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Inside the U.S. Submarine Challenging Russia in the Arctic; Pennsylvania Teen Found in Mexico with 45-Year-Old Man; Hurricane Maria Still Taking Lives in Puerto Rico. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired March 18, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:44] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us this afternoon.
President Trump today being cautioned by Democrats and Republicans to lay off Robert Mueller, the special counsel. That is after the second straight day of the president mentioning the special counsel's name twice during a defensive and accusation-filled weekend of tweets from the White House.
These are the messages just today from the president. Denying collusion with the Russians, attacking former FBI officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe, calling them names, calling them liars, saying the Mueller team has zero Republicans, even though Robert Mueller himself is a Republican.
Now the weekend tweet storm and very rare mention of Robert Mueller by name have some analysts deducing that the president is ready to shut Mueller down. At least two Republicans in the Senate say that would be a disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, as I said before, if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of this presidency because we're a rule of law nation.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Talking to my colleagues all along, it was once he goes after Mueller, then we'll take action. I think that people see that as a massive red line that can't be crossed. So I hope that that's the case and I would just hope that enough people would prevail on the president now, don't go there. Don't go there.
We have confidence in Mueller. I certainly do. And then I think my colleagues do as well. So I hope that the pushback is now to keep the president from going there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And this just a few minutes ago from Arizona's Republican Senator John McCain. He tweets, "Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity. It's critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election unimpeded."
Let's go to our White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.
Boris, the president had no public events this weekend. He just returned to the White House after playing golf. What are White House officials saying about the president's evident frustration today?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, at least one of them, Ana, the director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short, is defending President Trump and his frustrations boiling over on Twitter saying that the Russia investigation has gone on for more than a year, it's cost millions of dollars and it has yet to conclusively prove that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The president really making a shift here. He's previously called the Russia investigation a hoax, a witch hunt, but he's never really gone after Robert Mueller or his team by name the way that he has this weekend. He's essentially saying that there's bias within this investigation because as he argues, Mueller's team is full of Democrats.
There are a number of facts that really refute that idea, for one, several of the lawyers on Mueller's team have prosecuted both Democrats and Republicans before, that is to say there's no partisan streak there. Beyond that Mueller himself is a registered Republican, someone that has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. And lastly, he still maintains a vote of confidence from perhaps the most important voice which is the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who has repeatedly said that Mueller is acting appropriately and getting to the bottom of facts without letting anyone's personal political beliefs interfere in that pursuit of facts.
Despite that many around the president, the president himself, and just yesterday his attorney John Dowd have been suggesting that perhaps it's time for this investigation to come to a conclusion.
I want you to listen to what Marc Short said this morning on one of the Sunday talk shows. There's a portion on there that is key at this point. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Everyone in the White House has cooperated on this. And what I have said is that we have cooperated in every single way, every single paper they've asked for, every single interview, and I think the reality, Margaret, is that yes, there's a growing frustration that after more than a year and millions and millions of dollars spent on this, there remains no evidence of collusion with Russia. I think the president is expressing this frustration which I think is well warranted and merited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Every request made by the special counsel the White House so far has complied. The question now of course is will they continue to do that as we see the president become, let's say, more abrasive against this investigation while there are lawmakers out there as you pointed out, Ana, that are calling for this special counsel to be able to finish this investigation without being impeded, without any interference whatsoever.
[18:05:10] It's something certainly to watch for in the coming days.
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House. Boris, thank you.
As the president attacks the special counsel, I want to bring in someone who knows him well. CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin is a former federal prosecutor. He served as Mueller's special assistant at the Department of Justice.
So, Michael, let me remind everybody what Trump tweeted earlier today, "Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats and big crooked Hillary supporters and zero Republicans. Another Dem recently added. Does anyone think this is fair? And yet there is no collusion."
