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Officials Say Russians Could Attack U.S. Power Grid; Trump's Long-Running Trouble with the Truth; Celebrity Chef Helps Feed Fire Victims, Crews. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 29, 2018 - 18:00   ET




RAFAEL ROMO, CNN ESPANOL ANCHOR: Her adoptive parents passed away a few years ago so she says her Chilean family and an adopted sister are all she's got.

COHEN: My mom. This is my family. You know, I think it's just -- you always want to know where you came from.

ROMO: Neither one of them speaks the other's language but the love between a mother and her child, they say, knows no barriers.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Santiago, Chile.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, on a Sunday, 6:00 Eastern, 3:00 in the afternoon out West, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Our breaking this hour, the president on the attack as we speak, lashing out at Robert Mueller by name as well as the free press, all this from his favorite outlet, Twitter. He has fired off seven tweets in all, and that's not even counting the one in which he threatened to shut down the government over immigration. So what exactly is he saying?

Well, here's his most statement going after Robert Mueller, the man investigating him. We push in here so you can actually read it with me. "Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump including the fact that we had a very nasty contentious business relationship? I turned him down to head the FBI one day before appointment as special counsel and Comey is his close friend."

The president fired these tweets from his private golf club in New Jersey where he spent the weekend and CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is live nearby the president's club.

Boris, what's the president talking about when he says he and Mueller had a nasty and contentious business relationship? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we've asked

the White House for clarification on that. They have yet to respond to our questions. But there is previous reporting out there about conversations that President Trump has had privately with some, including his own White House counsel, Don McGahn, making complaints about what he sees as conflicts of interest on behalf of Robert Mueller.

According to four separate sources who spoke to the "New York Times" earlier this year as part of a tirade that President Trump went on against Robert Mueller, he complained that Mueller left his Virginia golf club over a dispute because of golfing fees. A spokesperson for the special counsel told the "Washington Post" that that was inaccurate. President Trump, if you recall, at that point it was reported, tried to fire Robert Mueller until his counsel, Don McGahn, threatened to resign at which point President Trump backed off.

Obviously this is another point for frustration for President Trump against the backdrop of his own personal attorney making bombshell claims, sources telling CNN that Michael Cohen is prepared to tell investigators that President Trump approved that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between his son, Donald Trump Jr., other campaign officials and Russian nationals promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The president, as you noted, going on a Twitter spree today making these claims. We should point out that the president's own Department of Justice, their own ethics lawyers, have looked into possible conflicts of interest on behalf of Robert Mueller and came to the conclusion that he was well within his range to do this job, to pursue these accusations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

One spokesperson for the Department of Justice saying that Robert Mueller's role as special counsel at this time continues to be appropriate -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez, thank you for that report.

Let's dive in with our guests, with us is CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson, and "Washington Post" reporter, Tom Hamburger.

So, Tom, I'll start with you. Here he is attacking Mueller in several tweets. He's hitting the press, he's going after the immigration policies of the U.S. Is Trump going back to his greatest hits here or are these attacks somehow different?

TOM HAMBURGER, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, it does seem as though there is a late Sunday barrage of these. And one of the things that I point out, Ana, is that this has been a tough week for the president, not the least of which is because his longtime attorney and counsel, Michael Cohen, has obviously -- and this past week, we have seen it so dramatically -- turned against him in a sense and is offering evidence to the public and presumably to prosecutors that could implicate the president. And it seems that if the tweets are a sign of his mood, it is not a happy state where the president is just now. CABRERA: And Joey, we also learned this week that Robert Mueller is

in fact looking at the president's tweets as part of his investigation and now here he is going after him on Twitter.

You're a defense attorney. I mean, you have a client who does this, what do you do?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You do nothing because he is going to do it regardless. Right? He tweets. And I'm sure that many of his advisers, Ana, have said, don't tweet anymore. The reality is that it gives fodder to the special counsel, to your enemies but he continues to do it.

