Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

NYT: White House Counsel Cooperating Extensively with Mueller Probe; Trump Launches Fresh Attacks on former CIA Director; Trump Weighs in on Manafort Trial; Chris Watts Charges with Killing Pregnant Wife & 2 Daughters; Pennsylvania Grand Jury: 300 Priests Credibly Accused of Sexually Abusing over 1,000 Children; Pennsylvania Grand Jury: 300 Priests Credibly Accused of Sexually Abusing over 1,000 Children; At Least 2 Congressional Candidates Report Cyber Attacks; Aretha Franklin's Powerful Message. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired August 18, 2018 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:14] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It is 3:00 eastern, noon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Let's get right to the breaking news this hour. The man who may know the most about President Trump's actions in the White House and the legality of them is said to be cooperating extensively with Robert Mueller, the special counsel. The "New York Times" reporting today that White House Counsel Don McGahn has given three voluntary interviews to special counsel investigators in the last nine months. Those interviews totaling around 30 hours in all.

The "New York Times" writes, "Mr. McGahn described the president's furor toward the Russia investigation and the way in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president's most intimate moments with his lawyer."

I want to get straight to CNN's Ryan Nobles live near the president's golf course in New Jersey where he's spending the weekend.

Ryan, tell us more about McGahn's role and what kind of information he may be providing.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, this is significant for a number of reasons. Now, we knew that Don McGahn had met with the special counsel before, but what this "New York Times" report is revealing is the extent of these interviews and the role he is playing now as essentially a cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation while still serving as the White House counsel. Now, this was actually on the recommendation of Donald Trump's former criminal lawyers who said that McGahn should meet with the special counsel because they viewed that the president had nothing to hide. But what the "New York Times" is reporting is that Don McGahn and his lawyer were concerned that perhaps McGahn might be being set up by Donald Trump and his team and that perhaps he would be viewed as a scapegoat as Robert Mueller continued to investigate the possibility of obstruction of justice by the White House or the president himself.

And the fact that McGahn is sitting down and being so open with Robert Mueller is important, because McGahn knows so much about what's gone on in this White House over the past year and a half.

Here's a sample of some of the things that McGahn is likely to have inside information about. We know, for instance, that he threatened to quit if the president ever fired Robert Mueller. We also know that in January of 2017, that Don McGahn knew there was a chance that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, had likely lied to the FBI. And of course, he was also warned by Jeff Sessions that if, for any reason, the president decided to fire the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, that Sessions himself would resign. And it was McGahn who was the conduit of that information to President Trump. We should also point out that all of the maneuvering and the negotiations that took place around the firing of James Comey that Don McGahn was a central player in that as well.

So he has a lot of information that is very interesting to Robert Mueller. And it also is a reminder to us that while there are reports about what the special counsel may be looking into or not looking into, that, at the end of the day, we really don't know the full extent of the information that Robert Mueller has obtained and exactly what he plans to use with it.

Now, so far today, both the White House and the president's lawyers have not responded directly to this report. But Rudy Giuliani, who's become somewhat of the chief spokesperson for the Trump legal team, did tweet this not too long ago. He said, "Time for the Mueller investigation to file a report. We will release ours. Don't interfere with election like Comey. The president had nothing to do with Russians. He didn't obstruct an investigation. And 1.4 million documents and 32 witnesses, no privilege raised."

And one of the points that the former mayor of New York City raising there's that Don McGahn sat for this interview with no preconditions about attorney-client privilege, which was an avenue that Trump and his legal team perhaps could have taken to prevent McGahn from providing too much information. McGahn went in there and basically had carte blanche to say whatever he wanted to Robert Mueller. The big question now, Ana, is, what did he reveal and how could this impact the investigation? That's a question we don't have an answer to as of yet -- Ana?

CABRERA: A lot of additional questions, though, about what he told Mueller's team and how that could be used in the investigation. It's been wide open.

Ryan Nobles, thank you for that reporting.

Also worth noting, according to the "New York Times" reporting, his first interview was last November. That was with a previous legal team. Remember, Ty Cobb, John Dowd, not Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, his current legal advisers representing him personally.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero, on the phone now. She is the former counsel to the U.S. assistant attorney general for national security.

And, Carrie, first, your reaction to this reporting. What stands out?

