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Federal Grand Jury Approves First Charges in Mueller Probe; Navy Investigating Two SEALs in Green Beret's Death; Puerto Rico Wants to Cancel $300 Million Whitefish Contract; Interview with Representative Ted Lieu; Ashley Judd Offers Tips on Handling Sexual Harassment; Halloween Costumes Based on President Trump. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 29, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:04] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for being here. Thanks for rolling with me this evening. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York and this time tomorrow the very first arrests could be made in the special counsel investigation being led by Robert Mueller. As we've been reporting, a federal grand jury has now approved charges, but what those charges are and who they're against is sealed for now.
So far there is no official comment from the White House on the pending indictments. The president did have quite a few other things to stay, however. He tweeted this, "All this Russia talk, right, when the Republicans are making their big push for historic tax cuts and reforms. Is this coincidental? Not."
He also unleashed a barrage of blistering attacks on Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, referencing a witch hunt for collusion he claims doesn't exist. And ordering Republican lawmakers to, quote, "do something."
Now following those tweets, White House attorney Ty Cobb wanted to make clear that, quote, "contrary to what many have suggested, the president's comments today are unrelated to the activities at the special counsel with whom he continues to cooperate."
I want to get straight to my panel. CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan, and lastly, Patrick Healy, CNN political analyst and "New York Times" editor.
Shimon, as we look ahead now to tomorrow, it is important to note that Mueller was building on intelligence from previous investigations. He didn't start from scratch.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. While he didn't start from scratch, we do know that he ordered some of the investigators of the FBI agents to go back and look at some new information or to perhaps go over the information that they already had because he wanted to do it his own way.
But I can tell you, Ana, as you just said, yes, I mean, the special counsel has been sitting on information that the FBI and other investigators have collected for well over a year since the FBI started this investigation which was way back last July before the election. So all of that information has been sitting with the -- with Mueller and the special counsel team.
And then since then really, they've done a lot of their own work, brought in more prosecutors, but absolutely they've been sitting on this and they've had a lot of this information for months, for well over a year now.
CABRERA: Shimon, I want to make sure I'm understanding something correctly because these indictments, they're sealed. The person or persons who could be arrested tomorrow, they may not know right now that they have even been charged, meaning there could be Trump associates who know they're the focus of the probe going to bed tonight wondering if they could hear a knock at the door tomorrow, right?
PROKUPECZ: Yes, I mean, that's pretty wild to hear, but yes, that's absolutely true. There could be people who are facing charges that don't know, and in the morning, early morning tomorrow, they will get a knock on their door from the FBI with an arrest warrant saying, hey, come with me, you're being arrested for whatever it may be.
And then at that point -- at some point within that hour or so, they'll be brought to an FBI office here in Washington, D.C. where they'll call their attorneys and then the process will begin. But that is, you know, a likely scenario. You know, we've also been told that someone may surrender. So we don't know exactly what's going to happen, but absolutely there is the possibility that someone is going to sleep tonight and has no idea that they will be arrested in connection to this investigation.
CABRERA: April, the president isn't necessarily tweeting about Robert Mueller, but he is spending a lot of time tweeting about what he called a witch hunt and pointing fingers at Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, his attorney says those was not about the Mueller probe. But it appears this news has hit a nerve with the president.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's touched a nerve. This president is very concerned, even though he's trying to deflect on Twitter about what's happening. This is a very serious situation. Everyone was wondering when and if this would happen and it's happening now before our eyes. We just have to wait and see. We just don't know who but it is something. This could be one of the major nails that some are looking for to nail a coffin shut. This could begin the process of something linking to Russia.
CABRERA: As we know the president often encourages his supporters to watch FOX News, he's close with a number of anchors there including Judge Jeanine Pirro.
Listen to what she was pushing on her show this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: It's time, folks. It's time to shut it down, turn the tables, and lock her up. That's what I said. I actually said it, lock her up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, we had a president that is getting increasingly unpopular with his so-called base. I mean, the latest polls if you take a look at the "Wall Street Journal"-NBC News poll today shows with white college -- rather, white people without a college degree, it's down from 58 percent last month to just 51 percent approval now.