[18:05:02] But this is part of a strategy to be clear because we know he is the deflector-in-chief, right, the distorter, the distracter, and that's just what he continues to do. And I should say from a defense perspective what we constantly do, and you know, I'm guilty of it as well, is when you don't like the narrative, you don't like the facts of an investigation, you don't like the existence of an investigation, you attack the investigators, you know, with regard to how they're investigating, who are they investigating. Here, you say, you know, the angry Democrats, you know. You hear issues about the 13 Democrats, now it's 17 Democrats. And so this is --

CABRERA: Never mind that Robert Mueller is a Republican.

JACKSON: Never mind.

CABRERA: And Rod Rosenstein that appointed him is a Republican.

JACKSON: You know, and on that issue, let me briefly say, we have gone to a society now where, you know, be darned with the facts. It seems like it doesn't matter. I was looking the other day at a study that said that the president was told 2100 lies, he tells five lies a day. And it's really disheartening because it's not -- it doesn't appear to be about the fact, it's about getting your base, right, to believe that the investigation is a witch hunt.

The investigation has no substance, the investigation is all about going after me. And it's a shame because if he should focus on substance and it's really focused on politics.

CABRERA: All the news about Michael Cohen this week, too, I mean, it's becoming a bit of a drama playing out before our eyes, Tom, where we learned a few days ago, you know, CNN reported Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, is willing to tell Robert Mueller that Trump knew about that 2016 Trump Tower meeting before it happened. If true, I mean, what could this mean for the president?

HAMBURGER: Well, there are a couple of things that happened this week and the other story that CNN broke earlier this week was that tape. An excerpt of a tape. Michael Cohen had recorded his client as he apparently recorded many others on tape. And so one of the things that this tells us is that Michael Cohen who once declared himself so loyal he would take a bullet for Donald Trump is now prepared to tell some of the secrets including things he learned in confidence with his client.

And some of them were broadcast for the world to listen to on tape. So I think that this is a significant development for a number of reasons. Michael Cohen not only, as we learned from the tape that was released has knowledge of Donald Trump's personal secrets, if you will. The tape revealed apparently discussion of buying one of the stories from -- told by -- of a woman who alleged to have an affair with Donald Trump.

But Michael Cohen also was the lawyer who was part of a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, a proposal that was alive and active, at least in the memo of understanding stage until very early 2016, in other words during the presidential campaign. And so you've got Michael Cohen knowing details, knowing where the bodies were buried in a sense because he was a counselor to the president, having all of this knowledge and now suggesting this week, at least through his spokesman, Lanny Davis, who released that tape, that he's willing to discuss this material.

CABRERA: Tom just laid out, Joey, what Cohen might know, different issues he could talk about with investigators should he be questioned but because of attorney-client privilege, can he dig into all of that?

JACKSON: You know, they -- I believe that he has a lot of information. And there might be an attorney-client privilege and there may not be because remember the attorney-client privilege is limited to communications with respect to when I'm acting as your counsel, not just as a business representative or other matters. But a lot of issues on the center about the credibility of Michael Cohen.

And, you know, the face of the matter is, is that you could say and you can assail Michael Cohen's credibility on the issue of motive, clearly he has a motivation now to fabricate because of the fact that the special counsel is really, you know, closing in on him. He has a Southern District investigation. But at the end of the day, you also see that there would be an opportunity for him, based upon his proximity to the president, to know what's going on.

And it begs this question, if he's such a person who's not credible, if he's a person that has no veracity whatsoever, why did you keep him around for 15 years? It just doesn't make no sense. The further thing I'll say, though, is on the issue of whether the president knew or didn't know about this meeting, I don't think it has any legal significance at all.

CABRERA: You don't.

JACKSON: Political significance, but it isn't a legal significant. Did we really need Michael Cohen to tell us that the president knew about this meeting? Was there not enough circumstantial evidence already with the blocked phone calls that were made, you know, as it relate to Don Jr. with the president saying, you know, two days before the meeting that he's going to come out and give a special speech, that was circumstantial.

And on the issue of an actual meeting, so what? It's OK -- it's not OK but it's, you know, it's not like it was a deposition that he lied to, the president lied to the press and he's become very adept at that without consequence. And at the end of the day if the president knew about the meeting, it's not illegal to have a meeting in and of itself. It's what the substance of that meeting was all about. So I think it may have a lot of political significance, Ana, but on the legal side I just don't think it has significance.

