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The "Washington Post" That Details How and When President Obama Learned That Russia Was Leading a Major Campaign To Sway Last Year's Election; Five Republican Senators Have Come Out Now Against The Party's Latest Health Care Bill; Details Emerge Into What May Have Happened in the Moments Before The Collision off the Coast of Japan; Democrats Blamed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Publicly Pelosi Is Toxic to Their Party; President Offered a New Plan How To Build The U.S./Mexico Border Wall Involving Solar Panels; Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 24, 2017 - 16:00   ET



[16:00:49] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Welcome to the weekend. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. So glad to have your company.

We begin this hour with another tweet from the President. This time he is responding to the stunning report in "the Washington Post" that details how and when President Obama learned that Russia was leading a major campaign to sway last year's election.

President Trump tweeted this. Just out -- the Obama administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia, did nothing about it, why?

Now the Post report says the CIA first told Obama last August about Moscow's interference. The intelligence even detailed Vladimir Putin's specific instructions -- defeat Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win the White House. It would be another two months, however, before the public would learn about Russia's role and even longer until American to be told about the Kremlin's specific goal.

Let's get more on what President Trump is saying about all of this as well as how Russia is reacting. CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones is joining us now.

Athena, just two days ago, President Trump called Russia's election hacking a hoax and a stand, but with this way of tweet, it sort of sounds like he is now saying he believes it happened.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi Ana. It does sound like that, this latest tweet. The President, of course, could just be citing this "Washington Post" report. You will remember just a couple of weeks ago in the last couple of weeks there was a lot of confusion created by the President tweeting that he was under investigation. Later the administration and his lawyers tried to clean that up by saying no, no, he was just citing "the Post." So this could be another example of that. But the bottom line here is that President Trump has not been known

for his consistency. Here is what he tweeted a couple of days ago. He said this on Thursday. He said by the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 election, it all took place during the Obama administration. Why didn't they stop them? Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the department of homeland security offer to protect against hacks long prior to the election? It's all a big Democrat -- big Democratic hoax. So that's what he said a couple of days ago. Now, he is tweeting as though he agrees with the U.S. intelligence agencies, which they concluded months ago that Russia meddled in the election. But it's kind of hard to know what the President -- I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of days from now we see him calling all this a hoax again - Ana.

CABRERA: Well, President Trump has been consistent. He likes to go on the attack. He is now blaming his predecessor for not coming down harder on Russia. President Trump has the same intelligence though, what is he doing?

JONES: Certainly, he has the power to act. This is a question that we have struggled to get a solid answer to. Kellyanne Conway. The White House counselor was on "New Day" on Friday morning and she was asked this question repeatedly. Watch that exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the White House -- what is President Trump now doing to prevent Russia from doing this again?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Well, this report is new and we will discuss it with him later. But he has been very clear On the Record that he believes in any type of numbers of measures to make sure that democracy flourishes and that voter integrity is intact. In fact, has entire commission on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Such as? I mean, against Russia, what he is doing specifically to try to stop this?

CONWAY: Alysyn, I realized that we just like to say the word Russia, Russia to mislead the voters. And I know CNN is aiding and vetting this nonsense as well. But -- asking the question three times now and I answered it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kellyanne - and you are not answering it, Kellyanne.

CONWAY: Yes, I am. He is the President of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what he is doing?

CONWAY: He has said very clearly that he wants the voter integrity and the ballot integrity to be protected.


JONES: So you see how hard it was to get an answer on this specific issue out of Kellyanne Conway. She ends up talking about voter integrity.

Sean Spicer, the press secretary, was asked about this as well in yesterday's briefing. He talked about an executive order the President had signed on cybersecurity. He talked about the department of homeland security efforts to make sure that the election system, its integrity is protected. And he also talked about this election commission the President is setting up. And that it will deal with cybersecurity issues and also voter ID issues. Voter ID is what we hear stressed a lot more. And of course on the voter ID issue, it is completely separate from what to do to prevent future meddling by Russia in other elections -- Ana.

