Return to Transcripts main page


Funeral Held for Slain Border Patrol Agent; Charles Barkley Endorses Doug Jones for Alabama Senate Seat; Steve Kerr Criticizes Trump; Flynn Attorneys Stop Sharing Information with White House; North Korean Soldiers Face Fallout for Not Stopping Soldier's Defection. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 25, 2017 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST (voice-over): -- moved into his furniture store during the storm. Well, he stepped up again, on Thanksgiving, he served dinner to around 5,000 flood victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is welcome. That's the whole thing. It's like we open our doors during the Hurricane Harvey. Everybody is welcome at this Thanksgiving feast.


CABRERA: Houston's very own hero right there. What a guy.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for staying with me. I am Ana Cabrera in New York. First off, the growing possibility that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the man President Trump once asked the FBI stop investigating may now be working with investigators with the special counsel leading the Russia probe.

Here's why, a source tells CNN that Michael Flynn's attorneys have told other defense lawyers involved in the investigation including those representing the president that they can no longer share information about the case.

"New York Times" first reported this development and the CNN source says it could be a sign that Flynn is preparing for a plea deal. However, White House attorney says not so fast. Don't read too much into it since lawyers can pull out of this information sharing arrangements for a variety of reasons.

I want to get straight to CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, refresh our memories about Flynn's role and the kind of information he could offer.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Right. So, as we all know, and we have been talking about this for months now. Flynn was the national security adviser. He worked on the campaign. He was part of the campaign and he was pretty close to the president and really some of the people around the president even Jared Kushner.

There are reports that indicated that Kushner was the one that pushed for Michael Flynn to get the job as national security adviser. So, he has been part of the campaign for a long time.

He was one of Trump's earliest and biggest supporter. He was out there talking, supporting him. And you know, as we know, Flynn has had his own trouble and problems with contacts with Russians.

He had a conversation with the Russian ambassador where sanctions were discussed. He denied that had happened. Eventually when he was confronted and interviewed by the FBI about that.

He eventually, it was determined that he lied about his conversation, which ultimately led to his firing from the White House. This was according to folks who had said that he would lie to the vice president about it.

So, it is a whole host of issue. Also, he had some exposure on his own lobbying work that he did on behalf of Turkey, which seems to be some of what's causing some legal trouble for him now.

CABRERA: And we recall that Flynn had asked for immunity when it came to the congressional investigation. So, if he is cooperating with the Mueller probe, is that really surprising?

PROKUPECZ: So, it would be surprising that he's cooperating, and it would probably also be surprising that he would be in talks for potential plea deal. It seems that he has a lot of legal exposure. So, you know, perhaps his lawyers are now trying to get the best deal possible for him.

You know, there are so many scenarios here that it is hard to pin point exactly what's happening. But, clearly something has changed that has caused his attorney to say I can no longer share information and you know, we've kind of laid out the different scenarios.

One of them could that he is cooperating and yes, that would be surprising and obviously would be probably helpful to investigators because he could give them information that they otherwise don't have.

In many respects, not only just from the campaign, but his own involvement and conversations with the Russians. So, a lot that he can provide to investigators.

CABRERA: All right, Shimon Prokupecz in Washington, thank you.

Let's get straight to our panel to help us dissect all of this. Joining us now is CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, and CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley.

So, Paul, President Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow, said that "No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn cooperating against the president." if not cooperation, what else could it mean?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it could mean that a plea has been negotiated. You know, Flynn was targeted early on as possibly someone who violated the Foreign Agent Registration Act. He did not reveal certain contacts that he had with the Russian ambassador. So, there are issues that involves those issues and also there maybe claims that he lied to the FBI or federal investigators. So, any of those are possible issues that maybe currently being looked at.

CABRERA: Douglas, listen to what Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager said about this development.


COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR DONALD TRUMP: I don't think this goes anywhere other to Michael Flynn and potentially his son, but what we have seen is that people have not followed the rules, like Paul Manafort, you know, Rick Gates, Mike Flynn, if they have done something wrong, they should be held accountable.

