tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN September 6, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
the lead with jake tapper starts right now. thanks, brook. everyone in d.c. playing a dangerous game of clue today. president trump reportedly white hot as one by one senior members of his administration race to issue personal denials about who authored that explosive anonymous "new york times" op-ed. almost 20 senior administration officials insisting it wasn't me. plus, shouting, rule breaking. if you thought judge kavanagh's supreme court hearings were going to settle down, think again. plus some sad breaking news in the pop culture lead, the legendary actor and director burt reynolds dead at 82 years old. even sheriff buford t. justice has to marvel at the wild ride the bandit had.
good afternoon, everyone. welcome to the lead. we begin with the turmoil roiling the trump presidency. president trump lashing out after a one-two punch exposing senior officials in his administration expressing concern about his temperament, impulsiveness, studiousness and more. most recently laid bear in a stunning "new york times" op-ed writen by an anonymous ofission ofission -- official. the truth of the matter is these new detailed accounts only confirm the concerns and fears that we have been reporting for more than a year and a half, concerns expressed in various stories in cnn, "new york times," washington post, prepublicans admitting there are lots of trump people who have these concerns about the president. >> it's just so similar to what
so many of us here from senior people around the white house three times a week -- it's really troubling and in a way not surprising. >> it's all of the piece. described senior officials protecting the country from the president. he saw them in a negative light. we covered that on the show. >> there are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save america from this president. that is not their job. their job is to inject this president into america. >> what are these trump administration officials doing to rein in president trump? why do they feel the need to do so? why are they so concerned about the president's behavior that they think they have to quote, save america from the president? >> in october the republican chairman bob corker described senior aides to the president as
containing him and serving what he called an adult daycare center. >> i think secretary tillerson, secretary mattis and chief of staff kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos. >> allies of the president suggest that the smartest strategy for the white house would be to ignore this "new york times" op-ed and not give it oxygen. instead we have seen a river of denials from vice president mike pence to secretary of state mike pompeo, u.n. ambassador nikki haley and on and on. each one insisting they did not author the story. each leacredence to the possibiy that it could have been that person. why do these statements of denial keep coming?
a top white house official tells jeff zeleny that the president has sent a signal that he likes it. he praised defense secretary mattis and others who denied statements attributed to them in the bob woodward book. >> he wrote the statement. i appreciated the statement of john kelly and the statement of many others. >> these denial statements, the source tells jeff zeleny today are being printed out and hand delivered to president trump for him to read. this all might seem a self-defeating strategy, perhaps one might call it impetuous, petty. one might recall the official writing in today's newspaper the president's leadership style is impetuous, petty and ineffective. there might be a better way for a president to rebut these accounts from senior administration officials that are harsh and very critical than to confirm the very qualities in
his reaction. cnn's kaitlan collins is at the white house. whether it is woodward or the op-ed, why is the white house giving the story more oxygen and doing so like every 15 minutes? >> a sense of paranoia existed here in the west wing before the events of this week. now in this book written by somebody who works in this administration, the president's long standing fear that people who work here are out to get him is resurrected and heightened. even today where some of the most highest ranking people in the government, people that the president hand picked to be in the positions are tripping over each other to issue denials that it was them who trashed the president. president trump seething tonight, demanding names as he and the rest of the white house go on a frantic hunt to find the author of the anonymous op-ed
calling him petty, ineffective. the speculation forcing more than a dozen senior officials to issue statements denying they trashed the president including mike pence who said this today. >> i think it is a disgrace. >> reporter: pence calling on the unnamed author to step down immediately. >> anyone who would write an anonymous editorial smearing this president who has provided extraordinary leadership to this country should not be working for this administration. they ought to resign. >> reporter: as high ranking officials scramble to issue denials that it was them, sources tell cnn aides were printing out statements and hand delivering them to trump while he fumed inside the white house telling aides he knew there were people out to get him. his closest staffers trying to push suspicion out of the west wing. >> i have to correct the record. it's not clear to us that is somebody in the white house. they are saying senior
administration official. >> reporter: on twitter sarah huckabee sanders urging people to ask the "new york times" about the identity of the gutless loser saying they are the only ones complicit in this deceitful act. trump's anger only intensifying since his public outburst yesterday. >> when you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who is failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons -- and the "new york times" is failing. i believe the "new york times" wouldn't exist. >> reporter: the president just left the white house a few minutes ago and he didn't answer questions about this op-ed including whether or not he would take senator rand paul up on his suggestion to issue lie detector tests to some of the staffers who work here and have security clearances. he will have a stage tonight and a microphone and an arena of supporters when he has a campaign rally in montana. we can hear from the president
