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First Lady Backs LeBron James After President's Insult; President Heads To Ohio To Try To Avert Special Election Loss; Democrat Party Torn Over Going Too Far Left; NRA Has Serious Financial Problem; 2 Metric Tons of Cocaine Recovered from Narco Sub. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 4, 2018 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:05] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh no, oh god. Oh god, no, no. I can't watch it.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: That bison was taking no BS from that guy. Yellowstone officials warning visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from the bison, authorities say, this was the man's third arrest in fact in a week for causing disturbances while he visited several national parks.

We were live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. So much to talk about. Let's get to breaking news. The first lady of the United States Melania Trump choosing apparently to support the man her husband is insulting on Twitter.

President Trump badmouthing NBA superstar LeBron James after an interview replayed on CNN. Well, the first lady just released a statement and she is not agreeing with the president. In fact, she is supporting LeBron James.

Right to our White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez and Boris you are in Ohio. LeBron James' home state and we're hearing and see behind you all these people gathering for a rally where President Trump will appear in about an hour from now. Tell us more about the feud now between Trump and James and the breaking news, the position now taken by the first lady.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Ana, this all started with an interview that LeBron James did with Don Lemon that aired on CNN. The interview centered on James' philanthropy, this, I Promise School that opened in Akron, Ohio helping underprivileged youth.

There was a portion of the interview where Don, our colleague, asked LeBron about President Trump. LeBron James essentially said that he believed that Donald Trump uses sports to distract and divide people, the president clearly taking exception to that late last night, tweeting insulting the intelligence of the former finals MVP.

Today, a very surprising statement from the first lady through her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, here's that statement now. She writes quote, it looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the first lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today.

As you know, Mrs. Trump has traveled the country and world talking to children about their well-being, healthy living, and the importance of responsible online behavior with her Be Best initiative. Her platform centers around visiting organizations, hospitals, and schools. And she would be open to visiting the I Promise School in Akron.

The first lady there apparently courting a possible invitation to tour the school that LeBron James opened. One other note, Ana, something that strikes me about the statement, the language, responsible online behavior, the first lady clearly sending a message about her feelings regarding the president's tweets. Ana.

CABRERA: And Boris, a familiar face also spotted boarding Air Force One earlier someone who used to work in the White House. Tell us more about this.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Surprising appearance from former director of communications, Hope Hicks, she surprised the press by showing up not only in New Jersey but then boarding Air Force One.

Apparently, on her way to this rally here in Ohio. You recall Hicks resigned one day after she testified to Congress that she had told white lies for President Trump. She ended up living the administration about a month later. Perhaps not that surprising considering we know that President Trump has contact with former campaign and administration officials, Corey Lewandowski, Anthony Scaramucci, Roger Stone, to make a few but surprising to see Hope Hicks here today relatively out of the blue, Ana.

CABRERA: Right, Boris Sanchez, you are on top of it. Thanks. Let's play you a small part of the interview now with LeBron James. That replay last night on CNN. This is the interview that President Trump was responding to when he insulted the intelligence of both James and CNN anchor, my colleague, Don Lemon. The four-time NBA most valuable player, James, making it clear here how he feels about the president. Watch.


LEBRON JAMES, 4-TIME NBA MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: He's kind of used sport to kind of divide us.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And do you think he uses black athletes as a scapegoat?

JAMES: At times. At times, and more often than not, I believe he uses anything that's popular to try to negate people from thinking about the positive things that they can actually be doing.


CABRERA: Here with me now White House reporter, Kate Bennett and our CNN's senior media correspondent host of Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter.

So Kate, first to you because you cover the first lady day for CNN day in and day out, you know the way she operates. Why do you think she wanted to weigh in here?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think this is the first lady who acts and thinks pretty independently and sort of just when we think she's going to zig, she zags. This is not especially uncommon. But it is within the time frame, within the contentious nature of the president's tweet.

[17:04:59] It is surprising this particular statement from Stephanie Grisham. Again, the first lady is trying to underscore in the way that she can considering her husband is, considering what his online habits are that kind of is an option that helping and having positive behavior is something that should be applauded.

I think this is her way of trying through the criticism, through the perceived hypocrisy quite frankly to have her own voice. It's not the first time we've seen her be independent. Of course, we watched her take those separate motorcades earlier this year. We watched her, you know, go to Barbara Bush's funeral and sit amongst former presidents that her husband is criticized. Go to the border recently to see for herself what's happening with immigration.

