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President Trump Lays Down Explosive Ultimatum to China; Exclusive Interview with Congresswoman Maxine Waters; Senate to Vote on Neil Gorsuch on Friday; Some Trump Supporters Skeptical on Russia Connection; Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Michigan. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 2, 2017 - 16:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tried to get myself involved in everything I can to help somebody's bad day turn into a good day.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

[16:00:18] WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. President Donald Trump's tough week just got tougher just days before his first face to face meeting with China's President. Trump has laid down an explosive ultimatum, either China does something about North Korea or the U.S. will. His provocative comments come as revelations about his associates' ties to Russia snowballs.

Trump's fired national security advisor now coming clean about thousands of dollars in speaking fees from three Russian companies. But there could be a huge win for the Trump team just around the corner with the Senate set to begin voting tomorrow on Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch's path to 60 is still not certain, but just a short time ago a third Democrat confirmed his vote will be a "yes." The Senate majority leader says there is just no good reason to vote "no."


SEN. HARRY REID (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: There's no rational basis, no principled reason for voting against Neil Gorsuch. And that's what's before the Senate this week.


WHITFIELD: And in just a moment we will speak live with Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters and get her reaction to all of these new developments.

But first, I want to get to Ryan Nobles, CNN Washington correspondent.

So Ryan, tell us about these comments from Trump on North Korea and does this change the tone of his planned meeting with China's President?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It could, Fredricka. I mean, we knew that Donald Trump had a lot on his plate when it came to this conversation with President Xi of China. And we knew he would probably talk to him about trade, about currency, about a number of things. But this interview with the "Financial Times" sets the stage for North Korea to be the number one agenda item.

Listen to what Trump told the newspaper. He said, first China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea or they won't. He also went on to say, if they do, that will be very good for China. And if they don't, it won't be good for anyone.

Trump also telling the "Financial Times" that he is not afraid for the United States to deal with the North Korean situation with or without the Chinese which will create certainly an interesting dynamic for this meeting coming up later this week.

Also today on ABC, Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, also talked about the topic of North Korea. Listen to what she had to say.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: No. China has to cooperate. This is now down to do we want to continue to see these ballistic missile attacks from North Korea, or does China want to do something about it. And this is all about the fact that they need to have action. And we are going to continue to put pressure on China to have action. That will be shown in multiple ways. But what we are going to do is say, China, you know that you are the only one that's doing this. We appreciate you stopped coal going into North Korea but we know it is going in this other ways. At some point we need to see definitive actions by China condemning North Korea, and not just calling them out for it.


NOBLES: And so we have Trump on one end saying that he is not afraid to go it alone to deal with North Korea. But then you have the ambassador of the United Nations Nikki Haley making it clear that they expect China to be a partner in this situation. We will have to see how this plays into these meetings coming up later this week in South Florida -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.

All right. Joining me right now, Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters.

I want to get your reaction to Donald Trump's threat on North Korea by way of the "Financial Times." Do you see this as a genuine threat of U.S. intervention in North Korea or is it bluster?

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, one of the things we have discovered about this new President is he has no clue how to deal with foreign matters. This threat in a news conference prior to meeting with the head of state is just not good. He may think that he can threaten people and that we have the biggest guns, et cetera, but he should be about trying to avoid war. He should be about trying to figure out ways to work with China in such a way that they will want to work with us to deal with North Korea.

He is dangerous and he should not be talking with this kind of bluster. And I'm hopeful that somebody at the White House will pull his coat and tell him to stop it. This is not the way to lead this country.

WHITFIELD: Do you have any feelings, congresswoman, about these meetings, President Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Abe at Mar- a-Lago, and now this meeting with the Chinese President will be taking place at Mar-a-Lago. Do you have any strong opinions as to whether it is appropriate, whether there are any conflicts of interest?

WATERS: Well, yes, I do have some feelings about it. And I do think he should be meeting at the White House. When you have these leaders coming from all over the world to the United States, it should be formalized, it should be at the White House, it should be in a setting that lends itself to the kind of conversation and relationships that is respectful. He is just trying to show off Mar-a-Lago. He is just trying to show them how rich he is and what he owns. It's not appropriate. And, of course, most of what this President does is just not appropriate.