[16:05:08] CABRERA: Exactly. Athena Jones, thanks for that report.

I want to dig deeper into the reporting by "the Washington Post" with one of the reporters who helped break the story for the newspaper. "Washington Post" writer Adam Entous is joining us now.

Adam, let me read you the President's tweet again reacting to your report. He says, just out -- the Obama administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia and did nothing about it. Why?

Fact check, that tweet for us. What did the Obama administration do?

ADAM ENTOUS, STAFF WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I mean, you know, the reality is there were a few things that were going on that prompted Obama not to retaliate before the election against what Russia was doing. One of those things was that then candidate Trump was talking publicly about the election being rigged. And so Obama was concerned that if he did something to call out the Russians in a very public way and it was him doing it, that it would be seized on by the Republicans and by Trump in particular to basically say that the election wasn't fair and that the President was trying to help Hillary Clinton win. That was one of several factors that weighed on the President.

One of the other major factors was the concern that if he did retaliate before the election then Putin might decide to take the actions they were taking to a new level by actually trying to tamper with the election itself on November 8th.

CABRERA: But as you report, there was a sense especially in retrospect that Obama could have or perhaps should have done more. You cite a former senior Obama official who said he or she believe they sort of "choked" and that was a quote in their response to this.

ENTOUS: Yes. I mean, I think that officials -- a lot of officials think that that sentiment, the choked sentiment accurately reflects the views of many Obama administration officials. Other officials that we spoke to thought that that did not take into account the complexities that the top officials who had access to all of the intelligence had to make these very tough decisions. These are not black and white issues and when you weigh the pros and cons, you know, you end up potentially deciding to do less rather than more. And so, you know, these are very complex issues that Obama was dealing with at the end. And so, you know, we were trying in this piece and this article to explain those and lay them out so people can understand what was going on behind the scenes.

CABRERA: And your article came right after we heard from former homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson who testified before the house intelligence committee this week he believes Putin is still undeterred. Listen.


JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think we have to assume for all the reasons that have been discussed here that the Russians will be back and possibly other state actors and possibly other bad cyber actors.


CABRERA: So we know in December there were the sanctions that came down, the closing of a couple of Russian compounds. What were those punishments designed to accomplish?

ENTOUS: Those were meant to send a message that there would be a punishment. Obviously, there were sanctions that were also imposed in addition to that, but those were largely symbolic. The expulsion of the diplomats, the Russian diplomats may be the strongest action that was taken on the overt side.

But I think one needs to look at this kind of like an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is what we know publicly. Below the water line are covert measures that Obama approved in his final days in office. The contours of those covert measures is -- this involves putting implants as they are known cyber implants inside of a Russian network that could down the road be used to try to disrupt, you know, their activities should the future President -- should Trump or a future President decide to confront them in that way.

Those are part of the response here that is not been publicly disclosed for understandable reasons. And, you know, those are also part of the measures that have been put in place. So you know, obviously, one can definitely say that this package was modest in terms of its punishment, but there are cyber covert measures that were authorized by President Obama on his way out that could be more meaningful, but we just don't know enough about them to judge them.

CABRERA: Right. And as you write in the report, those cyber measures weren't actually implemented. I mean, it wasn't taken to the finish line so to speak.

Based on what you are hearing, and I know you talked to more than three dozen current and former U.S. officials from all these experts who knew this investigation well, what could the Trump administration now do moving forward to combat the threat?

[16:10:02] ENTOUS: Well, I have seen nothing really to suggest that the Trump administration is looking at trying to combat this threat. Maybe my reporting is faulty there. Maybe I haven't dug deeply enough to see what they are doing on this. But I have not seen anything in my reporting to suggest that they are addressing this issue.