CABRERA: We will see what Robert Mueller does with it. Obviously it's also a part of this investigation now in the Southern District of New York who has Cohen's case specifically.

[18:10:05] Tom Hamburger and Joey Jackson, thank you both.

We have more breaking news on this deadly California wildfire claiming another life, more people are missing. The latest from the West Coast in just minutes.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: An update from the California wildfires, the death toll and the number of people missing are climbing, six people are now confirmed dead, at least seven are missing, and there is a warning as nightfall near. Conditions are rife for this inferno to become even more dangerous. An explosive than what firefighters have already seen and they have seen plenty. At least 570 homes are destroyed. Thousands more are threatened and so little of this biggest fire near Redding has been contained. It's bare worth mentioning. Just 5 percent containment.

Now one danger that fire crews that was just mentioned at the news conference in Redding is entirely manmade. And this is what they're facing. Drones.


[18:15:01] BRETT GOUVEA, CAL FIRE INCIDENT COMMANDER: We have noticed that there are drone footages online of folks flying drones over this fire. That poses a huge safety risk to our folks. If you fly, we cannot. And we have to ground all of our aircraft if there's reports of drones over the fire. And it's quite a process to get our aircraft back in the area as we try to clear those drones, find out where they're coming from and chase that down so we ask that you please refrain from flying drones over the fire.


CABRERA: CNN's Dan Simon has been covering these fires all week. He's joining us now from Redding.

Dan, those officials also voiced some optimism that more of this fire would soon be contained. Are you seeing evidence of that?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, it sounds like they're beginning to turn a corner for days. You know, things have felt kind of hopeless here but I want to read for you what the incident commander just said a moment ago. He said, quote, "We are feeling a lot more optimistic today. We're making good progress. I think you can see that but tonight you will see containment percentages increase."

So ultimately what that becomes, we don't know. Right now, the containment number is at 5 percent but any spike would be welcomed for the residents here who have really felt paralyzed since Thursday when the fire came racing through this community. You have 38,000 people under mandatory evacuation order, you can't get a hotel room in the area. The evacuation center is also full so I know people are anxious to get back in their homes and to see what their homes may look like.

In the meantime, you can see this is one of the homes here in the subdivision where we've been all day. Just once again to underscore the random nature of the fire, as you can see, this one is burned to the ground and then of course right next door completely standing.

But once again it sounds like, Ana, we're beginning to turn a corner. The containment numbers will go up. But I have to tell you that this area does remain under a red flag warning. It's supposed to be windy tonight. So I think -- I think officials probably are cautiously optimistic -- Ana.

CABRERA: It's tough to see some of those images. Dan, thank you very much for that reporting.

Up next, the community of Redding, California, is coming together to help those who were forced to evacuate. And they're getting some big help. Celebrity chef Guy Fieri, he'll join us next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

But first, this week's "Before the Bell," here's CNN's chief money correspondent Christine Romans -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Wall Street will get one of the biggest earnings report of the season this week. Apple, the company is set to report earnings on Tuesday after the closing bell. The stock is up 15 percent this year. It has climbed steadily over the past month. But Apple insiders will be looking closely at iPhone sales and any other hint it might give to the future of its business.

There's a long list of other companies reporting as well. Investors will be keeping a close eye on any tariff related headlines affecting profits. The other big report this week, the government monthly jobs reading. The July jobs report is due out Friday morning. Economists expect about 200,000 new jobs, right in line with what we've seen in recent months.

But the big question surrounds the jobless rate. Will more people enter the labor force like we saw in June? That caused the jobless rate to go higher last month for good reason because more people are confident enough to come off the sidelines to look for work, a good thing. The Federal Reserve also meeting this week but we aren't expecting a

rate hike and there won't be a press conference from the Fed chief Jerome Powell. He'll start doing a press conference after every meeting starting next year in part to give more information to investors on what the Fed is thinking.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


[18:23:16] CABRERA: Welcome back. We have some images right now of the president here as he heads back to D.C. after spending a weekend at his golf club in New Jersey. You see him there walking from, I believe that's Air Force One or Marine One. I can't tell for sure. I guess Marine One is what would make sense given the color of it.