[16:05:35] WHITFIELD: President Trump's refrain particularly after defeat of the republicans' health care bill has been. It worked with Democrats. Do you believe that is possible on health care, on Trump's tax reform, or on infrastructure efforts, especially after this President has signed executive orders to get the ball rolling on repealing Obamacare and undoing President Obama's environmental efforts?

WATERS: Unfortunately. This President does not know how to work with the members of Congress. He does not know how to work with leaders of other countries. He simply does not understand. First thing he should do is try to get his Republican caucus in order. He has got the freedom caucus that's opposed to him. They now are resisting him. They don't like the way he's talking about them and threatening them. They don't care about this threat that he's going to come into their districts and work against them.

And so before talking about the Democrats, he really needs to develop the relationships inside his own Republican caucus that would help them to get to some kind of way of dealing with the Democrats.

So let me just say this that we are not going to entertain repeal. We will entertain the idea that we can improve on Obamacare, that there may be some fixes that we can do. But as long as they are talking about repeal, we are not at the table because we are not going to entertain repealing it at all.

WHITFIELD: At the same time, you know, are Democrats seizing on a position of pay-back so to speak against this President who tried to delegitimize President Obama with the whole birther movement, denying a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and if so, what's the risk in doing that?

WATERS: Well, the fact of the matter is, without all of that, and I mean those were outrageous kinds of actions that he took, you know, talking about Obama was not born in this country, et cetera, et cetera. What he has done since he has been President has been outrageous. He has not provided legitimate leadership. And this last action that he was involved with, Nunes, and -- I mean I do believe that he was involved -- they concocted a scheme by which it would appear that somehow his accusation about being wiretapped was real and he tried to convert that into talk about possible surveillance where his people were picked up, you know, doing surveillance.

And so he has done so many things to show that he doesn't understand government. He is not willing to learn. He doesn't learn from his mistakes. So instead of learning, he gets up the next morning and tweets something else all over again.

Most people believe that is he about diversion. That he is about keeping people from really dealing with the issue. We want to know whether or not there was collusion. We want to know about the hacking into the DNC and the interference with our elections. And I really want to know -- because I know if we can prove collusion, that he is impeachable.

Lot of people don't want to talk about that, but I do. I want to talk about him. I want to talk about this Kremlin clan that's around him. All of them with oil interests. But more than that, they are all focused on lifting the sanctions. This love of Putin that he has, this business that he has of always commending him and talking about what a great leader he is. It is all about this oil, I believe, and wanting to lift the sanctions. That includes Flynn. That includes Manafort. That includes even Tillerson who comes from Exxon.

And so, I think that if we do the investigations, if we follow the dollar, and if we understand why this President is talking the way he is talking and telling us that we should know that Putin is our friend. We are going to find out what it's all about. And I think that those people, Republicans, people in some of the small towns in rural communities that are standing with him now, they are not going to be able to stand with him when they understand the danger he is to our country.

And I'm saying for those of us who understand this and we are concerned about our democracy, we are concerned about our country, we are showing how patriotic we are in being willing to take on this President and the way that he is misleading this country because we want to make sure that the democracy is secure.

And so I'm just waiting for real investigations to take place, and we can forget about my side of the house. On the house side, that intelligence committee cannot move forward with Nunes. That does not make --

[16:10:28] WHITFIELD: Do you think that's been completely compromised?


WHITFIELD: And you mentioned the word of impeachment. It was March 16th in a tweet where you said, get ready for impeachment. It sounds as though you still believe that is a road that will eventually lead to this President.

And do you also believe that there could potentially be ties to conflicts of interest as it pertains to financial interests that even his eldest daughter who is now an employee of the White House, Ivanka Trump, it has been revealed in the financial disclosures that there may be some real conflicts as it pertains to her holdings, as well as interests, financial interests of her husband, also an advisor in the White House, Jared Kushner.

