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U.S. Military Leading Coalition Over Syria Has Shot Down a War Plane; Jay Sekulow Citing Old Information From James Comey; Seven Navy Sailors Now Confirmed Dead After Collision; Gunmen Stormed Hotel Popular with Westerners; Battle Over Health Care Heating Up in the Senate. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 18, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is with us.
Elise, tell us what happened and how significant this is in the war against ISIS.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well Ana, about 4:30 p.m. local time, a Syrian pro-regime forces started attacking the U.S. and coalition backed Syrian democratic forces who were making an advance on Raqqa. That area near Raqqa, that self-proclaimed ISIS capital, really that last strong hold. The U.S. made a show of force to kind of scare in essence so its pro-regime force away by flying low at a very slow speed. That did scare them off for about two hours.
In the meantime, the U.S. called out to the Russians through the de- confliction channel on the ground there. Of course, the Russian government is backing those Syrian regime forces. But about two hours later, the Syrian pro-regime forces came back with an aircraft that started bombing the U.S. backed coalition forces and the U.S. shot down the plane. It said that the U.S. is not looking to get into an escalation, the coalition said with the Syrian regime. But they pledge to protect those Syrian democratic forces that are going against ISIS in the area.
CABRERA: So again, we are learning that the Syrian jet had initially dropped bombs and fighters who were working against the Assad regime. Where does the coalition's mission against ISIS fit with the anti- Assad movement?
LABOTT: Well, the U.S. says it is not going against Assad. It is going against ISIS and backing those pro democratic forces in the area. Of course, those democratic forces are against Assad. But they are on the ground near Raqqa going after ISIS.
And so that's why the U.S. said it needed to use its collective self- defense to protect those Syrian forces on the ground. It definitely does not want to get into an escalation with the Syrian regime. Their target is ISIS. But they will protect those Syrian democratic forces on the ground.
CABRERA: Elise Labott, thank you so much.
I want to bring in our military analyst retired lieutenant colonel Rick Francona.
Colonel, it's been several years since an American warplane shot down another warplane. But this, you know, we want to have perspective here. Is this shoot down part of the coalition's rules of engagement or a decision made base on what happened in Raqqa?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, (RET.) U.S. AIR FORCE: Yes this was strictly a tactical decision. We have told the Syrians before that we will defend the SDF, the Syrian Democratic Forces, on the ground as the probe U.S. forces mostly made up of the Kurds. When they came under attack, the rules of engagement were met and there was an FA-18 responded accordingly and shot down this Syrian fighter bomber.
CABRERA: So given that it's an FA-18 -- I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you there. Apologies. But given that it's an FA-18 as you point out, what does that tell that you it was a Navy jet or a marine corps jet, another different branch that's fly the hornet.
FRANCONA: Well, the Navy and marines both fly the FA-18. I believe this was a Navy aircraft operating off the carrier. We have a carrier in the Mediterranean right now. Makes perfect sense. But their combat air patrols up there almost 24/7.
So what's important here is that the Syrians were actually bombing this SDF unit. There is no reason for them to do that. For the past several weeks, the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian regime had been cooperating in the fight against ISIS. They have different goals. The SDF is going after Raqqa. They're going after the ISIS strong hold there. They're backed by us. They are actually the American boots on the ground. That's the way we structured this.
On the Syrian regime side, they are trying to push past Raqqa further to the east to relieve the pressure on their garrison at their resort. Their resource is a city in eastern Syria surrounded by ISIS. It has been under siege by two years. They have only been kept alive by air support. Syrians are trying to push through and get. There they have been cooperating. They are operating on (INAUDIBLE) tracks. There is no reason to fight each other when the goal is further to the east.
So this is really strange that this is happening today. And I think when the analysis all done, somebody on one of these sides made a mistake. They didn't mean to pick a fight with the other guys. But once that fight ensues, the sides have to defend their positions.
CABRERA: And that raises greater concerns because it's a first in the skies over Syria. How do you see the Syrians responding?
FRANCONA: You know, I don't see the Syrians responding very much at all. They are in no position to take on the coalition air power. The only air force in the region that would even think about doing that would be the Russians. And I think we have developed a relationship with the Russians enough that we can get this tamped down.
