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Obama and Trump Face-Off on Campaign Trail As Midterms Loom; Obama Says Trump is a "Symptom" Not a Because;" Trump Response to Obama's Rebuke: I Fell Asleep; Trump - AG Jeff Sessions Should Investigate Op-Ed Writer; TS Florence Intensifies Will Become Hurricane in 12 Hours; Melania Trump Calls Out Author of NYT Op-ed; Trump Demands NYT Reveal Identity of Op-ed Author; U.S. Officials and Venezuelan Rebel Military Officers Talk About Possible Coup; Dallas Cop Who Killed Neighbor to be Charged. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired September 8, 2018 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: ... silence and in just a few hours Obama will take center stage for round two, this time at a rally in California.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom not the cause.


OBAMA: He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, they're undermining our alliances, cozying up to Russia; what happened to the Republican Party?





TRUMP: I found he's very good, very good for sleeping.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House right now.

So Trump claims Obama's speech put him to sleep but we know it's keeping him awake, you know, who was at the center of this op-ed so how is the White House going about trying to find this person?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well the effort is still underway at the White House to root out the senior administration official who penned this op-ed in "The New York Times" which really doesn't portray the president in a positive light. It portrays the president is somebody who makes reckless decisions, whose impulses must be constantly checked by the advisors around him. And the White House is still trying to figure out who this person is.

A source close to the White House telling CNN the list has been whittled down to just a few people but one senior administration official who has already denied writing the op-ed is now out with a rebuttal and that is Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

She writes in an op-ed this morning in "The Washington Post," "I too am a senior Trump administration official." She goes on to say, "if I disagree with something and believe it is important enough to raise with the president, I do it and he listens. Sometimes he changes course, sometimes he doesn't, that's the way the system should work. And the American people should be comfortable knowing that's the way the system does work in this administration."

What's more, she says, "by throwing gas on the fire of endless distractions, the author and the frenzied media reaction to the op-ed have hurt all of us trying to do our jobs for the country."

And that is Nikki Haley who we know has at times broken with President Trump on policy particularly when it comes to her forceful position with regards to Russia but here she is saying look if I disagree with the president, I raise it with him in person.

But we know the president is still obsessed with this notion of figuring out who this synonymous administration official is. In fact, yesterday he said he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch an investigation to uncover the identity of this official, despite the fact that the president has not identified any crime that have been committed, that's typically required for the Justice Department to get involved.

"The New York Times" did respond to the president's suggestion of a possible investigation. They say, "We're confident that the Department of Justice understand that the First Amendment protects all American citizens and that it would not participate in such a blatant abuse of government power."

Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond. Thanks so much at the White House. Appreciate it.

So as President Trump intensifies his search for this anonymous writer of that "New York Times"" op-ed he now wants the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch an investigation to find the author.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I would say that Jeff should be investigating the author of that piece was because I really believe its national security.


WHITFIELD: All right to talk about all this with me now is Shermichael SINGLETON, a Republican Strategist; Jack Kingston a CNN Political Commentator a Former Advisor to the Trump Campaign, and Greg Brower a former U.S. Attorney. Good to see all of you.

(UNKNOWN): Good to be here.

(UNKNOWN): Good morning.

WHITFIELD: So Greg you first, you know, do you see anything in this op-ed that would warrant an investigation by the U.S. Attorney General, were there any crimes committed here?

GREG BROWER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: On the face of it Fred, no. There doesn't seem to be any indication that the writing and the publication of the op-ed was in any way criminal.

I have to believe that the DOJ, based upon my experience, DOJ is likely simply ignoring the comments by the president. It will be interesting to see if the present continues to talk about a DOJ investigation.

And I guess what will be more interesting is to see whether or not General Kelly or Don McGahn or someone else in the White House actually calls over the DOJ and formally asked for an investigation but I have to believe that at this point DOJ is simply ignoring it.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So you preface it by saying on the face of it so you're saying that potentially there could be an area?