WATERS: Well, of course. I think there are any number of ways that conflict of interest can be proven. I still think that we have to pay attention to the hotel that he built on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. It was funded by Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank is one of the biggest money laundering banks in the world. And they lent him $170 million to help with that hotel. I think there is some problems there. I think there are conflicts with all of his business dealings and whether he's really turned them over to his sons. I think there are conflicts of interest that would be revealed somewhat in his tax returns if he would only show them. I think Americans should be outraged by this President by now.

An unwillingness to share his tax returns. An unwillingness to completely divest himself from his business interests. All of this just mounts up to a President that is incapable of running this country, has no business doing it. And the fact of the matter is, we have got to get him out of here. We really have to get him out of the seat of being the president of the United States of America.

WHITFIELD: Earlier I spoke with Mark Zand who had this to say about a challenge for members of Congress. Listen.


MARK ZAND, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Congress needs to enact laws. And if they want to do it prospectively so it doesn't impact this administration since the Republicans are in control, that's fine. But the laws they enact in the wake of President Kennedy pertain more to executive branch of employees and not the White House employees. There are ethical issues but not laws that necessarily directly impact it.

So I think this is a situation where the majority of American people don't want it this type of conflict of interest to exist. So we need a law.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Is that an assignment you and ear member other members of Congress are willing to take up?

WATERS: Absolutely. The members of Congress are willing to take up whatever needs to be taken up to get this administration right. They are absolutely basically overwhelmed by the scandals and the near scandals that just come up every day. I mean they keep coming. We don't know what we are going to be confronted with next. We have so much uncertainty in government now because of this President until we really do have to find a way, first of all to get the investigations going so that we can root out all of the conflicts of interest. Root out collusion. Root out all of the problems that he has caused as President of the United States.

And so we are willing to do the work. We have to take it one by one. But I tell you, each day creates another challenge just dealing with this President.

WHITFIELD: OK. And before I let you go, I know it's been an interesting week where you had -- while you were talking about patriotism with a FOX television host, he decided to seize upon a moment of hair. What's your thought as to whether this is a reflection of the vitriol and a level of disdain and lack of respect that has been conveyed in some different ways? How do you categorize this?

WATERS: Well, you know, I think that most people who watch television and who watch FOX, they know who these people are. They know that they have no respect for women. They know that they have paid out huge sums of money because they have been sued by women. So we don't expect a lot from him.

My main purpose is not to allow him or anybody else to get me off these issues. It is important for us not to be talking about all of the things that they want to talk about in order to shut you down, in order to intimidate you. And so I'm going to stay on the issues. I'm going to deal with patriotism. I'm going to deal with this President and his incompetency and his inability to lead the nation. And that's going to be my story until I get him impeached.

[16:15:18] WHITFIELD: All right. Serving what, more than 26 years now as a member of Congress. Congresswoman Maxine waters of California, thank you so much.

WATERS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks for your time.

All right. Coming up, President Trump vowing to keep up the fight over health care, even if it means battling his own party. So where does the fight over priority number one for the GOP go from here?


[16:19:43] WHITFIELD: All right. Tough talk from President Trump on North Korea in referenced to the growing nuclear threat. He told the "Financial Times" today if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. "That is all I'm telling you." That all from the President.

Let's talk more about what lies ahead now for the week for this president. I'm joined now by CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart and Democratic strategist Matthew Littman. Good to see both of you.

All right. So Matthew, you first. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley that China must cooperate on North Korea. President Trump says, well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I'm going to tell you. Are these contradictory statements?

[16:20:22] MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I'm going to say a couple of things about Nikki Haley. First of all, even as a Democrat, I appreciate what she is doing on Israel at the U.N.

Number two, North Korea. This is really the biggest problem that this country is facing right now is what's going on with North Korea. Donald Trump has a problem with China because he back-tracked when he spoke about Taiwan as soon as he came in as President. So he has a bit of a problem here in terms of credibility with the Chinese. We do need China's help. We don't want to go it alone I think with North Korea. This is a big problem because North Korea is going to weapons --.

