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Trump Says He Believes Putin Over U.S. Intel Community; First Baptist to Re-Open Sanctuary Tomorrow as Memorial; Modern Day Gold Rush Destroying the Amazon Rain Forest. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 11, 2017 - 17:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: We thank you very much for joining us and we hope that you are having a great Veterans Day. "I am not guilty," the words of Judge Roy Moore as he fights for his political life amid allegations of a sexual misconduct involving a teenage girl decades ago.

Protesters were vocal at his first public appearance since his scandal came to light chanting "No Moore" as he arrived at this Veterans Day event. The Alabama Republican nominee for U.S. Senate is fearlessly denying the accusations.

The most damaging, a claim that he assaulted the 14-year-old Leigh Corfman back in 1979 when he was in his early 30s.

CNN's Alex Marquardt joins me now from Alabama. Alex, there is no sign that Moore is going to back down from these allegations, right?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, there really isn't. The event that he spoke at today was really a full- throated rejection of these allegations. He painted it -- he railed on this report as a liberal attempt to bring down his campaign that is being spearheaded by "The Washington Post."

He rejected any notion or accusation of sexual misconduct, and he said it is absolutely unbelievable that these allegations are now coming to light just weeks before the special election is due to be held in December and almost 40 years after the fact. Take a listen.


MOORE: To be attacked for allegations of sexual misconduct contradicts my entire career in law. I want to make it clear to the media present and the people present, I have not provided alcohol beverages -- alcoholic beverages, beer or anything else to a minor. I have not been guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone. These allegations came only four and a half weeks before the general election on December 12th. Why now?


MARQUARDT: Why now? The question that Roy Moore and his campaign and his supporters are asking, in that question, he's insinuating some sort of conspiracy and for now, his supporters are buying into it. They are wondering why these women came forward now at this very sensitive time, before a highly dramatic race.

They are wondering who is encouraging them to do it. Whether it's the Democrats or establishment Republicans. We have to remember, Boris, that these women did not come forward on their own. They did not come forward together.

They were found by "The Washington Post" separately. They had similar stories and they were convinced by that newspaper through good old fashion reporting to tell their stories -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And according to the "Washington Post," they were reluctant to tell their stories. They had to be convinced. Now, Alex, you are hearing about others that are coming forward and corroborate at least parts of this report including a former co-worker of Roy Moore's?

MARQUARDT: That's absolutely right. A former co-worker who worked alongside Roy Moore in the late '70s or early '80s says that she believes these women. She was the deputy district attorney in Etowah County at the courthouse where Roy Moore was working.

She worked alongside him, as I mentioned. Her name is Teresa Jones and CNN reached out to her, and she told us, "It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls. Everyone we knew thought it was weird. We wondered why someone at his age would hang out at high school football games and at the mall, but you really would not say anything to someone like that."

So, she is saying it was common knowledge. For now, we are not seeing many cracks in his base of support. That, of course, could change if these allegations continue to mount. I should note, Boris, that in addition to this rejection of these allegations by Roy Moore, he is saying that they have launched an investigation into the report.

And they are saying that on the coming days there will be revelations about the motivations behind the article. So, he again is insinuating that these women and the newspaper had other motivations for coming out.

And he says we fully expect the people of Alabama to see through what he is calling a charade -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Alex Marquardt reporting from Birmingham, thank you.

Looking overseas now to Asia where President Trump is suggesting that he is not going to ask Vladimir Putin again whether or not Russia meddled in last year's presidential election because he's already accepted the answer.

The two men spoke a few times during the Asia-Pacific Summit in Vietnam. The president says that Putin denied any involvement in the election and he feels that it is insulting to the Russian leader to keep on asking him and the two countries have bigger things to address. In short, he is moving on. The U.S. intelligence community, though, is not moving on. CNN asked the CIA today if the agency's position on Russia's meddling has changed? The answer it is not.