BROWER: Well I just don't see it. I -- I've read it every which way and I can't imagine how DOJ might see any evidence of a crime there so no, I just -- I can't believe this will actually ever turn into an actual criminal investigation.

Whitfield. OK. So it is clear however that you know, the hunt for this writer is all-consuming for the White House.

And this is how Senator Lindsey Graham put it -- put it.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I've (inaudible) much, yes, yes, absolutely.

Well he's pissed off, he feels betrayed and I don't blame him.


WHITFIELD: So Shermichael, you know, feeling betrayed, he doesn't necessarily blame him, you know, is that enough to precipitate trying to get the attorney general engaged here, involved, snuffing out, whoever may be responsible for this op-ed?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right, no, I'm not sure Fred, that the ends justify the means here but I do think that said individuals should be found and they need to let that person go.

I think it's extremely to have individuals within the White House essentially undermining the president. That is not...

WHITFIELD: What's the...

SINGLETON: ... the way...

WHITFIELD: ... troubling part...

SINGLETON: ... our system...

WHITFIELD: ... if someone would feel that way or the troubling part is that they would write the op-ed, make it public?

SINGLETON: ... Well, no, no, it's -- it's OK to have dissent I think within any organization but I think if what they are alleging in that article is true and it's that severe, then they should resign publicly and bring those things to the American people so that we can all have the dialogue about what our next step should be as a nation.

But to essentially undermine the president by taking documents off of his desks et cetera, I am just not certain that is the best way to move forward here.

And I think you've seen President Obama talk about this and others on all sides, pretty much agree at least on this, that it's not the way our democracy works by undermining the president even if you disagree with some of his worst instincts, resign and bring those things to the public fold, so that we can have that public dialogue.

WHITFIELD: So Kellyanne Conway told CNN that she believes the writer is someone in National Security and not in the White House and believe that the person will likely out themselves, this is her sentiment.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I'm not interested in investigation. I guess those who are investigating, great. I really hope they find the person. I believe the person will snuff (ph) himself or herself out, that will be because that's usually what happens, people brag to the wrong person. They brag that they did this or they did that because they -- I assume part of this, isn't the goal here not with the op-ed, pretends the goal is (inaudible).

Isn't the goal here really to try to sow chaos and get us all suspicious of each other, and (inaudible) the president...

(UNKNOWN): Is that what's...

CONWAY: ... (inaudible).

(UNKNOWN): ... happening, (inaudible) games?

CONWAY: No. They (inaudible).


Whitfield X

But Jack, and then what? You know, if the person out themselves, if they brag, or if someone is to find that person out isn't the issue or an issue that there is some real common denominator to this sentiment in the op-ed?

You see it you know, in books that have been written, in Bob Woodward's book that's coming out that really describe this White House, this president as being impulsive, and potentially reckless?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR A FORMER ADVISOR TO THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well Fred, I think that the consensus is among the left of certainly the people I know and work with -- in the White House don't feel that way at all...

WHITFIELD: But those people, quoted even with Bob Woodward, it's not a left or right it's -- and it's certainly not a (inaudible). These are people who were in there, who were being quoted as expressing the same kind of sentiment.


KINGSTON: Well, I mean...

WHITFIELD: ... they're...

KINGSTON: ... remember...

WHITFIELD: ... collectively on the right.

KINGSTON: ... Bob Woodward has made a career out of quoting Mr. Anonymous in this town.

Ronald Reagan actually called him a liar, which Reagan never did.

Barack Obama said he is willfully uses -- willfully wrong information.

President Clinton, President Bush, both Bushs, they've all criticized Bob Woodward from having a real loose relationship with the truth, when it comes -- again to his beloved character Mr. Anonymous.

WHITFIELD: But this -- the question and the issue is about the common thread of the complaint of being impulsive and reckless...

KINGSTON: Well, let's...