[20:05:04] Still the majority, but that's not, again, the 58 percent that it once was, it's dropped seven points. Now could this -- what we just heard from Judge Pirro there and the president's tweets today really be focused on changing the momentum here and trying to unite Republicans along with a common folk?
PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That is the -- that is the wish, that is maybe the fantasy of President Trump and people like Jeanine Pirro that somehow if they say certain things enough, if they throw enough kind of red meat at the base, the base will just keep responding in this totally predictable way.
You know, but here's the thing, I mean, President Trump said we're going to be winning so much. We're going to be winning if you put me in office. And the reality is, he has not had the kind of legislative victories that a president, Republican or Democrat, would usually have in the first year in office. And instead, he's going on about how the stock market is doing so great, but that doesn't often help a lot of the, you know, white male people who lack a -- you know a college degree, who aren't in the market as much as some of those, you know, sort of very wealthy supporters of President Trump.
Look, he wants to be spending -- any president would want to be spending his time right now focused on his tax reform package, on the Asia trip.
CABRERA: It's what this week supposed to be about.
HEALY: This is what this week is supposed to be about. The Asia trip that's coming up at the end of the week. Instead, he is going on Twitter, Jeanine Pirro is going on FOX News talking about Hillary Clinton again. They're not even talking about an agenda or things that could help those voters in the poll that you showed. They're not communicating, they're sort of going in this wishful kind of fantasy that they hope, you know, will distract enough people probably from the big news that's coming.
CABRERA: And April, some Republicans have even started calling for Mueller to resign this week. The "Wall Street Journal" editorial board wrote this in a new op-ed, quote, "The 'Washington Post' revealed Tuesday that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee jointly paid for that infamous dossier full of Russian disinformation against Donald Trump. Strip out the middlemen and it appears that Democrats paid for Russians to compile wild allegations about a U.S. presidential candidate. Did someone say, quote, 'collusion'?"
April, what's your response to that?
RYAN: There's a lot going on. And there's a lot of questions circulating on all sides. Right now this investigation is under way and it's got to play out. And that's what everyone said before. And it does have to play out. This investigation has to play out.
Now if they want to play another piece for something else, that's fine. But this investigation has to play out. And you cannot impede it because if you impede it, it makes it look like there's something wrong. So this investigation must play out.
And when it comes to Hillary Clinton and their campaign, if there needs to be investigations, let there be, but this investigation has to play out.
HEALY: And one key point to add, if I can, to April's good point, is that the "Wall Street Journal" is owned by Rupert Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch has been one of the staunchest supporters of President Trump. They speak regularly. So an editorial like this is not exactly a shocker.
CABRERA: And Shimon, you talked to Justice officials regularly. Has anyone among them express concern that the president might try to fire Robert Mueller?
PROKUPECZ: Well, there's always been concern and even from people at the White House and his attorneys at the White House that, you know, the president would do something like that. It would create a whole new storm of controversy, but privately in talking to justice officials, really, there's always this concern that the White House was going to interfere or somehow tell them what to do and they really like to keep what they do separate from the White House.
Even at the FBI, much of this controversy that's ongoing now is because in some ways the White House, you know, not -- well, was communicating with the FBI inappropriately. You know, those Oval Office meetings with Comey that the president had. So there's always this concern that the White House could try to influence or could somehow interfere from people at the Justice Department, but publicly no one ever says anything to us.
And also, you know, I think there is always going to be that concern. So what they did, this is why they have a special counsel. Right? This is why the deputy attorney general appointed Bob Mueller to head this investigation. I think partially because of this concern.
CABRERA: Patrick, looking towards tomorrow, what do you see as worst case scenario for the president in terms of who was indicted?