more on this then since we know within the last 24 hours his anger has only gotten worse. >> what can go wrong? thank you for that report. i just want to say how odd i think it is to see all of these senior administration officials giving this story more credibility by even acknowledging that it could have been -- >> he has been reading the leadership guide written by kim jong-un where each person has to pledge their loyalty to the leader. this idea of each person coming forward bearing the piece of paper, as you did, to say it wasn't me. that's the kind of leadership that i think -- >> the cabinet meeting where they talked about what an historic honor it was. all of the officials look as though they are playing for an audience of one. >> as somebody who wants president trump to succeed, i guess all want him to succeed in one way or another. this doesn't seem like a wise
strategy. we are talking about it more. now we have sound of these people talking beabout about it >> i'm not really going to blame him for being very mad about it. even if this management situation is largely partly at least of his own making, he shouldn't be mad about it. if i were in the administration i might be denying it, too, because i would not want to be known as the person who nomm anonymously took this. >> the times must for national security purposes turn him or her over to government at once, according to this tweet. if barack obama or george w. bush had written something like that this city would be on fire. no one is talking about this tweet today. >> i think that train has --
that ship has sailed, the train has left the station. no national security violation even took place here. there was no classified information released. it just doesn't apply. the person is free to do this. i think they should have come out and quit and said it publically as should all the other people who allegedly feel the same way. but it's ridiculous to suggest that somehow there has been a national security violation. >> president trump who calls himself the hemmingway of twitter had a one word tweet, treason, all caps. as a matter of law -- this is not even close. >> treason is a crime involving assisting the military of a foreign nation at a time of war none of which applies.
it is also indicative of this broader issue in the trump presidency which is that the president thinks that all federal employees work for him like his personal lawyers do, not the taxpayers, not the government of the united states. it's of a piece with his tweet where he said the justice department shouldn't have indicted these two republican congressmen because that would lose the republicans two seats. the sense that the justice department shouldn't be working for the broader public good as opposed to just for donald trump, he has no understanding of that. >> there is another thing that this points at, too is the fact that the president and his supporters are convinced that there is a unique and pernicious effort in this town to get together and undermine what he is doing on a daily basis. it must be said that an
anonymous op-ed run by the "new york times" seems intent on convincing him that that is exactly the case. >> you don't know who wrote this. the intent of this does not seem necessarily to improve matters. he put it in the "new york times" -- >> it is to improve matters by making the case that there needs to be this kind of -- it seems to be like trying to rally other people. in some sense, all this op-ed did is say that the people closest to the screen are watching the same movie as the rest of us. they are describing from inside what we seem to see from outside. i feel like the most important part of this is the idea that we are getting all of this other stuff done therefore it is okay to continue with a president who i believe is manifestly unfit for the job by temperament.
bob corker essentially said that today and ben sass. >> let's play the bob corker sound. >> i think i didn't look at it as new news. anybody who has had dealings over there knows that this is the reality that we are living in. so i don't know. i think a lot has been made out of nothing. i think the biggest issue they will have is figure out who wouldn't have written a letter like that. >> that is the senior republican of the president's own party saying the biggest problem is finding who wouldn't have written it. >> in essence, what congressional republicans have been saying for the last 20 months and what now in the woodward book and people in the administration are saying is we agree in private that the president by temperament, judgment, intellect is not fit for this job. but because he is the key to the lock, he is the one who gives us
the power to achieve what we want on other fronts like today potentially a supreme court justice as well as tax regulation, we are not going to call that out in public or we will not impose any consequences. i think that to me is the real meaning of all of this. if all of these republicans believe that he is unfit, are they unwilling to do anything about it because he, unlike romney and mccain he won and because they won -- >> we are going to do another panel on this. it's the real life game of clue taking over talk in the hallways. who wrote the "new york times" op-ed? and the bandits wild ride. the unforgettable life of actor burt reynolds who died today at 82 years old. stay with us. sometimes, bipolar i disorder
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president of the united states is not able to do his job then they should invoke the 25th amendment. >> elizabeth warren of massachusetts, a possible 2020 contender weighing in on the stunning "new york times" up-ed in which an anonymous official claims members of the cabinet considered invoking the 25th amendment. today nearly every administration official publically denying penning the op-ed. one of the questions is -- we were talking about this before the break, bob corker making the statement about the biggest mystery is who wouldn't have written this op-ed. what should he do about it? >> what republicans are contending with and should contend with is the extremely important fact that the american people elected donald trump president of the united states. one of the arguments against donald trump and one that i have made at times is that he breaks norms and he under mines institutions.