WHITFIELD: ... and you hear that, you read that in in this op-ed and then we're also seeing that expressed sentiment in books...

KINGSTON: ... well you know...

WHITFIELD: ... that have been written about inside the White House.

KINGSTON: ... well let me say this...

WHITFIELD: So what about addressing that, is really the question?

KINGSTON: ... Well this cowardly peep-squeak who is probably not really a senior staffer to begin with and is probably just somebody who is a wannabe and it could be a staff turf-battle for all we know.

As seen lots of those in Washington where people you know, take to tactics like this but if they really were a serious person, if this person was a patriot, if this person was an adult, he or she would step forward and say, "look I was there when the president did some irrational act. We've got to invoke the 25th Amendment immediately, it's a matter of National Security. I took an oath not to the country but to the Constitution."

But they're not going to do that because the case is not there. I can tell you they would be a hero if they could say, "I saw the president do something wild, weird, and wacky."

But they're not going to do it because that's not the -- that's not what has happened.

WHITFIELD: So I wonder Greg, you know, is this op-ed or those who decided to you know, express themselves, maybe they're revealing themselves or not, is this really a challenge to being constructive or a challenge to the institutions of checks and balances?

BROWER: In some ways I believe it is. And I do believe -- I agree with Jack that this person should come forward and likely will be identified at some point.

It's hard to remain anonymous with respect to something this significant and this explosive in Washington for very long.

But I think the focus really should be on the substance and not the form of what has happened here.

The substance suggests a dysfunctional White House in some significant ways. I think it is incumbent upon Congress in terms of checks and balances within the system, incumbent upon Congress to at least take these allegations and suggestions and indications of dysfunction seriously and do some serious oversight, ask some serious questions about what is really going on in the White House.


BROWER: And if nothing else this op-ed has sort of teed that up for the first president -- first branch of government to take a hard look at.

WHITFIELD: And then Shermichael, last word on this.

So you know, we find out who you know, who penned this but then what?

SINGLETON: Well look I mean as the author of the piece states with -- throughout, there are other individuals within the administration and throughout the government agencies that do find many of the president's directions to be problematic as it relates to the National Security of the country.

But again, I think come November, if Democrats do indeed take back the House and I think you may actually begin to see more of a public movement on trying to have hearings about the president's ability actually lead in and continue to be president.

WHITFIELD: All right, Shermichael Singleton, Greg Brower, Jack Kingston, thanks all of you. Appreciate it.

(UNKNOWN): Thanks Fred.

(UNKNOWN): Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, President Obama officially back on the campaign trail. The former commander-in-chief will stump for seven Democrats looking to flip congressional seats in November. Will we see another stinging critique of President Trump by the former President Obama?

Plus, the East Coast closely watching a tropical storm gathering strength as it heads towards the Carolinas. Forecasters say it could be a major hurricane by the time it arrives.

And this puzzling story out of Dallas. A police officer shoots and kills a man after walking into his apartment believing it was her own. The Department and community now asking how could this have happened.


WHITFIELD: All right, this just in, Tropical Storm Florence's path has shifted and put areas of the East Coast in the strike zone.

In the next 12 hours it could strengthen into a hurricane, bringing a serious threat of flooding to some states still dealing with the remnants of Gordon.

CNN's Allison Chinchar is in the Weather Center tracking all of this for us, Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. So Fred, the latest information is for continuing to see that system strengthen.

Now officially the latest winds we have our 65 miles per hour but we actually have even newer numbers than that, from where?

NOAA has actually already sent out reconnaissance flight to get data from Florence and they've just picked up a 70-mile-per-hour wind gust out of this particular storm so again we're starting to see that strengthening continue to take place and we expected it to do this because it's going to continue to enter into a much more favorable environment especially when you talk about those really warm ocean temperatures that are out there right now.

