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First Arrest in Mueller Investigation May Come Monday; Navy Seals Investigated in Death of Green Beret; Wall Street Sees Busy Week Ahead; Houston Officer Battling Cancer Helps Save Hundreds. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired October 29, 2017 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Glad to have you with us. The story that has had Washington on edge for months could make an even more serious turn.

As early as tomorrow we may see the first arrest in the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Right now we do not know the name or names of those facing charges or the specific allegations, those are still sealed under orders from a federal judge.

Now a former Trump campaign ally says Mueller's targets should be worried. Watch this.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I think anybody who's been advised by the special counsel's office that they're a target in the investigation, which I'm sure he has done to those people who are, should be concerned.

I think for us to have confidence in this process, we've got to make sure that the grand jury process remains confidential, remains secret so that the special counsel can work effectively to be able to get to the bottom of all that he's looking into.


CABRERA: As the first indictment looms, President Trump is venting via social media. The president unleashing a series of blistering Twitter attacks this morning, taking shots at Hillary Clinton, Democrats and really the entire Russia probe.

CNN broke the story that a federal grand jury approved the first charges from Mueller's investigation.

Let's get right to CNN's Boris Sanchez live outside the White House for us.

Boris, Mueller did not start this investigation from scratch. How significant is that here?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's very significant, Ana. Robert Mueller inherited several investigations at different agencies, not only at the Department of Justice and the FBI, but also even the IRS, specifically when it comes to Paul Manafort.

We don't know exactly how that will play and of the charges that, as you said, we're expecting to see within the next day or so. But it gives you an indication of just how broad this investigation goes. It's not only about looking into potential, alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but also Paul Manafort's financial ties to Ukraine, to former National Security adviser Michael Flynn's financial ties to Turkey, and in the circumstances surrounding Flynn's dismissal and the circumstances surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

So this is a very broad investigation. But we won't get a sense of just how diverse these charges are until they finally come down -- Ana.

CABRERA: Now the president has been unleashing his fury on Twitter today. We mentioned that at the top. But you have the details for us. Fill us in.

SANCHEZ: That's right. You'd think that this was still campaign season the way that Donald Trump is tweeting about Hillary Clinton. Earlier this morning, he lamented what he called a lack of investigations into the former first lady and secretary of state.

He essentially brought up a number of issues, a number of different accusations about Hillary Clinton, ranging from that now infamous dossier that was put together by Fusion GPS, the company that was at one point hired by the Clinton campaign to come up with opposition research on Donald Trump. He also brought up the uranium deal, this accusation that Hillary Clinton was bribed by Russian officials in order to get a more favorable uranium deal, and he brought up her e- mails and the idea of a Comey fix, the accusation that James Comey didn't press charges against Clinton during the investigation in her use of a private e-mail server in order to curry favor with her.

In one portion of these tweets, the president kind of reveals his thinking. He says that instead of looking at these investigations, they focus on phony Trump-Russia collusion. We were able to ask Ty Cobb, the White House attorney, as to whether or not these tweets that the president sent out this morning were related to the news that we -- that at any moment we may get charges from Robert Mueller's special probe. He denied that.

He said that these statements from the president have nothing to do with that news, but it's clear from what the president said that he's unhappy that all these investigations are unfolding and the way that he's targeting Hillary Clinton at this time, with so much on the table, whether a tax reform bill that is expected to be unveiled on Wednesday or his upcoming trip to Asia kicking off next weekend with tensions with North Korea at a serious high.

And beyond that, the announcement of a Fed chair due this week, there's so much going on. So it's certainly curious that the president is choosing this weekend to focus on Hillary Clinton -- Ana.

CABRERA: Somebody who he defeated in an election almost a year ago as you point out.

Boris Sanchez, thank you.

I want to talk more about these new developments in the Mueller investigation. Joining us now, two CNN political commentators, Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush, and Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist.

