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AT THIS HOUR

John McCain to Stop Cancer Treatments; David Jolly Pushes for Impeachment of Trump; Trump Organization CFO Granted Immunity to Testify; David Jolly Pushes for Impeachment of Trump Following Cohen Plea; Senators React to News John McCain Won't Continue Medical Treatment; Pentagon Reacts to News John McCain Won't Continue Cancer Treatment. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 24, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): It's an aggressive form of brain cancer. It's a cancer that forms within the brain itself as opposed to spreading from somewhere else in the body to the brain. The type of treatment typically, as was the case with Senator McCain, he had an operation first to remove this what they thought was a blood collection. During that operation, they found this was a brain tumor. Then after that, the types of treatments that are what are called conventional treatments are usually a combination of chemotherapy, which is a medication that's given into the body basically chemicals that try to kill the tumor cells and radiation directly to the brain. A lot of people are familiar with these types of therapies. They body -- it has a toxic effect on other parts of the body. It's hard. He is tough as nails as everyone knows about Senator McCain. But his age probably does play a role here as well. You may remember going back before Beau Biden was Ted Kennedy. He was younger than Senator McCain, but sort of went through the same thing and survived and had 14 months of survival after his diagnosis.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: The next stage is some form of hospice care. What would that entail? Just doing everything they can to make him comfortable?

GUPTA: Yes. I don't know what stage -- given he has made this decision that the risks and the toll of the therapy are really no longer outweighing the benefits, I don't know -- that doesn't necessarily mean he is at the stage of hospice care. This could be a decision point he has made at this point, not indicating something like he needs to be this hospice or whether that's home hospice or something like that. Yes, to your question, at that stage, when it happens or if it happened, it's about providing comfort. That can take all sorts of different -- that can mean all sorts of different things. It may be within the home. It may involve things around pain control. It may involve just making sure that he is comfortable in all sorts of ways. Again, I'm going to be careful. I don't know that that's the stage where he is. Just because this decision has been made probably in conjunction with his doctors, obviously his family, I think we just don't know if he is at that stage yet.

NOBLES: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you for putting that in perspective for us. We appreciate it. We'll have much more on our two breaking news stories after this quick break. You are watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:37:21] NOBLES: Our breaking news, federal prosecutors have granted immunity to Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, and someone who has been with the company for decades. He is the latest member of Trump's inner circle to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

Former Republican Congressman David Jolly joins us now to discuss this topic and many others.

Congressman, thank are -- oh, I'm sorry. We will discuss this now with Congressman Jolly.

Congressman Jolly, can you hear me?

DAVID JOLLY, (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Good to be with you.

NOBLES: Sorry about that.

(CROSSTALK)

NOBLES: Sorry about that, sir.

JOLLY: No problem.

NOBLES: The reason we had you on today was because of the tweet that you posted this week about impeachment. I wonder now with the news that yet another member of the Trump inner circle has cut a deal with federal prosecutors, if that continues to emphasize or to reinforce your position on this. Explain why you decided it's come to that point for lawmakers.

JOLLY: Look, I think's impeachment inquiry is becoming inevitable. It's important that elected officials acknowledge that on both sides of the aisle and speak openly about it. Here is why. We know now that the president both lied about as well as admitted to participating with Michael Cohen in an activity that a federal court has just entered into judgement as a behavior is a crime. This is different than the John Edwards scenario. What happened in Michael Cohen's plea deal is a federal judge accepted his plea to criminal activity. It's criminal activity not only that Cohen alleged was also tied to the president but that the president, within 24 hours went on the news and said, yes, I did participate in this. The president likes to say it's not a crime. But a judge just did. If that's not enough to open an inquiry, I don't know what's it's going to take unless we see his loyalists drop and turn on him.

NOBLES: Many of your Republican colleagues disagree. Even many Democrats do as well. The current Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has warned her Democratic colleagues about taking this step. Obviously, there's a political calculation involved here. At what point does this conversation need to become real for lawmakers? JOLLY: Look, I think it's purely a political calculation. I think

dccc is looking at poll numbers. They have recognized it's easier to speak against corruption going into November than specifically about impeachment. When you talk specifically about impeachment, you do have to justify it. Corruption is an easier message. I would say, this is a moment where Democrats need to be -- stand and be counted, if you will. As Democratic Senators are currently saying that the president is too compromised to nominate a Supreme Court justice and, therefore, the Kavanaugh should be delayed, how you can make that argument and not also suggest he is so compromised we should be open to talking about the initiation of an impeachment inquiry? Perhaps the president is found not guilty in that process. But I think we have enough evidence to begin it.

