Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump, Sessions Deny Knowledge of Russian Contacts; Trump Urges Justice Department To Go After His Political Enemies; No Prison Time for Bergdahl: Trump Slams It As "Total Disgrace"; Zero Evidence U.S. Struck ISIS "10X Harder" After NYC Attack. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired November 3, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: -- Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, President Trump says he can't remember. So, what happened to the self-proclaimed greatest memory of all time?
Plus, the president now calling on the Justice Department to go after his political enemies. Did he go too far?
And the surprising sentence for Bowe Bergdahl. No prison time. Do Trump's attacks on Bergdahl influence the judge's decision?
Let's go OutFront.
Good evening everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, I can't remember or more like I want to forget. Did President Trump insisting he can't recall a campaign meeting during the election when foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos floated the idea of setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Here's President Trump earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting that plays a long time. Don't remember much about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That maybe so, but why then did President Trump also make this bold claim just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm a very intelligent person. One of the great memories of all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: To make matters worse for the president, another campaign adviser remembers the meetings quite well. J.D. Gordon telling CNN that Trump, quote, heard him, meaning Papadopoulos, heard him out. And it seems the president isn't the only one in this administration who's having a hard time remembering any potentially damaging information about Russia.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also has a case of the I can't remembers when it comes to this same meeting and another one and that's just this week. Don't forget, from Jared Kushner to Donald Trump Jr. to Michael Flynn, they've also had trouble remembering pretty much anything having to do with the Russians.
So, what's going on with Russian amnesia? Jessica Schneider is OutFront tonight. So, Jessica, the list keeps growing.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does, Kate. The I can't remember, it seems to be a common refrain. As you heard there, the president said it today when asked about that March 2016 meeting he was at when George Papadopoulos proposed that Trump meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And then there's Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he was in that meeting, too, and why we haven't seen him respond directly to this yet, Democrats are now accusing him of everything from problems telling the truth to perjury for prior statements.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, the president remains defiant amid mounting evidence that he knew about his campaign adviser's connections to Russia.
TRUMP: There was no collusion. There was no nothing.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In February of this year, he pleaded total ignorance.
Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?
TRUMP: Well, I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing, so that's one person, but he was dealing as he should have been.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): During the election?
TRUMP: No, nobody that I know of. Nobody that I know of.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): So you're not aware of any contacts during the course of the election?
TRUMP: Look, how many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with. Now Manafort has totally denied it.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates remain under house arrest. The indictment against them was unsealed Monday for money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents. Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to the charges which stem from their work as lobbyists for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, and was not explicitly related to their work during the campaign.
And now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also coming under increasing fire for answers he gave at several congressional hearings over the past year.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians. Is that what you're saying?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERA: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think it's not that he has a problem with the truth. I think it's easier to say that he's perjured himself at least three times.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The accusations from Democrats come after revelations from former campaign foreign policy advisers, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Carter Page telling CNN that he told congressional investigators he mentioned to Sessions the trip he planned to take to Russia at the height of the campaign.
And then in a March 2016 meeting where Papadopoulos sat in between then candidate Trump and Jeff Sessions, court documents show Papadopoulos told the group he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then candidate Trump and President Putin.
Campaign adviser J.D. Gordon sitting next to Papadopoulos tell CNN Donald Trump heard him out. But then Senator Sessions, who was a top campaign surrogate, shutdown the idea of a meeting with Putin, a source tells CNN.
GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The next president will have to fashion a strategy in keeping with America's traditions.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): This is video of Papadopoulos speaking at an event unrelated to the campaign in 2016. President Trump has down played his role, calling him a low level volunteer and a liar. But Papadopoulos' disclosures to the FBI as part of his guilty plea for lying about his contacts with Russians during the campaign are already affecting the administration.
[19:05:10] SCHNEIDER: For example, Sam Clovis was forced to withdraw his name from a top spot at the Department of Agriculture after the Washington Post revealed he was the campaign supervisor referred to in court documents where e-mail show that Clovis encouraged Papadopoulos to set up a meeting in Russia. Now, Clovis told the president in that withdrawal letter that he was withdrawing so he wouldn't be a distraction in what he called a heightened political climate. Kate?
BOLDUAN: And that isn't going to be wearing down anytime soon. Great to see you, Jessica. Thank you so much.
OutFront tonight, Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent, Nia-Malika Henderson, senior political reporter, and Paul Krieger, former assistant U.S. attorney. Great to see all of you.