And of course just recently, Stephanie Grisham fired backed with that. She'll watch any channel she wants. Statement after it was reported that the president didn't like she was watching CNN on Air Force One.

CABRERA: Exactly. That seems to be the last time there seemed to be a public disagreement, again, in public between these two, it involve the reports over what she was watching on T.V., watching CNN apparently. Put this latest flap into context for us Brian.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean I think look, there's no greater mystery in the world than a relationship between husband and wife. I think that's true in all marriages. So I'm not here to psychoanalyze the president's marriage. But I think anybody looking at this, stops for a moment and says, whoa.

The easier thing from Melania Trump to do would have been just to ignore reporter's requests for comment today. But I think partly maybe her office wanted to respond because both Don Lemon and his response to the president and CNN in the public relations statement both used the Be Best hashtag. You know, Be Best, this initiative that Melania Trump has been promoting for several months that includes positive social media use.

CABRERA: And combatting bullying --


CABRERA: -- in the cybersphere.

STELTER: So maybe that is why she seized on this moment and decided to speak out. But it is astonishing. Once again, gets people wondering about the marriage. And all of this comes at a time where the president feels he's under siege. You know, we've seen this at his rallies where he seems to be engaging in a lot of resentment and grievance politics.

There is a new "Washington Post" story out today saying he's channeling his inner frustration into a ravenous maw of grievous invective. And I think all of us who watched the rallies, we see that, we that he's angry about a number of things including the Mueller probe.

So with that in mind, you have him, you know, basically raise tweeting at night complaining about LeBron James and Don Lemon. And here is his own wife essentially telling him to knock it off, right.

CABRERA: Well, she doesn't speak out very often, Kate, which is also what makes this really poignant. I mean she is perhaps most vocal when she disagrees with her husband.

BENNETT: That's an interesting point. This isn't a first lady we hear from a lot. She is pretty quiet. She's not a big speech giver. Typically, this isn't something that we hear from. You know, I think what Brian says is really interesting. It is hard to examine the marriage of any couple.

But I think we have watched Melania Trump very much try to assert some independence here and fire back. And she has said publically, you know, I told it on the campaign trail. She's at the Anderson Copper. I tell him these tweets going to get you in trouble or that you shouldn't do this.

He doesn't listen. He's a grown up. He does his own thing. She has said before, I am my own person. I am strong. Don't feel sorry for me, et cetera. This might just be her way. And I think it is, of fighting, not fighting back but sort of expressing an opinion that well might not be the reflection exactly of her husband. It's what she thinks. And it's what she feels.

And I think it's important the first lady is able to do that. And she does it despite the fallout. Here we all are talking about it and what it means. I can guarantee you. She's not sitting in her room watching this coverage. I'm pretty sure she's already moved on.

CABRERA: Well, the president was sitting in his room apparently watching the coverage on CNN last night when the statement that we heard from LeBron James aired.

And I'm going to read that part for you. Because when I hear this and I read this he writes and he says, what I've noticed over the past few months, he's kind of used sports to kind of divide us. And that's something that I can't relate to. I mean that's not exactly super critical of the president. I don't think the president could look at that tweet and say that statement, OK, that's not true, Brian.

STELTER: Yes. It wasn't the most outspoken criticism of President Trump. It was relatively mild when it comes to high-profile athletes that have been critical of the president. And it goes both ways. We continue to see the president single out high profile athletes for criticism., almost always African-American athletes. Look at the on the L.A. Times upside (ph) right now it says, Trump faces new accusations of racism after mocking LeBron James' intelligence.

There's certainly been that strand of criticism today saying, why is it the president is both with Don Lemon and with LeBron James targeting two prominent African-Americans? You know, people can debate that all day long. But it is clear again and again, the president goes after these athletes and seems to want the culture war moments.

[17:10:00] LeBron also said in the interview when Don said, well, would you want to sit down with the president? LeBron said, no, I would not. I do not want to sit down next to him. I wouldn't want to talk with him. That just goes to show how deeply polarized things are right now. Some of the most famous celebrities in the world have no interest in having an audience with the president.

CABRERA: Well, thank you both for the discussion, Kate Bennett, Brian Stelter, good to have you with us.

