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Trump Acknowledges Trump Tower Meeting Was About Clinton Dirt; 11 Kids Rescued from Poor Living Conditions in New Mexico. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired August 5, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:43] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It's 6:00 Eastern, 3:00 in the afternoon out West. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm so glad you're with me. And this is our top story.
President Trump acknowledging today that his son Donald Trump Jr. did meet with the Russians back in 2016 specifically to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Here is the president's statement.
"This was a meeting to get information on an opponent. Totally legal and done all the time in politics. And it went nowhere. I did not know about it."
So why is this tweet important? Because it's not what the president's son said about the meeting originally. That statement read, "We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children." Originally President Trump's attorney said the president had nothing to do with that statement, that it was all his son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I do want to be clear, the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr. So that's what I can tell you because that's what we know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: But Now Trump's lawyers admit he actually dictated that statement, meaning at one point the president told the country the Trump Tower meeting was about adoptions and yet today he's tweeting to the world that it was to get dirt on his opponent, and that there's nothing wrong with that and there's nothing to hide. So why the changing stories from Trump's story?
Here is what the president's lawyer, that same lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said about it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEKULOW: I had bad information at that point. I made a mistake in my statement. I talked about that before. That happens when you have cases like this. I think it's very important to point out that in a situation like this, you have over time facts develop. That's what investigations do. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, where the president is spending his summer break.
Boris, why is that we are again talking about this Trump Tower meeting?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana. Well, it's because that Trump Tower meeting back in June 2016 is central to the Russia investigation. It also acknowledges that the president is focused on recent reporting from CNN and others that indicates that he's becoming increasingly concerned that this Russia probe is getting closer to his family, namely his son, Donald Trump Jr., and his son- in-law Jared Kushner.
Sources have told CNN that that concern on behalf of the president is leading to him becoming more aggressive and agitated in his attacks against the special counsel, more directly going after Robert Mueller and what he calls conflicts of interest.
We should point out that the president dismissed that reporting in that tweet that you mentioned. That essentially argues that what we heard from this administration previously about that meeting was not the full story, the nature of that meeting at Trump Tower was about political opposition research on Hillary Clinton, not adoptions.
The shift from this administration as has time passed has clear. We've previously heard the president say that to his knowledge no one that he knows has anything to do with Russia. And now we're seeing the administration, the president and his attorneys, make the case that this meeting was not illegal, that it wasn't improper, and further, that collusion is not a crime.
Here's more from the president's attorney Jay Sekulow on one of the Sunday morning talk shows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: He says the meeting, totally legal, done all the time in politics. But according to the e-mail that special counsel Robert Mueller has, this was a meeting to get information from the crown prosecutor of Russia on Hillary Clinton's campaign. How would that be legal?
SEKULOW: Well, the question is how would it be illegal. I mean, the real question here is would a meeting of that nature constitute a violation -- the meeting itself constitute a violation of the law?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now, Ana, critics have pounced on this, suggesting that the president and his attorneys are moving the goalpost and despite calls for this investigation to wrap up, in the words of Rudy Giuliani last week, for Robert Mueller to put up or shut up, this investigation is moving forward. And Robert Mueller is focused on securing an interview with one of the key figures who was in that Trump Tower meeting, Emin Agalarov. He's that Russian pop singer whose father is a Russian oligarch with deep ties to Vladimir Putin.
We understand according to sources that for over a year the special counsel has been talking to his attorneys, trying to secure an interview.
[18:05:07] It's unclear if that will actually happen. But that makes the argument, that makes the case that this investigation is moving forward whether the president and his attorneys like it or not -- Ana.
CABRERA: An investigation that's already resulted in more than 30 people or entities being charged, five guilty pleas, another person on trial right now.
Boris Sanchez in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, thank you.
The denials followed by the non-denials. It's been a constant changing narrative that have led us to such a crazy place that it really takes a stand-up comic to put it all in perspective. This was comedian Bill Maher in his live stand-up special last month on HBO, which is owned by the same parent company as CNN, basically describing what we've seen in the last year and predicting what we are learning today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: They'll be like, oh, no, there was no meeting. No -- OK, there was a meeting. Yes, there was a meeting. But no Russians. No -- yes, one Russian. There was one Russian -- I'm sorry, I misspoke, three Russians. There was three -- five Russians were at the meeting. And that is -- eight Russians. There was eight Russians. There was eight Russians at the meeting.
