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Special Counsel Mueller Issues Sealed Indictments in Russia Investigation; Government Releases Documents Concerning JFK Assassination; New Details Emerge about Ambush of American Soldiers in Niger; CNN Hero Recycles Sports Equipment. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 28, 2017 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: go online and through your connected devices and apps. Thanks.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone. I'm Rene Marsh in for Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

A critical development in the Russia investigation. CNN is now learning that special counsel Robert Mueller has filed the first charges in the probe into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

MARSH: Sources tell CNN anyone charged in the investigation could be taken into custody as early as Monday. CNN Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles joins us live now. Ryan, the president and the White House, they've actually been pretty quiet about all of this, although they have dismissed this Russia investigation essentially as a hoax.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Rene. And so far the White House and the president have yet to respond to our report that charges have been filed by the special prosecutor in the Russia investigation, this after spending a good portion of Friday criticizing the work of Robert Mueller and his team.


NOBLES: It is a landmark moment in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Sources briefed on the matter say a federal grand jury in Washington approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment. The indictments are sealed, so it's not known who has been charged and what those charges are. But plans are under way for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see a sealed indictment like this, it almost always happens for one reason. There's a fear that the defendant is going to flee the jurisdiction.

NOBLES: The special counsel's investigation has focused on potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as obstruction of justice by the president, who might have tried to impede the investigation. CNN reported that investigators are scrutinizing Trump and his associates' financial ties to Russia. The president and his advisers have denied all wrongdoing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what we've been waiting for, to see this investigators will bring charges in this probe that even impacts the president to a degree because investigators have been looking at his potential involvement in obstruction of justice. You see him tweeting about it, calling it a witch-hunt, a hoax, saying that's a waste of taxpayer dollars.

NOBLES: The president and his allies have spent the last several weeks raising doubts about the Mueller probe. On Friday the president tweeting that the investigation was costly. And his Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed up his argument.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Congress has spent a great deal of time on this, a better part of a year. All of your news organizations have actually spent probably a lot of money on this as well, which we would consider probably a pretty big waste. I think that our position hasn't changed since day one, and I think we are seeing now that if there was any collusion with Russia, it was between the DNC and the Clintons and certainly not our campaign.

NOBLES: But despite White House protests, the investigation is clearly moving forward. Mueller's team has also examined foreign lobbying conducted by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and others. The special counsel has also issued subpoenas for documents and testimony to a handful of figures, including some people close to Manafort and others involved in a Trump Tower meeting between Russians and campaign officials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this may be an indication that he's not trying to show his hand because he doesn't want people to be able to either conceal evidence, destroy evidence. It may be the reason that he was able to do a surprise no knock and announce warrant on Paul Manafort's home. There is an urgency that Robert Mueller is seeing, and it may be a flight risk. It may also be because there are some missing pieces.


NOBLES: And one of the president's favorite forums to respond to stories like this is his Twitter page, and he usually spends a lot of Saturday morning on Twitter responding to different reports in the news. So far he's tweeted twice this morning, once about the economy, another friendly tweet about former president Jimmy Carter, but so far nothing about this news that there have been charges filed by the special prosecutor. Rene and Victor?

MARSH: Ryan Nobles live for us at the White House this morning, thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, joining us now, Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter and managing editor with "The Huffington Post," Kara Scannell, CNN correspondent, Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst, and Jeffrey Toobin on the phone with us, CNN chief legal analyst. Good morning to all.

And Paul, let me start with you. Your expectation based on what we know now, because of course once this indictment is unsealed then we'll of course get a fuller picture, but based on what we know now about the investigation, about some of the prosecutors who have been working on it, and some of the reporting from CNN thus far, what are you expecting?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think we're seeing that the Mueller investigation is moving rapidly. Remember, Mueller was only appointed as special counsel in May of 2017.

[10:05:00] So he's been in office for five months, and now he's handing down his first indictment or indictments, which sort of indicates the roll out of his investigation. Now, that investigation will continue. It's not going to end probably in the near future, but certainly I think it's an indication that maybe the investigation is only going to last months into 2018 as opposed to years like many special prosecutor investigations last.

