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Vegas Casino Mogul Steps Down as RNC Finance Chair; Lawmakers Move to Protect Special Counsel Mueller; Michigan A.G. Launches Probe into MSU's Role in Sex Abuse; Car Bomber Kills Nearly 100 People in Kabul; State Department Staff Lawyer Up, Claim Political Retribution; Sources: Trump Increasingly Frustrated with Kelly; Critics Rip Amnesty Don for His New Take on Dreamers; EPA Chooses Salmon Over Gold. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 27, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANA CABRERA: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with me.

Our breaking news this Saturday, a sexual misconduct scandal in Las Vegas sending shockwaves into the top levels of the Republican Party.

A billionaire friend of the President is at the center of it all, Steve Wynn, the powerful Vegas casino and hotel boss. We now have confirmation that he has stepped down from his position running the finances for the Republican National Committee.

This is part of a statement he released just a short time ago: the unbelievable success we have achieved must continue. The work we are doing to make America a better place is too important to be impaired by this distraction.

The distraction is this: "The Wall Street Journal" publishing allegations that some of Steve Wynn's casino and resort employees were pressured to perform sex acts. Dozens of people describing a pattern of sexual abuse and harassment around Wynn going back decades.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House.

Boris, Steve Wynn and President Trump are not just political allies. They go back many years together. What is the word from this administration on the news about Wynn?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Nothing officially on the record from the White House, but, on background, a White House official tells CNN that the President supported the idea of Steve Wynn resigning in part to limit the political damage that it could cause the Republican National Committee and to the White House.

There were some speculation about how the White House might respond to this controversy, not only because of the President's relationship with Steve Wynn -- they've known each other for 34 years, Wynn was handpicked by the President to be the finance chair for the RNC -- but also because this White House has been inconsistent in responding to sexual assault allegations. Just a few months ago, the White House was simultaneously calling for

the resignation of Senator -- former Senator Al Franken while backing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, two men that had both been accused of sexual misconduct.

We should note there is no official statement, again, from the White House nor any tweets from the President as we have been accustomed to seeing on weekends, Ana.

CABRERA: Meantime, Boris, on another subject, what did you find out today about the work being done to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired, something the President reportedly tried to do last summer?

SANCHEZ: Right. Well, Democrats are renewing a push for two separate bills that were actually introduced last August that would legally protect Robert Mueller, keeping him from being fired by the President.

We should note that support for those bills dried up after assurances from the White House and from the White House legal team that there was no plan in place to fire Robert Mueller. But because of new reporting from "The New York Times" that CNN has confirmed, Democrats are now making this push again.

One Democratic congressional aide, today, told me that it would actually be something that they would bring up in a proposal during budget talks later this week.

I did get a chance to speak to one Republican operative that's close to the leadership on Capitol Hill who told me that it was not likely that Republicans would take this up in part because it reveals a split within the Republican Party itself.

These two bills both have Republican co-sponsors, Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis, but there are other Republicans, like Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who have said that this isn't a priority for the Senate. So it will be interesting to see just how far Democrats can get with this.

Obviously, they will not be able to pass anything without Republican support, Ana.

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

We now know Robert Mueller is looking into obstruction of justice, and here are some of the President's actions he may be considering. It's a long list, but bear with me.

You will recall that former FBI Director James Comey testified that the President asked him for loyalty. That was back in January of last year.

A month later, Comey says the President asked him to, quote, see his way clear of investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn. When Comey didn't stop his investigation, "The Washington Post" claims

the President turned to his top intelligence officials and asked them if they could stop Comey from investigating Flynn. That was in March.

Two months later, the President fired FBI Director Comey. He went on to brag about it to top Russian officials saying it, quote, relieved great pressure.

We now know that in June, just one month later, the President tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller but backed off after White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign.

In the months that followed, the President began pressuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions to clean house at the FBI. The new FBI Director, Christopher Wray, threatened to resign over that.