HEALY: Well, it's the outer ring and the inner ring of advisers. You know, in terms if an indictment comes down as unsealed and it is someone who is still in President Trump's direct orbit, not a former campaign official or a former adviser, but someone who is in, you know, the inner circle or someone who he's still close to, that becomes a huge story. A huge distraction. [20:10:09] You know, it becomes the headline that pushes off tax
reform, that pushes off kind of the Asia message that they're hoping that this trip. You know, they don't know. I mean, to your point earlier, people are going to bed tonight and they don't know what they're going to wake up with, and President Trump, you know, is so invested in this idea that he be cleared of any kind of collusion.
HEALY: And for him I think he's going to bed wondering, you know, is -- what does Mueller have? He fundamentally doesn't know what does Mueller have? And is what he's going to have sort of start changing the narrative about collusion? Right now no definitive evidence. You know, we're going to start seeing those details come out.
CABRERA: April, I read Ty Cobb told the "New York Times" in fact this weekend that the president still hasn't been asked to speak with Robert Mueller's team. What is the best case scenario for the president with these indictments?
RYAN: The best case scenario for the president with these indictments is that none of his family members are indicted. I think that's the best case scenario for him. Because if his family members or any family member, be it in-law or blood, that's earth-shaking because it's so close to the president. And it makes you wonder even more what did the president know?
So that's the best case scenario I think that no family member would be indicted. You know, you just -- we don't know. And Mueller has information, he has had a broad scope and we know he was able to touch finances, he's touched so many different areas. He's talked to so many different people. People that we know, people that we don't know.
So it just -- I'm not going to speculate because we're hearing so many different things and names in Washington. I don't want to put it out there, but I'm just going to wait and see and listen to what Mueller has to say.
CABRERA: All right, thank you all. April, Patrick, Shimon, we appreciate it.
We have some breaking news we're following right now concerning an Army Green Beret who died in West Africa back in June. The U.S. Navy is now investigating whether Sergeant Logan Melgar may have been killed by two members of Seal Team Six. The "New York Times" first reported the story and quotes officials as saying Sergeant Melgar died of strangulation.
CNN Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne is joining us now from Washington.
Ryan, what more have you been able to find out about this investigation?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we now know that two U.S. Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six are being investigated by the Navy's criminal investigation service NCIS. Now the Army was initially investigating the death of Staff Sergeant Melgar but was since transferred its investigation authority in September, so relatively recently, to the Navy showing that Navy personnel were subjects in the investigation.
And we now know there were two members of SEAL Team Six. We know that the military medical examiner deemed Sergeant Melgar's death a homicide, and that his widow was informed of the circumstances of his death as well. So the Navy very much looking into this, trying to determine what happened, but at least two Navy SEALs are under investigation.
CABRERA: All right, Ryan Browne from the Pentagon, thanks.
Coming up, scandal in hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico involving a contract to rebuild the island's power lines. Why officials are now planning to cancel the $300 million deal to a tiny company based in the hometown of Trump's Interior secretary.
[20:17:41] CABRERA: More on our breaking news out of Puerto Rico. The electric power authority there plans to cancel its largest energy contract, the controversial $300 million deal with a Montana-based company, known as Whitefish Energy. The 2-year-old firm had only a couple of employees before Maria struck Puerto Rico.
Now the announcement about the cancellation comes two days after FEMA expressed, quote, "significant concerns" about how Whitefish was awarded the contract.
Whitefish is also based in the small hometown of U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke which has raised questions along the way. Zinke has said he had nothing to do with the contract.
CNN correspondent Martin Savidge is joining us now from San Juan.
Martin, has Whitefish Energy responded to this announcement that its contract will be cancelled?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It did, Ana. They put out a statement. And I can read a portion of it to you. It goes like this, "We are very disappointed in the decision by the governor," that's Governor Rossello, "to ask PREPA to cancel the contract which led to PREPA's announcement this afternoon.
"The decision will only delay what the people of Puerto Rico want and deserve. To have the power restored quickly in the same manner their fellow citizens on the mainland experienced after a natural disaster."
