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Former First Lady Barbara Bush in Failing Health; President Trump Slams James Comey Ahead of Media Blitz for His Tell-All Book; Trump Aides See Michael Cohen Probe As Greatest Threat; Iran and Russia Called U.S.-led Bombings in Syria a Violation of International Law; Bill Cosby Key Accuser Andrea Constand to Take the Stand; Ted Kennedy Had to Step Up After Death of Jack and Bobby Kennedy; Aired 8- 9p ET
Aired April 15, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:47] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for being with us on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York in this Sunday evening.
Details are emerging from the family of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush. The president's wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, is not well this weekend. Her health, as we are told, is failing. The family is honoring Mrs. Bush's choice to remain home instead of seeking care at the hospital.
CNN's special correspondent Jamie Gangel has been in touch with the family and tells us why the Bush family is likely making this announcement now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Her health has been so frail. She's been in and out of hospitals quite a few times in the last year. Most recently on Good Friday she went in. She was having some trouble breathing. So I think that what we are seeing now is the family really wanting to let everybody know the state of her health.
There's one thing, Ana, Barbara Bush doesn't want people to make a fuss about her. She likes her privacy. If she was here right now she would be saying, Jamie, why are you talking about this on TV?
GANGEL: But they wanted to let everybody know. And really to say thank you to everyone for all -- all their prayers and their supports, Ana.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Again, that was CNN's special correspondent Jamie Gangel. In the past hour or so we just received a statement from the White House. Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders saying, "The president's and first lady's first day prayers are with all of the Bush family during this time."
We of course are continuing to monitor any developments and continue to think about that family and send our prayers and the very best.
President Trump meantime spent time today again fuming over the FBI director he fired last year. Taking to Twitter and referring to James Comey by a new nickname, slippery. He writes that Comey always ends badly and out of whack. And he says that the former head of the nation's top law enforcement agency is -- in the president's words -- not smart.
Let's go to CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.
Boris, the president has not let up on James Comey especially since parts of this new tell-all book went public this week. Comey will also start a series of media appearances beginning tonight. Is it safe to say we can expect the president to have more to add?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is a high likelihood, Ana, when you consider that James Comey, as you noted, still has a full week if not more of media appearances promoting his book, "A Higher Loyalty" which we should note is not very flattering when it comes to describing President Trump.
At one point, Comey says that the president is not tethered to the truth. The president obviously taking exception to that and other remarks made by James Comey. He let out a barrage of attacks through his preferred method on Twitter early this morning, at one point calling Comey a slime ball and then also suggesting that the former director of the FBI should be imprisoned for a number of moments that the president apparently has taken exception to.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about that specific suggestion from the president on one of the Sunday morning talk shows. She did not go as far as to say that Comey should be arrested and charged with crimes but she did say that the Department of Justice should look into any wrongdoing.
Again, we still have a couple of days of explosive commentary coming from James Comey. Suffice to say that President Trump has heard some of Comey's criticism and will probably be ready to respond to more once it comes out, Ana.
CABRERA: Boris, someone else is taking issue with Comey's book, his former boss, the attorney general under President Obama, Loretta Lynch. Now Comey claims that when the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton's e-mail servers, Lynch told him not to call it an investigation but to call it something else.
How is Loretta Lynch now responding to this?
SANCHEZ: That's right. Comey has been public about his discomfort over Lynch's handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation and specifically that she asked him to call it a matter rather than an investigation.
Lynch tonight put out a statement apparently expecting to hear more about this in that Comey interview, defending herself saying that she stuck by Department of Justice policy. [20:05:07] Here's a portion of that statement now. She writes, quote,
"Everyone who works for the Department of Justice has an obligation to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the work of the department. That is why at the critical early stages of this case I followed the department's long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying the fact of an ongoing investigation. It neither misleads nor misinforms but instead both protects investigations and guarantees equal treatment of those under scrutiny well-known or unknown. Any suggestion that I invoked this bedrock policy for any another reason is simply false."