So, Michael, as someone who has worked closely with Mueller, what's your reaction to that?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So I think it's factually incorrect. Firstly, of course, Robert Mueller is himself a registered Republican. The two Justice Department people that are involved in this investigation, Christopher Wray, the head of the FBI, is a Republican and Rod Rosenstein is appointed by a Republican to oversee this investigation along with Mueller. So the three top people on the investigation all have Republican next to their name.
With that said, Ana, none of these people who are all constant professionals are going to let their political orientation impact their analysis of the facts and their outcome determine decisions. So I think this is really a bit of a complaint by the president that has no merit that underlies it.
CABRERA: Now if Trump were to try to fire Mueller now after the events of the past 48 hours the McCabe's firing, the president's tweets, the statement from attorney John Dowd. What do you see happening? Do you think Mueller is taking steps to protect his findings?
ZELDIN: So there are a couple of things, first we have to remember that there is a code of federal regulations that governed the firing of the special counsel and those provide that only the deputy attorney general can fire the special counsel and can only do so with good cause found. Rosenstein has testified about this. He has said there is no good cause, that he would resign before he fired Mueller without good cause.
So the likelihood is that if the president directed Rosenstein to fire Mueller, Rosenstein would resign in protest and we'd have another Saturday night-like massacre where Archibald Cox resigned, Richard Kleindienst resigned rather than carry out Nixon's orders. So constitutionally that creates a huge problem for the president. So I don't see it's going to happen. With respect to Mueller, I don't know that he's really needing to
protect himself against being fired because if he's fired, Ana, the investigation does not end, it gets carried on by a new appointed special counsel. That's what we saw in Watergate. They fired Archibald Cox and a new special counsel, Leon Jaworski, carried on through the conclusion. And they evaluated --
CABRERA: But doesn't that depend on what Congress does, though? Doesn't Congress have to appoint a new special counsel?
ZELDIN: The special counsel is appointed by the attorney general and in this case that's still Rod Rosenstein because Attorney General Sessions is recused. So if they fire Mueller, Rosenstein appoints a new special counsel. They carry on. And the new special counsel has to consider whether or not the firing of Mueller without cause fits into the mosaic of obstructionist behavior.
So from a legal standpoint, this is a very bad strategy for the president, and I expect that Ty has told the president this over and over and over. What John Dowd is doing is beyond my understanding.
CABRERA: Do you think Mueller's investigation has weakened in any way because of McCabe's firing?
ZELDIN: No, in some respects it may actually strengthen the allegation that the president is endeavoring to interfere with the investigation. Remember McCabe is a witness to the question of whether or not Flynn was -- whether the president asked Flynn's investigation to be let go by Comey. Comey wrote a memoranda about that. He apparently told McCabe about that. McCabe wrote memoranda about that. McCabe had meetings with the president. He wrote memoranda about it.
So an effort to interfere with McCabe's testimony may actually be unhelpful, hurtful in fact to the president's legal standing vis-a-vis an obstruction of justice, witness tampering case. With respect to collusion, I don't think it's relevant.
CABRERA: But what about the fact that Sessions says he fired McCabe because it was of the recommendation from the Office of Professional Responsibility within the FBI as well as the Office of the Inspector General's report that essentially McCabe misled investigators. How does he play as a witness now?
ZELDIN: Well, a couple of things about that. First, of course, is we haven't seen the findings of the OIG. We don't know what the inspector general said. We don't know what the basis for the recommendation from the Office of Professional Responsibility was.
[18:10:05] So without knowing the facts that underline the recommendations, it's hard to make a conclusion about whether it was appropriate recommendation or not an appropriate recommendation. So we just don't know that. We can only see the process by which he was let go which seems a bit unseemly at this point.
CABRERA: All right. Michael Zeldin, thank you as always.
ZELDIN: OK, Ana.
CABRERA: I want to bring in my panel to discuss everything that has happened in the last 48 hours. Joining us, CNN political commentator and former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes and political commentator and columnist for the Huffington Post and "USA Today" Kurt Bardella.