Evan, is it possible that they simply don't remember any of these conversations about meetings with Russians? What are you hearing?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, look, it is possible. If you remember the Trump campaign was sort of an insurgent operation. It was rejected by the establishment and, you know, you had a bunch of characters that who, you know, were sort of like on the fringe who Donald Trump brought in to sort of be his national security team, who had been rejected by some of the other candidates. So, it is possible that these people just didn't know each other and maybe this doesn't really spring to mind. But it does seemed to be a pattern, and I think that's one reason why so many people have so many questions. And we know that Robert Mueller, the special counsel is doing an investigation here, so he's got e-mails, he's got records that perhaps will check to see whether any of this checks out and we'll see.
BOLDUAN: And at the same time, they're either low level volunteer kind of nobodies or they're --
PEREZ: Everybody was a volunteer though. In that campaign, everybody was a volunteer.
BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Or even if they are a volunteer, they're foreign policy advisers. These all can't be true the same time but try this (INAUDIBLE) Nia. I mean, I will play for you again what the president said about that meeting today and also what he said just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. Took place over a long time. Don't remember much about it.
One of the great memories of all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I mean, can both of these things be true, Nia?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No. I mean, they can't be. He's sort of -- he's two thing even in that statement that he doesn't remember it, but he remembers it enough to say that it was unimportant, right?
So, I mean, that in and of itself is a bit of a contradiction. We have seen this sort of Russia induced amnesia from a lot of people in Trump's orbit. Whether it's Sessions, whether it's Michael Flynn not remembering the details of a conversation that he had with then Russian Ambassador Kislyak. Even Papadopoulos seemed to not quite remember the timeline and that of course got him in trouble with the FBI. Donald Trump Jr. didn't quite remember the details of a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer.
So you know, this is the pattern. That of course is what Bob Mueller will look at. He will of course have documents. He will have maybe witnesses who can contradict this kind of memory or different statements that other witnesses make. But I think you know, this is what we've seen from this White House, from people around this White House, this idea of they can't remember, they can't quite recall which is something.
I mean, you know, I'm no lawyer, I don't play one on T.V., I've watched a lot of law and order. Often times, you do hear witnesses sort of rely on that phrase, that they can't quite recall, they don't remember as a sort of non-answer to questions.
BOLDUAN: Then let's go to the actual lawyer and plays one in real life and on T.V. So Paul, to Nia's point, I don't remember is a tried and true legal defense. So we've seen over and over again. I mean, the fact, Donald Trump used it himself in a deposition. I think in 2015, something over 30 times during his deposition.
Also during that same deposition, Donald Trump said, if you like I have amnesia because I have to say it again, he added this, I don't remember that as good as my memory is. I don't remember that but I have a good memory. How good of a legal defense is this?
PAUL KRIEGER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, in a criminal case, if a charged individual is repeatedly claiming that they don't remember something, that common sense would tell an average person based on the significance of the event is significant, that defense begins to crumble a little bit. In addition, if I were the prosecutor on this case, I'd be looking at e-mails, correspondence before and after the March 31, 2016 meeting.
BOLDUAN: Because that's what happening, right? The I don't remember especially with Papadopoulos. He doesn't remember or he has a faulty memory, then the e-mails show what exactly -- a kind of a better chain of timeline, and then he had to plead guilty.
KRIEGER: Right. I mean, it's interesting in this case what you're not hearing as people is saying that George Papadopoulos is lying about this meeting or the events didn't happen. J.D. Gordon who is campaign adviser actually corroborated with Mr. Papadopoulos saying basically what was Mr. Papadopoulos was charged with.
[19:10:00] BOLDUAN: So there's that. And Evan, when it comes to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, let's just narrow in on that and what he can't remember. That's piling up. Do you think he's in trouble?
PEREZ: Well, you know, I think there's enough caveats in what Jeff Sessions says. If you look at all of the testimonies that he's given, he's under oath obviously. He does sort of have these caveats that, you know, that I think will make him be able to escape any accusations that he purposely lied to any of those committees. Look, I think they are going to bring him back though and they're going to make him explain himself. And this in the end is going to be a political problem for him that's going to keep piling up. And that's, in and of itself, a big problem, but I will say, you know, just looking at what Papadopoulos did, I think what you get a picture there is that, you know, the special counsel has information and he chose in those documents that were released earlier this week, he only revealed certain parts of it.