The Russians know this was a stupid thing for the Syrians to do. We know it was stupid for the Syrians to do. And I think at the (INAUDIBLE), the Syrians know it was a stupid thing for them to do. So I think this will fast be put behind us and both units, the SDF and the Syrian regime will continue on the main focus being ISIS.
[19:50:13] CABRERA: All right. Retired lieutenant colonel Rick Francona, thanks for spending part of your father's day us with. Happy father's day.
FRANCONA: Thank you.
CABRERA: Turning now to politics and the unsettled question about whether President Trump himself is under investigation. He is back at the White House following his weekend at Camp David now.
Now here is what he said on Friday. He said he is under investigation. That was a tweet he sent out. But then today his lawyers said, no, the President is not being investigated, period. Here's what attorney Jay Sekulow told CNN's Jake Tapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SUKULOW, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: President is not a subject or target of an investigation. That tweet was in response to a "Washington Post" story that ran with five unnamed sources without identifying the agencies they represented saying that the special council had broadened out his investigation to include the President. We have had no indication of that. The President was responding to that particular statement from the "Washington Post" again with five anonymous sources. And, again, without identifying the agency. So the President is not under investigation. Has not been.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: So the President said I am under investigation even though he isn't under investigation?
SUKULOW: That response on social media was in response to "the Washington Post" piece. It's that simple. The President is not under investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So just to refresh you, here is that tweet we referenced from Friday. I quote "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt."
Let's bring in White House correspondent Athena Jones.
Athena, you say Trump's lawyer might not actually know about a potential investigation into the President that is under way indeed?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. That's right.
Look. Jay Sekulow is citing old information from the now fired FBI director James Comey who did testify that he told the President three separate times that he was not personally being investigated. But remember James Comey has not been in-charge of the FBI since the beginning of May. That is several weeks ago. And the point here is that Jay Sekulow and the rest of the President's legal team, the President himself would not necessarily know whether or not he is under investigation because the FBI and special counsel's office wouldn't necessarily notify the President or his legal team that he is under investigation. You will remember we talked about this in the past. It isn't standard practice for the department of justice to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation. And you also remember that when Comey told the President that he wasn't personally being investigated, there were some in the department of justice who disagreed with the decision of Comey to tell the President that because it could change at any moment. So you have one of Trump's lawyers asserting as facts something that he isn't really in a position to know - Ana.
CABRERA: The other question we all want to have answered is whether there are any tapes that might help clear up some of the truth of the conversation the President had with James Comey. We heard James Comey's side of the conversations. What more are we learning about those tapes? This was the same lawyer who last week said we would have answers this week.
JONES: That's right. He did. On ABC last week saying that these answers could come in this past week. Sekulow was asked about that again today. And his explanation was that there was a whole lot going on last week. The President had his big Cuba speech announcing a shift in Cuba policy. There was also the assassination attempt as he put it on house majority whip Steve Scalise and other GOP members of Congress at that baseball practice. And so this talk of tapes just wasn't priority issue number one. Sekulow suggested that we could get an answer this week. But it's hard to know if that's really going to happen considering it didn't happen before -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones, we wait for more answers. Thank you.
I want to bring in my panel. Joining us, CNN senior political analyst and former adviser to four U.S. Presidents, both Republican and Democrat, David Gergen and the former director of the CIA former ambassador of the (INAUDIBLE) and former senior adviser to the Trump campaign James Woolsey.
First, I want to play another part of CNN's interview with President Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow. Jay Tapper asked him whether a President can technically commit obstruction of justice. Here's his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUKULOW: In this particular case, you had a scenario where the President receiving advice from a variety of his government officials was told by his attorney general and by his deputy attorney general that James Comey should not be leading the FBI. It's ironic that based on the action that they recommended that he took in consultation with others that he is now being investigated by the agencies that told him to take that very action, removing the FBI director.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [19:10:09] CABRERA: So this lawyer said multiple times before that clip that the President is not under investigation only to then say in his last statement that it's ironic that the President is being investigated by the agencies who told him to fire James Comey. His statement seems to at odds with another, David. What do you make of it?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you are absolutely right, Ana. I'm delighted to be here with you and with James Woolsey.
Listen, the lawyers went out day and said the President is not being investigated. He said numerous other times, the President is being investigated. And then he said another time, he really doesn't know whether the President is being investigated because they haven't been told anything.
