Return to Transcripts main page


North Korea Facing Harsh New U.N. Sanctions; Stephen Miller Eyed for Communications Role; Who Had the Worst Week in Washington?; Grand Jury Subpoenas Issues in Russia Probe; President Trump Tees Off 17-day Visit to Golf Course; Terror in the Sky. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 5, 2017 - 20:00   ET


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

We begin with the breaking news today. Extraordinary response to punish North Korea for its nuclear threat. The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved harsh new sanctions against the regime uniting to punish it for its recent ballistic missile and nuclear testing.

Now President Trump just reacted on Twitter, he said moments ago, quote, "The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 to sanction North Korea. China and Russia voted with us. Very big financial impact."

And this, quote, "The United Nations resolution is the single largest economic sanctions package ever on North Korea, over $1 billion in costs to North Korea."

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nicky Haley says today's actions are a gut punch to North Korea, and I spoke with her just a short time ago.


CABRERA: Is preemptive military action on the table right now?

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: That is all up to North Korea. At this point they really have some serious decisions to make. What I will tell you from the United States' perspective is we're prepared to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves and to defend our allies. And the ball is in North Korea's court. They now have to decide where they want to go from here.

We hope that they will go the route of peace and security. We hope that they will go the route of focusing on human rights and feeding their people. We hope that they'll go the route of stopping modern slavery that they do in terms of sending laborers overseas and then taking the money from that situation. But again, all this now is in North Korea's court and we'll see how they respond.

CABRERA: Well, we've seen how they respond to the sanctions in the past. And that is more aggressive action. Kim Jong-un is accused of orchestrating the murder of his own brother. Can sanctions or diplomacy stop him? HALEY: Well, you know, I think we did what we could in the U.N. and

that was basically speak with one voice. He is now on an island. North Korea now has to look at the rest of the world and see that they are all telling him to stop this reckless activity and they need to respond to that. And they need to respond in a good way.

We want to see peace and security on the Korean peninsula. We want to see responsibility come back in. What we've seen is a reckless dictator who has been paranoid, who has been irresponsible, and who has continued to make his own interests over the interests of his people. And I think that this is now going to see what they are going to do in response.

But to have China stand with us along with Japan and North Korea and the rest of the international community telling North Korea to do this, it's pretty impactful. This was a strong day in the U.N. This was a strong day for the United States. It was a strong day for the international community. It was not a good day for North Korea.


CABRERA: Now the world is reacting to these new sanctions against North Korea, approved in that unanimous vote today at the U.N. Security Council.

Our Alexandra Field is live in Seoul, South Korea now.

And Alexandra, what is the reaction you're seeing there to these new sanctions facing South Korea's neighbor to the north?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, naturally the South Korean government is coming out in strong support for these sanctions. They see this as another united show of the world's unwillingness to allow North Korea to continue the development of its nuclear missile program.

The statement that we're seeing from officials this morning very much echoes the sentiments that the South Korean government put forward just last week when President Donald Trump signed another bill into law including U.S. sanctions against North Korea.

The South Korean government of course strongly supports the idea of diplomatic efforts that would help resolve the tension here on the North Korea -- the tension here on the Korean peninsula, rather. They are of course strong proponents of economic sanctions that could help achieve steps toward path of denuclearization. And they are strong proponents of open dialogue.

What South Korea does not want to see, of course, is the threat of military action or the possibility of any kind of military conflict because they are the ones who stand to be hurt the worst in that equation, of course. So while you do have the U.S. pursuing many trajectories when it comes to trying to resolve this crisis, the word that military options on the table and also the pursuit of sanctions and dialogue, this is very much the direction that South Korea would want this to move in. Strong proponents of course of sanctions on North Korea.

CABRERA: Of course it was just last month when we saw not one but two launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles by North Korea. How exactly do we expect the North Korean regime to respond to these new sanctions?

FIELD: Look, they usually register their discontent, to put it mildly, pretty quickly, Ana. And as you pointed out in your interview with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., you know, North Korea does see these kinds of sanctions as provocation and they are typically quick to respond to that.

The regime has made it clear that those two ICBM tests that were launched just back in July were in fact a response to what they see as military pressure and also extreme sanctions against them. That is likely the position that they will take again. So that brings us to the question, can sanctions ever be effective?

You've seen so many rounds of sanctions taken against North Korea. You're seeing a lot of optimism about this round of sanctions, so many saying that this comes with an incredible amount of economic heft, that this will have a strong economic burden on North Korea that, you know, optimists would say could help to force cooperation.