It was just about adoption. We did not talk about the election. All right, we talked about the election. But no collusion. No -- OK, collusion. There was collusion. But no criminal collusion. OK, criminal collusion, but is it really such a crime to commit a crime?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Joining us, CNN political commentator Scott Jennings, "Weekly Standard" editor Bill Kristol, and former assistant U.S. attorney Kim Wehle.
Bill, what we just played there from Bill Maher, it's almost so true, it's not funny.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, it isn't funny and it's hard to separate sometimes in the Trump presidency the forest from the trees. But here's what we know. There was an attempt at collusion. That is the senior people in the Trump campaign, and I think it's pretty clear with the knowledge of the president, tried to collude with the Russians to get research, to get information about their opponent. They didn't seem too concerned that that information was legally obtained or illegally obtained. Now we don't know how successful that collusion was or what happened
afterwards. Trump insists on always saying it went nowhere. And they did a pretty good job at selling this, that this meeting was kind of ineffectual and feckless, but of course we don't know that. We don't know that. And we know there was an attempt to cover up because we know that the president was personally involved in drafting a statement that was false about that meeting and that he's tried in other ways to cover up -- asked Comey not to pursue Michael Flynn and so forth.
So we know there was attempted collusion. We know there was an attempted cover-up. The Those themselves were extremely problematic. I mean, Watergate was not a successful burglary, you know. It was a failed burglary, nonetheless President Nixon ended up resigning because of it. But we also don't know whether there was more than an attempted collusion, whether there was actual collusion, and we don't know in terms of the cover-up how much more was involved than that.
CABRERA: And of course, we do know, collusion, that word, does not amount to a crime. But there is conspiracy, there are other criminal statutes that would fall under I guess the broader umbrella of collusion.
Kim, you're a lawyer. The president today, his argument is this kind of a meeting happens all the time, he's totally in the clear, his son is totally in the clear. Both saying there was nothing illegal about this meeting. Could it be?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, certainly -- opposition research per se, I think he's saying, is not illegal. The issue here was the influence or the participation of the Russians. And you can look at the Trump administration's own FEC Web site and click on the link regarding solicitation of foreign nationals' assistance in campaigns. And that is very, very broadly prohibited. And solicitation just means trying to get something of value.
Here, dirt on Hillary Clinton certainly was of value to this campaign. It would probably cost a lot of money to actually come up with some of this information that we know from the Mueller investigation, it was a widespread attack on our democratic process. Hundreds of thousands of voter information stolen and used to attack our democracy. So under the law as it stands, it is a crime to have this kind of a meeting. And I think the comedian's comment that is it a crime to commit a crime, is really salient today.
That is, the question really here is, what's going to happen? Are people going to hold people accountable at the upper echelons of our executive branch? And that's a question. In Watergate, it worked. It's not clear if it's going to work here. And that's a real, real problem I think for everyone in this country.
CABRERA: Scott, if the president really thinks there was nothing wrong with this meeting, why was he and his team so misleading about it to begin with, insistent he knew nothing about it?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, that's a great question. They did work very hard at the beginning to try to say this was about adoptions. And if you do look at the Senate committee testimony, adoptions were discussed. Obviously other things were discussed, too. I think we should also point out that the president tweeted last July that Donald Trump Jr. went to this meeting to get information on Hillary Clinton. So I'm not sure today's revelations are all that new.
[18:10:08] It strikes me that the president and his team right now are trying to manage two different silos. The legal silo, which is, did anyone say anything under oath about this meeting that is now going to be deemed untruthful, and number two, is there anything about this meeting or trying to get opposition research that is illegal in and of itself?
But then there is the bigger political issue, which is what I would call the icky bucket. Is it icky to try to mislead the public about the nature of a meeting? Yes. Is it icky when your lawyer goes on TV and says, well, I had bad information and that's why I lied or didn't tell the whole truth at the time? Yes, that's also icky. And they'll have to deal with the political fallout of that.