So, Kurt, does it appear to you that the president is setting the stage to get rid of Robert Mueller?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESMAN, BREITBART NEWS: I think he's pretty much telegraphing it when he had Dowd talk to the "Daily Beast" and pretty much explicitly say, if Rosenstein doesn't end the investigation and fire Mueller, that Rosenstein is going to be next and he's going to be one to be fired. Even though they tried to walk that back 20 minutes later, the message was still pretty clear that that's exactly what Donald Trump wanted out there in the political conversation.
The explicit attacks against Mueller today on Twitter tell you that's exactly what he's thinking. So I don't think there's a whole lot of cloak and dagger going on. It's pretty straight forward what Trump wants to happen here.
CABRERA: Guys, let's listen to what Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy said about Trump's lawyer calling for the Russia probe to end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To suggest that Mueller should shut down and that all he is looking at is collusion, if you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it. Russia attacked our country. Let Special Counsel Mueller figure that out. And if you believe as we found there's no evidence of collusion you should want Special Counsel Mueller to take all the time and have all the independence he needs to do his job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, Steve, that being said, why does the president keep attacking Mueller if he is truly innocent?
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, well, he is innocent and I disagree with that premise, though, from Congressman Gowdy as much as I admire him.
In America and in any advanced law abiding country, we can't say, OK, here's the investigation, let's find the crime. There is no crime. There's no collusion. And so we cannot empower a panel of investigators and lawyers to try to find -- and perhaps, in my opinion, manufacture a crime. That's the way things are done in third world countries. This is not the way we do things in the United States. So give us evidence of a crime --
CABRERA: What makes you think Robert Mueller's team would be manufacturing a crime?
CORTES: Well, I'm glad you asked, Ana. What would make me think that? Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and the text that they -- and they were primary investigators on this team.
CABRERA: They're not part of Mueller's team. But they're not part of the Mueller's team anymore.
CORTES: But they were. They were.
CABRERA: And as soon as he found out about those texts he got rid of them.
CORTES: They were --
BARDELLA: If there's no crime --
CORTES: But they were primary part of --
CORTES: More than that, even more importantly than that, how about James Comey writing an exoneration memo of Hillary Clinton months before the investigation had even concluded before she herself and most of the principal people in the case had been themselves investigated? What it tells us is, what we know, and by the way Robert Mueller should never be -- if he were an honorable man he would have recused himself from this investigation very early on. Merely, if only, because he is a best friend and confidant of James Comey, that alone is enough to disqualify him as being totally conflicted in this case.
CABRERA: But hold on.
CORTES: We know --
CABRERA: Rosenstein -- Rosenstein, who was selected by Jeff Sessions, appointed Robert Mueller and when he was appointed, there were a whole lot of Republicans who were cheering that appointment because he, too, served as an FBI director under a Republican administration he himself has been known to be registered as a Republican.
CABRERA: But there's beyond that, there is evidence of crime that the Mueller team has uncovered. There are three people who are in Trump circle who have pleaded guilty. There was also of course the 13 Russian individuals who were --
CORTES: To crimes unrelated to the Trump campaign.
(CROSSTALK) CABRERA: But no. No, no, no, the 13 Russians that were indicted were directly related to Russian election meddling, and he laid out in the indictment exactly what they uncovered was done.
CABRERA: So this is an investigation that speaks to the bigger issue of exactly how Russia meddles in the election, no?
CORTES: Right, listen, Russia meddled in the election, I have no doubt about that. And as Americans, well, whatever party, we need to deal with that issue. And by the way, among many nations, I think the Chinese meddled -- I think a lot of people meddled and we need to address that. It's important.
But let's be clear on this, Manafort and Gates were indicted for non- Trump related activities, things that pre-dated their involvement in the Trump campaign. That's very important. There is still no evidence whatsoever of collusion from the Trump campaign and the reason there's no evidence is because it simply didn't happen.