MARSH: And I want to go to you, Amanda, speaking of 2018, there's this little thing called the midterms. I mean, how does that impact our political climate as this continues into 2018?

AMANDA TERKEL, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, the issue is not going away as much as Trump would like it to. And you see him doing what he usually does when he gets defensive about the Russia stuff is he turns it back on Hillary Clinton. This week you saw the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress talk much more about Hillary, who Trump defeated in the 2016 election. She is not on the ballot. She is not running again. But you see him saying, you know, we need to focus more and release the rest of the Hillary Clinton e-mails. The State Department needs to get on that. He's talking about, you know, that the real collusion is between Hillary and the DNC and Russia. So he's trying to deflect.

But it's really, honestly, it's not working because right now you have Robert Mueller. You have charges coming. This investigation is very real. It's probably going to get tighter and tighter around Trump. It's already clearly making him uncomfortable enough, and he's worried enough about it that, again, he fired James Comey because he want everything to stop, which just made it worse. So this is going to continue to be an issue and, you know, Republicans are going to have to keep answering questions perhaps into the midterms.

BLACKWELL: Jeffrey, you've been making the point that although these first charges are imminent that the investigation is not over. Do you expect that they will accelerate this case at all?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Well, you know, it's really very hard to know. It's an unusual situation in a white collar investigation that sealed charges are filed. The only reason to file sealed charges, which is apparently what Mueller did, is that you think the person you've charged might flee if they knew they had been charged.

The people that he's been investigating have rooted lives in the United States. The idea that they may flee is surprising to me. So I just think there's so much we don't know at this point about who was charged, what the charges were, why the charges were filed -- I'm sorry, why the charges were sealed. I think, you know, as frustrating as it is, we need to sort of slow down and see what the charges are probably on Monday and then try to extrapolate what the larger meaning is. Clearly this is something that's an important development, but where it's going from here, just I don't know.

MARSH: Right. That remains a question, where is this investigation going. But Cara, I want to bring you into the conversation because this is something that this investigation has been going on for quite some time. I want you to really get at for us just the significance of the news that we've been talking about all morning, which is these first charges being filed.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it goes to the -- it really shows how seriously the Mueller team is taking this investigation, how focused they are on this investigation, that it's not -- I mean, it does depend in part on what we do see, but they're very focused on this, and they're building their cases.

And I think what we'll learn from the charges will be very interesting. I think that could also impact the investigation going forward because if people are in the orbit of one of these many prongs, whether it's potential collusion, whether it's obstruction of justice, whether it's money laundering and lobby disclosures, it might prompt some people to come forward to cooperate with the special prosecutor, which could impact how this investigation unfolds from here.

MARSH: And when you say it will be interesting to see what we learn from the charges, I mean, what are some of the things that potentially we could learn once we get those charges back?

SCANNELL: Well, what we'll see, I expect, in any indictment is it will lay out sort of the narrative of what they believe the crimes that were committed were, how they were committed, and potentially suggest who else was involved. Part of this does depend on how much verbiage they put in the indictment, but I think that's something that a lot of people will be looking for in order to determine how the prosecutors are building their case and what sorts of evidence they're relying upon to support these allegations.

BLACKWELL: So, Paul, it's important to point out that if people are waiting on Monday or whenever this is unsealed, that they will see a charge of collusion that they're going to be disappointed because collusion itself is not a crime. It's not a charge. What are the options there, just to temper expectations?

[10:10:05] CALLAN: Yes, that's a great observation, Victor, because, you know, even lawyers who are doing commentary on this stuff have fallen into the trap of calling it collusion because we all refer to it as a collusion investigation. Federal law calls it really a conspiracy. It would be a conspiracy to violate some kind of federal law, kind of the same thing as collusion, but they're using the wrong word.

My own feeling here is that as the first indictment coming down, you're not going to see an indictment that says there's collusion. You might see an indictment for money laundering. You might see an indictment for lying to the FBI or federal investigators, because that would send a message to other people under investigation that they better tell the truth about what they know about any so-called collusion with the Russians or they could be indicted for lying about it.

This could be a send the message indictment as opposed to an indictment of a central figure. So there are all kinds of possibilities here. And as Jeff said, yes, we're heavy into speculation when we're saying and trying to reach absolute conclusions about what this could be. It's just really speculation at this point.