That last line is a bit of a dig on the part of the company there because they're of course reminding people here that there seems to be a difference in the government's response and the way things are handled between how those terrible hurricanes that hit the mainland and the recovery process there versus what we're seeing here in Puerto Rico. But all of this has come out of not the fact that apparently the
government here is unhappy with the work that Whitefish is doing. They're just unhappy with all the controversy that the contract which they made with Whitefish, all that it's generated. Not the electricity that is generated -- Ana.
C And that's interesting because officials initially defended the contract even when that controversy started brewing. So what are you learning about the change of heart?
SAVIDGE: Well, I mean, they did defend the contract. In fact the man who negotiated it, which is Ricardo Ramos of the power authority for Puerto Rico felt very good about it. And one that it was starting to roll, the emergency electric equipment and everybody needed to work it on the way to the island quickly. And you got to remember, this is an island that's suffering a severe financial crisis, Puerto Rico didn't have to put any money down. In other words, they didn't have to pay up front for it.
[20:20:06] The problem was, it was a no-name company, that no one had ever heard of, had apparently a very small workforce and it just raised so many questions. And that is what happened. The controversy just grew and grew and grew to the point that even the governor said it's proving to be a distraction from what needs to be done which is focusing on the recovery of Puerto Rico.
CABRERA: All right. Martin Savidge in San Juan for us, thank you.
Coming up, standing up to harassment. A new video from actress Ashley Judd goes viral in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
[20:25:05] CABRERA: Now back to our top story tonight. A thick cloud of suspense hanging over Washington right now. The first arrest in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation could come as soon as tomorrow.
As the clock ticks down to Mueller's opening indictment, President Trump turned to Twitter accusing Democrats and investigators of conspiring against his agenda and launching a fresh attack at his defeated election opponent Hillary Clinton.
Let's hear how Democrats are responding. Joining us now, California Congressman Ted Lieu.
First, Congressman, thanks for joining us. Your reaction to the fact that the Mueller investigation has its first charges.
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Ana, for your question. Whoever gets indicted is may be in serious trouble. Federal prosecutors don't indict someone unless they believe they can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. That's why there's a 93 percent conviction rate in federal courts. And in this case, Special Counsel Mueller is going to go through great care to make sure that his indictment is strong and airtight because he knows everyone is going to be reading it.
CABRERA: Congressman, you have a law degree, you sit on the House Judiciary Committee. Would you be surprised to see more of a side bar charge?
LIEU: It's really hard to tell who's going to be charged tomorrow. There are so many people that appeared to have violated federal law, but whatever the charge is, it's going to be strong. Because I don't believe Special Counsel Mueller would come out with an indictment that has a lot of holes in it. That's not the kind of person he is.
Keep in mind, he is a Marine who received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart in Vietnam. He's widely respected. He knows what he's doing.
CABRERA: Does who matter as much as what the charges are in your mind?
LIEU: Certainly, but keep in mind, this is just a first indictment. There could be more coming. We don't know what the special counsel is doing in terms of who he's going to be charging in the future. I think the first one is going to be strong because Special Counsel Mueller understands that it's their first one.
LIEU: So people are going to be really watching what happens tomorrow.
CABRERA: But let's say this charge or charges, again, we don't know how many the charges are or how many people could be affected here. But let's say it's a financial crime nature. Nothing to do specifically with Russia or maybe didn't happen during the election, would that be considered a political win for Trump?
LIEU: I don't think so because that's all going to be related to the Russia investigation. That's their mission that Special Counsel Mueller was given when he was appointed. And this really is a turning point because you can't say it's a hoax anymore when someone's going to get indicted and then a judge or jury is going to look at the evidence and decide whether to convict. The judicial process is going to happen. So this is I think a turning point in the narrative.
CABRERA: Let me ask you about something else this week. We've learned that infamous Trump dossier, back in the spotlight. We've learned the Clinton campaign and the DNC funded the research that led to the dossier. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeting, "The evidence Clinton campaign, DNC, and Russia colluded to influence the election is indisputable."
Now, Congressman, you tweeted back, "Dear dumb-as-a-rock press secretary, remember how Clinton campaign and DNC kept talking about Steele dossier before last November elections? Me either."