Meanwhile, in addition to all of these going on behind the scenes, the President has continued to publically attack the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the intelligence community.

Now, earlier this week, President Trump, he gave an impromptu press conference. He appeared to address some of these actions. Let's listen.


[20:05:06] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, they're saying, oh, well, did he fight back? If you fight back, they say obstruction.


TRUMP: You fight back -- John, you fight back. Oh, it's obstruction.


CABRERA: Earlier, I talked about the President's remarks there with John Dean. He is the former White House counsel who flipped on President Richard Nixon.


JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: The words "fight back" are not one -- the words you want to use in front of a grand jury or a prosecutor because as a potential target or as a defendant or as somebody under investigation, fighting back can really mean obstruction.

What you have to do is respond to the process. It is not the same as being in a courtroom. It is not the same as being on the street, fighting. You're subject to not -- or you're not allowed to do anything to disrupt the criminal justice process. Otherwise, you're involved in obstruction of justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: A lot to discuss here. With me, CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, CNN political analyst Ryan Lizza, and CNN contributor and Donald Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio. He is the author of "The Truth About Trump."

So, Paul, moments ago there, we heard John Dean saying those words, "fighting back," the President used, not such a good idea. Do you agree?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is not such a good idea. I have to agree with John Dean. Although, you know, it's funny when I -- whenever I listen to John Dean, he's got great expertise in this field. He was indicted and charged with obstruction of justice himself for --

CABRERA: Yes. He probably knows what to do, not do, right?

CALLAN: He knows a lot about it because he -- the charges against Dean were that he supervised the payment of hush money to the Watergate burglars. He was never charged with fighting back on behalf of President Nixon, which, by the way, John Dean did in the early stages of the investigation.

And I think it's a big mistake for people to think that you can be charged with a crime for proclaiming your innocence or fighting back and saying I'm innocent. Criminal lawyers do that on behalf of clients in every courtroom in America.

We have a system designed for people to be able to fight back when they think that an improper charge has been brought against them. Now, you can go over the line and turn it into obstruction, but Trump, of course, will say he hasn't gone over the criminal line.

CABRERA: And no doubt Robert Mueller is listening to what the President is saying, what he's doing, what has come before on the record.

Michael, do you think the President thinks about how his words could be interpreted by the Special Counsel and actually believes he's helping his case?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": He may think about it. He's got vast experience in lawsuits and in dealing with depositions.

He is -- he fancies himself almost an amateur lawyer. And, you know, I think he's been engaged in so many legal matters that he might be more than your average layperson when it comes to these matters.

He also, I imagine, does consult with his attorneys about what he wants to say. And this language of fighting back does sound like classic marketing and salesmanship, and he's -- in that case, he is also thinking about his base and imagining what they like to hear.

And this kind of street talk, we recall that he used to say, if you hit me, I hit you back 10 times harder. That's a good pitch for people who like to put a thumb in the eye of the establishment and fancy themselves brave crusaders on their own.

And so this is consistent with his personality. And I think Paul is indicating that it's not really disqualifying to say that you're fighting back.

CABRERA: Ryan, Mueller is someone who is known to be pretty secretive in this investigation, doesn't leak stuff. What is the fact that we heard now about this order the President had to fire Mueller tell you?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. That's a good question because with so many of these leaks, it is a bit of a game of trying to figure out where they came from. And a lot of people who are not very happy with the Mueller investigation have, I think, precipitously accused Mueller and his shop of being the leakers.

Look, I know from reporting on this story and I know from a lot of the -- talking to a lot of reporters who do, Mueller's operation is extremely tight, and most of the leaks generally come from the obvious sources. That is people who have gone before the grand jury and, you know, are not legally bound from telling what they know or people in the White House who are telling people on the outside and then that information is getting to the press.

So I don't think it tells you that much about the Mueller investigation. It tells you that people in and around the President talk a lot, and it's a very leaky White House.