And Congress is so divided. You know, that I'm personally skeptical that there would be a major effort to try to do something. This may be similar to what happens every time there's a school shooting. And then there's, you know, -- you know, our editors and your editors say is this going to change things in a dramatic way? And we usually say to ourselves, you know, those that have been around the block a few times realize that there isn't a consensus to make the change.

I think it may be like that on what happened last year. That there is just -- the country is so divided along these partisan lines that there's not going to be the consensus to address this before the next election. In which case this might happen again and frankly the technology is proliferating to do this sort of thing that next time it could be the Russians but it could be somebody else. You know? And I'm not sure that we are going to be in a position to defend ourselves any better next time frankly.

CABRERA: And it's not Republicans or Democrats will lose, we all lose, all Americans lose if Russians try to influence the election.

ENTOUS: Russians or somebody else, yes.

CABRERA: Yes. Adam Entous, thank you so much. We appreciate your reporting.

Five Republican senators have come out now against the party's latest health care bill. Can Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell get these crucial votes and help the President keep a campaign promise? We will discuss this next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:15:52] CABRERA: Now it is the battle over your health care. Republican support for the new Senate health care bill doesn't add up to victory just yet. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell wants a vote in just the next five days next Thursday before Congress leaves Washington for the fourth of July holiday weekend, but can he get there? He can only afford to lose two Republican votes. And right now, five Republican senators say they oppose the bill and it is (INAUDIBLE), three more say they have concerns. Neither GOP senators are talking about it.

Let's talk it over with CNN's congressional reporter Lauren Fox.

So Lauren, again it's a GOP family divide. Conservative versus the moderates. What does each side want changed from the bill that was presented?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CORPORATE REPORTER: Well, certainly. And conservatives are asking for a fuller repeal of the affordable care act. They want to see fewer Obamacare era regulations. They want to make sure that no federal money is going to be used to provide abortions. And they also want to make sure that there is less money in the tax credits to go to low income people who need to buy insurance. They say that's just another entitlement program the government doesn't have money for.

On the other side, moderates want more money from Medicaid spending. This is the program that helps low income people access insurance that was expanded under the affordable care act. They also want to make sure that there is more money to combat the opioid crisis.

And one other thing, two other senators, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, they want to make sure that the defunding of Planned Parenthood is taken out of the current version of the senate bill. Two very different sides of this issue. And Mitch McConnell can't afford to give one side something and not lose someone on the other side. Very difficult gamble for him over the next five days.

CABRERA: He doesn't have a lot of time either. As you point out, five days to try to bridge the gap and then put this up for a vote. He says it has to be done before the fourth of July. How firm is that?

FOX: Well I think that Mitch McConnell thinks this doesn't get better over time. A lot of the GOP leaders I have talked to have been, you know, saying that over and over again that if they go home for the break and then they have to come back after hearing from constituents, it may be even tougher to get those senators on board for the vote. They are going to be voting at the end of this week. And Mitch McConnell wants to see where everyone is.

CABRERA: What's your sense of those eight that we put up there, the five who said no way at this point, and then the three that are concerned, which one of these seems to be the easiest to flip to a yes?

FOX: Well, that's certainly an open question. And I think that right now, it looks like the moderates were getting more in the original Senate bill than the conservatives. But I think we still don't have a good sense of which way McConnell might play this. You know, there is obviously a lot of phone calls and discussions that are happening now behind the scenes. Everyone from the GOP leadership trying to get a sense of where the members are going to be. But I think that that's the major question going into this next week which way does Mitch McConnell try get those votes?

CABRERA: All right. Lauren Fox, keep us posted.

FOX: Thank you.

CABRERA: Drafted behind closed doors, the GOP senate health care plan has been kept under wraps until this week. Just revealed a few days ago. Even two other Republican lawmakers.

CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer is joining us to discuss the politics behind the health care showdown in the senate.

