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Mueller Asks White House for Flynn Documents; Amb. Nikki Haley Talks New U.N. Sanctions on North Korea; Stephen Miller Could Take on White House Communications Role; Kelly Appears to Impose Discipline Inside Trump White House; Mueller Now Using Grand Jury in Russia Probe; Trump Vacations Compared to Previous Presidential Vacations. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired August 5, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:07] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. So great to have you with us. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thanks for being here.
The top story we're closely watching right now, specific action and a specific request, for the first time, from the special counsel investigating the Trump White House. According to "The New York Times," investigators want the White House to hand over paperwork related to Michael Flynn's financial dealings with the government of Turkey, especially during the final months of last year's presidential campaign. Flynn, of course, is the former Army general who served as Trump's national security adviser for 24 days.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is joining us.
Boris, the part of Robert Mueller's investigation isn't directly related to Russia's election meddling but what is the connection here and why are they interested in the money Michael Flynn might have gotten from Turkey?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Ana. First, the connection. The "New York Times" is reporting Robert Mueller's investigative team is now looking into alleged secret payments between the Russian, or rather the Turkish government and the former national security adviser, allegedly for his lobbying against a political opponent of the Turkish President, Tayyip Recep Erdogan. From what we understand, according to the "New York Times," they have requested, the special counsel, requested from the White House, specific documents pertaining to Michael Flynn and have gone as far as to question witnesses regarding his ties to the Turkish government. This coincides with some of CNN's prior reporting about where this investigation is headed, specifically regarding his ties to foreign governments and his getting paid by foreign governments.
We've reached out to Michael Flynn's attorneys. They've declined to comment on the story. We reached out to the White House's outside counsel, Ty Cobb, who provided a statement in which he said he would not go into detail about the discussions between the White House legal team and Robert Mueller's investigative unit. But he did say that the White House was fully complying in the investigation.
Very important to point out why this matters. In the spring, leaders with the House Oversight Committee, Ana, revealed that Michael Flynn may have broken the law by not revealing these payments from foreign governments in his security clearance forms. And not just from Turkey, but also from RTTV, the Russian news agency.
This gives you an idea of where the investigation is right now. It is just a small slice of what they're looking into regarding Michael Flynn in a much broader investigation -- Ana?
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez, reporting from Washington. Thank you.
Let's get to our panel. With me here in New York, CNN politics reporter, Eugene Scott. Constitutional law professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Gloria Browne-Marshall, the author of "The Voting Rights War: The NAACP and the Ongoing Struggle for Justice." And joining us from Washington, CNN global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier.
Guys, the headline today, "The New York Times" reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked the White House for documents regarding Michael Flynn.
Gloria, what does it indicate about what Mueller might be looking for in terms of going this route in the investigation, and why not use a subpoena to get at these documents?
GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE & AUTHRO: Well, think about this, if they're looking at something that is given, that Michael Flynn did involve himself in an issue with Turkey, that there is some connection there, when we start looking at the statute, what Robert Mueller is able to do, he can look at any matters rising out of the Trump campaign and any collusion with Russia of foreign governments. So when we're looking at this issue, remember, Michael Flynn came under fire because he advised the Trump administration not to follow through with certain military tactics they had in mind because Turkey had asked him to do so. So if you're thinking about what Turkey was able to do through Michael Flynn in the Trump administration, in Syria, maybe there is connection there with Russia and Syria. You don't know where the web is going to go. But you have a given. Michael Flynn did have involvement. He did have an untruth on his forms he completed to get his security clearance. Once you get in that door, you don't know where it is going to take you. It is better to start off with a given and work your way through that than to start to feel around and see if you can find something indirectly.
CABRERA: Kimberly, could all of this have been avoided if Flynn had simply registered as a foreign agent and disclosed his ties to Turkey on his security clearance form?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: A lot of it could have been avoided. But you have to look at the actual registration process and the history of that in Washington, D.C. It's not very well regulated. A lot of people are advised to wait until the very last moment to register. In this case, Flynn's friends tell me that he was in a chaotic campaign and also trying to run his business. And this was the result of inexperience. After he got forced out of the White House and he got really good legal help, it's then that the lawyers said, look, this is a vulnerability, a liability, you need to fill in these forms. Then they started going back and going over everything that he turned in and realizing that he'd made some mistakes that now made him vulnerable in this investigation. His detractors say it was out of arrogance and intentional. That's what the investigators are trying to figure out. It gives them an opportunity to put the screws to Mike Flynn and say, hey, you were in the room when a lot of other things might have been happening, not regarding your own personal situation but with regards to Russia, tell us more.