[20:09:59] Although, my understanding from "The New York Times" reporters is -- one of them said publicly that the White House essentially lied to them for months, that it took them so long to confirm this story because people in and around the President lied to them about the nature of what Trump said.


LIZZA: Which tells you a lot about how difficult it is to report on this White House sometimes.

CABRERA: There were all kinds of public statements and questions to White House officials and staff members and aides of the President about whether he was even considering firing Robert Mueller, and they publicly denied over and over and over and over again.

But, Paul, let me read you something written by our chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. He says, Mueller and his team surely have evidence of obstruction of justice that has not yet been made public.

He goes on to say, the portrait is of a President using every resource at his disposal to shut down an investigation of Trump himself. And now it has become clear that Trump's own White House Counsel rebelled at the President's rationale for his actions.

Abundant questions remain about Trump's fate in the Mueller investigation, but on perhaps the most important question of all, whether the President of the United States committed the crime of obstruction of justice. The answer now seems clear. Your take?

CALLAN: I don't think the answer is clear at all. And I think that when a special prosecutor looks at the possibility of indicting the President of the United States, he's going to be extraordinarily careful about it, and it would have to be an extraordinarily serious offense.

And remember, what happens with obstruction of justice, usually, it's a situation where a prosecutor is investigating an underlying crime, in this case, Russian interference with the election and collusion with the Trump campaign.

He can't prove that, and obstruction then just becomes some sort of a throwaway charge because you couldn't prove what you were set out to investigate in the first place.

Now, you might do that with an ordinary criminal in an ordinary criminal case. But if you're trying to take down the President of the United States who was elected to that position, I think a prosecutor would be very, very hesitant to do so.

So I'd be surprised if all he's left with are obstruction charges, that he really pushes forward with it. Theoretically, Jeffrey could be correct. He may have enough to support an indictment, but will he seek indictment, I think, is another question.

CABRERA: Could Mueller force President Trump to have to testify or to have to do a face-to-face interview?

CALLAN: Well, the Supreme Court in the Nixon case ruled, essentially, that a president, like anybody else, must testify before the grand jury if subpoenaed. However, the President has the right to assert the Fifth Amendment in response to the subpoena. No president has ever done that because it's considered to be political suicide.

CABRERA: Well, remember what the President said about Hillary Clinton or about other people who plead the Fifth. That it's like proof that they're guilty in his mind.


CABRERA: He has said something along those lines publicly too.

CALLAN: Yes. Yes, he has. But on the other hand, his political tactics as president have been unprecedented in American history, and most other people who did such things would never be elected president.

So he does unusual things and he gets away with it, so, you know, I wouldn't put it past him to assert the Fifth Amendment. We'll have to see.

CABRERA: What do you think about that, Michael? Would the President go that direction should he have to face Mueller, or do you think he could just talk his way out of this? D'ANTONIO: I think he'd prefer to testify or to give an interview

actually. President Clinton did so. Hillary Clinton did appear before a grand jury. I think that he wants to show that he is capable and tough and that his claims of no collusion, of having done nothing wrong stand up and would stand up face-to-face with Mueller and his team.

The thing that struck me as you were reading what Jeffrey Toobin wrote, though, to go back to that issue for a moment, is that much of what Donald Trump is doing right now with the claims about the golf club and the fees and a dispute with Mueller, trying to pick out his credibility, actually strikes me as consistent with his lifelong M.O.

And, so, if one were to look at whether he's trying to obstruct justice, I wonder if people haven't told the Special Counsel that this is directed by the President, that there is an active campaign to diminish the credibility not only of the Special Counsel but of the FBI, the Justice Department, and even other people in the White House who may have met with the Special Counsel.

So it could be that he is the architect of all of this effort, and that's what Jeffrey might be pointing to.

CABRERA: Ryan Lizza --


CABRERA: -- I owe you a question next -- the next time we have you back. I think you're joining us again tomorrow.