So we showed the five who said they won't vote in the current form that the Senate bill has put out there. Then the three that are expressing concern. Again, all Republicans, the opposing side, the majority of them are conservatives, except for Heller who comes from the more moderate state and whose seat is up for grabs coming up in 2018. Do you think that McConnell can actually come up with something or convince these senators to come on board?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right now, it's very difficult and there is one other factor, the House Republicans who are not going to be happy if he is coming to them in the end with a Senate bill that moves too far to the center. So this is a big juggling act. It's hard to see horse trading that will get him the votes that he needs.

I think what McConnell needs to appeal to if he's going to successful is partisan loyalty. That in the end it's better for Republicans to come away with something, not as a defeat. Deliver this to the President, then allowing this to die. And that's his biggest asset I believe.

[16:20:12] CABRERA: The President has been tweeting to support the bill and tried to push people to support it as well and get behind it. He made a lot of promises you will recall on health care.

This is what he tweeted today. Democrats slammed GOP health care proposal as Obamacare premiums and deductibles increase by over 100 percent. Remember, keep your doctor, keep your plan.

But back in May of 2015 he tweeted this. I was the first and only potential GOP candidate to say that there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.

Now we learned in the Senate bill that Medicaid is at risk. That's one of the biggest issues that people who are against it have pointed to. So is this a promise that the President can't keep?

ZELIZER: Well, he won't keep it if either version of the bill passes, meaning the House or the Senate version. Both versions including what the Senate votes on this week make very steep cuts to Medicaid. The Senate version delays the cuts more than the House bill. And then makes steeper cuts than the house bill.

So it's not an ambiguous question of whether this legislation contradicts the promise that President Trump did make and it will be unpopular with a lot of parts of the country including in red states where many Americans depend on those Medicaid benefits.

CABRERA: I want to talk to you about the Russia investigation, this new report from "the Washington Post" really details when the Obama administration learned about the Russian as election meddling and how they responded in real time, what they were doing to respond.

This is what Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, director of NSA as well had to say about this response by the Obama administration. Let's listen.


MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The saddest chapter in that long narrative yesterday was when the administration sent the experts up to the hill to brief the senior leadership of American Congress, seeking some sort of bipartisan statement with regard to this and they couldn't get it. The Republicans particularly backed away, speculating here because they felt joining that kind of consensus might have hurt their candidate's chances. I don't know. But coming out of that meeting you now have the administration pulling back, not being as forceful as I suggested they should have been. Again, to avoid the appearances that they were partisan and they were trying to rig the election. This was not our finest hour.


CABRERA: So we learned in this "Washington Post" report that before the President and his team made public, that Russia was involved in meddling, they went to Congress to try to push a response that would be bipartisan and they didn't get the response that they were hoping for according to Michael Hayden and do you agree with what he said?

ZELIZER: Well, it's a very important moment in that story. Meaning, the President according to "the Washington Post" understood the severity of the intervention, was trying to figure out how do you respond without even causing a bigger problem? Meaning, a Russian response or without appearing as if the President was interfering in the election. And this is a key moment where he's going to the Republicans and saying on the hill, join me. We have to do something here and senator McConnell says no. And so he loses that political cover. And I think it was very important ultimately why the President pulled back.

This doesn't take away the responsibility from President Obama in the story. But I think it's the critical moment. And it's Obama's ongoing effort to find bipartisanship and finding it on Capitol Hill.

CABRERA: Why is this such a partisan issue? It's about the democracy, right?

ZELIZER: Well, I think it's mixed with the election and since the election it has become this argument is that the White House sees as a way to question the legitimacy of President Trump rather than a story about another country intervening very aggressively in our election. That's actually the biggest part of the story but it has gotten mixed up in partisan politics and it's very hard to get Republicans support on moving forward with this investigation.

CABRERA: All right. Thanks so much, Julian Zelizer for your take. We appreciate it.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

CABRERA: Nice to see you.

And coming up, we hear from the father of one of the sailors who lost their lives aboard the "USS Fitzgerald" as new details emerge into what may have happened in the moments before the collision off the coast of Japan.


