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Lane Drenches Hawaii Triggering Landslides & Mudslides; Cindy McCain: Family Overwhelmed by Outpouring of Love; Rep. Duncan Hunter Alludes to Wife's Misuse of Campaign Funds. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 25, 2018 - 17:00   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: We start with a visibly aggravated president, dealing with negative stories, legal entanglements and friends getting immunity from prosecutors.

Today, he's lashing out at the head of the Justice Department, again, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying that Sessions, quote, "doesn't understand what is happening underneath his command position." The president goes on to say, "highly conflicted Bob Mueller and his gang of 17 angry Dems are having a field day as real corruption goes untouched. No collusion."

The president also hammered the FBI for not doing enough, in his opinion, to investigate Hillary Clinton's emails. And here's the key quote. "At some point, I might have to get involved."

Joining us now is CNN Legal Analyst Michael Zeldin who served as special assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department, and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state and adviser to the Trump transition team.

Michael, let me start with you. Is the president publicly instructing the attorney general on how to redirect DOJ investigative resources, specifically away from Trump's inner circle onto people he sees at political adversaries? Is that your interpretation of those tweets?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it can be read that way. You know, the president has the prerogative to the set the priorities for the Justice Department. So, he is entitled, in some respect, to set those priorities.

But, really, this seems more directed at Session's failure to control Mueller. And that's something the president has no control over, short of firing Mueller, and Sessions is recused from.

So, these are really rants against Sessions, almost, you know, inexplicably because the president can fire Sessions if he wants to. Theoretically, he can fire Mueller. He has it within his power to do so. So, you know, in some sense, put up or shut up. Either move the way you want to move or stop, you know, this complaining.

CABRERA: Ken, what's your take? How do you make sense of the president's comments?

KEN BLACKWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, OHIO: Look, there has been no one more successful than Jeff Sessions in moving the president's agenda, whether it's religious liberty or immigration or reining in uncontrolled legislation on capital formation.

Look, but at the -- at the end of the day, Jeff Sessions has been fighting against some pretty strong political head winds. So, I think -- I think the president is probably between a rock and hard place, because Michael skipped over Rubenstein. Rubenstein has control --

CABRERA: No, Rosenstein. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

BLACKWELL: That's right. Excuse me, Rosenstein. Rosenstein has the authority over Mueller.


BLACKWELL: But he, in fact, is not acting. If the president wanted to fire Rosenstein, Sessions, then who runs the Justice Department? There is a prescribed order and it has to be somebody in a confirmable position. And that hands over the whole state -- excuse me, the whole A.G.'s operation, the Justice Department, to the deep state or the administrative state. And that would cause more headaches than not. This is about --

ZELDIN: Actually that --

BLACKWELL: -- this is about an agenda.

ZELDIN: -- actually, that's not correct. Because the succession order goes from the attorney general to the deputy attorney general.


ZELDIN: To the associate attorney general, also a politically appointed position, to the solicitor general, also a politically appointed position. So, in order for you to get to career people running the Department of Justice, you got to fire six or eight people.

BLACKWELL: Who is in the third position? Michael, who is in that third position right now?

ZELDIN: The associate attorney general. I don't know who --

BLACKWELL: It is nobody. Nobody is there. And why would you turn --


CABRERA: Well, hold on just a second, guys. Hold on just a second, guys. Because let me ask you --

BLACKWELL: Why would -- why would you go turn around and race over to the solicitor general when he's running -- he's running your defense?

CABRERA: -- let me ask you, though -- what I'm hearing you say, though, is this really is all about the Russia investigation. And the president doesn't like that Jeff Sessions doesn't have control of the Russia investigation. He wants somebody who is completely loyal to him personally to be in charge because the Russia investigation has to do with his political campaign. Is that I'm hearing you say?

BLACKWELL: No, the president is not going to get rid of Jeff Sessions. At the end of the day, his agenda is larger than Mueller's investigation. The Mueller investigation is a frustration.

But, look, this president is a fighter. And so, he is not going to follow the traditional path. He is going to push back. He is going to push back verbally. He is going to engage in the public arena. And that, sort of, frustrates, you know, folks who are used to regular order. It is not the regular order.