So how long do we allow this panel, again this inquiry, which has become in many ways an inquisition, to instead of investigating the crime, we have an investigation searching for a crime? How long can they search for a crime? Is it endless? I mean, look, here's the other thing --
CABRERA: Well, look, some of these past federal investigations --
CORTES: The Department of Justice answers to the president --
[18:15:05] CABRERA: -- have lasted for years, including the Ken Starr investigation which we've already brought up.
CORTES: And I disagree with that.
CABRERA: But Republicans weren't crying foul when that landed the president in hot water. A Democrat president in hot water.
CORTES: Well, I would. I would.
CABRERA: But let me bring you back in, Kurt, here because at the top of the show I played sound of Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake warning Trump against firing Mueller, saying it would be the end of his presidency. Listen to what a couple of other Republican senators said about the possibility of firing Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Would it bother you if the president ordered the firing of Mueller?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You know, I wouldn't advocate it but I would have never advocated for the appointment of a special prosecutor. REP. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: I don't see the president firing
him. I think the White House has said 10 times, maybe more, that they are not going to fire Robert Mueller. They want to be able to finish the investigation. So I don't even think that's going to be necessary because the president is not going to fire him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Kurt, are you confident Republicans would retaliate if Trump moved to fire Mueller?
BARDELLA: No, absolutely not. I mean, just by the sound bite you could see that there's a certain amount of denial really setting in here that Republicans are hoping beyond hope that they don't have to deal with this at all. They're hoping that Trump doesn't fire Mueller or Rosenstein doesn't end the investigation because that is the last thing they really want to deal with in this toxic political climate the Republicans are currently trying to navigate.
The reality is, Trump is going to do whatever he wants to do. I don't think anybody really knows one way or the other from day one to day two what he's going to wake up and decide to do, what he's going to wake up and decide to tweet, whether someone is going to lose their job or finding out over Twitter.
It's really anybody's guess and that uncertainty is crippling the Republicans right now and is part of the reason why they're in such bad shape as they look towards November.
CABRERA: Steve, I'll give you the last word but I need it in just 15 seconds.
CORTES: Sure, I'll say this, while Mueller is a Don Quixote chasing wind mills out there in America the country is prospering and this is a ridiculous attempt to try to distract from that wonderful reality, which is the country is getting safer and more prosperous.
CABRERA: Kurt Bardella and Steve Cortes --
BARDELLA: Pennsylvania didn't sure think that.
CABRERA: Thank you, guys. Good to see you both.
Coming up, your Facebook data in the hands of a firm with ties to the Trump campaign, that may have been later given to Russia. The details ahead. And later a CNN exclusive to a new battlefield between the U.S. and Russia, the Arctic.
We'll take you inside an American submarine training to hunt and kill enemy ships and submarines and to protect U.S. military power.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:21:40] CABRERA: Facebook is facing some serious scrutiny after reports that data from millions, tens of millions of its users was apparently used for political purposes before the 2016 election. A Massachusetts attorney general is now opening an investigation into Facebook and a data firm tied to the Trump campaign. This after a "New York Times" report that Cambridge Analytical used personal data from 50 million Facebook users without approval.
Now Facebook suspended the company Friday for violating its policies and now the social network is launching an internal investigation. Cambridge Analytic denies any wrongdoing. It was hired as part of the Trump campaign's data operation in 2016.
So let's talk it over with Matthew Rosenberg, the national security correspondent for the "New York Times" and CNN security analyst.
So, Matthew, how did this happen and exactly what is the allegation here?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So this happened in 2014, Cambridge Analytica was this new firm. It was being founded by Robert Mercer, the conservative billionaire, and Steve Bannon. And they wanted what they've been promised by the people, this company, that they could build them a tool that could kind of map the personality of every American voter, and you could predict their behavior that way and message at them.
But they needed a lot of data to do that. And so they went out and they got this Facebook data. They paid an outside researcher to set up an app. It was really simple. You would take a personality questionnaire then you will log on to the app, you would -- the app would simply scrape all your personal information and that of all your friends and you'd get a payment code, you get paid for taking the questionnaire.