BLACKWELL: Jeffrey, to you on the phone, there are -- and correct me if I'm wrong here -- two possibilities with this charge. One that is related to potential, as Paul just called it, conspiracy or collusion, and then one that is not. What is the -- and it may even be false vindication that the White House may find in something that is more of a white-collar crime that falls under, let's say, money laundering, something that really doesn't go directly to potential collusion with Russia.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, it's the job of the White House to say whatever Mueller does is no big deal. So I'm sure that's what we're going to hear from them when these charges are released.

But, you know, one thing that has been established is that Mueller is doing a very far flung investigation, including issues of whether certain people affiliated with the Trump campaign properly registered as foreign agents, whether they reported accurately what they were doing for foreign companies, what their tax situation was, whether they paid taxes on the money they made. I mean, once you start pulling at threads in white collar investigations, it often leads in directions away from the original subject of the investigation. Just ask Bill Clinton, who was investigated for a land deal in Arkansas which turned into the Monica Lewinski investigation.

So we don't know whether this original charge, this first charge deals directly with what Mueller was originally assigned to investigate or led him off in some other direction. We don't know who was charged. It could be some of the people know that have been investigated. Obviously we know that Paul Manafort had a search warrant executed at his house. That means he's the subject of an investigation. But it's not clear that Paul Manafort was the person that was charged. Unfortunately, I think we just have to sort of wait and see.

BLACKWELL: All right, as early as Monday we will get that answer. Jeffrey Toobin, Kara Scannell, Paul Callan, Amanda Terkel, thank you all so much.

CALLAN: Thank you. MARSH: All right, and coming up a little bit later, the CIA plotting

to kill Fidel Castro, the FBI trying to track down strippers, and an alleged affair with Marilyn Monroe -- we'll show you all the latest that we're learning from the thousands of declassified files on the assassination of JFK.


[10:18:10] BLACKWELL: Welcome back. In the months after John F. Kennedy was assassinated according to newly released files the FBI tried to track down a stripper named Kitty, another stripper named Candy Cane, said Kitty was connected to the nightclub owner Jack Ruby. He's the man who shot Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald just days after he shot the president.

MARSH: Well, according to the files, Kitty was never found because she reportedly committed suicide in the months before the assassination. That's just one of the stories coming from the nearly 3,000 declassified JFK files.

BLACKWELL: There are also some strange phone calls, a mention of Marilyn Monroe, and a lot of talk about the CIA and Cuba and Russia. Hundreds of other records were withheld for now, at least after requests by the intelligence agencies. CNN's Randi Kaye has a look at what we've learned.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. central standard time.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just weeks before assassinating President John F. Kennedy, newly released JFK files reveal not only did Lee Harvey Oswald travel to Mexico City, but Oswald spoke with a KGB officer there at the Russian embassy who worked for a department responsible for sabotage and assassination.

Adding to the intrigue, a CIA memo detailing an intercepted phone call from Oswald to the embassy. Oswald in broken Russian asked if there was, quote, "anything new concerning the telegram to Washington."

The new documents also reveal the president's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and the FBI had been warned about a new book alleging Robert Kennedy's affair with actress Marilyn Monroe. An 11- page document addressed to then FBI director J. Edgar Hoover reveals how the book claimed the younger Kennedy had an affair with Monroe and had her killed when she threatened to expose that affair.

[10:20:03] The allegation was deemed false with a memo noting that Robert Kennedy was in San Francisco with his wife at the time of the Monroe's death.

And it turns out even before Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, there was a warning his life was in jeopardy. A memo from then FBI director J. Edgar Hoover reveals that the day after JFK was killed, the FBI got a call from a man talking in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald. Hoover says the FBI shared that information with the Dallas police chief. Hoover said back in 1963 that he was assured adequate protection would be given. However, this was not done. Oswald was shot dead while being escorted out of the basement of the Dallas police department.