In a little more than an hour the president will be speaking at this rally in Ohio. We have live pictures here from Louis Center Ohio inside a high school gymnasium. The president will be there to rally voters, to help elect a Republican congressional candidate locked in a tight race right now in a district the president won by 11 points in 2016. Will his appearance here help avoid a big GOP loss? We'll talk about it in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: The president is on his way to Ohio right now to this campaign rally. He is there to rally support for Republican congressional candidate, Troy Balderson. You see him on the left as he was leaving New Jersey not long ago. We should brought that to you last hour.

[17:15:08] Now, this rally is last minute. Aides telling CNN they are trying to schedule more and more of these type of rallies to boost the president's mood, to keep his mind off of Russia. And his appearance can't hurt. This district he'll be in is red through and through.

He easily won it in 2016 by 11 points. But take a look at the latest poll. The Republican is ahead by just one point, certainly not what the GOP wants to see. Let's talk about what could happen here, what this means in the bigger picture.

And with us is former NSC Director for China and North Korea Laura Rosenberger, Former CIA Intelligence Officer David Priess, and CNN's Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor for the Atlantic Ron Brownstein.

Ron, I will start with you and what the President did just before heading to this rally, insulting LeBron James whose home state is Ohio and he's heading there to rally voters in a very important race. Do you think this new fight of sorts was a political calculation?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it's clearly a political calculation, not specific to this district. But, look, it's a political calculation in two senses.

First, the President as we've talked about before views as an essential part of this political strategy picking an endless succession of culturally tinged, racially tinged fights on Twitter with an assortment of opponents, but the racial component cannot be overlooked.

And there is no question that there is a pattern of not only criticizing, but insulting prominent African-Americans, often athletes but not exclusively athletes. I mean he describes Maxine Waters who've been in the Congress for decades as a low I.Q. individual.

And by the way, the two stories are linked. I mean this district that he's on his way to is not a place that would've been in the top 50 that anybody was talking about when the year began as a potential Republican vulnerability district. But it is now, you know, on the knife's edge largely because of the recoil from President Trump among ordinarily Republican leaning white collar suburban voters who view his values, his morals, the way he talks about race as essentially unacceptable.

And NPR Marist poll the other day, two-thirds of college educated whites said they were embarrassed by his conduct as President. It's not as bad in Ohio 12, but that sentiment is exactly why he has to go there. That is what he's made it competitive.

CABRERA: And, David, this reminds me of something Senator Kamala Harris said or Kamala Harris said at the Netroots conference just last night, she said Russia new America's weaknesses citing racism, sexism, anti-Semitism as a way to divide Americans. Listen to what she said.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: The Russians know those truths, because check it out, they attacked us demographically and geographically. And they're still trying to divide us and conquer. The Russians know racism and other forms of hate have always been America's Achilles heel. And we need to deal with that weakness.


CABRERA: Do you think Russia is watching, David what has happened in the last 24 hours of this feud between the President and Lebron James, the first lady getting involved and smiling right now?

DAVID PRIESS, FORMER CIA INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Absolutely. You see, there's an old truism in intelligence that a covert action program can't create something. It has to build on the environmental conditions already there. And what we saw in 2016 is the Russians exploiting these differences. But we do have a parallel to this, which is the NFL take a knee controversy. And the hash tags on Twitter and all of the Facebook posts. A lot of this was amplified and promoted by Russian bots and trolls.

Now, there's no reason to suggest that this has changed, the Russians haven't learned that they're a penalty for this, they haven't learned that doesn't don't work. They've learned quite the opposite. So, I wouldn't be surprised to see the President make some remark about it. And then you see a massive amount of traffic on the social media about this very thing because the Russians are going to amplify whatever the President says to continue that division.

CABRERA: And big news out of his last rally were these comments.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax, OK. I'll tell you what, Russia's very unhappy that Trump won.


CABRERA: That was on Thursday and that came just hours after Trump's top security officials warned of the ongoing threats from Russia.

Laura, you testified this week on the Russia threat. You say consistent messaging is important, why?

LAURA ROSENBERGER, FORMER NSC DIRECTOR FOR CHINA AND KOREA: It's absolutely essential, Ana. I mean, when the President goes out and talks about the Russia hoax just hours after the senior members of his national security cabinet lined up and sent a clear signal about how real the threat is and that it's ongoing, he's directly undercutting them.

[17:19:59] When we're trying to deter an adversary, one of the things that's really important is that that adversary believe our word and believe that when we say there will be consequences there will.