Intelligence agencies have firmly concluded that the Russians did work to affect the results of the election last year attempting to tip the scale in Trump's favor. The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee today criticized the president for taking Vladimir Putin's word over the findings of his own agencies.

[17:05:06] This coming from California Congressman Adam Schiff today, quote, "Mr. Trump simply can't bring himself to put America first."

CNN Politics reporter, Dan Merica is in Hanoi, Vietnam today. Dan, the president's comments seemingly at odds, out of step with the CIA and other agencies that are investigating Russia's involvement in the election. What's his response?

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Hey, Boris, good morning from Vietnam. You are exactly right. President Trump is once again questioning the U.S. intelligence agencies' assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

Now President Trump and Vladimir Putin met briefly three times during the APEC Summit, south of here in Da Nang over the weekend, and it was during one of those meetings, which we're told lasted about 5 minutes that Russian President Vladimir Putin brought up the election meddling, denied the election meddling.

And then Trump later told reporters aboard Air Force One that he accepted Putin's words on that matter. I want to read you exactly what President Trump said. He said, "Every time he," referring to Vladimir Putin, "sees me, he says, I did not do that. I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it."

Now, of course, it is no surprise that President Trump is questioning the intelligent assessment, he's done that many times. What's striking is he's taking Putin's word, a former KGB agent, over his own intelligence agency.

President Trump in reaction, he also said that the former heads of the intelligence agencies are political hacks and that Putin was offended by the fact that this 2016 election meddling kept coming up.

Now there are really two problems for the president on this story line. First, it is not just former officials who are questioning, who Trump is questioning, he's also questioning his own intelligence agencies.

As you mentioned, the CIA came out after Trump's remarks and said, they stand by their assessment. Obviously, Republicans on Capitol Hill who are investigating the Russia collusion are also standing by the assessment of the intelligence community.

Additionally, White House officials were worried going into this strip that any interaction with Vladimir Putin could over shadow really the focus that they wanted on North Korea, on trade, and this story, Boris, seems to be over shadowing and doing exactly what White House officials were worried about.

SANCHEZ: Dan Merica reporting from Hanoi. We should not fail to mention that on this Veterans Day, American and Vietnamese leaders are sitting side by side peacefully, perhaps a note to give you more hope in the future.

Let's bring in our panel now to discuss this and Roy Moore. Joining us White House correspondent for the "New York Times," Michael Shear, and CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley.

Let's start with this bombshell from the president saying that he believes Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community. Even people that he's appointed to lead those intelligence agencies.

Michael, help us understand the kind of intelligence that the president is choosing to ignore right now. We know at least one report included specific details that show that Vladimir Putin gave direct orders to interfere in the election.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, look, thanks, Boris, the fact that President Trump has taken this position consistently from before he was actually elected, during the transition, and then during his presidency should come as no surprise.

Because at the end of the day, President Trump believes that the question of Russia meddling undermines the very legitimacy of his presidency. That forms I think the basis of his objection.

So, when he challenged first the sort of Obama holdover intelligence officials as questioning their assessment, that sort of made sense because those were not people that he put in place.

Now, you got his own intelligence community, the folks that he put in place to lead the CIA and the DNI, and all of the Republicans on Capitol Hill, as I think you mentioned, who have invested in months now of investigations based on the assumption and the belief that Russia did meddle.

You know, all of that follows from the basic belief that the president has that where he to accept the idea of Russia meddling that it would somehow undermine the legitimacy of his presidency and it goes beyond just pure politics, although, it would damage him politically if he were to accept it.

But I think he just sees himself as a historical figure and if he accepts the fact that Russia helped get him elected that that undermines his standing on the world's stage.