Well, but the problem is that he has created a mess for himself, which is all these railings against Sessions for failing to rein in Mueller and the threat that he's going to fire him, because of his failure to rein in Mueller, creates a situation for him that if he does do that then he will start being looked at for obstructionist or abuse of power behavior.

[17:05:21] He's made a terrible bed for himself. If he had kept quiet, he could have exercised his constitutional prerogatives to fire people that he has the right to fire and put somebody else in that position. But he's created a mess for himself, where he now politically really can't extricate himself from it without raising problems for himself legally.

CABRERA: Before you respond, Ken.


CABRERA: I want to play some comments that Trump made that started this open war of words. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He took the job and then he said, I'm going to recuse myself. I said, what kind of a man is this? And, by the way, he was on the campaign. You know, the only reason I gave him the job, because I felt loyalty. He was an original supporter. He was on the campaign.


CABRERA: Ken, remember James Comey had claimed the president asked for a loyalty pledge. Do the president's comments on Sessions we just heard give Comey now more credibility?

BLACKWELL: I don't think so. Look, the president is the Mohamed Ali of presidential politics. You know, they talked about Ali and his lift. The president will beat you with words. He will force you into a corner. He's always trying to make his opponents react to him.

Yes, he does turn the page when he wants to turn the page. And he's been successful in doing it. And don't think he's going to stop. He's not going to stop doing it no matter how many times that causes some of us to wring our hands, stomp our feet, wave our -- wave our arms. This is his style.

Look, I'm from Cincinnati, and Mark Twain said if he heard the world was ending, he would get to Cincinnati as fast as he could because things happen there 10 years after they happen in the rest of the world. Well, he is a New Yorker. The president's a New Yorker and they talk about a New York minute. He, in fact, deals with things that are fast paced. And he, in fact, --


BLACKWELL: -- likes to be in control and he does it by, in fact, controlling the conversation and the narratives. And he is pretty good at it.

CABRERA: I hear what you're saying but I'm not so sure you answered my question about how that comment could actually play into and, in fact, boost what Comey has said about how the president --

BLACKWELL: No, I think -- no, I think Comey --

CABRERA: -- in his words, asking for loyalty.

BLACKWELL: -- I think Comey's record, in total, speaks for itself. I don't think the president has to say anything else about Comey. And Comey will, in fact, go under of his own weight.

CABRERA: Michael, you had something?

ZELDIN: Well, I wanted to say that the president is just flat out wrong about the time line as it relates to Sessions. He says, repeatedly, if Sessions had told me he was going to recuse himself, I would have appointed -- I would not have appointed him.

But, of course, he was appointed Sessions -- he was sworn in on February 9th. On February 9th, there was no ongoing investigation of the president from which Sessions would have had to have recused himself. It wasn't until after the fact that it became clear that there was an investigation.

And then, under DOJ guidelines, because Sessions was part of the complaint, he had to recuse himself. So, it's just flat out wrong what the president is saying as a matter of the Sessions recusal, the time line.

And what really is at play here is a desire, as the president said himself, to have his own Roy Cohen in charge of his investigation to make it go away. And that's what's going to get him in trouble from an abuse of power or obstruction standpoint if he continues this behavior.

CABRERA: Michael Zeldin, Ken Blackwell, got to leave it there, guys. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, good to see you all.

CABRERA: You both, really appreciate you weighing in. And now, a CNN exclusive. A former Trump employee may soon be airing his claims about President Trump's past. The ex-doorman at Trump World Tower now released from a contract with the parent company of "The National Enquirer."

The doorman claims he has knowledge of a secret relationship years ago between Trump and a former housekeeper that the doorman says resulted in a child. The contract had prevented him from talking about the claims. Exactly why he is allowed to talk about it now isn't clear.

But let's get right to CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood standing by outside the White House. And Sarah, CNN obtained a copy of this contract which we just put up. What more can you tell us?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Ana, obviously, this contract represents another legal setback for a president who has endured several already this week. We're learning that Trump's former doorman was paid $30,000 in exchange for his silence over what he claimed to know of an affair Trump had with a former housekeeper years ago. The doorman claims that relationship produced a child.