So, Scott, if someone is taken into custody as soon as tomorrow, what is the best-case scenario for Republicans? Who would it be?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know who would be a best-case scenario, but one thing that we know about this investigation, they are looking into things and into people who have nothing to do with the Donald Trump for president campaign. For instance, on Manafort, we know that they are looking at things regarding his financial transactions, his taxes, some of his business dealings. That really has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

[18:05:06] So if you're looking for a best-case scenario, the grand jury here is returning an indictment on a piece of information that's unconnected with Russian collusion. And I suspect if that happens, then you'll hear the White House say, well, look, this is unconnected to the original point of this special counsel. So best case, that's probably it. But of course, anytime anyone is getting indicted by a special counsel, there's really no good case in Washington, D.C.

CABRERA: Yes. Maria, what if the charges are for something that, you know, not directly related to the election or not for a so-called big fish who's being indicted. Is it a political win for President Trump who has argued all along no collusion?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, absolutely not. Though that will certainly be the way that he will try to spin it and his supporters will try to spin it.

Look, what's clear, first from his Twitter storm in the past 24 hours and from this past week, the way that they have tried to and certainly President Trump has tried to lay this Jedi mind trick on everybody saying there's nothing to see here, there's no collusion, and move along. And by the way, look over at Hillary Clinton.

He makes two things very clear, the first one is that he has a transparent suspicion of his own legitimacy of the president of the United States because he's obsessed with Hillary Clinton. And clearly that's the case because he knows that she won almost 3 million more votes than him and he can't get over it.

But the second thing is, is that they are clearly worried about the Mueller investigation and the walls closing in. I don't think that there is a best-case scenario of what can happen tomorrow because it is an investigation that -- and frankly is just the beginning from everything that I hear about the lawyers and we don't know what the indictments are going to be.

CABRERA: Right. CARDONA: We don't know who it is going to be. We don't know what the

-- what the slate of indictments or issues are going to be either. But what most legal minds have said and most experts have said is that what we can most likely expect is that this is just the beginning of a very long and protracted investigation because it is very broad and it is very complicated about an incredibly important and critical issue that President Trump still has yet to acknowledge or take seriously which is Russian meddling into the U.S. elections.

CABRERA: I mean, Scott, the fact of the matter is, actual charges have been filed. How can President Trump still call this investigation a hoax?

JENNINGS: Well, I think he's talking specifically about the concept of Russian collusion. And he has maintained all along that he personally has no knowledge of any collusion with Russians. And that may be true. But we have to find out --


CABRERA: But if this investigation is leading to charges or allegations of a crime, it seems to suggest that there is some there- there, maybe not collusion, specifically but --

JENNINGS: You know, you don't necessarily -- you don't necessarily know that yet. We don't know that yet because Mueller, as was pointed out by Boris in the report, inherited some investigation of Manafort that has actually nothing to do with Russian collusion and the campaign. Now look we ultimately could wind up there --

CARDONA: We don't know that.

JENNINGS: And that's an outcome that could come. But we don't know that at the moment and I think the president has also been reacting to the fact that several members of Congress who on relevant committees have come out of committee rooms and said, no, we have not uncovered any concrete evidence of collusion. And he's heard those statements. And so I think he's waiting for somebody to say, here is the collusion while he's watching all the news coverage claiming collusion, but no one has actually produced the evidence yet.

CABRERA: And I just --

JENNINGS: This is -- I think Maria is right, this is just the beginning of what Mueller is going to do. But at the moment, no one has put on the table --


JENNINGS: -- direct evidence of collusion and the president knows that. And I think he's upset that people are claiming that it's a curve when it's not yet been proven.

CABRERA: And just to clarify, because I don't want anybody to misunderstand what I was saying, you know, I did not say that this is evidence of collusion. But there apparently is evidence of some kind of crime that is --

CARDONA: Exactly.

CABRERA: Through this investigation.


CABRERA: But, Maria, the president tweeting today all of this Russia, and I use the quotes because he used the quotes in his tweet.


CABRERA: "All this Russia talk right when Republicans are making their big push for historic tax cuts and reform. Is this coincidental? Not." So what's your response to that?

CARDONA: I think what is so ironic about that, Ana, is that he's the one who's obsessed with, quote-unquote, "Russia." He's the one who keeps tweeting about it. He's the one who is ignoring tax reform, North Korea, health care. And I can understand why because all of those things, all of his legislative agenda has thus far been a complete and total failure. So I understand why he's tweeting about Russia.