[15:04:56] CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Hi, Ana. This new reporting from Michael Schmidt (ph) and Maggie Haberman really adds a lot of detail that we've never seen before in terms of the role that Don McGahn is playing with respect to the special counsel's investigation. It really -- one thing that struck me was the information that it provides regarding Don McGahn's lawyer, Bill Burck, and his surprise at the fact that Don McGahn was permitted by the White House lawyers to be able to be voluntarily interviewed. So it's really important to note he has conducted these interviews by the special counsel's office voluntarily. He was not subpoenaed. He was not compelled to appear. He's done three voluntary interviews. He would have a lot of information about the president's mindset and the intent that would be relevant to the obstruction investigation. And Bill Burck, again, McGahn's lawyer, previously having been a White House lawyer himself, from this reporting, looks like once it was determined that the White House was not going to assert attorney- client or executive privilege, they would have had a couple different privileges they could have asserted, then really McGahn had to act in his best interests and be forthcoming with the special counsel's questions.

CABRERA: So, as you know, and as the "New York Times" note, it is unusual for a lawyer to cooperate with an investigation like this. Not only is there attorney-client privilege but, in this case, executive privilege exists because he is the president, President Trump. Are you surprised the president and his legal team allowed him to openly discuss matters? What would be their reasoning behind making that move?

CORDERO: Well, Don McGahn, again, his role has always been as White House counsel, so he is not the president's personal lawyer. That's now Rudy Giuliani, and there's other folks that are in that White House that personal legal team for the president. But Don McGahn's role would have been to give legal advice to the office of the presidency. I've always wondered, for months now, whether or not Don McGahn was officially recused from the Russia investigation. I don't think the White House has ever confirmed that, although, the bringing on of previously Ty Cobb and more recently Emmet Flood, it has appeared to me as if that was the case, that McGahn was recused and those two individuals were the ones handling within the White House counsel's office the Russia investigation. This article goes -- it doesn't quite confirm that, but it does say that -- it does portray McGahn as a witness, not as someone who has been providing legal advice on the Russia investigation specifically.

CABRERA: So you see McGahn now as more of a witness than an attorney?

CORDERO: He is -- well, he is functioning in the White House counsel's office on matters unrelated to the Russia investigation. So the White House counsel's office has the big portfolio. He's very involved, for example, in the confirmation process for Supreme Court justice nominees and other federal judges. There's other -- many other issues that come through the White House counsel's office that have nothing to do with the Russia investigation. My -- what I take from this article is that McGahn is active on those issues, but he, in the context of the Russia investigation, he has -- is obviously a witness, he's been interviewed three times. And it appears from the way that this article is written and the sourcing of it that he has been as Cooperative as possible with the special counsel.

CABRERA: Carrie Cordero, as always, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate your expertise on this matter.

And this all comes as President Trump launches fresh new attacks against former CIA Director John Brennan. The president declaring, quote, "Has anyone looked at the mistakes that John Brennan made while serving as CIA director? He will go down as easily the worst in history. And since getting out, he has become nothing less than a loud mouth, partisan, political hack who cannot be trusted with the secrets to our country."

The president did not spell out what mistakes he was referring to or why he thought Brennan would go down as the worst CIA direct in history.

Brennan is fighting back, however.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: He's drunk on power. He really is. And I think he's abusing the powers of that office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Dozens of Brennan's former colleagues have hit back this weekend. And they're taking the unprecedented step of speaking out en masse, publicly, against President Trump. But that may not stop Trump from purging even more clearances. He's reviewing clearances belonging to nine other officials right now. And according to the "Washington Post," those clearances could be stripped at any moment. The paper reporting that the White House has already drafted the necessary documents to do so. All they need is the president's signature.

The "Washington Post's" Josh Dawsey has this reporting. And he joins us now.

Josh, you're reporting the White House has the documents all ready for the president to sign. What's the likelihood we see a mass security clearance revocation?

[15:09:53] JOSH DAWSEY: As we reported today, the White House has begun discussing on how to optimize the release of these if the president does decide to sign them, to potentially get past unfavorable news cycles like they did this week with the book of Omarosa Manigault Newman. The president certainly is inclined to sign these clearances. He thinks a lot of these officials have been, in his estimation, corrupt by years on the Russia probe, loud-mouth critics on television. He is very frustrated, and he personally dictated the list of nine people, including one current DOJ Official, Bruce Ohr. And that has shown some trepidation in the White House because a lot of the president's advisers think it may not be prudent to take the clearance of someone who is a current employee and they don't really see the case to be made against Bruce Ohr.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Let me ask you, while you're talking about Ohr, though, tell us about what he is currently doing right now in his work, and why the president would believe his security clearance should be revoked.

