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Report on an intruder who jumped the fence into the White House; President Trump asks the resignation of 46 US attorney generals, including Preet Bharara; Vice President Mike Pence hits the road trying to sell the Republican healthcare plan. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired March 11, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: - blindsided by this order to step down not because it came with such little warning, but because it was back in November, just a few months ago, when President Trump actually asked Bharara to stay on the job.
So, more on that in just a moment, but I want to get to CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones for more information that we're learning on this intruder who jumped the White House fence around midnight last night. Athena, what more are you learning?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, this is interesting. This is coming from the criminal complaint and the affidavit sworn by the arresting officer - the arresting uniformed Secret Service officer.
I want to mention first that the suspect, Jonathan Tran, 26 years old from California, is being charged with unlawful injury and we're told he'll be arraigned in federal court on Monday. He's being held because a judge said that he poses a flight risk and is a danger to the community.
But according to the sworn statement by the arresting officer from the Secret Service, we're learning some more details about just what went down last night at 11:38 pm when the Secret Service officer confronted the suspect.
He said that Tran was walking from the east side of the south grounds of the White House complex. He was walking close to an exterior wall of the White House mansion and he was approaching the south portico.
That is the door on the opposite side of the White House, from the door behind me, the one that faces the Washington Monument. Tran was wearing a hooded sweater or a jacket and was carrying a backpack. When he saw the Secret Service officer, he altered his course and began heading toward the south lawn of the White House.
This was, of course, after he had already scaled at least one barricade. From the police report, it appears that he scaled at least two barricades actually, one near the Treasury Department right behind me and then another fence that divides that road - that separates the White House from Treasury.
And so, scaling two barriers. As we've been reporting, Tran told the arresting officer that he was a friend of the president and that he had an appointment and he did it - he said, I jumped the fence.
Now, as you indicated, during the search, the officer found two cans of mace, one that was inside his jacket pocket. He was also carrying a United States passport, an Apple laptop computer, a book written by President Trump, and a letter he had written to Trump.
And this is interesting, in the letter, Tran mentioned Russian hackers. He said he had information of relevance and he also alleged that he had been followed and that his phone and email communications had been read by third parties. He also told the officer that he had been called schizophrenic.
This officer says, at one point - the video surveillance shows him jumping the fence near the treasury building. And then, at one point, Tran hid behind a pillar - a White House pillar before proceeding to make his way toward that essentially backdoor.
So, a lot of new details coming out of this the sworn statement by the arresting officer, Ana.
CABRERA: Interesting that he had a letter for the president. What are we learning about him from what the family is saying?
JONES: Yes. This is interesting. Also interesting that earlier we were told that backpack had no hazardous materials. It sounds like mace perhaps doesn't count as a hazardous material. But producer Laurie Ure spoke with Tran's younger brother Brian in California earlier today.
Brian Tran said that his older brother was troubled after being laid off from his job at an electrical engineering company. Tran was living in his car and eating junk food, according to his brother. And also, Jonathan Tran graduated, we're told, San Jose State University with an electrical engineering degree and he had been stressed out from the job - that job that he had been laid off.
This brother said that the Secret Service agent - a Secret Service agent called the family's home last night to let them know about the fence jumping incident and that his mother was very troubled about the matter. So, some interesting details being revealed.
And also interesting to hear the word troubled being used, not just by Tran's family, but also by President Trump who told reporters earlier that he had been informed that this suspect was troubled. Ana?
CABRERA: Well, thanks for staying on top of it, bringing us those new details about exactly what happened as, of course, the Secret Service is now doing an internal investigation into how the security breach happened.
And several pieces of that - the fact that two fences were jumped and then it was only that a security officer happened upon this suspect, calling into question where the failures happen in terms of the security system.
Athena Jones, thank you for that. Now, the other big story, the firing, of course, of this US attorney
Preet Bharara. CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett and CNN's Sara Ganim have been on this story all day.
Laura, Trump we now know didn't actually call Bharara directly.
[18:05:00] LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No, he did not. He had the Justice Department take care of this. In fact, Ana, the acting deputy assistant attorney general Dana Boente, a US attorney in New York, who took over for Sally Yates just a couple months ago, he actually called Bharara today and said, 'is it true that you're not going to resign?' Bharara told him yes. And then Dana Boente later called him and said, 'well, in that case, the president says you're fired.'
