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Trump Tweets Should've Left UCLA Players in Jail; Jared Kushner's Attorney Pushes Back on the Russia Investigation; Major Alabama Newspapers Reject Roy Moore; Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 19, 2017 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:05] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello on this Sunday, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in Washington.

Tonight the president is now locked in a Twitter feud with someone equally blunt and outspoken. But what makes it so troubling is what Trump's words could mean for Americans imprisoned overseas. Today he fired shot at LaVar Ball. He is the father of the one of the UCLA players arrested in China for stealing. And here is what the president tweeted.

"Now that the three basketball players are out of China and safe from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail."

Well, if you're not familiar with LaVar Ball, he makes the president at times look modest by comparison. He once bragged he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one. He said his older son Lonzo was already a better basketball player than Steph Curry.

Well, this weekend he made a comment the president clearly didn't like and CNN's Boris Sanchez is live for us at the White House with the latest developments.

Boris, any word from the White House now about the president picking this fight at this time?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're still waiting for official comment from the White House on this tweet to LaVar Ball, Ana. But in the past when the president has had these spats with people on Twitter they've said that this is a strength of the president that the American people elected him in part because he is a fighter who doesn't back down from attack.

All of this started as the president was on the 12-day tour of five different Asian countries. These three UCLA players were detained after allegedly shoplifting. The president found out about it and White House officials tell us that he personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for them to be released and allow them to be returned home.

They were and during that process, the president actually wandered allowed on Twitter whether or not these three student athletes would thank President Trump for his role in getting them back home. After all they were facing some lengthy prison sentences, serious charges.

The players did thank the president. He in return tweeted about them saying that they should be weary of the many pitfalls in life. We thought it was over and then on Friday LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, one of those three players, spoke to ESPN, downplaying the president's role in getting his son back home safe.

And he said, quote, "What was he over there for?" Speaking about the president. "Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out." Well, you saw the president's response suggesting that perhaps he should have let these three U.S. citizens remain imprisoned in China because one of their parents didn't give them credit in public -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez at the White House. Thank you.

Let's talk more about this with our panel. David Zirin, he is the sports editor at "The Nation" and Michael D'Antonio, a CNN contributor and the author of "The Truth About Trump."

So, Michael, how does this feud reveal who the president is?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course it reveals how low he'll go. Whenever we think that he's done about the lowest thing he can do, last week it was attacking Al Franken, granted Franken was caught in something terrible, a terrible scandal but this is a president who has many times had many accusations against him. That wasn't enough. He had to then get engaged with the father of this basketball player.

The other thing that I think we need to think about here is where the discourse is going generally. The fact that Mr. Ball brags as much as he does both about himself and his son, and we now have a president who got to where he is by bragging, is really indicative of the place our society has reached which I think a lot of people really find troubling. We're at this lowest common denominator now all the time and I think people are sick of it.

CABRERA: Yes. David, in some ways LaVar Ball and President Trump do seem very alike. The president drapes things in gold LaVar Ball sells $500 sneakers and $300 flip flops.


CABRERA: Ball thinks he could beat Michael Jordan. He probably thinks he can be president. Which man is out of his league here?

ZIRIN: Well, I mean, Donald Trump is out of his league as president of course. I mean, what this feels like is a spat between two reality TV stars, the sort of thing that shouldn't even be spoken about on a network like CNN. But then you have to remember that one of them is the president of the United States and just said that American citizens in a Chinese jail should have been left there because their father wasn't appreciative enough.

And that puts that in a whole other level. And the real winners here tragically are Donald Trump and LaVar Ball. Donald Trump is a winner because we're talking about this instead of serial sexual assault, the problems with the tax bill, which is incredibly unpopular, or the fact that the head of his Oklahoma state party was just indicted for child sex trafficking.

[18:05:03] So we're talking about LaVar Ball and LaVar Ball is the winner because he's a PT Barnum style huckster and all of a sudden the president is tweeting his name. And I'll tell you something, this does great things for LaVar Ball in NBA circles because in most circles Donald Trump is viewed as a bigot and in LeBron James' words as a bum. And people like Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, the most respected coaches in the NBA, have called Donald Trump a racist and LaVar Ball is not viewed greatly in these circles, but out of this I guarantee you he'll be much more of an anti-hero than a heel.

CABRERA: How interesting. Michael, do you agree that the president was the guy out of his league on this?