Of course, Lynch has also come under criticism for that meeting on a plane that she had with Bill Clinton at the height of the 2016 campaign. Both parties deny that that meeting had anything to do with the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. But Lynch ultimately had to recuse herself from that investigation over that meeting and that's what brought James Comey into the middle of that picture and we're seeing the way that all of it unfolded play out now as we await this interview that James Comey is giving tonight -- Ana.
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you.
Now the full interview airs tonight and according to Axios the president may not have even heard the worst of what the former FBI director has to say. Axios is reporting tonight that even stronger news-making interviews chunks are yet to come and that they will, quote, "shock" the president and his team.
Let's discuss, joining us, CNN contributor and author of "First Women," Kate Anderson Brower, editor for the "Weekly Standard," Bill Kristol, CNN law enforcement analyst and retired FBI supervisory agent, James Gagliano, and CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter.
So, Brian, let's start with you. Do you have any insight as to what Axios is reporting here that the worst is yet to come?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: One of the topics that will be detailed tonight in the special involves Russia and the Russia probe. I don't know exactly what Comey said but I think that's what Axios is hinting about. Look for what Comey has to say about Russia and Trump. We've already heard some of it. We're going to hear a lot more.
You know, Ana, this edit was still going on at ABC until this early afternoon. This is a five-hour interview. ABC had to cut it down to an hour to there was a lot left out. ABC is going to share the rest of that online and then after this interview there is going to be a week's worth of interviews.
"USA Today," CNN, NBC, ABC, et cetera. We're going to see Comey all over the place all week long so these revelations tonight are going to be significant but then this is going to continue every single day all week long. We know the publisher has printed almost a million copies in preparation for this release.
CABRERA: And we know that James Comey will be sitting down with Jake Tapper here on CNN on the 19th.
STELTER: And that's Thursday and that's a live interview, and what I think is so interesting about that is that Trump will presumably have reacted to the book. The book will actually be for sale by then, so people will actually be able to read it themselves. And Comey is on Twitter today saying, I hope everybody actually reads the full book. You know, I think he's afraid of being taken out of context here. He said on Twitter today this book is about my interactions with three presidents. Two of them have lessons about ethics and life, one, he says, is counter point. He obviously means President Trump.
CABRERA: James, when we're hearing he could be talking about the Russia investigation, the Russia investigation isn't over. Do you take issue with that?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I do. He has every right as a private citizen to write his memoirs and sell books, and to Brian's point I think there was an initial run of 850,000 books. Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" started out with an initial of 150,000. He's going to be a best-selling author.
The issue I take with him, and many former agents and those on board, current on boards, take is this issue, James Comey is still an FBI employee. The Department of Justice defines an employee as anyone who holds or has held a position of trust in the agency.
He's discussing matters that are relevant and salient to an open or ongoing investigation or case, ie, the Russia probe, ie, the inspector general's probe, ie, a number of different congressional probes that are still ongoing. Now he is not just a witness. He's not a part of the periphery. He is a central figure.
This book is a bad look and leaking out the excerpts that have showed him making salacious comments about the president's appearance something that we look at the president and say he's beneath the dignity of the office when he does that, James Comey is now elected to enter the pig wallow and he's doing the same thing.
STELTER: Well, what's worst? Trump worst behavior or someone writing a book, trying to sound the alarm about it?
GAGLIANO: This has nothing to do with that. The FBI director's talking about an ongoing probe that he's a central witness to. He held the moral ground, Brian, until he leaked to the "New York Times." Then folks like me that defended him last May, you lost our respect with that.
STELTER: Sometimes people leak because they need to scream from the top of the mountain when there's an emergency happening. I think Comey's trying to scream tonight.