SANCHEZ: Douglas, help us put this in context, could you think of a president where an American president has denied not only his own intelligence officials but an overwhelming number of congressmen in denying that Russia meddled in the election. Has there been a time ever in American history where we've seen this kind of division between the president and seemingly everyone else? [17:10:07] DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No. It's kooky. Here we are on, which should be a Veterans Day moment with the president of the United States in Vietnam, Ken Burn's PBS documentary in Vietnam right now has 4 million viewers. Back in 1980, before Ronald Reagan went to D-Day and gets talked about the veterans of D- day, he should have been Donald Trump talking about the service of Marines and Air Force Navy and Army and Vietnam on Veterans Day.

And instead he's backing the KGB and Putin in dissing his own CIA on foreign soil, it is an utter disaster. The trip had some momentum going and Donald Trump stepped in and again for the reasons you just heard, he can't accept the fact that maybe his election has an asterisk by it.

Maybe Russian interference -- and that 3 million extra votes of Hillary Clinton means that he's not a real president. But to do that in this kind of way, attack your own CIA when you are in your Asian trip is unbelievable.

SANCHEZ: Michael, I'm intrigued by one portion of the president's statement where he says that he believes Vladimir Putin because when he denies that Russia meddled in last year's election, he means it. How do you interpret that?

SHEAR: Well, look, I think that part of what the president has always done is to try to give some sense that positive relations with Russia is going to somehow paper over this substantial differences and interests between Russia and the United States.

That sort of the underscores the president approach towards foreign policy is that if he can be buddies and chums with these world leaders, that can pay over issues of trades or nuclear proliferation and others.

And so, I think that there's always been an effort by this president to say, well, you know, these foreign leaders, they really understand me, and I bond with them, and I think my sense of the reading of that comment was a sense of hey, the two of us understand each another. He really means it when he says something, and I am taking him at his words.

SANCHEZ: Now, Douglas, I want to turn to the special election in Alabama and the allegations against Senate candidate, Roy Moore. As of right now, he's showing no signs that he plans to drop out.

It's simply too late to remove him from the ticket and even if he drops out from the race, but if he does end up winning, how do you see him working with Republicans in Congress that have spoken out against him, that have opposed him even before these allegations came out.

BRINKLEY: Well, if he wins and that's still a big if right now, I think they'll have to try to get in line with them. He's still going to be vote and his vote is going to matter. They won't try to become great friends with Judge Moore.

They are not going to be looking to be hanging out and party with him and photo ops with him. But nevertheless, he is a vote and they will take it. But you know, I think "Washington Post" have done an amazing job. It is flawless piece of journalism that's come out.

Judge Moore has not been able to attack it yet, but the strategy of Donald Trump is to attack the press and he made inroads in that in Alabama. And you very well may see him win because people think the press just makes things up and Moore is being victimized. If they voted for Donald Trump in Alabama, they can vote for Judge Moore without too much of a blink.

SANCHEZ: Michael, President Trump said earlier today that he had not been able to devote enough time to analyzing the situation, the allegations against Roy Moore, previously the White House put out a statement saying that if these allegations are true, he should do the right thing and step away.

But they also said that a mere allegation should not ruin someone's life. Do you think the president and the White House should start putting more distance between themselves and Roy Moore especially as we hear of more people are coming out to corroborate these stories?

SHEAR: Well, I think that we'll see what happens. If there are more allegations or a lot more corroborating evidence, I think you may see the White House try to put distance between themselves and Roy Moore.

I got to say I think one of the things that this whole episode underscores is the way that norms have changed in part frankly because of the 2016 presidential campaign and the "Access Hollywood" video, which comes out and nonetheless even though that "Access Hollywood" video comes out, we still elect as a country, President Trump.

And I think, you know, it is not that long ago that allegations like this would have completely derailed a campaign for Senate, just even in the hours after it came out. The fact that, you know, we'll see what happens in the days ahead.

But the fact that it may not derail this campaign and that he may actually go on to be elected to the Senate, I think shows not only what's happened in Alabama but also that as a country, our kind of political norms have changed.

[17:15:11] And what we as a country are willing to accept in a politician has changed, and maybe some would say not for the better.