DAWSEY: Well, the president is frustrated that Ohr had contact with Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who authored the disputed dossier on the president and his trip to Russia, and that Mr. Ohr's wife worked for Fusion GPS, the firm at the heart of it. There's not been a cogent and comprehensive case put together on why to take Mr. Ohr's clearance but he's become a central player in the Russia probe, partially due to the president, who has made him so via his Twitter feed and public comments.

CABRERA: But he has never actually worked on the Russia investigation, right?

DAWSEY: That is our understanding.

CABRERA: How much of this is about the president punishing his perceived political enemies versus trying to distract, as you mentioned, the timing of that last security clearance cancellation of Brennan's versus his ability to take unilateral action and just the thrill it gives him to execute that kind of power.

DAWSEY: Right. Well, it's certainly -- the people he wants to take clearances from are people that he has berated on Twitter, mocked repeatedly, gone after for the actions, whether Peter Strzok or Lisa Page, who were texting and had some texts that were anti-Trump, to Andrew McCabe, to James Comey. Some of these people were already fired, like Comey and McCabe, don't even have clearances, so it's interesting that the president says he wants to strip clearances away. But most of these people on this list are, you know, at least in the president's mind, foes, people who have caused him damage or harm. And he sees unilaterally, I can take these clearances away, and why wouldn't I. Obviously, as you said earlier, Ana, a lot of people in the intel community, a lot of even his supporters in the White House and aides are a little squeamish about the idea of potentially having an enemies list and taking the unprecedented step of stripping clearances from people who you really just don't like.

CABRERA: The jury is still deliberating in the Paul Manafort trial, and I wanted to ask you a quick question about that. But first, here's what the president said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad. It's a very sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time, but you know what, he happens to be a very good person. And I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Josh, how closely do you think the president is watching this trial?

DAWSEY: I think the president is getting daily updates. He's watching news coverage of a trial. He's asking advisers about it. And I think his comments yesterday were fairly remarkable. He made these comments as the jury was deliberating. After his comments, Mr. Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, came out and said, "We appreciate the president's support." And now the jury's gone for the weekend and will resume negotiations on Monday. But it's pretty unusual for a president to step in the middle of a criminal case. It's happened before. Richard Nixon did it in the Charles Manson trial. Presidents have made comments about criminal cases, but it doesn't happen very often and particularly when a jury is actively deliberating a verdict. It could be interesting to see whether any of the jurors pay attention, read coverage over the weekend, and see what the president has to say about the case they're discussing.

CABRERA: Yes, that's right, this jury is not sequestered.

Josh Dawsey, thank you so much for joining us.

DAWSEY: Thanks for having me.

[15:14:14] CABRERA: A Colorado town still reeling as horrific new details emerge in the killings of a pregnant mother and her two young daughters. Her husband now arrested for the murders.

And there's now no question, hackers are targeting U.S. elections. Should we be worried? One of the world's top hackers will join us live.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: New details are emerging in the horrific killings of a pregnant mother and her two young children in Colorado. Police say the husband and father, Chris Watts, killed them. Court documents revealed that some members of this family may have been strangled. The body of the mother, Shanann, was found on the property of an oil and gas company where Chris used to work. The bodies of 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste were found inside an oil well.

Just a few weeks earlier, Shanann shared a video announcing her pregnancy to her family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WATTS, ACCUSED OF MURDERING FAMILY: We did it again. I like that shirt. Really?

SHANANN WATTS, WIFE OF CHRIS WATTS: Really. CHRIS WATTS: That's awesome.

SHANANN WATTS: Oh, my goodness. Come give me hugs.

Oh! I love you girls.

BELLA WATTS, DAUGHTER OF CHRIS WATTS: I'll give the baby a hug.

SHANANN WATTS: Want to give the baby a hug?

I love you, Bella. You're so sweet. Give me a kiss.

BELLA WATTS: Mommy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: According to our affiliate, KDVR, Shanann had been looking forward to a party today to announce the sex of her third child.