if you take for granted that because i criticize this guy every three day and i am therefore empowered to oust him in some way which seems to be sort of the resistance take. everyone must be part of the resistance if they disagree. it breaks norms. >> so they can do things but they have criticized him and many have along the way. it seems unclear to me exactly what the ask is here. >> what did you think republican senators should be doing beyond criticizing? >> ideally they would try to figure out who these people are and if there are that many people who feel this way then they should be investigating. i feel it would help a lot if this person would come out and say who they are and go to congress and tell them the other people that feel this way. there can be some sort of an investigation. in other words, the problem is the republicans aren't that interested in investigating him. you have to at least try. this isn't just people having a
difference of opinion. these are people saying he is fundamentally unfit. >> the republicans in congress should investigate who wrote the piece, they ought to investigate the administration. >> that is not what i'm saying. >> what about oversight? >> there is a lot of space between ousting and acquiescina. the he there is plenty of opportunity for bob corker to examplinvesti what happened in helsinki for example. could you not say i will not vote in the committee. i will not vote in the committee or on the floor until you give
us a vote on the legislation to protect bob mueller? there are things they can do. they are choosing not to do them. they have made the decision that either they believe the policy gains they are getting are worth the risks or that politically immobilizing the base is more important than showing independence. >> or they believe that his voters don't care -- >> i don't mean to bust the bubble here. most people are not going to take the op-ed in the "new york times" very seriously. >> fine. it's not their job. it's the job of congress who should be looking over this. when i say investigate, i mean investigate whether or not he is unfit. >> there is also the question of
political fear, speaking of south carolina. what about mark sanford? mark sanford criticized donald trump and he got beaten in a republican primary. that is what they are afraid of. that's why they are not criticizing. >> what do you make of the suggestion that if they ever feel this strongly they can say i will not vote for brett kavanagh unless we have a commitment to pass this legislation to protect bob mueller? >> bob mueller still has a job. it's unclear how much needs to be protected. i just think it seems he has spoken up forcefully many times about the president. the thing we are not addressing is that not only do people not care about the anonymous op-ed in the "new york times" but i think republican senators in a way that is really extraordinary becoming part of the opposition
to republican president actually makes those people less interested in our institutions and makes it feel like the theory that donald trump has is exactly correct. >> they are breaking norms and doing extraordinary things to fight this president in office who was newly elected and reinforce his theory. >> who wrote the op-ed? one republican senator has an idea how one can figure it out. stay with us. for less.cfone keeps y, ♪ our talk, text and data plans start at $15 a month, no contract. all with nationwide coverage... tracfone. for moments that matter. endless shrimp is back at red keep those slobster.min'! with all the shrimp you want, any way you want them.
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whether or not you think it is irresponsible, many in the political and media worlds have been speculating publically about who might have written the anonymous "new york times" u op-ed. nancy pelosi has her guess. >> who has denied it, the vice president. that was my first thought. >> on the right, former trump campaign aid michael cuputo has been suggesting he thinks it is transportation secretary elaine chow tweeting this picture and saying this. >> this person will probably leave the administration soon and take a bow for what she wrote. it is dangerous to try to fire her because of who she is related to. >> both have denied being the author of the op-ed.