GAGLIANO: He's a feckless leader. And here's why, to the point that Boris just made about the former attorney general, Loretta Lynch, he had an opportunity to go to her and say, Madame AG, I have taken issue with you telling me not to call this an investigation. [20:10:09] This investigation was four desk from a House -- from the
Benghazi investigation. You're now telling me to call it something that aligns with the Clinton campaign talking points. Feckless. He also had a chance during nine interactions with the president, nine, on the phone and in person, to say, Mr. President, what are you telling me to do? Are you telling me not to look into Michael Flynn? Are you telling me to ignore investigations?
Tell me to do that, I'm going to go on record with this right now, and I'm submitting my resignation. He didn't. He testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee. He wished he'd been stronger but he wasn't.
CABRERA: Bill Kristol, where do you stand on this book? Because clearly this is bringing out a lot of passion, a lot of people disagree with Comey, a lot of people disagree with how the president is attacking Comey now on Twitter as, again, the president of the United States. A lot of people have something to say about how the RNC is rolling out its campaign attacking Comey as well. Where do you stand?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think it's a sideshow. I'm closer to James than to Brian. I don't think Comey needs to let us raise the alarm. I think the alarm has been well and fully raised. And Bob Mueller is doing an investigation and that's what matters. I mean, I assume Director Comey is not revealing anything that he shouldn't reveal as someone who had directed that investigation. I assume he's only talking about things that he personally experienced, as a sort of participant and even there probably being careful. So let's just assume that he's following the correct guidelines that obviously a former FBI director should follow.
You know, he's entitled to write his book. Maybe it'll be interesting, maybe not. I can't say I learned anything startling somewhat from it, but I think that at the end of the day, it'll be a week of hoopla and arguing. Someone like James that served in the FBI, I can understand why he feels what he does. But at the end of the day, Mueller has an extremely serious investigation going. He's conducted it with great dignity and integrity as people who know Bob Mueller's career would have expected.
He's obviously I think getting closer to very sensitive matters and I think we're really learning what happened both in 2016 and then in 2017 and maybe up to now in terms of a cover-up. The president is hinting at pardons. That's the drama. I don't think Comey at the end of the is a big story.
CABRERA: Kate, and the interview airing later tonight Comey also talks about Trump's marriage. Let's listen to a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: He said, you know, if there's even a 1 percent chance my wife thinks that's true, that's terrible. And I remember thinking, how could your wife think there's a 1 percent chance you're with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow? (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I mean, that's a jab at the first lady, as well, right? Talking about her marriage.
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is. I mean, you know, he is the only president to have been married three times. They are two very different personalities. She is very focused on their son Barron. I think if you look at her public, you know, tweets lately she has been talking about military families, inviting students to the White House. She's been very restrained and it's kind of interesting to see the president sort of railing against Comey where the first lady throughout the Stormy Daniels drama and everything else has really been restrained and I think that's been admirable given what she's dealing with.
CABRERA: I want to show you one way the RNC is reacting to all of this. Take a look at this fake book jacket. It's called "Higher Loyalty," to me, myself and I, and I'm just being told we absolutely don't have that to show you but they are coming out with sort of a mock book. They have mock reviews that are part of this. Quoting a former adviser to Bill Clinton or former FBI agent.
CABRERA: Including you, James. What did you think about that?
GAGLIANO: Well, as people said to me like my own father, are they allowed to do that? I gave some quotes to "the "National Review." They took a snippet of that. I was describing the book tour which I said it looked self-serving and narcissistic. Of course they cut it down to make it look like I'm speaking about him. But if I'm speaking about the book tour, I do believe that James Comey's making a colossal mistake. I don't think this is going to look good on him and I think it is continuing to keep the FBI on the front page of "The New York Times" above the fold where we don't need to be.
In regards to the RNC, you know, raising campaign money off of that, I mean, that's up to them. Obviously if you say something in the public arena they can take what they want I guess.