CABRERA: So apologies.

LIZZA: Oh, it's fine.

CABRERA: Got to end it there, gentlemen. Paul Callan, Ryan Lizza, and Michael D'Antonio, thank you all.

Still to come here in the NEWSROOM, the board of the USA Gymnastics forced to resign in the wake of Larry Nassar's sentencing.

[20:15:01] Now, Michigan's Attorney General is launching a new investigation into how the university, Michigan State University, handled claims against the doctor.

And a CNN exclusive, an increasing number of State Department employees are hiring lawyers claiming they are victims of political retribution. That report still ahead.


CABRERA: The state of Michigan now has a special prosecutor looking into who knew what and when in the case of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor just sentenced for abusing female athletes. Michigan's Attorney General announced the Special Prosecutor just

today, promising he will investigate Michigan State University where Nassar also worked as a sports doctor.

Already, MSU's athletic director resigned, as did its president. And the entire board of USA Gymnastics will also be stepping down over this scandal.

CNN correspondent Jean Casarez has been there, covering this case from start to finish.

[20:20:00] You were there, Jean, at this press conference with this big announcement of the special prosecutor this afternoon. Jean, what is the A.G. looking for?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they're looking for facts, and they also said they're looking for that potential evidence right there. They would not say that this is a criminal investigation, but the special independent prosecutor, Bill Forsyth, has been a legendary prosecutor in this area. Forty-two years, he has done prosecutorial work.

And he is independent. He will lead this investigation along with the Attorney General's office. They say this is priority one, an extremely important investigation to see exactly who knew what, when, why, and why this was allowed to go on for so long.

The Attorney General, Bill Schuette, responded in today's press conference to something very interesting that the board of trustees of MSU said last week. They said, you know, we think there should be an independent investigation by the Attorney General's office. Listen to his response.


BILL SCHUETTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MICHIGAN: Let me also add this, I don't need advice from the board of trustees at MSU about how to conduct an investigation.

Frankly, they should be the last ones to be providing advice given their conduct throughout this entire episode. Their conduct throughout this entire episode speaks for itself.


CASAREZ: And, Ana, they also said that they actually have been conducting an investigation into MSU for a while now, but they didn't want to go public with it because they want the focus to be on the victims, the survivors, and they want their day in court to be able to give those victim impact statements.

They then had decided that they would come forward. There is still a sentencing this next week for Larry Nassar, but they said the timing was just right. They needed to say it now.

CABRERA: And we did hear from more than 150 victims in the victim impact statements. Jean, how are those victims reacting to this latest development?

CASAREZ: Well, one Olympic athlete -- and I think we have her tweet, Ms. Raisman. She said that she's very happy that a special prosecutor has come on board for an investigation in MSU.

But to have real change, there needs to be an independent investigation of the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics. Aly Raisman.

CABRERA: OK. So this could still be going on. Thank you very much, Jean Casarez, for the latest reporting.

And still ahead in the NEWSROOM, 95 dead, more than 150 injured in Afghanistan after an ambulance packed with explosives detonates in Kabul. Now, the Taliban is claiming responsibility.


[20:27:15] CABRERA: A horrific story from overseas now. A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed nearly 100 people today by driving a car bomb into a crowd of people in the capital, Kabul. Police say the bomb was an ambulance filled with explosives.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more. Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, devastating to just think about that, using an ambulance as a suicide car bomb. It appears it may have got through a first checkpoint and then been stopped at the second, detonating. It's extraordinarily powerful device, just think about that.

Now nearly 100 families at home grieving. Quite shocking devastation here in what should have been one of the more secure parts of the capital, near the European Commission of their diplomatic missions. A major hospital, too.

And, Ana, one important point here. A year ago, in March, when a similar attack happened on a hospital, a military hospital, in the capital, the Taliban rushed forward and said they had nothing to do with it. They thought it was too extreme.