I understand why he is obsessed and continues to bring up Hillary Clinton because it's political crack for his base. And we saw recently a FOX News poll, right? The only network that Trump believes is not fake news, they had a poll that said that his approval ratings are sliding even among his base.

[18:10:07] He had a record low 38 percent in this FOX News poll and that does not bode well. So I'm assuming that it was a combination of those really horrible poll numbers. And maybe they had a feeling that something was coming down the pike on the Mueller investigation. They started last week doing again this sort of waving of the -- there's nothing to see here, but go look at Hillary Clinton. Look at everything that she's done. Oh, my goodness.

You know, some of his -- some of the Trump supporters even went so far as to talk about a Freudian slip and mentioned the Clinton administration should be under investigation. So again, this is Trump's own fault that he is not focused on the issues at hand, which is why the majority of the country does not think he is fit to have the office of the president of the United States.

CABRERA: I mean, Scott, he does seem to be focusing an awful lot on Hillary Clinton.

JENNINGS: Yes, he is. And he's focused on her for a very long time. And look, we've heard some members of Congress today say there's questions that need to be answered about some of the issues the president has raised that I'm sure we'll get to that. They obviously have some ties to some people that have some explaining to do. So we'll get to that in due time.

On the policy argument, I don't agree with Maria. Look, they just had, and I mean by they the Republicans in Washington, arguably the best week they've had since the president went to Washington, D.C. to become the president. They had movement towards tax reform. They had judicial nominations coming through with the Senate majority leader McConnell scheduling all these votes, and then we got great economic numbers on Friday.

The news about the special counsel indictment was a wet blanket on all of that, I admit. But in terms of policy, they're actually moving forward on the things that the American people want them to work on, which is tax cuts and tax reform, getting the judiciary back, dragging it back from the left where Obama had put it. And the economy moving forward at great growth rates so --

CARDONA: To the chagrin of the majority of Americans.

JENNINGS: -- I think they're also very engaged in policy at the same time this special counsel investigation is proceeding.

CABRERA: I mean, but, Scott, I think you bring up a good point, you're right, the economy is doing great. Three percent growth and two quarters in a row where we're seeing really strong growth. But why isn't the president focusing his attention on that? I mean, it almost --

CARDONA: Exactly.

CABRERA: It almost is sending a message that Hillary Clinton is the person who can unite Republicans because we haven't seen them pass health care.


CABRERA: We haven't seen them pass a tax reform agenda. And in fact, we've seen infighting among Republicans this week with Bob Corker and Jeff Flake making their bold statements.


CABRERA: It doesn't sound like there's a whole lot of unity to me.

JENNINGS: The infighting is irrelevant. Corker and Flake did what they're going to do but all that really occurred this week was the Republicans regained a chance to actually hold the Senate seat in Arizona. That's it. We were going to lose that seat. Jeff Flake was going to lose a primary to Kelli Ward and she was going to lose in general election. Now the Republicans have a chance to nominate somebody, not Ward, who can hold the seat. So that's actually a net positive for the Republican Party.

They have been steadily moving towards tax reform. They got the budget votes they needed out of the Senate and the House. And it looks like to me there's great unity in the Republican Party to get tax reform done because this is the core of who the party is and what the party base wants. And they're not going to let go of that.

CARDONA: But -- JENNINGS: So I think tax reform is moving to a place where we're

going to see it before the end of the year.

CABRERA: Got to leave it there, you guys.

CARDONA: But the problem --

CABRERA: Maria --

CARDONA: But the problem is the majority of Americans hate this tax reform plan because they know it's a huge wet kiss to millionaires and billionaires and the middle class and working class families get screwed.

CABRERA: We'll see the details of the plan come Wednesday. At least that's what Republicans say.

CARDONA: So they say.

CABRERA: Scott Jennings and Maria Cardona, thank you so much.

Coming up --

CARDONA: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: New developments in the controversy surrounding a power company charged with restoring electricity in the story battered Puerto Rico. The island wants out of the contract now but how might that affect the millions still without power?