D'ANTONIO: Well, you know, they are playing this game of attention seeking. And so I don't quite agree that he's out of his league in terms of the game on Twitter. This -- we're now in an attention economy where everybody tries to leverage re-tweets and hits on the media for gain. In the president's case it started out early in his life in terms of financial gain. Now it's political gain.

But I think one thing people are missing here is the other element of this thrill for the president and make no mistake this is thrilling to him, he enjoys it very much, is getting away with things. You know, he said during the campaign I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and I wouldn't lose any votes. And it was with glee that he said this.

And I think it's because it's not just saying the outrageous thing, it's saying it, getting applauded for it in some quarters and really having no consequence for in others. So --

CABRERA: There are so many examples of that.

D'ANTONIO: The world has yet to show him any consequences -- right, right.

CABRERA: He's defied that political norms as we see them.

David, do you think LaVar Ball, though, was perhaps surprised to get a response directly from the president? It sounds like his antics usually aren't necessarily focused on by a lot of people, they kind of let them roll off their shoulders.

ZIRIN: Right. Absolutely, this is what LaVar Ball was hoping for to the top of his ability. Look, LaVar Ball is one of the preeminent examples of a success in a brand based economy or as Michael said, in an attention based economy. And so for LaVar Ball, right now he is cracking open a bottle of champagne about the fact that this happened and Donald Trump, I'm sure, is very happy as well because for his base -- I mean, this is so highly racialized, this idea of looking at a black family and saying, like, why aren't you more grateful to me? It's something that he specializes in because it inflames the lizard's

brain of his base and he gets that level of support from that 33 percent who love him. But while they are celebrating this I got to say the rest of us are the big losers in this because then this is what's being talked about. It's a horrific example for the young generation coming up about what we value as a society and it's the sort of thing that, you know, after you read the exchange between these two particular gentlemen.


ZIRIN: You just want to shower with steel wool.

CABRERA: But did the sports world take note of what LaVar said regarding this?


CABRERA: I mean, the fact that he did seem ungracious the fact that his son was able to get back home from the scenario that it could have been much worse clearly.

ZIRIN: Yes. I mean, that's the big win, though, for LaVar Ball in coming back on Donald Trump and partly because there are other stories out there about this. Like Trump is saying they could have been in jail for years but reporter Arash Markazi, he came -- he works for ESPN, he came back and said it was actually going to be a couple of weeks, we're not sure what he meant by years.

The State Department did heavy lifting on this, the same State Department that Donald Trump has hollowed out to such a degree. So there are differentiating stories out there about how much credit Trump deserves, but it's more that Trump like asking for that credit early on, begging for that credit. I mean, it's just -- I hate to say the phrase unpresidential because it sounds like such a cliche but you look at this and you just think to yourself, my goodness, we're in new territory.

CABRERA: Michael, what do you make of the president's willingness to go after the father of a college basketball player but to stay mum on GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore? I mean, this guy, the president does not hold his tongue but he has selective criticism.

D'ANTONIO: Yes. Well, he is very selective and there's a calculation here. I think one of the things David pointed out really was that the president sort of signaled the game ahead of time when he said, you know, will they thank the President Trump. He was baiting them. And then they thanked him and he got what he hoped he would get. Really in exchange for doing his job.

Every president would have done the same thing. You know, you're in the country where a couple of your citizens are in trouble, you make an appeal. So there's that action taking place.

[18:10:04] Where he's avoiding discussing Roy Moore, it's because there's a price to be paid if he steps into that controversy. There's a possible loss for him. He already saw that his favored candidate in the Alabama primary didn't prevail --

CABRERA: Luther Strange.

D'ANTONIO: -- so now he has to back Moore, the Republican. Right. So he has been burned once there. And there's a balance of consequences that he doesn't want to risk You know, in the case of the basketball players and Mr. Ball, he wasn't taking any real risk. There was nothing he could lose but he could gain where his base was concerned and so he made the move.

CABRERA: All right, Michael D'Antonio and David Zirin, thank you, gentlemen.

ZIRIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: And now let's turn to the Russia investigation because we have some new developments there tonight. The attorney for President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner spoke today with our Evan Perez this afternoon and this comes amid new revelations on that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting where Kushner and other members of the Trump team met with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. At least that was the lure.

