tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN September 21, 2018 6:00am-7:00am PDT
very good morning to you. i'm jim sciutto in washington. poppy is on assignment this morning. the attorney for brett kavanaugh accuser christine blasey ford says she will testify, only not on monday. right now ford's lawyers laying out their terms their client wants before she tells her story the senators, and we are learning right now two nonstarters on ford's demands for senate gop, one, subpoenaing judge or other witnesses. the senate does not take subpoena requests from witnesses, i'm told. and, two, her demand that brett kavanaugh testify first and her second. my understanding is that ford should testify first to give brett kavanaugh the opportunity to respond. ford claiming that brett kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. brett kavanaugh vehemently denying that accusation.
the president showing a fair amount of restraint in recent days except last night when talking about ford. >> why didn't somebody call the fbi 36 years ago? i mean, you could also say when did this all happen? what's going on? >> joining me now. so there was a call last night. ford's attorneys and senate staffers to lay out what she's looking for. i imagine begin something of a negotiation. what did we learn first of all from her side. >> right. the negotiations are now on. they had this call. and then afterwards, cnn obtained this e-mail that she went afterwards to sort of lay it out. and the one deal breaker is she's not prepared to testify on monday. and in this e-mail she explained why. she said it is simply not possible for her to prepare. at the same time, she needs to take the appropriate security precautions in the face of the avalanche of threats that she's
been receiving. that's why monday is out of the question. she did say some things are on the table to be negotiated. first of all, she wants to talk about the safety of her client, safety of ford. she wants to say that ford should not be questioned by an outside lawyer. it's got to be the senators on the committee. >> because there had been some discussion of the gop senators who happened to be all white men bring anything a female attorney to do the questioning. >> exactly. she wants it done like the rest of the hearing was done and she doesn't want the outside counsel. she says she thinks that brett kavanaugh should go first and not second, and that might be a sticking point. >> which, to be fair, is the way trials -- and this is not a trial -- but the way they work because it gives the accused a chance to respond to their accuser. >> right. and that's going to be a sticking point. and then she also, as you said, she thinks there should be more witnesses. for instance, mark judge, the guy who was allegedly in the
room should be subpoenaed. that's what she is putting forward. that's what she wants to talk to them about. also she wants some clarification. what are the procedures going to be? how many rounds might there be of questioning? what's the scope? lastly think about, she doesn't want brett kavanaugh in the same room at the same time as her client. that's what they're talking about. >> that's ford's side here, her attorney. i have spoke ton a staffer a few moments ago that their two nonstarters, one, this idea of subpoenaing mark judge or other witnesses. the staffer makes a point that, listen, we don't take subpoena requests from witnesses. that's just not one. on the issue of her testifying second, they call that a nonstarter as well. what's interesting is on the date, though, it seems that that's still in discussion, which would seem to indicate some flexibility on the part of republicans about monday. >> absolutely about monday. but they are very concerned about the timing of this. brett kavanaugh wanted to get out right away and tell his
story. they did not want this to go on too long. so maybe not monday, but they will be talking about it soon after. >> there is a political calendar to keep in mind. thanks very much. the president tweeting about brett kavanaugh just moments ago. abbie phillip has more from the white house. we heard his comments last night during the rally. what did he have to say on twitter just now? >> reporter: president trump seems to be pivoting a little bit in how he is dealing with this issue. he is tweeting this morning and criticizing his political allies for the attack on brett kavanaugh. he says brett kavanaugh is a fine man under assault by radical left wing politicians who don't want to know the answers. they just want to destroy and delay. facts don't matter. i go through this with them every single day in d.c. now, this comes after president trump spent much of the week trying conspicuously to avoid attacking brett kavanaugh's accuser. he's still doing a similar thing
in this tweet, but is now pivoting towards the democrats, launching a political attack on his nominee. there is also a new interesting development happening both on white house staffers and allies of brett kavanaugh. this new theory this might be a case of mistaken identity and why ford is accusing brett kavanaugh. we're seeing a little bit of a change here in how the white house is positioning themselves on this issue. they are being a little bit more strongly focussed on questioning the motivations of the accuser and perhaps the motivation of democrats who support her in this endeavor to testify under her own terms next week. jim? >> yes. certainly sounds less restrained. thanks very much. joining me now is a cnn political analyst, dana bash and jeffrey tubin. looking at the president's tweets there, and his comments at the rally last night saying why didn't she go to the fbi all
these years ago sounds like running out of patience, perhaps or a change in strategy. >> both, both. running out of patience so there is a change in strategy. notice in that tweet that abbie just showed us that the president did not repeat that why didn't she come out 36 years ago. and the focus was and is now on the democrats, which is more of a political strategy for the president. i mean, that comment he made about why didn't she come out 36 years ago, that is going to have every woman who has even known somebody, never mind had an experience where they have been afraid or for, you know, reasons didn't come out on time say really, mr. president? when it comes to the democrats, that's something that men and women because of their political