Now, when an ambulance is used as a car bomb to get into secure areas -- remember, the Afghan capital, Kabul, is pretty much always on lockdown with very heavy concrete walls around many institutions.

When an ambulance is used as a car bomb today, the Taliban ran straight to the front and said that they were behind it. That's how extreme they've become.

Some are saying, perhaps, they're trying to recapture the extremist far ground from ISIS, who, since their collapse in Syria and Iraq, have tried to gain territory in Afghanistan and support to some success.

But this is a key year for the war in Afghanistan. President Trump has stated personally that he will win here. He has laid out his policy to some degree with an element of transparency, but there are going to be hundreds of American troops outside of their bases in the years ahead, now training Afghan soldiers on the front line and potentially more at risk.

But at the same time, too, taxpayers at home may know less and less information about how well that war is going. Strangely, the one key indicator many took about how well or badly the war is going, how many Afghan soldiers or police are dying, that's now classified because the Afghan government and the coalition wants it to be so.

So one less thing you'll know at a key time about how well this war the President said he's going to win is actually going and more attacks like this, devastating Afghan people now, sadly -- it seems in the last month or so -- on a weekly basis, Ana.

CABRERA: Yes, awful. Thank you, Nick.

And this evening, President Trump tweeted a statement about the bombing.

Taliban targeted innocent Afghans, brave police in Kabul today. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and first responders. We will not allow the Taliban to win!

Now to a CNN exclusive, a number of State Department employees are lawyering up, claiming they were illegally targeted for political reasons due to their previous work under the Obama administration.

Key Democrats are calling on the State Department watchdog to conduct an immediate review.

CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has this exclusive story for us. Elise?

[20:30:04] ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, top Democratic lawmakers are now calling on the State Department's watchdog to take what they call an immediate review of personnel practices there after a growing number of employees told CNN they are being politically targeted and put in career purgatory for their work under the last administration.

Representatives Eliot Engel and Elijah Cummings, ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to the State Department's Inspector General, Friday, citing CNN's report on the issue.

Now, several officials tell CNN they have retained attorneys after repeatedly trying, unsuccessfully, to raise concerns about being assigned to Freedom of Information Act requests.

The congressmen letter cites, quote, credible allegations that the State Department has required high-level career civil servants with distinguished records serving administrations of both parties to move to performing tasks outside their area of substantive expertise.

At the very least, the congressmen charged, this is a waste of taxpayer dollars. At worst, it may constitute impermissible abuse and retaliation.

Now, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made clearing a backlog of FOIA requests a priority. He has reassigned staff throughout the building to help as part of what he calls a FOIA surge.

Now, many of those assigned include senior employees who used to be detailed to other agencies or offices created by President Obama as policy priorities which the Trump administration does not support.

Now, the State Department denies political retribution is involved. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert says it's an all hands on deck effort.

In a statement to CNN, Nauert says, quote, it may not be a glamorous job but it's an important one. People are asked to serve there because there is a need. It is without regard to politics.

And many of these employees are saying we're happy to help, but they want to be given substantive work on these issues like handling classified information or dealing with foreign governments named in the documents. They want to know why they are being asked to do the most menial of the tasks.

They ask, how could they be negotiating with foreign governments or advising the national security adviser, even the President on national security matters a few months ago, and now they're being asked to do data entry and Google searches alongside interns and civil servant employees 10 below -- 10 grades below them?

Now, several officials concede this may not be entirely about politics. They say it could also be ad hoc and what they call simple mismanagement. But it all contributes to a widespread morale problem at the State Department that lawmakers are demanding be looked at, Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Elise Labott, thank you. One more note from overseas today, the crackdown on corruption in Saudi Arabia, a crackdown that has taken the rare move of including members of the Saudi royal family.

Today, this man, a Saudi prince, was released from detention where he has been since he was arrested in early November.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is a billionaire. He and 16 other Saudi royals and top officials were arrested as part of a new tougher anti- corruption policy in the kingdom.