CABRERA: And Bill Kristol --
STELTER: Also there'll also a different ad, different group of Republicans that bought ad time on ABC tonight during the special defending Mueller, defending the FBI so we're going to see a debate ongoing about this.
CABRERA: And we also have FOX News that been trying to attack Comey leading up to this big release. I want to play a clip, Brian, from your show earlier this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The other thing that surprises me, frankly, is how bitchy the book is.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: It's more like, you know, "Mean Girls" gossip than blockbusters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real headline from Comey's book maybe there's not much new or damaging for President Trump.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: With shocking fact of all is how banal it is.
[20:15:02] INGRAHAM: I think it's a big snore.
WALLACE: Yes, people are talking about bombshells, there are none.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Brian, what did you make of this?
STELTER: To me the book is the bombshell. I respect where you're coming from, James. But I have never recalled that time where a fired former FBI director has written a tell-all book about the president while the guy is still in charge. This is a shocking moment in time to have this tell-all coming out, calling the president unethical, calling this presidency a forest fire.
I understand why his supporters on FOX want to say it's no big deal and say it's fizzling, but I think readers are going to -- we know at least a lot of people want to read it and want to find out Comey's experience. And I think we should keep in mind no other president's been through this. This is such an unusual situation to have this tell-all written, what are we, 15 months into Trump's presidency.
GAGLIANO: Can I say one thing, Ana?
GAGLIANO: But this has happened before. It happened in the mid-'90s. Louis Freeh wrote a book in 2005 called "My FBI." And he spoke to the same --
STELTER: After Clinton was out of office, though.
GAGLIANO: That's fair. That's fair. It was 10 years later after his term but said the same thing and had the same issues that this current or this former FBI --
STELTER: This is an insider saying the presidency is a forest fire. He is trying --
GAGLIANO: That's what Freeh said about Clinton.
STELTER: Screaming from the mountaintop. GAGLIANO: We've been here before.
STELTER: In the midst of the Trump presidency. OK.
CABRERA: I love it. I love it.
GAGLIANO: We've seen this script.
CABRERA: See, we have a great group on. I do want to show the book cover now because I brought it up. I teased everybody with it. I mentioned it. And everyone was saying, what are you talking about? Here it is. This is that mock book or the fake book, "A Higher Loyalty."
Bill Kristol, as a member of the Republican Party, are you OK with this campaign that the RNC is doing?
KRISTOL: No. I mean, it would be nice if the RNC fought for Republicans to win seats in the Congress and didn't just become the personal organ of Trump but that's the way Trump views politics and that's the way unfortunately too many Republicans now view their job as being Trump apologists instead of advancing Republican principles and the party's interests. But I'm actually a member of the group that Brian mentioned. The Republicans for the Rule of Law which have an ad up on the Stephanopoulos interview tonight because we are making the case, I mean, Comey isn't that with respect to a side show.
There is a serious rule of law issue and that is the Mueller investigation and that is the deputy attorney general. And that is whether the Justice Department is going to have a legitimate investigation impeded or curtailed by the president, maybe by the use of his pardon power, maybe by firing people. That's real and serious. And I hope Republicans rally to that, to the rule of law, and spend less time worrying one way or the other about the former FBI director.
CABRERA: Everyone, stay with me because I want to talk about another legal issue weighing on the president. And that is the revelation that his personal attorney Michael Cohen is under criminal investigation and apparently has been for months.
Sources say the president's team is now more worried about this investigation than they are Robert Mueller. And I want do get your reaction to this on the other side.
[20:22:33] CABRERA: Our panel is back now to discuss and let's pick up our conversation about this James Comey interview that is coming up. Of course, that comes on top of all these lewd allegations that have come out from Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougall, and then we learned about Cohen and his investigation that's under way here in New York. And we know that part of that has to do with affairs, as well, and hush money paid regarding those sort of things. Kate, the first lady is stuck kind of in the middle of all of this.
How does all of this end up weighing on the first family and Melania in particular?