For instance, he says something about how you know, Papadopoulos brought up the Russia meeting between Putin and Trump but we know there's more to that and they purposely did not put the rest of that interaction in there. And so, we'll see whether other witnesses will lie when they are questioned about it.
BOLDUAN: And intriguing on the whole of the fact that he thought he was going to be getting dirt in those Hillary Clinton e-mails. There's no follow up on who -- if he told anyone in the campaign. So that's one of those huge caveats where you have to say, yes, there's got to be more to that.
I mean, Paul, when it comes to Jeff Sessions, we have -- one of the Democratic congressman said that he thinks at this point, Sessions very clearly in his view, perjured himself. Do you think it's reached that point?
KRIEGER: Well, perjury -- to prove perjury, you have to show at the time the person made the statements, they knew they were false.
KRIEGER: So, clearly, there is some inconsistencies here and that's exactly why Jeff Sessions has to go back before Congress and explain those inconsistencies.
BOLDUAN: And even if it comes to perjury, what exactly does that mean? I mean, Nia, Democrats want him back on the Hill for questions, but he's already recused himself from anything related to Russia. So what are they going for now? Do they want to -- I don't know, just take him down?
HENDERSON: I don't know about taking him down. I think it sort of more of a political move. I mean, Democrats did originally not like Jeff Sessions. You heard some Democrats even call for his resignation, Kamala Harris for instance. But at this point, you wonder if Democrats could be playing into this idea of maybe Jeff Sessions will be fired by Donald Trump, right, who also has had problems with Jeff Sessions because he recused himself from the Russia investigation.
So, you know, are they giving sort of ammunition and reason to Donald Trump to maybe let Sessions go, bring in another attorney general who then would have the sort of authority to be, to fire Mueller if he wanted to be. I mean, I'm sort of just playing this out.
I mean, I think Democrats for now sort of just want to make a point of having Jeff Sessions have to explain himself again. And have Russia back in this headlines. And Sessions sort of involvement with it and not being truthful in terms of his original testimony around Russia. But who knows what this could trigger in terms of the president's thinking about this. The president's thinking about Jeff Sessions, his role and Mueller's role.
BOLDUAN: Yes, I mean, I think the one -- the only one thing that we know is like who knows. Because look where we began and where we are now. Wait for next week. Do I need to remind you where we started on Monday.
OK, great to have you guys. Thank you so much.
OutFront next, breaking news, President Trump just landing in Hawaii as he heads off on his trip to Asia. This as he is calling on the Justice Department to go after his enemies. Did he finally cross a line here?
Plus, a stunning decision. Bowe Bergdahl avoids prison for deserting his army post in Afghanistan. Did the president's words play a part in the decision?
And, a Las Vegas shooting victim with life threatening injuries. We're going to show you her miraculous recovery one month after that horrific night.
[19:17:44] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, President Trump just walking off Air Force One just now in Hawaii as he begin -- as he is -- basically, we can think of this as a brief pit stop as he heads off on his big Asia region trip. He'll be hitting up five country, 12 days. A huge foreign policy issues at stake and President Trump stopping right now in Honolulu. He'll be there tomorrow and then heads off to Tokyo.
The other breaking news though, we are watching tonight, a top Republican senator calling out President Trump for pressuring his Justice Department to go after his political enemies. Senator Bob Corker who of course has become one of the most vocal Trump critics have laid, saying this tonight in a statement. The president's comments are, quote, totally inappropriate and not only undermine our justice system, but erode the American people's confidence in our institutions. What led to that? Quite a bit.
Starting earlier today when Trump tweeted this. "Everybody is asking whether Justice Department and FBI isn't looking into all the dishonesty going on with crooked Hillary and the Dems. And then Trump said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm really not involved with the Justice Department. I'd like to let it run itself, but honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty. They should be looking at a lot of things and a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: OutFront now, Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics and CNN's Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
All right, Jeffrey, let's get to it. This wasn't -- it also just wasn't a one off today. President Trump said basically the same last night. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Thing is that because of the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I'm not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing and I'm very frustrated by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He says he's sad that he can't get involved. Him saying that, isn't that inherently getting involved?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well of course it is. And remember, why these norms exist. You know, Richard Nixon tried to use the Justice Department to punish his political enemies, use the Internal Revenue Service to punish his political enemies. And there are established rules that were followed by presidents of both parties that law enforcement is something that the president does not get involved in on individual cases. Especially when it involves his political opponents because this is the country we are where the president doesn't get to put his political opponents in prison.