SANCHEZ: All right, we have to leave it there. Michael Shear, Douglas Binkley, we appreciate the perspective and the time this weekend. Thank you.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Republican tax plan would not increase taxes on the middle class. Now, he says he misspoke. What does it mean for middle class taxes? We'll take a close look, next on the CNN NEWSROOM.


SANCHEZ: The clock is ticking for the Republicans in the House and Senate to reconcile their dueling tax overhaul proposals. The Senate unveiled the details of its plan a week after the House released its own version of legislation.

But Senate Majority Mitch McConnell now claims that he misspoke when he previously said that no one in the middle class would get a tax increase under the GOP's proposal.

[17:20:07] CNN national politics reporter, M.J. Lee, joins us now to break it down. M.J., how is Mitch McConnell now walking this back?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, certainly not every day that we see the Senate majority leader backtrack on a statement, and that statement from a couple of days ago was that nobody in the middle class was going to get a tax increase under the Senate bill.

Now in a new interview with the "New York Times," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now saying that misspoke, and here is how he clarified that statement that he made. He said, "You can't guarantee that absolutely no one sees a tax increase, but what we are doing is targeting levels of income and looking at the average in those levels and the average will be the tax relief for the average taxpayer in each of those segments."

So, using the word "average" a lot there and the reality here is that Mitch McConnell understands that under the Senate bill that was released on Thursday, some middle-class Americans will certainly see a tax relief.

But there are going to be others who actually end up paying more really depends on what income bracket you fall under your financial circumstance, what kind of deductions you might be eligible for, and I think this is something we are going to see play out a lot in the coming weeks.

Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and other GOP leaders, they are facing a lot of pressure from rank and file members, who are hearing from their constituents, who say that if the House bill or the Senate bill passes, they're going to end up paying a lot more in taxes.

SANCHEZ: All right. Help us understand the differences between the House bill and the Senate bill. I know that the number of brackets is one gap that they have to bridge. How likely is that they'll bridge all those gaps before the end of the year?

LEE: Yes. Really important to keep in mind that really there are two bills that we are talking about, one in the House and one in the Senate. As you said there are some key differences, one of them is the number of tax brackets, there is four versus seven in the Senate plan.

And the Senate plan fully repeals SALT, that is the State and Local Tax deductions, which has been so contentious. While the House keeps the property tax break in place, and in the House plan, it repeals the estate tax, but the Senate keeps it.

And also, how the different bills treat mortgage interest deductions and that's also a key difference here. The goal for Senate Republicans and House Republicans is to pass something in the coming weeks.

But as you said, bridging those differences is going to be really challenging and all the while they are hearing from President Trump and hear from their constituents too that they really want to see their Republican Party do something this year before the end of the year, and they're also looking for a political victory here.

SANCHEZ: Right. And even from donors who say that if this does not get passed, they should not look forward to funding in 2018. M.J. Lee, thank you so much for the perspective.

When it comes to Russian attempts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election, who would you believe, U.S. intelligence agencies or Vladimir Putin? And why is Donald Trump siding with the Russian president? We'll take a closer look, next.



SANCHEZ: President Trump says that he does not believe the intelligence communities' conclusion that Russia interfered in last year's election. One of the reasons is because he thinks the intelligence community was being led by, quote, "political hacks."

There's only problem for the president, it's not just Obama appointees who believed that Russia interfered. Some of the president's own handpicked appointees agree that Russia is responsible, and they have said so publicly multiple times. Listen.


MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: I am confident that the Russians meddled in this election as is the entire intelligence community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any decent within the intelligence community you oversee on the question of whether the Russians interfered with the American election?

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There is no decent and I stated that publicly --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone's on board.

COATS: -- and I stated it to the president.

MIKE ROGERS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: No doubt at all. I stand behind the intelligence -- the intelligence community assessment that we produced.