The man who set up that meeting with that lure in an e-mail is now breaking his silence. And he says he is ready to talk to investigators. Publicist Rob Goldstone tells the "Times of London" that he puffed up his e-mail about what sort of dirt he had on Clinton and I quote, "I could have said that the Russian attorney believes she found a black hole or believed Santa is real. It really didn't matter. So when Trump Jr. replied if it's what you say it is, I love it, I just thought my teaser had worked."

More on that coming up. But first Evan Perez' interview with Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell. Watch.


ABBE LOWELL, ATTORNEY FOR JARED KUSHNER: The committee investigations unfortunately are devolving into political gotcha games. If committees selectively leak parts of interviews or send me letters through the media or turn Jared Kushner's very clear e-mail that there should be no contacts with anybody in a foreign country into what they call is a missing document, then they are undermining their own credibility.

The issue of Russia interference in the 2016 election is a serious one. But these committee actions are not.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So what I hear you saying is that you don't believe that there's any missing documents and you don't really plan to provide any additional documents?

LOWELL: Now let me be clear. Now what we told the Judiciary Committee is that we've sent them what we had already sent the Intelligence Committees and then we'd work with them if there was anything else that was relevant. And then what they decided to do was to create a media event. That undermines the seriousness of their endeavor.

PEREZ: So do you not plan to allow another interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee? That seems to be what they are asking for.

LOWELL: Mr. Kushner has been very clear, that he will cooperate as he has been voluntarily with all bipartisan requests from committees on anything that's relevant. He's done it and he'll do it again.

PEREZ: In these cases, as you know, the perception is often as important as the facts. And the perception that's been built here is that Jared Kushner perhaps has something to hide because these committees say that he's not being as forthcoming as others have been. They received the same request, the same broad request for documents and they provided documents that Jared Kushner did not provide. Is there a problem with Jared Kushner's ability to --

LOWELL: Let's be clear again. In my communications with the Senate Judiciary Committee I said take these documents and let's talk about what else is relevant. They jumped the gun to make a media event. And any perception that Mr. Kushner has been anything but not only cooperative but if you look at the contents of these e-mails he's the hero. He's the one who's saying there shouldn't be any contacts with foreign officials or foreign entities. That's what the Senate Judiciary Committees should pay attention to and not create some sort of partisan gotcha game.

PEREZ: The perception, though, is built because of the SF 86, the fact that he didn't disclose all those contacts at first and the fact that these documents they say are missing but were provided by others.

LOWELL: Now when you say that he did not disclose on his FS-86, again a misperception. It was sent first time with a hit of a send button before it was complete. And then within days and weeks it was completed. I mean, that's just silliness.

PEREZ: It took a couple of months for the --


PEREZ: The hundred additional contacts.

LOWELL: It took a couple of months to get it thorough and also make sure that it was complete. That's not atypical in this process.



CABRERA: Joining us now to talk more about this interview and the growing Russia investigation, David Drucker, senior political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," Ken Vogel, reporter for the "New York Times," and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.

Paul, in your opinion, how did Kushner's attorney do there in answering Evan's questions? PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, very attorney like. I mean,

what he focuses on is this. He says, I wasn't -- I was only telling them we're going to voluntarily give you this stack of documents and after you look through them, if you need more documents, just come back to me. And he says, they then leaked to the press that there were missing documents.

[18:15:05] So what he's doing is, he very carefully has said to these committees, what you ask for I'll supply but you better be pretty specific about what you ask for because he's only going to give that. So he's being very, very lawyer like and really not very sensitive to the public relations aspect of the problem.

CABRERA: And yet it seems like the ask, it sounds like was similar for other players or other characters in this whole Russia puzzle.

But, David, when it comes to transparency, if everyone got the same request for documents and others turned over the documents that Kushner's team did not, I mean, at what point does Kushner's team need to acknowledge the optics of that?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think the optics from the beginning on this has been one of a campaign that has either been hiding something or has been a bit of a keystone cops situation and that has sort of colored the perception of the Russia investigation and the Trump campaign's role in the investigation.

I think it's very possible that all of this is very innocent. A lot of times especially coming from the private sector where you have people not involved in politics in a big way in the past, there are all sorts of disclosures you need to file, there are things you need to do.

There are records you should really keep about your contacts and it's possible that the Trump campaign especially thread bare the way it was, not really built up like a traditional presidential campaign, wasn't prepared to keep all of these records and then wasn't really prepared to provide the kind of documentation that was required and so we see these sorts of mistakes.