[19:20:19] But if you listen to what the president said yesterday and what he wrote, what he's saying is he's frustrated that the Justice Department is not putting the women -- the woman he ran against for president in prison. And that's the kind of thing that happens in authoritarian countries not the United States. So, you know, I know we sort of get overloaded with like oh, Trump said this, Trump said another thing, he tweeted this. This is something that is so far outside the mainstream of American law and politics, it's just really remarkable.
BOLDUAN: And very much not the first time he's questioned the judicial system. I mean -- and Walter, you were in charge of the Office of Government Ethics. The president is calling on the Justice Department to go after his political enemies. From your perspective, should this raise red flags?
WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: Well, Jeffrey is right. This is the stuff that authoritarianism is made of and it's just absolutely terrifying. It simply the scariest thing that I have seen happen so far in this administration. He just simply seems to have no appreciation for or interest in the importance of the independence of the Department of Justice. And it's just been a consistent assault on our justice system from him calling it a laughing stock, to him attacking judges, to him firing the head of the FBI, implying he might be willing to fire the head of Department of Justice for not going after his political opponents. You're just simply not in a free society supposed to use the apparatus of the state to go after your political rivals.
TOOBIN: And remember, you know, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general is already hanging by a thread with Trump. I mean, he already has said many times how dissatisfied he is and now, he's in effect instructing Sessions to start going after his enemies.
BOLDUAB: Well, that's why I'm wondering. Do you think that this is a threat, an ultimatum, Sessions, do this or else?
TOOBIN: I mean, I don't know how else to interpreter it. I mean, he says, well, I can't tell the Department of Justice what to do but here's what I think the Department of Justice should do. And I'm very disappointed and may fire the attorney general. I mean, what -- how else can you interpret what he said?
BOLDUAN: You know, Walter has also had me thinking today that this is the very same Donald Trump that -- this is the very same Donald Trump along with let's say every other Republican, who lit their hair on fire when Bill Clinton met with the former A.G. Loretta Lynch on a tarmac. Just to remind everyone, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Bill Clinton goes in the other day into an airplane, just happened to be oh just a coincidence, you know. He just happened to be at the airport at this time and he's talking about golf and grandchildren. I love my grandchildren so much. But if I talk about them for more than about nine or ten seconds, you know, what are we --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Does you call it a disgrace, a violation of the rule of law? I mean, it was a major misstep then. Everyone agreed on that. How was all this from Trump to be received then over the Justice Department?
SHAUB: Well, look, we are so far beyond hypocrisy. This is the White House that is using private e-mails after chanting "lock her up" for using private e-mails. There's no two ways about it that what Bill Clinton did was dumb and it was wrong, but he was a former president of the United States and we don't know what was said on that plane.
The fear and what trump was implying was that he was somehow trying to get her to back off of investigating his wife. Well now what we have is an actual president of the United States actually saying go after my rivals. So we don't have to speculate or wonder. And so this is just the height of hypocrisy right now.
BOLDUAN: I really do wonder though, Jeffrey, how is this received over at Justice? This isn't the first time. TOOBIN: You know, I used to be an assistant U.S. attorney which is of course a very low level but a very responsible job. And, you know, one of the things that everyone at the Department of Justice feels great pride in is that it is an a political institution other than at the very top levels where there are policy issues about sentencing and about, you know, voting rights. But when it comes to criminal prosecution, those are issues left outside the political process. And to see a president you know, wink, wink, nod, nod, telling the attorney general whom to prosecute, it's just, it's just not right.
And, you know, we expect new presidents to change policies. We don't expect new presidents to change the norms. To change the rules of the game and that's what President Trump is doing here.
BOLDUAN: I'm still --I am still trying to find the upside. I'm trying to find the upside on this for Trump but --
TOOBIN: Well, his base loves it. The people who were chanting "lock her up", they want her locked up.
BOLDUAN: But it's still the Justice Department, his Justice Department that he's slamming at every turn on this and how they prosecute terror cases and on and on and on. How this helps him, well, let's leave it for another day.
[19:25:11] Great to see you guys. Thank you so much.
OutFront next, did President Trump's own words lead to the controversial sentencing of Bowe Bergdahl?
And, the president claims he's hitting ISIS much harder as revenge for the New York City terror attack except where is the evidence of that?
BOLDUAN: New tonight, President Trump angry that Bowe Bergdahl will not be spending time, any time in prison. A military judge today announcing the ruling for the army sergeant who had deserted his post in Afghanistan back in 2009. The president tweeting this, "The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace the to our country and to our military."