Now, we're hearing a lot of reaction from different people in the legal community today. For instance, the attorney general of New York came out with a strong statement this afternoon saying President Trump's abrupt and unexplained decision to summarily remove over 40 US attorneys has once again caused chaos in the federal government and led to questions about whether the Justice Department's vital and non- partisan work will continue under Attorney General Sessions as it must, Ana.
Now, Bharara explained that while he is leaving, somebody is taking his place. There are career prosecutors there and his current deputy, Joon Kim, will now serve in his place, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. A lot of reaction rippling through the world of the law enforcement community and the justice community. Bharara does have a reputation of being a heavy hitting US attorney. Sara Ganim has been looking into his reputation, some of the cases that he has covered and prosecuted. Tell us more.
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very well respected and probably one of the most powerful US attorneys in the country, Ana. Preet Bharara was appointed almost eight years ago by President Barack Obama. He had been the chief counsel to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Schumer has now emerged as one of the chief adversaries of Donald Trump. But back in 2009, Schumer was actually the one who encouraged President Obama to appoint Bharara after one of Bharara's investigations led to the resignation of the then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Now, Bharara's office was prosecuting everything like from terrorists, like the attempted Times Square bomber, to international Russian crime bosses to the hacking group Anonymous. But Bharara is perhaps most well known for going after corruption cases, most notably the Wall Street corruption cases.
A Time Magazine, you could see here, from 2012 says it all. They said this man is busting Wall Street. People called him the enforcer. And he was greatly feared on Wall Street. He prosecuted dozens of insider trading and securities fraud cases, including Bernie Madoff's brother. Of course, his corruption cases also went beyond Wall Street. Bharara was appointed by a Democratic president, but he was known for his non- partisan investigations, going after both Democrats and Republicans.
Until today's firing, he was in the middle of investigations involving the offices of the two most powerful Democrats in the State of New York. He was said to try former aides to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who are accused of bribery and big rigging, and he was also in the final stages of an investigation of New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio looking at allegations of pay to play.
Bharara, of course, headed a very important federal district. This is the Southern District of New York. This is where Trump Tower is. So, any federal investigation ongoing that may involve anything like wiretapping or anything else would likely include his office.
And remember, Ana, this is not unexpected. US attorneys do serve at the pleasure of the president. But in speaking to people today, I have learned that this really did come as a shock because he was asked back in November by President Trump to stay in office. And then this sudden firing really does surprise a lot of people.
CABRERA: As you mentioned, the presidents can appoint who they want. However, as he points out in his statements there, he says one hallmark of justice is absolute independence. That was my touchstone every day that I served. So, they still are acting in a non-partisan capacity.
GANIM: Absolutely. And he was known for that. He was known for being non-partisan. A political - really a prosecutor's prosecutor, someone who went after the facts - followed the facts in his cases and didn't solely - he didn't make it a political job. Did not solely go after people of an opposite party to the one that the president who appointed him was a part of.
CABRERA: Sure. Sara Ganim and Laura Jarrett, thank you so much. I want to bring in now Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz. Professor Dershowitz, we've seen this before. Past presidents fire US attorneys, they pick their own to fill these positions. So, why is this one so surprising?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: What's surprising is that the president went out of his way to meet with Bharara and say to him, 'you, I want to stay on, I would like you to remain on.'
And everybody applauded him because it would show the bipartisan nature of US attorneys' office, the continuity. And then suddenly, he gets, if not a tweet, basically a message that he has to submit his resignation, and that if he doesn't do it that he's fired.
[18:10:15] So, it's the turnaround that calls out for an explanation. Why did the president change his mind so precipitously? Is it because Schumer who was basically the man who nominated him for the job has now kind of become one of the leading forces calling for investigations? Are there other reasons? We don't know. If he had just sought his resignation like anybody else, it would not be a story. Because he had singled him out and called him in and then without even making a phone call to him and explaining it to him, he basically said I need your resignation and then he fired him. That becomes a story.
And we're going to know the answer to it because, remember, a successor is going to have to be appointed and confirmed by the Senate. And when that successor is confirmed and the Justice Department puts him forward, questions are going to be asked of the Justice Department why was Preet Bharara so quickly fired after he was retained.
Fortunately, there are a lot good people out there to replace him. And it will be a good replacement, I'm sure.