I think the issue is it's happened in a wide range of areas, whether it's the attorney general's not being able to remember whether or not he met with Russian officials, whether or not it's Kushner's document dump or document disclosures and all of it looks very suspicious at least to people who investigate these sorts of things.

CABRERA: And on that note, on that note -- sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you.

DRUCKER: It's alright.

CABRERA: But I think it's important to note that's not just a lot of different people who are having similar failures to remember or not to completely be forthcoming. But, I mean, Kushner himself has had multiple opportunities to be more transparent and has not given the full story. Remember he had to update his security clearance form I think it was at least three times because he kept not revealing certain meetings with Russians.

DRUCKER: Yes, and I think that his lawyer did a good job of probably satisfying people that think the Russia investigation is a big hoax and should go away. But it was very, very lawyerly. It was couched in language such as, you know, things that are relevant as opposed to things that are supposed to be turned over. Things like that. And I think that just adds to the perception that it's possible there's something here to investigate.

CABRERA: Ken, I want to bring you in. Did the Lowell's explanation take the pressure or the focus off his client Jared Kushner?

KEN VOGEL, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No, not at all. In fact it highlighted the way that these parallel investigations are building on one another to expose holes in stories, to expose lapses in document production. The reason why these documents were flagged in the first place, these e-mails were flagged as having been missing from Kushner's production is that others produced them and others may have produced them to the Senate Judiciary Committee or to one of the Intelligence Committees.

And the ability to sort of compare stories between investigations or between individuals involved in the same investigation has allowed these congressional investigators to really paint a fuller picture and to put more pressure on Jared Kushner, on his lawyer, on others to fill out the information that others have given. Otherwise they're sort of being pitted against one another, being pitted against one another anyway. And you have to figure that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators are doing this even more so.

CABRERA: Let's discuss Rob Goldstone. He's the publicist who e- mailed Donald Trump Jr. to set up that 2016 Trump Tower meeting with the Russian attorney. Well, Goldstone now saying he is eager to talk and he says he was just the go between guy.

Paul, could Goldstone be in legal jeopardy himself?

CALLAN: Well, I don't think Goldstone is likely to be in legal jeopardy himself but I will say this. He's going to add a whole humorous aspect to this whole investigation because you look at his Facebook feed and everything else, and I mean, the guy is -- he's always looking for a laugh and he's publishing pictures of himself and the president at tables in Russia during the Miss Universe contest that are all going to be now all over the press.

And he was the link or at least one of the links between the Trump campaign and the Russians, the first one, by the way. He's the one who said, listen, I represent this Russian pop star whose father is a tycoon who's got links to the attorney general.


CALLAN: This is when this whole thing linking the Trumps back to the Russians directly started and he's got a central role in that. So this is going to be very interesting to see what he comes up with. [18:20:11] CABRERA: Ken, Goldstone saying, quote, "If I'm guilty of

anything, and I hate the word guilty," his words, "it's hyping the message and going the extra mile for my clients using hot button language to puff up the information I have been given. I didn't make up the details. I just made them sound more interesting," is what he told this reporter with the "Sunday Times."

In terms of actual evidence in Mueller's probe, how important might that e-mail be that he sent to Don Jr.?

VOGEL: Yes, I mean it could be hugely important. He asked about the legal exposure, not necessarily so much for him. He's not even an American citizen as I understand it but for an American citizen to be complicit in extracting aid from a foreign government, foreign individual, foreign corporation, that would be illegal and so his promise of providing dirt on Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign, that's a pivotal thing for them to look at.

It's also interesting to hear him use this explanation which you've heard from a lot of the folks who have been kind of held up as potentially holding a key to any potential actual collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians saying, oh, I was just exaggerating. You also heard that explanation from one of the Russians who was in that meeting, Russian-American guy by the name of Rinat Akhmetshin.

He said -- you know, for years he had been bragging about his ties to Russian intelligence but when he suddenly was thrown into the spotlight because of this June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that Goldstone arranged, he said, oh, I was just exaggerating, you know how we do it. And so you know, a lot of these folks who are now saying, oh, what I said back then, never mind, it was actually just an effort to sort of puff myself up as Goldstone put it there.

Robert Mueller probably not going to be super convinced by that type of explanation.

CABRERA: All right, gentlemen, thank you all so much for joining us, David Drucker, Ken Vogel and Paul Callan.

David, I owe you another question down the road. Please come back.

DRUCKER: Next time.