About 270,000 people took the questionnaire and downloaded the app. That totaled about more than 50 million user profiles being scraped. So their friend networks were scraped.
CABRERA: So why? Why would Cambridge Analytica go there? What was the root of this mission?
ROSENBERG: It needed the data. It needed the data to create this technique or this kind of analytical tool that it could create that would, you know, help predict voter behavior. Whether that actually worked is another huge debate. But Cambridge Analytica says it did and that they called it psychographic, is what it's called. Their psychographic research helped Trump win the election. That's what they claim.
CABRERA: So how much insight did Cambridge Analytica actually get about people through the info from Facebook?
ROSENBERG: You know, I mean, look, don't think anybody would be too shocked by this. It's birth date, place, name, you know, where you live, also everything you've liked. That was really important. That's what they needed. It was all your different likes. And you know, this is data that at one point had been public but by 2014 was by default private but your friends could see and that's why the app could see it.
And Facebook eventually stopped allowing this kind of access but at the time what they did was legitimate, the thing is, too, is they told users it was for academic research. We're taking this data for academic research. They weren't. They were taking it for political data firm that wanted to use this powerful new tool to reshape American political culture.
CABRERA: But there was an academic researcher who was involved in this scheme of sorts as you uncovered in your reporting. Explain that and the broader connection to Russia.
ROSENBERG: So, his name is Aleksandr Kogan. He's a Cambridge University academic. He had kind of learned of this technique for kind of scraping Facebook data from colleagues of his at the Cambridge University Psychographic Center, they called it.
[18:25:04] And they believe they could predict a lot about your personality just from your Facebook like.
Kogan, you know, is Russian American. He's had an appointment also at St. Petersburg University. Look, we spoke to him. He was pretty -- he kind of laughed off the allegation that he was Russian. He's saying look, I've also taken grants from the American government, from the British government and the Chinese government, maybe (INAUDIBLE) follow them. But Cambridge Analytica itself has some Russian connections that are difficult to explain that we don't fully understand.
In the summer of 2014 when it's collecting all this Facebook data on 50 million Americans, certainly Lukoil, which is a Russian oil company that has some ties to Putin's inner circle, shows up and wants to talk about American kind of voter data and consumer data. The thing is, Lukoil doesn't have any real presence in the U.S. So it's not clear what they really wanted there.
Also their parent company, Cambridge Analytica's parent company, the SCL Group, you know, says well, we've never had business in Russia but it has. We have promotional literature that shows maps with Russia marked off the place where it said clients.
CABRERA: How interesting, and so of course then it leads us all to wonder, does this new information give us a better sense of how Cambridge Analytical maybe fits into the Mueller investigation.
ROSENBERG: It's a tougher call. We know that Mueller has asked for all of Cambridge Analytica's documents and e-mails related to the Trump campaign but, you know, the Mueller investigation is a tough one. Exactly what they want and what they're doing at any moment is often a mystery. So we know they're looking at it. We also know British lawmakers are looking at Cambridge Analytica and their role in Brexit. But exactly where they're going with this still remains to be seen. CABRERA: Matthew Rosenberg, fascinating report. Thank you so much
for sharing with us.
ROSENBERG: Thank you.
CABRERA: Everything seems to move faster in the Trump era, doesn't it? Well, it's starting to have an impact on the Federal Reserve.
CNN's Alison Kosik has more in your "Before the Bell" report.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. The first interest rate hike of 2018 is coming. The Federal Reserve meets this week and investors are betting there's more than a 90 percent chance of a rate hike. New Fed chief Jerome Powell will hold its first news conference following the meeting. And investors are hoping for clarity on how many more times the Fed will raise rates this year.
Tomorrow Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin meets with G-20 Finance ministers in Argentina. President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will be a big topic of discussion. Many countries are expected to ask Mnuchin for exemptions.