Watts has been arrested now on three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with a human body. Why he may have done this, still a mystery.

Kaylee Hartung joins us from outside the Watts home in Colorado.

Kaylee, where does the investigation stand?

[15:20:14] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, authorities have shared very few details with us. The fact-finding made more difficult because the judge has sealed Chris Watts' arrest affidavit and other court documents. So the questions of, what could his motive have been and what were the causes of death still looming very large. But a court filing made yesterday made by Chris Watts' defense team gives us new information, suggesting that some of these victims may have died by strangulation. The defense is asking that DNA samples be taken from those two little girls, from their necks and from their hands, and from Shanann, from her hands and beneath her fingernails. The defense not saying why they want these samples taken or their intention with this information. And it's unclear at this point if the court asked the medical examiner to include this sampling in the autopsy, which has already been completed. But that sort of is the latest bit of information that we have here.

All of this information as it comes out slowly has been so difficult for this small community of Frederick, Colorado, to process. This is a rural area. This new development where the Watts family lived, it's in an area dotted with oil wells, such as the one that the girls' bodies were found in. Last night, this community, though, came together, a candle light vigil right here outside the Watts' home. The collection of people sang "Amazing Grace," mourned the loss of these victims, and also showed their support for one another. That is what will be needed in the coming days as we learn more of what led to this tragedy -- Ana?

CABRERA: It is such a tragedy, seeing those pictures of those little girls, just beautiful. Kaylee Hartung, thank you for that update.

The silence is deafening. Days after a stunning grand jury report exposes more than 300 predator priests, the Vatican has now weighed in. But Pope Francis has not. Catholic priest, Father Edward Beck, is going to join us next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:26:45] CABRERA: Survivors of child sex abuse sending a message to Pope Francis: Say something. This, after a new grand jury report out of the state of Pennsylvania alleges the Catholic Church systematically covered up the alleged sexual abuse of at least 1,000 kids by at least 300 priests over 70-plus years.

The Vatican statement that came Thursday, two days after this news dropped, did not include a quote from the pope. The Vatican expressing "shame and sorrow," calling the accusations "criminally and morally reprehensible."

CNN's Rosa Flores spoke with sex abuse survivors demanding justice from the Catholic Church.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The word God makes me think of him, and I just --

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORERSPONDENT (voice-over): The voices of victims still demanding justice. While a bombshell grand jury report revealed more than 1,000 children were victimized by more than 300 predator priests and the bishops who hid their crimes over 70 years, the statute of limitations for prosecution has run out for all but two priests.

JOSEPH C. BAMBERA, BISOHOP, DIOCESE OF SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA: The grand jury has issued its report of findings.

FLORES: Pennsylvania bishops have released statements expressing their sadness for the victims, but that is not enough for Terry McKiernan.

TERRY MCKIERNAN, FOUNDER, BISHOPACCOUNTABILITY.ORG: It's a lot of sadness in these file cabinets, right?

FLORES: The founder of bishopaccountability.org, an organization that has tracked thousands of accused priests, a database that's about to grow significantly.

Take the diocese of Pittsburgh. The investigation revealed that it sheltered 99 predator priests, more than double the amount previously known to McKiernan. From 1988 to 2006, that diocese was led by then- bishop Donald Wuerl, now a high-profile cardinal in Washington, D.C. MCKIERNAN: Wuerl's legacy in Pittsburgh is a lot more complicated

than we thought. He was, beforehand, thought of as one of the good guys.

FLORES: The grand jury report credits Wuerl for standing up to the Vatican in some cases of abuse, but also suggests he guided at least one accused priest back into service. Cardinal Wuerl defended himself by saying his diocese, quote, "worked to meet or exceed the requirements of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the reporting requirements of Pennsylvania law."

But those are laws that critics say the Catholic Church is working overtime to influence in its favor.

Take Bishop Ronald Gainer from Harrisburg. He is one of the bishops who issued a statement expressing sorrow for the victim of the diocese. Gainer is the head of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, a group that aggressively lobbies against reforming the statute of limitations.

MCKIERNAN: The Catholic Conference has been tenacious in opposing this and, of course, they have allies in the Pennsylvania legislature.

FLORES: The group released a statement saying it was "devastated and outraged by the revelations" and "that the time to discuss legislation will come later."