CABRERA: All right. Three of Alabama's largest newspapers are coming out against Roy Moore today. Why the scathing editorials say this isn't about politics but rather the moral compass of Alabama voters.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:26:21] CABRERA: The most widely read newspapers in Alabama ran the same large type headline on their Sunday editions today, and here's what it reads. "Stand for Decency. Reject Roy Moore." They all added an endorsement for the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Major newspapers picking a candidate not new, but Alabama is often

regarded as the most conservative state in America. And the growing list of sexual misconduct accusations against Republican nominee Judge Roy Moore is compelling the biggest media group in the state to line up instead behind his rival, Doug Jones, the Democrat.

Comment from the president, silence, not a word or a tweet about the threat to the balance of power in the Senate or the mounting sexual assault and harassment allegations against Judge Roy Moore. A White House official, however, is speaking for the president this weekend. Watch.


MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: The president has expressed his concern about this. As you noted the president has not gone down to Alabama to campaign for Roy Moore since the primary concluded. We have serious concerns about the allegations made.

He's also concerned that these accusations are 38 years old, Roy Moore has been in public service for decades and accusations did not arise until a month before elections. So we're concerned about several aspects of the story. We're very concerned about the allegations but at this point as I've said, we think it's best for the people of Alabama to make the decision for them.


CABRERA: CNN correspondent Nick Valencia is in Gadsden Alabama -- Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, it has no doubt been a difficult week and a half for the Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore but even still he's supporters are digging in and so is the candidate, showing no signs of withdrawing.

But this morning more bad news for the Moore campaign, the largest newspaper in Alabama, the "Birmingham News," setting out this editorial. This is what residents are waking up to here, this bold headline asking voters to reject Roy Moore. This is what they're saying in part of their editorial.

"Do not make your voting decision based on who it will effect on a national stage. Vote based on who it will affect in your home town. There's one candidate left in this race who has proven worthy of the task representing Alabama, he is Doug Jones."

The editorial goes on to say do not let this conversation be muddled. This election has become a referendum on whether we'll accept this kind of behavior from our leaders.

But we have been talking to voters here all week long and all these allegations against him may not seem to matter much to his most ardent supporters. We've even spoken to some people who say even if these allegations of sexual assault are true against Roy Moore, they'd much rather vote for the Republican over a Democrat -- Ana. CABRERA: All right. Nick Valencia, in Alabama, thank you.

And someone else reportedly has no intention of stepping down, Minnesota Senator Al Franken. This is according to one of his aides. There have been calls for Franken to resign since a radio host came forward accusing him of groping and kissing her forcibly during a USO back tour in 2006. Now this of course was before Franken became a senator but a spokesperson for Franken added. he's doing a lot of reflecting while spending time with his family through the Thanksgiving holiday but no intentions of stepping down.

However, the fallout continues as we're learning. PBS and public television station WETA have cut Al Franken's presentation as part of the show "David Letterman, The Mark Twain Prize" which was just taped last month.

And days after a congressional hearing questioning President Trump and his ability to launch nuclear weapons, one of the nation's top nuclear commanders is now saying how he would respond to the president if he ordered a, quote, "illegal strike." Details next.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The nation's top nuclear commander making it clear that he would resist if President Trump ordered a nuclear strike that he deemed illegal.

General John Hyten is head of the U.S. Strategic Command. He made these comments at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia this weekend. Watch.


GEN. JOHN HYTEN, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES STRATEGIC COMMAND: I provide advice to the President, he will tell me what to do. And if it's illegal, guess what's going to happen?


HYTEN: I'm going to say, Mr. President, that's illegal.


CABRERA: Now, General Hyten did not explain what constitutes an illegal nuclear strike. Those comments come days after Republican Senator Bob Corker led the first congressional hearing in more than 40 years on the issue of the President's authority to launch nuclear weapons.

[18:34:57] Meanwhile, "The New York Times" is accusing the Trump administration of waging war on U.S. diplomacy.

The paper's editorial board call Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ill- suited for the job and says he seems determined to dismantle the State Department, writing, today, the Department is being undermined by budget cuts, a failure to fill top jobs, an erratic President and a secretary who has called reorganization rather than policy his most important priority.

CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is joining us now to discuss this.

So, Elise, with North Korea, Russia, China all hanging in the balance, how damning is this editorial for Rex Tillerson's State Department?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's damning in the sense, Ana, that the perception over time continues to become the reality.

Now, right now, Secretary of State Tillerson is very popular with foreign ministers. They all speak very highly of him in terms of their meetings with him.

