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Trump Receives Royal Welcome in Saudi Arabia; Late-night Taking Huge Laughs in Trump Era; Sheriff David Clarke Plagiarized His Master's Thesis; Lawmaker in Casual Attire Goes Viral; Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 20, 2017 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: On a Saturday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with me.

President Trump meantime is halfway around the world tonight. There is no escape however from what is now a full blown crisis for his administration here in the U.S.

Here was the president earlier tonight, smiling, swaying to the music at this welcome ceremony in Saudi Arabia. Some of his Cabinet members and aides also bouncing along. There you see Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

And while this may look like a carefree group sources tell CNN lawyers back at the White House are researching impeachment procedures. This revelation comes on the heels of a brand new report in "The New York Times" that claims President Trump bragged about firing FBI director James Comey during a meeting with top Russian officials in the Oval Office. The president reportedly said this, quote, "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I face great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."

Meanwhile, a source close to the fired FBI director is speaking out. Telling CNN Comey believed President Trump was trying to influence him in regards to the Russia investigation.

Now we're going to hear from Comey himself. Comey is expected to testify in the coming weeks before the Senate Intelligence Committee. But until then the investigation goes on.

Let's talk it over with CNN legal analyst Paul Callan and UC Hastings College law professor Rory Little.

So, Paul, start with you because you wrote an interesting op-ed on Friday, you say the potential for obstruction of justice case against President Donald Trump took a quantum leap. How so?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it took a quantum leap in legal sustainability because with obstruction of justice charges is one of the hard things to prove is, although the president did something odor or said something odd to the FBI director, maybe he just said that because he didn't like Comey. Maybe he -- you know, it had nothing to do with obstructing the Flynn investigation or obstructing the Russia -- the Russia collusion with the Trump campaign probe. But when he makes the subsequent statement to the Russian ambassador

and the Russian foreign minister that I fired Comey because he is a crazy nut and, hey, good news, boys, the pressure is off. He didn't say good news, boys. But he said the pressure is off.

CABRERA: So you can be -- it could be interpreted.

CALLAN: So now -- yes, we can draw the inference there that the firing of Comey was part of an action of obstruction of the due administration of justice. And that's the violation of law that I think he has allegedly committed.

CABRERA: And, Rory, do you agree with that?

RORY LITTLE, UC HASTINGS COLLEGE LAW PROFESSOR: Well, I do agree with it. You know, it's important to remember that impeachment is a constitutional remedy. It's not criminal. There is no standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It's whatever the members of Congress and the Senate sort of decide is obstruction. Certainly as a legal matter there is a potential for an obstruction of justice count here but impeachment could be even broader than that.

I also think it's a little early to start saying well, we're going to start writing it up. But it's certainly in the ballpark at this point.

CABRERA: Well, you'd have to get Republicans to be on the -- I guess the collective side of impeachment in order to even go down that path, right, is my understanding because the House and then the Senate would have to take it on. So how would that process take off?

LITTLE: Well, it takes a majority in the House of Representatives to impeach. Then it takes two-thirds in the Senate to actually convict. And I don't think we're anywhere close to two-thirds. But what it would start with is somebody drafting articles and putting them in front of a committee. And the House could set up its own committee probably start in the Judiciary Committee. And I think until the midterms elections actually it's going to be very hard to persuade Republicans to come over to that Democratic side.

So I think it may be a little early. On the other hand the special prosecutor is now investigating and may turn up evidence that -- probably will turn up evidence we haven't got an inkling of right now.

CABRERA: Now --

CALLAN: You know, Ana, on this issue I just wanted to say, just to show you how hard this is and why even though there may a technical violation of law it's improbable that unless Mueller's investigation produces additional evidence that Congress will proceed. Richard Nixon was charged with a list as long as my arm of bribing witnesses, ordering through subordinates the Watergate burglary, using the IRS, the CIA and other government agencies including the Secret Service to investigate and persecute American citizen, all kinds of horrible things. Even with all of that, the vote from the Judiciary Committee to

impeach him, and remember the evidence was on tape because Nixon had the secret tapes running, with all of that the vote was 27-10 in favor of issuing articles of impeachment because he had a Republican Congress. They didn't want to impeach a Republican president. We have very much the same thing here.

[20:05:01] And I think with respect to President Trump a technical case of obstruction of justice probably will not be enough to lead to actual impeachment. We'll need something more and we have to see what the special counsel turns up. Will he turn up something more?