[16:28:48] CABRERA: Search and rescue crews have now pulled 15 bodies from the rubble of the devastating land slide in China. Take a look at these images.

One hundred and eighteen people are still missing. This is in China's (INAUDIBLE) province where the landslide buried more than 60 homes. And now, the rescue effort is being hamper by a second smaller landslide that blocked the portion of the road that (INAUDIBLE) to bring in the heavy equipment. That effort is underway. We will keep updating the numbers as we get them.

And this weekend, and we are learning more about that active collision of an American Navy destroyer and the giant container ship that happened last weekend when we brought it to you live on CNN. The bizarre accident that we later learned cost the lives of seven sailors.

Again, it was last Saturday, the "USS Fitzgerald" and the Philippine flat container ship somehow smashed into each other, tearing a giant hole and then flooding the destroyer. The very lasts on the investigation in just a moment.

But first, some of what we are learning about the victims and among those sailors who died in this horrific accident is this man, Xavier Martin. He is just 24-years-old from Maryland. His father spoke to CNN about him.


DARROLD MARTIN, SON DIED IN ACCIDENT ABOARD USS FITZGERALD: Words can't describe how proud I am of him. I have -- I kept every text from the time he has joined the Navy. And there's just numerous texts that I have expressed how proud I am. I'm so proud to be his father. I could not ask for a better child.


[16:30:16] CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN's Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne. He is joining us.

Ryan, those words from Xavier Martin's father's pride, his pain at a loss of his son, Martin again was just one of seven sailors who perished in that collision. Tell us what investigators have learned in the week since the accident about what happened.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well Ana, we are learning some new things about the investigation, which again is still pretty much in its earlier stages. There are several investigations going. A Navy investigation, a U.S. coast guard investigation and an investigation being conducted by Japanese authorities.

The Navy's investigation, some of the preliminary things that are starting to learn is where the collision took place, on the Scarborough (ph) side hitting the berthing area where a lot of the navy sailors were bedded down. That's part of the reason why some of them were incapacitated almost immediately is because the collision took place right there. And also struck the communications note on the ship, hampering communications between the U.S. Navy ship as it attempted to recover.

But what they are still looking at is radar data from the sophisticated weapons system aboard the Fitzgerald, the U.S. defense system as well as radar and other data from the cargo ship to really find out how this cargo ship was able to collide into this Navy destroyer without the crew of the destroyer being alerted without them being able to react in time. So it is one of the key things they will try to uncover as the investigation unfolds.

CABRERA: Now, according to the initial reports, this happened about 1:30 in the morning. It was formally reported about an hour later. Talk about why the time line is so important.

BROWNE: Well, there was a couple of issues here. Again, the collision took place near this communications mode hampering the destroyer's ability to communicate with the higher headquarters within the Navy. Again, they were actually forced to rely on satellite cell phones to kind of relay these initial communications. And again from the cargo ship, this massive cargo ship may not have even noticed that it collided with the navy destroyer, being on autopilot potentially without anyone manning the bridge of that cargo ship. So these are some of the things that they are kind of look at as why this communication issues happened. The damage to the Fitzgerald's communication system and that's forcing them to rely on cell phones. They are going to look in a lot of these things as the investigation unfolds.

CABRERA: All right, Ryan Browne, our thanks to you.

Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, with Democrats reeling from a particularly painful special election loss, some in the party are now suggesting it's time for changes at the top.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And areas of the United States that once thrived thanks in part to the coal industry are now slowly dying away. On the next "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" W. Kamau Bell visit the cultural region of Appalachia to see if anything can save them. That's tomorrow night at 10:00 eastern and pacific.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went from 18 mines in this town to three. We went from 1500 employees to 150 people working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are in the economic downturn in the coal industry.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And this is the main industry of Appalachia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is. With the loss of those jobs is devastating. Families and communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We scrape to get by.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want a good job. That's it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No jobs leads to no money which leads to depression which leads to drugs.