[15:05:41] CABRERA: Eugene, difficult to keep track of everything, especially if the viewers aren't following this day in and day out. Michael Flynn has been gone from the White House quite some time. Remember, he was the subject of scrutiny at the beginning. He was somebody who James Comey was looking into, given his phone calls and connections with the Russian ambassador.
EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, that's very true. I think what this has proven is that this gentleman, who has been in this administration, who was there for 24 days, has ended up causing more harm after leaving for a longer amount of time than he even was able to influence the president's agenda. The reality is, this investigation is looking to see what more could have happened in terms of finances, in terms of these conversations with the ambassador, that could lead to more information, not just regarding Flynn but other people in the campaign. I think this is what they're hoping will become more clear through more conversations.
CABRERA: Gloria, we've learned a whole lot more about the investigation on Mueller's side, the special counsel. Let's talk about what we learned this week. They're reviewing records related to the Trump organization, his family and his campaign associates. Looking into a list of people, specifically financial records, and the list of people who have bought Trump-branded real estate or live in Trump Towers, going back a half dozen years. If Mueller uncovers a crime that is unrelated to Russia and the election, could it be argued that's outside the scope? What do you do with that?
BROWNE-MARSHALL: This special counsel, under statute, has broad scope. Go back to the Clinton time. They're investigating a land deal, Whitewater, they end up with a scandal involving affair with Monica Lewinsky. You see how broad the scope is? They find perjury because --
CABRERA: Monica Lewinsky wasn't even at the White House when that investigation began.
BROWNE-MARSHALL: Then you see -- that's why I said once they get into what they feel is a known factor, then they begin to follow the money or follow the different episodes or, more importantly, follow the lies. With Monica Lewinsky, it was perjury that was the issue at the very end that led to the impeachment. Nothing to do with the land deal. Nothing to do with what the original purpose was for the investigation.
CABRERA: So, Kim, Republican staff members for the House Intelligence Committee, one of the several investigations going on in Congress right now looking into Russia's election meddling, so Republican staffers with the House committee, Intelligence Committee, who traveled to London earlier this summer in hopes of meeting with the British intelligence officer who compiled the dossier about the ties with the Russian campaign, they didn't end up actually meeting with him. They walked away with nothing, from what we learned. What do you make of this attempt, and the fact that their Democratic counterparts didn't know about this?
DOZIER: It shows the level of distrust between the Republicans and Democrats, at least on that committee, and how hard it is among certain parties on Capitol Hill to work together on this. Were they trying to get information in order to disprove it? Just possibly. The hard part about this is that you've got all of these different committees working, allegedly, towards the same goal, but at crossed purposes. In the meantime, you have the White House trying to get back to the business of doing business. But I suspect that this distraction is going to keep pulling these different sides and different directions. It's going to be --
CABRERA: Sorry to interrupt you. We have breaking news.
A big vote just taken at the U.N. And U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is speaking. Let's listen?
[15:09:27] NIKKI HALEY, U.S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: -- dictator on notice. And this time, the council has matched its words and actions. The resolution we've passed is a strong, united step towards holding North Korea accountable for its behavior. Today, the Security Council increased the penalty of North Korea's missile activity to a whole new level. North Korea's irresponsible and careless acts have just proved to be quite costly to the regime. This resolution is the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime.
The price the North Korean leadership will pay for its continued nuclear and missile development will be the loss of one-third of its exports and hard currency. This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation. These sanctions will cut deep. In doing so, will give the North Korean leadership a taste of the depravation they have chosen to inflict on the North Korean people. Nuclear and ballistic missile development is expensive. The revenues the North Korean government receive are not going towards feeding its people. Instead, the North Korean regime is literally starving its people and enslaving them in mines and factories in order to fund these illegal nuclear programs. Even as famine looms on the horizon, even as the regime continues to ask for international assistance to cope with devastating floods and a possible drought later this year, their displays of aggression take precedence over their own people.
Even as we respond to the North Korean nuclear threat, the United States will continue to stand up for the human dignity and rights of the North Korean people. It is the continued suffering of the North Korean people that should remind the Security Council that while this resolution is a significant step forward, it is not nearly enough.