Pennsylvania attorney general also pointing the finger at the church in a letter to Pope Francis last month, saying he believed that two unnamed Catholic Church leaders tried to, quote, "silence the victims and avoid accountability."

[15:30:00]

He says Pope Francis, the one man with the power to hold everyone involved accountable, has not yet responded.

MCKIERNAN: Transparency and accountability are the only thing that's going to save this church.

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: I want to talk more about this shocking grand jury report and now the Vatican's response.

Joining us now is Father Edward Beck, a Catholic priest and CNN religion commentator.

Father Beck, always good to have you on. Unfortunate, the circumstances this time.

As a priest, seen a lot of other comments on Twitter and other social media platforms from people like yourself about their feelings. I'm curious how you're feeling right now, given the news this week. FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Pretty awful, Ana.

This is like a wound that continues to fester and never heals. It's like this Band-Aid that gets pulled off so slowly as things trickle out. All of this really could have been dealt with at the time of Boston in 2002. I mean, these cases are all predate 2002, so why not all of the dioceses in the country, why not all of the files be released at the same time and admit, yes, there were egregious errors, horrific acts, and kind of let the pus out. But I mean, this slow dribble, for all of these years, and to make everyone, including the victims, first and foremost, go through this time and time again, I think it's reprehensible.

CABRERA: I mean, you're right. Most of the allegations go back decades ago, but we do know of at least two priests who were just charged this year.

BECK: Yes, there are two that can be prosecuted, but again, they were turned into the authorities by their diocese. So the -- what was in place after 2002 was followed in those two cases. Again, all of these reports pretty much predate 2002 with those new restrictions. Over 100 of these priests are dead.

CABRERA: The Vatican came out with its statement, days after the grand jury report. Why hasn't the pope spoken out? He hasn't exactly stayed quiet on so many other high-profile issues.

BECK: Well, I think that yet remains to be seen. Ana, remember, a week from today, he flies to Ireland. I'm sure there will be the typical press conference on the plane, on the way to Ireland. He has to address the abuse crisis in Ireland, and he may, indeed, reference this report, then, as well.

The spokesperson for the Vatican, Greg Burke, said to the victims, the pope is on your side. He wants accountability. So Greg was speaking for the pope. I know we want to hear those words from the pope. But as you know in the Vatican, unfortunately, things don't happen according to our time frame, but I think the pope will certainly be speaking about it.

CABRERA: Right. But he has to be hearing some of these victims, who are courageously coming forward, say why isn't the pope speaking, I want to hear from the pope himself. What do you think it is that's holding him back, that he isn't responding immediately?

BECK: I think there's a sense in the Vatican, Ana, that the church is a worldwide institution, so remember, this issue has been dealt with recently in Chile. It's in Africa. It's all over Asia. The United States is one piece of that. Granted, the United States is very important, and the Vatican recognizes that. But I think the pope is sometimes loath to put certain things to the fore, seemingly excluding other parts of the world, not to day the problem is more important here. So I think, again, it's very measured. And I know we want to hear now. I want to hear from him now. I want to hear those words of compassion and consolation and regret and apology. And I think we will, but this is a worldwide church, and the United States is just one country in the midst of this issue. CABRERA: Are you confident this issue is in the past and just the

past?

BECK: Well, I'm confident that, after 2002, that there's mandatory reporting to authorities, that priested are removed with a credible allegation against them, and that's why we see practically no cases since 2002. Now, worldwide, I think we've still yet to see the scope of this, because civil law differs country to country. And unfortunately, the church follows civil law in many of these instances. So I think we are still going to see developments in Latin America, Africa, elsewhere, because this is a global problem. It's not just the United States' problem. And it's not just a Catholic Church problem, as you know. It's endemic in all institutions. And, unfortunately, it's horrific and the pain of it continues.

CABRERA: Father Edward Beck, thank you very much for joining us. It's nice to see you.

BECK: You, too, Ana.

[15:34:50] CABRERA: All right. You've heard the warning. Hackers are targeting our upcoming elections. So, just how vulnerable are we? Our next guest knows because he is one of the world's top hackers. In fact, he was once one of the FBI's most wanted. That's minutes away, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

But first, coming this Labor Day, a CNN special event, the television premier of "RBG." And as we take a closer look at the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we are also examining how experience of all American women has dramatically changed. Today, we're looking at education.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

# (voice-over): Education for women has been revolutionized since the era when RBG's mother, Celia, was in school. Though Celia was an excellent student, her family sent only her brother to college. Home- Ec class was de rigueur for girls when RBG was growing up. When women did attend college, it was with expectations that they'd meet their husbands there.