And what about those rumored plots to kill Fidel Castro, who at the time was the leader of Cuba? The new JFK files contain a 1975 document detailing how then attorney general Robert Kennedy told the FBI that he learned the CIA had hired someone to approach the mob about killing Castro. Another plot to kill Castro detailed the documents would have involved the CIA's use of an American lawyer sent to negotiate with Castro for the release of the Bay of Pigs prisoners. The plan was for the lawyer to give Castro, who liked to skin dive, a dive suit contaminated with a disabling fungus and tuberculosis in the breathing apparatus. The American lawyer didn't go through with it.

In another surprising twist, the documents show that the FBI had once suspected Kennedy's vice president, Lyndon Johnson, may have been a member of the KKK. An internal FBI memo from 1964 shows an informant said the KKK had, quote, "documented proof" that Johnson had been a member of the Klan early in his political career. Fascinating perhaps, but no proof was ever provided.

Randi Kaye, CNN New York.


BLACKWELL: We're also learning more about what happened in the attack that killed four Americans in Niger. Next, how the U.S. forces were split up and what they tried to do as they fought back.


[10:26:46] MARSH: Welcome back. I'm Rene Marsh in for Christi Paul this morning.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning.

MARSH: Well, our top story this morning, a major development in the Russia investigation. A federal grand jury approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Now, he's looking into Russia's meddling into the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

BLACKWELL: The Mueller investigators on Capitol Hill are scrutinizing the president and his associates' financial ties to Russia, but the White House continues to insist if there was any collusion, it involved the Democrats, not the Republicans. Watch.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Congress has spent a great deal of time on this, a better part of a year. All of your news organizations have actually spent probably a lot of money on this as well, which we would consider probably a pretty big waste. I think that our position hasn't changed since day one, and I think we are seeing now that if there was any collusion with Russia, it was between the DNC and the Clintons and certainly not our campaign.


BLACKWELL: Well, President Trump, and I'm sure you've heard it several times by now, has called the investigation a hoax. And just hours before the charges were filed, he posted on Twitter "It is now commonly agreed after many months of costly looking that there was no collusion between Russia and Trump, was collusion with HC," of course meaning Hillary Clinton. So how will these charges play out with the White House? Our next guest has a lot insight into the West Wing, Richard Painter, former White House chief ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, joining us now. Sir, good to have you back.

And I want to start first with the silence from the president, which is against type. The president typically is active on Twitter on a Saturday morning. Nothing from the White House. Would that be your advice if you were working in this White House?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Oh, that would have been my advice all along with respect to the Russia investigation or any other criminal investigation, that the White House should make no comments about a pending investigation. And that was the approach we had under President Bush. It is very damaging for the White House to be making comments about a pending investigation, and in particular the types of comments that have been made. And we have conduct on the part of the president and others that could amount to obstruction of justice.

If they'd just let it alone and focused on policy, the problem would be nowhere near as big as it is. And making these statements about Hillary Clinton, it's ridiculous. Everybody sees through that. There was no collaboration between Clinton or the DNC and the Russians that's been uncovered. I'm sure if there is Robert Mueller will find out about it, but there's nothing that we've heard of so far at all.

The collaboration that we know of is the meeting at the Trump Tower, and that's obviously collaboration. The issue is whether it's illegal collaboration or whether anybody lied about their contacts with Russians or committed other crimes, and we're going to find out very, very soon the names of some of the people who are charged in connection with this. But in the meantime the president would be better off keeping his mouth shut about it.

MARSH: So you brought up two points. You brought up the Trump Tower meeting. You're referring to President Trump's son's meeting with that Russian lawyer.

[10:30:02] And then also we've been hearing a lot from Republicans and the White House about this dossier, that it has come to be realized that it was the Clinton campaign who was funding the research for this dossier on Trump. So you have on the one hand Trump defended his son, saying that was just opposition research, but then on the other hand now they are saying that this is terrible what the Hillary Clinton campaign did in funding this dossier, essentially doing the same thing, opposition research. Answer this for me. Is there an ethical boundary when it comes to opposition research, and have any one of these from what you've seen so far crossed that line?

PAINTER: Yes, the ethical boundary, the legal boundary is that opposition research cannot be paid for by a foreign national. That's a campaign contribution by a foreign national. If it's paid for by the Russian government, if the Russian government gathers dirt on Hillary Clinton and then offers that in exchange for lifting the sanctions or promise to lift the sanctions, that is the type of campaign contribution that is illegal.