He's walking past reporters. Every now and then he'll take questions. We'll see if he actually does this time. He has been on a Twitter storm as we've been reporting here in the last few hours, going after Robert Mueller, now he's getting on Air Force One to officially make his trip home there after arriving off Marine One and back to the White House he goes.

OK, so he's heading back to the White House. And if you can believe it, midterm elections are right around the corner, just 100 days away now. President Trump set to make a big push for Republican candidates this week with rallies in Florida and Pennsylvania. Two states President Trump won in 2016.

CNN's John King has been analyzing how Republicans could maintain control of both Houses of Congress and on the flipside how Democrats could end up pulling off a congressional victory. Watch.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One hundred days now until the midterm elections a new CNN rankings, brand new rankings give the Democrats even more reason to feel bullish about their odds of retaking the big prize, control of the House of Representatives.

To the campaign trail in a second. First, though, a reminder of the current state of play. Let's look at the House as we speak today. 235 Republicans. That's the majority. You see the red seats down here. Democrats in the minority with 193. But that's the state of play here in Washington.

Let's take a look at our new rankings out on the campaign trail and you will see 235 Republican seats. Well, we rank only 158 of them as solid Republican going into the final stretch of the campaign. 29 likely, 18 lean Republican. You see the yellow, the gold?

[18:25:02] That's 27 toss-up seats. Strong number for the Democrats. 182 solid, nine likely, 12 leaning Democratic seats. So how would the Democrats get to the majority? Here is their dream scenario. Win the likelies, win the leans. If they could sweep these toss-ups, that's the gold down there, 230 if the Democrats essentially run the board. 230, well in excess of what they need to be the majority.

Again, that's a dream-o vision. But it does show you how this is well within their reach heading into the final stretch. One of the reasons they're so bullish, let's take a closer look at the toss-up seats. See the red on top? Of the 27 toss-up seats, 25 are currently held by Republicans. 25 of the 27 toss-ups are currently Republican-held seats. Only two held by the Democrats. Again, with the wind at your back, a reason the Democrats are optimistic, more Republican seats moving from the red into the competitive side of our map here.

Another reason the Democrats are optimistic heading into the final hundred days, their standing today is even better than it was at the beginning of the year. They were optimistic then. Look at the Republican numbers. 177 solid to begin the year. Down to 158 solid now. More seats have moved from dark red, solid Republican, this way toward the Democrats.

The Democratic numbers are up. 182 solid now, up from the beginning of the year. So this map looks good for the Democrats now at 100 days out. Even better than it was in January. A lot can happen between now and then, but heading into this final stretch, Democrats believe their odds are quite good of retaking the biggest prize this November, control of the House.


CABRERA: Thanks to John King. Let's discuss with Harry Enten, CNN politics, senior writer and analyst, and CNN political commentator Steve Cortez, former head of Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council.

So, Steve, I'll come to you first. You just heard John King, all signs pointing good news for Democrats. Are you worried?

STEVE CORTEZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I am. Yes, to be quite honest. I am worried and I agree with him. History argues in favor of the Democrats. Generally a sitting president's first midterm is disastrous, it was for Obama, for Clinton, for Reagan. All three of those men ended up becoming pretty successful two-term presidents but had a terrible first midterm.

And I think John King was right in his current math. That the table is set. This is the Democrats' race to lose. Now having said that, what does give me optimism is, I think there's a couple of ways they could lose it. One is, really I think they will win if they can just resist from being crazy. And I used resist there quite on purpose. And I'm not sure they can resist being crazy because what we've seen lately is the most radical wing of the Democratic Party, show us all the energy.

So abolish ICE, Democratic socialism, the Ocasio-Cortez wing. If they go there, they will jeopardize what I think should be their victory. And then the second way I think they can lose is if they keep going back this impeachment route. And my advice to the White House and the president is, we have to de facto put Trump -- if we want to win as Republicans we have to pout Trump de facto on the ballot. We need to make the case, and I think it's accurate, that the Democrats will impeach this president if they take control of the House. If we can do that then it's another way that the Republicans I think can score an upset and still win if they -- if we can energize the deplorables and convince them that this is really a Trump re-elect.