CABRERA: Paul, you've argued that so much depends on the intent.

CALLAN: Yes.

CABRERA: How do you prove intent?

CALLAN: Well, you -- I mean, intent is proven in a number of ways. It can be proven by what a person says. If I point a gun at somebody and say, I want to kill you, well that's -- there is kind of solid proof there that you do intend to kill when you pull the trigger.

Now with respect to actions that you take obstructing justice, the president by saying to the Russian ambassador and the Russian minister that the pressure was now off in the investigation because he fired Comey, that would clearly establish that his intent in firing Comey was to ease the pressure of this investigation of his campaign and his National Security adviser. So that's sort of a form of circumstantial evidence that suggests that his intent was a corrupt and illegal intent.

CABRERA: Although the White House is arguing that it was a negotiating tactic, actually, those comments really had nothing to do with --

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: Yes. And I know, you know -- and I know Professor Dershowitz was here earlier. And his contention is, you know, the president is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States and he directs investigations. And he can direct them any way he wants.

Now I don't think that we accept that constitutional view anymore. Even though maybe it was accepted when the founding fathers wrote the Constitution. You know Clinton was impeached and so was Nixon so -- or at least charges were brought against them. So.

CABRERA: Let me ask you this, Rory, because here's what the White House said in response to "The New York Times" report about those comments inside the Oval Office. I read, "The president has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russia as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS and other key issues for the benefit and safety of American people. By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia." And he goes on to say once again the real story is our national

security has been undermined by leaking of private and highly classified conversations. So turning again to this idea of the leaks being a problem. I mean, what about those leaks?

LITTLE: Well, I mean, the leaking is -- that's just a red herring in a sense. I mean, those comments were made by the president in a meeting with the Russians. So if there was classified information there certainly the president was revealing it.

I think that Paul is right you've got to look at the circumstantial evidence. But again it just depends on what members of Congress think. President Clinton was impeached one of the articles was when he said to an employee, hey, here's the way it happened, isn't that right? He didn't actually say anything to suggest that she change her testimony. He just sort of provided a story that turned out not to be true. You always are drawing inferences in these sorts of things.

You know the leaking what's unfortunate is that you've got an administration here that seems to not stick to the straight and narrow when they're telling us what happened. And so the leaking is almost a necessary part of our government at this part -- at this point in order to get the truth. Right? And the journalistic side of this is actually a very important part of making the system work. So that we get the truth.

The American people would like the truth, not necessarily one side's, you know, inferences. So I think that the idea that there are leaks really -- this is why we had Watergate is because of leaks. We should be applauding the journalistic efforts here, I think, not criticizing them.

CABRERA: Paul, does the president need special counsel -- his own special counsel? I'm not using that in a formal term but you know what I mean, outside the White House legal team?

CALLAN: He absolutely needs his own counsel. And this is not admission of guilt. It's just the sensible thing to do. And one of the -- some people say to me, well -- his job is to represent the institution of the presidency. And the White House. The president has institutional responsibilities but also personal. I mean we don't know what's involved in this investigation. Could for instance there be an investigation of Mr. Trump's prior financial dealings through his various corporations with the Russians?

I'm not saying that he had those. But I'm saying it's a possibility. And that's why he would need a lawyer to say, you know, Mr. President, maybe you shouldn't be tweeting in the middle of the night about having zero contact with the Russians if in fact some of your LLCs had contacts with the Russians. So that's why you need a person lawyer to guide through these investigations.

CABRERA: And one last question to you, Rory, does FBI -- former FBI director James Comey now become part of this investigation? And how crucial will his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee be as well as whatever he tells this special prosecutor who now has a broader investigation himself?

[20:10:09] LITTLE: Well, I think he is a very central part of this. It will be an interesting maneuver to see how much he can reveal of, you know, executive branch, FBI investigative methods and investigative facts. I would think he may be much more forthcoming if the special counsel subpoenas him than he will be in a public Senate hearing. But I don't think you're going to see him taking the Fifth or anything. I think he is going to be telling the American people what he is able to tell them. And my guess is Jim Comey will also have a lawyer with him trying to navigate between executive protected privileged information and information that he can say publicly. And that will be an interesting dance all by itself.

CABRERA: Rory Little, Paul Callan, thank you both.

CALLAN: Thank you.