privately white house aides are on the hunt for the author. but sarah huckabee sanders tweeted the media's wild obsession with the identity of the anonymous coward is damaging the reputation of thousands who work for president trump. stop. let's bring in alex. this is written by a senior administration official. that could describe hundreds if not thousands of people. >> there are hundreds of them. for something like this you would imagine that it is someone who is a pretty significant player. since this was released washington has turned into a game of clue. was it kellyanne conway? everyone has their guess and their theories. 24 hours after the bombshell anonymous op-ed we are hardly closer to discovering the identity of its author. everyone is getting in on the speculation game. >> i'm surprised by how good of
a writer ivanka is. >> reporter: a senior member could include hundreds of people. for the "new york times" to publish it it is almost certainly one of the top tier officials. the editor offering few clues but saying the official made contact through an intermediateiary. >> i did have direct communication with the writer. due to background checking and based on conversations came away feeling totally confident that this was truly the official in the trump administration that they claim they were. >> the times saying the author is a man and later clarifying they aren't specifying. could it be dan coats or defense secretary james mattis? one by one they and other of the administration's most senior officials have issued denials. >> it's not mine. >> reporter: that hasn't stopped the arm chair analysts, many
zeroing in on a rare word used calling john mccain a lodestar. one official has used it repeatedly. >> vigilance and resolve will be our lodestar. >> with vigilance and resolve as our lodestar. >> the vice president's office has denied mike pence was the author. he called the editorial disgraceful saying the author should resign. could the author have planted key words to make it sound like someone else? it is not unheard of. >> i have seen where people would listen to someone, write down words that they used frequently and leak with those words so that the president thought that person was the leaker. pretty scummy. >> reporter: scummy, maybe, but a hint for sure. what else can we glean by dissecting the phrasing? experts say it is less about the words and more about how they are arranged. >> most people try to write like
another person they try to imitate their words or they try to imitate their punctuation. the best way to do authorship i.d. is to analyze the syntax. that is what we can't manipulate consciously. >> was someone trying to sound like vice president mike pence? he has been very aggressive in his denial. we should note every cabinet secretary has denied writing it. we haven't seen anything from chief of staff john kelly yet, for example. if you are writing anonymously it is easy to deny something. the analysis continues and the mystery deepens. >> thanks so much. there is a technique that was floated to find the op-ed writer by senator rand paul. let's take a listen. >> i think if you have a security clearance in the white house i think it would be acceptable to use a lie detector test and ask people whether or not they are talking to the
media against the policy of the white house. >> that is not so lib te-- >> lindsey graham's point was people in south carolina don't care about this. >> and it is not true because unemployment is four percent. the president's approval rating is around 40%. those things should not be possible at the same time. it should be somewhere around 53%, 55%. that difference is i think almost entirely made up by the people who have doubts about trump personally, about his judgment, temperament and values. yes, maybe this individual op-ed, how much does that matter? the people who are concerned about whether he is fit to be president is the difference between where he is and what you would expect him to be given the economy. there is also the reason why republicans in the house are on the brink of possibly losing
house majority despite a four percent unemployment rate. >> the point made earlier about how president trump is making the argument that i'm taking on the swamp and the swamp is fighting back is one that we heard from the former trump campaign manager. take a listen. >> if there is a movement which this individual claims there is and i haven't seen it, then that exactly what the deep state is. that is the government employees who have their own agenda and not the agenda of the 60 million people who voted tr donald trfo trump to be the president of the united states. >> we don't know what the "new york times" categorizes as a senior administration official. if we are thinking of them saying cabinet level or higher then these people would be appointed by him. we don't know that. we don't know if it is correct or not. we are assuming it is a
political appointee which would undermine the argument. i think that i'm more in the camp of i think this is just going to help donald trump among his base because when i read it i thought this is just his argument. this is an argument that people are trying to undermine him. i think you were talking about the national numbers. i assume his approval rating is higher in south carolina. i think people who are predisposed to support him are going to see this as the media out to get him, the deep state out to get him. i'm not saying that is what is happening. even the idea where we do the what if this happened with obama -- >> obama and trump are completely different. i get that. you have to put yourself in a position of somebody who does think that. >> the person -- a lot of these people, senior administration officials, people i have talked to, the person who wrote this op-ed, i know from the ones i have spoken to and i assume from
others are people who support the trump agenda. these are political pint appoin they do have an issue with his temperament and intellect. >> as i have made clear i think ironically an anonymous and extraordinary step it is the way to take a lot of people who have concerns about that and make them go -- maybe it ain't paranoia if they are out to get you. that is almost exactly calculated to make people wonder that. >> two things can be true. i agree that this is great to say that they are out to get me and silence you by getting me which is the argument they make tonight. the other is true which is that this large segment, mostly white collar who vote republican and have doubts about donald trump this i think does reinforce the doubts and the sense that there
needs to be some kind of check and balance and one many of those are open to voting for democrats. both of those things can be true. this may be good for republicans in west virginia and montana and bad for republicans in the suburbs of philadelphia and minneapolis and denver. >> the challenge is for democrats in 2020 to nominate somebody that is stronger and more appealing to those voters, the people, whatever is between the 10 or 12 who support president trump when it comes to the economy. he has strong approval ratings when it comes to how he is handling the economy. >> can the democracies nominate someone like that? >> at the moment it seems difficult to find an arena big enough just for the candidates. >> it looked great for us.