CABRERA: Harry, when you look at the economy, it's been so strong and so often we hear from political analysts that if the economy is strong that's usually really good for the party in power, and yet you have what John King just reported, I mean, are there any signs for Republicans that should be encouraging?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Well, I would point out a few things. Number one, yes, on the encouraging sign. We obviously know that Donald Trump's approval rating is up since the beginning of the year and that's a very important factor. If the president's approval rating continues to be below 50 percent, it's not anywhere close to 50 percent now, then Republicans are almost certainly heading cruising for a bruising.

However, I would also say that the economy which has been good since the beginning of the year hasn't moved the numbers at all. At least on the congressional ballot, right? Even though Trump's approval rating is up, the congressional ballot is still pretty bad for Republicans, and if that congressional ballot stay on (INAUDIBLE) for Democrats right around plus seven, plus eight, plus nine, continues to election day then it seems to me that Democrats will in fact take control of the House of Representatives.

CABRERA: So we have voter enthusiasm up --

CORTEZ: And here you know --

CABRERA: -- for Democrats right now. Hold your thought for just a second, Steve, because I want to ask you about what Trump is tweeting because he seems to know what gets his supporters motivated. He's going back to a topic that he knows will fire up his base, immigration.

Let me read you another tweet from his today. "I would be willing to shut down the government if Democrats do not give us the votes for border security, which includes the wall. Must get rid of the lottery, catch and release, et cetera, and finally go to a system of immigration based on merit. We need great people coming into our country."

Steve, do you think the wall is worth the potential government shutdown?

CORTEZ: I -- you know, I certainly do. Look, this was the foundational issue that he was elected on. He was unambiguous about this in 2016 and really nothing gets his base more fired up than these issues. So I think number one it's just good policy but number two it's smart politics. You know, he won -- for example, he won 230 congressional districts. So if congressional Republicans would just embrace him and his vision then they would keep the House. So I think the reason that the House is very much in doubt, and the reason I am worried is because far too many House Republicans have frankly been establishment squishes and they have not embraced embraced the message of 2016 of economic nationalism, of sovereignty, of populism. And that's why I think things are in peril.

But if they come around -- and a great way to do that would be a real immigration bill, border security, ending sanctuary cities, ending visa lottery, ending catch and release -- if we actually did that before November, then I would switch -- I wouldn't be worried at all about us keeping the House.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: But, Steve, a government shutdown? You think his voters would say, yes, let's -- it's worth it, government shutdown in September --

CORTES: No, I don't mean that they want it but --

CABRERA: -- right before the election? Aren't they -- isn't that going to hurt some of his voters?

CORTES: Well, you -- it might. Look, it might. But, you know, we've had two this year and, you know -- and the country's not exactly falling apart. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. Things are going great in this country.

So you have two shutdowns already, and it hasn't been Armageddon. I think it's worth at least playing brinkmanship on this point. I really do.

And, again, I think we need to take risks as Republicans because I agree with the article he wrote and I agree with what John King said, the table is set for Democrats. If we are not adventurous and if we're not bold, we are going to lose control of the House.

And if we lose control of the House, they will impeach Trump. They'll do it on some ridiculous, suspicious argument, but they will do it. That's terrible for our country. It's obviously not good for President Trump.

Let's get him on the ballot. Great way to do that, immigration.

CABRERA: Do you agree, Harry?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Well, I think that immigration is a good issue for Republicans. If you look at the polls, Republicans are more enthusiastic about the issue of immigration than Democrats are.

However, I must disagree on the idea that if they tie themselves to Trump, that's necessarily a good thing. Keep in mind, Donald Trump's approval rating is about 42 percent on the Gallup poll. If that polls to Election Day, it's just over for the Republicans.

I mean, there has not really been a president who has an approval rating of 42 percent or lower heading into a midterm whose party didn't suffer tremendously in the midterm elections.

And normally, usually, the President's approval rating at this point holds to the election. The one example where that didn't occur was Jimmy Carter in '78.