But if you continue to see as we've seen over the last week -- and we talked yesterday about this mounting criticism on Capitol Hill about Secretary Tillerson's management of the State Department.

If they can -- if these world leaders continue to see Secretary Tillerson marginalized or criticized or downgraded in any way, that it's going to make his diplomacy less effective.

And already, you've seen because there's these unfilled positions at the State Department, you've seen leaders, and diplomats have told me, I'm going straight to the White House now. I'm going to the Pentagon now because there's nobody home at the State Department.

CABRERA: And the spokeswoman recently admitted there was a morale problem at the State Department. This can't help matters there.

LABOTT: It can't. Ana, I've been covering the State Department for 17 years, and morale is pretty low.

I mean, these are diplomats, as we've said. They cover -- they have served for Republican, Democratic administrations over decades. And in this particular administration, there's this feeling, not just within the State Department but in the administration, that this old guard or this so-called deep state, they're distrustful of them.

Secretary Tillerson has a very insular approach. He does reach out to some career people, and they are advising him. But as a whole, I think the Foreign Service seems very demoralized, and they are looking for Secretary Tillerson to show some leadership, to come out and address them, have a town hall, or even speak to the State Department press corps, Ana.

I mean, look, we're not a bunch of sycophants that are, you know, masquerading as State Department employees. But the group of State Department diplomatic press corps have covered the State Department for a long time. We know the issues, and he doesn't really reach out in terms of trying to explain his agenda there.

So he's obviously working very hard on this reorganization. But I think the employees and the press would like to hear a lot more about it, and hear from his heart about what his vision is for the State Department and for American diplomacy.

CABRERA: Elise, I want to ask about the President's tweet on the UCLA players. When he says, I should have left them in jail, I mean, there are Americans imprisoned around the world in Turkey, in North Korea, in Iran. Regardless of intention, does a presidential tweet like that potentially have an international impact?

LABOTT: Well, I think that it does. And it could go a couple of ways, right? It could say, look, the -- you know, the President is not interested in these people. He's going to, you know, as he -- as the President said, leave them in jail. So there's no -- you know, that takes away the whole bargaining.

These people are kind of looked at as leverage, as bargaining chips. And if they're not seen -- if these people that are already in jail right now are seen as not to be that valuable, then their importance goes away. And then these people languish.

And then there is also, you know, if the President is not interested, what's going to get him interested? Is it torture? Is it, you know, other types of treatment of prisoners that will finally get the interest of the United States?

So I mean, I don't necessarily know if the President, when he put that tweet out, thought of the, you know, long-term consequences of Americans overseas. I think he was more, you know, ginned up about the argument with the father.

But when the U.S. President says that, you know, loyalty or gratitude or, you know, things that have nothing to do with international affairs are going to dictate his decisions for Americans, you know, that's very dangerous.

And we're talking about the State Department. The State Department always says that the protection of U.S. citizens overseas is the highest priority.


LABOTT: You know, with a tweet like this, the President is saying, not so much.

CABRERA: Well, Elise, let me read you -- literally, as we were speaking, the President just tweeted again on this situation, about LaVar Ball.

It says -- shoplifting is a very big deal in China -- as it should be -- five to 10 years in jail. But not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful.

So he is not backing down, Elise.

LABOTT: I mean, I want to be respectful to the President but, like, who cares? He did something that every president should do, is try to get an American out. [18:40:04] I mean, look, the President had what is largely seen as a

very successful trip to Asia. International diplomacy with China on North Korea, in South Korea, with trade, in the Philippines.

I mean, it was a very successful trip for him. And he did use his presidential office to help these Americans, which is completely appropriate, and I think a very, you know, presidential move of his.

And I think he is really kind of dismissing what he did by getting into the gutter with this father. And it's -- you know, it's just not very statesman like and it -- I think it leaves a bad taste in the -- in, like, with the Chinese.

I mean, this was a very, you know, kind of diplomatic move that the President made. And I think the Chinese probably felt very good about the fact that they were able to let him out, and they were able to negotiate this with the President.

And now he's kind of dismissing it as, you know, some tiff with the father. I mean, I think it kind of dismisses the very good act that President Trump did and, you know, kind of just undermines it totally. It undermines the important diplomacies that he did on this trip.

CABRERA: Elise Labott, thank you. We appreciate it.