persuasion can understand which is why that seems to be the focus this morning. if he repeats what he said last night, that's going to be a problem. that's no question. >> the other somewhat alarming attack, not so vailed attack, frankly, on ford is this trope that's being distributed now that perhaps she has a case ofn. i'm only bringing it up because kellyanne conway, senior adviser to the president, brought it up last night. >> is it possible that they're both right? is it possible that something terrible happened to her? >> it's possible. >> excuse me. >> i agreed with you. >> and that judge brett kavanaugh was not there. >> i just agreed with you. that is possible. >> now, that actually is -- this clip there is a question, but part of this is coming from a conservative who tweeted out this idea that maybe it was this
other guy in high school that they looked like. now, when that gets repeated by advisers to the president, that becomes a more serious attack, does it not? >> yeah, i agree. it is irresponsible for people to be repeating what is completely unverified, there is no evidence for this. it is essentially a product of the rumor mill and an acement to sew doubt based on nothing. if there is evidence -- all this week we have been wondering if there is going to be more evidence to come out, her calling for an fbi investigation, appearing to believe there could be evidence out there that would substantiate her claim. so far there has not been any new information and so to continue to speculate about, frankly, imaginary scenarios is just trying to, i think, cast doubt. >> not to mention on twitter to accuse someone else -- >> to actually name a person when there is no evidence in the
case. >> let's talk a little bit now about what is a negotiation between ford and the senate gop. they had a phone call last night. they're communicating right now. that's progress. she laid out some demands here. can't do monday. want to speak second after brett calf gna cavanaugh. want to speak to witnesses. a couple of those they're not going to do. you have to hear from her first, give him a chance to respond, et cetera. do you see the two sides coming together so we will see this testimony next week? >> i do. i think this is dramatically different from the perspectives we heard just a few days ago, particularly from ms. ford's side that, you know, that the disagreements between the two sides seem well within the range that people can settle. i think the judiciary committee having kept a seat open for a
year instead of giving merrick garland a vote could hardly be in the position of saying, well, we'll do it monday, but thursday is out of the question. i think a delay of a few days is in the rilealm of possibility. but i do think the committee is not going to call other witnesses and i think that will be a nonnegotiation demand on the part of the committee. but in terms of how the questioning works, who goes first, those strike me as points that the two sides can settle one way or the other. >> right. >> it really does look at this point like we will hear testimony from ms. ford next week. >> you of course speak to a number of lawmakers on the hill and you're in talks with the president's lawyers, for example, folks in the white house. what is your read on where they stand now? do you see it they will come to an agreement next week. we will see what is a remarkable
prospect of seeing a woman sit under the senate and share this account. >> i agree that it looks much more likely that there is going to be testimony. the e-mail that the -- that ms. ford's attorney sent to the committee yesterday was clearly intended to get to yes and the fact that this judiciary committee has been receptive means that it is very likely they will get there and makes it even harder for the republicans on the committee to say no at this point. but let's just fast forward to that point. and i keep kind of bringing this up because when we get to that point, if we get to that point, you have one person saying one thing, presumably if they're assuming that brett kavanaugh is not going to change his story, emphatically denying it and we're still going to be in a place of he said-she said and it
will be up to these senators to decide who they believe. and it's going to be tough. >> that, molly, still puts senators in a difficult position there because if you hear two credible people, right, make two contradictory accounts, what do senators do, right? you are not in their head, but it's going to be tough. this idea that, yes, they come to agreement and she testifies, everything is settled. no, the bigger question is what you do after the testimony. >> that's why you have the testimony because we don't know what they're going to say. we don't know how they're going to respond for both of them about the alleged incident in question. and, so, that's why this -- these senators feel that this testimony ought to take place. it's not just who looks credible, right, who sounds credible. it does somebody get caught in a lie? does somebody say something that
is or is not believable based on something concrete. we can't fast forward to after the testimony before the testimony has actually occurred because that means something. it does matter to have people actually come forward and answer questions. >> okay. we will have to leave it there for now. i know you are coming back. coming up, looking ahead, a stark reversal. the president suggesting that key allies might have a problem with him declassifying a slew of russia documents. will he now hold some of those documents back? plus, hours of interviews. the attorney for the president's former so-called fixer, michael cohen, says his client provided critical information to special counsel robert mueller. what this means for the investigation and for the president. and we're just weeks before the midterms and google says that the personal gmail accounts of senators have been targeted by foreign government hackers. we'll have the latest. so to breathe better, i go with anoro. ♪ go your own way copd tries to say, "go this way."