[20:05:12] But you've got to weigh the equation here, and what we know about this regime is that they prioritize their nuclear and their missile program seemingly above all else. Kim Jong-un has said he will not barter over the matter of a nuclear weapon. He sees this as a key to regime's survival.

So will cutting off North Korea economically to a greater extend serve to stop the development of this nuclear missile program? That's really yet to be seen. But all indications from this regime is that they will do what they need to do in order to achieve the goal that they have, which is an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. equipped with a nuclear warhead. That's the reality from them -- Ana.

CABRERA: Alexandra Field in Seoul, South Korea. Thank you.

And we have this just in to CNN. A search for three missing U.S. Marines involved in a training mishap in Australia has now been called off. We are told the U.S. Military was carrying out these training exercises with the Australian military off the country's eastern coast when a U.S. Osprey aircraft, the helicopter, went into the water near Shoal Water Bay.

Now officials say 26 service members were on board, 23 were rescued. Crews will begin trying to retrieve the wrecked aircraft in the coming days, but again three members remain missing tonight.

So the president is away for the next 17 days, but back at the White House there could be some more moving and shaking. There's talk that Stephen Miller may get a promotion.

This is who we're talking about. He is a senior policy adviser to the president, he's now under consideration for a high-level communications job. This coming just days after Miller's heated exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta during a White House briefing. Watch.


STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It's actually -- it reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind -- no, this is an amazing -- this is an amazing moment. I just want to say --

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like you're trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country with this policy.

MILLER: That was one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you've ever said.


CABRERA: Let's bring in our senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter.

And, Brian, again, Miller in the spotlight now. We know he is somebody who has not strayed from controversy in the past. What's the word on what kind of position he's going to move into?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think bringing in someone like Miller into the communications shop would mean the president wants more of what we just saw, more of those combative exchanges.

Miller is a relatively young staffer. He was a Capitol Hill to Jeff Sessions who really rose to this prominent position now in the Trump White House largely on his views about immigration, about a hard line conservative policies. He is pugnacious, he is certainly aggressive in the media appearances we've seen him do.

And the president apparently really appreciates that. He reportedly loved the back and forth between Miller and Acosta, and he wants to have folks like Miller on television defending him basically no matter what. So if that's what the president wants, Miller might be someone to bring into the communications shop to help do that.

The job of comms director is vacant since Anthony Scaramucci was forced out. It was a hard job to fill in the first place. It's going to be even harder now that Scaramucci is gone. So maybe Miller, he could end up being part of a broader restructuring of the department. We'll see what Trump ends up doing.

CABRERA: Or the president could just speak on his own behalf. He says he believes he's the greatest message and yet he hasn't held a solo press conference in weeks. In fact the last time that he had one of these was when James Comey was still the FBI director and that was when --


CABRERA: I think the White House just introduced their health care proposal. That was ages ago.

STELTER: Absolutely right. And it's interesting now because the president is off on his August vacation and frequently in the past we've seen presidents hold a press conference before jetting off on vacation for a while.

So this is another example of the president breaking with past presidential tradition. Normally at this point in a person's basically first 200 days as president, anywhere between three and like 20 press conferences --


CABRERA: When you go back the last half dozen administration?

STELTER: Exactly. But this president only had one solo press conference. It matters because we're not actually hearing him answer questions from journalists in that setting. It's another example of his hostility toward the media.

CABRERA: Since you are our chief media correspondent, I want to ask you about some big news in the media world right now. FOX News and a new controversy involving one of their hosts.

STELTER: That's right. Eric Bolling, who's actually one of the most pro-Trump hosts on the channel, a favorite of President Trump, President Trump among other things promoted Bolling's new book called "The Swamp." Bolling is a commentator on the 5:00 p.m. hour. He had a show kind of built around him recently.

But FOX has suspended him this evening. Because of the story in the "Huffington Post" alleging that a number of years ago he sent inappropriate pictures to some colleagues. Now his lawyer denies that. They say they're cooperating with the investigation. That they want to get this cleared up and they want to get him back on the air.

[20:10:06] But as you know, it's not the first time we've heard of a FOX star, you know, accused of harassment, accused of improper behavior, whether that was the head of the network, Roger Ailes this time last year, or Bill O'Reilly in the spring. There's another FOX anchor right now actually, Charles Payne, who's suspended because of harassment allegations.