RGB did meet Marty Ginsburg, but she also graduated with honors. Many elite colleges didn't even accept women until after the 1960s. Title IX changed everything. The act prohibited gender discrimination in federally supported education. The challenge had been to fulfill the law's promise.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: To my mother, Celia Amster Bader, I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve, and daughters are cherished as much as sons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Watch "RBG" on Monday, September 3rd, at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:40:59] CABRERA: The warning lights are blinking red. That is what our nation's top intelligence officials said about cyber threats against the upcoming midterm elections. And right now, there's already hard evidence it's happening. Microsoft says it has identified and blocked hacking attempts against three congressional candidates. And at least two candidates have come out and said they were victims. One candidate, a Democrat running for Congress in California, the other, Senator Claire McCaskill. So the big question as we get closer to November, are our elections safe?

For that, I want to bring in Kevin Mitnick. He is one of the world's top hackers-turned cyber security consultant. At one time, in fact, he was one of the FBI's most wanted after hacking 40 companies for fun.

So, Kevin, you're the perfect person to have this discussion with. Candidates, we know, are being attacked through their e-mail accounts. These hackers send them phishing e-mails. Take us inside the mind of a hacker. Why do they want in? What do you think they're looking for?

KEVIN MITNICK, HACKER-TURNED-CYBER SECURITY CONSULTANT: Obviously, for some control here. And, supposedly, the threat actors in this case are nation states like Russia, for example, so they obviously want to influence the election. And one of the most common ways to attack these individuals, to get access to their e-mail, is through phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are extremely effective. And when we're actually -- when my team is actually testing corporate America, public and private sector systems, we use the same type of trade craft, and it's usually 100 percent. So this is a very common technique.

CABRERA: Officials say Russian hackers targeted the voting systems in at least 21 states back in 2016. Right now, it's unclear if they're doing just that at the moment. But there was a hacking convention last weekend and I had a chance to speak to a guy who was in charge of a section of it. He had kids try to hack into mock election Web sites. Listen to what he told me about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE BRAUN, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE & PUBLIC LIAISON, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The first kid got in, it was an 11-year-old girl. She got in and took over the kind of mock Florida Web site in under ten minutes and was able to change election results.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So those were mock Web sites. Are our election systems really this vulnerable, do you think?

MITNICK: Well, that was just a mock Web site, so that's just a sample Web site set up as for a challenge. I actually helped protect the Ecuadorian elections back when Rafael Correa was running for president, and the challenges were pretty substantial. And at DefCon, there was also a hack where somebody was able to physically access a voting machine and take out a card and actually reboot the machine to gain access to it. But would that really be an effective threat? You know, because ordinarily, when you're using these voting machines, you're under somebody's supervision. And so I don't think that attack is really going to be a reliable one that would be used. But that's not to say that our federal government really needs to test each component of the system to make sure that it's as resilient as possible. And that's through a technique called penetration testing or ethical hacking, where the government, whether it's state or federal, actually tries to compromise these systems. Think of a Las Vegas casino. They have gaming machines. So, they have the Gaming Commission that actually checks each machine on a periodic basis to make sure it's not tampered with. Maybe our governments should -- federal and state government should use the same type of process where they actually are checking the voting machine itself. They're already working on installing sensors, what they call Albert sensors on the network.

CABRERA: Right.

MITNICK: These -- what an Albert sensor is, it's really looking at all the network details, the network traffic, kind of like cars on a freeway, looking for the red cars, because the red cars could be potentially malicious. But unfortunately, nation states like Russia could bypass this type of technology, but it's good to have in place, but unfortunately, it's not the silver bullet.

[15:45:13] CABRERA: It's not foolproof is what you're saying. We do know just yesterday, it was announced 36 of 50 states have installed those Albert sensors.

Kevin Mitnick, I'd love to have you back as we learn more details about what types of interventions have been put in place since the last election to try stop any potential hacking attempts.

Thank you again for joining us.