CABRERA: Now, on the flipside, Professor Dershowitz, I guess you could say if he were the only one of these 46 who were allowed to stay, that would also be singling him out in a different way, right?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, no, a couple of others have already been asked to stay. The US attorney in Maryland, of course, is now going to become the deputy, but apparently he was asked to stay in and one other at the very least was asked to say.
But, no, if he was the one who was asked to stay because he has important - remember, he has different kind of cases than other US attorneys have. He has cases that take years and years to develop. They're very complex, very difficult cases.
Other US attorneys, in some parts of the country, have cases that are relatively simple. Never simple, but much simpler than in the Southern District. So, it would be understandable to keep on the Southern District.
But a very similar problem occurred when Richard Nixon got elected and the legendary Bob Morgenthau was the US attorney and they played hardball with each other for months. And ultimately, Bob Morgenthau left the office over the objection of many of the most distinguished lawyers in New York, Republicans and Democrats alike.
And I think we're going to see some pushback from both Republicans and Democratic lawyers because the one thing everybody knew about this US attorney Bharara is that he was man of great integrity and bipartisan. He was not a partisan at all and he was completely independent. So, there's going to be some pushback from the legal profession.
CABRERA: All right. Professor Alan Dershowitz, thank you very much.
DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.
CABRERA: Now, the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare seems like a hard sell for some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Up next, we'll hear from the Democratic governor of Connecticut about what, if anything, lawmakers can do to win his support.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:17:07] CABRERA: Opposition from both sides of the political aisle facing Vice President Mike Pence who's on the road this week and trying to sell the Republican healthcare plan. Pence landed in Kentucky today, Sen. Rand Paul's home state.
Paul, of course, has been a vocal critic of the plan, calling it "dead on arrival." Here's what he said earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (D), KENTUCKY: This is Obamacare light. It will not pass. Conservatives aren't going to take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Today, the vice president had a spot of message for the libertarian senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, let me be clear, this is going to be a battle in Washington DC. And for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all, we need every Republican in Congress and we're counting on Kentucky.
President Trump and I know, at the end of the day, after a good and vigorous debate, we know Kentucky will be there and we will repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Bring in Democratic Connecticut governor Dan Malloy, another critic of the Republican plan. He's joining me from Hartford. Governor, thank you so much for being us.
The vice president is taking this healthcare fight to individual states. In your mind, what does he need to say to gain support in Connecticut?
GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, he won't gain support in Connecticut because we know what the document says that he's promoting. It will take insurance away from millions of people. It will gut Medicaid. It will cause people to lose their lives. It will cause hospitals to close. It will cause other clinics to close.
The reality is in the long run, over the next few years, it will cost Connecticut more than $1 billion if we were to maintain Medicaid to the audience of people we currently serve without lifesaving, life- changing coverage.
By the way, I'm in my 60s. If I was to go to the marketplace under this plan, I would have to pay probably about $8,000 more for my coverage. That's what they're doing, folks. Everyone, wake up and understand that that this is repeal and replace with the emphasis on repeal and really not replace.
What they're going to do is make you sicker.
CABRERA: I hear you're not happy, Governor. But I want to play something House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said just yesterday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA AND HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The work that Chairman Walden has done when it deals with Medicaid, we did not do that in a vacuum. We brought together governors. We brought governors who have expanded and governors who did not expand and worked together to find common ground.
So, yes, there's going to be questions on both sides of the aisle. But sometimes, when you have pushed back on one side and the other side from a political spectrum, you might've found the sweet spot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, governor, does he have a point? If neither side gets everything it wants, isn't that the definition of compromise?
MALLOY: No, he doesn't have a point. Governors are not telling him to touch Medicaid. Nevada Republican governor is not telling - is disagreeing. Ohio is disagreeing. Asa Hutchinson is disagreeing. Governor after governor, who has expanded Medicaid, thinks this is the craziest plan that anyone has ever come up with.
[18:20:15] The difference is that the gentleman is not listening and that's a kind of a malady that, I guess, both sides could claim some responsibility for in Washington. But governors who have expanded Medicaid know that it's life-changing and life-saving.
And what they really want to do is gut that program. And by the way, I have been listening and watching the show today. The idea that they're going to block grants, that block grant, the way they are structuring it would cause us to have to take 35,000 people in our little state out of the Medicaid program.