[17:05:04] But that's where it ends because there is no culpability or liability to the president because he did not collude, cooperate or coordinate with Russia in any way shape or form.


BOLDUAN: He didn't say anything surprising there. He says anything Mike Flynn may have done ends with Mike Flynn. Do you think he's right or should the White House be concern right now?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The White House seems to be very concerned. I mean, Corey is trying to defend Donald Trump, which he's been doing for a living in the last couple of years. You have to look at the factor that you have General Flynn who was the biggest booster for the Trump campaign to have closer ties with Russia.

Then what we know about the transition and the meetings that caused Flynn to be fired as a national security adviser that put shame on our country when that happened. He's been under heat from federal prosecutors from day one of the Trump White House years.

I think this may all evolved around what does Michael Flynn Jr. know, the son of the retired three-star general because that you may have a case here where the father may want to protect his son and decide better to cooperate with Mueller than to constantly try to be working with the Trump team. So, I think this is a split going on here. We'll have to see how far up it all leads to.

CABRERA: Well, you brought up the potential idea of a plea deal, but I imagine it is not a one-way street. It is a two-way street. Flynn would have to have something that is very valuable in order to give him a deal, right?

CALLAN: Yes, well, if he's offering a lesser charge or lighter sentence. I think the key thing here is the important thing is, are they looking at criminal offenses by Flynn before his involvement with the Trump campaign?

Remember, he had this Flynn intel agency and he supposedly did not register as a foreign agent as he should have. If that's the case, you could have criminal charges against him that have no impact on the president or the White House.

On the other hand, if they're trading information that Flynn knows about what the White House was doing with respect to the Russians in connection with the election, now you have a really important issue and an important plea. But, at this point, we just don't know.

CABRERA: Given, though, your legal expertise with these matters, does this indicate if there is some kind of deal to be made that Mueller would be after a bigger fish than Flynn. That's a pretty big fish, right?

CALLAN: He absolutely would be. I mean, you have to remember that the general was the national security adviser to the president in the early days of the Trump administration. So, he obviously is the biggest fish potentially in the net at this point, and one who maybe has information that would be helpful. So, whatever happens with Flynn, it's a very important development in the Mueller investigation.

CABRERA: Douglas, so far, we know 51 communications of various sorts have been documented between Trump associates and Russians. Of course, maybe that's not surprising that a winning U.S. presidential campaign would be approached by governments all over the world. But we've also had nine blanket denials of those contacts. So, are those denials likely to have gotten the attention of the special counsel?

BRINKLEY: Well, no question about it. I mean, there's been lie, lie, lie coming out of what was the Trump campaign team and they keep on getting busted on it. I mean, Donald Trump should be very worried. Ever since General Flynn was fired, he was the first domino that went down.

It's been not an easy first year for this president. He's everyday waking up with somebody who's kind of lack of transparency and missed direction. All eyes on General Flynn right now as he tells the truth to the special prosecutor.

We invested in him to earn those three-star general. He seems to have awry the last few years. He needs to rectify things by talking straight and helping put this whole Russia probe behind us. Just tell the truth. That's all that we are asking of him.

CABRERA: One of those denials certainly was from Flynn who denied talking about Russia sanctions with Kislyak, which ultimately led to his firing that lying. How do defense attorneys explain all of those denials?

CALLAN: Well, you know, that denial in particular is important because remember, Flynn was fired for lying to Vice President Pence about those very issues. If you lie not to the vice president but to a federal investigator or an FBI agent, that's a federal crime.

CABRERA: We got Papadopoulos plead guilty to that.

CALLAN: Absolutely. It is very easy for people to get caught up in that and early investigation they tell miss truths and they don't seem to realize that it can be a crime. The other thing that I look at when I am looking at the overall view of this is, is he in line for a presidential pardon at some point?

For instance, is his son potentially going to get a presidential pardon. That's something we'll have to look at going down the road. The president has the right to pardon both of them or one of them, would they be continuing their cooperation for so long up until now hoping that they would get a pardon. So, we'll have to see how this plays out.

[17:10:13] CABRERA: Why would they even be cooperating though if they are expecting a pardon?