It is expected at this point, the National Hurricane Center, forecasting this to be a Category IV at landfall. Now landfall is expected to be around the Carolinas. If that happens, this will be the first Category IV Storm to hit the Carolinas in nearly 30 years. The previous one being Hugo back in 1989.

Now we talk about where it's going to make landfall. The models are really starting to come together much better and it looks like now that consensus really kind of puts it between Georgia and North Carolina.

Now keep in mind landfall time is still estimated to be very late in the day, Thursday so we still obviously have at least five days before that takes place so there may be some changes.

So pretty much if you live anywhere along the East Coast, you want to be paying attention because even if you don't take the main landfall point, you're still likely to have impacts, even if it's simply just large swells or rip currents around the water.

When we talk about the two main models, we reference the GFS which is the American model that you see here in red and the blue which is the European model.

The blue is favoring more of a South Carolina landfall while the American model is pushing a little bit further north, into North Carolina.

But the thing is this is only one of three systems that we are watching. We actually have two more that are going to be taking place.

Now what we have already, is Tropical Storm Helene, that's the one that's off the coast of Africa.

The next one where you see TD 9, Fred, that one is likely to end up becoming Tropical Storm Isaac within the next 12 to 24 hours as well.

So even after Florence comes in we've got a lot to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks.

WHITFIELD: OK (ph), all right, thank you so much Allison.

All right, still ahead, one day after delivering a blistering critique of President Trump, President Obama will take the stage again in just a few hours, his message for Democrats heading into the pivotal midterm elections, next.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

Former President, Barack Obama and President Donald Trump are battling it out on the campaign trail as the midterm elections loom.

Obama will speak at a California rally in about two hours from now. We saw a little taste of what we can expect during a speech in Illinois.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're supposed to stand up to discrimination.

And we're sure as heck supposed to stand up, clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. (APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad. What happened to the Republican Party?

It's central organizing principle, in foreign policy was to fight against communism and now they're cozying up to the former head of the KGB.

In a healthy democracy, there's some checks and balances on this kind of behavior, this kind of inconsistency but right now there's nothing.


WHITFIELD: All right. CNN's Dan Merica is at today's campaign rally in Anaheim, California.

So what is the expectation, as he stumps for what, seven House candidates?


The expectation from Obama is, is that this speech will mirror the speech he gave in Illinois but if that was the professorial Obama, this will be more the campaign Obama.

That speech was obviously very directed, a take-down of President Trump's first few months in office. This is going to be the distilled version of that where he not only references that speech, references the themes of that speech but he also touts these candidates, these seven candidates that he'll be stumping for here today in Anaheim, California.

Now these seven candidates are the, really the frontline of Democratic candidates here in California. They all come from districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, and Democratic operatives believe this is the best chance they have to slip districts, red to blue.

So all these districts are represented by Republicans in the House and these Democrats are challenging those Republicans for control of these districts.

Now many Democrats have been worried frankly, that Obama has spent so much time away from the campaign trail. He has avoided criticizing President Donald Trump directly for you know, the first year and a half of his presidency.

Now that ended yesterday clearly with his direct takedown, where he really listed off a number of concerns he has with the Trump administration, you heard from that soundbite. He even seemed incredulous at one point asking, "what happened to the Republican Party?"

You're sure to hear some of that -- some of that today when he takes the stage behind me. You see on the sign behind me, that sign says, "Take It Back." That's in reference to taking back the House and President Obama and his aides certainly hope to do that, and help do that with events like this.

Now there is an -- there is a bit of risk for some of these Democrats, right? Who are campaigning with President Obama but Hillary Clinton won all of these districts in 2016.

There are four districts that candidates will be stumping with Obama today, that Obama actually lost in 2012. Now Democratic operatives who have organized this event say they are pretty confident, the Democrats in these districts will be rallied by seeing Obama with these candidates.

But there's an open question to see how Republicans will respond to Obama coming back to the campaign trail. The head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee said yesterday that he welcomes Obama's return because it will also rally Republicans.