WHITFIELD: Do you think he's bluffing that he doesn't really mean it?

LITTMAN: Yes. I think he does. I think in Trump's mind he thinks he may be able to go it alone. But going it alone on North Korea is nothing that you want to do. You want to have a coalition together. The Chinese have a lot of influence over North Korea. This is a case where we need the Chinese. That's why you haven't seen Trump, for example, declare China a currency manipulator which he said he was going to do as soon as he got in because we actually need China. We need to have a better relationship with China.

WHITFIELD: So Alice, is that a strange thing to say, though, on the eve of hosting the Chinese leader if, you know, the U.S. could use the assistance of China, but then say publicly through the "Financial Times" that we don't need anyone. What kind of table is that setting for this upcoming meeting?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Fredricka, this sends a powerful message that, look, there are two ways to do this. We can do it with China or we can do it alone. And I think Nikki Haley laid it down the groundwork very precisely this morning saying that, look, no one is in a better position to influence North Korea to do away with their ballistic missile program than China.

WHITFIELD: So weren't they saying different things? I mean, that is kind of a point. I mean, Nikki Haley is saying one thing, you know. China, you know, have you some leverage here. But then the President is saying, we can do this.

STEWART: The point is is that ideally we could work with China. We can get China to put the influence on North Korea. But if that's not going to happen, if they're going to sit on their hands, then the President is not afraid to take matters into his own hands and do what needs to be done. This was an important message and dialogue to get out there on the table, and to -- especially in advance of the meetings this week and let them know that we mean business.

North Korea is not a problem that anyone should be taking lightly. And whether we work with China or we do it alone, it is something that clearly is a top priority for the President.

WHITFIELD: And Matthew, speaking of going it alone, when it comes to health care in this nation, the President, you know, has been at war with the freedom caucus, even saying that he must fight them and the Dems in 2018. Congressman Jim Jordan has been on the receiving end of this criticism from the President. Here is what he said this morning.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Tweets and statements and blame don't change facts. And the facts remain the same. When you look at the document, you look at the legislation, doesn't repeal Obamacare. Even people who support it say -- have called it Obamacare-lite and it doesn't unite the country. When have you seen a bill come forward that only 17 percent of the country supports it? So let's do better than that. Let's start over. Let's get this thing done right.


WHITFIELD: So Matthew, how can the President get anything done by alienating an entire group of people within his own party?

LITTMAN: He can't. I mean, he is talking about doing health care again now, infrastructure and tax reform all this year? I mean, if you believe that he is going to be able to do all three of those things that is as part of that infrastructure package, I have a bridge I would like to tell you.

It is impossible. They have said that by the end of July they will have a complete tax reform done and through Congress. That's not going to happen. So on health care, listen, Trump was unable to sell his health care package to the American people. We talked before, 17 percent approval of that health care package. A lot of people said he didn't even know what was in it. Last week he spoke to the Senate and he said to the senators that this is going to be easy and they laughed at him. Think that's a big problem for Trump going forward, is that some of the stuff he wants to do, he is being mocked.

WHITFIELD: And then later he said, nobody knew that this was so hard.

So Alice, so the White House, you know, is remaining positive. Trump even tweeting, you know, that anybody, especially fake news media who think that repealing and replacing an Obamacare is dead does not know the love and strength in the Republican Party. And then this was the vice President just yesterday.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President and I have -- we have faith that Congress is going to step up and do the right thing. When Congress finally decides to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Trump and I will be ready to work with them hand in glove. You can take it to the bank.


[16:25:00] WHITFIELD: So, Alice, what about that messaging?

STEWART: Well, that's true. Look, vice President Pence has made it clear from the very beginning, the Republicans were elected to Washington on the promise to their constituents they would repeal and replace Obamacare, among many other things, and they are going to be promise keepers. It is no surprise, it is not a big shock that the first attempt didn't go so well because they did not work together.