Should -- Congressman, should Democrats have been more forthcoming about their dossier connections? LIEU: I think people who funded it should have been more forthcoming,
and by the way, the dumb-as-a-rock phrase, I lifted from the president of the United States to highlight why he shouldn't be saying these things so I want to point that out. And in this case, keep in mind that using opposition research is nothing illegal about it. Paying for it, there's nothing illegal about it, both parties do it. So to me this is a nonstory.
CABRERA: So when the president, when his press secretary, when other Democrats, the "Wall Street Journal" editorial board say that that dossier connection to the Clinton campaign could be viewed as collusion with the Russians because there were Russians that were apparently part of that dossier that was gathered, what do you say to that?
LIEU: Paying a British researcher to gather evidence is opposition research. There's nothing illegal about it. Coordinating with the Russians, which is what the Trump campaign may have done, that is illegal. There is a big difference. And using opposition research, paying for it, candidates do that, both parties do that. There is nothing illegal about funding the Steele dossier.
CABRERA: Now House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes who had stepped aside in leading the Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation, he came back out this week, he suggested Democrats may have used intelligence services for political gain with the dossier.
Congressman, what's your response to that?
LIEU: There is no evidence, and keep in mind, the reason that Chairman Nunes is recused from the Trump-Russia investigation is because inappropriate actions he took earlier this year where he tried to mislead the American public. So we have to take sort of his allegations with that context in mind.
[20:30:05] CABRERA: Now has the House Russia investigation become too politicized? Will any and all collusions be viewed as politically tainted?
LIEU: The special counsel has a job to do which is to bring forth evidence of violations of criminal law and then let a judge or jury decide that. The congressional investigations have a broader role which is to find out what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. I don't think it's politically tainted at this point. But we'll see as investigations continue, and I know both the Senate and the House are actively investigating any Trump Russia investigations -- connections.
CABRERA: And again, you spoke with a word there and that conclusions, obviously, referring to that investigation.
Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much for coming on with us. We appreciate it.
LIEU: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: We'll be right back.
CABRERA: She was one of the first actresses to go public with allegations against Harvey Weinstein and now Ashley Judd is offering tips on how young women can handle sexual harassment. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:35:08] ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: Walking down the street with a girlfriend and I get heckled and I go, "inappropriate and unwelcomed." And keep walking.
This is another really great way. Just a physical gesture of stop. That doesn't mean that we stop telling. What is taken from us when we experience micro-aggressions and sexual harassment and sexual assault is our sense of safety. Our bargaining strategies and the things that we do in these moments are healthy reactions to abnormal situations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Joining us now, Rachel Sklar, a New York-based writer and founder of TheLi.st, a media platform for women, and also with us CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.
So, Rachel, between videos like that one, this hashtag that's also become popular, MeToo, do you feel like the floodgates have finally opened? Are we on the brink of a major cultural shift when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment?
RACHEL SKLAR, FOUNDER, THELIST: You know, a year ago I thought we might be because there was a whole Twitter campaign, too, about women talking about sexual harassment that was brought on by Kelly Oxford, a writer based in L.A.
I would like to think so. Certainly we're definitely in a moment and we're definitely seeing repercussions for predators, but based on all of the MeToo stories out there, we're certainly not seeing repercussions for all of the predators. So I do think that we are in a moment and people like Ashley Judd actually lauded because we're in a moment because many people are coming forward, but it takes guts to be the first. And she was the first domino to fall in the Harvey Weinstein case and so we owe her a debt of gratitude for that.
CABRERA: And she's not letting go.
Brian, I want to ask you about Ronan Farrow. He has a new piece for "The New Yorker." Again, he was also instrumental in terms of breaking open the Harvey Weinstein situation.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
CABRERA: But in this new piece he talks to actress Daryl Hannah who alleges a couple of incidents with Harvey Weinstein where she says he showed up at her hotel room, later asked to touch her breasts, and she weighed the cost of speaking out saying this, quote, "She'd get dragged into the gutter of nastiness and pettiness and shame and all of these things, and it sometimes seems healthier and wiser to just move on with your life and not allow yourself to be re-victimized."