That all remains to be seen, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. From Anaheim, thanks so much Dan Merica. We'll be checking back with you.

Alright meantime, first lady Melania Trump comes out swinging against the writer of that anonymous "New York Times" op-ed, accusing the writer of quote, "sabotaging the country."

Why such a strong statement from the usually quiet first lady?


[12:31:52] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back. Melania Trump is defending her husband against the New York Times op- ed that criticizes his fitness to be president. The first lady with strong words for the anonymous senior White House official or we should say administration official who penned the letter, saying, in part, to the writer of the op-ed, you are not protecting this country, you are sabotaging it with your cowardly actions.

All right, joining me right now is White House Reporter Kate Bennett. So Kate, this is rather unusual, is it not for Melania Trump to issue her own sentiment and defend her husband on something like this? What compelled her to do it? And what's the feeling of the genesis of this, how it came about?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, interestingly, I asked for this statement and got this answer. I was curious as to whether she would weigh in. We heard a lot of denials from other administration officials. And, you know, it's always sort of a crap shoot with the first lady's office. Will she say something, won't she say something? Will it be via her spokesperson or via her?

And so I was rather taken aback and somewhat surprised that I heard directly from her in this statement. And I think it's interesting, too, that the statement does, at the end, as we just showed there, say that this person is sabotaging the country and she aligns with her husband. But she opens her statement by saying freedom of the press is very important. It's one of the founding pillars of our nation.

And so certainly there is a bit of a divergence I would imagine, with her husband who rallies against the press, et cetera. But, you know, she also said that anonymous sources are writing the history of this country which I also found very interesting. So she's very much -- it was a long statement for her calling for this person to attach their name to the op-ed.

And it is curious. I think she's fighting back a bit more these days. I think she wants to weigh in and be more of a participant in these national debates.

WHITFIELD: Well, you know, it's interesting, because oftentimes statement comes from the office of the first lady. And a distinction I guess is being made here that it's her statement. But then what does that tell us about the differences? I mean, do we now need to reflect and think that past statements that were coming from the office were not really her sentiment but this is different? I mean, help me out here.

BENNETT: It is -- I mean this is the first lady's office that operates very differently from the ones that we've been used to seeing in the past, you know, the modern era quite frankly. This is an East Wing that does not need to run its statements, its tweets or anything by the West Wing.

Certainly, the first lady's office has a very small staff. She has a communications director and one other person in her coms office but that's about it. She works very closely with her communications director to release everything. These sorts of statements I imagine it was something that was crafted by the first lady with the, you know, advisement of her communications director. That's typically how it works.

But again, this is not checks and balances with the West Wing. This not, hey, guys, heads up, we're going to release this or vice versa. Melania Trump operates very independently and sometimes that does get her into trouble, does sort of call out some criticism.

[12:35:00] Of course, we've seen her "Be Best" platform be criticized, you know, choosing cyber bullying and the hypocrisy of that along with her husband's attitude on Twitter. And we've seen her weigh into things via her spokeswoman like Lebron James, we watched that controversy arise.

So she's sort of, you know, whether she does or doesn't, she faces a certain amount of critique and I think it's interesting here in this instance that she is defending the philosophy and what her husband is saying, what the East Wing is saying about this op-ed. However, she's also adding her own voice.

Again, I feel like this is maybe a tide shift. She wants to weigh in more, policy is becoming an important part of what she does. WHITFIELD: And perhaps she's indicating she's feeling more comfortable, you know, with her role and her place and perhaps even the power that comes with her place and her role.

BENNETT: Could be, very much so. I mean this is -- again, she's heading into her tenure here, we're approaching year two, she might be getting more comfortable. But certainly I think this op-ed had everybody in the White House on both wings, back on their heels and certainly wanting to weigh in. And this was something she felt strongly about. You know, and this was a statement that we got and now it's making some news.