So it's not all done for Republicans. We still have a hundred days to go. But at this particular point, I just -- it's just bad for them.

CABRERA: Well, and, Harry, obviously independents is a whole other piece of the puzzle, right?

ENTEN: Right. Right, exactly. I mean, we're talking all about Donald Trump's base. And, look, he's going to carry -- the Republican Party is going to carry 90 percent of the voters that Donald Trump won in 2016 in this midterm election.

But if that 10 percent, perhaps, that he -- that we're looking at of his base that voted for him in 2016 but probably voted for him because they didn't like Hillary Clinton -- and Hillary Clinton's not on the ballot. If that 10 percent goes over to the congressional Democrats in this midterm, it's going to be a Democratic landslide.

CABRERA: All right. Guys, thank you both for being here with us to help us discuss politics and beyond. We'll have you back soon.

Up next, we'll return to California where the fire-ravaged community of Redding is coming together to help those forced to evacuate. And they are getting some help from that celebrity chef there on the right.

Guy Fieri will join us next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:37:37] CABRERA: Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee say the White House is not taking the election security seriously.

Officials tell CNN one of the main challenges is the new way that Russian hackers could mess with America. No longer are hackers just targeting the voting machines and registration rolls.

Read this from Friday's "New York Times," state-sponsored Russian hackers appear far more interested this year in demonstrating that they can disrupt the American electric utility grid than the midterm elections, according to the United States intelligence officials and technology company executives.

With us now, CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dossier.

Kim, is that what you're hearing from your sources as well?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, actually, the Director of National Intelligence had a briefing for reporters this past week to walk us through some of the things that they're seeing Russia is doing.

Russia, yes, is looking at elections. They're also looking at things that are a lot more disturbing for national security officials. They're probing electricity grids. They are probing the various things that you would need to keep communities running. The kind of thing that, perhaps, in a military conflict, that you

might interfere with if you were a country like Russia, which is less militarily powerful than the United States, but perhaps the U.S. might reconsider some sort of strike against Moscow in a conflict if Moscow was threatening to bring all of the U.S. power grids down.

CABRERA: So describe a worst-case scenario then if that happens, if Russian hackers actually get inside the U.S. power grid. Could they trigger blackouts or destroy the electrical equipment? And what protections are in place?

DOZIER: Well, they could do something like rolling blackouts. What they have been detected to be doing is probing various power plants, probing utilities so that, perhaps, they could trigger some sort of a blackout city by city.

They've also been doing things like probing utilities, possibly to get personal information. It's not really clear.

Some of these probes are disguised as criminal hacks, but what U.S. intelligence officials believe this is, is laying the groundwork for future conflict in what they call a gray zone fight where it measures short of war.

[18:40:00] They might be planning to do some of these things but do it in a way that is completely deniable so that they can cause chaos in the United States and the U.S. economy, maybe pull down a market- trading floor, but be able to say, hey, it wasn't us.

CABRERA: Well, and I wonder if it's a little of a sort of "throw everything at them" approach because we do know, when it comes to elections, that there are at least a few Senate Democrats who have had their offices attacked. Clearly, Russia is still trying to interfere in the midterms as well.

DOZIER: Yes. A Microsoft official told us out at the Aspen Security Forum that there were three different lawmakers who have had their campaigns interfered with so far.

And we also had the head of Cyber Command tell us that he has set up a specific department to deflect and detect Russian interference of various types, though he didn't give us too much detail on that.

What that does tell you, though, is even though President Donald Trump seems to go back and forth on whether Russia did try to hack or would try to hack, the professionals in the national security community are telling reporters, we're watching this, we're aware of it. And they're also trying to message to Moscow, we have your number.

CABRERA: And yet, when it comes to this potential election interference, national security officials are telling CNN that they're operating with no coherent strategy from the top. All these different agencies are essentially having to fend for themselves without direction or support.

I mean, is it important for them to be on the same page and to have a united cohesive strategy?

DOZIER: Well, you do hear complaints that they'd rather see something like the counter-terrorism fight where you have all the different elements of U.S. national power working together to target those who would do us harm in terrorism.