Do you think the media plays a role in that?
STELTER: The short answer is yes, but the longer answer, to be more optimistic, is that the press is also a force for good in this situation. And I saw Ronan an few days ago, he was on his phone the whole time. I can tell he was working on a new piece. He continues to investigate what happened at the Weinstein Company and who knew what about Harvey Weinstein's alleged behavior.
And now it's so far beyond Weinstein, you know, we're about 24 days since that original "New York Times" story broke. That original story about Weinstein. Since then of course he has been fired and he says he's off to rehab, but more importantly we've seen men in other professions held accountable.
STELTER: Where they're losing their jobs, being suspended, et cetera, and the kind of untold part of this, the kind of behind the scenes part, there's a lot of other investigations now going on. And a lot of other news outlets into allegations against other prominent men in other industries. So this started with Harvey Weinstein, but it's a moment, as Rachel said, because of all these allegations, some of which may not come out for weeks or months, where other men will be held accountable.
CABRERA: And there does seem to be a snowball effect.
CABRERA: And, Rachel, I mean, this isn't just Hollywood now.
CABRERA: I mean, we this week have talked about Mark Halperin who was a journalist at ABC News now accused of sexual harassment during his time there. He's no longer at ABC News.
SKLAR: But when -- since going to ABC News, he just built a media empire during which he rose and rose and rose, he was on "Morning Joe."
SKLAR: He had -- he was, you know, the main narrative shaper of the presidential elections. He has Showtime show, HBO movie. Like this is a person who led an empire, who had -- he crowned himself a kingmaker and made kings.
SKLAR: Right? Not queens -- I mean, I think it's really important to note that while a man can do this with impunity in his industry --
CABRERA: Right. And in part because people stayed silent. I want to read you --
SKLAR: Like it wasn't a big deal.
CABRERA: Well, and I want to read you what one of his accusers says about why she's kind of held back. She said, "I'm telling my story publicly now because I hope that when this happens again to another young woman, and it will, she will not be so courteous and apologetic. I'm hoping women today will finally speak out in real time."
I mean, it's interesting to note that ABC News has said that there were no complaints against Mark Halperin when he was there. I mean, what is it going to take for people to feel like they can bring their stories forward in real time?
SKLAR: Well, for there to be repercussions and for there to be protection for women who do that. You know, over and over again, you hear stories of women who actually do speak out and nothing happens. There are many women who tweeted that in the aftermath of this story that they -- that something happened to them, they went to HR and nothing happened.
I mean, HR exists to protect the company and the company has a vested interest in protecting the status quo. And when you have, you know, your big dog who is -- who is the person who created a big franchise and makes you a lot of money, Marin Cogan in the "New York Times' today put it very well, said like, you know, the women are expendable and the men are deemed not expendable.
[20:40:13] So when that paradigm shift and it should and, you know, it's the responsibility of the media now who -- you know, many in the media who did look the other way, you know, payback time because it's right.
CABRERA: And you're saying -- and you're saying, you know, in some ways the media can be a force for good in terms of how it is, having this conversation, how it's exposing some of these stories.
CABRERA: Brian, it was interesting this week, even former president George H.W. Bush came into the spotlight. He was accused of groping, inappropriate touching amongst some women and when that allegation came out, it was -- it was noteworthy to see Andrea Mitchell from NBC News, her tweet and reaction to the allegations against him.
She writes, "Mrs. Bush was at his side. He is in a wheelchair with Parkinson's syndrome. Really? Someone should be ashamed. And it isn't 41." I mean, Andrea Mitchell is a distinguished journalist.
What happens when somebody with that kind of platform dismisses the accusers?
STELTER: Well, I think she's reflecting the awkwardness and the tension in the George H.W. Bush allegations. I am not at all trying to downplay it, but there is a spectrum here, there is a scale, and there are different places on that scale. And I think it's a false equivalency to place Harvey Weinstein right next to George H. W. Bush.