So here's Eric Bolling, the 5:00 p.m. host, now benched. We don't know for how long but suspended for now as this investigation goes on.

CABRERA: Are these allegations just bubbling to the surface? Because it sounds like he's accused of doing this years ago.

STELTER: Yes, according to the "Huffington Post," several years ago they're citing sources who say that a number of women at FOX News received these inappropriate messages, these inappropriate pictures from Bolling, it came several years ago. The difference now is that news outlets found it and wrote about it. This is a rumor that was inside FOX< but had not reached public view until last night. So FOX taking some steps today signaling they're taking it seriously by having a law firm investigate it, and by keeping him off the air now.

CABRERA: And before I let you go, I want to get your reaction to the new "Newsweek" cover. Let's show it to our viewers.


STELTER: It's an interesting story, yes.

CABRERA: The picture speaks more than the words really. He's in a Lazy Boy recliner, some junk food, a remote, the magazine noted in the past six months he has passed very little major legislation when it comes to his big agenda that he had promised the American people. Instead spending time this weekend on the golf course. And he's gone to many of his golf courses on the weekends as we know.

STELTER: That's right. "Newsweek" being deliberately provocative here trying to get attention, and maybe some sell magazines, but definitely getting attention. They're making a point I think a lot of Americans agree with, though, that this president has not accomplished as much as he'd promised. The president touts his economic numbers, that is the main thing he's been promoting lately. But now he's beginning this 17-day vacation.

CABRERA: And to his credit, we have seen him get one million jobs added since the beginning of his presidency.


CABRERA: Economists can argue about whether his policies or he himself has really been the impetus of those.


CABRERA: But nonetheless --

STELTER: More Americans are working. But "Newsweek" says he's being lazy.

CABRERA: 4.3 percent.

STELTER: It's notable tonight the president is tweeting saying, "I'm not on vacation," on his first full day at Bedminster. He's going to be there for more than two weeks. Seems like he has a messaging problem trying to say he's not on vacation. He's hard at work there. He says he's going to be having lots of meetings. But I think the best way we'll know is via instagram and Twitter. There's folks out the golf course today taking pictures with him, taking pictures as he's out in the course, driving around on the golf resort. So maybe our eyes and ears at the golf course over the next couple of weeks will be the local who are there, playing golf and having weddings at Bedminster.

CABRERA: All right. Brian Stelter, always good to see you. STELTER: Thanks.

CABRERA: Don't forget to tune in to Brian's show tomorrow "RELIABLE SOURCES" at 11:00 a.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Now think back over the past few days. Who would you say had the worst week in Washington? Well, here's a hint. It's probably one of these three. Our political reporter Chris Cillizza and our editor-at- large at CNN Politics has his pick and he'll tell us why next.


[20:17:09] CABRERA: You've heard it all before, firing, leaked phone calls, embarrassing revelations. Now the Russia investigation is heating up and so is the president. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller defying warnings not to go there, following the money, issuing the first grand jury subpoenas linked to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Joining us for more insight into this week that was, CNN Politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

So, Chris, I want to get your take on who had the worst week in Washington. But first let's take a quick look back. We saw a new chief of staff take over, Anthony Scaramucci ousted after that crazy interview. Trump back where he likes it, rallying his base at a campaign-style rally.

Based on how the president and his team operated his week, has John Kelly come in and changed things?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, I think he has a little bit, Ana. Donald Trump kept tweeting this past week, but it wasn't the sort of explosive Twitter that we have seen from Donald Trump. Largely touting his accomplishments, talking about the economy, trying to draw attention to things that are good stories for him, the stock market going over 22,000, jobs report, some immigration numbers.

This is what -- if you're a conventional thinker, this is what Donald Trump should be doing with his gigantic 34 million or so Twitter formals. He should be pushing out that are good news for him, not necessarily talking about Russia, the media, or other anchors on cable TV.

And he did that this week. We also saw some order being brought to the White House. Closing the Oval Office door, which seems dumb and trivial but is important so people can't just walk in and see the president, making sure that John Kelly is sitting in on meetings between the president and Cabinet secretaries, trying to regulate how communication goes both to the president and from the president, which is actually a big step.