Coming up, the President of Zimbabwe, want him out! His party has replaced him as their leader, but 93-year-old Robert Mugabe says he is not going anywhere. How people are now reacting to Mugabe's defiance, next.


[18:45:49] CABRERA: Embattled Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is defiant despite the demands for his resignation from both the people and his own party. Mugabe refused to step down in a televised speech today. He acknowledged the criticisms that led the African nation's security forces to seize power from him last week after 40 years of rule.

And our David McKenzie has the latest on this ongoing standoff now between Mugabe and party leadership from Zimbabwe. David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the entire country was anticipating this live address from President Robert Mugabe.

The 93-year-old is effectively only a president on paper. Surrounded by the generals who have pushed him out of power, he then made this speech and didn't resign. Most people believed he would.

And he is digging in his heels, it seems, despite the fact that his party says he should leave, giving him less than 24 hours to resign or they'll push him out. Despite the tens of thousands of people coming onto the streets here in the capitol, saying that Mugabe must go. Despite the pressure from the fact that the military is in charge here in the capital and that he isn't. But after 37 years in power, it seems he wants one more day,

nominally, in charge -- Ana.

CABRERA: David, thank you. As Republican senators look to pass their version of the tax bill, Christine Romans has a look ahead to the week on Wall Street and how Wall Street is responding to the ongoing negotiations. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. The House passed its tax bill, a rewrite of the tax code. If it passes with the Senate, it will be the first in a generation.

There's a lot of uncertainty, though, surrounding that Senate version and where we go from there. And as you know, if there's one thing Wall Street doesn't like, it's uncertainty. So every push and pull of the negotiations, these very fraught negotiations, could move markets this week.

It's also a short trading week. The market is closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Friday is a half day. Investors looking ahead to the holiday shopping season. That will, of course, be a big headline.

It's been a rough 2017 for retailers. More than 6,700 stores have closed, a new record, and several high profile chains filed for bankruptcy.

Last week, Target shares tumbled after the company issued a disappointing holiday forecast.

It was a totally different story, though, for Walmart. Its shares popped on a strong holiday outlook. Walmart has boosted its online business to aggressively compete with Amazon, and it's beating Target now in the process.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

CABRERA: Thanks, Christine. Still ahead, the Judge Roy Moore sex scandal has inspired President Trump to perfect the art of ignoring. We are paying attention to that, though, after a break, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: President Trump, he seems to be perfecting the art of ignoring, but he's not the only one. Jeanne Moos reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how was the meeting?



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much everybody.

MOOS (voice-over): Translation, don't ask. President Trump was mute when it came to Judge Roy Moore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President? Do you believe his accusers?

MOOS (voice-over): With a wave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Roy Moore drop out, sir?

MOOR (voice-over): With a thumbs up, the President thumbed his nose at the questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe the accusers of Roy Moore, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Roy Moore drop out, sir?

MOOS (voice-over): Why has the President dropped out of answering?

MICHAEL GRAHAM, COLUMNIST, BOSTON HERALD: Look, for anyone who doesn't know why Donald Trump is reluctant to talk about Roy Moore's allegations, I have an "Access Hollywood" tape I'd like to sell you.

MOOS (on camera): But at least the President Trump hasn't actually run. When it comes to getting answers, running down a stairwell doesn't bode well.

TOM LLAMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you believe Roy Moore over the women?

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I believe that the Democrats will do great damage to our country.

MOOS (voice-over): If nothing else, Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks got a good work out.

LLAMAS: So you still believe Roy Moore?

BROOKS: I believe that the Democrats will do great damage to our country on a myriad of issues.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Running away from your problems in a downward spiral. I think we've got a new Republican metaphor.

MOOS (voice-over): The subject was sure conversation killer for Republican leaders when the story first broke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe these women who have made on the record accusations against Roy Moore, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, folks. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, guys.

SAMANTHA BEE, HOST, "FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE": Can they see me if I don't move?


MOOS (voice-over): Of course, all politicians dodge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of questions on two critical issues that you were discussing today.


MOOS (voice-over): At least President Trump hasn't resorted to Ronald Reagan's tactic of blaming his ears.


MOOS (voice-over): Hear no evil, speak no evil. When it comes to Judge Moore, apparently, less is more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he resign?

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Roy Moore drop out, sir?

MOOS (voice-over): -- New York.


CABRERA: The President is now going after the father of one of the UCLA players who he helped get out of a Chinese jail, saying he should have just left him there. We'll discuss what's behind the President's latest attack next.