Coming up, a familiar pattern unfolding at the White House, President Trump growing increasingly frustrated with his Chief of Staff, John Kelly. Is the man who was brought in to clean up the White House on his way out?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:37:40] CABRERA: New signs President Trump and his Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, are hitting a bit of a rough patch in their working relationship. This week the President interrupted Kelly's immigration briefing, holding an impromptu press conference.

A source tells CNN it was, quote, a warning shot from the President still fuming after Kelly told Fox News last week Trump's border wall views had, quote, evolved.

Let's talk it over with Chris Whipple, author of "The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency."

And Michael D'Antonio is back with us as well.

So, Chris, Kelly's predecessor, of course, Reince Priebus, he was ousted after the big healthcare failure.


CABRERA: Here, it looks like Kelly has a tough road ahead on immigration. Do you think he could stand to see the same fate if he doesn't come up with a deal that trumps to fruition?

WHIPPLE: Well, there is no question that John Kelly is in the doghouse. You know, he made the mistake of telling the truth on Fox News.

Remember Michael Kinsley's definition of a gaffe, which is telling the truth in Washington?


WHIPPLE: Well, that's exactly what Kelly did. And, you know, I find the relationship really fascinating because, you know, on the one hand, we know that Donald Trump has nothing but awe for generals.


WHIPPLE: But I think Trump is conflicted because, on the other hand, he gets tired of people quickly. You know, you have more influence with Donald Trump on Day One than you have on Day Two or Day Three.

CABRERA: Which is interesting because you'd think that the relationship would build on itself and perhaps the dynamic --

WHIPPLE: I think quite the --


WHIPPLE: Quite the opposite, I think. You know, you lose influence every day with Donald Trump. You're no longer the shiny object.

And I think -- you know, Trump has been known to say to no one in particular in the Oval Office, you know, I'm not so sure about these generals. I think maybe they're a bunch of liberals. What do you think?

So, you know, every day, you lose influence, and with Donald Trump, six months is an eternity.

CABRERA: Well, let me ask about what you pointed out there in terms of just like the turnover we have seen and the dynamics when you're dealing with Trump, Michael, because you know him well. Is it typical for him to have this much conflict with people he works with?

D'ANTONIO: Well, actually, we're in new territory with Donald Trump because he is now President of the United States. He holds a political office. In the past, it was all about Donald Trump, the entrepreneur and the developer. And he did hold on to people once they showed that they knew how to stick.

[20:40:04] And, so, his lawyer, Michael Cohen, has been there forever. Alan Garten, who's his top executive, has been there forever. These are folks who also never required any of the spotlight and never received any of it.

And there is a difference with people in the White House. They have their own shiny countenance to present to the world, and they attract press attention. You know, we saw when Steve Bannon was on the cover of "TIME" Magazine that that greatly displeased the President.

So this is a new phenomenon for him, sharing the spotlight. He's not a collaborative kind of person. He is the star. And so -- and he's a petulant star, so he's going to be angry if someone appears to be contradicting him or showing him up. And as we know, with the example of James Comey, this is a fellow who sees anyone else who has got a voice as a showboat.

CABRERA: Chris, I'm sorry, you're shaking your head, but I wonder about the contrast in their personalities. Because we have President Trump who seems to be kind of a shoot from the hip, go from the gut kind of guy. You have General Kelly who has this brisk demeanor, military order. I mean, are the two just destined to clash because of how extreme their personalities are?

WHIPPLE: Well, there is no doubt about it that Trump is chafing under Kelly's attempt to, quote/unquote, manage him. No matter how often Kelly tells you that I was not put on the suit to manage Donald Trump, he has been trying to manage him and, in my opinion, failing because, at the end of the day, Donald Trump is unmanageable.

And I want to just pick up on something Michael said because there is no question -- nothing could be different than the White House and the 26th floor of Trump Tower. You cannot run the White House the way you run a Manhattan real estate firm with people coming and going and just shooting from the hip.