At the end of the day, I don't know if we learned anything new today but we did learn of course that this still is occupying a huge percentage of the president's time in terms of what he's thinking about.
JENNINGS: And that's overall not great for his presidency.
CABRERA: And --
KRISTOL: But, Ana, can I just add one thing?
CABRERA: That is an interesting -- yes.
KRISTOL: Ana, we just keep -- opposition research, that's one thing. If a British person comes in and says, hey, I found an article in a British newspaper and it's interesting about your opponent. That's, you know, whatever, publicly available. That's not what the Russians were doing in 2016. They stole e-mails. They were involved in stealing and disseminating stolen documents. If, if, if the Trump campaign knowingly took advantage of stolen, illegally procured materials or helped somehow in the dissemination of those, that's a whole different level.
So again, we shouldn't just say that, you know, gee, it's kind of icky that the Russians showed up with some opposition research. The Clinton campaign was apparently procure some opposition research that happened to use a British national, it was disclosed I think on their FEC report and I don't believe there's any law against buying research from foreigners anymore than you can't buy your office equipment from a Japanese company. Right? That's just a commercial transaction.
But it's the illegal penetration of Podesta's e-mails and the release of them at a very opportune time, in October, and so forth that is what makes this way beyond the normal kind of slightly scuzzy opposition research that we're all familiar with.
CABRERA: And there has been this ramp up, I guess, by the president in terms of attacking the Mueller investigation. I mean, he says he's not concerned but "The Washington Post" is reporting that the president has tweeted the phrase witch hunt a combined 46 times at least in June and July, up from 29 times in April and May, not to mention he's been calling out Mueller by name more and more, even suggesting his attorney general should shut down the investigation.
Scott, does this really sound like someone who is not worried or concerned?
JENNINGS: Well, of course he should be worried. I mean, any time you have someone like Mueller and the team of people that he's put together, any time you've had numerous people around you to have to testify under oath about things, I mean, everybody's in jeopardy. If you testify under oath and then later on facts come out that contradict your testimony, you're in jeopardy of possibly being, you know, accused of obstruction or perjury or anything else.
So, yes, I mean, everybody here that's engaged in this should be worried. Now I'm hopeful that everybody here has gone in and told the truth to their level best. And that would be a very, very good development. And at the end of the day, I'm also hopeful that what we find out is that the Russians penetrated the election and tried to meddle in the election but did so without the collusion of the Trump campaign.
I've always been skeptical of the collusion narrative but I've never been skeptical the Russians were meddling in our election. Of course they were. Look at everything we know and look at all the people that have been indicted.
JENNINGS: I just hope we find out nobody on our side of the ball was involved in it.
CABRERA: Kim, Jay Sekulow had to explain why he previously said the president was not involved with that Trump Tower statement. He said he had bad information. What does that mean?
WEHLE: I think he's backpedaling on a new sort of pitch that is being made from the president's office around this whole issue, that is, OK, maybe we did it, but what's the big deal. And as I said before, that's really the question for every American right now. Are we going to sit back and let this kind of thing happen? And, you know, just to be clear, the election laws ban -- you know, the FEC said if someone from a foreign country wants to volunteer on a presidential campaign, they can't toss in 10 bucks for pizza.
Now I used to work for the federal government. I mean, these kinds of ethics, laws, and these limitations on colluding, for lack of a better word, are really important because we don't want foreigners dictating the outcomes of presidential elections. Voters want their votes to count. And here we had, as was mentioned, voter information stolen and our elections affected. And Congress cares about that. And every American should care about it.
And Sekulow I think is kind of stuck in a really difficult situation because the president, as was mentioned, himself is potentially liable for obstruction of justice in a broader sense. I mean, I'm not saying that he -- there's the evidence publicly for that, but we also have the Mueller two indictments charging conspiracy against a number of Russian nationals with ties to the Kremlin and their intelligence agency, and participating in that conspiracy could add to additional indictments of individuals, hopefully, as was mentioned, not Americans.
[18:15:16] CABRERA: I mean, it just strikes me that Sekulow says I had bad information at the time, I had a mistake in my statement. I'm looking at his transcript because that just happens when you have cases like this. Facts develop.
KRISTOL: Facts don't develop.
CABRERA: It's how he put it.