And so it reminded me very much going back way back in history of President Eisenhower who was a very smart man but he sometimes in press conferences gave very, very confusing answers. He looked and sounded like he botched things up. He didn't know what he was talking about. And then went behind the scenes and said he is asking what is going on out there? He said that is very intentional. I want to keep my options open. So I created a fog bank of words.
And that's what Sekulow did today. He created a fog bank intentionally. So we have no idea for sure but I think all the signs point to the fact that certainly the special counsel is looking hard at the President and what happens over the firing of Comey and whether there was obstruction of justice.
CABRERA: Ambassador, the President and his legal team worked really hard to discredit the investigators in looking into the Russia investigation and perhaps expanding their probe now, we are learning. This is what -- I want you to listen to what Adam Schiff. He is the ranking member on the house intelligence committee who is also investigating this for Congress, what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, what's happening here is the President wants to take down Bob Mueller and the question is why. And I think the answer is they want to lay the foundation to discredit whatever Bob Mueller comes up with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: If there really is nothing there for Mueller to find, why work to discredit him?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: That would not seem to be sensible. But I think part of the problem here is that there are two major types of investigations that FBI does in this area. And one is counter intelligence investigation. And that does not have as a target of subject an individual who may be as violated the law. That's understanding, let's say how the Russians are getting into our communications who they might be trying to recruit what they are doing. But it's separate thing than an investigation of an individual or a group of individuals for a violation of the law. And it's only this latter type of investigation where you can have obstruction of justice. You can't have obstruction of justice of the general counter intelligence investigation.
So one thing that happens here is that some people are talking about counter intelligence. Some people are talking about investigating individuals. Both are using the word target, subject, et cetera fairly loosely. And it's really hard to keep the players straight without a scorecard.
CABRERA: It's hard to keep all these he investigations straight. And there's a lot of nuance it seems to in the investigation. Are you at the camp, ambassador, that the President could be found if there is something to find to have obstructed justice or because he is the President it doesn't apply to limb?
WOOLSEY: My view is it would have to be part of some look into impeachment that it would not be something that I think could be undertaken outside that framework. If you're going to try to punish ordeal with the President of the United States and the tough and hostile way, you have to get into the business of impeachment.
CABRERA: David, you said on our air before that we may be in impeachment territory.
GERGEN: I think we are very much certainly around questions that could lead to impeachment. We don't know enough yet to come to firm conclusions about, you know, whether how serious the obstruction may have been, whether it was over corrupt motive and that sort of thing. So I do think we have to be extremely cautious.
But I want to go back to this issue. Jim is absolutely right about the question that the investigation of individuals is a different part of what the FBI does. But in the case of a President, what is well established now by justice department practices going back some years is that the special counsel determines whether there is a case to be taken to the Congress, the special counsel cannot take the President to court on a charge of obstruction of justice. That's not where we Presidents are held accountable. They are held accountable through impeachment proceedings. So if there is enough there, he will refer what he has found to the House. And then it becomes a political question as well as a legal question for the House representatives.
But there is no doubt. Because both in the Clinton case and in the Nixon case, one the charges that came out of the House, at least in the Clinton case and what the House was getting ready to pass in Nixon was an obstruction of justice charge. So there is no question the President can be held accountable for obstruction of justice.
Newt Gingrich and others are saying now, no, no, a President can't obstruct justice by definition. That's simply not been the case in the past. The Presidents have been held accountable on obstruction of justice charges through the House of Representatives.
[19:15:41] CABRERA: So there is precedent for that. Ambassador, Congressman Adam Schiff also went on to say that he has
seen evidence of potential collusion and obstruction. But that doesn't mean can you prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. What kind of evidence could there be if you were to have it beyond the reasonable doubt?
WOOLSEY: I don't see here what takes us to that point. You can't have an investigation of obstruction of justice if there hasn't been a crime committed. That's what that means. So if you -- if it's not clear or even a bit clear what crime has been committed, then you are not obstructing justice if you say to somebody I hope you are reasonable and decent to my former employee so and so. But people are, I think, jumping the gun a bit in trying to say that we are in the world already of obstruction of justice.
CABRERA: Just to clarify what you just brought up. I mean, you were talking about what Comey has said to the President and told him about I hope you can just let this Flynn thing go. If Flynn had committed a crime and then the President instructs them to let it go, is that what you are talking about in terms of a crime and obstructing justice?