But you've got the national security advisor, John Bolton, who is no fan of Russia, and some of his staff, who are looking at this. So what I think you will see is them coalescing towards some sort of unified strategy.

And failing that, the different elements of national power doing what they do best which is fighting each different arena and hoping that that is enough.

CABRERA: Kim Dozier, great to see you. Thank you very much.

DOZIER: Thank you.

CABRERA: Tonight on CNN, with animation, a comedian's only limitation is imagination. Follow the progression of animation from theater trailers to Saturday mornings and primetime T.V. to the web. "THE HISTORY OF COMEDY" tonight at 10:00 p.m. on CNN.


[18:47:08] CABRERA: People who know President Trump, worked for his companies and even wrote books about him, say there is one universal constant about this man. That you can count on him to stretch the truth, even outright lie if it suits the situation.

And that's not a new facet of Donald Trump's personality. Here is CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): From the election itself --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In many places like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that.

They always like to say, oh, that's a conspiracy theory. It's not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.

BORGER (voice-over): -- to the inauguration.

TRUMP: We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Heck, it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.

BORGER (voice-over): To statements like this.

TRUMP: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening. BORGER (voice-over): Donald Trump has had a fraught relationship with

the truth, one that goes back decades, to the building and selling of Trump Tower where Barbara Res managed the construction.

BARBARA RES, FORMER CONSTRUCTION MANAGER FOR DONALD TRUMP: He pointed that Princess Di was looking for an apartment in Trump Tower.

BORGER (on camera): And that didn't happen?

RES: No.

BORGER (on camera): Oh.

RES: But it made the papers.

BORGER (on camera): Sure. So veracity wasn't a part of it. It was just getting the buzz out there --

RES: Yes.

BORGER (on camera): -- about --

RES: Yes.

BORGER (on camera): -- about Trump? Did you guys laugh at it or --

RES: Yes. Because there was nothing so terrible about it. I mean, you know, it's kind of like puffing. You know, it's like exaggerating.

BORGER (voice-over): Tony Schwartz, co-author of Trump's "Art of the Deal" has a name for this.

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL": I came up with this phrase, truthful hyperbole, which is -- you know, I called it an innocent form of exaggeration. Now, I can call it something that I actually sold for $2 million and I can say $10 million and that becomes truthful hyperbole.

The problem is that there is no such thing as truthful hyperbole. The truth is the truth. Hyperbole is a lie. They don't go together.

BORGER (voice-over): And they didn't go together during the troubled opening of Trump's Atlantic City Taj Mahal casino in 1990 when some of the slots didn't work.

ALAN LAPIDUS, FORMER ARCHITECT FOR DONALD TRUMP: When the Casino Control Commission went down there on opening day to check out that all the things have been done, many things haven't been done. They shut down a third of the slots.

BORGER (voice-over): Slots that were critical to the casino's success.

LAPIDUS: The slots are the prime revenue producer of the casino. To shut down a third on opening day was both humiliating and financially disastrous. And it's -- and it was only done because he doesn't have, you know, an organization in depth.

BORGER (voice-over): But that wasn't the story Trump told.

JACK O'DONNELL, FORMER MANAGER, TRUMP PLAZA HOTEL AND CASINO: Something could go bad, like the opening of the Taj, and he would say, it's because we had so much business here that this happened.

[18:50:02] Not that the systems broke down, not that we didn't know what we were doing. We had so much business, it broke down. Truly, he just would lie about everything.

BORGER (voice-over): And he did.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What about the slot machine thing where they were down for a while?

TRUMP: The slots were so hot, nobody's -- again, nobody has seen people play that hard and that fast, we were --

KING: So what, it blew out the slots, literally?

TRUMP: They blew apart. We have machines that --

KING: Was it like too much use?

TRUMP: They were virtually on fire.

O'DONNELL: Donald is so wrapped up in hyperbole that it's almost constant lies. You know, whether it's the littlest things where, you know, if you had 2,000 people at an event, you know, he would say there were 5,000 people at an event.

BORGER (voice-over): And he got away with it.