The threat of an outlaw, nuclearized North Korean dictatorship remains. The unimaginable living conditions of so many of the North Korean people are unchanged. The North Korean regime continues to show widespread violations of human rights go hand in hand with threats to international peace and security.
I thank every one of my colleagues who worked so hard to bring this revolution to a vote. I have previously pointed out that China has a critical role to play on matters related to North Korea. I want to personally thank the Chinese delegation for the important contributions they made to this resolution.
While the Security Council has done good work, the members of the Security Council and all U.N. member states must do more to increase the pressure on North Korea. We must work together to fully implement the sanctions we imposed today, and those imposed in past resolutions. The step we take together today is an important one. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem. Not even close. The North Korean threat has not left us. It is rapidly growing more dangerous. We've seen two ICBMs fired in the last month. Further action is required.
The United States is taking and will continue to take prudent, defensive measures to protect ourselves and our allies. Our annual joint military exercises, for instance, are transparent and defense oriented. They have been carried out regularly and openly for nearly 40 years. They will continue.
Our goal remains a stable Korean peninsula at peace without nuclear weapons. We want only security and prosperity for all nations, including North Korea. Until then, this resolution and prior ones will be implemented to the fullest to maximize pressure on North Korea to its ways -- to change its ways.
Today is a good way at the United Nations. We will need many more such days in order to peacefully resolve the crisis that has been created by North Korea's dangerous and illegal actions. As I've said before, time is short. But today, we have taken one step in the right direction.
Thank you again to my colleagues and their teams for their action and support towards sending a strong message to the North Korean regime.
CABRERA: We're going to breakaway. We just heard from the U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, making those comments following a vote at the U.N. and sanctioning North Korea. We heard her say that it takes the sanctions to a whole new level. I want to bring in senior United Nations correspondent, Richard Roth,
and global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, who is joining us from Washington to discuss.
First to you, Richard.
What did ambassador Haley have to say regarding the North Korean threat? Fill us in?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: She's still saying, despite this resolution, approved unanimously, another round of sanctions against Pyongyang, the threat is growing more. That's what other ambassadors said outside the Security Council. The French ambassador says maximum pressure has to be put on. These sanctions are trying to slice one-third of North Korea's $3 billion export industry away, banning seafood, lead, iron ore, coal, from any shipments. The U.S. saying this is the biggest economic crackdown to date on North Korea. And believe me, they've been hit with a lot of sanctions over the years. Nikki Haley saying it is still just a step. I don't think anyone feels this round is going to curtail North Korea's habit of launching missiles -- Ana?
[15:15:15] CABRERA: Elise, we also heard from the national security adviser, McMaster, this morning, also addressing the North Korean threat. What we heard from Nikki Haley was that further action is required. We heard that in the remarks. We heard McMaster this morning talking about all options being on the table, including a military option.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, I think ultimately, nobody wants, Ana, to launch any type of military action because the consequences against South Korea, against U.S. troops in the region, would really be devastating. So I think what the U.S. is doing is wanting to show a lot of military resolve. Letting the North Koreans know there is very credible nuclear option -- military option, and that President Trump not going to stand for North Korea to have a nuclear weapon that can hit the continental United States.
But at the same time, you have Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his way to manila for meetings with ASEAN members. North Korea will be there. This week, Secretary Tillerson said the U.S. has to protect itself and its allies, but it is ready to talk to the North Koreans if they will show a sign that they're ready to talk, a positive signal.
I think it is a little of both. It is showing the credible military option but, at the same time, showing that the U.S. Does want a diplomatic solution and is ready to talk.
CABRERA: Real quick, Richard, what we have is still this vote. It was unanimous. Was China weighing in?
ROTH: China's ambassador will speak shortly. This resolution only happened because of lengthy discussions and negotiations between China and the U.S. Would Washington have had more stringent sanctions? Yes. But China wouldn't go along with it. They are still allowing oil shipments, precious fuel to get into the country. China and the U.S. compromising again. This has been a tradition after launches now, it seems, for years. You're only going to get the council to agree once China and the U.S., indeed, agree. North Korea, not a member of the Security Council, could appear if it wanted to. No sign of a North Korean diplomat here.
CABRERA: Richard Roth and Elise Labott, our thanks so both of you. We know you're continuing to monitor the ongoing situation while Rex Tillerson is at the region in an Asian summit and the topic of North Korea fresh for discussion.