What is not illegal was for President Trump's opponents in the Republican primary to start paying for research on that dossier, which is what they did, and then apparently the Clinton people took over paying for that. And nobody there committed a crime, whether it's the opponents of President Trump, Ted Cruz or whoever it was that paid for that dossier, or anyone else. If the Russian government paid for it, if the Russian government spied on him in a hotel room or whatever at its expense and then offered that as a contribution to any of the political campaigns, that would be an illegal campaign contribution.

BLACKWELL: Richard, I want to get back to something you've been tweeting about, and it relates to Robert Mueller. Now, the president said just a few days ago that he has no intention of firing the special prosecutor. But of course, that was before CNN's reporting that the first charges are coming in just the next few days, or at least they'll be unsealed in the next few days. Do you believe that his position is still safe?

PAINTER: I don't see how the president could fire Robert Mueller without impeachment proceedings starting immediately in the House of Representatives. I can't see how Congress would tolerate that. Robert Mueller is an experienced prosecutor. He was a Republican for many years, but he is impartial. He is not partisan here. He is focusing on who has collaborated with the Russians, and he's going after some Democrats who apparently have collaborated with the Russians or may have. That doesn't involve Clinton at all.

But this is a matter of serious concern for the United States to have a foreign government, the Russians, infiltrating our elections. We just heard this week about new news that the Russians were collaborating to some extent with Lee Harvey Oswald back in 1963. We don't have all the documents about that, but Russia sticking its nose in our political system and meddling in our politics is a national security threat, and Robert Mueller is going to get to the bottom of this. And any president, if President Trump tries to remove Robert Mueller, I think he's going to be thrown out of office, President Trump, that is.

MARSH: All right, well, thank you. And then speaking of President Trump, we're just getting some breaking news in here. All morning we've been waiting to hear reaction and the White House, now saying never no comment on the charges being filed related to the Russia investigation.

BLACKWELL: Yes. This is from a senior administration official. No comment from the White House. Richard Painter, thank you for that.

Let's continue this conversation. We have with us John Loudon, former Republican state senator in Missouri, and Brent Budowsky, columnist for "The Hill." Gentlemen, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: Good to have you. So I want to start with you, John, and this conversation about Mueller's future considering this reporting from CNN that the first charges have been filed and will be unsealed in the next few days. FOX News is reporting that Governor Chris Christi and Congressman Trent Frank said on FOX, or suggested Mueller should step down based on potential conflicts of interest. What are your thoughts on that?

LOUDON: Oh, absolutely. You know, we talk about the original -- we were going to talk about civility, incivility, whether Trump is debasing the country. I think an investigation of this nature that distracts the president from doing the work we elected him to do debases the country, and especially when it's being done by somebody with a clear conflict.

MARSH: But the whole purpose of the Mueller investigation is, again, looking into this whole issue of Russian meddling into the 2016 election. And when you speak to people within the national security realm, they all agree that Russia did, in fact, influence or meddle in the U.S. election.

[10:35:08] So, you know, what's your thought on that? You're saying that Mueller should step down. Do you feel that at this point he's just unable to do that job of looking into whether the Russians meddled and whether there was any collusion?

LOUDON: Well, look, certainly why do we not want foreign countries engaging themselves in our political system? Because we don't want them to influence the actions or compromise our president. We now know that Russia played both sides. We have Mark Zuckerberg to thank for exposing that. Russians meddled. They meddled both ways. What we're worried about is horrible deals like the uranium deal that the Clintons did that is an actual harm to the country. That is far more important to the average American than some campaign custom was violated.

BLACKWELL: I want to get Bret in here, but you're saying that the uranium deal is far more dangerous to the country than a foreign entity interfering in a national election. Brent, let me get your response --

LOUDON: I'm saying a foreign, opposing nation, I don't want to call Russia an enemy because sometimes they're with us, sometimes they're against us, but a foreign country took our interests and our uranium, and it's now there's. That's damaged us.

BLACKWELL: And the election meddling doesn't damage the U.S.?

LOUDON: No, not the meddling in and of itself. It's wrong, but I don't see the damage.

BLACKWELL: Brent, I'll let you respond to that.