CABRERA: In Saudi Arabia stop number one on the president's first trip overseas, the guest of honor calls it tremendous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a tremendous day. I just want to thank everybody. But tremendous investments into the United States and our military community is very happy and we want to thank you and Saudi Arabia. But hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States, and jobs, jobs, jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The president's first day abroad was mostly ceremonial with just a bit of official business mixed in. The Saudi king awarding Trump his country's highest honor as he did the previous two American presidents and then the music in a traditional Saudi sword dance joined in by the president, you see there, several members of the senior Oval Office staff also participating.

And senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny has much more now from Riyadh.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump ending the first day of his first international trip as president. Even the heat of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia must have been a welcomed respite for the president because there was no mention of the Russia investigation at all. Instead it was all about jobs. All about the economy, all about resetting the relationship of the United States with the Middle East starting here in Saudi Arabia.

And the president arrived to something of a hero's welcome. The 81- year-old king of Saudi Arabia, King Salman, met the president at the airport, a day of festivities, trumpets were blaring, canons were blasting, fighter jets flying overhead. The president's face was on billboards across this city. So different and more pomp and circumstance than when President Obama came from his first trip back in June of 2009. And the Trump administration is trying to reset this relationship in

the Middle East largely because of their posture on Iran. Now the president did not mention anything specifically on that during his first day here. But did talk about the economy again, did talk about jobs. But he is going to be delivering a speech on Sunday about extremism. He is not we're told going to use the phrase radical Islamic extremism. But he is going to work for cooperation as he meets with leaders of the Middle East at a summit and he will be talking about fighting extremism.

Now again, this is the first stop on a nine-day, five-country trip. The president uttered about 26 words during his first day. But he'll be saying so much more during that speech on Sunday here in Riyadh -- Ana.

CABRERA: Thank you, Jeff Zeleny.

Coming up the president may have gotten a royal welcome there in Saudi Arabia but what are the potential pitfalls to this trip?

The man who served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia under President Obama joins me next.

Plus, 40 years later Watergate is back in the national conversation after the firing of FBI director James Comey and with comparisons flying we take a look back at how this scandal really unfolded.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:04] CABRERA: President Trump checking off day one of his nine- day trip overseas. He spent today in Saudi Arabia in the heart of the Arabian desert where we got a pretty warm and royal welcome. Can't get enough of this video of the president dancing, smiling, to the music of this welcome ceremony. He's here along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Wilbur Ross. We also saw his wife, we his daughter Ivanka earlier in the day. The Arabian king is presenting the president with the country's top civilian honor in this picture, that medal he just put around his neck.

Now the lavish welcome very different than what President Obama got on his final visit there. The king did not greet President Obama and even after President Trump saying some pretty harsh things about Saudi Arabia in the past. Let's take a look back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It wasn't the Iraqis that knocked down the World Trade Center. We went after Iraq, we decimated the country. Iran is taken over. OK. But it wasn't the Iraqis. You will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center because they have papers there that are very secret. You may find it's the Saudis. OK. But you will find out.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: So again that was in February of 2016 during the campaign.

With me now to talk more about the president's visit, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Smith.

Ambassador, thanks for being with us. You served under President Obama. I want to get your reaction to this warm welcome we've seen today for President Trump.

JAMES SMITH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA: Ana, it's good to be with you. Not unexpected. The Saudis by their very nature are very warm and welcoming. They're looking forward to having a relationship with President Trump. There probably could not be a country that he could have gone on his first visit where he would have been more welcomed on his first days there.

CABRERA: Now the president is catching some flak today for the video we showed earlier him bowing to the Saudi king as he puts that medallion around his neck.

[20:20:02] Back in 2012 the president criticized then President Obama for essentially doing the same thing. This is what President Trump tweeted back then. He says, "Do we still want a president who bows to the Saudis and lets OPEC rip us off? Make America strong, vote for Mitt Romney." And then today even former campaign adviser Roger Stone tweeted this in response to seeing Trump bow. "Candidly this makes me want to puke. Jared's idea," he writes.

So, Ambassador, on a diplomatic stage, I don't know, I mean, is there any way to getting around bowing if not for custom but also he has to bend down to receive the meddle, no?

SMITH: Yes. Anyone who's ever received any kind of medal or if someone has helped you with your necklace, you naturally lean over to help them with it. So this is not bowing. It's a silly commentary.

CABRERA: What do you make of this being the president's first overseas stop?