And the antitrust case of the decade also begins this week. AT&T and the Justice Department square off in federal court over the company's $85 billion bid for Time Warner, parent of CNN. The government argues the deal will hurt consumers by raising prices and limiting choice. AT&T argues it needs the merger to better compete with upstarts like Facebook, Amazon and Netflix. The outcome could change the future of deals in the media industry.
In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.
CABRERA: Thanks, Alison.
Coming up, a CNN exclusive report from the front line of the new standoff between Russia and the United States. The Arctic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire, two one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jolt, two one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: We'll go on board an American nuclear submarine facing off with Russia's military melting ice in the Arctic, giving the Kremlin a path to war?
[18:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Now to a CNN exclusive, a look inside the USS Hartford, a nuclear-powered submarine challenging Russia in the Arctic.
CNN's Jim Sciutto got extraordinary access with the Navy to see how they deal with potential threats under the ice.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the Commander of NATO forces in Europe said this week that Russian submarine activity around the world is at levels not seen since the 1980s during the Cold War.
And one place that it's taking place is in the Arctic where, as the ice melts, Russia, the U.S., other powers see the potential for oil exploration, new sea routes, but also new ways to project military power. And that's why the U.S. Navy is there now projecting U.S. military power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attack center to put on weapon ready to put it to one power outside now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weapons three, two, one, aye, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by tube one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice pick submarine, bearing 182, 300 yards.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The USS Hartford Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarine readies to fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire, tube one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot, tube one.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): In an instant, a two-ton 20-foot long torpedo speeds towards an enemy submarine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long is it going to get you to target?
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Target acquired and destroyed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All hands on impasse (ph). Withholding (ph) operations are in progress.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The Hartford is training for its primary mission -- hunting and killing enemy ships and submarines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One-eight-zero feet, zero angle.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): But these exercises, which CNN was given exclusive access to, are taking place in the harshest sea environment in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tying up some (INAUDIBLE) stop.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Under the Arctic ice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep in watch in the 1MC (ph), vertical surface, vertical surface, vertical surface.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ship is a mess vertical surfacing, major and minor all hands (ph). Stand fast.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Its arena where even surfacing requires enormous power and skill.
[18:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five-degree up angle, 0.23 upper velocity and increasing.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): We were on board as the submarine stalks to the surface with the full force of its the 6,000 tons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four 1,000. Two 1,000. Three 1,000.
SCIUTTO (on camera): We've just broken through two feet of Arctic ice. The North Pole is this way, Russia is this way, and Alaska this way. And a mission like this is all about sending a message that the U.S. Navy can operate or wage war if necessary in the harshest environment in the world.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The Arctic is the newest and most daunting front in the expanding global competition between the U.S. and Russia. These 5-1/2 million square miles are under an intense battle for dominance as the ice shrinks and opens new oil exploration. New shipping lanes and, crucially, new pads to wage war.
REAR ADMIRAL JAMES PITTS, COMMANDER, UNDERSEA WARFIGHTING DEVELOPMENT CENTER: We are well aware that we are in a great power competition environment, and the Arctic is one piece of that.
SCIUTTO (on camera): Great power competition, talking principally about Russia but also China?
PITTS: Russia and China are two of the great powers that are, you know, trying to catch up with us as fast as they can.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): This year, these exercises, called ICE X, are taking on new urgency. A British submarine joined for the first time in a decade. And U.S. submarine forces are refocusing on a mission dating to the Cold War.
COMMANDER MATTHEW FANNING, COMMANDING OFFICER, USS HARTFORD: What is our primary mission, the submarine forces, is to be able to leverage our offensive weaponry like a torpedo against a threat. So there's been a shift in emphasis in our ability to do that.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Operating under the Arctic presents unique challenges with no access to GPS navigation, limited communications, and dangers from below and above.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice keel depth times zero seven, five-five feet.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Ice keels as long as 150 feet extend down from the ice sheets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stationary dive the ship to 180 feet. SCIUTTO (voice-over): America's biggest challenge, however, comes
The Russian military has assembled an arc of steel along its Arctic coast comprising dozens of military bases, ports, and airfields. And it is building and deploying faster, quieter, and more capable subs of its own.