WOOLSEY: That's a hypothetical but, yes. Or if there were a corruption in some fashion. Somebody was bribing someone to take one of the positions. Then you can look into obstruction of justice. But you can't just say that somebody said well I hope you are reasonable and the way you treat my old friend so and so and get an obstruction of justice count.
CABRERA: Got you.
GERGEN: I'm not less clear on that than Jim is. I think there have been cases in which people would lied to the FBI or held accountable for the lie even though the underlying problem was not necessarily criminal.
WOOLSEY: That's different. Lying to the FBI is a separate -- you can't do that.
CABRERA: That's another crime.
WOOLSEY: That's another crime.
CABRERA: All right. Gentlemen, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you for the informative discussion. David Gergen as always, good to see you. James Woolsey. So nice to you have on set with me. Thanks for coming in. And happy father's day, gentlemen.
Coming up, seven Navy sailors are now confirmed dead after a collision in the waters off Japan. What could have happened in those fateful moments before the collision?
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:22:25] CABRERA: We want to bring you an update on a breaking story we have been following in Mali where gunmen stormed a hotel popular with westerners today. We are now told two of the three gunmen are dead. But the source telling CNN one of the assailants is still missing. Government officials also say at least two tourists have been killed in this resort of the capital city.
Thirty-two people have been rescued, three U.N. staffers among those injured in this attack. This deadly incident comes less than ten days after the U.S. embassy in Mali's capital city warned Americans traveling there about an increase in security threat to westerners.
Back to more breaking news out of the Pacific now. The worst possible result from the weekend's frantic search for the seven American sailors unaccounted for after a collision at sea. Those sailors have been found but sadly they did not survive the accident.
Their ship, the USS Fitzgerald is now back in port after colliding with a much larger cargo ship in waters off Japan. Part of the destroyer flooded in seawater. And it is on those flooded compartment that recovery divers found the sailors who were missing for more than 24 hours.
Our correspondent Alexandra Field had a chance to ask the fleet commander questions at the base in Japan today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is there anything that can you share about these circumstances that those sailors were facing in those moments down in those (INAUDIBLE) areas? Do we know if these sailors were awake at the time of the collision? If they were awake afterwards, if they tried to escape?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Alexandra Field is joining us now.
Alexandra, some difficult questions to ask. What did the pleat commander admiral Joseph tell you?
FILED: Yes, these are difficult questions, Ana. And the hardest part, really, is that the commander of the seven pleat still does not have the answer that these families are seeking. That these families are hoping for.
The U.S. naval community here based is grieving over the loss of seven service members. But it will take some time to understand why exactly that ship would have collided with another ship. What the commander was able to tell us is a little bit about what may have been going on below board at the time of the crash. He says that this collision happened at around 230 in the morning, the early hours of Saturday morning. He says there would have been a night watch crew that would have been, of course, awake manning the ship at that time. But a significant portion of the crew would have been asleep in the sleeping quarters below deck. Quarters that could accommodate some 116 sailors. He said that's the area of the ship that sustained very heavy damage.
The water was coming in quickly. He credits the crew onboard with keeping the ship from sinking. But why seven sailors were not able to get out, why they would have been found in the flooding compartments or simply answers that he says does he not yet have.
The coast guard is going to be leading an investigation into the casualties onboard that ship while the Navy has announced its own investigation into what went wrong and what could have caused that crash, Ana.
[19:25:25] CABRERA: So what are the steps of the investigation as you are learning? Any word on when we might get some information from the Navy as to what happened?
FILED: There is no time line yet from when we have these answers but certainly they are urgently being sought. It was just yesterday that the ship actually arrived back here at the U.S. naval base. We had the opportunity to go take a look at it. You could see this large ship and some 500 feet long. Still listing water, still pouring from it.
You can actually see some officials who are on deck or perhaps doing some of the preliminary steps in this investigation. The focus in the initial 24 hours after the crash was rescue. That became a recovery effort when divers did find the missing sailors inside the sleeping quarters. But now they are going to have to retrace the steps that the ship was taking, what was happening in the moments preceding the collision with a container ship. They will, of course, also be looking at the movements of that container ship which sustained minor damage. Its crew not hurt at all, Ana. And in fact, that container ship already ready to set sail again.
CABRERA: Alexandra Field, thank you.