SMITH: Well, it's very important to the region. This is the first time that a president has gone to a Muslim majority country on his first visit as president. There are many key issues in the region. And the countries in the region are looking to the United States for help for leadership, as they wade through the challenges of the time. So for the region this is a very, very important visit.

CABRERA: Are there any landmines, pitfalls that the president needs to be careful of, being there in terms of the culture, in terms of the dynamics in that region? We have Iran, of course, the sensitivities with extremism, the issues again sensitivities to do with religion specifically some of the comments the president has said in the past? What would you be looking for in terms of the nuance?

SMITH: Well, the first thing I would say, Ana, is nothing that he said in the past matters. It's what he says as the president of the United States that matters. So what he says tomorrow matters. And the real pitfall is failing to take advantage of an opportunity which he certainly does in this first trip to the region. Daesh or ISIS is waning. You can see that Mosul and Raqqa are going to fall in a reasonable amount of time.

The question is, what's next. So I hope the message that he delivers tomorrow is what is the Islamic community going to do to undermine support for extremism? This is their challenge. It's the issue they've got to work though. And we can provide our moral support to that. But at the end of the day it's in their lap.

Secondly, he's got to deal with an Iran intent on destabilizing the region. There is an opportunity here to create a regional security forum. We've been pushing for that for several decades. There is a window of opportunity to make that happen. And at the end of the day you've got Israel and their foreign policy concerns are identical to the Saudis in terms of Iran.

It might well be that President Trump is in a unique position to reset that relationship. So I'm anxious to see how positive tomorrow and the next day can be.

CABRERA: One other question I've had is, given what we know of President Trump, he clearly values personal relationships. We saw that after President Xi from China visited and really established a great relationship. That seemed to help Trump soften some of his earlier rhetoric and his stance about China. Is there any risk to the Saudis seeing that in the president and exploiting that in him, his ability and desire to have chemistry with these leaders?

SMITH: Well, Ana, everything in that region is based on personal relationships. It is still a tribal society at its basis. And it normally takes a long time for a diplomat to achieve the kinds of personal relationships that President Trump can establish in just a few hours or days. Those relationships are hugely important. And not because the Saudis are trying to take advantage of it. But if they don't feel trust and respect, you're not going to move forward in your bilateral relationships.

CABRERA: So you see it as a good thing, the president's ability in that arena?

SMITH: I see it as a huge upside for him and being able to navigate the troubled waters. Now what's interesting is going to be what are the conditions that he's going to put on U.S. support for the region against Iran?

[20:25:08] I have every reason to believe that he would expect concessions from them in terms of them coming to terms with undermining support for extremism. Establishing a regional security forum. So I think there will be conditions set on U.S. support, just because he is a businessman.

CABRERA: Gotcha.

SMITH: But again the relationship is hugely important.

CABRERA: Former ambassador James Smith, thank you very much for your time tonight.

SMITH: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Coming up, debate dodge. New video surfaces of Hillary Clinton practicing how to avoid a hug from Donald Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:03] CABRERA: Late-night hosts certainly have not taken it easy on President Trump and his first trip overseas is no exception. From how Trump packed his bags to the long flight there, comedians found plenty of materials to mock the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": It's been a crazy week for President Trump with all the scandals that have come out. And today he left for his big trip to Saudi Arabia. You know things are bad here when you go to the Middle East to get away from it all. You know.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, " THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": And I hear there is a chance that when he returns he'll still be president.

With Trump gone you know that means we have the whole country to ourselves for the weekend. Party at the White House.

FALLON: The flight to Saudi Arabia is actually 14 hours. Yes. But Trump is ready for the long flight. Before settling into his seat, he formed his hair into a neck pillow.

COLBERT: He's going to Saudi Arabia first where he wants to unite the Muslim world with a speech on radical Islam. The idea is to unite our Islamic friends against our Islamic enemies. I love Muslims. OK. That's why I call you radical.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joining me now, Dean Obeidallah, the "Daily Beast" contributor and host of "The Dean Obeidallah Show" on Sirius XM Radio.

So, Dean, President Trump obviously wanted to try to change the narrative from the troubles back here at home. But safe to say this isn't necessarily what he was thinking.

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: No. This is like a suspect cleaning the jurisdiction for comedians. The idea of Donald Trump leaving the country during an investigation.