[11:40:28] NOBLES: Let's say Democrats are able to win back the House in the fall. In order for the president to be removed from office, even if he is impeached would require conviction in the Senate. The map does not welcome as favorable for Democrats on that side. It's going to take Republicans standing up with a voice similar to yours if this is possible. Frankly, sir, there aren't a lot of Republicans who are saying the same things that you are. Even if privately they may have concerns about President Trump.

JOLLY: I was on Capitol Hill during the Bill Clinton impeachment. There are a lot of parallels here. Should Democrats take the House, I believe they will open an inquiry. To your point, I don't believe the votes are in the Senate. We are talking about six months from now. The reality is, Michael Flynn's sentencing has been delayed because he is continuing to cooperate. Trump's CFO is cooperating. Michael Cohen, his loyalists are beginning to turn on him. I believe Trump is going to fire Jeff Sessions. The walls will begin to crack within the Republican caucus and the Senate. We will see how this plays out. The first step in this -- I do believe Congress, Republicans won't do it, but Democrats should be honest about it and say, it's time to open an inquiry into the House of Representatives into what is admitted criminal behavior by the president of the United States of America.

NOBLES: You mention poll numbers. One of the reasons Democrats seem reluctant, to a certain extent it's important to listen to the voice of their constituents.

JOLLY: Sure.

NOBLES: I was in Ohio a couple of weeks ago for the special election there. I talked to a lot of voters. They did not seem that focused on the Russia investigation. Where is the balance here? The voters should have a say in this, right?

JOLLY: I love that question. Here is why. You are right, the Russia investigation is probably not going to be mentioned in this race. The Cohen matter is very different. This is a president who has lied and been implicated in a crime.

But to your point, one of my colleagues in Congress, Mark Sanford, a very good friend, once taught me that in politics, you are either a leading indicator or a lagging indicator. Too often, the majority of politicians follow the polls because, to your point, there's merit in following where the voters currently are. There are few people -- on a day where we talk about John McCain, he is one of them, who are willing to stand up and be a leading indicator and say to voters, I believe this is where we need to go and I'm asking you to follow me. I want to see voices begin to say, it's time we talk about impeachment. I'm asking you to come with me. I think there are enough American people that, even in November, would say I'm with you on that.

NOBLES: Let me ask you about Senator McCain. Back in May, you called him a remarkable American hero, a man who your party should emulate. What are your thoughts about him right now? This is someone you served with in Congress. You must have a heavy heart right now.

JOLLY: I do. In a town too often filled with cowardice, this was a man with courage. He was the real deal. It's important that we recognize his leadership, whether you agreed with him or not. This is someone who spoke to his own convictions, not to the politics of convenience. He will likely forever be remembered for that visual of the thumbs down on the Obamacare repeal, having been the former nominee of the Republican Party. I also think -- not to take anything away from John McCain on this day, but we have to recognize that his candidacy was a departure point for the Republican Party where they chose to go a different way. They chose to double down on a hard-line Sarah Palin conservative that later embraced Donald Trump. The party has gone a different direction. It's a sad decision the party made. It's a sad day for the country. Certainly, a sorrowful day for the McCain family. We all wish him god's blessings.

NOBLES: Congressman jolly, we appreciate you responding to some of the breaking news stories. We appreciate your perspective. Thank you for joining us.

JOLLY: Good to be with you.

[11:44:28] NOBLES: The top leaders in the United States Senate now reacting to the news of Senator John McCain deciding not to continue his treatment for brain cancer. We will have that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: We're covering two major breaking news stories this hour. First, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization was just granted immunity by the U.S. attorney's office involved in the Michael Cohen case. What it means for the investigation and for President Trump coming up.

Plus, sad news this hour as we learn that Senator John McCain battling brain cancer has decided to forego all future treatment.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeting, quote, "My thoughts and prayers are with Senator McCain and his family."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeting, "Very sad to hear this morning's update from the family of our friend Senator John McCain. We're so fortunate to call him our friend and colleague. John, Cindy, and the entire McCain family are in our prayers at this incredibly difficult hour."

Let's bring in CNN's Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

Obviously, you've covered Senator McCain's career very closely from your perch at the Pentagon. He's one of the leading voices when it comes to national security and defense. Barbara, just your initial thoughts about this news that Senator McCain will no longer seek treatment for his brain cancer.