Bergdahl was captured and held hostage by the Taliban for five years. He came home as part of a controversial exchange for Guantanamo Bay detainees. Bergdahl pleaded last month to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He originally faced life in prison but prosecutors had asked the judge for a 14-year sentence.
Today, the judge said decided Bergdahl will be dishonorably discharged and fined $1,000 a month for the next ten months. Nick Valencia is OutFront.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bowe Bergdahl walked into court on Friday at Fort Bragg, visibly tensed. Just moments later, a military sentenced him to be dishonorably discharged. Thereby, avoiding jail time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sergeant Bergdahl has looked forward to today for a long time.
VALENCIA (voice-over): It was the culmination of a nearly ten-year saga for the 31-year-old who just last month plead guilty to desertion and misbehaving in front of the enemy. It was June 30, 2009 when Bergdahl deliberately walked away from his army post in Afghanistan. Within hours, he was captured by the Taliban and held hostage for almost five years. Bergdahl --
NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- pled guilty to desertion and misbehaving in front of the enemy.
[19:30:04] It was June 30th, 2009 when Bergdahl deliberately walked away from his army post in Afghanistan. Within hours, he was captured by the Taliban and held hostage for almost five years. Bergdahl said he spent most of the time living in a metal cage, barely big enough to stretch his legs, repeatedly beaten and tortured. Several servicemen were injured while looking for Bergdahl in Afghanistan including Master Sergeant Mark Allen, who was shot in the head and left paralyzed.
In 2014, Bergdahl was released in a controversial prisoner swap for five detainees.
And during the campaign, then candidate Donald Trump blasted the decision, and Bergdahl.
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're tired of Sergeant Bergdahl, who's a traitor, who should have been executed. Thirty years ago, he would have been shot.
VALENCIA: Today, President Trump slammed Bergdahl's sentence, tweeting: The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our country and to our military.
Bergdahl tearfully apologized Monday to the soldiers who searched for him, saying: My words can't take away for what people have been through. I'm admitting I made a horrible mistake.
A mistake he'll have to live with for the rest of his life.
VALENCIA: The conditions of Bergdahl's sentence will be taken effective immediately, with the exception of that dishonorable discharge.
Eugene Fidell, the civilian attorney for Bergdahl, tells me that Bergdahl will remain in the army until the appeals process is exhausted. Also, one point to note, the convening authority, the man who convened the court martial on Bergdahl, General Robert Abrams, well, he has a chance to look at this sentence and he also has the authority to lessen the charges against Bergdahl if he sees fit -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Nick Valencia, thanks so much, Nick. I appreciate it.
OUTFRONT with me now, retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks, and former Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee and retired FBI special agent Mike Rogers. He also served in the Army.
Great to see both of you.
Congressman, first to you. When President Obama announced the deal to get Bergdahl home, you called it dangerous. What's your reaction tonight to the sentence?
MIKE ROGERS: Well, I'm very, very, very disappointed for a couple of reasons. One, you released five people, two of which by the way were believed to be at the site where a CIA officer, Michael Span, was killed. One was a Taliban intelligence leader who we know slaughtered civilians all across Afghanistan and helped planned operations against U.S. troops, so those are two. The others were engaged in terrorist activities.
So think of the effort, level of effort to bring those folks to justice. They were traded for somebody who admitted he deserted and in the following days of that, we had one individual sergeant who was shot in the head and is now disabled. We had other folks injured.
And the judge could have gone life in prison. I don't think that was probably right, but no jail time? Absolutely no jail time? I think that's disrespectful to the men and women we ask to go outside the wire every day and risk their lives and, certainly, the men and women that serve with them believe that.
BOLDUAN: General, what do you think?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET): Yes, my view of this is that Bergdahl did, in his admission of guilty of what he did, clearly there was an acknowledgment on his part that he made, he didn't make a mistake. He consciously made a decision to desert and then the other charge is misbehavior in the face of the enemy.
And then as a result of those actions, I think what was in the mind of the judge, and Mike Rogers and I may disagree on this, but I can't get into the head of that judge. But I think what he's thinking is, look, Bergdahl gained no personal advantage by deserting. He deserted his post. He abandoned his troops. Put other soldiers at risk and we all acknowledge that.
But on a personal level, he gained no advantage and he spent the next five years in a cage and then was released. The terms of release, I would agree with Mike, were egregious because the condition -- there were conditions that were put upon their release. They went to Qatar and if their life in Qatar had been miserable and they were followed 24/7 I might be able to agree to that, but that was not the case.