I think everyone has learned from that mistake and they are going to work together. The tweets about the freedom caucus, that's not going to intimidate them. That's not going to get them to abandon their principles. They have been back in their districts the last few days getting overwhelming support from their constituents because they did stand firm. They did say they were going to go at it again and trying put together and put forth a health care plan that will do as they said out to do which is to lower premiums and increase access to health care. And at the second bite of the apple, I think that's exactly what needs to be on the table. And I have every confidence that Republicans will get together and make it work.

WHITFIELD: All right. Alice, Matthew, stick around. There is more to come. We got more time.

Showdown taking shape on Capitol Hill over the confirmation of Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch. Up next, we'll zero in on his path forward.


[16:30:00] WHITFIELD: The battle to confirm U.S. Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch is heating up. So far only three Democrats have said that they will vote yes on his nomination. Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on whether to send his nomination to the full Senate. The final confirmation vote is expected to happen Friday.

But Gorsuch still faces major hurdles. Right now it's unclear whether the Republicans have the votes to break a Democratic filibuster. In order to do that, Republicans need 60 votes, that means they need eight Democrats to get on board -- Republicans with just 52 there.

Republicans also weighing the so-called nuclear option which would change Senate rules to get around a filibuster, and this morning lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are weighing in.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Judge Gorsuch is going to be confirmed. The way in which that occurs is in the hands of the Democratic minority, and I think during the course of the week, we'll find out exactly how this will end. But it will end with his confirmation.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Why doesn't President Trump, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate sit down and try to come up with a mainstream nominee? Look. When a nominee doesn't get 60 votes, you shouldn't change the rules. You should change the nominee.


WHITFIELD: All right, with me now to discuss CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart back with us and Matthew Littman also back, a Democratic strategist. Thanks so much. OK, let's start with Neil Gorsuch, the president's pick for the Supreme Court. So Alice, we know Chuck Schumer has said, hey, you need to pick somebody that everybody will like. That's water under the bridge. That's not going to happen. So how worried should Republicans or even the president be that he would not be confirmed?

STEWART: Fredricka, what I find so interesting about senator Schumer's comments there is 10 years ago when Gorsuch was being -- going through the confirmation process for the Federal Appeals Court, he was passed overwhelmingly through the Senate Judiciary Committee and through the Senate. Not a peep, not a word, not a whisper from any Democrats in the Senate about concerns about his ability to serve on --

WHITFIELD: Is it less about the credentials and more about (INAUDIBLE) who just did not -- who never got his confirmation hearing at all?

STEWART: Well the only thing that's changed in the last 10 years is the fact that Hillary Clinton lost the election and Democrats are dead-set on doing everything they can to derail President Trump's agenda. And look, he's going to pass and you heard Senator McConnell say he will pass. He is not only been a solid constitutional conservative as a member of Appeals Court, he's also been a mainstream justice and that is something.

His record is solid and strong and I believe without a shadow of doubt whether they have to go through it through the vote process or nuclear option, he will be confirmed.

WHITFIELD: So Matthew, is it mostly about Merrick Garland? I kind of combined his name, you know. Now we're talking about three Democrats who say they will vote yes on Gorsuch and is it a matter of other Democrats letting go of Garland?

LITTMAN: So, there are a few things here, Fredricka. One is that when Barack Obama made Supreme Court appointments, those people got 63, I believe, and 68 votes in the Senate, and any nominee from the president to the Supreme Court should be able to get at least 60 votes.

Of course the Merrick Garland thing was tremendously unfair. He never even had a hearing despite the fact that he was the same thing that Alice is saying about Gorsuch. It was true about Garland in terms of the -- WHITFIELD: Credentials.

LITTMAN: And his credentials, of course. And then the third thing that I would say is, so if I were the Democrats I would absolutely filibuster this, that's number one. Number two, Gorsuch is not in the mainstream. That's false. If you look at the frozen trucker case where the guy was literally freezing to death and had to get rid of his truck in order to live, then got fired from his job, and Gorsuch ruled against him, you tell me, is that in the mainstream?