CABRERA: And even as we learned that the Russia investigation is broadening, a grand jury impaneled and apparently requesting documents and witness testimony, the president may have held his tongue for a few days, but then on Thursday he proved once again he can't help but talk about Russia.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania? Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians? They can't beat us at the voting booths, so they're trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want. They're trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us, and demeaning to our country and demeaning to our constitution.


CABRERA: We heard him at that rally making a political argument against the Russia investigation. Do you see this as a new strategy?

[20:20:05] CILLIZZA: Yes, very interesting. While he did kind of restrain himself on Twitter, I think when in front of a large largely adoring crowd in West Virginia and buoyed by the fact that Jim Justice, the governor of the state, had decided to switch from Democrat to Republican, which he announced that night and credit it at least in part to Donald Trump, I don't think the president could resist.

CABRERA: So now the president is on the 17-day vacation. Congress is back home for the August recess. Tell us who had the worst week in Washington?

CILLIZZA: So you mentioned it earlier and I do think we tend to forget because these weeks feel like months. But it was only on Monday that Anthony Scaramucci was jettisoned as White House communications director by John Kelly, one of the shortest stints, I think the shortest stint, in that job ever. Ten days, 10 days filled with controversy --

CABRERA: And yet his firing feels like ages ago now.

CILLIZZA: I mean, it does. And you say Anthony Scaramucci, and you think, hmm, when was that? Last week? No, it was Monday. Even Scaramucci's attempt to sort of image burnishing trying to recover he was supposed to do later -- late this week on Friday, he was supposed to do a live event that we had heard was being produced by Bill Shine, the former FOX News executive, he went on cancelling that on Thursday, saying I'm going to focus on my family and keep the focus on the president.

So I think Anthony Scaramucci will be back in our national consciousness. I don't think he's going to disappear. "Saturday Night Live" will be back in September. I don't think they'll be able to resist a little bit of the Mooch. But he is someone who was very close to Donald Trump, a personal friend, someone brought in to sort of change the course and direction of this White House, and gone after so quick a tenure.

Not a good moment for Anthony Scaramucci and the worst -- I could say worst 10 days, but since I do the worst week, we'll give him the worst week.

CABRERA: All right. Chris Cillizza, always good to see you, my friend. Thank you so much.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: We'll be right back.


[20:26:07] CABRERA: The investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia just moved a lot closer to the White House. Investigators have now formally asked the White House to turn over documents remitted to former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.

This is according to "The New York Times." We are told the FBI was already investigating Flynn's action during the campaign even before a special counsel was appointed. But this is now the first time that we know of that the White House has ever been asked to turn over documents related to his time there.

And this development comes just shortly after CNN learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is widening his probe and digging into President Trump's business dealing including those of his family and associates.

CNN's Pamela Brown has more now on the expansion of this investigation.


TRUMP: Does anyone really believe that story?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Russia investigation continues to widen. As federal investigators explored the potential financial ties that President Trump and associates to Russia.

Sources tell CNN, financial links could offer more concrete pad to any potential prosecution. Investigators are delving in to possible financial crimes including some unconnected to the election.

For the president, that's going too far. He's warned that delving into his businesses is a, quote, "violation." Trump has maintained there's no collusion and he has no financial ties to Russia.

TRUMP: And I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia, I have no loans in Russia, I don't have any deals in Russia.

BROWN: Now, one year into those complex probes, the FBI has reviewed financial records related to the Trump Organization, the president himself as well as his family members, and campaign associates.

The CNN has told investigators have combed through the list of shell companies and buyers of Trump branded real estate property. They've scrutinized the roster of tenants at Trump Tower and Manhattan, reaching back several years. And officials familiar with the investigation tells CNN Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has examined the backgrounds of Russian business associates connected to Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Moscow, it's Miss Universe 2013.

BROWN: Dating back to the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant he hosted in Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you to Aras Agalarov and the Focus Group for their amazing hospitality.

BROWN: CNN could not determine whether the review has included Trump's tax returns. But even investigative leads that had nothing to do with Russia but involved Trump associates are being referred to the special counsel to encourage subjects of the investigation to cooperate.

TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt.

BROWN: President Trump, keenly aware of the increased financial focus regularly denounces the investigation.

TRUMP: Russia is fake news. This is fake news put out by the media.

BROWN: Trump's team, seeking the limit Mueller's investigation.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's point is that he doesn't want the special counsel to move beyond the scope and outside of its mission. And the president's been very clear, as have his accountants and team that he has no financial dealings with Russia. And so I think we've extremely clear on that.