Ahead in the NEWSROOM, today, who could possibly follow the Mooch? How about a White House policy adviser, days after his heated argument with a CNN reporter? You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:22:06] CABRERA: President Trump is not at the White House this weekend. His administration, however, is still busy with a couple of big but very different issues this weekend. One is the national security adviser's very direct assessment of North Korea's nuclear threat and possible U.S. military action in response to it, which we just previously discussed. But remember, the national security adviser right now is an active duty three-star U.S. Army general.
Now, the other big issue, and personnel development here, is this man, Stephen Miller. News this weekend about his future. Miller could be moving up the ladder in the White House.
That development coming just a couple of days after the senior Trump adviser and CNN's Jim Acosta went back and forth in a rather heated exchange in the White House briefing room. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This whole notion of, well, they could -- they have to learn English before they get to the United States, are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?
STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: Jim, I can honestly say, I am shocked at your statement. That you think only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It actually reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree. That in your mind --
MILLER: No, this is an amazing moment. I just want to say --
ACOSTA: Sounds like you're trying to engineer the ethnic flow of people into this country.
MILLER: That is one of the most outrageous, insulting and foolish things you've ever said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Let's bring in senior media correspondent, Brian shelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" here on CNN on Sundays.
Brian, there's word, apparently, perhaps he could be tapped to fill the position that Scaramucci vacated?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: That's right. Partly, as a broader restructuring of the Communications Department. Maybe Miller won't have the comms director title. Maybe he'll be part of that department trying to get the president's message out and defend the president on TV. There's a lot of balls in the air right now for President Trump with regards to his communications director position and to the other jobs that surround it. There was another departure, one of the assistants left the office. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is brand-new as press secretary. There is a lot unknown about how the president is going to be trying to communicate his message in the future.
Of course, he believes he is his own best spokesman. In many cases, he is. Stephen Miller is an immigration hardliner. He's been an ally of Steve Bannon. He's an ally of Jeff Sessions. He is someone who, at least in the briefing we saw this week, is combative, aggressive. Not just with Jim Acosta but other reporters. If that is the direction Trump wants to go in, continue in that direction, Miller is a logical fit. But John Kelly might want to go in a different direction. There's been talk about John Kelly bringing in the Homeland Security spokesman. A lot is unknown.
CABRERA: This is also the same person who apparently was behind, in many ways, the rollout of that first travel ban that sparked controversy, as well, right? What does that tell us, if he is being considered, if he were to be taking on a larger role in the Communication Department, the type of message and relationship with the press we might actually get?
[15:25:08] STELTER: Yes, I certainly think the president is at a fork in the road when it comes to this. If he is looking for someone who can improve his credibility, looking for someone who can improve his standing game, political capital, try to improve his approval ratings, someone who can create consensus, come from a more moderate position, that might not be Stephen Miller. Miller is a hardliner. He has a lot of fans in conservative media. He plays to the president's base on immigration and other issues. If the president wants someone to can't pick fights with press, do battle from the podium, defend him on television at all costs, that may be Stephen Miller. Maybe Miller may be a larger restructuring of the communications operation.
So far, this president wants to focus on his base, on the 33 percent to 38 percent of the country who approves of him, as opposed to trying to appeal to the rest of the country that does not. The best example of that, Ana, is what the president didn't do before he went on vacation yesterday. He didn't hold a press conference. Often times, Barack Obama, before going to Hawaii or Martha's Vineyard, would hold a press conference, remind the country of what's going on. Press conferences are about appealing to everybody because they're broadcast by all the major networks. Instead, President Trump holds rallies, appealing to his base, without having press conferences. He's had one in his first 200 days in office.
CABRERA: Let me ask you though -- we're going to talk more about this with our next guest -- but your quick take on John Kelly coming in. And have we seen a more disciplined president in terms of message this week?
STELTER: If you look at President Trump's Twitter feed, he's been back on message, not creating distractions, trying to tout the economy, promote good news. President Trump is using his Twitter megaphone, I think, the way many Americans would like him to. Not picking fights, not complaining about Jeff Sessions, not decrying the fake news as much as he used to. I think we're seeing a little bit of a difference. I'm not sure how long it'll last.
CABRERA: We don't know if it's flipped.
Brian Stelter, always good to see you.
CABRERA: We'll see you here later in the hours. Thanks again.