I'm getting a little bit tired of people who are in power who feel that they need to protect corporations and the power fill more than the people, and that's why I think Gorsuch is here. And to me that's not in the mainstream.

WHITFIELD: So, if the 60 votes are not there, and as Mitch McConnell, you know, warned going nuclear could be the option -- does that too send a potentially dangerous and further divisive message, Alice, that you don't get the 60 votes, you're in the majority and you decide to, you know, change the rules because you can with this nuclear option, and force this candidate through.

STEWART: It's more a matter of changing the precedent as what's been done in the past. Look, Justice Thomas and Alito did not receive the 60 votes necessary and they're still sitting on the bench.

[16:35:03] And regardless of how he is confirmed, whether it's nuclear option or he does get to the 60-vote threshold, he's still going to be called the same thing at the end of the day. He will be called a Supreme Court justice and that's the most important thing to keep in mind.

I think the Republicans in the Senate are dead set on making sure this happens. If they have to buck the Democrats who are doing everything they can to throw the Trump administration off its message, then that's fine. But it's going to be -- at the end of the day, we're going to see Justice Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

WHITFIELD: Matthew, real quick?

LITTMAN: Well when you say that it's the Democrats who are doing everything they can to push the Trump administration off its message, let's remember, Trump is fighting with the Republican Party at this point more than he is with the Democratic Party.

WHITFIELD: All right, Matthew Littman, Alice Stewart, thanks so much to you both.

LITTMAN: Thank you.

STEWART: Thanks Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, we'll hear from people who voted for President Trump and what they think about the investigation into possible ties now between the Trump campaign and Russia.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: How many of you -- raise your hands -- are concerned about the Russia implications and allegations that you heard?

SARA MARIE BRENNER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I think we've got to get to the point where we let things like this whole Russia thing settle down and move on and let the man be president.



WHITFIELD: President Trump says the U.S. is ready to go it alone on North Korea telling the "Financial Times" newspaper that, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will." The comments come just days ahead of a meeting between President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping. Meantime, the Trump administration still dogged by questions surrounding Russia, but how do President Trump's die-hard supporters feel about the accusations of ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign? CNN's Alisyn Camerota gathered some of them at the old state house in Hartford, Connecticut to find out.


CAMEROTA: How many of you -- raise your hands -- are concerned about the Russia implications and allegations that you've heard? Why aren't you worried about any possible ties between the Trump team and Russia?

BRENNER: Because that's what they're supposed to do during campaigns. I mean, you know, dozens of diplomats who meet with senators and congressmen -- a lot of people misunderstood I think when Trump compliments Putin. You might respect them just because of what they've been able to accomplish. And if you look at Putin, even though we don't agree with what he does as far as his agenda, he's done a pretty good job of accomplishing it in Russia. But people on the left have misconstrued that as meaning that Trump wants to be like Putin.

CAMEROTA: But if you're saying its business as usual, lots of people meet with Russian diplomats, then why didn't Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions disclose it?

BRENNER: He came forward after and said that he had met with 10 or 12 other diplomats through the course -- I don't remember if it was that week or that month. It's what they do. It's just what they do.

JOSH YOUSSEF, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We have in Russophobia like in place from the Cold War or something. I mean the United States has wholesale surveilled hundreds of millions of its own citizens vis- a-vis the NSA situation that Edward Snowden revealed X number of years ago, and we're pointing our fingers all over the world how bad this person is and how bad --

CAMEROTA: Do you think --

YOUSSEF: Why don't we stop meddling in their business? CAMEROTA: Do you think we're as bad as Russia?

YOUSSEF: I don't think -- not even closer to as bad as Russia. I don't know enough about Russia. All know is when is the last time Russia actually did something terrible to the United States?

CAMEROTA: Do you think that Ronald Reagan suffered from Russiophobia?

YOU SSEF: I don't know. I don't know.

BRENNER: That's a totally different time. I mean, you had communism. I mean you had -- that was a totally different time in the world. I don't think comparing the Russia of Reagan to the Russia of today --

CAMEROTA: Does anybody here think that Russia meddled in the election?