That would mean that hospitals would not be reimbursed for those emergency visits, which by the way we have weaned down very significantly, the emergency rooms, over the last few years because of this program.
But I want to go back to this. Raising rates on the seniors, whose idea is this? Who are they listening to? Nobody thinks that that's a good idea. I will say this, if you don't understand what they're proposing, well, and all you want is repeal, I suppose that makes sense.
But the details here are so bad that they are desperate to rush this through before anybody reads this document. CABRERA: Let's talk one of those details because, as you put it, it's a complicated law. Healthcare in itself is complicated, the way it works here in America. One of the proposals within this new Republican plan is to give tax credits that are age-based.
You talked about the expensiveness for somebody who is older. Well, older people under the Republican plan would get more money in a tax credit than a younger person. Why can't that work?
MALLOY: Because healthcare is more expensive the older you get because, quite frankly, you get sick more often and you have to have a knee replaced or a hip replaced or a major dental surgery. The increase is minuscule in comparison to the difference in pricing. So, they want to price these things by age. And they want to give seniors a lot less money.
I am telling you, in 2021, with no other changes, with no increase in costs, for a person my age, the additional cost would be $8,000 a year after you get your check.
CABRERA: The tax credits, we should say, are proposed to be between $2,000 and $4,000. That would be going back to folks - depending on age, you talked about that $8,000 cost.
So, really, it may not cover everything. But let's say this plan is implemented, how would you handle it if the Medicaid money goes away?
MALLOY: Well, it shouldn't go away. That's the whole point. And this is the game -
CABRERA: What if you're forced to figure it out, though?
MALLOY: So, this is what would happen. You would have to cut $1 billion of other services. You would have to raise taxes $1 billion or you'd have to take insurance away from 35,000 people. That's what you would have to do.
But that's 35,000 people are people who are living in poverty. Where are they going to get the coverage? And so, when they don't get the coverage, they get sicker. And when they get sicker, they show up at the emergency room in the hospital. And they don't get the preventative care that they should otherwise be getting.
This is a disaster waiting to happen. Trumpcare is a disaster. What they're trying to do, what the Republicans in the House are trying to do won't even get through the Senate.
CABRERA: Right. Gov. Dan Malloy, thanks to you for being here with us on a Saturday.
MALLOY: Thank you.
CABRERA: When it comes to healthcare, there is, of course, the human side to this political story, the most important side. And today, we hear from my Trump supporter who once hated Obamacare, but now needs it to survive.
CNN's Miguel Marquez reports.
REP. MO BOOKS, (R) ALABAMA: This is the largest welfare program ever proposed by republicans.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some Republicans outright rejecting the plan to replace Obamacare. Democrats, too.
REP. MICHAEL DOYLE, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: This is what you've come up with. This is a bad joke.
MARQUEZ: The bill under fire from both sides. Americans like Tiffany Taylor. You're a conservative Republican?
TIFFANY KOEHLER, CANCER SURVIVOR: I am.
MARQUEZ: Not your typical Republican, caught in the middle.
MARQUEZ: Could you have afforded that chemotherapy without Medicaid? Without being on that program?
MARQUEZ: And it was only that expansion of Medicaid that allowed you to be on that program.
MARQUEZ: She doesn't like Obamacare's individual mandates. Like many Republicans, she'd prefer market solutions to healthcare. But -
KOEHLER: When we all want to thrive and make America great again, as he would say, but we can't do that if we're struggling to pay bills.
MARQUEZ: Three years ago, she had employer-based insurance, then lost her job. She went on Obamacare for $400 a month, then decided to take a chance.
KOEHLER: And I need your help.
MARQUEZ: She ran for office and lost. Then, some really bad news. Cancer, stage IV, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
KOEHLER: My prognosis was poor. I wasn't supposed to survive.
MARQUEZ: By that time, she couldn't afford insurance, qualifying for Medicaid. Wisconsin expanded its coverage under Obamacare, but rejected federal funds to pay for it. Was it difficult to go - to rely on the government for healthcare?
KOEHLER: Well, not necessarily. It was life or death for me.
MARQUEZ: The American Cancer Society estimates today there are some 1.5 million Americans with cancer on Medicaid.
DICK WOODRUFF, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: Anyone who's in the Medicaid expansion, who are the really the lowest income Americans, and many of them are cancer patients as well, including childhood cancer patients, are going to be losers.