CALLAN: Well, that they would have seized cooperation because maybe a pardon has been promised. But in terms of the cooperation, we don't know what they have actually been telling the FBI or investigators. So, it really remains speculative. The one thing we know is the president could pardon either man if he felt that it was warranted.

CABRERA: Douglas, I want to ask you of the other investigation, one of many happening on Capitol Hill. This is the House Intelligence Committee, which will have a hearing next week with Erik Prince.

ow, he's significant because he's the former chief of the security contractor, Black Water, and he's believed to have played a role in trying to set up a secret back channel between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Remember that talk of was there a back channel that Jared Kushner was involved in and some of the communications he initially didn't disclose on his security clearance forms. What do you see as the significance of this man who seems to be more on the periphery when it comes to the Trump campaign?

BRINKLEY: Well, we'll see how much on the periphery he was in. I mean, the whole Black Water situation is it was in desperate need of a probe. I think we are getting a point where people are wondering what Black Water is doing. There's been no accountability.

There are times when it seems like the Trump White House has been wanting to almost start giving work to Black Water unnecessarily. So, I mean, it is yet another example of this investigatory climate we are in right now largely because something occurred in 2016.

There are so many lives on the record and slowly but surely the onions are being peeled and you are finding the fact that the Mueller investigation is starting to reap fruits.

CABRERA: Well, do you think the Mueller investigation is going to have any impact on the congressional investigation?

CALLAN: Yes, they sort of play off each other in the sense that everything that we pick up through sources about the Mueller investigation. Of course, Congress knows about it and they can follow up on those leads. So that's an important thing.

But I think, you know, the thing we have to look at, and I think it's been crystal clear, there are a lot of contexts with foreign officials including the Russians by the Trump campaign. That's part one of any potential criminal charge.

But the thing that's missing so far is a collusive or conspiratorial attempt to violate U.S. laws in conjunction with the Russians by interfering in the American election, by helping the Russians, for instance, hack into the DNC machine or steal Hillary Clinton's e- mails. Something along those lines. That is the missing element of this case. We haven't seen that yet.

CABRERA: So mutual beneficial happenings and coincidence aren't enough (inaudible).

CALLAN: No, it's not. You have to show that the Trump administration colluded and conspired with the Russians to violate a U.S. law, criminal law, and we have not seen evidence of that yet.

CABRERA: Paul Callan and Douglas Brinkley, thank you both.

Coming up, when the head of a federal consumer watchdog agency left his job, he named an acting replacement, but then President Trump picked someone different and it is getting kind of messy. We'll dive in. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: Who's the boss over at the Consumer Finance Protection Agency? That's a bit of awkward question because two dueling temporary leaders have been appointed. How did that happen?

The man who has been running the agency, Richard Cordray, tapped his own successor on Friday before he stepped down. He chose Leandra English. She was the agency's chief of staff. But hours later, President Trump named White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney took the same job.

I want to bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez in Washington. Boris, President Trump moments ago firing off a new tweet on this subject. What is he saying?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. First off, I should tell you the White House has defended the president's ability to make this decision saying that because of the Vacancies Act of 1998 that gives the president broad authority over appointments that he is acting within own capacity as president to do this.

Within the CFBP, however, there are arguments being made that within the structure of that agency, there is some protocol to keep it independent from the rest of the government.

The president, though, tweeting this, quote, "The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the CFPB has been a total disaster as run by the previous administration's pick. Financial institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life." Critics will argue, however, that the CFPB has given some $15 billion back to consumers from predatory financial institutions. In fact, one of the architects of the Dodd-Frank Act, which in part created CFPB, Elizabeth Warren spoke out about this today on Twitter.

She challenged the president's authority essentially saying that not only it is the CFPB supposed to be independent, but as you see here by ignoring Dodd-Frank, and naming his own acting CFPB director, the president is causing chaos and market uncertainty.

So, I agree with former director, Rich Cordray, who resigned on Friday that this needs to be decided in the courts." She then goes on, "If the president believes he's acting legally by ignoring Dodd-Frank, he should go court and seek a judgment right away to settle this CFPB dispute."