And unfortunately, Vladimir Putin is seeing mixed messages from the president and from his cabinet. And similarly, the American people for the reasons that you just talked about, you know, the fact that they are -- the Russians are exploiting these vulnerabilities in our society, what we need to do to make ourselves less vulnerable is in part build our resilience.

But, again, we can't do that if the American people are getting a mixed message about whether or not this threat is real. The President absolutely has to get onboard board with the program.

CABRERA: And we know the U.S. is really vulnerable to attacks, especially when it comes to cyber-attacks, yet we have Politico reporting this week that the FBI is struggling to retain its top cybersecurity talent, including the most season agents and supervisors tasked with disrupting digital threats from Russia and elsewhere, close to 20 have left in the last five years. Is there a reporting, Laura, how concerning is that?

ROSENBERGER: Well, one of the things that we need to get on top of this threat is a coordinated whole of government strategy. And until the White House is really focused on this as a problem, can really unify what's being done in the different agencies. We're not going to be able to bring all of the talent across the U.S. government to bear number one.

Number two, the kind of talent leaving, you know, the FBI, the cybersecurity experts, it's similar to what we've seen in other parts of the government where we were atrophying the expertise that we need most to counter the threats of today. And that is absolutely leaving us more and more vulnerable.

CABRERA: Ron, we could learn this week or sometime maybe in the next week if the President going to sit down with Robert Mueller. His lawyers are cautioning against the sit-down, but if Trump wants to sit down with Mueller, will he get what he wants? Because we know he's not known for listening to his advisers.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, it's a really good question. And I'm not even sure we know that he really wants to. I think it's in his interest to put out the story that he is anxious to talk to the special counsel, but it's only this kind of, you know, super cautious lawyers that are preventing him to from doing so. Because to the public, the fact that the President does not want to talk inherently as it should be, you know, eyebrow rising.

I mean the idea that the President does not feel comfortable discussing his actions both during the campaign and in office with a special counsel. We have not had the issue litigated and ultimately if it is litigated, there will potentially now be five Republican appointed Supreme Court Justices. It's going to be interesting to see how that plays out. But I think previous presidents viewed it as politically untenable.

Bill Clinton certainly sat down with Ken Starr not to do this kind of interview because of the message that it sends to the public. And I think it would be a striking kind of statement by the statement and indeed by the majority in Congress if they allow it to go by without -- allow him to evade this interview without raising any alarms over that.

CABRERA: David, I'll give you the quick final thought on the potential Trump-Mueller one-on-one.

PRIESS: Yes, we've been surprised up to this point every time that Mueller has dropped an indictment or every time we're learning about how far along he is in the investigation. It wouldn't surprise me if Giuliani is making up this stuff about the President deciding within 10 days if he's going to sit down. That's for P.R. purposes. What's actually happening behind the scenes has stayed close to Mueller's vest and he's not given us any signals.

CABRERA: All right, David Priess, Laura Rosenberger, thank you very much. Ron Brownstein, stay with me because I want to talk to you about the Democrats and their strategy to win back Washington, the internal battle raging on. The party torn over how far left, it's too far left in order to win over voters. [17:23:42] We'll talk about that coming up next in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Both parties are soul searching, right, as they're trying to find a winning strategy for the mid-term elections and beyond. We've spent a lot of time talking about the divisions within the President's party, Republicans. But Democrats are divided too. They're trying to decide should candidates push for impeachment of the President or should they go for a more moderate message?

CNN's Miguel Marquez reports from New Orleans where some 2020 Democratic hopefuls are gathering this weekend.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The yearly gathering of progressives, Netroots Nation attracting the President's biggest detractors.

TOM STEYER, WANTS TRUMP IMPEACHED: He is reckless, dangerous and lawless. I think that he is a threat to the United States to our people and our democracy.

(voice-over): One star of the show.

STEYER: Why is he still president?

(voice-over): California's billionaire Tom Steyer who has spent millions running ads nationwide, urging the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why hasn't Congress started impeachment proceedings?

(voice-over): All the immigration talk now worries mainstream establishment Democrats.

ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're running a hypothetical campaign right now about having an impeachment vote when we could be spending that time and energy revealing to the American people how corrupt this administration is. I don't think that that's a productive way to go right now.

(voice-over): The fear talking impeachment before the special counsel's investigation is complete could turn off independents and moderates ahead of the midterms and beyond.