[17:10:00] Now, American Media, Inc, AMI, that's the parent company of "The National Enquirer," would have collected $1 million from this doorman if he breached the confidentiality agreement while it was still in effect. It was signed in November 2015. That was several months after Trump launched his presidential campaign.

And While we don't know exactly why the doorman was released from his confidentiality agreement now, we know that it comes as David Pecker, the chairman of AMI, is under scrutiny from investigators. He was granted immunity to speak to authorities about several transactions involving women during the 2016 race who had damaging stories to tell about President Trump.

They, too, like this doorman, entered into what's called the catch and kill agreements with AMI, where they would pay for rights to their stories in exchange for their silence. The doorman episode obviously raises more questions about just how many people Trump and AMI did pay off during the presidential race -- Ana.

CABRERA: Any response from the White House or the president on this?

WESTWOOD: Ana, the White House, so far, not answering any questions about this doorman agreement. They've been very careful to stay away from the issues related to AMI, related to these women, trying to put it out on outside counsel. We're not getting a lot of clarity about President Trump's conflicting statements as to how much he knew of these deals and when.

CABRERA: Sarah Westwood at the White House. Thank you.

The legal walls are starting to close in around Donald Trump after a pair of immunity deals and a guilty plea from those in his inner circle. What this means for the president.

Plus, Verizon under fire after the company slowed its wireless data speeds for crews battling the largest wildfire in California history to a crawl. It was so bad, in fact, much of their high-tech tracking equipment was totally useless.

And later, for better or worse, embattled Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter now pointing fingers at his wife. Why he says she is solely to blame for allegedly misusing a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds.

You are live in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: Legal woes involving President Trump's inner circle are piling up. Guilty verdicts for a former campaign manager, a guilty plea from his former lawyer, immunity given to a few members of his inner circle in exchange for testimony.

Joining us now, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo! News, Michael Isikoff. In 1998, he broke the story of President Clinton's affair with then White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. He is also the co-author of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump."

Michael, so much to talk about here. First, I want to get into the parallels between the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal and President Trump's alleged hush-money payments to two women who alleged sexual relationships. The Lewinsky scandal ultimately got the president impeached. Could President Trump face the same outcome?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, there are certain parallels. And it is interesting. I mean, look, at the end of the day, a Republican House impeached Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstructing justice in a sexual harassment lawsuit, because he denied falsely his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

In this case, we don't yet know the full level of President Trump's culpability. The most significant development, in my mind, is when Michael Cohen got up in court and said he made those hush money -- hush-money payments, which he acknowledged were for the purpose of influencing the election, at the direction of Donald Trump.

What we don't know is the assistant U.S. Attorney, present at the -- at that guilty plea, made reference to multiple tapes, text messages, emails, recordings. We don't know the degree to which those -- that evidence will back up what Michael Cohen said in court. Is this going to rely solely on Michael Cohen's testimony or is there evidentiary material that will corroborate it? And also, of course, we now have the immunity given to the accountant, Allen Weisselberg, another potential witness.


ISSAKOFP: So, I think that, you know, the important point that is probably worth making is that if the evidence does implicate the president, it will be about seeking to conceal a sexual relationship, much as Bill Clinton was impeached for concealing a sexual relationship.

Back 20 years ago, when I was reporting on all this, Republicans thought that was deserving of impeachment. And Democrats, including some who are in key positions today, especially if the Democrats get back control of the House, argued that concealing a sexual -- a consensual sexual relationship did not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanor.

So, it does --


ISIKOFF: -- put Democrats in a little bit of an awkward position, if they try to move for impeachment on just this matter.

CABRERA: Well, and I want to ask you a little bit more about, kind of, the political maneuvering and strategy on this, because it could lead to some tricky territory for members of both parties. And I want you to listen to Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler, speaking out from the House floor against impeaching president Clinton back in 1998.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Perjury on a private matter, perjury regarding sex is not a great and dangerous offense against the nation. It is not an abuse of uniquely presidential power. It does not threaten our form of government. It is not an impeachable offense.