He has been tasked with shaking up and shaping up the White House. In week one, General John Kelly made pretty big decisions on how to run the West Wing under Trump. Can his new style turn things around? We'll discuss with an expert on White House chiefs of staff, next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:31:41] CABRERA: General John Kelly is making his mark six days into his new job as White House chief of staff. Right now, General Kelly is with the president on his working vacation at Trump's golf resort in New Jersey.
Kelly has been tasked with bringing discipline and order inside the Trump White House after a chaotic staff shakeup. During Kelly's first week, President Trump's tweets have been noticeably focused on promoting his administration's successes and his agenda.
Let's talk this over with Chris Whipple, author of "The Gatekeepers, How White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency."
Chris, good to see you.
CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR: Thanks for having me. CABRERA: General Kelly seems to be taking command. Let's go over
what he's done. He fired Anthony Scaramucci, first bold move. He called A.G. Jeff Sessions to say his job was safe, after all the speculation, even after the president went after Sessions on Twitter in remarks. All White House personnel are now reporting to Kelly. That includes Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
WHIPPLE: At least during working hours.
CABRERA: How big of a deal is it, that he is, apparently, the go-to guy for everybody?
WHIPPLE: I think it is -- with Kelly, it is good news/bad news. The good news is he is running a tighter ship. Everybody expected that. Seems to be a chain of command where there wasn't before. All of that is good.
Here's the bad news. The bad news is that that's not even half the battle as White House chief of staff. Now comes the really hard part. Which is Donald Trump.
Let's assume for the moment that Trump learned the big lesson of the first six months, which is that you cannot govern without empowering a White House chief. Let's assume he's done it. The second big lesson, which he has not learned, as far as anybody can tell, is you cannot -- governing is nothing like campaigning. Trump has yet to learn that lesson. He's trying to govern as though he were still running for president.
CABRERA: Look at the rally he had on Thursday, right? It was a campaign-style rally.
WHIPPLE: The last six months are proof that it doesn't work. You cannot simply bluster and tweet and threaten your way to get legislation passed or anything else important. So I think that Kelly's big job now is he's going to have to help Trump govern.
You know, Reagan's final chief of staff used to say about Ronald Reagan, what Reagan understood is that when you're campaigning, you try to annihilate your opponent. When you're governing, you have to make love to your opponent. You have to form coalitions. There's no indication that Trump understands that.
CABRERA: But it does seem like there's some indication that he wants to be liked by his generals. He puts it, my general. Let's give examples here. Right now, for example, he's with the president in Bedminster. This is during a vacation.
WHIPPLE: That's a start.
CABRERA: He briefed the president on the missing Marine helicopter we learned about the three missing Marines. That's still an ongoing search-and-rescue operation near Australia. It's also reported that in terms of the inner workings inside the White House, Trump is trying to impress, and acting sharper in his meetings. Meetings have been shorter. They stick to the topic. It's clear Kelly is in charge.
WHIPPLE: Again, as I say, being White House chief of staff and governing is more than making the trains run on time in the White House. Yes, that's a great first step. That's --
CABRERA: You talked about Trump changing. It sounds like perhaps this is an example of the change.
WHIPPLE: How many days has it been? We'll see.
I mean, I think Kelly, by the way, I think has made rookie mistakes.
CABRERA: In what way?
[15:35:10] WHIPPLE: And I think one of them is allowing Stephen Miller anywhere near a television camera. That is just a -- he's a Pitbull. He belongs on a leash. It just doesn't work to declare war against the media when you're trying to govern. Great during the campaign. It worked during the campaign for Donald Trump. Richard Nixon went down this road as president. Didn't end well.
I think also, you know, I think this obsession with leaks by Trump is all too reminiscent of Richard Nixon. That is how Watergate began. He was so obsessed with, you know, getting dirt on Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, that that led to the creation of the plumbers. It led to the break-in of Ellsberg's psychiatrist office. Led to the break-in at the DNC. If Kelly has a sense of history, he doesn't want to go down that road.
CABRERA: It seems he is in tune with image and having a White House that is a little bit more disciplined, that can function more efficiently.
Here's another example we've seen this week. A change in the president's behavior. That is, President Trump put out a message just last night about McMaster, H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, there had been speculation about whether his job was on the line. There have been growing sentiment among the right-wing media, in particular, criticizing H.R. McMaster, yet the president put out a statement defending McMaster. Could that be the hallmark of John Kelly saying you need to get out in front --
CABRERA: -- of this palace intrigue story?