TONI DIBARTOLO, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think that we have to be very careful with Russia. I feel that there should be a mutual respect between the United States and Russia. But I think that -- I am concerned, but I think that we should just listen to history in regards to Russia as far as walk softly and carry a big stick.

CAMEROTA: What does that look like?



DIBARTOLO: Is building up our own military, being in a negotiating place of strength and power.

YOUSSEF: Look what happened when we went looking for trouble in the Middle East with weapons of mass destruction? Look what happened? It destabilized the whole region. When we start crossing other people's borders, meddling in their sovereignty at our own expense, the instability is grave and consequential to us.

CAMEROTA: But the question is whether they meddled in our sovereignty.

BRENNER: ell, so far everything we've heard is that they have not had any impact on what happened here.

CAMEROTA: Wait a minute. Everything that we've heard is that more than a dozen intel agencies said they did meddle. Are you comfortable with that?

BRENNER: Comey even said that --

CAMEROTA: They did meddle and that they are still investigating this.

BRENNER: Comey even said that there is no truth --

CAMEROTA: But they did hacking.

BRENNER: Comey even said thought that there's no proof that there I any change in the outcome.

CAMEROTA: So what? Are you comfortable that they tried?

BRENNER: Well, I mean the Chinese tried. The North Korean tried. I mean, that's just part of international relations.

CAMEROTA: We just accept that.

BRENNER: No, no, no, I'm not saying I accept it.

PAX HART, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: It's this collusion between Trump and Russia. That's what's false.

CAMEROTA: They're basing collusion on whatever it is they have on Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn. That's what the FBI is investigating.

HART: Let the administration --

CAMEROTA: But what if he did something before he left?

HART: He got rid of him because he was ineffective.

DIBARTOLO: I'm very concerned about that.

CAMEROTA: Why? Why are you concerned about it Toni?

DIBARTOLO: Well, last time I actually spoke to you we talked about General Flynn and I said I was a General Flynn fan.

CAMEROTA: I remember.

DIBARTOLO: Yes. I admired his, you know, his record. He is a three- star general.

[16:45:00] CAMEROTA: I remember. And did your impression of him change?

DIBARTOLO: Well, I still respect that he, you know, served the country in the past, but I would be lying to say I wasn't disappointed. He did make an error. He apologized for it and he resigned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way I look it, the way I look at that at that is to be honest, I mean, let me ask you a question, Alysin, do you remember what you had for lunch last Tuesday?

CAMEROTA: So you think he really just didn't remember that he met with the Russian ambassador?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot remember every fine detail.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but lunch is different than meeting with a Russian ambassador.

BRENNER: Not when you meet with a lot of ambassadors and that's part of your job.

HART: If you go to social media now, you will see, you know, diehard Hillary supporters who are adamant this is a puppet administration of Vladimir Putin. People actually think that. It's insane.

CAMEROTA: Jared Kushner is going to go speak to the Senate Intel Committee. They're interested in whether or not he was having a business deal with a Russian banker with ties to Putin. Let's just say that is what it is. Are you comfortable with that?

HART: I don't know if you even remember during the campaign there was mention of that and they were open about it. That wasn't a secret during the campaign.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I think the number of times that he met with them was not disclosed.

HART: Okay. We'll see how that plays out.

CAMEROTA: Vice President Dick Cheney said this week, quote, "there is no question that there was very serious effort by Putin to interfere with our democracy." He said, "some would refer to that as an act of war."

HART: There is a certain level of interaction that's going on in the intelligence community between all nations with their -- everyone is vying for --

CAMEROTA: So you accept some meddling, you accept some spying.

HART: Because remember, we were spying on --

BRENNER: -- Trump the center of it, right.

HART: -- Angela Merkel.

WILLIAMS BAER, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: That's right. Why are we singling out Russia like they're so terrible?

CAMEROTA: Do you not think that Russia is worse than Germany?

BAER: I'm not really -- I'm concerned about my own government. Russia I don't think is reading my e-mails. Russia is not intercepting my phone calls. Russia is not listening to conversations. Russia is not putting people in prison without indictment.