BELL: How easy it is to find drugs out here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All you have to do is walk down the sidewalk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm concerned about the future.



[16:37:39] CABRERA: Democrats are licking their wounds and wondering what is next after a very expensive loss this week. Democrat Jon Ossoff came up short in the most expensive House race in history losing Georgia sixth district special election to Republican Karen Handel. Now after the Tuesday defeat, some Democrats blamed House minority leader Nancy Pelosi publicly Pelosi is toxic to their party.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT: You think Nancy Pelosi is more toxic than Donald Trump?

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: You know what? The honest answer is in some areas of the country, yes, she is.


CABRERA: Let's talk it over with the political commentator, former press secretary of Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaigns Symone Sanders and former Georgia congressman Jack Kingston, a Republican.

So Symone, I will start with you. Is Nancy Pelosi your party's problem?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I think we have got -- I do think that the Democrats do have some problems. I don't necessarily think Nancy Pelosi is at the top of the list.

Look. Nancy Pelosi didn't lose this election in Georgia. The reality is that she wasn't even in charge of the Democratic congressional campaign committee. So I think there are -- there are fruitful debates that should happen within our party. And I think that are happening and we have to stay focused and there are lots of things to attack at this moment. Health care, education is out there on the table. There's a Russian investigation happening. So we need to stay focus.

CABRERA: So if she's not the problem what do you think is the problem?

SANDERS: You know what? I think that one, we have not actually done an internal party autopsy of 2016, of where we are. We haven't done a six month check on what has been happening. And so I think the party -- there's a couple different issues. Like we need to figure out how we can energize our base, young people, people of color. We also need to also figure out how we can persuade some of these (INAUDIBLE) voters to vote for Democrats.

There are various ways to do that. I think it's healthy to have a conversation about how we go about that, but attacking one or two members of our party and blaming them for the -- for the perceived problem isn't the way to go about it.

CABRERA: President Trump and some Republicans love Pelosi, saying she helps them win elections. Jack, do you agree with that?

JACK KINGSTON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER RO THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I think it's something to be said. As Tim Ryan said, in certain parts of the country she plays well in terms of motivating the other side.

I would say this, first of all, I want to apologize to my friend, Symone. I hate it when other people from another party tell us Republicans what we need to do, but I have to do that. I do think that the Democrats need some more leadership. Right now they are well represented on the west coast and the east coast, but in Middle America, in the rust belt, they need more representation. Keith Ellison is from Chicago but you don't have the Ohio factory type of workers represented in the leadership of the Democratic Party right now.

But the other think, taking a page from Bill Clinton, they need a sister Soulja (ph) moment when they can say, you know what, Johnny Depp and Kathy Griffin do not represent our values. They are in fact -- I mean, Bill Clinton defined himself when he took on Sister Soulja. And right now, the Democratic Party seems to identify more with Johnny Depp than they do with Bernie Warmbier. And I think Middle America wants to see people identifying with Otto Warmbier and not Bernie Warmbier.

[16:40:57] SANDERS: So--?

KINGSTON: Well, the final thing, I say they should moderate. I mean, America is less the center right --.

CABRERA: Just finish your point so Symone can respond to that. That was a strong statement you just made, Jack.

KINGSTON: I'll yield the floor, but they need to get left of center rather than far left of center.

SANDERS: Let me help you all with something. First of all, Keith Ellison is from Minnesota. Secondly, 94 --

KINGSTON: I stand corrected on that. SANDERS: Ellison is from Minnesota. Secondly, there is a base in

this party that covers all bases. You have union member household. We have working people of all backgrounds, black people, Latinos, white people, Native-American, Asian-Americans and other whites. Black Americans have emerged as a stalwart voting blocs that support and advocate and goes out there and get Democrats elected.

And so, to somehow suggest that the answer to the Democratic Party's woes is to basically for lack of a better term just win more white people it's absolutely incorrect.

KINGSTON: Symone, I don't have to suggest -- I don't have to suggest it.