So, in this particular case, you've got a sergeant that's now going to be dishonorably discharged. He is going to have to live with this for the rest of his life, gets no benefit. And he's going to have to find a community that's going to be able to embrace that type of individual who conducted these kinds of actions and abandoned his buddies. So, it's a horrible thing all around. There's absolutely zero sympathy for Bowe Bergdahl on this.
BOLDUAN: But, Congressman, the president tweeting about the sentencing right after it happened. The complete and total disgrace to our country and to our military. Do you think the president should be weighing in on this at all?
ROGERS: No, I don't. Again, one thing I'll give him credit for. He did talk about it in the campaign.
BOLDUAN: A lot.
ROGERS: He stopped talking about it as president. I'll give him credit for that. In theory, he's in the chain of command of the individual who was in that court and I would have thought that that would have been beyond the pale.
[19:35:01] But he didn't do that. You know, afterward, he made a statement and I hope what happens is we don't get distracted of what happened.
And where I just disagree with my good friend Spider, desertion isn't about a personal thing any way. You serve in a unit to protect the people on your left and your right, and so, when you desert, it's more than a personal gain, if you're causing harm and danger and risk to the people around you. That's why I think desertion is such a serious thing and it wasn't just desertion on a post. This is desertion in a combat environment.
And then subsequent to that, I mean, we worry about him having to worry about what he lived with. How about the sergeant who is disabled and can't get out of a wheelchair for the rest of his life? I just think some time in jail would have sent a message to our fellow soldier, we get it, we understand your pain and they're right. A deserter should never be treated well.
BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about that, because when Bergdahl came home, some of those who served with him and were sent out to search for him, they weren't just not happy. They were furious and they were angry. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. MATT VIERKANT, MEMBER OF BOWE BERGDAHL'S PLATOON: You would never leave to begin with without your equipment or your weapon. So that's suspect from the beginning. I don't believe he had any intention on coming back.
SGT. JOSH KORDER, U.S. ARMY: He violated his oath. He violated you know, the army values. He violated his general orders and the bond between brothers that exists on the battlefield.
(EDN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So, General, do you think this sends a bad message to the troops?
MARKS: So, what it says is that look, this is a human endeavor.
I don't disagree at all with Mike in terms of how he describes this and the definition of desertion. It's egregious. His two buddies that were just on air, those interviews they had, totally embrace what they're saying and the risks that they had to put themselves and their buddies through in order to try to make this situation right, in order to try to recover.
The presumption was, is that Bergdahl left for whatever reasons or might have been captured and taken away. So, irrespective of intent, they tried to make a situation right.
Look, this is about the infallibility of our justice system and the infallibility of those that are involved in it. It is a horrible circumstance that we're about. We can disagree in many, many ways about what this result should look like and we will for quite some time.
BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Great to see both of you. Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump claiming United States is attacking ISIS big now as payback for the New York City terror attack. Is that true?
And women who say protesting Trump is not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I know Donald Trump isn't central to your campaign at all, but he was part of the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He inspired me.
LAH: He inspired you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:41:28] BOLDUAN: New tonight, President Trump claiming retaliation for the terror attack in New York City, announcing that in the aftermath, the military is striking ISIS harder than ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What we're doing is every time we're attacked from this point forward, and it took place yesterday, we are hitting them 10 times harder. So when we have an animal do an attack like he did the other day on the West Side of Manhattan, we are hitting them 10 times harder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Yet the administration has provided no evidence of that. Data provide d by the Pentagon shows essentially no change in U.S. attacks on ISIS targets and certainly not tenfold.
OUTFRONT now, Bob Baer, former CIA operative and former Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.
Great to see both of you.
Colonel, if the military is actually hitting ISIS 10 times harder now, wouldn't that be huge and wouldn't we know about it?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): Oh, I think we certainly would. I mean, there are enough correspondents out there, Kate, that would tell us something is going on and you would see basically instead of 13 or 10 story, you'd see anywhere from 100 to 130 sorties being flown against ISIS targets, and that is just not happening in ISIS-controlled areas of Syria or Iraq at this time.
BOLDUAN: Sure doesn't seem like it. I mean, Bob, so if the president not telling the truth here, what impact does a threat if only what it is, what kind of an impact does that have on ISIS? Does it make them rethink an attack or the opposite?