COATS: I think it's publicly known and acknowledged and accepted that Russia actually did try to influence the campaign. To what extent they were successful, I don't think we know.


SANCHEZ: I want to bring in someone who's help compile intelligence reports and been a part of these top intel briefings with the president. Samantha Vinograd served as senior adviser to President Obama's national security adviser.

You've actually been there supporting President Obama during his meetings with Vladimir Putin. So, I am intrigued by what you think about today. What does Vladimir Putin thinking when Donald Trump seems to contradict his own intelligence agencies on foreign soils, seeming to side with the Russians?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it is interesting, Donald Trump has changed his mind about a lot of things. That he's been very consistent about his policy of appeasing Russia. Now I think a president should speak with both friends and enemies.

But we would have been better off if President Trump had not spoken to Putin at all. His public comments suggest that he's more influenced by a foreign government, in this case Russia, than his own intelligence community and a bipartisan majority of Congress.

What this tells us is that Vladimir Putin has waged a very successful, psychological operations campaign against President Trump that led him to undercut his own government. Just think about it, Donald Trump appeased Putin publicly today and undercut the U.S. intelligence community and Congress.

SANCHEZ: Part of the reason that this trip to Asia was so important is because the president wanted to present a united front between Asian allies and North Korea specifically saying during a speech that he doesn't backdown from conflict. But it seems like he's avoiding conflict with Vladimir Putin. What does it say to our allies of that part of the world and really all over the world?

VINOGRAD: Well, it is ironic that just a few days ago in Seoul, President Trump said the United States does not run away from conflict or confrontation, he did exactly that today, which tells Vladimir Putin that Vladimir Putin can continue to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants at no cause including attacks in United States again.

It also tells us Kim Jong-un that the United States does not respond to direct attack on the homeland. That's some very dangerous message to send to a guy that's threatened to launch missiles at the United States.

SANCHEZ: All right. The other question here that I wanted to ask was specifically about the reasoning that Donald Trump gives for not confronting Vladimir Putin. He says that it would damage the relationship that he'd rather talk to him about North Korea, about Ukraine, about Syria. But can he do both?

I mean, don't our interests at least with North Korea naturally align to a point where he could confront Vladimir Putin and say we have to do something mutually about Kim Jong-un. VINOGRAD: The success of a bilateral meeting isn't determined by whether both leaders are smiling at the end. I work for a Republican president and a Democrat. And I can tell you that bilateral meetings involved talking about areas of mutual interests as well as mutual concern.

Donald Trump's failure to actually confront Vladimir Putin about this election meddling means that Putin thinks he has the upper hand and Donald Trump is not going to be able to negotiate with him on a level playing field on these complex issues like North Korea and Ukraine.

SANCHEZ: So very quickly because we are short on time.

If the president of the United States isn't standing up to Vladimir Putin and Congress has done just about all it can and passing these sanctions overwhelmingly, then who stands up to him?

VINOGRAD: Well, I think that Congress can do so and we can implement the sanctions on time, which will start to send a clear message.

SANCHEZ: All right, Samantha Vinograd, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate your perspective.

It's been nearly one week since the shooting -- deadly shooting inside a Texas church. I'll get to that in a second, but I did want to mention that tomorrow on CNN "State of the Union," former director of national intelligence James Clapper and former CIA director John Brennan are going to be responding to the president's comment.

Again, that is tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m., "State of the Union" on CNN.

As I mentioned previously, it's been nearly a week since that deadly shooting inside a Texas church, and the church is preparing to reopen their sanctuary tomorrow as we take a look at live pictures from Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The gunman's ex-wife is sharing shocking details of how he treated her. We have a live report from there, next.


[17:36:45] SANCHEZ: Today is Veterans Day and events are being held across the country to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

This morning, Vice President Mike Pence was surrounded by family members of fallen heroes helping to clean the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Later on, Pence placed a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. And after observing a moment of silence at the traditional ceremony, the vice president made this promise to current and future veterans on behalf of the Trump administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to rebuild our military. We're going to restore the arsenal of democracy and we will once again give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe. That's our promise to all of you.