MITNICK: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: As the tributes keep pouring in for the queen of soul, we are learning now about a memorial planned in Aretha Franklin's honor. We'll have details next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:50:10] (SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: What a woman, what a voice, what a performer, what a person. Fans today paying respect to the queen of soul honoring the legendary Aretha Franklin. Her soul-stirring powerhouse voice was like no other. She passed away at the age of 76 with a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She won 18 Grammy Awards. Aretha Franklin was the first woman ever inducted into the Rock "N" Roll Hall of Fame.

With us now to talk more about the queen of soul, People TV anchor, Lola Ogunnaike.

You and I were both --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: You just can't help but move. She's touched each of us personally. You had a chance to meet here, right?

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, ANCHOR, PEOPLE TV: I met her at P. Diddy's party in the Hamptons. That's a testament to who Aretha Franklin was. She was this regal other-worldly foundation of soul music, but she was also very real, very regal, and very real. When I met her, I didn't know if I should bow, kiss her hand, or what.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Or give her a hug --

OGUNNAIKE: Give her a hug

CABRERA: -- because you feel like you know her.

OGUNNAIKE: But she was so warm and genuine. I love that she wanted to remain relevant throughout all the decades. And the kids loved her as well. Here she is doing a cover of Adele's song "Rolling in the Deep." I didn't know if it was an Adele song or an Aretha song by the time she was done with it. It was so stellar and superb. She was collaborating with Andrea 3000 from "Outcast." So every generation has their Aretha Franklin.

CABRERA: No doubt about it.

She wanted to make sure her powerful voice was heard, not just on stage, but on stage too. But not just in music. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARETHA FRANLIN, SINGER: My definition of a diva would be singers who give back to the community, who tithe to their churches, who are supportive in any way that they can be outside theatrics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So obviously she felt that she needed to give back to the community, that it was a responsibility of hers. Do you think that's unique in a way, that specifically in the entertainment world?

OGUNNAIKE: I think the idea of one using one's platform for good is one that Aretha Franklin spearheaded and pioneered. Her music was the sound track for the civil rights movement. Not only did she provide lyrics for the civil rights movements and the feminist movement but provided monetary support as well. She was right there willing to give money or play concerts and used those concerts as tools to galvanize a community and raise funds for the civil rights movement. Her father was very instrumental in the movement, she sang at Martin Luther King's funeral. So it was very important for her to be at the center of the movement, both with her music and her money as well.

CABRERA: Such a role model for so many --

OGUNNAIKE: Absolutely.

CABRERA: -- young women, myself included.

Lola Ogunnaike, thank you so much.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

CABRERA: Always good to see you.

Meantime, tributes are also pouring in today for former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan's foundation says the Nobel Prize-winner died after a short illness. He was 80 years old. Annan was the first black African to lead the United Nations. And he did so from 1997 to 2006.

Former President Barack Obama releasing this statement saying, "Kofi Annan was a diplomat and humanitarian who embodied the mission of the United Nations like few others. Long after he had broken barriers, Kofi never stopped his pursuit of a better world and made time to motivate and inspire the next generation of leaders."

"Sesame Street" tweeted a clip of Annan appearing on the children's show along with its condolences, tweeting, "We mourn the loss of Kofi Annan, a relentless champion for peace and a passionate ambassador for 'Sesame Street' and the world's children.

Here's the bit of Annan's "Sesame Street" appearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

KOFI ANNAN, FORMER U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Is there a problem I can help you with?

MUPPETT: That depends. Who are you?

ANNAN: My name is Kofi Annan. I'm the secretary-general of the United Nations.

MUPPET: Oh. I'm Elmo. And this is Lulu and this is Zoe, and that's Grover, and that's Timmy. We are the general masters of "Sesame Street."

(LAUGHTER)

[15:54:57] ANNAN: Yes, you got that right.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: The state of Oklahoma has the distinction of having the highest incarceration rate of women in the United States. It's been that way for more than 25 years. This week's "CNN Hero" is giving these women a voice and the power to heal themselves. Meet high- school English teacher, Ellen Stackable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came here when I was 10. have a 30-year sentence. After I hit the yard and I got a taste of what prison was, it shocked me that I was here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of feelings in prison and you don't get to feel them. You're not a person and your feelings aren't validate.

ELLEN STACKABLE, TEACHER & CNN HERO: Many of the women that have been incarcerated are victims of some kind of abuse. We provide a safe place for them to overcome trauma and pain. So it is so much more than just writing. It becomes a therapeutic way for healing to occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)