MARQUEZ: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates the GOP plan will gut more than $0.5 trillion in federal Medicaid spending over a decade. For people like Tiffany Koehler with a pre-existing condition, her healthcare costs already over $1 million.
KOEHLER: People have to be able to get to their doctors. People have to be able to get their medicine. And out of any country in the world, we should be doing it. We should be doing it right.
Miguel Marquez, CNN. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Ana Cabrera, HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: Thanks to Miguel. Coming up. Joy turns into shock as a family gets two different decisions from an immigration agent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't breathe. I was choked up. I couldn't talk at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: A family's reaction as their mother is told she must leave the country.
[18:35:06] CABRERA: One of 46 federal attorneys who refused to step down at the request of President Trump has been fired. Up until today, Preet Bharara was one of the most high profile federal prosecutors in the country and had originally been told by the president that he would be able to keep his job.
Bharara said in a statement earlier, "Today, I was fired from my position as US attorney for the Southern District of New York. Serving my country as US attorney here for the past seven years will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life no matter what else I do or how long I live."
Joining me now to discuss, Wajahat Ali, a "New York Times" contributor, and Republican strategist Alice Stewart. I want to read part of the statement from Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, as we're getting more and more of these statements coming in, in reaction to this latest development.
"The abrupt Friday night firing of all remaining US attorneys, including Preet Bharara, a well-respected, tough prosecutor who president promised would stay, is another reminder that the independence of the Justice Department is at risk under this administration."
Alice, what's your reaction to that? Is the independence of the DOJ at risk under the Trump administration?
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, look, there's no disputing Bharara's credentials and his success and taking on Wall Street, fighting public corruption, he's been an outstanding US attorney and that is without question.
But the fact remains that President Trump was completely within his authority to let all the US attorneys go. Look, Bill Clinton did the exact same thing, firing more than 90 US attorneys at the drop of a hat and that is not unheard of. It is not uncommon to do so.
And look, the president wants his own team, he wants people that will be loyal to him and to Jeff Sessions and this was an important step to do so. And while people question the timing of it, the fact remains he is completely in his authority to do so. And this will be a good step to getting Jeff Sessions a loyal, committed team of US attorneys standing behind him to make sure that law and order -
CABRERA: When you say a loyal, committed team, these people are public servants who are non-partisan in how they are approaching investigations. Isn't that the case with these positions?
STEWART: Absolutely. And they also at the same time are appointed by the president and serve at the will of the president. And it is not unusual - this is not anything unusual for him to bring in his own team of US attorneys and for the US attorney Jeff Sessions - or Jeff Sessions to have his own team. So, there should be no disputing the fact this is certainly within the president's authority.
CABRERA: When you hear, Wajahat, somebody like Democrat Patrick Leahy questioning the integrity essentially of this Justice Department, is that fair?
WAJAHAT ALI, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's totally fair because you have to question the timing and nature of this. It seems that President Trump takes his cues from Sean Hannity and Fox News who asked for a purging of the attorneys.
And the next day, he goes against his own judgment because President Trump and both Jeff Sessions validated and vouched for Preet Bharara who was asked to stay on.
And this whole question of loyalty, this resembles that of a Middle Eastern dictatorship or Russia. Look, you want independent qualified attorneys and Preet Bharara had the respect of both Democrats and Republicans. In the past, they have come out and supported for him. So, timing of this is very suspect.
And especially the fact that, look, Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any investigation into Russia. It's caught that he would lie twice about the nature of meetings - excuse, even meeting Russian ambassador. You have the Michael Flynn scandal. You also have Donald Trump who has talked about this wiretap where there's no, of course, evidence. You also Russia ties. And you have the leakiest administration in modern history.
And so, one would assume that Donald Trump would stick to his own guns and be consistent. But in the past week, he is again showing himself to be very inconsistent, very thin-skinned and very fickle, and taking his cues from Sean Hannity instead of common sense and precedence.
And I think all people, Republicans and Democrats, should be very wary if you have yes-men and yes-women and loyalists in positions that should be independent.
STEWART: Waj, I don't know where your reference to Sean Hannity comes in and whether it has anything to do with this. Look, the president is executing the power of the president and bringing on -
CABRERA: Well, the timing is kind of interesting, Alice, when Sean Hannity says something about cleaning house and these attorney positions the day before this actually happens.