CAMEROTA: Russia is putting people in prison without indictment.

BAER: I'm talking about Americans. I'm talking about Americans.


BAER: We're talking about Russia, what they're doing to their citizens or what they're doing to us? How about what we're doing to ourselves?

BRENNER: I think we've got to get to the point where we let things like this whole Russia thing settle down and move on and let the man be president.


WHITFIELD: All right, some powerful sentiments out of Hartford, Connecticut.

A teenager was dead and several children are sent to the hospital after the area surrounding a hotel pool apparently fills up with carbon monoxide. Chilling new details from witnesses and first responders, next.


WHITFIELD: In Chicago, violence knows no age limit. This week's CNN hero was on the front lines determined to give kids back their childhood. Meet Jennifer Maddox.


JENNIFER MADDOX, POLICE OFFICER, CHICAGO: We are in a state of emergency here in the city of Chicago. The shooting, the killing -- 5, 6, 7 year-olds. They're losing people that they love and care about. I'm a law enforcement officer, but I'm also a mother and a member of this community. We can't arrest our way out of this. Once I saw that there was another side to policing, I thought that I could do more.


WHITFIELD: To see Officer Maddox's full story, go to and while you're there nominate someone who you think should be a 2017 CNN hero.

All right, we're getting new details now on the conditions of several children who apparently suffered carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel in southern Michigan. They were found unconscious near an indoor pool at a quality inn. One 13-year-old boy did not survive. Witnesses and fire officials describe the horrific scene.


FRANCINE SAUNDERS, WITNESS: They were trying to get oxygen but there was no life in those bodies. I mean absolutely nothing. I couldn't even see them breathing.

DON WISE, NILES CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: When we first went in, we went in with our monitors. The monitors went off and the time it would have taken us to go back out and get air packs sooner to come back in, we can grab the patients and start pulling them out as we leave. So, all the responders took a little bit more risk, but we had to get those kids out of there and in to fresh air for their best chance of survival.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Rachel Crane is joining me now with more on this. Rachel, what exactly happened?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, officials say that a faulty pool heater is to blame for this horrible incident. Also, first responders say when they got on the scene they did not see any carbon monoxide detectors in the pool area. And when they got on scene, they tested the levels and they found the carbon monoxide levels to be at 800 parts per million.

Just to give you a sense of how high that is, U.S. Standards for carbon monoxide are 35 parts per million for one-hour exposure. So levels like 800 parts per million, they can kill someone in two to three hours, and unfortunately, that is what happened here. And carbon monoxide is so dangerous because it's odorless, it's colorless. People don't know when they're being exposed to it.

Now, in this case, 15 people were taken to the hospital. Eight of those people were pediatric patients. Five of those children still remain in the hospital, but we're told that they are in good condition. Also, an employee of the hotel remains in the hospital. Also we're told that she is in good condition. Now three children were released last night. Take a listen to what one young boy who almost lost his life had to say about the incident.

DIMETRIUS BUTLER, VICTIM OF POISONING: I was out the pool then I passed out and I hit my head. The police officer had helped us and saved our life.

CRANE: Now, police officers have identified the young boy who lost his life as Brian Douglas Watts and he was just 13 years old, Fred.

[16:55:03] WHITFIELD: Breaking. So now what is the hotel saying about this?

CRANE: Well, when the incident occurred, they evacuated the hotel and they have put out a statement saying, "We are working closely with local officials to manage this situation. Our highest priority is always the safety and well being of our guests." And at this point, Fred, the hotel remains closed as this investigation continues.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rachel Crane, thank you so much for that update. And thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The next hour of the "CNN Newsroom" starts right after a quick break.


ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York and we're glad to have you with us on this Sunday.

We begin with President Trump facing a brutal trio of challenges in the next week. China, the Russia probe and the Supreme Court.

[17:00:00] First up, Trump's dramatic new interview about a nuclear threat just days before he meets the leader of China at Mar-a-Lago. The president telling "The Financial Times," "well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."