You're live in CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:18:11] CABRERA: We're now on some breaking news we're following out of Puerto Rico. The electric power authority there says it plans to cancel its largest energy contract, that $300 million deal with a tiny Montana based company known as Whitefish Energy.

It has been more than a month since Hurricane Maria devastated the island killing 51 people. 70 percent of the population there is still without electricity. But Puerto Rico's power authority says it wants out of the deal with Whitefish, which has been a source of much controversy we've been telling about here on CNN.

The 2-year-old firm had only a handful of employees before Maria struck Puerto Rico. And last hour I asked Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell if the investigation she called for into this deal would continue.


SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. There are issues here in how this contract came about. There are issues in the contract itself and the question, as we all would want is we would hate to see in any disaster, anywhere in the United States of America someone coming in and having the ability to make a lot more money off of the disaster than is necessary for the recovery. And I think what we want to make sure is that we learn from this situation and never let it happen again.


CABRERA: CNN correspondent Martin Savidge is joining us now from San Juan.

Martin, officials there initially defended the contract. What are you learning about the decision now to cancel it?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. What has happened is that the original contract apparently is becoming incredibly controversial. And so really what we're talking about here is not so much power as in that which you plug into the wall, but political power. And there's a lot of questions being raised as to what influence if any may have been brought to bear because to give this very small company a very important contract.

[18:20:01] Let me just sort of paraphrase for you a statement that has just come out from Whitefish itself in reaction to what the governor says he wants to do, which is basically tell the power authority here to end the deal.

Whitefish says, quote, "We are very disappointed in the decision by Governor Rosello to ask PREPA to cancel the contract which led to PREPA's announcement this afternoon." But they also go on to say that, "We will certainly finish any work that PREPA wants us to complete and stand by our commitments knowing how important it is to the Puerto Rican people."

They also mentioned something which many people had been thinking about here, and that is, that this is only going to delay the process of getting the power back on to people. Right now it's at 29.7 percent. That is how limited the percentage of this island has electricity. So people are desperate to have it turned back on. It seems like this controversy is just going to delay it further.

CABRERA: That was my initial thought is oh, no, those poor people, 70 percent of the island still doesn't have electricity and now what is it? Back to square one? What is the plan for what's next?

SAVIDGE: Well, the governor says that what he intends to do now is figure out how to fill the void that Whitefish current is filling. You have to remember Whitefish is doing right now some very specific stuff. They're doing the high tension power lines, that's the transmission stuff, the really high voltage. That's specialized work. So you've got to find someone who can do that. And then on top of that, he wants to bring in the governor, many, many more crews. And he's reached out to the states of Florida and New York hoping that their power authorities can send people. It's called mutual aid and it's very likely that they will. The problem is, getting people here takes time but even more time getting the heavy equipment and everything they need to do the job.

CABRERA: Well, we will continue to keep an eye on that situation. Thank you, Martin, for your hard work staying on top of it for us.

Still ahead, President Trump has said his proposed border wall would stop the influx of dangerous drugs, including many opioids. And how effective could it really be?

Our Sanjay Gupta heads to the border to find out next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:26:40] CABRERA: President Trump says his promised border wall can quash the flow of drugs into the U.S. But what about a million pills of fentanyl? Each one 50 times more powerful than heroin. Could Trump's border wall stop that?

Here is part one of CNN's investigative series called "KILLING AMERICA: INSIDE THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA." Watch.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What is the first thing that sort of flags this?

SCOTT BROWN, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS: Sometimes it's the driver's behavior. They're unnaturally nervous for crossing the border. Sometimes it's the car that hasn't crossed the border a lot or sometimes the car has crossed the border, you know, too often.

GUPTA (voice-over): What you're witnessing here are efforts in stopping drugs from coming through the U.S.-Mexican border?

BROWN: Now with almost every car crossing is crossing for a legitimate reason. It's a very small percentage that comes in carrying contraband but I think when the inspectors pick up on something their success rate is pretty high. When you saw the dog sit down at the back of the car that's how that dog alerts.