WHIPPLE: It might be. It might be.
CABRERA: As opposed to allowing the questions to swirl?
WHIPPLE: It might be. If so, that's encouraging. What's not encouraging, they're talking about promoting someone like Stephen Miller. What's not --
CABRERA: I can tell you're skeptical.
WHIPPLE: What's not encouraging is the fact that Trump has still yet to learn that there's any difference between campaigning and governing. Look, he's not the first president, in fairness. Presidents come into power full of hubris, intoxicated by their political electoral victory. This president perhaps more than any other. They often make the mistake of thinking that it's the same thing. That you're the smartest person in the room and that you know how to get things done. The six months has shown that Trump has no idea and he needs a lot of help from Kelly to do it.
CABRERA: Thanks so much, Chris Whipple. Great to get your insight.
WHIPPLE: Thanks for having me.
CABRERA: Still ahead, Mueller's probe now using a grand jury in the Russia investigation. But what does this mean for the case? And will it speed up the investigation? What does a grand jury do? What are their powers? We'll discuss live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:42:00] CABRERA: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has issued grand jury subpoenas focus on the meeting last summer at Trump Tower between the president's son, top campaign advisers, and a Russian lawyer and other Russians. Mueller is seeking testimony from all the people inside the meeting. This, as "The New York Times" is reporting Mueller wants White House documents on fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's ties to Turkey.
Lots of talk this week about grand juries. It can get confusing, especially in a case this complicated.
I want to bring in CNN legal analyst, Danny Cevallos, to break down what all this means.
Danny, let's start with explaining what a grand jury does, how it's different from a trial jury.
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's not that different in makeup. Grand in this context means large. The small juries you see at trials are actually called petit juries. They're small juries. They are very, very different from a trial jury in that they are proceedings conducted in secret. And they are primarily used by U.S. attorneys in the federal arena to investigate and to indict. In fact, every grand jury has the power to both investigate and indict. There's really no such thing as a purely investigative grand jury.
They're also a one-sided show. They are all the prosecutor. There's not even a judge present. It is the prosecutor, no defense attorneys. The prosecutor presents evidence. They subpoena witnesses to testify. They can subpoena documents, as well. That second part about subpoenaing documents is very powerful because witnesses can assert the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Documents, it is a lot harder to assert the privilege.
CABRERA: So if a grand jury is used, why do you need a grand jury to subpoena the documents to have witnesses testify?
CEVALLOS: U.S. attorneys love grand juries but they use them primarily as investigative tools and then get an indictment. They come in early in an investigation because of the grand power that a grand jury has to get documents, to get evidence. It is really unparalleled in our system. They can compel anyone, even the target of an investigation, to come before them and testify. Now, that witness --
CABRERA: They don't need a search warrant? They don't need probable cause?
CEVALLOS: No, no. There is a general rule against introducing evidence that's obtained in violation of someone's constitutional rights but they can subpoena anyone, even the defendant. The defendant may assert the Fifth Amendment. Usually, we assert it before the hearing and try to get it excused. But they have the power to call virtually anybody and anything before them to investigate.
CABRERA: Who decides? Is it the grand jury deciding where this investigation is going, who they're calling, or are they nudged a certain way? Is it the prosecutor, Robert Mueller, for example, saying, we want to talk to this person, can you issue a subpoena?
CEVALLOS: Historically, grand juries, in our colonial times, were designed to be both a sword and a shield. In other words, they could indict people like a sword, but they were also supposed to shield the rest of us from overzealous prosecutors who were out of control. In modern times, jaded defense attorneys, like me, and even some federal judges have observed that's no longer the case. Grand juries will pretty much do whatever a federal prosecutor wants them to do. In fact, the numbers are overwhelming. The vast majority of grand juries, when a prosecutor seeks an indictment, they get an indictment. So the old, historical notion of the grand jury acting as a bulwark against vindictive prosecution is not in existence anymore. Although, in fairness, U.S. attorneys might disagree with my characterization. But on the whole, that's how it works. Ultimately, neither judge, nor prosecutor is present in the grand jury chamber when they deliberate. Like petit juries, they deliberate on their own.
[15:45:53] CABRERA: They decide if there is going to be an indictment?
CEVALLOS: In theory. They have been persuaded all along by a nice, persuasive U.S. attorney.