STEWART: That's irrelevant. The fact remains there are 93 US attorneys. The president has the authority to fire them at any time he wants to and bring in US attorneys that he wants to have in his administration.
And Jeff Sessions will do a great job now with the people that are appointed by this president and that will ensure that justice will be executed under the Trump administration in a way that he sees fit.
[18:40:03] And the timing of this is absolutely irrelevant. The fact that he has the authority to do so is the main point.
ALI: The timing is so suspect, Alice. The timing is so suspect because why did Donald Trump validate Preet Bharara, ask him to stay on. There were press conferences. Jeff Sessions asked him to stay on. And now, all of a sudden, after Sean Hannity asks for a "purging," the next day Jeff Sessions comes on and says, 'oh, all 46, got to go.'
Of course, this is suspect. This should make us all concerned.
CABRERA: Wajahat, let me ask you this, though. The fact that we do know other presidents before President Trump have come in and replaced US attorneys. That's not uncommon. But the fact that Preet Bharara is coming out and making kind of a stink about it, why not just resign like the other 45 attorneys appear to be doing in this case?
ALI: Because I think he is doing - I'm a recovering attorney - and good for Preet for standing up for himself, for standing up for what I think is a very shady and very, I think, just slimy move by Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump. It's an act of resistance.
And he says, listen, you asked me to stay on, I've done a great job, I have validations from both Republicans, Democrats, I'm not going to resign, you fire me. And it puts Donald Trump in a corner because now Donald Trump, who validated him, now all of a sudden is backpedaling for no reason whatsoever and, of course, the timing is suspect because he happens to do it right after Sean Hannity asks for a purging.
And this again should make people be very suspect and concerned that we are not - we don't have the right people doing the job. We have loyalists who might be too biased in favor of party and politics over security of country. And that should concern -
CABRERA: Alice, let's talk about timing because we do know President Trump had asked Bharara to stay on in his position back in November. So, why this about-face?
STEWART: Well, that's the $64,000 question. And I agree with Waj, in that there were concerns about -certainly, there were concerns about the timing of it, but the fact that the president assured Bharara back in November that he would stay on and now there's a change of face, that is a concern. I understand that.
And I understand when Jeff Sessions originally told the 45 US attorneys, please tender your resignation as per the president, I can see where he was first hesitant because he was assured by the president that he could stay on.
But once the word came down from the president that he's fired, he should just take that for what it's worth, he's got a tremendous, tremendous career, and he certainly won't have any trouble with his next move.
But once the president says you're fired, that's pretty much it and I think he should move on.
CABRERA: But once the president says one thing, what are people to believe? If a president says I want you to stay on, in one hand, and then turns around and does what happens like we saw today, is that concerning about what the president's word means?
ALI: Yes, it's very concerning. It's very concerning. Because there's no consistency. And there's no justification, there is no reasoning here whatsoever given for this, it's abrupt.
And especially for a president who is accused of being reckless and thin-skinned, especially with the smart phone and his thumb and some tweets, two months in, to do this, on top of an interesting claim that Obama wiretapped him even though there is no evidence, it I think unfortunately only marginalizes him, his credibility and his mental state.
And I don't think that's good for the presidency. I don't think that's good for the administration.
CABRERA: Alice, I'll let you have the last word here.
ALI: I think to question the president's mental state is a little ridiculous here. But at the end of the day, I think one person only needs to be told one time that you're fired and then you move on. Look, I totally support Bharara's initial decision to stay on until he got the word from the president. But once he got the official word that his services are no longer needed, that's the time when you pack up your bags and you look for the next opportunity.
CABRERA: Alice Stewart, Wajahat Ali, thank you very much for offering your thoughts on this.
Still to come, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sending a message to US troops arriving in Syria, saying you're not welcome here. Why he doubts the US can beat ISIS, next.
You're live in CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:48:42] CABRERA: We're following disturbing news out of Syria tonight. The already war-torn country now suffering from twin bombings rocking the capital city of Damascus. At least 40 people are now dead and more than 100 others are injured, most of them Iraqi pilgrims. This, as the country's President Bashar al-Assad slams US troops in Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASHAR AL-ASSAD, PRESIDENT OF SYRIA: Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they're American, Turkish or any other one. And we don't think this is going to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, he called US troops invaders. CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is following all these developments in the Middle East. He joins us from Iraq. Ben?
BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the twin suicide bombers left more than 40 people dead, around 120 wounded. It turns out most of the victims were Iraqi pilgrims going to Shia shrines in a cemetery in the old city of Damascus.
Now, it's not clear, at this point, who was behind these bombings, but given the identity, the nationality of the victims and also the location of the attack, it's more than likely that the attackers were indeed from ISIS.
[18:50:03] Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Chinese journalists in which he said that he and President Donald Trump share a common view when it comes to fighting terrorism and fake news.
He also went on to say that American troops in Syria, there without the permission of the government in Damascus, are considered to be invaders. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Syrian government is going to do anything about it. Syria, backed by Russia, Hezbollah and Iran, as well as the United States which is backing Arab and Kurdish fighters, as well as Turkey which is backing factions of the free Syrian Army, all say they want to take part in the liberation of the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria, Raqqa. How that's going to work out is anybody's guess.
CABRERA: All right. Ben Wedeman, thank you very much.
Up next, a family facing an unknown future as they meet with an immigration agent. CNN's Rosa Flores tell us what happened in that dramatic meeting.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:55:56] CABRERA: In Chicago, a mother of four is facing possible deportation after nearly two decades here in the US. Her children grapple with confusion and fear as they prepare to go to their mother's crucial meeting with an immigration agent.
CNN's Rosa Flores was there when the family heard the agent's decision.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Francisca Lino is physically ill hours before she checks in with her immigration officer fighting back tears at breakfast.
FLORES (on camera): She says that her biggest fear is that her daughter is going to get sick if she gets deported.
FLORES (voice-over): The mother of four US born children has been showing up for regular check-ins with ICE for 12 years. But this is the first since Donald Trump has been in office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm feeling a little anxious, but I'm confident.
FLORES (on camera): She says that she has faith.
FLORES (voice-over): While her entire family is in the US legally. She is not. Francisca says she tried to use a fake visa nearly 20 years ago to enter the United States. When she later applied for a green card and her previous use of a phony document was discovered, she was detained.
Memories of the moment cripple her mother-in-law. Francisca was released after 28 days under the condition that she check-in with ICE regularly, a requirement for some low risk immigrants.
As she and her family make the 90-minute drive to downtown Chicago, the tension is rising. Her pastor waiting with a warning.
PASTOR EMMA LOZANO, LINCOLN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: They're acting very aggressive and out of character.
FLORES: Security guards ask us to turn off our cameras as Francisca walks inside with her attorney.
About an hour later, she emerges with a glowing smile after being told she can stay one more year. But moments later -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're calling her back in. Why?
FLORES (voice-over): Confusion, then fear as ICE calls her back inside.
FLORES (on camera): Has this ever happened before?
CHRIS BERGIN, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: No, never, but we'll see. I think it will be fine.
FLORES (voice-over): Fighting back tears, Francisca walks into the federal building again.
BRITZY LINO, FRANCISCA'S DAUGHTER: I couldn't breathe. I was choked up. I couldn't talk at all.
FLORES: In a stunning turn, ICE tells her she is in fact being deported in July and must return to the ICE office with a ticket back to Mexico.
LINO: They call us back up and just say, oh, no, you have a few months or something. It's not fair.
FLORES: Francisca's attorney says this is why undocumented immigrants are living in fear of President Trump's policies.
BERGIN: Under Obama, this wouldn't have happened. We would have - because this was the whole point of Obama's policy was discretion. You know, she's clearly not a danger to the community.
CABRERA: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us on this Saturday. We have eyes on two major and moving news stories this evening, both involving the Trump White House.
First, brand-new details about this man, Jonathan Tran, depicted here, arraigned today at a federal court for jumping the White House fence and almost making it to an entrance where the president was inside. How he did it, the charges against him and the dangerous stuff that was in his backpack, full details. We're going to go live to the White House.
Also, this man, the US attorney representing Manhattan, the White House told him to resign. He told them, fire me. That standoff is now over. This afternoon, now former US attorney Preet Bharara released a statement saying, in part, "Today, I was fired from my position as US attorney for the Southern District of New York. Serving my country as US attorney here for the past seven years will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life no matter what else I do or how long I live."
Now, sources say Bharara was particularly blindsided by this announcement by the Justice Department, the order that the 45 other US attorneys resign and him not just because it came with such little warning, but because he was included at all.