GUPTA: Special agent in charge Scott Brown oversees the Tucson field office for Homeland Security investigations and drugs are a big part of what he does.

(On camera): This is how it happens. I mean, what we're witnessing here is --

BROWN: Is what happens every day along the southwest border of the U.S. and, you know, the officers at the ports of entry are phenomenal, they're fantastic in identifying fresh tool marks that shouldn't be there. So a screw that's been recently turned, that there wouldn't be a reason for it to be turned. They can pick up on that. I mean, they are experts on what they do.

GUPTA: Was it human art and intelligence together?

BROWN: Yes. Absolutely.

GUPTA (voice-over): What they find? About 24 kilos of hard drugs. Minutes later, field testing reveals cocaine.

(On camera): This is a win today.

BROWN: This is definitely a win.

GUPTA (voice-over): In the midst of the country's opioid epidemic, President Trump has made building up the wall a cornerstone of his agenda.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The wall is going to get built. Just in case anybody has any question, the wall is going to get built and the wall is going to stop drugs.

GUPTA: But I wanted to learn just how effective the wall would be at accomplishing that.

(On camera): This literally is a physical wall between two countries that we're looking at here.

BROWN: The vast amount of hard narcotics don't come through in places like this. The vast amount of hard narcotics come through at the ports of entry where we just were.

GUPTA (voice-over): And besides meth, cocaine, heroin or marijuana, it's fentanyl which is 50 times stronger than heroin, it's the biggest challenge nowadays. The most recent numbers for the Centers for Disease Control found that overdose deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl rose over 72 percent in just a year.

(On camera): In the past cartels might try and smuggle 100 kilograms of drugs across the border. It wasn't easy to do. They were likely to get caught. But here's part of the problem. Nowadays, they can smuggle across something that looks like this.

This is just a one kilogram bag of flour but if this were street fentanyl it would cost about $8,000 to make, could be turned into a million pills and then sold for $20 million to $30 million on the black market. All of that from a small container that looks like this.

BROWN: The vast majority of fentanyl is produced in China. It comes into the U.S. two ways. You know, it comes into Mexico where it's easy to press into pill form or combined with heroin. The other way it comes in is American consumers buying direct oftentimes from vendors out of China.

GUPTA: And then it gets mailed in?

BROWN: U.S. mail, which is the most common. A very small quantity of fentanyl is very hard to detect in the masses of letters that come into the U.S. every day.

GUPTA: How effective is a wall at preventing drugs from getting into the United States?

BROWN: In terms of hard narcotics, no, I don't know that we'd get immediately safer over hard narcotics. As of right now, the vast majority of hard narcotics come in through the ports of entree in deep concealment or come in through, you know, the mail order express consignments.


GUPTA: And it's worth pointing out, again, that that bag of flour, that one-kilogram, two-pound bag of flour here, which I'm holding, if that represented $8,000 worth of raw ingredients for fentanyl, that could be turned into a million pills sold for 20 to 30 bucks on the street per pill.

That's $8,000 into $30 million dollars. So you can see the economic incentives here. You can see why people will continue to try and try and try over again to get this stuff into the United States.

And keep in mind, the fentanyl that we're talking about here is not like anything I saw in medical school. It's a hundred times more powerful than morphine, which is why it's so particularly dangerous.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you.

Coming up, with arrests expected any day in the Mueller investigation, what does this mean for President Trump's presidency and the future of the Russian investigation? I'll get answers from a former prosecutor next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:35:52] CABRERA: It's a waiting game in Washington as we brace for an arrest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

As we have been reporting, a federal grand jury has formally approved charges against at least one person, and they could be taken into custody as soon as tomorrow. Now, the identity of who has been charged is anyone's guess right now because, for now, the indictment is sealed.

That's not stopping speculation from running rapid, however, so I want to bring in our panel to help us all sort through what's plausible and what's and what does really means in the big scheme of things.

Joining us, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer. He is a historian and a professor at Princeton University.

Also with us, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti and CNN political commentator and former Democratic congressman from New York, Steve Israel.

So, Renato, most of the legal analysts we've spoken with so far expect these charges to be either for Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn.