(on camera): Is there any concern that that fissure between the far left and the center is going to hurt candidates in November, and possibly that the presidential contenders in 2020?

STEYER: I don't think we should be quite so clever about pollsters. And I think that the people, the political establishment in Washington, D.C. should get back to much simpler questions, which is are we telling the truth about the most important things in America? Are we standing up for the American people?

[17:30:12] MARQUEZ (voice-over): Potential 2020 contenders making their way to Netroots, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Voting for Abdul Sadi for governor is the right thing to do.


MARQUEZ: And self-professed Democratic-Socialist candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who upset an established Democrat in primary and is now stumping for progressives nationwide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't believe the way forward for progressives and Democrats is to go moderate. We want to see candidates who are bold, visionary and who speak to the people.

MARQUEZ: Republicans painting that Net Roots as mainstream. And in talking points sent to reporters, the Republican National Committee called Net Roots a former early fringe far-left progressive movement that had become a key force in moving the Democratic Party further left.

(on camera): Do you think the Democratic Party has moved left or is this a more open tent these days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do think that it's moving more left. I don't think that progressivism or liberalism is -- is a far-out idea anymore.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to Miguel Marquez for that reporting.

And CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, is back with me now.

Ron, you have written a lot about this fork in the road that Democrats face to win back Washington. Do they target mostly white moderate voters or do they try to energize the groups fired up against Trump's agenda and his style?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a bigger problem for 2020 than 2018, frankly. I mean, in 2018, you can kind of localize. You can pick candidates who fit the local conditions. There are few Democrats running, if any, in the swing districts talking about impeachment. They're talking about rising health care costs and the tax cut and the potential threat to Social Security and Medicare over time above all. That's what they're talking about. In places more safely Democratic, you are seeing a move to the left. And you know, those kind of candidates like we saw in New York with Joe Crowley being defeated. But where it comes to a head a 2020 because it's harder to bridge that. I will throw out the caveat that whenever a party faces the either or the answer is always to some extent both. But there's no question, if you look at the potential nominees, some are better at exciting the Democratic base and others are better at reassuring those center-right Independent voters in places like Ohio 12 that formerly were reliably Republican but now are having second thoughts about whether they fit into the Donald Trump party where he tweets about LeBron James.

CABRERA: How would you define the Democrat's strategy right now? Is there a strategy or do you think they're still struggling a little bit?

BROWNSTEIN: I think there's a strategy for 2018. And I think they are struggle for 2020. That's not unusual. The presidential primaries really are moments where parties pick their direction. For example, if you look at 2016, there were countertheories in the Republican Party. One was that we had to expand the base, talk to more of the growing diverse populations of America, kind of the autopsy from 2013. Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio reflected that, and they lost to Donald Trump who consolidated blue collar, rural, and evangelical voters around the theme of reaching out to them. Democrats, I think, in 2020, do face this choice. You have candidates -- principally, I think Joe Biden, whose main calling card would be, look, he is someone who could be acceptable to a lot of ordinarily Republican voters, who are loosening attachment to the party and maybe available because of Trump. He is probably, at his age with his record in the 90s during the Clinton era, he would be less effective than someone like Kamala Harris or Cory Booker or Elizabeth Warren at mobilizing the new Democratic constituents, the Millennials principally and minority voters. And that is a real choice. If I had to bet today, both perspectives will be on the ticket. The question is, which is on the top of the ticket.

CABRERA: Before Miguel's piece, I mentioned the word impeachment. I want you to listen to something Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, said this week while stumping for a Republican congressional candidate in New Hampshire.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I have to say this. And I say this in my role not as a lawyer but as a -- as a concerned citizen and Republican, but this election is going to be about impeachment or no impeachment.


CABRERA: So, Ron, Giuliani and some Republicans clearly want to make the mid-terms all about potential impeachment of the president.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first, it fits into the broader strategy. Really as we were talking about with the tweets and everything, there's a Trump political strategy for the midterm. It's to try to gin up turnout among the Republican base, whatever the cost is of doing that among other voters, whether it's driving away Independents, which we see in polls, or mobilizing more turnout among Democrats, which you also see in polls. I think the comments from Giuliani are of a piece with the kind of message and issues that the president is pursuing. Don't forget, the border separation they viewed originally as a

positive for the November election because they thought their base would rally around it. So all of that is there.