>> i'm sorry. who the hell knows? there are so many possibilities. the economy we have taken for granted is always going to be at four percent. imagine if it goes up to 6% unemployment. >> it could look a lot different at 6%. >> thank you so much. the bandit taking abow. the legendary actor and director burt reynolds passed away today. one of his most famous co stars joins me next. stay with us. -i've seen lots of homes helping new customers bundle and save big, but now it's time to find my dream abode. -right away, i could tell his priorities were a little unorthodox. -keep going. stop. a little bit down. stop. back up again. is this adequate sunlight for a komodo dragon? -yeah. -sure, i want that discount on car insurance just for owning a home, but i'm not compromising. -you're taking a shower?
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breaking and sad news now in the pop culture lead. he had the stagger and the stash that defined the '70s in a lot of ways and was once the biggest movie star on the planet. this afternoon burt reynolds' agent announced the actor had died. to the tough guy in deliverance, boogie nights, there wasn't much that burt reynolds didn't see or do in hollywood. today when i say it feels like the country has lost its cool, for once i'm not talking about washington, d.c. stephanie elam brings us this story on the star's iconic life. >> reporter: burt reynolds was one of the top box office draws in the '70s and '80s. the big screen is not where he set out to be. the actor wanted to be a football star. he attended florida state university on a football
scholarship. an injury derailed his athletic career and put him on the path to hollywood stardom. at first he landed roles on television including shows like gun smoke. it was the 1972 film deliverance that was his break through role. >> he has the ability to survive. >> reporter: he became a sex symbol and posed nude in cosmopolitan magazine. >> i'm going to fix it. >> reporter: by 1977 the actor who was known for his signature mustache was riding high with the success of smoky and the bandit along side sally field. the film became a successful franchise for reynolds. so did the movie "canon ball run". >> this is our day off. >> reporter: he kept the laughs coming as the sheriff in the
best little whore house in texas. reynolds found success in television in evening shade. it earned him an emmy and a golden globe. while his tv career was on a high, his personal life unravelled. he ended his five-year marriage in 1993 and was involved in a messy custody battle over their adopted son. by 1996 reynolds filed for bankruptcy. but things began to look up for the actor when he landed paul thomas anderson's film boogie nights. the role led to his first oscar nomination. he received critical acclaim in the hockey film in 1999. throughout the 2000s he kept busy with a number of tv and film roles like the dukes of hazard in a career that took him to the football field to becoming one of the biggest
stars in hollywood. he will be remembered for decades of iconic roles in film and television. still to many he will always be the bandit. >> joining me now is a long time friend of burt reynolds. she starred in five projects with him. the fifth was evening shade. thank you so much for joining us. you saw burt reynolds not too long ago. what was it like being with him the last time? >> it was before his movie. i went for the premiere in los angeles on march 22. the two of us, we met and from the moment we met we had chemistry. we laughed together all the time. we were always having such a blast together. he is just one of the people, we never stopped laughing. the first day we worked together he asked me to come down to his
dinner theater which was a magical place in florida. he offered me canon ball run 2. we wanted to hang out and be together. we never had a romance. he was like my favorite person. i just loved him so much. i can't grasp that he is gone. i just can't believe he is gone. it's like the world loved him and he loved the world. he was the kind of guy who likes to be a great listener. one day we were all sitting around talking before we go to rehearsal and one of the kids had gotten a bike. the first time i got to ride it in chicago was the spring and the first time i rode it it was
stolen. we talked about the story and went to rehearsal. when i came back there was my bike, the same bike sitting in my dressing room. >> was he a generous person? his on screen persona was tough and wise cracking. was he like that in real life? >> on friday the crew would all get jackets or he was the kind of -- a lot of people, a lot of big stars are not like this. i always felt so comfortable introducing him to anybody. a friend would be visiting me on the set or my family. he knew it was my sister's birthday when she came in. he listened. he paid attention. he was loving. he was so generous and everyone who worked with him loved him. we had such a great time. he hand picked that and it was just -- >> on evening shade.