I made a mistake on my program today. I had Bush's face right next to Weinstein, for example. I don't think that's accurate because the scale of allegations is different.
SKLAR: But certainly another president who might fit in there.
STELTER: Well, but -- that's true. But the scale of the allegations is different. George H.W. Bush is of a very advanced age. I'm not saying that to dismiss it, but I'm saying that to contextualize it. I think it's an awkward conversation, though, isn't it? To try to explain or discuss the allegations against Bush versus someone like Harvey Weinstein.
CABRERA: What is your take on that, Rachel?
SKLAR: I mean, obviously it is a spectrum but I caution against making Harvey Weinstein the gold standard for what harassment means.
STELTER: That's true.
SKLAR: Right? You've got -- I mean --
STELTER: That's not the bar.
SKLAR: Right? He's like lumbering towards you in a hotel suite, trying to open his bathrobe, like, there's more that happens. And for -- there have been just so many anecdotes. I mean, I'm struggling to remember them all but it can -- but if your wife is on one side of you and one arm is here, you have the other arm free for whoever is on the other side of you.
And there have been some awkward allegations made. And we are wrestling with behavior of our heroes.
SKLAR: But this is something that we're seeing over and over again. This is -- there is an institutionalization of a framework that enables this. That enables powerful men to get away with this, and makes -- it's a paradigm that silences women because they are disbelieved and --
CABRERA: Now women are speaking out with --
CABRERA: We've got to leave it there, you guys. Thank you both so much for coming on to the discussion. Coming up, a nation searching for hope after years of civil war.
Anthony Bourdain previews a brand new "PARTS UNKNOWN, SRI LANKA," next.
[20:47:35] CABRERA: On tonight's brand new "PARTS UNKNOWN" Anthony Bourdain returns to Sri Lanka for the first time in a decade. And there's been at least one major change since. The end of a brutal civil war. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": Colombo, capital city of Sri Lanka. Unlike the last time I came here nearly a decade ago, this Southeast Asian island nation of 20 million does not feel on lockdown. There are no longer the military checkpoints and heavy equipment, sandbags, or barbed wire in between the airport and the center of town. There's a new democratically-elected government, voted in by a coalition of former adversaries.
Everywhere you look, construction, expansion, new hotels, foreign money. Something that looks a lot like hope. Hundreds of thousands of dead and missing later, the country is at peace and we can go where we want. Hopefully, people will be able to talk about their lives. Last time, they couldn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I recently sat down with Anthony Bourdain to get his take on the country's newfound peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Sri Lanka is still emerging from a brutal 30-year war.
CABRERA: I know you continued to ask people while you were there, has the country healed? What's your take?
BOURDAIN: Well, when we were there 10 years ago for another network doing the show, still the middle of a conflict and -- or nearing the end of the conflict. And we were unable to travel to anywhere in the north to the Tamil controlled region around Jaffna. And more impactfully, the Tamils, the Tamils are an ethnic minority -- well, the Tamils we met in Colombo, the capital, were very reluctant to speak to us.
You know, it was not an environment where it was healthy or safe to have an opinion. And we really couldn't get anyone to talk about Tamil identity, the roots of the struggle, who were these people?
CABRERA: That was 10 years ago.
BOURDAIN: Yes. CABRERA: The first time you were there.
[20:50:03] BOURDAIN: What were their aspirations and hopes? What were their grievances? What -- anything. We really had a very hard time finding Tamils to speak to us. Now this was a very bloody and ugly conflict with terrorism, assassinations, mass reprisals, collective punishment, heavy bombing of civilian areas. And a long, long, very violent ethnic conflict with that sort of thing that causes deep, deep hatreds of one would think an enduring desire for revenge, as we've seen in other conflicts of similar nature around the world.
Things given the ferocity of the fight and the number of people affected and how deeply they were, it is remarkable how things have changed since last time I was there. It's far from perfect. But you can travel anywhere in the country now. We took the opportunity to address something that we lacked in the last show which was a Tamil point of view.