All right, Kate Bennett, thanks, thanks so much for bringing it to us. Appreciate it.

All right, meanwhile, President Trump isn't just furious about the op- ed, he's also fuming about an explosive new book that details an Oval Office in crisis. The White House has launched a search to find out who has turned against the president, even reportedly tossing around the idea of lie detectors.

Indira Lakshmanan is a Washington columnist for the Boston Globe and the executive editor of the Pulitzer Center. Good to see you.

So, you wrote and I'm quoting now, if even half of the stories describing Trump as unfit for office are true, it's the non-fiction horror story of the year, end quote. What do you mean?

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Well, as I went on to say in that column for the Boston Globe, what is even more terrifying is the idea of what if everything that Bob Woodward wrote is true? And I think we don't have much reason to doubt Bob Woodward.

I mean, look, he's written eight books about previous presidents. He has never been accused of fabrication. The way he works is meticulous. He takes hundreds of hours of taped interviews.

He does it on the basis of what we hear in Washington refer to as deep background, meaning you can use the material, you can even use in the case of how he works direct quotes just without saying who was the source, who told you that. But it had to have been someone who was in the room who overheard it.

One thing that I thought was striking after the excerpts, the early excerpts or reviews of Bob Woodward's book which by the way hasn't actually come out until next week came out was that both Ari Fleisher who worked for George W. Bush, and Paul Begala who worked for President Clinton, immediately came out said, hey, look we didn't like the books that he wrote about our president but we never questioned them as being false. So that's an important point despite being anonymous, he certainly knows who they are and, you know, has the tapes, one assumes from the way he works to prove it.

WHITFIELD: And then let's look at just how extraordinary all of this, you know, really is. You have what's described as a senior official within the administration talking about undermining the actions of a sitting president deemed to be a moral reckless, you know, just too impulsive. And then you've got that with this theme, recurring theme, from other published books, whether there is anonymity or whether there is really, you know, named sourcing. There's a really -- there's a common thread here. So, what's your view on how potentially damaging this is or is it really just adding to the chorus?

LAKSHMANAN: Well, I have a couple of thoughts here. First of all, Bob Woodward's book and his account, it echoes many of the themes that we saw in Michael Wolfe's "Fire and Fury" and Omarosa Manigault's "Unhinged". He is of course a much more credible narrator than either of them since, you know, we all know that along with his two Pulitzer prizes, his work with Carl Bernstein helped bring down eventually the Nixon presidency by exposing Watergate. So I think he has a lot more credibility coming into the gate.

On the question of anonymous sourcing though, I have to say, you know, I have worked on journalism ethics. I was at the Poynter Institute as the Newmark chair in journalism ethics until quite recently. And I think that in an ideal world, we would use fewer and fewer anonymous sources because it's important to build public trust in journalism, to restore to previous levels and even, you know, make the public trust our work and the way we do it, our processes, more, and anonymous sourcing doesn't help that.

WHITFIELD: Yes, but then help people understand why --


WHITFIELD: -- there are conditions and cases in which your sourcing has to remain anonymous.

LAKSHMANAN: That's right.

WHITFIELD: And it doesn't just mean somebody, you know, hands over some information to the New York Times or CNN or any other news, Boston Globe, and just says, I want to give you some information but please don't say who.

[12:40:06] I mean, there are layers --

LAKSHMANAN: That's right.

WHITFIELD: -- you know that take place --

LAKSHMANAN: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: -- before any publication or outlet makes that agreement. So help underscore that.

LAKSHMANAN: You're absolutely right. And there is -- there's a whole vetting process. And when I speak publicly about this, you know, people who are not journalists but are very smart in other ways will often say to me, how can you use anonymous sources, you know, you don't even know who they are. And I have to stop and say, I know exactly who they are and I have vetted what they said. It's not just someone randomly calling me on the telephone and whispering something through a sock. That's not what anonymous sources are.

