhile, in the streaming wars, Disney Plus launches on Tuesday. The service costs just $6.99 a month. We'll see whether Disney shares get a boost from that. They're also, in fact, more than 20 percent year-to-date.

In New York, I'm Julia Chatterley.



CABRERA: If there was a time to pay attention, it is now. Starting this week, the impeachment inquiry will step off the private stage and land in the public eye, making a huge and important change in the impeachment process. And that brings us to your weekend presidential brief with CNN National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd. This is a segment we bring you every weekend with the most pressing national security issues President Trump will face tomorrow.

So, Sam, so far, witness testimony has all been in private. We have seen a number of transcripts released from those closed-door hearings. And among them, National Security Council's top Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill. What kind of issues did you see in their testimony?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, let's start with the walking, talking, texting security risk currently assigned to Brussels, Ambassador Sondland. Hill goes through in detail the security risks that Ambassador Sondland posed. For example, he used his personal cell phone. He went into meetings with European officials with no briefings. He even gave out her personal information, major counterintelligence red flags, Ana. And he is still in Brussels meeting with foreign officials.

And now that it's public that he had such poor counterintelligence hygiene, he's even more of a target for manipulation by foreign intelligence services.

Second, this testimony by Fiona Hill and Lt. Col. Vindman really lays out what an easy target or willing participant President Trump is when it comes to disinformation campaigns against their own officials. Any American that served overseas knows that they are a target for people that disagree with American foreign policy and what American officials are doing. That's a tale as old as time.

What's new here is that President Trump brought into these conspiracy theories despite the fact that his own experts said there was no basis to these smears against Ambassador Yovanovitch. This broadly signals to any foreigners, private or public officials that want to denigrate Americans that all they have to do is cook up a conspiracy theory, hook it to the president's politics and they're in like Flynn.


CABRERA: Let's turn to the acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney whose name also came up in these testimonies. How questionable is his role in all of this, especially as it pertains to a Ukrainian meeting at the White House?

VINOGRAD: Well, in a lot of ways, Mick Mulvaney is the missing link. He was involved in a lot of activities under investigation, and what we don't know is whether he was acting at the President's direction or not because he won't appear for testimony.

Let's start with the White House visit. The Chief of Staff is the gatekeeper of the President's schedule.

So normally, the NSC reviews all the incoming requests for White House meetings -- the President is in demand -- and makes a recommendation to the Chief of Staff about whether and when to schedule that meeting.

In the case of the Ukrainians, Mick Mulvaney discounted the NSC's concerns about scheduling a meeting -- Hill did not think it was a good time to schedule a meeting -- and instead coordinated directly with Sondland.

He undercut his own team, coordinated directly with Sondland, and set the price of the meeting as investigating the Bidens. That's a big risk because it really signals to the world that, in order to get a meeting with the President, you have to agree to do his political bidding.

Mick Mulvaney also would have been in charge of ambassadorships, so Ambassador Yovanovitch's recall would have gone through him. He gave the order for security assistance to be put on hold, again, against his own staff's objectives. And the White House Counselor approached him, so he would have been aware about NSC staff's concerns about the President's behavior.

In all these ways, Ana, Mick Mulvaney did undercut his own staff when he was supposed to be functioning as their boss.

CABRERA: Lieutenant Colonel Vindman also testified that the U.S./Ukrainian relationship is now damaged because of all of this. How true is that?

VINOGRAD: It is very true. Let's just remember the stakes here. The last two administrations have given Ukraine over a billion dollars in security assistance because it is of such geopolitical importance.

Our foreign policy goal is to get Ukraine to transition into being a vibrant democracy and to tilt westward. That includes deterring Russian aggression. That requires consistent engagement with U.S. officials.

But just logically, Ana, the Ukrainians know that any engagement they have with the U.S. government right now is going to be the subject of congressional scrutiny. That's likely going to lead them to withdraw a little bit from substantive engagement.

And they're between a rock and a hard place. If they don't do President Trump's bidding, they know that he -- that he's willing to cut off security assistance. But at the same time, if they really shore up what he's saying, that there's nothing wrong in the relationship, Democrats may think that Zelensky is willing to serve as President Trump's campaign surrogate.

So for anybody that understands the stakes, this is really a nightmare scenario.

CABRERA: And it goes back to the real-world consequences for every action that's taken at those highest levels.

Thank you, Sam Vinograd, as always.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Lines are already forming two days before the Supreme Court takes up one of its biggest cases this term, the huge implications it could have on DACA recipients. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: People are already lining up and camping out for a chance to hear Supreme Court arguments in what could be a landmark case. On Tuesday, the fate of 700,000 Dreamers will be on the line as the Supreme Court hears one of the most important cases of the term.