[17:20:10] CABRERA: So, how do you see this playing out realistically?

ISIKOFF: Exactly what I was referring to. Now, and especially because Gerald Nadler is poised to be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, if the Democrats get back control of the House, and would be the key figure in moving articles of impeachment if the Democrats go that route.

Now, you know, one pushback to that, saying it's not -- it would not be pure hypocrisy for Nadler to now push for impeachment is that the campaign finance violation that Cohen has pled guilty to was about influencing an election. And, therefore, by making these hush-money payments, the Trump campaign, Cohen and possibly Trump himself, denied voters information that was relevant to the -- his election as president. That is an argument.

But I suspect that if the Democrats are going to move for impeachment, and there will be enormous pressure to do so if they get control of the House, they'll want other articles, particularly --


ISIKOFF: -- the Russia matter.

CABRERA: Well, and that's --

ISIKOFF: And they're not going to want to rely just on this matter.

CABRERA: So, that's where I wanted to go next because --


CABRERA: -- that's the bottom line here is that --


CABRERA: -- this is all what we've learned this week. And we're talking about what does it mean for this president based on what we know at this time. But the Mueller investigation continues. We don't know if there is going to be any criminality that he finds involving the president directly.

But when it pertains to what we know of Michael Cohen, his guilty plea this week his accusation that President Trump asked for the money to be paid to the women. And those are big headlines. You had a conversation, I understand, with Cohen's attorney this week. And he suggested that Cohen may have testimony, potentially, damaging to the president in the Russia election interference probe, regarding the hacking of emails, right? Tell us about it.

ISIKOFF: Exactly. That was in our Skullduggery podcast that my colleague -- who my colleague, Dan Klaidman, and I have every week. And we grilled Lanny Davis quite closely on this matter. Davis would not say exactly what information that Michael Cohen has that's relevant to the Russia inquiry. Just that he has information about prior knowledge of the president's -- by President Trump about the Russian hacking.

But it's worth noting that Michael Cohen has already testified to the Senate. And in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony, he said, quite flatly, he had not -- no information, not a hint of anything, those were Michael Cohen's words, of Donald Trump of having knowledge of -- that amounted to Russian collusion. Now, that was Michael Cohen back in September of last year, before he flipped. Before he agreed to coop -- offered to cooperate.

So, -- but the important thing is he.

CABRERA: It wasn't a cooperation deal that he made. It was -- the plea deal was not a cooperation deal is our understanding.

ISIKOFF: Right. Well, Lanny Davis is beseeching Robert Mueller for a cooperation deal. He's literally asking, on every T.V. interview, for his client to be interviewed here.

But I think my point is that Michael Cohen may well have to cop to another felony, lying to the Congress, if he really does have substantial new information about what President Trump knew at the time. And that is -- you know, would expose him to further legal jeopardy.

CABRERA: Again, your book, "Russian Roulette." I got it right this time. "The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump." Michael Isikoff, thank you very much for joining us.

ISIKOFF: Thank you.

CABRERA: For people in Hawaii, the worst may be yet to come. As now, Tropical Storm Lane lashes the Hawaiian Islands, dumping just a ton of rain. We'll go live to Honolulu where flooding and landslides remain a major threat.

But first, coming this Labor Day, a CNN special event, the television premiere of RBG, as we look at the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

We are also examining how the experience of all American women has dramatically changed over the years. Today, how equality in marriage has evolved.




CABRERA: Welcome back. Hurricane Lane may have been downgraded to a tropical storm, but its thrashing winds and relentless rain are still pounding the Hawaiian Islands. Lane dumped up to 40 inches of rain, triggering landslides and mudslides in areas that have been drenched. Residents are told to remain vigilant as the catastrophic rainfall remains a risk.

Take a look at this torrential flooding in Hilo. The woman who shot in video tells CNN that the water in this creek doesn't usually run at all without lots of rain.

CNN's Miguel Marquez joins now in Honolulu.

Miguel, what are the conditions like there now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have improved dramatically because Lane has taken a sharp westward turn and is moving away from the islands. The good news and breaking news is that all of the watches and warnings across the state have been cancelled.