SANCHEZ: President Trump also released a video today thanking veterans and their families for answering the call of duty.

Tomorrow, the first Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas is reopening its sanctuary, where a memorial has been created to honor the victims killed in Sunday's mass shooting.

In a statement, the church wrote, quote, "This is our church, but it is not just us that are suffering. This tragedy has rocked our nation and has had an impact on all Americans and our country as a whole. It is our hope that this will be healing for everyone."

CNN's Kaylee Hartung is in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and she joins us now live.

Kaylee, today we are also hearing for the first time from the gunman's ex-wife.

What does she have to say?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tessa Brennaman lived in fear for ex-husband Boris. A man who she says had a lot of anger, hatred and demons inside. She described her abusive marriage to "Inside Edition" and told this story of how he threatened her when she got a speeding ticket.


TESSA BRENNAMAN, DEVIN KELLEY'S EX-WIFE: He had a gun in his holster right here and he took that gun out and he put it to my temple and he told me, do you want to die, do you want to die?


HARTUNG: Brennaman says he threatened to kill her and her entire family multiple times. The two divorced in October of 2012. It was a month later that Kelly pled guilty and was charged with beating his ex-wife and her infant son. It was that conviction that led to a year in military confinement and his bad conduct discharge.


SANCHEZ: And Kaylee, what can you tell us about security at the church in preparation for tomorrow's reopening. We understand there are some measures being put in place. HARTUNG: Well, we should stress that First Baptist Sanctuary is being opened purely as a memorial site. No services are scheduled to be held inside that sanctuary.

I'm told it was early yesterday morning that contractor first got inside to repair the damage inside and create this memorial to the victims. And speaking with a sheriff's deputy on site, she said they have been told to plan to be in place outside First Baptist Church for at least the next 30 days.

But also tomorrow, members of First Baptist congregation come together to worship, they will do so at a baseball field not far from here. Their pastor Frank Pomeroy is expected to deliver a sermon.

We are told as many as thousands of people could be present for that event. And that it will be federally monitored. FBI and ATF agents expected to be on site there, Boris.

And even in the rain here in Sutherland Springs on this Saturday night, people continue to visit this makeshift memorial just outside the church. Six funerals being held this weekend as well, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Tragedy altogether.

Kaylee Hartung, thank you. Reporting from Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Still much more ahead on the CNN NEWSROOM including a trip to what some called the ultimate relaxation spot, but the number of people heading there could jeopardize it.

CNN's Bill Weir joins us now to explain.

But, first, Justin Salas lost his sight as a teenager. And after a couple of years, he took up rock climbing. Now the 23-year-old is on his way to Scotland to compete in his first Rock Climbing World Cup.


JUSTIN SALAS, PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND ROCK CLIMBER: I get to kind of interact with rock in a way that I think very few people get to experience. Climbing has taught me how to navigate the world in a completely different way.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Justin Salas is a professional rock climber. He's also legally blind.

SALAS: Being a young teen boy and losing your vision is one of the hardest things I could've imagined. I was about to get my learner's permit, and that was just robbed from me.

GUPTA: Despite years of tests, doctors couldn't determine the cause of his vision loss.

SALAS: I spent probably two or three years just not doing anything at all, until a friend of mine that worked at the local gym told me that I didn't need to see to rock climb, and, I was hooked. GUPTA: Justin can't see anything straight ahead, so he relies mainly on his peripheral vision.

SALAS: When I'm looking at a wall, I don't see holds most of the time; it's just out of feel or muscle memory, or having a sight guide call for me.

GUPTA: That's where Matt Frederick comes in.

MATT FREDERICK, SIGHT GUIDE AND FRIEND: Your next foot is at your waist.