I think Tuesday night will be interesting because it will be the State of the Union because I wonder who is going to show up. Is it going to be the Goldman Sachs scripted Trump, or is it going to be the gloom and doom and carnage Trump that we saw at the inaugural address channeling, you know, nut jobs like Stephen Miller?

I think that's going to be interesting, but, at the end of the day, I don't think it will make a difference because this is a president who has not learned the way almost every other president learns that there is a difference between campaigning and governing.

Campaigning, you divide, you disrupt, you demonize. Governing, you have to reach out and you have to build coalitions and you have to make deals. And at this point, the art of the deal is a charade. I mean, it's a laughing stock.

CABRERA: Gentleman, got to leave it there. Chris Whipple, Michael D'Antonio, I appreciate both of you for enjoying that and being part of that conversation. I enjoyed it.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, immigration and amnesty Don? Well, Trump loyalists are lashing out after the White House revealed its proposal for Dreamers and other immigrants. Stay with us.


[20:47:37] CABRERA: The President has presented a deal that is set to reshape U.S. immigration dramatically, a deal that all sides are up in arms about. It's easy to forget, though, that there are real lives at stake here. Families have already been torn apart.

Take for instance the case of Jorge Garcia. The Detroit father was deported back to Mexico last week after living in the U.S. for 30 years. He was brought here when he was just 10 years old, just a few years younger than the two kids he now leaves behind.

His wife, Cindy, talked to CNN after he was deported.


CINDY GARCIA, HUSBAND DEPORTED TO MEXICO: It's sad. It's devastating. It's a nightmare. The kids cry. It's rough. We're just trying to live day by day.


CABRERA: A similar story, 140 miles west. A Kalamazoo doctor was enjoying a day with his family when ICE agents showed up, taking him away in handcuffs.

Lukasz Niec was just five years old when his parents fled Poland with their two children in 1979. And now, he faces deportation to a country he's never known.



Most of these people that are here, they were recently arrested, and most were felonies. You see people in here with different stories, and it kind of blew me away, in a way. Mine is probably one of the more extreme ones. (END AUDIO CLIP)

CABRERA: Niec was arrested over administrative immigration violations, two misdemeanors from 1992. His new wife, still in shock.


RACHELLE BURKART-NIEC, HUSBAND ARRESTED OVER IMMIGRATION VIOLATIONS: I didn't see it ever getting ripped apart like this. I mean, I said until death, and I didn't say until you're deported.


CABRERA: And specifically when it comes to Dreamers, despite being widely popular with Americans, their fate is anything but clear right now. And even with all the uncertainty, one university is fighting to lift up the Dreamers.

The Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago, a Catholic Jesuit college, became the first med school in the U.S. to accept DACA students. They have 32 students out of approximately 600 who are Dreamers.

And with me now, one of those students, Cesar Montelongo Hernandez and Professor Mark Kuczewski.

So, Cesar, thank you so much for being with us. Your thoughts about what's happening in Washington right now with the negotiations on immigration? Do you feel like you're a bit of a political football?

[20:50:01] CESAR MONTELONGO HERNANDEZ, MEDICAL STUDENT, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO: It does feel like that, and it's very difficult every day just to have your life on hold and still trying to get by and be a normal person.

CABRERA: I want you to listen to what President Trump said back in 2016.


TRUMP: For those here illegally today who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only. To return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else.

We will break the cycle of amnesty and illegal immigration. We will break the cycle.

People will know that you can't just smuggle in, hunker down, and wait to be legalized. Not going to work that way. Those days are over.


CABRERA: Now, the President seems to have softened his tone since then, but, Cesar, what do you want the President and others who are cheering in that audience to know about you and your family's story? HERNANDEZ: Well, in my case, my family did stand in line over 20

years ago, but because the process took so long, I was actually aged out of my application.