Let me ask you this question. We've heard this is an investigation, given its complexity, that could last months, even years. Would the same grand jury be expected to work the entirety of the investigation? CEVALLOS: In ordinary cases, there is a sitting grand jury around the
clock in a district. That grand jury hears any number of different cases, federal white-collar cases, other federal crimes. But in this case, a special -- and I shouldn't use the word special -- but a specially convened grand jury, because the special grand jury is a different animal and can issue reports. I don't think that's what we're dealing with here. The specially convened grand jury makes sense. First, you have to make sure the people have no conflicts of interest. Second, they're going to have to dedicate themselves to a very, very complex case involving all of these investigations into all of these different records and witnesses. So it makes sense to specially convene a grand jury that is dedicated just to these issues.
CABRERA: All right. Danny Cevallos, thank you very much for helping a layman like me understand all of this.
President Trump said vacations would not be part of a presidency. That's what he said. Right now, he's on a 17-daybreak. How does that compare with the previous occupants of the White House, going back past administrations? We'll break it down live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:51:48] CABRERA: President Trump tees off a 17-day vacation today at the New Jersey golf course. What a difference a year makes. Candidate Trump took some big swings at President Obama, accusing him of rampant golfing and vacation time. That was before he smashed his predecessor's record.
Ryan Nobles has more on whether the president is out of bounds.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, President Trump's vacation plans aren't all that different from past presidents. The big difference, of course, is how he hammered his predecessor before he got the job.
(voice-over): Before becoming president, Donald Trump predicted that vacations would not be a big part of his presidency.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I promise you, I will not be taking very long vacations, if I take them at all. There's no time for vacations.
NOBLES: But now he's in office, this president, like many before him, has embarked on an extended time away from Washington. But not necessarily away from the job.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You never escape the presidency. It travels with you everywhere you go.
NOBLES: Presidential summer vacations are nothing new. Teddy Roosevelt would escape the nation's capital to hunt out west. Ronald Reagan would ride horseback at his retreat in California. George H.W. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you talked to the White House situation room yet sir?
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I talked to them at every morning at 5:30. And I'm not going to take any more comments up here.
NOBLES: As for Bill Clinton, he'd sometimes travel the country with his family.
And while presidents received criticism for decades for their time outside the Oval Office --
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I recommend it.
NOBLES: -- the scrutiny really stepped up during the George W. Bush administration.
GEORGE W. BUSH: I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers.
Thank you. Now watch this drive.
NOBLES: According to CBS White House correspondent, Mark Knoller, who tracks presidential vacations, Bush made 77 trips to his Crawford ranch over the course of his eight years in office.
Bush, like many other presidents, argued that getting out of the White House bubble was a good thing.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Life is a series of contrasts. And I like it here a lot. I really do. I'm in my element here. It's just -- we really like it. But I also like, you know, I wouldn't have run for president if I didn't like the challenge.
NOBLES: President Obama faced similar criticism as he embarked on annual trips to Martha's Vineyard and Hawaii.
OBAMA: And now I'm going on vacation.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
NOBLES: And now as President Trump heads out on his first summer vacation, he'll likely be on the receiving end of those same critiques he made before taking office.
TRUMP: I love working. I'm not a vacation guy. Right? Like Obama.
NOBLES (on camera): And despite his promise to not vacation all that much, President Trump is pretty much on track with the presidents that came before him. According to Mark Knoller, President Trump has spent 41 days on vacation up until this point in his presidency. At the same points in their presidencies, Barack Obama had spent 21 days, and Bush spent 67 days out of town -- Ana?
[15:55:03] CABRERA: Ryan Nobles, thank you.
Much more ahead.
But first, at 14, this week's "CNN Hero," Mariuma Ben Yosef, was living alone on the streets. And after years of struggle, she managed to create a stable life. And now for the past 13 years -- 32 years, I should say, she's dedicated that life to helping vulnerable youth in Israel, providing them with not only a safe haven but something more, a family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIUMA BEN YOSEF, CNN HERO: To be homeless at the young age it's very lonely. When you don't have your family, it's all a black hole.
BEN YOSEF: I know what they're going through. I want children to breathe. I want them to feel alive. I want them to feel secure. I want them to feel they can hugged and not be in danger. We can see it in a different way and win life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: To see how Mariuma helps the young adults, go to cnnheroes.com. And while there, nominate someone that you think should be a 2017 "CNN Hero."