GUPTA: As a sight guide, he directs Justin up the wall.

FREDERICK: I've learned a lot about how he climbs, and I think, what would he want to do here. Based on that, I'll call holds in a specific order.

GUPTA: Together, they're headed to the 2017 IFSC World Cup in Edinburgh, where Justin will climb against other visually impaired competitors.

ANNOUNCER: On your marks --

GUPTA: On his first ascent, Justin suffered a major setback.

FREDERICK: You're on a bolt, you're on a bolt.

GUPTA: By mistakenly stepping on a bolt that wasn't part of the course, his first climb was disqualified.

FREDERICK: It's just, a no-go?




GUPTA: But he regained ground on his second climb.

FREDERICK: To the left -- perfect.

GUPTA: And qualified for the finals.

FREDERICK: Good job, man.

GUPTA: In the main event, Justin challenged for the top spot --

FREDERICK: Great, stand on it.

GUPTA: Coming in just short of finishing first.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, a big round of applause for rock climber Justin Salas from the USA! SALAS: I had no idea that I was going to do this well. All I wanted to do was make finals, and getting second place for my first World Cup was really, really cool.



[17:47:35] SANCHEZ: It is about that time.

Voting is now under way for the CNN "Hero of the Year."

Meet Jennifer Maddox, one of this year's top ten heroes.


JENNIFER MADDOX, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT, CNN COMMUNITY HERO: A lot of our young people are fearful to even come outside -- the shooting, the killing. Five-, 6-, 7-year olds, they're losing people that they love and care about --





MADDOX: We are in a state of emergency here in the City of Chicago.

I'm a law enforcement officer, but I'm also a mother, and a member of this community.

I don't think that any child should grow up feeling like, this could be it. Our center offers an escape for the young people.

What's that?

We make sure that the kids have healthy, hot meals. They get help with their homework.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eleven. So what you do with the one?

MADDOX: We mentor them.


MADDOX: Don't cry. Don't cry, baby.

MADDOX: I am very proud to be one of the bridges to connect police and community. We have to learn to trust one another.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANCHEZ: Jennifer is just one of many inspiring stories. You can vote for Jennifer or any of your favorite top 10 heroes now at


[17:53:10] SANCHEZ: President Trump is suggesting he is not going to ask Vladimir Putin again if Russia meddled in last year's presidential election, because he's already accepted the answer.

The two men spoke a few times during the Asia-Pacific Summit in Vietnam. The president says Putin denied any involvement in the election. He feels it is insulting to the Russian leader to keep asking and that the two countries have bigger things to address. In short, he is moving on.

The U.S. intelligence community, though, is not. CNN asked the C.I.A. today if the agency's position on Russian meddling had changed. The answer, it hadn't. Intelligence agencies are firmly concluded that the Russians did work to affect the results of the election last year.

The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee today criticized the president for taking Vladimir Putin's word over the findings of his own agencies. This coming from Representative Adam Schiff of California.

He writes, quote, "Mr. President Trump simply can't bring himself to put America First."

A comment that was then echoed by Senator John McCain, who said this in a statement moments ago.

Quote, "There's nothing America first about taking the word of a KGB Colonel over that of the American intelligence community. There's no principled realism in cooperating with Russia to prop up the murderous Assad regime, which remains the greatest obstacle to a political solution that would bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria. Vladimir Putin does not have America's interests at heart to believe otherwise. He is not only naive, but also places our national security at risk."

I want to take a chance to remind you that tomorrow on CNN's "State of the Union," former director of national intelligence James Clapper and former C.I.A. Director John Brennan will respond to the president's comments.

That is tomorrow on "State of the Union" at 9:00 a.m. on CNN.

[17:50:00] On a much lighter note. Visitors in record numbers are flocking to some breathtaking Incan ruins in Machu Picchu in Peru. The sheer numbers threat, though, to overwhelm one of the modern wonders of the world.