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Oh, not at all, Kate. Clearly, he's exaggerating. Central Command has said same number of attacks have occurred afterwards. And not the mention the Air Force has run out of targets. I mean, with Raqqa falling, Deir Ezzor falling, there's nothing to hit anymore. Really, they're hiding among civilians in part of Syria.
So, I mean, it's the president's credibility we're talking about here. You really have to wonder what military contradicts him. Central Command has said nothing about this. So, you have to really wonder what's going on and certainly not going to deter the Islamic State from encouraging lone wolves to hit in the United States. This will continue just the same.
BOLDUAN: Because remember, the latest word is that this was an ISIS- inspired attack. And Colonel, one thing that is different about what happened with the terror attack here in New York city is oftentimes, is does not claim responsibility when the attacker isn't killed in the act. This time, the suspect didn't die, of course. He's in custody, but ISIS is still claiming he's one of them.
Do you think that signals something's changed?
LEIGHTON: I do, Kate. And the reason I think that is because ISIS is basically cornered as Bob was mentioning. We have -- we're running out of targets and ISIS has a lot less territory that they were basically controlling right now. And as a result, any type of attack that is done in their name is going to be an attack they're going to take credit for.
And that's why we're seeing them taking credit for the New York attack and we can expect them to do that I think going forward.
BOLDUAN: Bob, what do you think?
BAER: I totally agree. The organization is gone. There is no caliphate. You know, it's couple of weeks from now, it's going to be completely gone. It has no credibility and anybody that conducts violence in the West in the name of Islam, they're going to claim it one way or another.
You know, it's a dead end movement. I disagree, totally.
BOLDUAN: Well, that is a big moment for President Trump, though, he says still, they're going to be hitting them 10 times harder. Let's see what happens next.
OUTFRONT for us next, women motivated by Donald Trump. Why?
Plus, a concertgoer shot in the eye during the Las Vegas massacre. Tonight, the details of Tina Frost's incredible recovery.
[19:48:10] BOLDUAN: Tonight, believe it or not, Election Day is just days away. Yes, don't freak out. One of the biggest prizes: the governor's mansion in Virginia. The Democratic lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam, up against Trump-backed Republican, Ed Gillespie. But also on the ballot, a woman who says her inspiration to run was Donald Trump and she's not alone.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
LAH (voice-over): Not one but countless introductions.
KIMBERLY ANNE TUCKER, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR VA HOUSE OF DELEGATES: My name is Kimberly Tucker.
LAH: For this Democratic hopeful's campaign for Virginia's 81st House seats.
(on camera): I know Donald Trump isn't central to your campaign at all. But he was part of the --
TUCKER: He inspired me.
LAH: He inspired you?
TUCKER: Absolutely. TUCKER: I think he inspired women to say I'm not going stand by and
DEMONSTRATORS: Not my president!
TUCKER: We marched. We said no, but that's not enough.
LAH (voice-over): It's no longer just march and talk. The female aftershock to Trump's 2016 political earthquake is on the ballot. And Tucker's home state of Virginia, November 7th will see 51 women from major parties on the state ballot. A 60 percent increase compared to the last two comparable state election cycles. Twenty-six of the 43 Democratic female candidates have never run for office before, an unprecedented number.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of data you can look at.
LAH: Across the country, organizations training women to run for office report exponential growth in women signing up since 2016. The nonpartisan group She Should Run says it went from 1,800 women to now 15,000 female trainees.
ERIN LOOS CUTRARO, FOUNDER & CEO, SHE SHOULD RUN: Election Day came and went and the floodgates opened.
LAH (on camera): What do you think of the current gender makeup of the U.S. Capitol?
CUTRARO: It's disgraceful.
LAH (voice-over): The women candidates in Virginia are a marker. A sign of what's in their training pipeline pledge.
CUTRARO: While these women may be an exception and that's an exceptional number for a state like Virginia, they will provide the inspiration that's needed for the, I think, even bigger bump that we're going to see in future cycles.
[19:50:09] TUCKER: Thank you so much for coming out tonight.
LAH: Kimberly Anne Tucker's path here began months ago.
We met the former public school teacher in February, protesting in a town hall, a member of grassroots groups Indivisible, formed to fight the Trump agenda.
A grandmother driven to protest for the first time in her life.
(on camera): And now you are?
TUCKER: I'm a candidate for the House of Delegates.
LAH: You're on the ballot?
TUCKER: I am on the ballot, yes.
LAH: It's quite a metamorphosis.