Justices will have to decide if the President's rollback of DACA is constitutional. It's the Obama-era program that halts deportation for some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The Trump administration moved to end that program more than two years

ago. And now, it's up to the court to decide whether it can actually do so.

CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue joins us here. Ariane, although President Trump has said he wants to treat the Dreamers with heart, members of his administration like Stephen Miller are working strenuously, it seems, to dismantle DACA.

Court observers say it all hinges on Chief Justice John Roberts. Where do you think he stands on this issue?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, you're right, Ana, the future of these 700,000 Dreamers is on the line here.

And when the lower courts blocked the Trump administration from terminating this program, the government raced to the Supreme Court. And they said, look, we were within our rights to do this, we can rescind policy, and the way we did it was legal. It was constitutional.

But what the Dreamers here have done is something very interesting, Ana. They have hired a conservative lawyer, Ted Olson. He's a titan of appellate law. He worked in the Reagan administration, the Bush administration, and he's coming to the Supreme Court and he is targeting John Roberts and some of the conservatives.

And what he'll say is, look, we're not talking here about the constitutionality of DACA or the legality of DACA. We're not even talking about whether the President can rescind it. What's key in this case is the way the Trump administration moved to phase out this program, and he says that that was illegal.

And he's looking at John Roberts for this reason. You'll remember, the last term, John Roberts sided with the liberals in a case concerning whether or not Trump could add a citizenship question to the census. And basically, what Roberts said in that case, if you remember, is he said, the way the Trump administration went about trying to add the question, that was the problem.

So here, the Dreamers are looking at him again, hoping he might again say, look, the way this was done is illegal. But what's interesting about this is they'll hear this case on Tuesday and they'll deliberate, and they're likely going to release an opinion on this in the spring -- in the heart of the presidential campaign. That's why this is so important.

CABRERA: Wow. And beyond the usual caseload, the Supreme Court also sits at the nexus of some very important issues right now related to the impeachment inquiry, right?

DE VOGUE: Right, we're talking about how big this term is going to be. But on top of that, they're going to be taking up some of these cases that are linked to the impeachment proceedings.

[18:39:59] For instance, this week, Trump's private lawyers are going to come to

the court because they want the Supreme Court to block a subpoena that went out to get his income tax returns. So throughout the court -- throughout this term, we are going to see not only the cases before the Supreme Court but also these impeachment related cases making their way up to the Supreme Court.

And finally, one more thing, we could see Chief Justice John Roberts, if there is a Senate trial, having to walk across the street to preside over that. So lot's going on here, Ana.

CABRERA: OK. You know -- we know you'll be following it very closely for us and bringing us the latest details. Ariane De Vogue, thank you.

Breaking news now, the end of an era in Bolivia. President Evo Morales is out, resigning after 14 years in power, and protestors are now taking to the streets as the government spirals into a crisis.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: We're staying on top of some breaking news right now in South America. A three-time elected president has stepped down.


This is Bolivia. Massive crowds taking to the streets right now, cheering the resignation of President Evo Morales. He announced just a short time ago that he will step down, in his words, for the good of the country.

Let's get right to CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Mexico City. Patrick, Evo Morales has been president there for nearly 14 years. Why does he say he is resigning?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's really the end of an era. He was a very different president for Bolivia.

He was the first indigenous president this country has ever had, and he was somebody who did do a lot for the poor. He clashed with the United States over his support for coca growers, and he had become something of an institution.

He wanted to hold onto power. He refused to follow the constitution and -- and only serve two terms. He actually changed the laws to allow him to stay in power. And he continued to insist after this last election, which was stolen, that he was rightfully elected.

But today, there was a report that came out that said that he and/or members of his party had stolen the election and that he, essentially, was an illegitimate president and that he needed to hold another election. He agreed to that, but it was too late for Evo Morales.

And the military essentially told him to -- to step down. And within a few hours, he agreed to that. He said it was a coup. But to avoid bloodshed in the country, he said that he would do what was necessary and not run again for president and no longer be president.

And right now, we don't know who the president is because a number of other officials have also stepped down. But at this moment, violence has not broken out. There are people -- peaceful protests going on. There are celebrations going on, and it is a new day for this South American country.

CABRERA: OK, so lots more to come out of South America and this situation. Patrick Oppmann, thank you for that. We'll be right back.



CABRERA: Tonight, right here on CNN, another all-new episode of "DECLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES," and it's all about the case of Viktor Bout, a notorious arms trafficker whose weapons deals intensified some of the bloodiest conflicts around the world. Here's a preview.


LOU MILIONE, ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION - BILATERAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: After the meeting, Carlos said, hey, he pulled me aside when we were walking back from a meal and said who he went to see.