To Portugal now where we are getting a stunning look at what officials are calling the greatest wildfire tragedy of recent years. Look at this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
CABRERA: At least 61 people are dead and dozens injured after the massive fire raced through central Portugal. It spread so quickly some of the victims were burned death in their cars as they were trying to escape. The area's mayor says many villages were completely surrounded by the fire and there were simply not enough fire fighters to stop the flames.
We are also getting new information tonight now about the massive London fire that killed at least 58 people. We are learning about the potential problems in this 24-story tower that burned as police released this new video of the char damaged left behind. Huge flames tore through the residential tower block early on Wednesday. A senior UK government official now says he believes the cladding apparently used in a recent upgrade at this tower is banned in Britain for building above a certain height. London's mayor speaking at a victim's memorial service today says the fire was a quote "preventable accident that didn't need to happen." And government is promising a full public inquiry.
Coming up, business as usual in the Senate. Could get even slower than it already is. In fact, that's if Democrats pull off a blockade against the Republican health care bill. What that could mean for the White House and their Obamacare repeal.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:32:13] CABRERA: The battle over health care is heating up in the Senate. Democrats and some Republicans are upset. The group of Republicans crafting the health care bill are drafting it behind closed doors in secrecy. And now Democrats are considering a dramatic Senate shutdown to force Republican senators to open up the health care debate. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to majority leader Mitch McConnell calling for all senators meeting this week.
Our Ryan Nobles is joining us from Washington.
Ryan, Senator Bernie Sanders, as Independent, is now talking about pressuring those Republicans. What did he say?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. Bernie Sanders is onboard with this plan. The Democratic senators are using to threaten to grind Senate business to a halt unless they get what they want which is a fair and open vetting of this new version of the health care reform bill.
Essentially they want to make it more difficult for Republicans to schedule votes on bills that are even considered noncontroversial. They can even keep nominees from the Trump administration from getting confirmed. Just making the work of the Senate a lot more difficult.
Among the technique they may employ, preventing committees from conducting routine business, preventing committees from extending their hearings when the Senate in session. This is what all be designed to open up this debate on the health care bill which, Ana, has really been done behind closed doors up to this point.
All the Democrats, and even quite a few Republicans have yet to see what is in this new bill, despite the fact that Republican leadership has promised to vote before the fourth of July holiday.
And you mention Bernie Sanders. He is an Independent who caucuses with Democrats. But, of course is very powerful after that run for President. This is what he said about this potential plan this morning on state of the union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We have an insane process, insane. You have legislation which deals with one sixth of the American economy. That's the health care situation. And there are Republicans who haven't even seen this legislation and certainly no members the democratic caucus has. What kind of process is it that when you deal with an issue that impacts tens of millions of people in this country, Republicans don't even have the guts to allow it to go to a committee where we can have an open hearing where questions can be asked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And Ana, we are told that Democrats are prepared to set this plan in motion as soon as tomorrow. Potentially holding the floor of the Senate until midnight. I have been told that members of the Senate will stand up and read stories of their constituents who benefitted from Obama care. A Democrat seemed prepare to take this dramatic move if it means putting pressure on Republicans to keep this bill from going forward.
CABRERA: And as you mentioned, both Republicans and Democrats have spoken about concerns. And I want to read part of a letter that is signed by a bipartisan group of governors criticizing the American health care act.
It says the bill has passed by the House does not meet these challenges that calls into question coverage for the vulnerable and fails to provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out while shifting significant costs to the state.
Now, this letter is signed by seven governors including Republicans John Kasich of Ohio and Democrat John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Does this bipartisan rebuke? Give us any insight into where senators might go with their bill?
[19:35:28] NOBLES: It might, Ana. And I think by itself perhaps it is not enough. But when you add it to everything else happening with this health care bill, it certainly puts pressure on these Republicans. We should point out that three Republicans John Kasich, Brian Sandoval and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, they are not the most conservative of Republican governors.
So in some of these states where you have the conservative senators, it may not sway them at all. But this is a public relations game by Democrats. They want to put pressure on these Republicans who are a little nervous about this bill. And as you pointed out before, Ana, it's really only two votes that they are after. They can get two Republicans to jump off this deal that could be enough to prevent it from going forward.
CABRERA: Ryan Nobles, you are on top of it. Thank you so much.
And still ahead here in the NEWSROOM, President Trump released financial disclosure forms that shed more light on his vast business holdings. But could it raise new questions about whether foreign governments use his hotel to gain access to the President?