>> every day was like a master class. he loved directing and adding those goodies to things. he was really something. he was really, really special. i don't think we will ever see another person like that. >> you famously have a photographic memory when it comes to experience. is there a particular experience you had with him that stands out among this crafted reservoir of memories? >> the first day i met him, march 7, 1983, we just could not stop talking. it was supposed to be a little nothing scene. when blake saw the two of us together, we just started that living and he let us do that. burt would let me add things. he called me in to -- i didn't have to audition. i read a scene just so they
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today's money lead, a major warning for ford drivers. the company recalling some f-150 pickup trucks because the seat belt mechanism can catch fire. this effects models made between 2015 and 2018. you may not realize that a small device emits gas. ford says that gas can ignite if there are excessive sparks igniting insulation or carpets. a partisan shouting match kicked off the second day of questioning for president trump's supreme court pick brett kavanagh. documents could not be raised during the hearing. >> mr. chairman --
>> democratic anger boiling over at the supreme court confirmation hearing. cory booker a possible presidential contender in 2020 claiming he was going to expose documents marked committee confidential. >> i am going to release the e-mail about racial profiling. i understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the senate. this is about the closest i will have to an i am spart ks moment. >> reporter: republicans call the move a political stunt saying the documents have been cleared for release hours before the hearing calling out those across the aisle. >> running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the senate or of the confidentiality of the documents that we are privy to. >> reporter: one of the newly released documents disclosed the 2003 e-mail from brett kavanagh when we was working at the white house.
court can always overrule its precedent. kavanagh down played the e-mail exchange and tried to clarify. >> i think it was overstating something about legal scholars. i am always concerned with accuracy. i thought that was not quite accurate description of all legal scholars because it referred to all. to your point, your broader point, roe v wade is an important precedent of the supreme court. >> reporter: kavanagh faced further questions with an exchange from harris, also a possible 2020 candidate late wednesday night. >> have you discussed mueller or his investigation at anyone at the law firm founded by president trump's personal lawyer? >> i need to know -- i'm not sure i know everyone who works at that law firm. >> i think you need to know who you talked to.
>> i would like to know the person you are thinking of. >> i think you are thinking of someone and don't want to tell us. >> reporter: seemingly blind sided wednesday, thursday morning kavanagh was resolute. >> i haven't had inappropriate conversations about that investigation with anyone. i have never given anyone any hints, forecasts, previews, winks, nothing about my view as a judge or how i would rule as a judge on that or anything related to that. >> reporter: and the law firm founded by the president's personal attorney issued a similar statement saying no one at the law firm has ever had discussion with judge kavanagh about the special counsel's probe. when senator harris was confronted with the statement she seemed to be skeptical. she said the law firm wasn't under oath when they issued the statement. senator harris didn't offer other proof or information about why she might be skeptical. >> thank you so much. appreciate it.
you can follow me on facebook and twitter. you can tweet the show at the lead. the coverage continues with wolf blitzer in the situation room. thanks for watching. happening now, state of denia denials. top officials in the trump administration deny having anything to do with the anonymous "new york times" op-ed highly critical of president trump. will the public declarations dampen the fury. senator rand paul normally rails against government intrusion but he says anyone with a security clearance working at the white house should undergo a lie detector test to figure out who wrote the inflammatory op-ed. document dump. partisan -- democrats make a show of releasing documents they say were kept from the public while grilling b