We know Mueller has been looking into both men over the summer. Investigators even raided Manafort's home.

And according to "The New York Times," they told him to expect an indictment, so would you be surprised if this indictment was for someone other than Manafort or Flynn?

RENATO MARIOTTI, PARTNER, THOMPSON COBURN LLP: Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised. And I will tell you one piece of information that is leading me to think that it could be someone else, is that there was reporting yesterday that Manafort and Flynn's attorneys were not notified that an indictment was coming.

And typically, in a white-collar criminal investigation, the prosecution would let the defense attorney know so they could bring the client to court without the need for an arrest.

Now, it could be that, for various reasons, Mueller wants there to be an arrest. Either he's concerned about risk of flight or he -- there are other, you know, concerns, you know, in terms of the appearance of it.

You know, it could be for Flynn's son, as an effort to get cooperation out of Flynn. It could be an accountant, an associate. There's a number of people it could be for, and at this point, I think, no one would surprise me.

CABRERA: Julian, you said that it doesn't really matter who this is, who is going to be arrested or even maybe what the charges are, but this really could be a pivotal point in the investigation based on historical precedents.


In the last week, we've heard President Trump try to shift the tension to Hillary Clinton, even hearing calls for the resignation of Robert Mueller emerging in certain circles. And all of a sudden, we are back to the investigation.

Historically, in moments such as the Watergate investigation, such as the Iran contra investigation, indictments can be powerful. All of a sudden, we are hearing about criminal action somehow connected to the administration.

Again, we don't know what is coming out. But if that becomes the story, it, politically, can be damaging to the President, put him in a defensive position.

CABRERA: Congressman, this is one of several investigations. There are also three investigations in Congress.

You know how these congressional committees operate. How much will what we learn this week with this indictment impact where Congress goes with their investigations?

STEVE ISRAEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you're right, there are independent investigations. I'm not certain that the outcome of the Mueller investigation -- which won't stop tomorrow, it will continue --

CABRERA: Right. ISRAEL: -- will have much bearing on the House Intelligence Committee

or Senate Intelligence Committee.

But look, here's the thing. We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow, but we do know this. Whatever happens is going to result in a president who will be consumed with his legal and political survival.

I mean, Ana, look at what happened this morning. This is a president who woke up and did this tweet storm attacking Hillary Clinton as if he were still running, attacking Democrats.

He did not talk about the fact we want to make sure our national security is OK. He did not talk about his upcoming trip to Asia. He wasn't thinking about veterans or middle class expansion. He was thinking about himself.

So no matter what happens tomorrow, we will continue to see a president and a presidency consumed not with the American people, but with himself. And so the real casualties of this investigation will be the American people who will be neglected.

CABRERA: Renato, do you think there's a strategy to having this gap between when we learned of this indictment and when the actual arrest or arrests are made? Could Mueller be testing to see how people react?

[18:40:09] MARIOTTI: No, I don't think so. In fact, it would be -- it would be unlawful for someone on Mueller's team to be giving this information out to the press, so I expect that -- that this is either coming from the defense.

So if there's a defense counsel who is told that his client is going to be brought in on Monday, for example, that letting the news leak out on Friday might lessen the blow of the coverage on Monday and allow time for it to seep in or speculation to go elsewhere.

Alternatively, it could be somebody who is an admin person of the court or somebody associated with the grand jury, a grand juror -- who knows -- who let this information out.

I think it's -- we don't know who it is, but I would be very surprised if it's part of a calculated strategy.

CABRERA: And, Julian, some have argued that this is an ancillary charge against someone who, maybe, isn't real close to Trump's orbit, maybe a Trump associate of a Trump -- an associate of a Trump associate, which Renato even suggested could be the case here.

I mean, does that play to the narrative that the President has been speaking to all along, that this is simply a witch-hunt?

ZELIZER: No, it doesn't. Robert Mueller is playing the long game, and he is trying to piece together a case.

If it's a smaller person, it could be part of an effort, as we hear, to flip someone, to get information on someone bigger, or it could gradually be about building a bigger case. So there's no reason to assume if this isn't a high-level official, that this is, as the President says, a witch-hunt.