TUCKER: It is. It is. I think I'm more surprised than anyone else that I know.
I'm just knocking on doors to make sure that I'd talk to people.
LAH: Tucker is the assumed underdog in this predominantly Republican district.
TUCKER: I hope I can rely on you to vote for me. Thank you.
LAH (on camera): What did she say?
TUCKER: She said, oh, I asked her if I could count on her vote and she said absolutely.
LAH: One step forward to the long path of political parity.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
BOLDUAN: Kyung Lah, thank you so much.
OUTFRONT next: Tina Frost was shot in a Las Vegas massacre over a month ago. Doctors feared she might not survive. But Tina is now beating the odds. We have an update.
[19:55:07] BOLDUAN: Tonight a medical miracle. OUTFRONT first brought you the story of Tina Frost, a young shot in the head. For weeks, she had been in a coma, unable to breathe on her own. Doctors were unsure she would survive. But her mother telling OUTFRONT Tina is a fighter and fighting she is.
Now, just one month later, Tina's awake and walking if you can believe it.
Erin spoke just yesterday with Amy Klinger, a close family friend. Here's part of their conversation.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Amy, you know when we first heard the story it brought us and so many others to tears. But, wow, she is incredible. I mean, you just saw her, how is she?
AMY KLINGER, FAMILY FRIEND OF LAS VEGAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR TINA FROST: She is amazing. It really is. Like you said, totally unbelievable that it's only been a month and she's made such unbelievable progress. She is totally aware of her surroundings. And I feel really lucky to have been one of the first people to hear her speak after she just started speaking again on Tuesday night.
BURNETT: She, of course, was struck by a bullet and she lost her right eye. And now, it's not just the talking and talking, she's looking at "People" magazine and this picture in her hospital room. She's been using an iPad. You filmed this video of her walking. It's like she's doing so something of a squat, and she is so assured. I mean, how amazed is her family, are you, by this miracle?
KLINGER: It's really, it is exactly what you said it's amazing to see her do it, I mean, to hear from other people who have visited, but to see it myself and -- you know when you hear it you're like oh, OK, maybe a few steps. She walked all the way around the entire unit that she is in. She did these squat walks. She did lunge walks. She did a great vine kind of movement, all with the doctors just telling her, the physical therapist telling her what to do, not even needing to kind of modeled the movement, they just told her what the next activity was going to be, and she comfortably did it.
BURNETT: What are doctors saying now, Amy, about her recovery, what happens next?
KLINGER: She'll continue to build up her strength. She started to eat some solid food. She's working on her speech. So, all of these things are really amazing. She'll continue to do these for the next two weeks. And then at that time, she will have another surgery where they will begin like the facial reconstruction part of it.
BURNETT: And that obviously I foe is going to be so important. She comes into that with all of the strength that she has. I mean, she was at the festival with her boyfriend Austin, and I know that he has been by her side since then. Her family saying she just lights up when she sees him which is, look, a beautiful thing to imagine.
I mean, how is he coping?
KLINGER: Yes. He's from, I actually didn't have an opportunity to see him on Wednesday, but I kind of teased. I was like I'm so sad I didn't get to see Austin, I hard she's such a cutey. She giggled at me. And she really finds enormous support for him being there. She likes to hold his hand when he's there and she feels comforted by his side.
BURNETT: Now, when we last spoke to Tina's mom, she talked about the man that saved her life. And she only knew his name as Shane. That's all they knew. He, of course, helped to carry Tina into the back of a pickup truck and saved her life.
I just want to say again what her mom said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you want to say to him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for saving my daughter's life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Has the family had any luck in locating Shane? KLINGER: So, yes, they have been able to locate him. After that
story played through Tina's GoFundMe page, a colleague of Shane's who was also at the festival that weekend wrote a message to the GoFundMe page letting us know Shane is a firefighter, a first responder from California who happened to be a festivalgoer and he helped many people. And she was able to put Austin and Shane in touch with one another.
And they -- I'm not sure how frequently they're communicating now, but they did share some text messages a couple weeks ago and showing just such appreciation for Shane and all he did to help, you know, save Tina.
BRNETT: It's just wonderful that Austin can do that and that they found Shane and I know that's going to be a link that's going to be so important for Tina.
Thank you so much as we root for her and these next big steps that she has coming. Thank you.
KLINGER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: One remarkable story of so many coming from that horrific night. You yourself can help Tina. You can make a donation to our GoFundMe page. It's right there on your screen.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
"AC360" starts right now.