ANDERSON BROWER: Well, I mean, it's very difficult for her and I've been told that she does read everything that's -- she tries to read everything that's written about her husband, herself. She's very much informed. You know, I think a lot of people are not necessarily aware of how involved she is. So I think it's weighing on her a lot. And they have a young son, it's all about protecting himself. I know that that is a huge concern of hers, how this is weighing on this.
I mean, he's old enough to, you know, go online and see stories about what's going on in his family so it's difficult. And she's also not a political person in the same way Hillary Clinton, you know, she -- Hillary Clinton went to Capitol Hill and lobbied members not to impeach her husband. Melania Trump is much more private. She didn't want this life. And so I think there's a level of sympathy that people have for her.
CABRERA: Let's talk about the Cohen investigation. Again Michael Cohen, the president's personal attorney who is now under fire, he's in hot water after the FBI raided his office, his hotel room, his residence.
And, James, we're learning that according to "The New York Times" confidants of the president are saying that they believe that this Cohen investigation that's separate from the Mueller investigation could actually be a bigger threat.
GAGLIANO: Ana, you and I have sat here many times over the course of the last year and talked about my cautious skepticism when it came to the Russia collusion probe. So far we only have ancillary process crimes, yes, they're crimes, but we've had nothing that's touched the president. Thirteen Russians, nobody that was an American other than an unwitting person anything to do with that.
This Cohen deal, this is a real deal. And I know the Southern District well. I worked investigations with Southern District prosecutors. I've got great respect for the United States attorney I worked under, Preet Bharara. They do an amazing job. And when they're on the case, good luck.
[20:25:02] There's a reason why federal investigations that are taken to trial typically end up in the 90 percent to 95 percent conviction realm because they have the goods. For them to go and conduct a no- knock warrant on a lawyer's office, that had to be approved at the highest levels and for them not to use our normal tactics and techniques, our sophisticated methods of gathering that information and for them not to just have issued a subpoena or spoken to the attorney and asked him to turn it over suggests to me that this might be -- this might be something the president should be concerned about.
CABRERA: And now though -- KRISTOL: And, Ana, a judge has to approve that warrant as James says,
so it can't just be that even the deputy attorney general thinks well, this will be interesting, it means there's reasonable cause to believe that they have kind of the urgency or the need for sudden surprise of such a warrant because Cohen has sensitive materials that may be about Russia, they may be about stuff that happened last year, they may be something happened last week. I mean, we don't know.
I really think people are missing a little bit the forest and the trees, I think James' comments are absolutely right on this. I mean, it is so rare that this happens, a no-knock warrant of an attorney. The attorney of the president of the United States. Rosenstein knows what he is doing, Mueller and the Southern District of New York are coordinating on this incidentally.
People talk about it a little bit as if well, if that's the end, why does it -- you know, Mueller doesn't get the information? Of course they share the information. We don't know what the relationship between these two if they are two really separate investigations is, but I think this is -- I mean, there's real -- there must be real evidence of real possible criminality and in the files that they went to gather or the recordings or whatever they went to get from Cohen's office and his residence and who's Cohen's client? Trump. I mean, so I think this is a very serious moment.
CABRERA: And now a "New York Times" editorial in Monday's papers calling on Republicans to do more to protect Robert Mueller because our reporting is the president sees the Cohen investigation on top of the Mueller investigation as the final blow. Here's a portion of this "New York Times" op-ed.
"The president is not a king but a citizen deserving of the presumption of innocence and other protections, yet also vulnerable to lawful scrutiny. We hope Mr. Trump recognizes this. If he doesn't, how Republican lawmakers respond will shape the future not only of this presidency and of one of the country's greatest political parties but of the American experiment itself."
Brian, what more do you know about this?
STELTER: "The Times" is trying to make a statement here with this editorial on Monday's paper. This is not the newsroom. This is the opinion writers, the editorial board writing this. It's going to take up an entire page in the newspaper which is very unusual. So they are really trying to send a message here.