KRISTOL: Facts don't change, you know. That's the funny thing, right? And maybe what you were told develops because the president misled Sekulow, let's give Sekulow the benefit of the doubt about that, but what does that tell you? If the president -- who else could have misled him? I mean, who -- Sekulow says, remember, in that original interview with Stephanopoulos, that's the fact that the president didn't dictate the statement. Well, who told him?
KRISTOL: Who told Sekulow that?
CABRERA: Bill Kristol, Scott Jennings, Kim Wehle, thank you all for being with us.
Stunning discovery. The search for a missing toddler leads to the rescue of 11 children, living in conditions police say looked like a third world country.
Plus a toxic algae bloom strikes southwest Florida with a devastating impact, killing fish, sea turtles, seabirds, a shark, multiple manatees. We'll show you what's causing it.
And later --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are --
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So you don't believe in the First Amendment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I totally believe in the First Amendment.
TUCHMAN: You just said the press are the enemies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you guys are weaponized. You guys are totally weaponized by the CIA.
TUCHMAN: What does that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are weaponized by the CIA.
TUCHMAN: By the CIA? I don't know anybody in the CIA except a couple of people I've interviewed over the years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
TUCHMAN: But weaponized? What does it even mean? Like you say stuff that doesn't even mean anything. Weaponized by the CIA?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conspiracy theorists that could --
TUCHMAN: Do you think I'm weaponized by the CIA?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe not to your knowledge. And that's really -- that's unfortunate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Supporters of a fringe right-wing conspiracy group now a frequent sight at Trump rallies. CNN talks to QAnon. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:20:56] CABRERA: Eleven children have been rescued after living in what police say looks like a third world country. Authorities in New Mexico stumbled upon this makeshift campground, compound, you name it, while looking for a missing toddler. The beaten-up trailer had no running water. Officials say the only food nearby were some potatoes and a box of rice. And the men who may have been responsible were armed with AR-15 rifles.
Kaylee Hartung is joining us now.
Kaylee, police arrested two men. What do we know about this?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, many more questions than answers as we see learn more about this story and see those truly shocking photos. One of men arrested Siraj Wahhaj. He's the father of the missing 3-year-old. The other man, Lucas Morten. You mentioned that both were armed with AR-15s. When police got to the scene they had amassed something of an arsenal, they had loaded 30- round magazines, four loaded pistols and many rounds of ammunition.
This arsenal in this makeshift compound, a small travel trailer they had buried in the ground and covered with plastic. No running water or electricity. Also in that compound, three women who have also been held by authorities, though it didn't seem like they were answering many questions. None of the five adults could give any answers as to what happened or where this 3-year-old could be.
Those women have since been released, while the two men are still in custody. Morten was charged with harboring a fugitive. Wahhaj, he's being booked with no bond because of the Georgia warrant out for his arrest for the abduction of his 3-year-old. Meanwhile, those 11 children, they are in the care of Child Protective Services. It's believed that those three women are mothers to those children. But again, those children being held.
It's one thing when you see those disturbing photos. Another when you hear the firsthand account from authorities who were there. The county sheriff, Ana, saying that it was the saddest living conditions and poverty he had ever seen.
CABRERA: Wow. And still this 3-year-old still missing.
Kaylee Hartung, thanks for that report.
Meanwhile, an update out of Las Vegas. Police have released their final investigative report on our country's deadliest shooting in modern times. And it seems we may never know why. More than 500 people were ruthlessly shot on the Las Vegas strip. Here is the sheriff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF JOE LOMBARDO, LAS VEGAS: What we have been able to answer are the questions of who, what, when, where, and how. What we have not been able to definitively answer is why Stephen Paddock committed this act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The Las Vegas massacre happened last October, nearly one year ago. The gunman opened fire on a crowded music concert from his hotel room up above in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. More than 500 people were shot, 58 of them died. Police say the shooter had 23 guns in his hotel room and he used something called a bump stock to make them fire like an automatic weapon. Since the shooting, still no changes to federal gun laws involving the legality of bump stocks.
Don't wait. That is the message from Hawaiian officials as a dangerous hurricane targets the island chain. This as a volcano is still pouring lava into neighborhoods. How this potential collision course could impact people living there, next.