KINGSTON: -- under Barack Obama. You lost a thousand Democrats.

CABRERA: Hey, guys. I can't hear either of you when you are talking at the same time. Go ahead, Symone.

SANDERS: Absolutely. I agree with Jack Kingston. We have lost a thousand legislative seats for the last ten years. And you know what that means? That means we need to pick a better candidate. We need to run on the real issues that are affecting real people. Guess what? People out there in Middle America, California and everywhere in between New York and on down in the south, they are talking about health care. They are talking about education. And if Democrats would like to win we need to run real authentic campaigns. So it is not a -- this is a false choice of saying if we need to play more to the white working class voter or --

CABRERA: Symone?

KINGSTON: Well, Symone, you are injecting race in this.

CABRERA: Symone, it seems the message though - I mean, what is the Democrat party's key message? Does the party have a message it can really own?

SANDERS: Well, I do not work for the Democratic National Committee, nor any of the other committees but I will say that perhaps it would behoove the party committees and the DNC if the message would get out there that look, the Democratic Party is a party that stands for all people, stands for working class people. We are the party that is about protecting health care and not snatching it away from 33 million Americans. We are the party that believes that you can be gay married. That believes in the basic human rights. And if that is not breaking through to people out in America, then, no, we are not out there doing our job. And so, I think it would behoove, again, the party committees to get out there and talk to real people, to demonstrate, not just talk about it, but demonstrate that we are actively on their side.

CABRERA: Guys, I want to read a tweet we just got from President Trump. He just tweeted this moments ago. Since the Obama administration was told way before the 2016 election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T.

What's your response, Jack? I mean, the President, up until this point, hasn't said essentially that Russian was even involved in the elections.

KINGSTON: You know, I think that recent poll came out that said some like 56 percent of Americans believed that this issue needs to be -- we need to start legislating and letting the special prosecutor handle this and have Congress start focusing on health care and jobs and other issues that are out there. I think that --

CABRERA: Why is the President tweeting about this?

KINGSTON: I think the Russian investigation has been overplayed. And if there's a question out there, why didn't the Obama administration do more about it, I think it is a very legitimate question.

You know, that "Washington Post" article yesterday was atrocious in terms of Obama sitting on their hands about knowing this was going on, why they did not do more is beyond me.

CABRERA: Symone, when you hear an official say they choked, the Obama administration choked in its response, are you upset that President Obama didn't publicly do more when he found out about this?

SANDERS: Look, I think hindsight is 20/20. I think it's very possible that had President Obama stepped up and said and did something about this actively in the moment in the heat of the campaign last year, he would have been accused of trying to tip the scales for Hillary Clinton.

[16:54:05] CABRERA: But didn't politics end up playing a role?

SANDERS: Yes, concurrently, one can also argue that stepping up and doing something about this could have probably prevented this fiasco that we are in right now. So I think what we need to focus on right now is one, letting the special prosecutor do their jobs. The question is not why didn't the Obama administration did not do more? The question is, why is the current President of the United States inserting himself into the middle of the active investigation?

CABRERA: Can I just point out, you guys are --.


CABRERA: Can I just point out we have to leave it there. That you guys both agree that everyone should let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of it. Get the answers. And I think that's important for us.

SANDERS: Bipartisan agreement.

KINGSTON: Which is also what President Trump did.

CABRERA: Look at that. That's a start. KINGSTON: And that's also what President Trump said. If any of his

satellites have done wrong he wants to know about it. He said that to James Comey.

CABRERA: All right. Thanks, guys. We appreciate it.


CABRERA: We have some good news to report right now. Republican congressman Steve Scalise is out of intensive care and is in fair condition. Scalise was shot in the hip last week at the GOP's baseball practice. And he is still going through an extended period of healing and rehabilitation.

And another victim of that shooting, Matt Mika, he is in good condition. Just got out of the hospital. George Washington University hospital sent this picture of him with Jayson Werth of the Washington Nationals who stopped by for a visit. On Thursday, Mika is expected to make a full recovery.