On top of all of that, it is not just the legal aspect that's being disputed, it's also who the president picked, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, who's been an ardent critic of that agency -- Ana.

[17:20:06] CABRERA: In fact, he wanted to kill the agency and voted for it to end when he was in Congress. The other thing obviously to bring up is Mulvaney had a ton on his plate right now. He's White House director and working on the tax reform debate in the Senate, which starts next week.

SANCHEZ: Yes, he called it a sick, sad joke agency. Not only tax reform, but let's not forget that there is a huge budget deal that needs to be worked out. Government funding drives up December 8th, so it is going to be a very busy couple of weeks for folks on Washington.

And specifically, about Mick Mulvaney saying that he's going to try to work with personnel within the CFPB to try to make it more efficient for taxpayers. We also heard from a source that's close to him that he is likely not going to be the permanent pick for that agency.

Apparently, he loves his job as a director of the OMB. He never really saw himself leading this agency -- Ana.

CABRERA: Real quick, Boris, the Trump "Time" magazine of he said/he said controversy. What's the latest developments there?

SANCHEZ: Well, as you know, the president tweeted late this week that he apparently heard from "Time" that he was being considered to be the person of the year, but they requested an intensive photo shoot and interviews with them, but he said, no, thank you. It is probably no good and took a pass, thanks anyway."

That spawn to series of parodies online and this response from "Time" magazine, they write, "The president is incorrect of how we choose person of the year, "Time" does not comment on our choice until publication which is December 6th."

People were pretty divided on social media about who they believe here whether it was the president or "Time" magazine. As you can imagine it is very much along the partisan lines -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez in Washington, thanks so much. Family and friends gather this afternoon for a memorial service in Texas honoring the border patrol agent killed under mysterious circumstances. What we know about how he died. Coming up live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: Family and friends of the U.S Border Patrol agent killed in Texas this week are remembering him today. Rogelio Martinez is being laid to rest in El Paso at a private funeral where we've learned Attorney General Jeff Sessions is among the mourners.

He was just 36 years old. He was a father, a four-year veteran of the agency. He died mysteriously one week ago while responding to what officials described as a suspicious activity call.

A few details about this have been released, but we do know Martinez suffered blunt force trauma. There was another agent injured as well. But the question remains, was this all the result of just an accident or an attack?

I want to bring in CNN Scott McLean in El Paso. Scott, what do you know about how Martinez died? Was there an autopsy? Did that provide any conclusive information?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is a difficult situation, Ana. Agent Rogelio Martinez is being laid to rest in a nearby cemetery as we speak right now. His family still does not have very many answers about how he died.

The preliminary autopsy information that we've gotten is that there was trauma to his head. The full results, though, will take a couple of weeks. This is making the FBI investigation quite difficult because the area where this happened is twelve miles from any real civilization.

It was in a culvert area. It was dark and there are no suspects, at least none that the FBI has come out with thus far. The one person they may be able to rely on to provide some information, who witnessed at least part of this incident is the other agent in this case who is injured.

We don't know his name. We know that he had eight years of experience. I spoke to his union rep yesterday who had met with him just a few moments before. He said this second agent he doesn't remember anything about that incident.

He remembers going into work last Saturday and beyond that his memory is blank. That's making things difficult for investigators at this point -- Ana.

CABRERA: Adding to the mystery. I know you have been speaking with a lot of people as you have been there on the ground in Texas including some of Martinez's colleagues there in the border patrol community. How are they reacting and what's the impact on them?

MCLEAN: Yes. Not only was there a massive number of family and friends. In fact, this church is filled up with the border patrol agents and law enforcement officials and other officers from under jurisdictions, who came from across the state, across the country. Many of them were actually able to get inside for that service.

I spoke to one of the agents in particular, Ramiro Cordero, he said, you know, obviously this has an impact on the Border Patrol Agency, but it does not change their mission. Listen.


RAMIRO CORDERO, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL AGENT: It is sad to see that he had to make the ultimate sacrifice. We do take an oath to protect our nation and those who we serve.