[17:35:05] Look, for Democrats I think impeachment is a question several, many steps down the road. If you get the House, there's a lot of legislative and oversight space between where we are now, with a Republican Congress that essentially is refusing to provide any kind of oversight of the -- of the administration, any kind of hearings, any kind of investigation, and impeachment. I think the first thing any Democrat would say if they're running in November, is, look, we are going to look at what they are doing. We are going to explore what's happening at the EPA, explore what's happening at other agencies. I think there's a lot of space between where we are now and the possibility someday down the road depending on what Robert Mueller says of impeachment.

CABRERA: Ron Brownstein, thank you very much. Good to have you with us as always.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: President Trump's letter to Kim Jong-Un hand delivered with a smile today to North Korean officials. Playing the role of diplomatic postman, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who tweeted about his letter delivery. Pompeo says, "North Korea will decide its own denuclearization time line." And the president is responding here to a letter had received Wednesday from North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong- Un.

And all of this is happening as a brand-new United Nations report accuses North Korea's regime of secretly pursuing nuclear programs in violation of international sanctions. This is an independent report, independent experts who conducted it.

The National Rifle Association may be facing some major financial trouble. In fact, in a court filing, the NRA says it could soon be, quote, "unable to exist," end quote. We will show you why ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:41:17] CABRERA: Things heating up in Portland, Oregon, right now. These are live pictures from the demonstrations happening there. Police with helmets appear in riot gear. We have been following developments with protesters clashing with police. Some video from a little bit earlier. A couple of different groups protesting this hour. Members of a right-wing group holding a freedom march they say. This is in downtown Portland. And then also counter-protesters on hand. We are told police have been trying to round up protesters refusing to disperse. Earlier, police say some of the demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at officers. Things appear to be calming down right now. We'll be keeping a close eye on Portland. We'll bringing you details as we get them.

In the meantime, the National Rifle Association claims it's having serious financial problems. According to a new court filing, the NRA says it could soon be, quote, "unable to exist." All because of a legal battle here in New York.

And CNN's Polo Sandoval is following for us.

Polo, fill us in.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's go back to what brought us here in the first place, Ana. We know Governor Cuomo and the NRA have constantly clashed on gun control. Let me take you back to recently here in May. That's when the New York State financial regulators determined after an extensive investigation that Carry Guard was being offered illegally, essentially violating state law. What is Carry Guard? Essentially an insurance program for gun owners that is marketed through the NRA. Also in May, the NRA then filed a lawsuit against Governor Cuomo here claiming that the state had essentially blacklisted the gun lobby group, keeping them from securing various banking services and insurance policies. Last month, the NRA amended the claims alleging they are beginning to feel the financial effects, including suffering, quote, "tens of millions of dollars in damages." And the court records that we looked through today, the NRA also states that it may soon, quote, "be unable to exist as a not-for- profit group."

This week, a response from the governor and also from the state of New York here. They are moving to have this suit dismissed in entirely, saying that this is purely a distraction. And pointing back again to the findings of the initial -- or the initial investigation by the New York state financial regulators, Ana, to determine the insurance policies offered to NRA members were against the law.

CABRERA: It is hard to wrap your mind around the idea that the NRA is having financial problems. We know how huge the group of supporters are.

Polo, thank you for bringing details on that.


[17:48:57] CABRERA: Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, more than two tons of cocaine being smuggled in the special narco submarine. Details on one of the biggest drug bust at sea, when we come back.


CABRERA: Welcome back. There appears to be no limit to the ingenuity of drug smugglers when it comes to getting illegal contraband across the border. Police in Costa Rica say they found this sub in the middle of the ocean after a tip from the U.S. Coast Guard. What is a mini submarine doing near the coast of Costa Rico?

Well, Rafael Romo has the answer for us and joins us now.

Rafael, law enforcement officials are calling it a narco submarine?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's for good reason, Ana. The law enforcement officials found two tons of cocaine inside the submarine after stopping about 80 nautical miles off the coast. They also arrested three Columbian nationals. Authorities say this is one of the biggest drug confiscations made at sea. The cocaine, they say, was neatly packed in 2,000 packets weighing one kilo each, or 2.2 pounds. According to officials, they were using this vessel, Ana, because it's difficult to detect by radar, but not impossible.

CABRERA: Two metric tons, that sounds like a lot of illegal drugs in a single shipment.