BROWN: CNN has learned new details about how Mueller is running his special counsel team. More than three dozen attorneys, FBI agents, and support staff. Experts in investigating fraud and financial crimes, broken into groups, focused separately on collusion and obstruction of justice.

There is also a focus on targets like Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, and General Michael Flynn, his fired National Security adviser. CNN has learned that investigators became more suspicious of Manafort when they turned up intercepted communications that U.S. intelligence agencies collected among suspected Russian operatives, discussing their efforts to work with Manafort to coordinate information that could hurt Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House, according to U.S. officials.

[20:30:02] In Flynn's case, the focus is now on his lobbying work for the Turkish government, which he failed to initially disclose as required by law.

While both men deny any wrongdoing, the approach to the Manafort and Flynn probes may offer a template for how the focus by investigators on possible financial crimes could help gain leverage and cooperation in the investigation.

(On camera): The president's attorney Jay Sekulow said to CNN in a statement, quote, "The president's outside legal counsel has not received any request for documentation or information about this. Any inquiry from the special counsel that goes beyond the mandate specified in the appointment we would object to."

And for context, investigators don't have to go directly to the president's lawyers to get financial information. Investigators can issue subpoenas to financial institution and get records from the Treasury Department.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: Thanks, Pamela.

Let's bring in our panel. And joining us, CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangapa. Asha is also the associate dean of Yale Law School and a former agent in the FBI. And Jennifer Rubin, Jennifer writes "Right Turn" blog for "The Washington Post."

Asha, one of the big threats tonight that Mueller is asking the White House for documents on Flynn, not the campaign, but the White House. What do you make of that?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it tells me that they are looking for something specific. In other words, they probably honed in on a crime or some sets of crimes that they want to get more information on, and they're probably looking for any kind of communications about possible exchanges concerning payments, agreements between individuals, or possibly just evidence of knowledge that certain kinds of connections were taking place.

CABRERA: Jennifer, the president of course has fought to protect Flynn really from the beginning, former FBI director James Comey testified back in February President Trump asked him to drop the FBI's investigation into Flynn. Is this likely, this new development likely to hit home for the president?

JENNIFER RUBIN, RIGHT TURN BLOG, WASHINGTON POST: I think it is. I've always thought it was very peculiar for a presidents who would fire multiple campaign chiefs, who has let go of a good number of very loyal staff, who harangued and harangued poor Jeff Sessions would be so concerned about the prosecution of Michael Flynn.

And you have to think that Flynn knows things. Flynn is in the midst of the transition. Flynn did begin his very short tenure at NSA. So you have to think that he is a key player in this and it may be that he's a key player because, as some said, because of his connections to Turkey, it may be because of those conversations that he didn't reveal. It may be because he did not -- was not forthcoming with the FBI when they questioned him.

So there are a lot of different avenues and perhaps Michael Flynn is sort of the hub in the middle of this and the spokes go out from there.

CABRERA: Asha, we also learned this week that Robert Mueller has started issuing grand jury subpoenas. What do you think is more consequential, the grand jury or the request of these documents from Flynn from the White House?

RANGAPPA: Well, the grand jury subpoenas that were issued this week were coming out of a grand jury that was convened in Washington. And the Flynn subpoenas were for the White House were coming out of a grand jury that's in Virginia. So the Washington -- the new grand jury is just an indication that this is expanding.

Now this is probably still in the early stages. It would be normal at this point to collect more evidence. Right. So they want possibly financial records, they want people to come in and testify under oath, to get more information, and they're going to use that to proceed. So this is going to be one stage of many as I explained to some people.

If this were a TV drama, season one TV drama, this might be episode four. So stay tuned. There's more coming. But this is definitely an expansion because it's a separate grand jury than the one that it was convened for Michael Flynn.

CABRERA: Jennifer, do you know why there are multiple grand juries?

RUBIN: There are a lot of theories about this. One is that they really are focusing on the process charges or potential charges, perjury, obstruction of justice. Those crimes, if there were any crimes, were committed within the District of Columbia, at the White House. So eventually you would have to have an indictment and charges brought in Washington, D.C. So that's one explanation that those crimes play a very central role.

Another is just a convenience factor that that's where the special prosecutors are, that's where a lot of their witnesses are, makes things go faster and more smoothly. And then there's another suggestion that perhaps there's something about being in Washington that would be a more favorable venue for an eventual trial.