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:40:35] CABRERA: President Trump still refuses to release his tax returns but he has released his financial disclosure form. While the form doesn't tell us as much as the tax documents would, it does gives us at least an idea of how much money the President is making and how much he owes.
These are the big headlines here that we have. Over last year and a half, President Trump claims to have made between $600 and $650 million in income, $37 million of that came from the Mar-a-Lago resort alone as known as the winter White House. Trump made another $20 million from his Washington, D.C., hotel. As far as debt, President says he owes $311 million in mortgages and loans. Now that number could actually be much higher if the President only had to report a value range.
Let's discuss with CNN contributor Norman Eisen. Norman is also a fellow at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic.
Ambassador, what stands out you to on these financial disclosure forms?
NORMAN EISEN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CZECH REPUBLIC: Ana, thanks for having me back. Number one, credit where credit is due. The filing of these financial disclosure forms is not required. Every President in recent memory has done it. So let's give credit to Donald Trump for voluntarily following precedent instead of what he usually does, breaking them.
And the second thing that stands out is the amounts of money particularly at that Trump international hotel right here in Washington, D.C., that $20 million in revenue. We know that there are some foreign government revenues that are flowing through to the Trump hotel right here in the United States. And there's a profound constitutional question about whether the President can accept foreign government cash. I and others have sued him saying he can't.
And then the third thing is shifting from the United States to around the world. There are a tremendous number of foreign business entanglements that the President has. Again, raises that constitutional question. You are not as President supposed to be getting cash or benefits from foreign governments and conflicts issues, Ana.
We are in the middle of a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Guess what, the President has business in Saudi Arabia. He is not doing business in Qatar. Or if you look to Cuba, he is just cracked down or reversed Obama era ties to Cuba. His competitors do business in Cuba. He doesn't. So the conflicts questions are swirling.
CABRERA: So you have a lot of numbers there. A lot of different angles, a lot of different issues that you brought up that are taking apart some of the ethics of what the President's actions have been. I want to kind of break that down. The President's Mar-a-Largo resort we know has brought in $7 million more than the previous year. His D.C. hotel has made nearly $20 million in a few months it's been open. So you are saying ethically that is concerning?
EISEN: It is. We know in the case of Mar-a-Lago that the President doubled the entrance fees. So that they should take the President's businesses doubled the entrance fees. It's the same as the President doing it because he still owns that business, Ana. He has broken with long tradition and refused to give up his ownership interests. That raises a conflict issue because he is profiting from the presidency. That's not what American Presidents are supposed to do.
CABRERA: How do you prove that's what is happening though? That that's the reason people are going to these properties?
EISEN: Well, Ana, if it were one property where you had this combination of Americans who have business before the government, of lobbyists, of foreign individuals coming, OK, you would say well, it is one isolated incident. But it's not like that at all. The Trump international hotel in Washington, D.C., has become a Mecca where there is a swirl of special interests influence. And the President visits his properties constantly.
This is -- in fact he went to Camp David this weekend. This is the first time he has visited Camp David. He spent a disproportionate amount at his own property. So when you put that all together, he makes no bones about it. He likes to promote his businesses.
[19:45:07] CABRERA: You mentioned all the lawsuits that are now facing the President. I want to ask you about the most recent one. Nearly 200 Democrats filing a complaint claiming the President is violating the constitution by accepting foreign payments as you pointed out. Congressman Ted Lieu is among those who signed the complaint. And we talked about this yesterday. Listen to what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: If you are elected official, including the President, you can't accept foreign payments or gifts. President Trump has a vast network of business holdings all officer the world. He is accepting foreign payments all the time. And he is violating the constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So you mentioned you sued the President. You are part of other cases. Where do these cases stand? This is the most recent. But what is different about this one from yours?
EISEN: Well, there are three of them. And the thing that is different about the congressional one that was just filed is that members of Congress almost 200 of them as far as I know, the most members of Congress ever to sue a President are saying, look --
CABRERA: Acting Presidents.
EISEN: The President won't give us the information that we need in order to do our jobs because he won't pro the tax returns. He won't provide the details. So that's a unique aspect that Congress can't do their job. All three cases, the other two, one is brought by state attorneys general for D.C. and Maryland. And the other by a group of hotels and restaurants and a watchdog group that I chair on council both of those two cases. But they all have in common the same thing.