I'm going to be honest. For most comedians, because we're mostly progressive, Trump not good for America, great for comedy. He has been so helpful. It's like a comedy stimulus package. And I -- you can just quantify. "SNL," the highest ratings in 25 years. Stephen Colbert who's really turned the corner going after that Trump. You have Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, finding their voice. Jimmy Fallon now chipping in as well. So comedically, it's been great for us. Comedians are having a ball with Trump. The comedy clubs, all up to the "Saturday Night Live" on national television.

CABRERA: And they are driving a lot of the conversation as well in terms of the social commentary about this administration. Tonight of course is the big "Saturday Night Live" finale. As you mentioned, there's been around buzz around Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson talking about running for president against President Trump in 2020. Take a listen to what he said this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DWAYNE JOHNSON, ACTOR: There is a national poll that just came out this past week.

FALLON: Yes. Like real news channels. Yes.

JOHNSON: Like real news channel, real national poll that brought Republicans and Democrats and saying that I would beat Donald Trump if we had an election today.

FALLON: Absolutely.

JOHNSON: To become president. And I was -- I've really been blown away. I think over the years I've become a guy that a lot of people kind of relate to, get up early in the morning at a ridiculous hour, go to work and spend time with the troops, take care of my family. I love taking care of people. And I think that kind of thing really resonates with people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I mean, he sounds kind of serious about running for president. He's going to be hosting "Saturday Night Live." Tonight what will you be watching for?

OBEIDALLAH: I'll be watching for perhaps Alec Baldwin because tonight's the finale. Alec Baldwin as Trump perhaps talking to The Rock, might be a funny thing. At this point, why not have The Rock run? I mean, Charlie Sheen could be president. Kim Kardashian. Donald Trump has changed the game. Celebrities now can run, with credibility, without any government service whatsoever. The Rock seems like a nice guy. You know, he really could win. He's got name recognition. It'd be funny. But tonight I hope Melissa McCarthy. I know she hosted last week. Hope she comes back. This is the last episode.

CABRERA: Has "Saturday Night Live" set the bar so high for themselves for this finale after this whole season?

OBEIDALLAH: Yes. They have and you said something earlier. They're just not doing satirical news, they are making news. "Saturday Night" actually makes news now about -- remember early on Donald Trump would lash out against "SNL." October 1st, this all began with the debates with Alec Baldwin as Trump. It seems like five years ago, just seven months ago. We've seen great arc. So "SNL" has been fabulous. You have ratings off the roof. Thankfully this summer, in August, they're doing primetime weekend

update specials on NBC, so they're not going into the fall. When I worked there we were done in May and wouldn't come back again until September or October.

CABRERA: Yes.

OBEIDALLAH: They're going to come back this summer with some more stuff.

CABRERA: How interesting.

OBEIDALLAH: So we need it.

CABRERA: Well, let's get to this because we teased that the video has recently surfaced of Hillary Clinton practicing how to dodge a hug from Donald Trump during her presidential debate prep. So what is the back story on this? Do you know?

OBEIDALLAH: I mean, a staffer obviously -- I think they're just having fun or perhaps after the "Access Hollywood" tape she's trying to -- learning how to protect herself from Donald Trump. I think just having a good time here.

CABRERA: And where was this Hillary Clinton during the campaign? It makes you ask. Because a lot of people criticize her for not being like human enough and that that may be was working against her but here she's having a little bit of fun it seems.

[20:35:02] OBEIDALLAH: She's having fun. And I saw the clips of Hillary having a good time. I think the problem is, she doesn't control what gets on the television, and what makes news often is what she is saying and not what she's doing. Her jokes sometimes people would make fun of it. She is human as everyone else, you know, and Donald Trump had his own media narrative that was specific to him. Her media narrative was that she wasn't likeable enough or warm enough. People who know her or work for her said she was great, warm, caring, compassionate. Why we didn't see that more? I can't tell you. But I know "SNL" maybe, Kate McKinnon who plays Hillary. Perhaps tonight there's something with that as well. I don't know any inside stuff but I'm just telling you it's the season finale. All bets are off. It could be a great collection, a great amazing comedy night.

CABRERA: I know you used to be a writer for "SNL." You'll be watching closely. And we'll have you back tomorrow. We can discuss it afterwards.

OBEIDALLAH: Hope it goes well.

CABRERA: Thanks Dean. Good to see you.