[20:35:05] Either the jury pool or other conditions, there have been a lot of political trials in Washington, D.C. They often do not go well for the defendants.

CABRERA: Asha, do you think it's possible or even likely the president would be subpoenaed by the grand jury to testify?

RANGAPPA: He could be. Now Kenneth Starr did subpoena Bill Clinton and got him to testify under oath. I think that would be a very later step just because of the basis that you would need to want to take that step, even if you kind of met the legal threshold, I would think that even Mueller would want kind of something airtight to really justify taking that step. But it could be possible in this situation if the president has information to offer.

Now we should remember that anyone who is called to testify under oath can take the Fifth. In a grand jury subpoena, they can't have their lawyers present, and so sometimes a grand jury subpoena individual who's subpoenaed will negotiate with the prosecutors, Mueller in this case, to do an interview separately with the lawyer present and with an FBI agent there. So -- and the FBI agent being present still means that they can't lie. It would still be a crime to lie, but they would be able to have an attorney present. So there are a lot of different permutations that could happen going forward but I don't think the president is completely off limits.

CABRERA: We've got to leave it there. Asha Rangappa and Jennifer Rubin, always great to talk with you both. Thank you.

RANGAPPA: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, it's being called a summer break, but the president is saying not so fast. Why Trump is calling this a working weekend.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:41:00] CABRERA: President Trump tees off a 17-day trip to his New Jersey golf course today, and he wants you to know he is not on vacation. Tweeting this just a short time ago, "Working in Bedminster, New Jersey, as long-planned construction is being done at the White House. This is not a vacation. Meetings and calls."

Now remember as candidate Trump he took some big swings at President Obama, accusing him of rampant golfing and vacation time.

Ryan Nobles has more on whether the president is out of bounds.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. You know, that President Trump's vacation plans really aren't all that different from past presidents. The big difference of course is how he hammered his predecessor before he got the job.


NOBLES (voice-over): Before becoming president, Donald Trump predicted that vacations would not be a big part of his presidency.

TRUMP: I promise you I will not be taking very long vacations if I take them at all. There's no time for vacation.

NOBLES: But now that 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 OF AMERICA: You never escape the presidency. It travels with you everywhere you go.

NOBLES: Presidential summer vacations are nothing new. Teddy Roosevelt would often escape the nation's capital to hunt out west. Ronald Reagan would ride horseback in his retreat in California. George H.W. Bush would always spend time in Kennebunkport, Maine. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you talked with the White House situation

room, sir, this morning?

BUSH: I talk to them every morning at 5:30 and I'm not going to make any more comments up here, though.

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, the scrutiny really stepped up during the George W. Bush administration.

BUSH: I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive. August is a dry month in Texas.

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, argue that getting out of the White House bubble was a good thing.

BUSH: Life is a series of contrasts and I like it here a lot. I really do. And I am in my own 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 or Hawaii.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And now I'm going to go on vacation. Mele Kalikimaka, everybody. Mahalo.

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: And despite his promise to not vacation all that much, President Trump is pretty much on track with the president that came before him. According to Mark Knoller, President Trump has spent about 41 days on vacation up until point in his presidency. At the same point in their presidencies, Barack Obama had spent 21 days and George W. Bush had spent 67 days out of town -- Ana.

CABRERA: Ryan Nobles, thanks. I guess it's all about how to you define vacation.

Well, not to be outdone, President Trump's Russian counterpart is also getting a little R &R. Golf was not on his agenda in Siberia. Instead Kremlin pictures show a shirtless Vladimir Putin fishing, swimming, sunbathing. In more photos, the president is decked out in camo diving suit catching fish by hand. It's just days since President Trump begrudgingly signed that new set

of sanctions against Russia after Moscow's interference in the U.S. election. The Kremlin weighed in just yesterday, dismissing the Russia investigation as absurd and groundless.

[20:45:02] Coming up, terror in the sky. The global manhunt for a notorious hijacker comes to light. A preview of tonight's brand new episode of "DECLASSIFIED" is next.


CABRERA: Hijacked, shot and left to die. On tonight's brand new episode of "DECLASSIFIED," a look at 24 hours of terror aboard of an Egypt airplane in 1985, when men wielding guns and grenades threatened to kill a passenger every 15 minutes until their demands were met. By the end of this horrific ordeal, 58 innocent people were dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rezaq then surprisingly released some flight attendants who had been wounded and some Filipina passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They were letting them out safely?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And these went very well with a song I had in my mind. I have to believe. I have to believe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then Rezaq asked for fuel. No fuel was brought.