But first, this week's "Before the Bell," here's CNN's Alison Kosik -- Alison.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Trade tensions could rattle the stock market this week. Investors are bracing for another round of U.S. tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese goods. That action could come in the days ahead. The Chinese have vowed to retaliate. And last week they amped up the threat. China announced plans to impose tariffs of 5 percent to 25 percent on $60 billion of U.S. imports.
On the economic front, investors are also watching for signs of inflation. Both the Producer Price Index and the Consumer Price Index are out this week. In June, wholesale inflation jumped to its six- year high. It wasn't tariff-related yet, but it will be interesting to see if tariffs add any inflationary pressure this time around.
[18:25:05] In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.
CABRERA: Two of Mother Nature's most destructive forces appear to be on a collision course in the Central Pacific basin. After three months of dodging lava and molten rocks spewing from the Kilauea volcano, Hawaiians now face a new threat -- Hurricane Hector. The Hawaiian islands are under alert for this category four storm as Hector turns towards them with maximum sustained winds and 130 miles an hour right now.
Let's get to meteorologist Tom Sater in the weather center for us.
Tom, do we know what would happen if a hurricane blew over an active volcano?
TOM SATER, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: You're scaring me, Ana. Easy. Now, actually --
CABRERA: It sounds ominous, doesn't it?
SATER: It does. It sounds horrific. Believe it or not, it happens more often than we think because of the Ring of Fire, thousands of volcanos around the Pacific, and it's a breeding ground for typhoons and tropical storm.
1991 in the Philippines, Mt. Pinatubo was erupting and a typhoon moved over it. The heavy rain hit the ash and created this debris flows, lahars, and it took almost 300 lives.
We're not going to have to worry about that, thank goodness, but Hector is a Category 4 hurricane. Tropical storm-force winds are going to move near the big island on Tuesday, but right now it looks as if it should stay about a hundred miles south of the islands, which is great news.
There will be winds so maybe there could be a problem with some of the toxins blowing across. We know the waves are going to get kind of high with this. I mean, if you get into the center of this, we're talking 20, 25-foot waves.
So, really, a good storm for surfers, but it does make you wonder, if it does get a little bit closer, could the winds blow some embers? Could we have new more fires? Could there be those lahars and the ash flows?
But I think we're going to be safe with this right now, thank goodness. I mean, we've had 14 storms come within 60 miles of the Hawaiian Islands. Only four have ever hit, two hurricanes and two tropical storms.
But, again, as we watch this, I don't think that's a big concern, but it does bear watching as the closer it closer. So we'll have that forecast in the days ahead.
CABRERA: And I hear Wednesday is the big day at this point.
CABRERA: It could be impacting Hawaii.
CABRERA: We also got word that, in Indonesia, there was a second deadly earthquake. What can you tell us about that?
SATER: The second major quake in a week. The first one, here's a picture of it, during the daylight hours. It was a 6.4 magnitude quake and took 17 lives.
This one is a little different. It was much stronger, 6.9, but it happened at night. In fact, at 7:46 p.m. when families were at home. They are in their homes together.
The death toll now is at 82. And most likely, the problem is some of those structures couldn't handle the fractures and the stress cracks that they received. So with the secondary quake, that's why most of the fatalities were from falling debris.
Ironic, this is right next to Bali. This is the quiet sister island. In 2012, they put a large runway in there, and their tourism exploded, 14 million, last year. But last week, with the quake, they had to rescue 600 hikers from Rinjani. That's the volcano at the top.
But both of these occurred right next to each other, and massive aftershocks continue, Ana. So, again, death toll is at 82. Power is out in some of these areas.
But now this is a larger one so this is considered the big quake. The one a week ago is considered a foreshot, not that it matters much.
SATER: But they didn't think they were going to have many fatalities. The USGS thought maybe one to 10, but it didn't take into account how fractured some of those homes were when they decided to tumble. Just terrible news.
CABRERA: No kidding, now more than 80 people killed.
Tom Sater, thank you for the update.
CABRERA: I want to take you to Florida now where a strange but natural phenomenon is killing marine life along a 100-mile stretch of coastline. This is called red tide, a raging toxic algae bloom that kills sea lives en masse and often turns the water red.