BOURDAIN: Who are the Tamils? What was the problem? As best as we could get answers to that. The cause of the conflict. And where is it all going? It's not perfect, but there seems to be some significant improvement and the mood, the feel on the street, unlike the omnipresent security cordons we encountered last time, the paranoia, and the over expression of the military power, it seems like they are on their way to some kind of -- there seems to be a collective hope for peace and an exhaustion with the war.
CABRERA: So the Tamil people that you had a chance to get to know a little bit better this time around because they were so suppressed last time that you were there, do they feel like their culture is preserved and is it becoming more significant in Sri Lanka?
BOURDAIN: I think they see -- they see an opportunity to rebuild, preserve their culture. I think, you know, people are talking about all living together in one country rather than seceding or --
CABRERA: And you got to witness one of their festivals while you were there.
BOURDAIN: Yes, a religious festival, (INAUDIBLE) festival, which is a pretty extraordinary expression of deep belief. Let's put it that way.
CABRERA: What's that like?
BOURDAIN: Well, people of I guess express their dedication to (INAUDIBLE), through acts of devotion, often involving physical pain and endurance. So they will roll on their sides a few kilometers to temple. They will flog each other. The most extreme example, they will suspend, they will hook their flesh through their backs and arms and legs and dangle from cranes.
CABRERA: Oh, my goodness, why? BOURDAIN: Bouncing up and down on a slow, slow, slow ride to the
temple. As an expression of devotion, gratitude, belief. They fast and train to get themselves in a mental state where they don't feel pain, they say. But it is something to see.
CABRERA: Wow. Talk about enduring so much. And they obviously have endured for decades so, so much.
CABRERA: You say the best food in the country or the locals will tell you it's aunties.
BOURDAIN: Yes. Well, somebody's aunties, somebody's grandmother is always it seems in my travels the best cook. I mean, it's certainly the kind of food I enjoy most. Given the choice of fine dining restaurant. Almost anybody's grandma, I'm going with grandma.
CABRERA: What is home cooking like there?
BOURDAIN: It's delicious and spicy and especially when it's an ingredient like crab. You know, it's a treat. It's not something they can eat every day. So when they do it, they do it well.
CABRERA: That looks delicious. Tune in, "PARTS UNKNOWN" tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
Coming up, forget the ghosts or witches. For some kids the costume of the year is President Trump.
Jake Tapper's "State of the Cartoonian" is next.
[20:58:29] CABRERA: As the president welcomes trick or treaters this year, he might see some familiar faces mixed in with the ghosts and goblins.
Here's Jake Tapper.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It seems likely that you're going to see a lot of Halloween costumes of President Trump this Tuesday, whether from the children of Trump supporters --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: USA. USA.
TAPPER: -- or the children of Trump opponents. But maybe we should try a little creativity, people. How about Ivy League Trump?
TRUMP: I went to an Ivy League college. I'm a very intelligent person.
TAPPER: How about golf Trump?
TRUMP: It's great to play golf, but play golf with heads of countries.
TAPPER: How about staring directly at the eclipse Trump?
We interrupt this cartoon to tell you that the Trump campaign has been trying to get into the act itself with a special seasonal $45 "Make America Great Again" hat, just sold out.
How about civil war re-enactor Trump?
TRUMP: They are trying to take away our history and our heritage.
TAPPER: How about FOX News contributor Trump?
TRUMP: "FOX & Friends" in the morning is the best show.
TAPPER: Or bone spur deferment Trump?
TRUMP: I always wanted to get the Purple Heart.
TAPPER: One of my favorites is evangelical Trump.
TRUMP: Two Corinthians, 3:17, that's the whole ball game. Is that the one you like?
TAPPER: The president says that we in the media have been painting an unfair picture of him as uncivil. He's the costume of that Trump.
TRUMP: I'd like to punch him in the face.
TAPPER: Hmm. How does that compare with the actual President Trump?
TRUMP: I would bomb the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of them.
TAPPER: Trick or treat, Mr. President.
CABRERA: Happy Halloween. That does it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera. Thanks for being here. "PARTS UNKNOWN" is next.