We have vetted them. We know who they are. We know where this information comes from. But because either their lives are in danger, their jobs are in danger, or they have some very legitimate reason for needing to protect their identity, that's when on a case-by-case basis we decide as journalists or op-ed page editors whether or not to print these things.

And by the way, the Boston Globe op-ed page editor who edits my columns is one of many op-ed editors who said if they carefully vetted it that like the Times, they would have also accepted and printed it anonymously, given the very unique and extenuating circumstances.

But I do think of course it would be better all things considered if someone who felt this way were able to come out and attaches his or her name to it. And it certainly not the way our democratic process is supposed to work. And that they shouldn't be working from within to undermine. This is what elections are for.

We the voters get to decide on things as opposed to people stealing things off a president's desk so that he doesn't sign them. That is incredibly troubling to hear those kinds of stories.

WHITFIELD: Indira Lakshmanan, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much, appreciate it.

LAKSHMANAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.



[12:46:26] JAVIER GARCIA DEL MORAL, FOUNDER, THE WILD DETECTIVES: The Wild Detectives is a space that where there's conversation, interaction, and critical thinking.

Hey, I'm Javier Garcia del Moral, welcome to the Wild Detectives. The bookstore was founded by my friend Paco Vique and I in 2014. We believed enough in our project to open an independent bookstore in Dallas. The name is inspired from a book called "Los Detectives Salvajes" by Roberto Bolano.

I fell most proud about the demographics that we reach, the type of events that we do attract people with very different backgrounds and get them to talk to each other. By combining number of things under one roof, books, poetry, music, shows and then as well, we provide drinks, coffee or cocktails, that will make people talk freely.

I know there's been a lot of thought about not doing business with friends. Paco and I from Spain, we met (INAUDIBLE) of all places. I think I have to consider that just random encounter. I think it's beautiful the way that life is just a succession of accidental happy encounters. But we value our friends more than the business.


WHITFIELD: And this breaking news. CNN is learning the Trump administration held secret meetings with rebel officers in Venezuela to discuss plans to overthrow the country's president Nicolas Maduro.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us live now. What more can you tell us on this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. A current and a former U.S. official are telling me and my colleague Elise Labott that U.S. officials did indeed met secretly with Venezuelan military officers to discuss a possible coup against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. These U.S. officials met with these renegade Venezuelan military officers in several covert meetings over the last year, and these meetings happened abroad.

Washington ultimately decided against supporting this coup against the Venezuelan president. We know that this White House has taken a very firm stance against Venezuela. They've issued numerous sanctions. And we know that the president has said in the past that he is still considering a military option. He has kept open that possibility.

We also reported earlier this summer that the president had previously talked to aides about the possibility of invading Venezuela. That did not happened and we also now know that this coup that U.S. officials discussed did not happen. The United States ultimately decided against providing these military officers with any support for this possible coup and that coup ultimately did not become a reality.

But this is of course a pretty significant new thing that we're learning in terms of how seriously the Trump administration was considering action against the current Venezuelan Government. And of course given the troubled U.S. history of involvement in coups in Latin America, this certainly would have been very, very significant.


WHITFIELD: Right. And still important to know whether it would have been part of a coalition or whether this would have been something, you know, lateral. All those details we can't wait to learn.

All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.

Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, meet this week's CNN Hero, a woman who is working to bring children to the U.S. for life-changing medical help.


ELISSA MONTANTI: We're empowering them because we're giving them back what they lost. And a chance to stand on their own and write and go to school and to contribute to society.

They come from different corners of the earth. And they all heal together, laugh together. They don't speak the same language. But love is universal. [12:50:05] So often people will say why can't you help your own. Aren't they our own? Don't we share this earth?


WHITFIELD: To see how Elissa is transforming the lives of these children, go to right now.


WHITFIELD: All right, Dallas Police are planning to charge one of their own with manslaughter.