But the problem is still some lingering rain in places like the big island and, in particular, the areas that in the last couple of months have dealt with lava, now dealing with massive amounts of water.

I want to bring in Karl Lee, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

You guys prepositioned here. You have teams going to the big island, search-and-rescue teams to the big island. Why is that important right now?

KARL LEE, INCIDENT SUPPORT TEAM MEMBER, HAWAII FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: The local responders are requesting our services in that area. We have two teams mobilizing now to go to the island to help in whatever capacity they need.

MARQUEZ: What sort of conditions, what sort of rescues might you be affecting there? We have seen the pictures of the topography, really lends itself to the dramatic flows in streams. What are you guys facing?

LEE: We have swift water teams, boat teams that will go into the area to assist with evacuations if necessary and respond to individuals on the different locations.

MARQUEZ: And Hawaii, obviously, an island. It's far away from the continental U.S. You guys were here before any of this started. It's kind of dodged a bullet here.

LEE: Right.

MARQUEZ: But how important is it to take these storms as seriously as you did?

LEE: Absolutely. Prepositioning assets, again, being on the island very difficult to traverse from the islands. Air frames required to move assets and personnel. Preposition is always key to being where we need to be prior to landfall.

MARQUEZ: This is something you guys did on Puerto Rico as well. You personally were in Puerto Rico as well. That was a bigger storm, more devastating and more difficult. Were there lessons learned there? Did you learn something there you applied here?

LEE: Absolutely. Every emergency, we learn more and we advance our knowledge of the topography and things like that we can again preposition the assets that are required to make sure we have them in place.

MIQUEL: All right, sir, thank you very much. I know you're busy. I really appreciate it.

That storm is now threatening some rain in Keaau. It will be about 130 miles south of there by tomorrow. But at this point, it looks like the state of Hawaii has, for the most part, dodged a bullet -- Ana?

CABRERA: Fingers crossed.

Thank you, Miguel Marquez.

Moments ago, Pope Francis wrapping up a speech in Dublin at the annual Festival of Families. Earlier today, he met with survivors of child sexual abuse. But in the wake of another large-scale church scandal, was this enough?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're at the North Fork Championship. It's the hardest whitewater course in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you meet whatever imposes a lot of risks and a lot of unknowns for us as kayakers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are racing in a really hard river. I was really nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's certainly aggressive. It can be violent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were to break a paddle, it is super dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes the waves crash and you find yourself on your head and just try to roll up. Hopefully, you haven't hit a rock by then.

GUPTA: No risk, no reward.

Set in the rapids of Idaho's Payette River, the North Fork Championship is one of the world's most premier kayak competitions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the world's best kayakers are here. Olympians now are here, which we have always wanted, but not winning every round, so it is cool to see other athletes doing well against the fastest-known people in the world.

GUPTA: A select group of 30 athletes race a section of the river known as Jacob's Ladder, an expert-level class-five rapid. The fastest time wins. And the race begins with one big drop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For a lot of people, the ramp looks really intimidating. Once you are out there, there's no turning back. You are off an eight-foot ramp.

GUPTA: If the rapids weren't hard enough, racers have to paddle through a set course, forcing them to make difficult moves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to go on either side of the gate, or go around it, coming back upstream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They make you go to places you would never go. And it's complicated, there's rocks, the water is moving really fast, so any mistake you do, you can crash really bad.

GUPTA: And if riders accidentally hit a gate, they're penalized with time added to their run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've lost the race in the past because of that. I would have had the fastest time but hit a gate and got a five-second penalty. GUPTA: This year, a man from Spain came out on top of the world-class

field at one minute, 49 seconds.

[17:35:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you win, you get a crown. You're kind of the North Fork championship and bragging rights. This is the event that every kayaker wants to win. It is unbelievably exhilarating.