There's a lot of evidence at this point. It's not a witch-hunt. And I think this is the opening of our look into what Robert Mueller is trying to understand.

CABRERA: Congressman, when you talked about Hillary Clinton and the President looking backwards, not forward, I mean, he has, as you mentioned, spent a lot of time on Twitter today attacking his past political foe, Hillary Clinton.

But, remember, this is something that he has done in the past. He is obviously showing he is ready for a fight. And this strategy has worked well for him in the past. Any reason to think it wouldn't this time?

ISRAEL: Well, you know, the strategy may have worked well, except that there's a poll out today that shows he's down to 35 percent job approval. And the reason for that is, I think, people are just getting more and more fatigued with the deflection and the distraction.

They want a president who is not a fighter for himself, but a president who is a fighter for them. And so, look, there's no question that this is going to continue to erode the presidency.

And, Ana, if I may, on the question you asked before, you know, remember Watergate. I mean, who knew who G. Gordon Liddy was? Who knew some of these initial characters were? And, ultimately, it led to the resignation of a President of the United States.

We want this investigation to be pristine and pure. There is nobody who is more credible than Bob Mueller.

I was a member of Congress when he was the head of the FBI. There is nobody who has a better reputation. So we ought to just, as others have said, let this investigation go to where the facts are.

CABRERA: And you had something you wanted to say about that?

ZELIZER: The indictments in Watergate came after the grand jury had met for 22 months. So we have to remember, this is so fast.

We are in a fast-paced culture. These investigations take time and they can break in big ways, but it may not happen right away.

CABRERA: Renato, is this a fast-paced investigation in your mind?

MARIOTTI: A facts based? Absolutely. I think this is an --

CABRERA: Not a facts based. I think we --


CABRERA: I would assume that. But is it moving quickly?

MARIOTTI: Yes, it's extremely quickly. It's funny because when the news broke of the indictment, I was at dinner, and I had just told someone that I didn't expect an indictment to come down until 2018. And I looked very foolish an hour later.

I had spent years at times investigating white-collar criminal cases. And for something to come down this quickly suggests to me that, you know, the investigation is still ongoing, and this is an early indictment meant to flip somebody, a key person in the case, to help it move forward and not at all the end of the investigation.

CABRERA: Congressman, the Russia investigation has become politicized. I mean, you can't deny that. Which party has the most to lose?

ISRAEL: Well, Ana, quite bluntly, it's the Republican Party because they are the ones the evidence suggests who engaged in meetings with Kremlin officials.

And nobody should be surprised that this president is saying, well, you did it, too. You did it worse. That is part of his deflection and distraction.

So this is not, you know, to suggest that there's some moral relativism or that both parties deserve blame, as I think, intentionally, trying to show balance where there's none required.

This is a problem for Donald Trump. This is a problem for the Republicans.

[18:45:00] But as I said before, ultimately, it's a problem for the American people because this White House will not be focusing on them. They will be focusing on their legal and political survival.

CABRERA: Congressman Steve Israel, Renato Mariotti, and Julian Zelizer, thank you all.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

CABRERA: Now, a short time ago, more than 30 members of the Houston Texans kneeled in Unison during the national anthem after a controversial comment by team owner Bob McNair during a discussion about the recent anthem protests.

Now, McNair reportedly said the league, quote, can't have inmates running the prison.

The Texans owner has already issued two apologies saying, in part, quote, I am truly sorry to the players for how this has impacted them and the perception that it has created of me, which could not be further from the truth.

Coming up, reports that the Navy authorized -- or authorities, rather, are investigating whether two members of the elite SEAL Team 6 strangled an Army Green Beret to death get in Mali. We have the disturbing details next.


[18:50:29] CABRERA: Questions remain over the June death of a U.S. Green Beret in Mali. The soldier's death is now being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service or the NCIS.

Now, "The New York Times" is reporting that military officials say authorities are investigating whether two members of the Navy's elite SEAL Team 6 strangled Army Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar to death.

CNN Pentagon Reporter Ryan Browne is joining us from Washington.