[11:50:16] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Ryan. What I can tell you is I've been out in the Pentagon hallways talking to people, and already this morning the Pentagon, the U.S. military really has tears in its eyes. You cannot talk to anybody here about Senator McCain this morning without their voice catching, without them sort of looking down, not wanting to show but also wanting to show that the emotion they feel about this man. For the U.S. military, this is not about politics. No one here is going to talk about politics and John McCain. They are going to talk about what they consider -- this is military family business this morning, on this journey with this difficult news for the McCain family. The U.S. military quietly making it clear that full military honors will be rendered to Senator McCain at every step on this journey. One military officer telling me, "This is a huge loss for the U.S. Navy and for the U.S. military. Senator McCain, no stronger advocate over the decades for the trooper in the field."

But it is his service in Vietnam that everybody remembers. You know, shot down October 26th, 1967, serving more than five years in a north Vietnamese POW camp, tortured and in pain. The U.S. military doesn't like to talk about pain, pain of the wounded, pain of dying on the battlefield, pain of being a POW under torture. It makes everybody uncomfortable. But Senator McCain was one of those men who served in that very dark place so many years ago. You cannot get around it. This is a man who survived torture, as did other POWs, and got on with his life and continued to serve his country. He stayed in touch with other POWs. These were men that grew old together. And this morning all of them who are still with us very much, I know, wishing Senator McCain the best on this journey.

The U.S. military watching all of this very closely, very sad, determined that Senator McCain will be honored by this country -- Ryan?

NOBLES: No doubt, Barbara. Even right up until the end, he's been fighting on behalf of the military. This latest spending bill includes a military spending increase, a salary increase. It has his name on it. Many people thinking about Senator McCain at the Pentagon.

Barbara, thank you for that report.

Also, the House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeting, "John McCain personifies service to our country. The whole House is keeping John and his family in our prayers during this time."

Coming up, our other breaking news. A source telling CNN that federal prosecutors have now granted immunity to Allen Weisselberg, the long- time chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, and someone who's been with the company for decades. More on that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:57:35] NOBLES: We're getting some new details on the breaking news that federal prosecutors have now granted immunity to Allen Weisselberg, the long-time chief financial officer for the Trump Organization and someone who's been with the company for decades.

CNN's Kara Scannell is all over this story. She has new information.

Kara, what can you tell us?

SCANNELL: Ryan, Evan Perez and I have been told by sources that Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity for his testimony by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan who's investigating Michael Cohen. We understand he was interviewed weeks ago, questioned about the payments made by Michael Cohen, the Trump Organization reimbursements to Michael Cohen who had paid Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the president and he's not been called back since. The U.S attorney's office has given Weisselberg immunity. They discussed with him these payments to Michael Cohen -- Ryan?

NOBLES: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you for that.

Joining me now, CNN legal analyst, defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu.

Shan, just quickly, it seems from what Kara is reporting that this seems to be a pretty narrow scope that Allen Weisselberg is involved in, at least at this point.

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It does. There's a question as to when he was granted the immunity. We can safely assume there's been a lot of interviewing that's already gone on. So we don't know the full scope of what he may have given already to the prosecutors.

I think importantly, too, we hear so much talk about Trump's strategy being all political, geared towards public opinion and impeachment. He's got to remember that the legal strategy matters. If he ends up on trial in the Senate, it's not going to be like a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. The legal strategy, his credibility, all that is going to matter. Right now, his team is in disarray in terms of the strategy.

NOBLES: And does it mean that if Allen Weisselberg has already agreed to cooperate on some level. Even if he hasn't called back, that doesn't mean he couldn't be called back in the future, right?

WU: Absolutely. Cooperation is like a pregnancy. You can't be just a little bit pregnant.

NOBLES: You're all in.

WU: That's right.

NOBLES: All right. Shan Wu, thank you for joining me. I appreciate it.

WU: Thank you.

NOBLES: Thank you for joining me today. A lot of busy breaking news today, as always. I appreciate you tuning in.

We're going to go to "INSIDE POLITICSs," with Nia Malika Henderson. That starts in just a minute.

[11:59:51] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia Malika Henderson. John King has the day off.

Two huge stories we're following for you this hour. Another day, another flip. The Trump Organization's top money man is the latest Trump insider to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

And disheartening news from Arizona. John McCain --