[17:30:00] MCLEAN: Now, Ana, that area in particular where this happened is part of a well-known drug route, at least well-known to border enforcement agents who patrol it all the time. They say people do try to smuggle people or drugs going on that route. When something like this happens, you might think perhaps people in this community may be concerned. I asked Agent Cordero whether people in that part of Texas, which is about an hour and a half from where we are in El Paso, should be concerned, and he said they had nothing to worry about -- Ana?

CABRERA: Scott McLean, in El Paso, Texas, for us, thank you.

Still ahead here, in the NEWSWROOM, he led an NBA team to a championship. Off the court, he is leading the league's defense against Donald Trump.


STEVE KERR, HEAD COACH, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Saying a lot of nasty things or ugly things or whomever. There can be a lot of things that happen that's just really difficult to just say already, we'll put that aside and go shake his hand. It does not feel right.


CABRERA: More of David Axelrod with Steve Kerr, coming up.

But first, the season finally of "PARTS UNKNOWN." Anthony Bourdain taking in the sights, the sounds, the food of southern Italy. Here's a preview.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: I've never been to this part of Italy before. Being exposed underneath of Italy. There is a romance to this country.

I'm here because of Asean Gento (ph). We want to make sure we go to Rome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does this remind you of (INAUDIBLE)?

BOURDAIN (on camera): A little bit.


BOURDAIN (voice-over): It's confusing. Is Italy even a country? Is it a conglomeration or a loose association of different cultures? What's happening in this perfect, beautiful, delicious, wonderful confusing, awesome place?


CABRERA: Don't you just want to go there? You can kind of do that by watching tomorrow night as he explores southern Italy. It is "PARTS UNKNOWN," at 9:00 p.m. eastern, on CNN.


[17:37:13] CABRERA: I want to take you to Alabama now where time is ticking down. Voters there have until Monday to vote in this election that could see a Democrat with a Senate seat in this very deep red state. In the contentious race, Doug Jones is challenging Republican Roy Moore, who's facing a number of sexual harassment and sexual abuse allegations. Despite that, Jones still has an uphill battle, according to "The Washington Post." He has to carry more than 90 percent of African-American voters and boost their turnout by up to 30 percent.

One endorsement for Jones that could go a long way came today from basketball Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley. The Alabama native turns to this hall-of-famer basketball coach and commentator and player. He had a ceremony today at his Auburn University. Watch.


CHARLES BARKLEY, HALL OF FAME BASETBALL COACH & SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Roy Moore is running with Steve Bannon with his right-hand man, who's a white separatist. I'm not even going to get into the women stuff. But how can you be a white separatist and represent all the constituents in your state?


CABRERA: The special election in Alabama takes place on two and a half weeks from now, on December 12.

From one former NBA great getting involved in politics to a current championship coach. Tonight, on a brand new "Axe Files," CNN political commentator, David Axelrod, sits down with Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. They talk about President Trump's attacks on pro athletes. You may recall Trump withdrew the White House invite for the Warriors to visit in September. Steve Kerr says that was not the worse of Trump's jab at professional sports. Watch.


DAVID AXELROD, HOST, AXE FILES: It was kind of shocking because it came out of the blue. Kaepernick has been out of the league for a while and the president brought it up out of the blue.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off the field right now.


TRUMP: Out. He's fired.


STEVE KERR, HEAD COACH, GOLDENS STATE WARRIORS: This is why our team have a tough team with the president. Instead of unifying and trying to calm the storm, he's creating it over and over and we see with his tweets every day. So that was -- you know, he used the word son of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to talk about NFL players, who have made it clear they're protesting racial equality and brutality. Really, you are the president of the United States and you are going to call them sons of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and you are going to call Kaepernick out for a non-violent protest, a staple of our democracy. That was hard to deal with. For me, that was probably the hardest one to deal with. The personal slights that we have seen from Trump, and you sort of get used to it after a while, you get numb to it. But that one really stung because it was so decisive, and it was so angry, and it just did not make sense.


[17:40:24] CABRERA: David Axelrod is joining us on the phone now.