We're joined by CNN's Bill Weir. He climbed the dizzying peaks of Machu Picchu for "The Wonder List."

What did you find? BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we went down there because it's on the bucket list, right? Everybody wants to go to Machu Picchu. Hike the Inca trail. But what we found was a glorious treasure, but it's overwhelmed by -- this being love to death a little bit.

In fact, I think we have a little taste of my climb. Take a look.


WEIR (voice-over): Most archaeologists believe that all of this was built as a spot of ultimate relaxation and religion. For the VIPs of the Inca world. A place to escape the crowded heat of Cusco and relax among the clouds. Worship the sun and the stars.


WEIR: Fernando has been in charge of the site for 20 years, but he still gets giddy over new discoveries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of this was covered by soil, by dirt. All of this that you can see. It started down here. It's all of this was finally uncovered.

WEIR: His team recently unearthed this celestial window. Carved without chisels to track the path of the sun for planting and worship.

After a ten-minute climb, I reached the spot I had seen photographed so many times. That high corner with the last Inca ruler must have stood, smiled at the sun and thought it is good to be the king.

Hmm, and maybe we should build another addition. Up there. That's Huayna Picchu, young peak. Machu Picchu old peak.

And tomorrow morning, we're going to try to climb that and I may die.


SANCHEZ: Glad to see you didn't die.


SANCHEZ: And you're here in one piece.

What kind of steps are Peruvian officials taking to try to limit the damage that can be done?

WEIR: Well, they've now just mandated that you have to have a tour guide with you. You can't just wonder through it like you were able to. They limit the number who comes up the Huayna Picchu.

They're just trying to get their arms around it because this country is so rich with these treasures. There are other sites like Pisac and around Cusco that are just as magnificent though it's not, you know, as publicized.

So they're trying to push the crowds to the other parts of the country. But it's a poor South American country. And a lot of people have subsystems. Farmers or miners. There's a huge gold rush going on in the Amazon. Just ripping some of the most precious rainforests around.

This is up in Lake Titicaca and Bolivia, where, you know, overcrowding and pollution is starting to take its toll up there. So it's a wonderful, beautiful place. Amazing people. And --

SANCHEZ: It certainly looks beautiful.

Tell us about this gold rush, though. What is going on and what's being done to try to mitigate it?

WEIR: Well, about 600 square miles of some of the most pristine rainforest in the western Amazon is just been turned into this toxic wasteland. These miners go out La Isla de Los Tigres.

It's what they call these illicit taxi companies on dirt bikes. They go into the woods, into the rain forest with a diesel pump and fire hoses. And they basically wash the sandbags down, cut all the trees down until it starts to look like desert.

And then they take mercury barrels and stomp it in order to get the gold to amalgamate. And this creates incredible health hazards for the people and the animals. It goes into the water supply, but look what it does to the Amazon there and who knows of how many centuries it will take to bring that back.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It's a difficult balance, right? Economic prosperity versus maintaining the environment. It's been a consistent theme of "The Wonder List" this season.

What do you hope people take away from this episode?

WEIR: Well, I'm hoping people see that their little decisions add up, you know. The gold that goes into our cell phones or rings, earlobes, it comes from somewhere and when gold hits $1,000 an ounce in the markets of London or New York, there's celebration.

In the jungles of Peru, there are chainsaws and diesel pumps and pop- up boom towns and brothels and all the human costs that goes on top of these precious things that we covet.

SANCHEZ: Important perspective.

Bill, we thank you so much for joining us.

WEIR: Thanks, Boris. Thanks for having me.

SANCHEZ: It's been a great series.

You can watch the season finale of "The Wonder List" tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

Thank you so much for joining us on this Veterans Day. I'm Boris Sanchez in for Ana Cabrera in New York. My colleague John Berman comes back later tonight for one more hour of CNN NEWSROOM, starting right after "Smerconish." Thank you again for joining us. Have a good night.