I mean, look at these images. Florida and Texas get red tides every year, but this year it is so bad that Florida Governor Rick Scott has issued an emergency order to combat it. Our Rosa Flores has details.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A toxic algae bloom is encroaching on the beaches and marine life of southwestern Florida, and it's being described as the longest running red tide outbreak since 2006.
So what is red tide? It's a harmful algae bloom. It happens when algae grows rapidly in the sea and in fresh water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on the inland side of Boca Grande now, and it doesn't get any more sad than this. You've got probably a thousand pounds of manatees here, decomposing.
FLORES (voice-over): The number of dead fish, manatees, and sea turtles continues to climb as the red tide outbreak extends along the coastline. It's also killing sharks and other marine life.
The toxins on the shoreline can cause itchy eyes, coughing, and respiratory problems in people who come in contact with the algae, and make some shellfish unsafe to eat. The smell is so strong, locals say, it's simply unbearable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's raining right now, and the stench is awful. Awful, awful, awful. Like, you can't breathe, you need a mask.
FLORES (voice-over): On Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott directed the state's environmental agency to give Lee County $700,000 to kill the algae and remove it from various areas in southwestern Florida. The money is part of an executive order issued last month.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I still get frustrated with the federal government, that they have not been a great partner. Because, hopefully, if -- you know, if they had funded all the projects they should have been funding like the state has been doing over the last seven and a half years, some of these things might not have happened.
FLORES (voice-over): How long will this last? Authorities say, in a case like this, which has already lasted more than nine months, it could go a year or more, making it very difficult to control.
[18:35:07] Rosa Flores, CNN, Miami.
CABRERA: To call it a wild ride may be an understatement. After all, the costumes, chrome, and the hum of Harleys. But what's on the minds of bikers at this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally? President Trump.
CNN's Bill Weir is there. Hey, Bill.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana. Yes, this is a fascinating glimpse into Trump's America.
In the age of all these wars with economic partners overseas, what do Trumpers -- bikers for Trump -- feel about it? Do they pledge their allegiance to the President or Harley-Davidson?
We'll get into that and so much more when we come back from Sturgis.
[18:40:22] CABRERA: What happens when 500,000 bikers get together for 10 days, descending on a small town for the world's largest motorcycle event? We're about to find out.
Happening right now, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Bikers from all around the globe making their annual pilgrimage to South Dakota, and CNN is there. My colleague Bill Weir is live tonight near Sturgis, South Dakota.
Bill, you are hanging out with a half million bikers, asking for their views on politics, including the President and more. What have you found?
WEIR: Yes. Well, it is a fascinating glimpse in this corner of Trump's America. And it's very much Trump's America.
There are some dissenting voices here as you're about to see, but they're pretty quiet. They're drowned out by the rumble of these pipes and the passion for this President. Take a look.
WEIR (voice-over): They rumble in from all points on the compass. And for one week each summer, this little town of 7,000 explodes to half a million.
WEIR (on camera): But this is one city that looks nothing like the rest of America. You can go hours without seeing a person of color are. In Sturgis, a minority is a White guy on a foreign bike.
WEIR (voice-over): There are no debates over gun control here or the ethics of the #MeToo movement. And there is no doubt who is the leader of this pack.
WEIR (on camera): Are you a fan of the President? You think he is doing a good job.
JOHN SANDS, POSTAL WORKER, LEXINGTON KENTUCKY: Of course, he's doing a lot better than Obama did.
WEIR (voice-over): This Ghost Rider reveals himself as John Sands, a postal worker who rides up from Kentucky each year. And like so many I talked to, he sees proof of Trump's brilliance in the booming economy.
ROD WOODRUFF, PRESIDENT AND CEO, STURGIS BUFFALO CHIP: What they'll tell you is, they'll say, you know, it's the Trump bump, the economy is so good, people are feeling so good.
WEIR (voice-over): Rod Woodruff is the owner of the sprawling Buffalo Chip, a Disneyland for bikers, and says his campers have an average income of $95,000 a year.
WOODRUFF: Seventy-five percent are homeowners in the United States.
WEIR (on camera): OK.
WOODRUFF: Lots of people own multiple motorcycles.