The constitution is very clear. A President should not be taking foreign government cash or benefits and this President is doing it very openly whether it's at his hotel. We know that for example in that $20 million there is a quarter of a million dollars of Saudi money. There is Chinese trade marks. There is a story just today in the "New York Times" about Russian intellectual property being given to the President.
So this is very concerning. And I think it is appropriate that federal members of Congress, the state governments, hotels and restaurant competitors, watchdogs are all trying to defend the constitution.
CABRERA: Ambassador Norman Eisen, thanks for your time. Happy father's day.
EISEN: Thanks, Ana. Happy father's day.
CABRERA: Coming up, gun violence in New Orleans is on the rise. What authorities are saying is to blame next.
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[19:51:50] CABRERA: When it comes to violent crime, things aren't so easy in the big easy. Law enforcement officials say so far this year there have been more than 300 incidents of gun violence in New Orleans. That number surpasses the number of shootings in New Orleans for this time last year. And police say this surge in violence is directly connected to the deadly opioid epidemic.
Our Nick Valencia joins us with details now -- Nick.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, during the summer months there is always an expectation that violence will go up. But in New Orleans since the start of the year shooting incidents there have been on a steady increase. The police say they are dealing with the rippling effects of the ongoing opioids epidemic. They say the violence it fuels there is among the worst in America.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Another day in New Orleans, another violent headline, even for a city with a historically violent past the police chief and New Orleans' mayor say 2017 has been among the worst.
MICHAEL HARRISON, NEW ORLEANS SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE: We ask you to stand with us. We ask you to speak up, to step up, to join the fight and to end the silence. MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU (D), NEW ORLEANS: If we are going to change the
culture of violence in this city, we are going to have to change who we are, how we are and how we act.
VALENCIA: Year-to-date there have been about 300 shooting incidents in New Orleans. To put the violence in perspective, last year it took the city eight months to hit as many shootings. According to independent crime analyst Jeff Asher, over the last three years New Orleans rate of shooting per capita remained relatively steady through mid-2016, then it saw a sharp increase, making it one of America's deadliest cities.
Police say they know why. The opioid epidemic and the heroin trade it fuels has driven much of the violence we've seen in recent months. New Orleans superintendent of police Michael Harrison told CNN in a statement. Retaliations and counter retaliations, gang violence and collateral impacts are all amplified and made worse in the context of the larger epidemic.
As with so many places across the country, police say New Orleans is wrestling with the ripple effects of an opioid epidemic. Local residents are on guard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm moving because all these killings are going on around here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We as a society have been numb to these situations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one deserves to have their life taken from them. This violence is senseless.
VALENCIA: While police are blaming the spike in shootings on opioids, stats tying it to opioids are difficult to track. But data provided by the New Orleans coroner's office shows an accelerating public health crisis of drug-related deaths. Of the 211 drug-related deaths in 2016, opioids were discovered in 166 cases. The victims of the gun violence include Zachary Nelson. The 21-year-old was one of 13 people shot in 24 hours in early June, the most violent day in the city this year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I remember one thing, it is that he was fun loving.
VALENCIA: The young man known for his megawatt smile had dreams of becoming a doctor. This is the despair police say brought upon by the city's deadly drug epidemic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city is in need of a spiritual cleansing.
VALENCIA: Zachary Nelson's family took exception with police blaming the surge in violence on opioids. His aunt says if that really is the case, she asked the mayor and police chief what are you doing about it -- Ana. [19:55:01] CABRERA: Nick Valencia, thank you.
Coming up, we have new details about the U.S. sailors killed in the tragic accident off Japan.
You're live in the CNN newsroom.
[19:59:22] CABRERA: It's father's day. A lot of dads celebrating. We honor our dads today, and there's a dad who suddenly has three kids, went from one to three. That's Jay Z, the rapper, and his superstar wife, Beyonce, just welcoming twin babies. Now we are yet on whether they are twin boys or girls or one of each. But Beyonce's dad confirmed the news on twitter earlier today saying "they are here. Happy birthday to the twins, love granddad. Congrats to mom and dad and big sister Blue Ivy."
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CABRERA: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks so much for being with us.
We are following breaking news from the war against ISIS. The United States military leading the coalition in the skies over Syria has shut down a war plane there. This is a first, an American military fighter jet shooting down a Syrian bomber over Syrian territories where it happens near the city of Raqqa.