David, your fascinating conversation with Steve Kerr is coming up at 7:00 p.m. eastern on CNN. I want to get back to that in a moment.


CABRERA: But first, let's talk about the latest significant development of the news of the lawyer of Michael Flynn cutting off communications with the president's legal team. What's your take on this?

AXELROD (via telephone): It could be very significant, Ana. It could be a prelude to some sort of plea bargain arrangement with the special prosecutor. Of course, the special prosecutor would not cut such a deal unless Flynn had something to share generally about someone up the food chain from him. So, this should be very concerning to the White House. Of course, Flynn was under tremendous pressure. He was being investigated on a number of different fronts. His son is the chief of staff and that puts great pressure on him. In some way, it was not surprising, but it does maybe signal of something imminent.

CABRERA: We heard from Charles Barkley commenting on Roy Moore in Alabama. I want to ask you about the Senate race. It wasn't a ringing endorsement from President Trump, but he did send a clear message that he would prefer Republican Roy Moore over the Democratic opponent. Let's listen to what he said on this.


TRUMP: We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat. Jones, I looked at his record. It's terrible in crime and border and military.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, is an accused child molester better than a Democrat? Is an accused child molester better than a Democrat?

TRUMP: Well, he denies it. I mean, if you look at what's going on and all the things that has happened over the last four days, he totally denies it. He says it did not happen. You have to listen to him also.


CABRERA: Mitch McConnell says he believes the women. And Paul Ryan says he believes the women. David, why is President Trump standing against Moore in the face of all these accusations against him?

AXELROD: Let's not omit the fact that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, former Senator, who seat is in contention here, also said that he believed the women. And the president took a couple of weeks to opine on this. I think he was waiting to see how politics sort it out. And it now appears as if Moore could win this race. And as Kellyanne Conway says, they want the Republicans in there to support the president on taxes and other issues. And so he made a decision to look past these allegations. And one wonders how significant those allegations are to him. He himself is accused of such things. I think it is purely political decision on his part. And --


CABRERA: Is it a smart political strategy?

AXELROD: We'll know on December 12 when the election takes place. He's not rolling in on the core of his base, who -- which has stuck with Moore, including Steve Bannon and others. He's not taking issue with them. And he is playing the odds that Roy Moore will win that election. And if he does not win that election, he probably faces, in his political calculus, he's no worse off. So you know now that I think for the Republican Party, the concern is Roy Moore wins that election, yes, we'll be a maverick voice in the Senate. Beyond that, he will become a negative symbol for the Republican Party. And this is, of course, what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are concerned about as they look into the election of 2018.

CABRERA: Back with the interview of Steve Kerr, which will air tonight, you talk about the fight over the protest of the national anthem. And just yesterday, the president was back tweeting again on this very issue. What was Kerr's take on the president taking on the NFL?

AXELROD: Well, it was interesting. On the one hand, Kerr was not entirely supportive of Kaepernick. He supported his right to speak out and protest, but he did not think he's done it entirely in the right way and particularly in the beginning. He was very -- he's a former general manager of the Phoenix Suns and he spoke from that perspective. And said, I understand why there are general managers in the league who won't take Kaepernick back because it creates such a marketing issue and fans who are unhappy with him and such a sideshow that it would be a potential risk for them.

That said, as you heard in the clip that you played, he was really, really hard on the president for the language that he used about the players and expressing their points of view on serious issues as he feels they are exercising their First Amendment rights.

What's interesting, Ana is that Steve Kerr is someone, because he has won a lot of championships in his day, has been at the White House under four presidents, President Reagan, Bush and Clinton and Obama. And, so he relished that experience. But his team is taking the position they're not going to come to see this president because they feel that he has affronted the dignity of many people, including these athletes.

[17:46:28] CABRERA: They president said, well, you're disinvited.


CABRERA: Kerr having the experience as an athlete and a coach in visiting the White House.

So interesting. I cannot wait to see more of your conversation.

David --


CABRERA: -- in terms of an interview.

Thank you for joining us.