[20:50:04] He said, if you don't bring fuel, I will kill a passenger every 15 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My concern was that the Maltese would refuel the plane. So strong representations were made to the Maltese government not to refuel the plane, not to allow the plane to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They let out a group of, I don't know, between 10 to 20, and then they said, one Israeli come to the front. Exactly like they said about the others. And since the son was sitting more close to aisle, I said to her, go. I was sure they're going to release us. She said, I can't. I can't. I have a headache and a stomach ache. You go.

I said, OK, but they caught us. Someone has to go. I went out and I stood on the platform. And there was a hijacking standing in front of me with a mask on his face. He started raising up his hand with a pistol. It was a matter of a second or something. It was like, he's not going to release me, he's going to shoot me.


CABRERA: Joining me now is a member of the FBI team that brought one of the surviving terrorists to the U.S. for prosecution. Former assistant special agent in charge, Robert Clifford.



CABRERA: So this case didn't end with this hijacking. There was this global manhunt for one of the suspects. Talk to us about what happened.

CLIFFORD: Yes. He'd been -- Omar Rezaq was the terrorist. During the hijacking, he separated passengers by nationality and then shot them. Two Israelis and three Americans. He was imprisoned in Malta and suddenly released. And so the FBI had already developed contingency plans and embarked on a worldwide manhunt to intercept Rezaq before he could get into the Sudan and disappear.

CABRERA: And how did you do it?

CLIFFORD: It was a very sophisticated operation. Very complex legally. But putting together a team of specialists and following the route of Rezaq from Malta to Ghana, and right before he got to Nigeria, launching an operation to intercept him there and bring him back to the United States to stand trial.

CABRERA: Do you think he would have gone on to do other horrific things had you not caught up with him? I mean, the fact that he was released.

CLIFFORD: I'm confident. Omar Rezaq personifies evil. When I captured him, I looked into his eyes. And never before had I seen such vacant eyes or any eyes void of any emotion.

I've been in the military and FBI for 31 years and I've met a lot of very, very bad people. But never in my life have I felt I was in the presence of evil.

CABRERA: Wow. That's a powerful statement. Going back to the hijacking itself, did this case provide any lessons when it comes to dealing with hijackers who are holding hostages?

CLIFFORD: It does. Several lessons were learned from this very, very tragic hijacking. After the pastors were shot, Egyptian Air commandos launched a rescue attempt. They placed a explosive device, a small breaching charge to blow open the door in the rear of the aircraft. They miscalculated. And that explosion sent a fire ball through the aircraft, burning to death 58 men, women and children.

CABRERA: That is just horrific. Well, we'll learn a lot more, obviously, in tonight's special.

Robert Clifford, thank you for joining us for a few minutes this weekend. We appreciate it.

Tune in for tonight's brand new episode of "DECLASSIFIED," coming up next right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:58:10] CABRERA: The FBI says somebody threw some kind of homemade bomb into a mosque outside Minneapolis earlier today. The explosion went off around 6:00 this morning when worshippers were inside gathered for prayers.

Now a witness told a local news station that somebody broke a window, threw something inside and drove away. The building was damaged but luckily nobody was hurt inside. The FBI continues to investigate.

Somebody was killed today in Baltimore, and this is news tonight because this is the weekend there was supposed to be a ceasefire when community activists had hoped 72 hours might pass without a single homicide.

This tweet from the Baltimore Police Department says, quote, "Yes, there was a homicide, but the work doesn't stop. Organizers called and are in the area to continue to spread love."

And just an incredible upset at the World Track and Field Championships today. American Justin Gatlin beat Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, in the 100 meters today. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bolt gets a pretty good start. So does (INAUDIBLE) Gatlin. Bolt is going to chase him hard. He's not going to catch him at the moment. But here he comes. Gatlin wins it. It's Gatlin.


CABRERA: Chilling. What a thrilling finish. Gatlin finishing his race in 9.92 seconds. Fellow American, Christian Coleman, in fact, ended up second. And Bolt, the Olympic legend, the world record holder, took the bronze. And this is now the first time in 10 years he has been beaten in an individual race. Remember, he has won eight gold medals. He is retiring now after one final relay race next weekend.

I kind of just feel for him going out with that last race, finishing third.

That's going to do it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera. Thanks so much for joining us. I'll see you back here tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Have a great night.