Deadly protests, food shortages paralyzing Venezuela. CNN went undercover there to take you inside the devastation that is gripping the country. We'll have a report straight ahead live in the CNN NEWSROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:06] CABRERA: Some breaking news right now on CNN. A collision on the ground at LAX. That's Los Angeles International Airport. Several people are hurt. This appeared on an airport service road. A passenger plane and a utility truck collided. And you see in the video the truck overturned. There's some damage to the airplane as well.

According to the Los Angeles Fire Department eight people were inside that truck. They're hurt. Thankfully, though, none of the injuries are believed to be life threatening.

These are some live pictures there at the airport. You still see some aircraft moving. We're watching the airport incident and we're hoping to get some more details. But again no major injuries or at least non-life threatening at this time.

To Venezuela now, country on the brink of collapse torn apart by violent protests opposition leaders facing off with President Nicholas Maduro and his supporters. The death toll from all these protests and all the unrest has risen to 47, the country's attorney general said earlier today. And more than 950 people have been injured over the same period.

This video is just from today with protesters torching barricades as police fired teargas. The government is cracking down on journalists and even CNN's sister network CNN Espanol was taken off air there.

Our Nick Paton Walsh and his crew went in undercover and much of what they filmed was done covertly to avoid the risk of being arrested.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Venezuela's dark lurch into poverty and chaos was on display. As you drive into the capitol, this food truck breaking down for mere seconds before it was looted.

Basic food is scarce. No shortage of bleach, but long lines for bread. This crisis all created by the mad policies of a government that now wants to hide the collapse, cracking down and intimidating journalists.

We had to go under cover and much of our filming was done covertly to avoid arrest.

But some poor nearing starvation, the people demand change. In violent clashes, tens of lives lost. As desperation meets tear gas and police birdshot.

You've heard of the Molotov cocktail. Well, that would be too simple for a once suave, gas-rich state. So this is the poo-poo-tov, a sewage bomb. "Mixed with gas and ammonia," he says. "Prepared directly for the police that throw tear gas bombs at us worth $60 each. My country doesn't have food and we can't even protest peacefully."

(On camera): This is the daily standoff. The crowd sometimes attacked by pro-government thugs on motorcycles who open fire indiscriminately.

(Voice-over): Gunfire takes at least one life this day, that of 27- year-old Miguel Castillo. But it doesn't stop the daily battle to eat. Virginia has been doing this for 18 months to feed her five kids. She can't find work since she had this little one. But here she sometimes finds what she calls meat.

"Sometimes I find stuffed bread, she says."With rice, meat, beans and pasta. Some people are conscientious and put it in clean bags, leaving it out."

So how has oil-rich Venezuela got so bad?

(On camera): In most countries, it's the market that sets the price of, let's say, for example, rice, but here in Venezuela, the government decides how much you should pay for most food stuffs, but also what many people's wages actually are. And since the oil price has crashed globally, they have been able to keep one up with the other. They have basically run out of money. And now for rice like this, you need to find three times as many notes as these, and that's about a month's minimum wage.

(Voice-over): Wherever you look, repression and hunger haunts this once proud city.

(INAUDIBLE) is a juggler, a magician for kid's parties, beaten heavily, he says, in the day before protest, now begging for food when we find him.

"I spend two days on the streets," he says. "And two days at home. And when I go home, it's because I have food. Before I get calls to do magic at birthday parties but now no. Now with the country the way it is, magic doesn't help."

They mourn the dead, the anger, quiet, indignant, not belligerent. South America is looking to see if Venezuela can fix its self-made crisis without major bloodshed but they are falling so far so fast, and the ground is getting nearer.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Tough to see that.

Coming up a CNN exclusive, raising new questions about Sheriff David Clarke. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News. [20:49:04] CABRERA: Breaking news into CNN. Controversial Milwaukee

County Sheriff David Clarke, an outspoken advocate for President Trump during the campaign. We've learned plagiarized sections of his 2013 Master's thesis on U.S. security.

Now just this week you'll recall Clarke announced he will be joining Trump's administration as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, although the department has not confirmed this.

CNN's KFILE found the evidence of this plagiarism and KFILE's Andrew Kaczynski is joining us now on the phone.

Andrew, what did you find?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN'S KFILE: And so we found that David Clarke plagiarized 47 times in the 2013 Master's thesis that he wrote for the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. Now in many of the instances Clarke actually credits some of the work he took with the footnote similar to a lot of the reporting we did on Monica Crowley copying in her 2003 PhD dissertation but then we proceeded to take the inspection wholesale about the section .