ANDREW SMULIAN, ASSOCIATE OF VIKTOR BOUT: (INAUDIBLE) you the name of my friend. This is just between you and me.


SMULIAN: It's Viktor Bout.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did he do that?

CARLOS: I don't know. He was trying to impress me.

MILIONE: But it also, in his mind, showed that he had a righteous arms trafficker that could supply to them, and he would get some percentage of whatever the deal was going to be.

WIM BROWN, FORMER GROUP SUPERVISOR, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION - SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION: Once Smulian said Viktor Bout, then we knew that we were in. But that's only part of it. We can have all the meetings with Andrew Smulian, but if we don't have a sit-down meeting with Viktor Bout, we're not going to get what we need.

MILIONE: All their efforts from that moment on were to get Viktor to come in and have a meeting with Carlos and the Comandante. And that's where we encountered some curveballs.


CABRERA: Mike Rogers is here. He is the host of "DECLASSIFIED" and our national security commentator.

So who is this guy, Viktor Bout? They called him the Merchant of Death?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: This -- this guy was an international arms dealer, and he sold to some of the worst groups all across, really, the world. The FARC in Colombia, which is how the DEA got on him in the first place -- that was the Marxist-Leninist armed revolutionary folks in Colombia trying to take out the government there, to Angola, to Afghanistan, and everywhere in between.

And in the case that you saw here that's highlighted, he was trying to sell anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers, and other weapons to kill Americans operating in Colombia. So this was a bad guy that had eluded authorities, really, for decades.

CABRERA: And how was he able to do that? Because the United States and the U.N. knew Bout was providing these weapons to these war-torn countries, again, throughout Africa and Asia, but it seemed like it was hard to enforce any kind of restrictions on him. Why was he such a hard man to track down and stop?

ROGERS: Yes, a couple of things. A, his operational security was very, very good. And when he started out, he was a legitimate logistics mover, so he had aircraft moving around doing legitimate transactions. Then he went into arms sales that were kind of on the gray area, and then he just broke bad.

And what was happening is he found places to operate where local authorities would not necessarily bother him for the work that he was doing, so it was really hard for U.S. officials to make a case on Viktor Bout to put him in prison.

And that's what's so exciting about the episode tonight, Ana. It's all about -- has all that international intrigue, finding somebody from South America that could get into his organization and try to have him meet our agents in another country, Romania, to put all of this deal together.

It was really exciting to watch how this unfolded and how the DEA really caught an international arms dealer who was selling terrorist groups weapons that wanted to kill Americans.

CABRERA: And as I understand it, I mean there are implications to the present day. Because even though Bout is now behind bars, he is still impacting conflict zones around the world. How does he continue to have an impact to this day?

ROGERS: You know, a lot like mafia dons in the day used to be able to exert some influence beyond the -- the jail cell. A little bit of that with Viktor Bout.

Because of that network that he created over those decades, he still has the ability to impact how they operate and when they operate and who they sell to. So it's -- you know, this case isn't done by any means. But the way that they got him, really exciting, so set those DVRs, Ana.

CABRERA: It sounds like a great story. Mike Rogers, good to have you hear. Thank you for that preview.

ROGERS: Thanks.

CABRERA: "DECLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES" airs tonight at 11:00 Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.



CABRERA: Two people are dead after a car slammed into the second floor of a commercial office building in New Jersey. Police say the 22-year-old driver was speeding in a Porsche when he lost control, hit a center median, and went airborne across several lanes of traffic earlier this morning. The driver and his 23-year-old passenger both died.

Frightening moments at the Astroworld Music Festival in Houston.




CABRERA: A stampede broke out yesterday when fans of rapper Travis Scott began climbing over barricades and rushing the entry gates before the event even started. At least three people were injured. The Houston Police Department said the event was understaffed, and the promoters didn't plan for such large crowds.

In California, firefighters are monitoring hot spots after a stubborn brush fire broke out near Warner Bros. Studio, sending dramatic plumes of smoke billowing over the Hollywood Hills area. Officials say about 35 acres have burned, but no structures were damaged.

When it comes to pre-game displays, check this out. It's going to be hard to top this one. This is in Argentina where a sports club arranged for a hologram of a flaming lion to prowl the roof of their new stadium.

Wow. That's a pretty impressive technology display right there.

And it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in New York City. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree arrived in this city this weekend with hundreds cheering and snapping photos.

This a Norway spruce. It stands 77 feet tall, and it will be decorated with 50,000 LED lights and a Swarovski star right at the top.

That's it for me this evening. Thanks for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Stay tuned, we have a lot more coming your way. We have Brianna

Keilar hosting CNN's Democratic Presidential Town Hall with Tom Steyer right now.