[12:55:03] A patrol officer shot her 26-year-old neighbor after she, the officer, entered his apartment, allegedly mistaking the apartment as her own. Police say they will identify the officer once she is officially charged.

Joining me right now is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst James Gagliano. So James, at first Dallas Police thought this was an officer involved shooting but then they realized this is something very different. So, what we know is that this one officer mistake the apartment for her own and then shot the man who actually lived in that apartment.

I mean, how did they investigate this? Like what -- how did they get about what went wrong here?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Fred, just a horrific tragedy all around. I mean, you've got one innocent bright young life snuffed out. And this officer, her life will be irrevocably changed as well.

Now, there's a distinction between bringing murder charges against somebody, meaning that there was prior intent or malice (INAUDIBLE) or some type of premeditation to take a life. And manslaughter which is really the unlawful killing of another person without any prior intention to bring them to harm.

Now, there's going to be some factors here that got to be played out. We don't know the details yet, Fred.

WHITFIELD: You mean factors like trying to figure out things like, you know, fatigue, you know, whether, you know, the time in which this happened, the circumstances surrounding it, if any of that explains, you know, how mistakenly going to an apartment ends up in the death of someone?

GAGLIANO: Fred, you just pointed out mitigating factors. Now I'm going to go on the other end and say there are also extenuating factors. So let's surmise that the officer had been drinking or was under the influence or had any predisposed notion. Maybe she had a beef with this neighbor. Those are all extenuating factors.

You pointed out the mitigating factors and that's exactly what the district attorney has to get to the bottom of. This officer is certainly entitled to due process. But those are the things the detectives and investigators are looking at now to determine whether or not she can be charged of this.

WHITFIELD: And then there issues of eyewitnesses, if there were any. Because reportedly the 26-year-old was, you know, at his home and, you know, we don't know if there was anyone or even surveillance cameras or anything like that in the hallways. I mean, what's the likelihood of that?

GAGLIANO: Well, you and I talked about this many, many times, Fred. So we live in the 21st century. And in this 21st century, there is an abundance of available technology.

So let's just -- again, let's suspend this belief and let's pretend that there was a beef between these two people. Investigators can certainly go to their social media platforms. They can look at the digital exhaust from, you know, telephone calls, things like that. They will certainly use everything.

Travel patterns. Easy pass. License plate scanners. They'll certainly do that. And then it'll be a lot of investigative work, as in talking to human intelligence, talking to family members of the deceased, talking to other residents in that little enclave and finding out whether or not there's any predisposition here.

WHITFIELD: Yes, this is very perplexing. And I'm sure it was very difficult, too, for Dallas Police to respond to this, to now try to investigate and then now try to reveal, you know, what has been pieced together.

GAGLIANO: It's awful. And this is at a particular time in our history, Fred, as you and I discussed before as well, where relationships between police communities of color. They're very heightened right now.

You know, you want to make sure. Accidents happen. Mistakes happen. This officer is certainly entitled to do process and the benefit of the doubt. But those questions have got to be asked and the investigation's got to continue. And hopefully we'll know some answers that very soon.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And you bring up color because we're talking about the officer, white, and the 26-year-old who was in his apartment, black.

GAGLIANO: Yes, ma'am.

WHITFIELD: All right, James Gagliano, thanks so much.

GAGLIANO: Thanks Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, we've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.

All right, hello again, everyone. And thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

The hunt is on. A source telling CNN, President Trump is obsessed with finding the writer of the anonymous op-ed who claims to be part of the resistance inside the administration. Trump is now calling on U.S. Attorney General Jeff sessions to investigate and a source tells CNN aides believe they are closing in on exposing the writer of that New York Times op-ed.

This chaos unfolding as former President Barack Obama unleashes jabs on President Trump, breaking with tradition, after months of silence. And in just a few hours, Obama will take center stage for round two, this time at a rally in California.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The claim that everything will turn out OK because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren't following the president's orders --