ROMO: It sure does, Ana, but it seems that the Costa Rica is a new transit point for traffickers smuggling illegal drugs from South America.

In addition to the two metric tons they just confiscated, officials told me that Costa Rican security forces also seized 6.5 metric tons in the last 10 days alone. Listen to this, Ana, so far this year, they are at nearly 18 metric tons of cocaine. That's just incredible.

[17:50:17] CABRERA: Wow. Where does this rank in terms of tactics or methods used to smuggle drugs?

ROMO: They do get creative. And we have covered many different methods from an organization used to smuggle drugs from the weird to the sophisticated. One that comes to mind is a group of men using a catapult at the Arizona border back in 2011 to toss drug packages from the Mexican to the American side. As it happened in Costa Rica, Ana, those men were also put behind bars.

CABRERA: Rafael Romo, thanks for that reporting.

We want to take just a moment to honor this week's "CNN Hero." Amanda Boxtol was paralyzed after a skiing accident and now she's made it her mission to help other people walk again with the help of bionic limbs. People like Nate, who was injured in a kayaking accident.




WHITE: My goal was always been to make a full recovery. And I think a lot of people thought that was far-fetched.

It was a lot of hard work. I remember when I made this first couple of steps, that's when I knew making a full recovery was possible.

AMANDA BOXTOL, CNN HERO: He is living the miracle of what we all want, what we all aspire for, to stand up and to do it on our own. He is doing it.

I haven't witnessed that too often in my lifetime.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: To learn more about Bridging Bionics, go to You can also donate to any of this year's "CNN Heroes" at

We're back in a moment.


[17:56:15] CABRERA: It turns out the catastrophic Carr Fire in California was started by a flat tire. Fire officials say a trailer got the flat tire last month, and when the tire rim scraped the asphalt, it sparked what is now the sixth most-destructive wildfire in California's history. The Carr Fire's burned 134,000 acres, an area larger than Denver, Colorado. This fire is being blamed for six deaths. It is still just 41 percent contained.

A federal judge is ripping the Trump administration for suggesting the ACLU should be responsible for finding hundreds of parents the government separated from their children. The administration suggested it would help facilitate family communications but says immigrant advocacy groups should use their resources to track down deported parents who haven't been located. The judge called this unacceptable and says the government is 100 percent responsible for finding them. He says of the nearly 500 still missing, just 12 or 13 have been located. The judge now wants detailed information on all of the deported parents and plans for reunification by August 10th. That's next Friday.

Meanwhile, another federal judge dealt a blow to the Trump administration's efforts to end the DACA program. He says the government must fully restore the program that prevents so-called DREAMers from being deported. The judge, however, gave the administration 20 days to appeal, and the Justice Department has indicated it will do so.

And this programming note. A new episode of "The History of Comedy" takes a look at the passing of legendary comedians and how their connections with their audiences makes the loss even more significant. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you do something great a little piece of you will always continue to go on.

GARRY SHANDLING, FORMER COMEDIAN: The worst thing about being in the hospital is that they shave you. I mean, they shave everything, you know? And I was just visiting a friend of mine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Garry Shandling was not afraid to express his frailties and his neurosis and inabilities. All of the Ts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He broke the wall with "The Garry Shandling Show" and, with Larry Sanders, he broke that mold, too. He turned TV on its head twice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so uncomfortable.

SHANDLING: Really? So do I.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're so good at it.

SHANDLING: Trust me, I hate myself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Much of modern television comedy can be traced back to a lot of the chances Garry took.

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN: It still doesn't add up for me that he's gone. It doesn't make sense. Not having his voice doesn't feel right. Even long before I met him, he felt like a comedic friend to me.

SHANDLING: All my journey is to be authentically who I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a mentor to a lot of people. He almost seemed like he was floating through the world a little bit. Like, he was there to help.

SHANDLIKNG: What I want at my funeral is an actual boxing referee to do a count and at, five, just wave it off and say, he's not getting up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason that Garry's death is a crime is not just because I don't get to talk to him anymore, but he wasn't done.


CABRERA: "The History of Comedy" airs tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific here on CNN.

I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thank you for being with me the last few hours. I'll be back two hours from now, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

"SMERCONISH" is next, followed by "THE AXE FILES." Stay tuned.

[17:59:55] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish, in Philadelphia. We welcome the viewers in the United States and around the world.

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