SCHWARTZ: There is no belief system. If it will work, I will say it. If it stops working, I'll say its opposite. And I will not feel any compunction about saying its opposite because I don't believe anything in the first place.

BORGER (voice-over): Switching gears is exactly what President Trump had to do after his press conference with Vladimir Putin, attempting to walk back this remark on election interference.

TRUMP: My people came to me -- Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia.

I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't." The sentence should have been, I don't see any reason why I wouldn't -- or why it wouldn't be Russia.

SCHWARTZ: Seeing it from his perspective, doesn't make a distinction between what's true and what's false. His only distinction is what will work and what will not work. BORGER (on camera): And what happens when he is challenged with

facts? What does he do?

SCHWARTZ: He has a genius, you know, perverse genius, for turning any situation into something that is evidence of his brilliance. Even if it's not true.

BORGER (voice-over): Gloria Borger, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: From Washington to the other side of the country, and celebrity chef Guy Fieri knows all too well what people in the fire zone are dealing with right now.

Last fall, a fire forced him to evacuate his northern California home. How did he respond? He set up a mobile kitchen and he fed his fellow evacuees and first responders.

And now, he is helping out again. Guy Fieri is joining us now on the phone from Redding, California.

Guy, thank you for spending time with us. Northern California is your home turf. First, I just want to ask you, what are your thoughts about what you're seeing there?

GUY FIERI, CELEBRITY CHEF (via telephone): It's unbelievable. I mean, it's unbelievable to see what folks are going through, but it's even more -- well, I should say unbelievable of just how great this community is and all these folks that have come together and the Salvation Army.

I mean, we're in tough times as a world with all of the things going on. And, boy, you take a moment like this and you really see what America is made of. A lot of great people coming together.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. I'm a big fan of Food Network, so I know how busy you are.


CABRERA: Kudos to you for taking action to try to help in the response there. Tell us about what your plan is.

FIERI (via telephone): Well, you know, the Salvation Army has been on the ground here in Redding. And Redding is a great place right here in northern California, and it's -- I mean, I come here for years as a kid. And they got involved right off the bat.

And people are displaced. The fire has been up and you can't even see the sun. And they got involved Friday, started helping folks with a place to stay and get some needs and get water and, you know, all those basics that we -- you know, we have on a regular basis, all of a sudden they're gone.

And my team and I got involved. We -- my son and I and his buddies and a bunch of mine -- loaded up our caravan from the Wine Country and drove, you know, four hours up here and just working arm in arm with the Salvation Army and local chefs and residents and everybody helping out all the evacuees.

There's like 36,000 folks that have been displaced, so it's --

CABRERA: That is --

FIERI (via telephone): It's quite a program.

CABRERA: No. OK, and that is quite the undertaking. What is it like to try to, I guess, respond in that way, to try to feed that many people on just a moment's notice?


FIERI (via telephone): You know, it's not the simplest thing, but when you have a lot of people around you -- I mean, we've got lots of volunteers. I probably got 20 volunteers right now standing in a parking lot at Shasta College, and we've made a makeshift kitchen setup with one of my trailers and a bunch of stoves.

And you know what it is? The Salvation Army has got people that are giving them great support. We have a group called Operation Barbecue Relief that's getting involved. They're going to be here with a couple of big trailers.

Because we got more -- yes, more and more people are finding these shelters and the opportunities that the shelters have. A lot of them don't know where to go and what to do, but Salvation Army is going to help set it up.

[18:54:54] So cooking for that many people, we just did lunch for -- we just did lunch for 750, and we're getting ready to do dinner for that same group now. Trying to keep the menu interesting.

But you know, I know folks are always asking me, how can I help? What can I do? If you go to, it's a great place. They can make donations.

You know, folks are trying to drive stuff down here, but they can go on, they can make a contribution. People need clothes. People need just life necessities.


FIERI (via telephone): But they're a really great group to work with.

CABRERA: Well, Guy Fieri, food is comfort, especially during these difficult times for people, so thank you for what you are doing there, for giving back to that community. And, again, for just raising awareness of how people can help. We appreciate it.

And we're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:00:07] CABRERA: I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for joining us.