COMMODORE OLLIE LEWIS, SUBMARINE SQUADRON 12, USS HARTFORD: In every case, they're trying to get faster and better in what they do and integrating technology into their platforms. And it's really set them on a ramp to where, if we don't continue to do the same, we'll find ourselves in place of falling behind.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): For now, Navy commanders say the U.S. maintains a technological advantage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ramming number one rammer (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear fort (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ramming.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Subs like the Hartford are virtually invisible and silent to enemies, allowing them to strike without warning against targets below and above the surface.
SCIUTTO (on camera): These are two of the four torpedo tubes, but you could launch a lot more from a sub than torpedoes. You have 12 vertical launch tubes. They can launch cruise missiles.
From those torpedo tubes, you could also launch unmanned underwater vehicles. Drones becoming more of a focus in this Navy. And some submarines like this is equipped to send out SEAL team delivery vehicles as well. These subs designed to project power in many, many ways.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): However, Russian and, increasingly, Chinese submarines are getting better at doing the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chain lock base array (ph).
SCIUTTO (on camera): Is the navy becoming more reliant on subs as a platform?
LEWIS: We do expect that submarines are going to be able to get to places and to conduct action where other units may not be able to right off the bat. We're going to need the submarine force to kick the door in and other forces to flow behind.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): That is a firm message to audiences in Moscow and beyond.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCIUTTO: Submarine duty is difficult duty. They will go out for six months deployments at sea, might come to the surface for just six days or 10 days. But they do that difficult service silently.
In fact, silence is really a focus for them. That is how the U.S. Navy projects power under sea. The saying is, on scene but unseen. Able to get to places like the Arctic without being detected.
And that's an advantage they have over many of their adversaries around the world, Ana.
CABRERA: Jim Sciutto, thank you for shedding some light for us.
Coming up, a Pennsylvania teen missing for two weeks found in Mexico with a 45-year-old man. The details on her abductor, next.
[18:39:40] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: The frantic search for a missing 16-year-old Pennsylvania girl is now over. Amy Yu who vanished two weeks ago with a 45-year- old married man has been found safe and unharmed near Cancun, Mexico. Now, the man is in custody and investigators say they now believe the teen willingly ran off with him.
CNN's Jean Casarez is following the story for us.
So, Jean, where is this girl now, and what are we learning about the circumstances of them going to Mexico?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Amy is with her family in Pennsylvania, Allentown area. She is safe. She is sound.
The affidavit of probable cause says the relationship was a secretive relationship, but it all came down yesterday at 10:30.
They were in Mexico, near Cancun. He was arrested -- and many agencies involved, Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals, also the local police department.
[18:44:59] But he is now, according to Allentown Police Department, in the custody of Miami-Dade in Florida. There will be an extradition proceeding. He will waive it. He will fight it.
But the families were friends. It was through church. And she had known him for at least five years, since she was 11 years old, and the families had gone on vacation together, to amusement parks together. He is married, four children.
But she was being let out of school with him going to school, and she had signed paperwork at school saying he was her stepfather. And the academy -- it's Lehigh Valley Academy in Allentown, Pennsylvania -- confirmed that, 10 times, he had taken her out of school in the last few months.
But then it was on March 1st that she disappeared, never went to school. He disappeared. She took with her personal identification, jewelry, and some money. He took personal identification.
That was the last time his wife saw him, but his wife subsequently found out he had taken $4,000 out of their account.
CABRERA: Wow. And a married father of four.
CABRERA: Thank you.
CASAREZ: And we don't know if there's going to be federal charges. There's a state charge now of interference with a custody of a child, but federal charges, we don't know yet.
CABRERA: All right. Stay on top of it for us. Thanks, Jean.
CABRERA: And just ahead, we are the forgotten people. Those are the words of a heartbroken widow in Puerto Rico.