[17:39:52] CABRERA: The telecommunications giant, Verizon, taking heat for deliberately slowing down service speeds to firefighters battling the largest wildfire in California history. Those fire crews were putting their lives on the line during the Mendocino Complex Fire. And Verizon apparently throttled their service to below dial-up speeds. The Santa Clara County Fire Department filing a lawsuit against Verizon is beyond outraged. The department says it severely hampered their ability to run crisis response and evacuation plans.


CAPT. BILLY MURPHY, SANTA CLARA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: The speed that our plan would have allowed was reduced to 1/200th of the speed of the full speech of that Internet connection.

JAMES WILLIAMS, SANTA CLARA COUNTY COUNSEL: It was below dial up, putting them back 20, 30 years in Internet access really.


CABRERA: When the fire department first complained to Verizon, the company responded by telling them to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Verizon is now apologizing, vowing unlimited data for California's first responders.

In Ireland, it's the first visit by the pope in four decades. And it comes in the middle of a major scandal over child sexual abuse in the church. More than 70,000 people greeted Pope Francis as he entered a Dublin stadium for the World Festival of Families. Performers from India, Canada, Iraq, Ireland and Burkina Faso danced, sang. They gave testimony. The pope met privately earlier with newly married couples and homeless families. He also spent about 90 minutes meeting with eight victims of sexual abuse by priests. The pope spoke earlier of the shame over the appalling crimes, as he called them, against children by leaders in the church. But he didn't mention the issue during his speech, during the Festival of Families.

The announcement hit hard. Senator John McCain has decided to halt treatment for brain cancer while he has been battling this disease for a year. There has been a flood of prayers and tributes on social media since the McCains made this difficult decision public.

McCain's wife, Cindy, tweeting earlier today, "The entire McCain family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from around the world."

CNN's Stephanie Elam joins us from Sedona, Arizona, where McCain lives.

Stephanie, what are you hearing?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No doubt, it's a difficult time for this family as they rally around the Senator. We have seen people coming out here, dropping off flowers. One man leaving a sign thanking the Senator for his service. And all of this happening days before his birthday.

And obviously, there's been time to reflect. We know he has been battling brain cancer for over a year. There's been time to reflect on his legacy. But the best way to think about that is listen to the Senator in his own words. Listen to what he said to CNN's Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: My last question for you, and I hope I don't run this clip for another 50 years. But how do you want the American people to remember you?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: He served his country, and not always right. Made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors, but served his country. And I hope we could add, honorably.


ELAM: A humble response for a man who, no doubt, is a war hero. Obviously, he is an icon from this state of Arizona where he was elected six times to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate.

So a lot of outpouring and love for the Senator here and his family as well as they deal with very difficult time.

CABRERA: Stephanie Elam, thank you.

Some call it too little too late. Ohio State University head football coach, Urban Meyer, finally apologizing to the ex-wife and children of recently fired assistant coach, Zach Smith. What he had to say, next.

But first, not being able to speak English can hinder immigrants from moving up the ladder at work, accessing medical care, and fully integrating into society. This week's "CNN Hero," Florence Phillips, provides a vital tool to help them overcome challenges and get a step closer to achieving the American dream.


FLORENCE PHILLIPS, CNN HERO: It's the immigrants that made the United States. It was the immigrants that came here to have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of doing whatever they wanted to do. And they're the ones that made this country. We are giving them the key -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on in.

PHILLIPS: -- to unlock all doors. And I see the pride when they say, I am an American.


[17:44:38] CABRERA: To learn more about this story or to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," log onto

We'll be right back.


[17:49:50] CABRERA: We have an update now on a crash involving a passenger train and a dump truck. This is in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Police say it appears the truck tried to cross the track, even though the barrier was down. The two people in the truck were killed. We are told more than a dozen passengers on the train were taken to local hospitals, but police say none of the injuries appear to be life threatening.

Ohio State head football coach, Urban Meyer, has tweeted an apology to the ex-wife and children of his ex-coach. He was suspended for three games without pay over how he responded to allegations of domestic abuse. He's been fired. In a news conference announcing the suspension, he said he regretted the impact on the school, but never mentioned Smith's wife. After criticism, he tweeted this: "Let me say here and now, I sincerely apologize to Courtney Smith and her children for what they have gone through."