NYLA GRIFFITH, MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS, STURGIS BUFFALO CHIP: We have tattoo parlor up here. We've got food, pizza, anything you want at the free access crossroads.
WEIR (on camera): Very good.
WEIR (on camera): Do you have your own jail?
GRIFFITH: No. We don't need one.
WEIR (on camera): You don't need one, huh?
WEIR (voice-over): Violence and arrests are incredibly rare for a crowd of this size. One reason is that most folks share the same values. And those that don't keep it to themselves.
MICHAEL LICHTER, PHOTOGRAPHER: What I see here in motorcycling is a microcosm for the whole country. And I get the feeling sometimes that people that don't believe in what's going as right have become very quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think there's a lot of hypocrisy going on in the country now because I just feel like everybody wants freedom and they want rights, but god forbid somebody disagree with you because, then, you'll get your head bitten off.
WEIR (on camera): A couple of months back, the President aimed his Twitter and trade war guns at Harley-Davidson.
Even though they got a huge tax break, the company shut down a factory in Kansas City, laid off hundreds of workers, and said because of the tariffs, they'd have to start production in a new county overseas.
Which begs the question, is this the ultimate loyalty test for his base? Do these folks pledge allegiance to the President or Harley- Davidson?
MARK HALVERSON, BIKER, GREAT BEND, KANSAS: Hell, I'm going to have to, you know, go with what's going to make America better, you know. And if Harley wants to choose to go somewhere else, then I'll choose to buy different bikes.
JAMES BAKALICH, BIKER, LIGHTHOUSE POINT, FLORIDA: I personally love the man. I think he's doing a wonderful job.
WEIR (voice-over): Despite the President's disdain for my profession, they could not be nicer.
WEIR (on camera): Do I strike you as an enemy of the people?
BAKALICH: Not whatsoever.
WEIR (on camera): OK, good.
BAKALICH: And we're sure glad to have you here.
WEIR (voice-over): But it's obvious that no amount of earnest reporting will change their minds.
WEIR (on camera): Because if you look at Russia and the Mueller investigation, and there's a lot of red flags and dark clouds.
HALVERSON: Well, that's usually pretty loud politicians, but I wonder if they're picking on him because he is now on the outside. I mean, if you look at the Clintons, how come they can do things and no one else can?
WEIR (on camera): I mean, I'm old enough to remember when the base loved Harley-Davidson and hated Russia, and it seems like it's flipped a little bit.
BAKALICH: I don't think there's any reason for him to call them out or make them -- you know, we should try to be friendly with everyone. And if they don't want to be friends, then it's a whole another story.
WEIR (on camera): Even Vladimir Putin, even a dictator, a murder?
BAKALICH: Well, he met with Kim Jong-un as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're all fake news. We all know it.
WEIR (on camera): OK.
WEIR (on camera): Touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask our lawyers.
WEIR (on camera): Touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask our lawyers, baby. Donald J. Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't tell him.
WEIR (voice-over): Back downtown, our presence sparks a debate between some Fox News fans from Texas and Bonnie (ph) from Nebraska.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't know what they're talking about. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're un-American here. You're on the other side.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not true. I watch both.
WEIR (on camera): See?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I go either way.
WEIR (on camera): Which proves we now live in a media age where people can choose their own facts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a friend who is very much Fox, and I go, mm-hmm, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree with you, no problem. Everybody has their own opinion. It's like --
WEIR (on camera): That's true.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like assholes, everybody has one.
WEIR (on camera): As long as we don't start shooting at each other, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.
WEIR (voice-over): But then the heckling is interrupted by a hero falling from the sky. Sergeant Dana Bowman, an Army Golden Knight who lost both legs in a midair collision. He lands with old glory. And just for a moment, it feels like we are all in this together.
CABRERA: Well, hey, Bill, at least you are sparking conversation. You're creating an opportunity for different opinions to get out there.
I mean, I couldn't help but notice the CNN Facts First shirt you were wearing when you're amongst all these people. Was that just supposed to be like an icebreaker, or did you have people saying, hey, can I get one of those shirts?