BRENT BUDOWSKY, COLUMNIST, "THE HILL": Russia did not play both sides. Russia has launched an attack against American democracy. Russia had tried to elect Donald Trump and destroy Hillary Clinton. Russia has pitted race against race and religion against religion in the United States. So has President Trump.

I love this country so much I can't find words to describe it, and it pains me that any Republican could sit here and say untruthfully that Russia played both sides. Putin hated Clinton. Putin supported Trump, period, end of discussion. Case closed.

Now we'll proceed to the evidence of whether Putin had any allies anywhere in Trump's circles, which we will let the evidence speak for its. Robert Mueller is a good man, a great man, a marine, a man who believes in the law, a man who was fighting on the American side against the Russian side. And I'm proud to stand with every Democrat and many Republicans, and I include former president George Bush, George W. Bush, who I never supported politically, gave a heroic and important speech. Senator John McCain, a war hero. And, no, the president may be favored troops that were never captured as POWs. I say that is an infamy to say about American POWs. And Senator Bob Corker, who gave a courageous speech standing up against the debasement of America which he says correctly which I wrote about in "The Hill" that Donald Trump does.

BLACKWELL: Brent, let me read just a portion of your piece that you wrote in "The Hill." "Trump debases the nation," echoing of course the comments from earlier in the week from Senator Bob Corker about the president. "It debases our nation when the president praises foreign dictators who murder and torture their people and impugns the character or patriotism of Americans he treats like enemies on a list that is longer than the darkest dreams of Richard Nixon on his darkest days." John, your response to what -- I'm sure you've read the piece in preparation for this conversation.

BUDOWSKY: Well, first on Putin hating Hillary, nothing says hate like paying your husband $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow. So the idea that Putin hates the Clintons is clearly a myth. And Facebook, the Facebook ads are clear evidence that Russia played both sides. Anybody reads the story on Facebook knows they played both sides in that.

And as far as debasing the nation, look, I think the nation can survive Donald Trump's tweets. What it can't survive is a foreign nation controlling our uranium and other critical resources. It's -- you know, I read this whole article and I think the whole thing is like you can't --

MARSH: I to stop because national security experts have said that there is no national security threat to that deal. Nine agencies agreed to approving that deal because there was no national security threat. In fact, Russia cannot export any uranium that they produce in the United States because they don't have a license to do it. So where is the threat?

LOUDON: Well, when you've given up control of a critical national resource to a foreign entity. So whether they're exporting it or keeping us from using it. Hey, Bill Clinton locked up our low sulfur coal reserves and he was paid by the Riyadi (ph) Group in India to do that.

[10:40:00] BLACKWELL: You continually, though, continue to dismiss the influence that -- or the interfering from Russia in the election which all of the country's intelligence agencies say happened, but you say that's not a threat to the country.

I've been given the rap several times here. John, Brent, thank you both for being with us. We're going to take a break. We'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: Deal with extremists in Africa or we'll have to deal with them here in the U.S., that's the warning coming from U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

MARSH: She has just finished up a tour of three countries in Africa. Haley's trip comes after the attack on U.S. forces in Niger. She tells CNN the situation in Africa is much like what has happened in the Middle East.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We have to deal with the situation here on the ground so that we're not dealing with it in the United States. What you have to look at is these African countries and all countries, if they take care of their people, if they respect the voices of their people, then you get true democracy.

[10:45:10] If they don't listen to the voices of their people, conflicts will erupt, extremism will happen, and the United States will have to deal with it.


BLACKWELL: And we are learning more about that attack in Niger that killed four Americans. U.S. officials tell CNN that the Green Beret led unit separated into two groups during the fight. Now, they tried to launch a counterattack but were outnumbered by ISIS linked militants. With us now live from Washington with the latest, CNN Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne. So what else are we learning?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Victor, we're learning new details about the fire fight that broke out after this ambush of this 12-member U.S. Green Beret led team occurred. Now, this group was split almost immediately into two separate units and lost communications with each other.