Ryan, those would be some serious charges, if proven. What more do we know about this investigation?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, they would be, indeed, Ana. We know that Melgar's wife was actually told that the military investigation had determined that his death was a suicide.

Now, the military did not make his death public -- publicly announce his death when he died in June, but the military coroner determined that it was a homicide and his wife was also informed that it was a murder.

So the military has now transferred the authority in investigation from the Army to the NCIS, indicating that, maybe, personnel are subjects of the investigation.

CABRERA: Do we know anything about what the potential charges could be in terms of this investigation, should it lead to that?

BROWNE: Well, if the military's coroner's office has determined it was murder, this is something that would be charged. And, again, the fact -- though the fact that the Navy only took over the investigation late in September indicates that the investigation is still in its early stages, so it's not quite clear when charges might come along.

CABRERA: All right. Ryan Browne, thank you. Keep us posted.

Investors are anticipating a busy week on Wall Street, and details on the GOP's tax reform legislation are emerging. Lawyers for top social media companies are going to testify about Russian election meddling, plus Friday's job reports.

CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik is here with this "Before the Bell."


ALISON KOSIK, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. This week, Wall Street will finally get details on tax reform. Investors are eager to see what House Republicans come up with. Hopes for tax reform have pushed stocks to record highs since the election.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady says he'll introduce the bill on Wednesday. He says the goals are more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks.

But the big question is what deductions will stay and what will go. Two of the hottest issues have been 401(k) contributions and state and local tax deductions.

Also on Wednesday, executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter will face lawmakers. All three companies are sending their top lawyers to answer questions about Russian ad buys and other interference that may have taken place around the election.

The week wraps up with a big jobs report. The numbers are likely to rebound from the loss of 33,000 jobs in September. That was caused by the major hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida.

In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.


[18:57:52] CABRERA: A police officer battling Stage 4 colon cancer could have chosen light duty, something his fellow officers probably would have understood. But instead, Officer Norbert Ramon went beyond the call of duty. He helped save hundreds of people after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc in Houston.

Our Stephanie Elam has Officer Ramon's heroic story.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Hurricane Harvey dropped a deluge of water on Houston.

OFFICER NORBERT RAMON, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: The rain just kept coming down. I mean, coming down.

ELAM: Police Officer Norbert Ramon headed to the only station he could get to. Lake Patrol, right on Lake Houston.

RAMON: It just seemed like apocalypse. I mean, it just -- it was unreal.

ELAM: With floodwaters engulfing neighborhoods, Lake Patrol took to its boats, skirting trees, bridges, and sunken cars to whisk people to safety.

RAMON: They wanted to bring everything with them, you know. You can only tell them to bring so much.

ELAM: Working 12-hour shifts, Officer Ramon was in and out of water helping to rescue people.

RAMON: And you know, what sticks in my head is those children. I mean, you'd see different emotions.

ELAM: How many people do you think you helped rescue?

RAMON: I don't know, 200, 300 easily. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never showed no signs of having anything wrong

with him.

ELAM: What's wrong with Officer Ramon is Stage 4 colon cancer, which has spread to his liver and lungs. Diagnosed in March 2016, Ramon gets chemotherapy every two weeks, a constant reminder of his battle.

RAMON: I'm out there on the street, then I got to leave half a day to, you know, go up there and do that. And it's just -- as long as I'm with these guys, you know. They keep me up, you know.

OFFICER ALVIN STEELMAN, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: My respect level for him is beyond explanation.

ELAM: Teamed up for boat rescues, Alvin Steelman had no clue about Ramon's health crisis until after the water receded.

STEELMAN: He's not looking for sympathy. He just wants to be part of the team, and he was. He did everything everyone else did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For three days of his life, he was in a world where he didn't have to think about it. He was really happy helping people.

ELAM: In fact, Ramon was in no pain.

CINDY RAMON, OFFICER NORBERT RAMON'S WIFE: He's a police officer first, and then it's cancer.

[19:00:01] ELAM: His wife of 13 years, however, was concerned. He sent her this picture while on the murky water to let her know he was alright.