The title of this is "The President is Not Above the Rule of Law." And they are arguing, as we have seen other liberals also argue, that there should be preparations now for the possibility of Mueller or Rosenstein being fired. We know that liberal groups have organized protests that would begin right after any such action was taken. What the "Times" is saying is, Republican lawmakers also need to be prepared. They say this would be sitting on the edge of an abyss if this action were to be taken, if Trump were to decide to distract from the Comey book by firing someone or for any other reason. Look, we've been talking about the possibility of a Mueller firing for
a long time and I think it's important not come across as crying wolf, whether you're an opinion writer for "The New York Times" or whether you're a television anchor. But all of the reporting we've seen is that the president is angrier than ever.
CABRERA: Right. Exactly.
STELTER: Gloria Borger said the other day no one has ever seen him this way before. You can't imagine this level of anger. Maggie Haberman describing him as feeling cornered like he never has before so -- or at least since "The Access Hollywood" tape came out. So it does feel like a quite tense moment.
CABRERA: I'm going to give you the last word, Bill Kristol. Do you have faith that the Republican Party will hold this president accountable if he does move to fire Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein?
KRISTOL: Yes. I hope so. There's legislation that could be marked up this week, which has finally attracted more Republican support. I think it would be very helpful to move with that even if the president is not going to sign it ultimately, if it can't get it through the House, just to show that serious senior Republican senators think it's unacceptable obviously to impede or stop the Mueller investigation.
I'm also worried about the pardon power which I think the president very much has in mind. The president is going to fight. This is where I'm a little worried that people are too confident. That hey, the legal process is moving ahead. The media is investigating and we'll find out the truth, that justice will prevail. Sometimes cover- ups work and I think it's very important that the Republican Party step up and say we can't allow it to work.
CABRERA: Everybody, thank you so much. Brian Stelter, James Gagliano, Bill Kristol, Kate Anderson Brower. Really appreciate it.
Coming up, the president of France taking credit for changing President Trump's mind about Syria. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:34:07] CABRERA: The president of France is taking credit for getting President Trump to change his mind about U.S. military operations in Syria. Emmanuel Macron said today he convinced Trump to keep troops in Syria just before France, the UK and the U.S. launched strikes that were -- that happened earlier on Saturday morning local time, Friday night here in the U.S.
We just got a statement from the White House now responding to that claim from the French president. It says, quote, "The U.S. mission has not changed. The president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible. We are determined to completely crush ISIS and create the conditions that will prevent its return."
Now this weekend's missile strikes followed a suspected chemical attack by the Assad regime against Syrian civilians.
I had a chance to speak with a Syrian man who survived a similar attack in 2013. Kassem Eid thanked the U.S. for its new involvement. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:35:03] KASSEM EID, SURVIVED SYRIAN GAS ATTACK IN 2013: I just want to tell Mr. Trump, like directly, I'm a Syrian refugee who survived chemical weapons attacks, who's lived under two years of siege and bombardment by the government. I would love to -- like buy you a beer and just sit in front of you and tell you how bad it is in Syria. How you should listen to your heart. Not listen to your generals.
You proved once again, yesterday, that you have a big heart. At least a lot more bigger than Obama because you actually tried to do something. We need real long-term commitment to bring peace to Syria. We need to hold war criminals accountable. Otherwise we will only help creating ISIS 2.0. That will come out and say they don't care about you. We're the only ones who want to fight Assad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Coming up, the United States making Russia pay for remaining allies with Syria. How badly will a new round of sanctions hurt? Stay with us.
[20:40:21] CABRERA: Welcome back. Tomorrow the Trump administration plans to punish Russia for its support of the Assad government in Syria. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says the U.S. will impose more sanctions against Russia saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin is propping up the Syrian government and in her words that continues to be a problem.
CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley joins us from Moscow with more on the Russia reaction to this weekend's missile strikes in Syria.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Vladimir Putin has recently communicated with Rouhani of Iran on the matter of Syria because these two nations are the two biggest backers of the Damascus regime. They have jointly agreed that the U.S.-led airstrikes were in their view a violation of the international charter that formed the United Nations, were illegal under international law, and above all undermine in their view efforts that they are making and leading alongside Turkey to try to bring some kind of peaceful resolution to the Syrian civil war.
And now the critics of those regimes, and particularly of Damascus, would say that that's a bit rich given the high level of military support that Iran and Russia give to the Damascus regime which has resulted in huge numbers of civilian deaths as a result of combat operations on the ground by Iran, and those airstrikes that continue constantly from Russian and Syrian aircraft.
So in that context, the Russians remain extremely defiant. I think there is one area where they could suffer serious setback in a way that they have not in any way been affected by criticism over the whole chemical weapons controversy and that is in terms of economic sanctions.
Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, has suggested that this week they may see a greater level of economic sanctions being imposed on those closest to Vladimir Putin or perhaps more widely when a round of sanctions were imposed on a little over a dozen oligarchs as they're known, very, very rich and powerful people close to Vladimir Putin just over two weeks ago.
They did have an immediate effect on the Russian economy. The ruble fell, for example, by 4 percent and there was a tumbling in stocks especially mineral stocks on the various stock exchanges here in Russia.
I think in that context, that is where the Russian establishment will feel the pain most acutely but whether that is translated to the Russian population and whether that is translated into any kind of popular pressure to change foreign policy I think remains a distant dream.
Sam Kiley, CNN, Moscow.
CABRERA: Thank you, Sam.
Still to come, the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial and one of his accusers faces him in court while five other women tell the jury, me, too.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.
[20:47:51] CABRERA: Bill Cosby will be back in a Pennsylvania courtroom tomorrow morning facing more testimony in his sexual assault trial.
Here's CNN's Jean Casarez with what's happened in court so far.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All eyes on Andrea Constand taking a stand as the star witness for the prosecution testifying that her mentor Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her.
"I was really humiliated, in shock, confused." She says it happened in 2004 at Cosby's Pennsylvania home. Constand was the operations manager for Temple University's women's basketball team, a time when she regularly talked with Cosby.
The calls and meetings at his home got more personal talking about her career. Then, she testified, "We were talking face-to-face and at some point he reached his hand over to try and unbutton my button on my pants," she said. "I leaned forward to show I wasn't here for that. He got the picture," she said.
Then in January 2004, Cosby invited her back to his home as she was anxious over a pending career change. She drank wine in his kitchen. Then Mr. Cosby reached his hand out and there were three blue pills in his hand and he said these are your friends. They will take the edge off. She took them.
"I trusted him," she testified. "I began to have double vision. I see two of you." She told the jury she passed out on a couch only to wake up with Cosby sexually assaulting her. It took one year to tell her mother. They called police together. Constand testified, "My life has never been the same since I reported this to police."
Earlier in the week, five other women said, "Me, too," to the jury. Testifying that Bill Cosby also drugged and sexually assaulted them. One of them was former supermodel Janice Dickinson, who said she was victimized in Lake Tahoe in 1982. Another was Heidi Thomas, who CNN interviewed in 2017.
(On camera): Would you say the assault would have been at his home?
HEIDI THOMAS, ACCUSER OF COSBY: I know the assault was at the house. At least the one I remember. I don't even know if there was more than one.
[20:50:02] CASAREZ (voice-over): On cross-examination, Thomas was told, you are only here to help Andrea Constand. Thomas replied, "I'm here to see a serial rapist convicted."
(On camera): The defense has aggressively tried to discredit each and every witness including Constand alleging a desperate need for money. She sued civilly Bill Cosby in 2005 gaining a civil settlement of almost $3.4 million. Her cross-examination continues on Monday.