WEIR: Well, I did. We had some of that. But no, I mean, this biker rally is really about flying your colors, you know, whether you ride an Indian or a Harley. And I was proud to represent the mothership, as it were, especially in this age.
And, yes, I did want to kind of test the perceptions. And I had -- the first guy who rented me my Harley there came up and said, are you from CNN? I said yes. He goes, tell Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper I think they're national heroes.
WEIR: But then I caught it from the other side as well. And it really speaks to how our information sources are part of the polarized nature of what's going on here.
And these folks love every tweet that comes from the President. The ones that send his detractors and the fact-checkers into a froth, they eat it up. So when you see those fervent supporters in the presidential approval rating, a lot of them are riding around here.
CABRERA: And, Bill, when you talk about the tweet, I can't help but think of LeBron James and that tweet this weekend and the racial divides and the way the President has played to his base on these culture war issues. Did that come up in discussion?
WEIR: Not really. And I want to make it clear that, you know, this place is -- South Dakota is 85 percent Caucasian. And most of the riders come from states where the diversity is about the same there as well.
And it may not be by design. I'd like to think that all these bikers are -- would be as warm and gracious to a reporter of color. I firmly believe that. But we are separated, both geographically, socially, economically.
And when you don't rub up against those ethnic groups that the President likes to demonize and find the humanity in them and connect with them and say, wait a minute, that's not right when it comes to African-Americans or Mexicans, it makes it that much easier for the country to go tribal.
CABRERA: Bill Weir, thank you.
We're back in a moment.
[18:52:15] CABRERA: Five people have died after a small plane crash in Orange County, California this afternoon. The Cessna crashed into a parking lot in Santa Ana near the shopping center there. Officials say it's a miracle no one was hurt on the ground.
The pilot was headed for John Wayne Airport a few miles away. It's still unclear what caused this crash. The NTSB is investigating.
It is a new era for American space travel. NASA has selected nine astronauts to become the first to launch to space from U.S. soil since the shuttle program ended in 2011. The seven men and two women all have military experience. They are
seasoned veterans of space. They will fly in capsules developed by SpaceX and Boeing and are slated to launch missions next year.
NASA ended the shuttle program seven years ago after 135 missions. Since it ended, NASA has paid Russia about $70 million per seat to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
If President Trump gets his way, another mandate put forth by his predecessor will come to a screeching halt. He's now taking aim at fuel economy standards and a push made by the previous administration to make cars and trucks more efficient.
CNN's Tom Foreman breaks it down for us. Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ana, the Obama administration had U.S. automakers driving toward a target. By 2025, they wanted the average mileage for light trucks and cars to be around 55 miles per gallon.
The Trump administration, however, says, no, let's stop at about the 2020, 2021 level and let's make that combined average closer to 36, 37 miles per gallon.
Now, this fulfills a Trump promise to cut back on government regulation which many businesses consider expensive and onerous. But it's more than this.
The Trump administration also wants to keep any states from enacting their own tougher standards for auto emissions as California and about a dozen other states have done.
They're saying at the federal level, look, this is no good because this forces automakers to comply with those levels because those states buy so many cars even though it's not a nationwide law. They want to say you can't do that anymore. We're going to have one standard for the whole country.
But some states out there aren't too happy. About 20 of them have jumped into a lawsuit here saying they're going to fight this attempt for this rollback of the rules from the Obama plan.
Why are they doing that? Simply because there's a lot of pressure in some of those states from citizens and certainly from conservation and environmental groups that say there's been a lot of progress in cleaning up the air in this country, even as the population grows.
And if these measures are put into place, it will be a step backward, Ana.
CABRERA: Tom Foreman, thank you.
[18:54:58] Tonight on CNN, when a comedian passes away, the impact is personal. But why? Find out what creates that connection and why it's always too soon to lose the laughter.
"HISTORY OF COMEDY: GONE TOO SOON" tonight at 10:00 only here on CNN.
CABRERA: Hello on this Sunday. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
And the script, cast flips once again. Today, President Trump making the most definitive acknowledgment yet that his son, Donald Trump, Jr., did meet with the Russians back in 2016, specifically to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
[19:00:00] Here is the President's statement -- this was a meeting to get information on an opponent. Totally legal and done all the time in politics. And it went nowhere. I did not know about it.