Coming up, Donald Trump always said Mexico would pay for the wall but the President is now saying solar panels could help pay for it. We'll explain how next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:51:08] CABRERA: The President promised Mexico will pay for the wall. But Mexico insists that that is not going to happen. So this week, the President offered a new plan involving solar panels.

Sara Sidner talks to the businessman who actually pitched this idea months ago.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Trump said this --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are thinking of building the wall as a solar wall --

SIDNER: Thomas Gleason thought mission accomplished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy. We have done what we wanted to do.

TRUMP: Pretty good imagination. Right, good. My idea.

SIDNER: As for the idea, at least two companies actually proposed it months ago when the Trump administration made an all call for companies to send in their border wall design.

Thomas Gleason, a Vietnam veteran and small business owner bid in April, send in photos, and details of exactly how his solar wall would work. What is the selling point?

THOMAS GLEASON, GLEASON PARTNERS LLC: He gets to build the wall because it pays for itself.

SIDNER: Sounds familiar?

TRUMP: So it creates energy and pays for itself.


GLEASON: The benefit is there is going to be a demand for the electricity even if there is in a city with that 50 miles.

SIDNER: Gleason says that is because it would take about 20 years of producing power for the wall to pay for itself. And showed us what a partial section of this solar wall would look like. How would you describe what it would take to get through it? Is it possible? Virtually impossible?

GLEASON: It will take an A-team, you know, kind of crew. They are going to have to be talented.

SIDNER: He says that's because this is one layer of the wall. The base would be six feet of concrete. Filled with rocks and sand. Then steel wire mesh. Then the solar panels followed by more steel wire mesh. At the top, a pivoting ceiling of more panels. Could someone scale this?

GLEASON: Well, go ahead. Stick your fingers in that.

SIDNER: I can't. There is no more shortage of sun along the U.S./Mexican border. Gleason says each mile of the solar wall could power up to 400 homes.

The government has yet to pick its top proposals. And so far, Congress has not allotted funding for the wall. President Trump's border wall proposal had garnered plenty of controversy and Gleason has gotten his share for making a bid. He has lost a client. And a close friend who is Mexican-American telling Gleason he would be helping to divide families. So you have lost potentially big business and a friend?

GLEASON: I will get it back. As long as we don't get the wall.

SIDNER: But if he gets the bid he estimates that his solar wall would cost about $7.5 million per mile. Spread that out across the entire U/S./Mexico border and we are talking of $15 billion price tag.

Sarah Sidner, CNN, Vegas.


CABRERA: Thanks, Sara.

Coming up in the hour, why does Trump keep saying something bothers him about the man leading the Russian investigation? Well, it might have something to do with the last guy he fired.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:58:36] CABRERA: Over 60 million people came to New York City last year, but this yoga class downtown offers the quiet place to go with the flow, but with pets.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): New York City is packed with people. Almost 8.5 million residents live here and a record 60 million visited last year. It's also one of the top spots for business travelers in the U.S. So need a little reprieve from all that hustle and bustle? How about hanging out with some of New York's quietest friends.

Meow Parlor is a cat cafe in downtown NYC. And five times a month it turns into a yoga studio for kitty yoga.

AMY APAGAR, YOGA INSTRUCTOR: I think this is a great way to have a break from the chaos going on outside. Especially after traveling and flying, yoga is a really great way to loosen up a little bit. Relieve some of those sore travel muscles, but at the same time, it's definitely a unique like attraction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The class starts with a warm-up.

APAGAR: Try to let your body be nice and soft, nice and relaxed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if you get more daring with your moves so do the cats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes they just sit and watch us. Sometimes they're like running through the mats and climbing on people. So you never really know what's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These cats aren't just here to play, their rescue and up for adoption.

APAGAR: That's really why they are here, these cats are all up for adoption. Some of them are special need.