But beyond her grief is anger. Anger that six months after Hurricane Maria, people there are still dying as a result of the storm. Her story, next.
You're live in the CNN newsroom.
[18:51:03] CABRERA: In just a couple of days, it will be six months since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. The killer storm up-ended the very way of life on that island and the death toll continues to climb. Here is CNN's Leyla Santiago.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It shouldn't be so difficult for Miriam Rodriguez seeing this machine.
MIRIAM RODRIGUEZ, MAUNABO, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: That takes me back. It makes me so angry.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): When this machine for sleep apnea stopped working, her husband, 77-year-old Natalio (ph), stopped breathing in the middle of the night in Maunabo, the southeastern part of the island.
RODRIGUEZ: Suddenly, he started to shake -- to shake. And I saw him, like, get on the floor, and I couldn't do nothing to help him. That's why I say that if we had electricity, normal electricity, at that time, he could be alive. Still today, he could be alive. SANTIAGO (voice-over): She blames Hurricane Maria for wiping out the
island's power. At least 120,000 customers still don't have power nearly six months later.
The night her husband died, months after the storm, Miriam says their generator ran out of gas, leaving her home without power for the machine her husband needed to breathe.
Natalio's (ph) grave is one of many this year. CNN has identified at least five deaths from 2018 identified by families, doctors, or funeral homes as related to Hurricane Maria.
Among them, Braulio Salina Santiago (ph). His family tells us he died of a heart attack in the parking lot of Maunabo's clinic, waiting for the clinic to open.
The Mayor says, after Maria, the town can't afford to run the once 24- hour service.
Carmen Rodriguez Martinez (ph). Her family tells us she died because she didn't have power for the machine she depended on for oxygen.
Dr. Arturo Torres listed Hurricane Maria as contributing factor on her death certificate.
SANTIAGO (on camera): Is Maria still killing people?
DR. ARTURO TORRES, MAUNABO, PUERTO RICO DOCTOR: Yes. Yes. I'm sure that my case is not an isolated case since there is no electrical power in many places. That would accelerate the end of the life in that -- in that persons.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Cemetery workers tell us the number of deaths have doubled since the storm, pointing to dozens of graves they believe are related. Graves that cemetery workers tell us will not be getting a headstone anytime soon because families can't afford them after Maria.
Natalio's (ph) family paid $4,000 for his funeral. Still owes $1,000. To qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the death must be certified as hurricane-related.
But Puerto Rico's list of certified deaths hasn't changed since early December. The official death toll stands at 64, even though the government's own death statistics in 2017 show an increase of at least a thousand more deaths after Hurricane Maria compared to the previous two years.
The Puerto Rican government has now ordered a review of deaths since Maria.
Dr. Torres says the elderly and those with complicated health conditions are too vulnerable to resist the challenges brought on by Maria.
SANTIAGO (on camera): So just last week. Just last week they had a death.
Do you think you will have to write Maria again on a death certificate?
TORRE: I don't discard it. In my opinion, yes.
SANTIAGO (on camera): That's hard it hear. Is it hard to say?
TORRES: It is hard to say, yes.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): Even harder to accept that six months later --
RODRIGUEZ: It wasn't a normal death. It wasn't.
SANTIAGO (voice-over): -- Maria is still destroying lives.
[18:55:00] Leyla Santiago, CNN, Puerto Rico.
CABRERA: Coming up, the President on a Twitter tirade today for the first time, attacking Robert Mueller by name along with the Department of Justice, the now-fired FBI Director James Comey, and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Could these attacks backfire on the President? We'll discuss, next.
CABRERA: It is 7:00 p.m. here in New York, 4:00 in the afternoon on the West Coast. I'm Ana Cabrera and you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us this evening.
[18:59:57] President Trump today being cautioned by Democrats and Republicans to lay off Robert Mueller. Now that's after the second straight day of the President mentioning the Special Counsel's name during a defensive and accusation-filled weekend of tweets from the White House.