Adding to the confusion of this battle, one of their vehicles was disabled by enemy fire almost immediately. And again, this was a very confusing, very complex situation. In an effort to kind of beat back the attack, U.S. forces managed to launch a counterattack, proceeding on foot in this kind of flanking maneuver. And they were able to kill about 20 of the ISIS militants according to several military officials, despite being outgunned with the ISIS fighters having rocket propelled grenades and mortars. The U.S. forces only really equipped with their own personal rifle.

So, again, a very fierce battle raged. But this loss of communication, very serious issue. We're now learning that the White House was initially briefed that all four of the U.S. soldiers who were killed, they were initially listed as missing in action. That was later revised to only Sergeant La David Johnson being missing. So there was a lot of confusion. U.S. special operations forces from the United States were sent into Europe to prepare to perhaps effect a rescue operation. But the investigation is ongoing, and one of the things they'll be looking at is how Sergeant Johnson's body was missing for 48 hours. Victor?

BLACKWELL: He was a mile away there. Ryan Browne, thank you so much.

BROWNE: You bet.

MARSH: All right, and still to come, dozens of kids dressed in costumes and surrounded President Trump at the White House for Halloween. And the president took the opportunity to take jabs at the media. How well did it go over? Well, that's ahead.

But first you've got a garage full of used sports equipment. This week's CNN Hero has found a creative way to give forgotten sports equipment new life. Meet Max Levitt.


MAX LEVITT, CNN HERO: A lot of kids learn the importance of work ethic on the sports field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go. Good job. Do it again.

LEVITT: Sports were the most important part of my childhood. I felt it was a given for kids to play sports, but so many kids can't afford to play sports. There's millions of dollars of sports equipment that is not being put to use, that is either being thrown away or wasting away in garages. I thought, why don't we just create a food bank for sports equipment?


MARSH: To see how Max's equipment is really making a difference, go to And next week we will be revealing the top ten CNN heroes of 2017.


[10:52:43] BLACKWELL: President Trump invited a small group of trick- or-treaters to the Oval Office to celebrate Halloween on Friday. There they are, kids, children of the White House press corps members, about a dozen of them. You see them around the desk talking to the president. You see the superheroes, the witch, Princess Leia is in there. And the president handed out candy. But listen.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you going to grow up to be like your parents? Don't answer. That can only get me in trouble, that question.

So this is from the White House. See what that says? Who likes this? You have no weight problems, that's the good news, right?

So how does the press treat you?


TRUMP: I'll bet you get treated better by the press than anybody in the world, right? I think so.


MARSH: Yes. So being a role model is a job New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees takes seriously. In today's "Difference Makers" CNN sports correspondent Coy Wire talks with Brees about who he looked up to while growing up and the impact they had on his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: A lot of kids look up to you. You're their role model, but who for you growing up, who was one of your role models, someone you looked up to?

DREW BREES, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUARTERBACK: I was a sports junky as a kid. I mean, that's all I wanted to do was play sports, and so many of my role models were athletes. I loved Noland Ryan, the Houston Astros when I was growing up. Joe Montana. I loved Ken Griffey Junior. Ted Williams is my all-time favorite. It's the reason I wear number nine. The splendid splinter, a left-handed hitter, I was a lefty.

WIRE: I love it.

BREES: So I'll tell you where that really hit home was at the Pro Bowl, my oldest son is eight years ago, and a year ago he flipped the switch. He is all about football now.

WIRE: And he loves Odell Beckham, Junior.

BREES: Well, Odell was on my team, he has the locker right next to me, so I brought my kids to practice every day and they'd sit there and hang out with Odell and watch his every -- my oldest son just sat there and watched him, everything he did. Like riding the bus, if Odell sat back in his chair and kicked up his feet, then my son would do the same thing. (LAUGHTER)

BREES: Every move this guy made my son is watching.

WIRE: You stopped him when he went to dye his hair.

[10:55:06] BREES: Yes. But it just lets you know that young kids are watching your every move, right? So they aspire to be just like you, and I think that should be a big deal for guys in no matter what sport you're playing or what -- there are kids that look up to you so much, and realize that you are a role model and example for them, and just think about that with everything you do.


MARSH: Well, you can watch Brees on the field this Sunday as he leads the Saints against the Chicago Bears.

And that's going to do it for us. Thanks for watching.

BLACKWELL: Fredricka Whitfield is coming up right after this short break.