The scandal surrounding a Republican Congressman, who allegedly misused a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds, is getting stranger. Represent Duncan Hunter appears to be blaming his wife, saying she was his campaign manager and she handled all of his finances. Hunter and his wife pleaded not guilty on Thursday to numerous charges, including wire fraud, falsification of records, and prohibited use of campaign contributions.

CNN's Sara Sidner has the latest.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Representative Hunter clearly trying to push some of his financial woes onto his wife, but investigators very clear in saying that it is the both of them they are accusing of steeling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign funds.


SIDNER (voice-over): Instead of the halls of Congress, Representative Duncan Hunter entered the halls of justice in San Diego. He and his wife making their first court appearance after being indicted by a federal grand jury. They're accused of stealing more than $250,000 of campaign funds to furnish a lavish lifestyle, including a $14,000 family trip to Italy, $11,000 at Costco, $3,000 on fast food, and hundreds of dollars on clothing, some of which, prosecutors say, they tried to pawn off as charity for wounded veterans.

Both remained defiant, pleading not guilty to the 60 counts against them.

The day before court, Representative Hunter went on the attack against the Justice Department.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R), CALIFORNIA: I paid the money back. This is political. Period.

SIDNER: That is also what he told a crowd at a town hall back in 2017.

HUNTER: What I am is a representative to you. And the campaign finance stunt -- I was not watching it close enough. I have fixed it now. I have fixed it now. It's all straightened out.

SIDNER: A grand jury didn't see it that way.

Prosecutors say even his campaign staffers kept warning the couple they were violating the law.

The assistant U.S. attorney said the couple wasn't a flight risk due, in part, to their dire financial condition. Prosecutors noting that Hunter racked up $37,000 in overdraft fees on his personal accounts.

Hunter as much as admitting his family is going through financial troubles.

HUNTER: There's nothing illegal about being poor. I don't think there's anything illegal about not having money in your bank account.

SIDNER: But there's something illegal about using campaign funds to shore up personal finances. And as a congressman, he's paid $174,000 out of tax coffers. Few would call that poor.


SIDNER: Outside the court, Democratic voters made clear they are sickened at the charges and they're gunning for a seat.

His Democratic opponent, businessman, Ammar Campa-Najjar, says he commends Hunter as a former Marine who served his country abroad, but he says Hunter appears to have served himself during his time in Washington.

ANNAR CAMPA-NAJJAR, (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I think Washington chewed him up and spat him out and engulfed him in the corruption that has plagued Washington for too long. And I think the voters, come November, are going to change that and hope to have some representation for the first time in a long time.

SIDNER (on camera): And when it comes to the midterms, Rep. Duncan Hunter's name will be on the ballot as the Republican running for his seat, because it is too late to remove his name and put someone else's in there. When it comes to that seat, though, Democrats clearly vying to try and flip it.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.


CABRERA: Now, Congressman Hunter is not the only early Trump supporter engulfed in scandal. Fellow House Republican Chris Collins, of New York, also threw his weight behind Trump early in the campaign. He is now battling insider trading charges.

Earlier, I spoke to CNN's S.E. Cupp, host of the new show, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED," about what these controversies means for both Republicans and Democrats. Watch.


[17:54:50] S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED": You are the company that you keep in many cases. Look, I don't think there's any coincidence that a lot of these people were drawn to Trump and come out early. And it was a risk at the time to come out early as a congressional member and support Trump, and they did. And I don't think it's a coincidence that you're starting to see some of these scandals finally come to light.

Duncan Hunter has been investigated for going on two years now. This didn't just happen overnight. By the way, it has nothing to do with the deep state. The attorney general investigating Duncan Hunter is a Trump appointee.

But, you know, you have to wonder what Democrats are going to do with all of this. If you remember back in 2006, painting Republicans as having a culture of corruption, it was very successful. Will they do that now? Or will they decide, no, no, we still want to run on policy. We still want to run on health care and an agenda. This kind of stuff is too good to pass up.


CABRERA: The premier of her new CNN show, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED," is next, right here on CNN.

I'm Ana Cabrera. I'll see you one hour from now live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.