[20:50:04] CABRERA: We're looking at the Web right now, this is on CNN.com. Folks can log on. They can go through this interactive site in which we've actually -- you've pulled the quotes from the thesis and you've paired them up from their original source and it's all highlighted. And what we're looking at is the sections of plagiarism, many coming from the -- from several ACLU reports. You've mentioned that some of the quotes were lifted from the 9/11 report, a 2011 article in the Homeland Security Affairs Journal, the Pew Research Center. The list goes on and on. You report 47 times. Is the sheriff responding to this?

KACZYNSKI: So very interestingly we actually reached out to the sheriff on Friday over e-mail. We gave him a Monday deadline so he could take his time and go through the list because it is a -- it is a large number of instances. And he never got back to us with our request for comment. And then, you know, I'm checking my phone and looking at my Twitter today and then I see that he's basically just started tweeting about our story. He sent a tweet calling me a hack, basically saying we're about to accuse him of plagiarism. So that sort of moved up the timeline of the story to today.

CABRERA: How did you find out that these were plagiarized passages?

KACZYNSKI: Well, we actually -- so Clarke wrote basically that I guess biography called "Cop Under Fire" this year, and we first started looking through that. And when we were sort of Googling sections from that book, it came up as this Master's thesis for the Naval post graduate school. And I didn't know that he had written a thesis. You know, it's not on his Wikipedia page. It's just not something that I guess many people knew about him. And that's when we decided to start checking the thesis and basically what we found time and again was that he was, you know, copying a paragraph or sentence after sentence after sentence, word for word from sources like ACLU. He was citing them which is again something that Monica Crowley did

but this is something where school guidelines specifically say that if you are taking sections wholesale from, you know, any source, you need to put that in quotation marks and note it, which is not something that Clarke did.

CABRERA: Andrew, we only have a few more seconds, but is there any response from the school?

KACZYNSKI: The school has taken down Clarke's thesis, that's actually just something that they do anytime someone is accused of plagiarism. So they're going to do their own basically review now and I'm sure these sometimes actually take months so we'll find out eventually what the school ruled on that.

CABRERA: All right, Andrew Kaczynski. Thanks for your report.

Again, I encourage our viewers to read it themselves on CNN.com and you can look at some of those passages in which they have been plagiarized.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:57:26] CABRERA: Congratulations are in order for Pippa Middleton. She of course is the younger sister of Britain's Duchess Kate. She tied the knot today with hedge fund manager James Matthews. Doesn't she look beautiful? We also have learned her niece, her nephew, Prince George, Princess Charlotte were part of the wedding party, and Kate along with her husband Prince William, and Prince Henry were also in attendance.

It doesn't take long these days for an unfortunate picture to hit the Web and go viral, especially if it's a photo of some normally buttoned up U.S. senators looking very, very casual.

Here's CNN's Jeanie Moss.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOSS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're the metaphorical Cheech and Chong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A quarter pounder, man.

MOSS: -- of the U.S. Senate, bipartisan Cheech and Chong. Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who just finished a workout, and Democrat Chuck Schumer holding his fingers as if he were holding -- well, let's let Senator Sasse describe it in a tweet, "Holy moly, it looks like Senator Schumer and I are smoking reefer outside a wedding." To which Senator Schumer replied with a line from "Anchorman."

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: That escalated quickly.

MOSS: Escalated into viral fame, as Senator Sasse told Glenn Beck. SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: Somebody handed me a Photoshop version

of it that has Schumer with a huge joint in his hand in the photo now.

MOOS: One conservative Web site started a caption contest, attracting entries like, "Bartenders I'll have a double." "Many seemed to think it was nice to have you guys providing a bipartisan laugh during these grim days." While others couldn't get over Sasse's use of the word reefer, as in the 1936 cult classic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smoking the soul-destroying reefer, they find a moment's pleasure, but at a terrible price.

MOSS: Sasse may have been using reefer ironically. He's savvy enough to do a "Dave's not here" imitation from Cheech and Chong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open up, man, it's me, Dave.

MOSS: One constituent tweeted, maybe you all should try that. Might be amazed what you would get done, suggesting a little reefer madness might counteract the political madness in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marijuana, the burning weed with its roots in hell.

MOSS: Jeanne Moss, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Everybody needs a laugh these days. Thanks for being with me.

Coming up next it's back-to-back episodes the CNN miniseries "THE SEVENTIES." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. I hope you'll join me tomorrow starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Have a great night.

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