Don't miss the rest of the interview with the outspoken Trump critic, Steve Kerr, coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors. It airs tonight, "The Axe Files," with David Axelrod, airs at 7:00 eastern, right here on CNN.

Still ahead this hour, it was a daring and dangerous escape caught on tape. Look at this. A North Korean soldier shot several times as he runs across the border to freedom in South Korea. New details are emerging on the consequences for his fellow soldiers who tried to prevent that escape.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:51:45] CABRERA: A North Korean soldier dashed across the border to freedom in South Korea. Now the soldiers, who failed to stop his defection, they're facing fallout from Kim Jong-Un and his regime.

Our Brian Todd joins us with more details -- Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, there's now considerable fallout from the escape inside Kim Jong-Un's regime as the dictator and his top generals seek to punish those who allow the soldier to scramble across the border.


TODD (voice-over): They were just a few feet behind him. They fired more than 40 bullets but failed to kill or capture him. And tonight, the North Korean soldiers who couldn't keep their comrade from pulling off a dramatic escape last week are facing the fallout.

A South Korean lawmaker tells CNN nearly all the North Korean soldiers present along the border that day have been replaced.

Human rights observers say being replaced could be the least of their worries.

(on camera): What's their most likely fate?

GREG SCARLATOIU, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: They will be investigated by the military security command. Possibly by the state security department as well, the North Korean gestapo. It is very likely that torture will be involved in the pretrial investigation. There is going to be a trial. It's most likely that they will be charged with treason.

TODD (voice-over): Analysts say the North Korean soldier's dash across the border, with every compelling sequence captured on closed- circuit footage, was such a humiliation for Kim Jong-Un's regime that the repercussions could be felt among Kim's top generals as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the fallout will go higher up to a commanding person who we're not able to stop this from happening. This is a very high-profile defection. It's very embarrassing for Kim Jong-Un. Even all the tapeworms coming out of the soldier's body. It's very embarrassing to the regime.

TODD: Experts say the commanders of the units could be sent to labor camps or demoted or sent for reeducation.

Another measure the regime is taking to prevent this from happening again, North Korean workers were seen digging a trench at the spot the soldier made a run for it.

Meantime, the South Korean soldiers, who risked gunfire to save the soldier, have been given medals for their bravery.

The 24-year-old at the center of all this is now off life support, his doctors say, is out of the ICU, but is still suffering psychological trauma.

DR. LEE COOK JONG, DEFECTOR'S DOCTOR: Last night, he had a dream that he was kidnapped to North Korea. OK?

TODD: Dr. Lee Cook Jong says he's had to reassure the man that he's safe.


TODD: PTSD is likely not this defector's only concern. Human rights monitors say the North Korean regime will probably go after his family back home. They could be arrested, tortured, possibly even executed. They say this regime has been known to wipe out up to three generations of a defector's family -- Ana?


Brian Todd, thank you.

Voting is now under way for CNN Hero of the Year. Here is one of this year's top-10 heroes. Meet Stan Hayes.


[17:54:46] STAN HAYES, CNN HERO: I have been competing in barbecue for years. Besides being a nourishing meal, it's comfort food.

After a disaster, it's extremely emotional. Everybody's lives are in their front yard. We decided to get a bunch of barbecue families together and help.

Welcome and thank you for coming out.

Over the last six years, we responded to tornados and floods and hurricanes. The core group are all pit masters or grill masters. Our volunteers come from everywhere.


HAYES: Our goal is to be in the area within 24 to 48 hours after disaster strikes. We put the word out through different groups. And that way we know where the meals are going.

You guys need any meals?

To know that you are a little part of picking their spirits up --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't know what a hot meal means to anybody who has lost everything they own.

HAYES: -- it can't help but bring a smile to your face.

It's amazing. Yesterday, you guys put out 43,350 meals. Thank you to everybody who is here.

(CHEERING) HAYES: It's people helping people the best way we know how.


CABRERA: Vote for Stan or any of your favorite top-10 heroes right now at

Thanks so much for spending part of your Saturday with me. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. That's going to do it for me for right now.

"SMERCONISH" is coming up next.