So it's just -- it's very difficult with the current system that we have. There are very few options, and even then, it can take decades to be receive -- to be able to adjust your status. So it is very difficult. It's not as clear-cut as it may seem.

CABRERA: Professor Kuczewski, I understand Loyola was the first med school in the nation to welcome DACA recipients and this has been part of your personal mission. Why?

MARK KUCZEWSKI, CHAIRMAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL EDUCATION, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO: Oh, well, it's very clear that, as a medical school, we're interested in the best and the brightest applicants.

We know medical school is difficult. We need physicians who are extremely talented. We need physicians who are culturally competent, who are bilingual, bicultural. And DACA recipients like Cesar have competed on a level playing field for their place in our school's admission class, and so they're a tremendous asset to our communities.

They are Americans. They have grown up in our communities. They understand our communities and are well-suited to treat these patient populations.

And as you mentioned, we're a Jesuit Catholic university. And really, it's a recommitment to our mission of about a hundred years ago when we were the places that were opening our doors to the last wave of immigrants from Europe, the Irish, the Italians, when there were signs up that said, "no Irish need apply at other schools."

And so we think that simply by staying true to our mission, we really serve our communities very well.

CABRERA: Professor, if a deal isn't struck, though, and DACA ends up repealed, what does that mean for your program?

KUCZEWSKI: Well, it would be a terrible tragedy. It would be a waste of talent because, as I said, these students really are able to serve our patient populations so well. And right now -- it's not just when the repeal happens. It's the uncertainty right now is devastating to their futures.

We have fourth-year medical students who are going on to their next stage. They're applying for residency programs, the next stage of training where they'll be treating patients in hospital programs, and those are three to five-year programs.

And so right now, those program directors have to rank those students and say whether they'd like to invite them into their programs next year, and they have to do that within the next few weeks.

And those programs are three to five years long, and they're looking at students who don't have any way to know if they're going to be able to renew their two-year work permits. So it's important that this issue be resolved and be resolved soon.

CABRERA: Cesar, where are you at in your program, and what are your plans, at this point, for the future?

HERNANDEZ: Of course. So I'm a third year in my program, and I'm actually attempting to complete both an M.D. and a Ph.D. So I have finished half of my M.D. degree and now I have started my Ph.D.

Long-term, it's -- I mean, it's very difficult for people in my position to plan out our lives. But if possible, I would like to complete my Ph.D and my M.D., of course, and hopefully go back and serve communities in need.

CABRERA: The President is set to address the nation in his first State of the Union on Tuesday. Cesar, what do you want to hear from him in regards to the Dreamers?

HERNANDEZ: Well, of course, it would be great if he could say what are his plans and how he would like to follow through on them. As you stated before, there has been a lot of back and forth as to what the leadership in Washington, D.C. wants.

And me, for myself, as a person, it's very difficult to wake up every day and see the headlines telling me that my future may play out in a given manner and just having to think about what's going to happen every single day.

CABRERA: Well, Cesar Montelongo Hernandez, Professor Mark Kuczewski, thank you both.

And, Cesar, keep working hard. Thank you for spending time with us and sharing your story.

[20:55:05] HERNANDEZ: Of course. Thank you so much.

KUCZEWSKI: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Well, under President Trump, the EPA has been known for quite a few very reversals. Why this one may surprise you, next.


CABRERA: The Environmental Protection Agency is reversing itself and handing a setback to a controversial gold mining proposal in Alaska.

Last year, the EPA proposed suspending environmental protections in the Bristol Bay watershed, paving the way for a massive mine to be built there. But after a CNN investigation showed the EPA decision followed a meeting between EPA head, Scott Pruitt, and the mining company's CEO, there was a wave of criticism.

And now, the EPA is doing an about-face. Yet the mining company says its application for a permit is still on track while the EPA gathers more information. [21:00:01] That does it for me. Thank you for watching. I'll be back

tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: SHANGHAI" is next. Good night.