Jean Casarez, CNN, Norristown, Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVAN THOMAS, KENNEDY BIOGRAPHER: For two days, mourners lined 25 blocks outside St. Patrick's Cathedral to pass by Kennedy's coffin.
[20:55:12] But the service itself 2,000 mourners crammed the cathedral. They included the rich and the powerful, the famous, but also the poor and the disposed, farm workers, people who felt close to RFK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bobby's father Joe is too ill to attend the funeral. His only surviving son Ted delivers the eulogy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had to be tested immediately. The world expected it.
TED KENNEDY, JOHN F. KENNEDY'S BROTHER: My brother need to be idealized or enlarged to death beyond what he was in life. Be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it. Saw suffering and tried to heal it. Saw a war and tried to stop it. As he said many times, some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: We are moments away now from the final episode of our six- part original series "AMERICAN DYNASTIES: THE KENNEDYS."
And CNN president historian Tim Naftali is joining us now.
So Bobby Kennedy's death, Tim, was another tragic loss for both the Kennedy family and the country. Where was Bobby poised to have the biggest impact when he was killed? What was his biggest opportunity lost in his death?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Bobby had an -- Robert Kennedy had an opportunity to do two things. One, to heal the country at home. And two, to heal our foreign policy abroad.
Bobby Kennedy after much indecision decided to come out firmly against the war in Vietnam. Bobby Kennedy remembered that his brother John F. Kennedy was part of the reason the United States was in that war in the first place and that he had advised his brother to defend South Vietnam. So it wasn't easy for him to decide that this adventure, this expedition, this was no longer in America's interest.
And at home Bobby Kennedy had also changed. In 1963 he had urged his brother to view civil rights as a moral imperative of the presidency. Well, there was still much work to be done in civil rights. Martin Luther King dies in the spring of 1968. And Bobby Kennedy is there trying to caution people trying to counsel African-Americans not to give up hope. So he was hoping to push on that front and change American policy towards Vietnam. And then of course he wasn't given the chance.
CABRERA: And so then Ted Kennedy became the only remaining Kennedy son left after the deaths of his older brothers. He faced a huge challenge of assuming the mantle of both Jack and Bobby, and his early career as we know is a mix of success and scandal. Tell us more about that.
NAFTALI: Well, Ted Kennedy -- you know, the Kennedy brothers from the beginning thought of the presidency as some either could be passed from one to the other to the other. John F. Kennedy talked in 1963 about how he might want to serve as secretary of State to either President Bobby Kennedy or President Ted Kennedy. So it was in the DNA. But in 1969 Ted Kennedy shows a horrific moral flaw in the
Chappaquiddick incident. There are mysteries about it that will never be resolved, but one of the things we know is that he did not do the right thing. He did not inform the police. And we don't know the extent to which he could have saved Mary Joe (INAUDIBLE), but he certainly didn't.
And so really from 1969 on, he's carrying this burden. What's remarkable is that despite this burden, which is very heavy, many Americans still saw him as the third president, as a third Kennedy to run for president. So there was a lot of pressure on him to run for office. And in 1979 he tried to beat out an incumbent, Jimmy Carter, and in 1980 it proved he couldn't do it.
NAFTALI: But even he tried for the presidency.
CABRERA: Well, Tim Naftali, thank you so much. We'll have to watch the show for the rest of the story. Be sure to watch "AMERICAN DYNASTIES: THE KENNEDYS." It begins in just a few moments only on CNN. And after that at 10:00 p.m., stay with us for a new episode of "POPE: THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN HISTORY," followed by a live special report, "COMEY SPEAKS OUT" at 11:00 p.m. Jim Sciutto, Pamela Brown, they will break down all the new information from James Comey's first major TV interview as he rolls out his new tell-all book.
And that's going to do it for me tonight. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with me. "AMERICAN DYNASTIES: THE KENNEDYS" starts now.