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a possible concession by president trump just four days after telling the department of justice to immediately declassify information related to the russia investigation. the president now says that he's hearing from worried u.s. allies and suggests that he may reconsider. >> we're moving along. we're working along. we're also dealing with foreign countries that do have a problem. i must tell you. i got called today from two very good allies saying, please, can we talk. it is not as simple as all that. and we do have to respect their wishes. but it will all come out. >> we'll have to see what that means from the president, respecting their wishes. let's discuss with congressman from illinois. thanks very much for joining us this morning. >> good morning. thank you. >> you heard the president there. we know that the domestic intelligence community was uncomfortable with the broad release of these documents.
they have been demanding retractions. now we know that u.s. allies uncomfortable. when you heard the president say, i'm hearing them. we'll see what's going to happen, is that a concession in your view? do you consider that a good sign? >> i see it as a good sign. i don't know if the president makes concessions. let me begin by saying, as a member of the house committee on intelligence, a full review of the carter page application for a fisa warrant would let people know they did absolutely nothing wrong. and, in fact, the fbi and the department of justice would have been negligent pursuing the warrant on carter page to further investigate the possibility, the very real possibility that he was becoming an agent of a foreign power. but the president has disregarded the warnings, previous warnings that revealing these sources and methods is
dangerous to those sources and the entire process and would hinder national security. the fact that our allies are telling the president that this is a concern wakes the president up is indeed surprising. if it endangers u.s. security and it is always america first for the president, why would the fact that our allies are concerned bring about these concerns. so, look, i'm happy that he's considering this. i think the damage has been done to a certain extent. i think that what the public should take from this in addition is we are all in this together. we share critical information with our allies. our allies share info that keeps us safe and vice sversa. >> to be clear, the president has not said he's going to release none of the documents, just that perhaps he's going to make redactions to accommodate the u.s. intelligence community is demanding. i wonder if you are concerned
that the president's intention here is to release materials selectively to undermine an investigation in which he is involved and his allies are involved. >> well, that's exactly what he's doing because it's exactly what he's done. the first chapter in the president's mission here has always been to distract the american public from an investigation that hurts him legally and politically. if we recall, it began with the wild accusation that president obama was wiretapping trump tower. then there were allegations of spying in the trump campaign which worry dig you louse and unfounded. then there is the nunez memo called reckless and dangerous in its release of classified information by the department of justice and the intel community. that memo was put together with the white house. so it's clear that the president's intention was to be less concerned about national
security and more concerned with an investigation which is getting closer and closer to the oval office. >> let me ask you now about a different topic. of course, a major topic of the day, which is the testimony of brett kavanaugh and his accuser, current negotiations underway, strong possibility now next week. the president in his rally in las vegas raised something that is effectively questioning the credibility and even the motivations of ford. he asked why didn't someone call the fbi 36 years ago? what's your reaction to that comment? >> you know, i think it is hard for the president or anyone else on the outside of this incident to understand people's motivations. we have learned a long time ago that a lot of people who are victims of such assaults suppress this information for a variety of reasons and don't come forward. i have no idea. and it's not for me to judge. the fact of the matter, though,
is that this is an extremely serious allegation and the fbi vets these applications. i think this is important for the fbi to allow -- be allowed to investigate this situation, as well as the testimony to go forward. we know that these justices wield incredible power. the most important decisions of our lifetime now seem to be decided in 5-4 decisions. right? the fact that one person is elected president of the united states over another one, the fact that this one justice can make the decision on whether or not a law is found unconstitutional. there is too much at stake. let the investigation go forward. let the testimony go forward. >> let me ask you this. let's say that the testimony does go forward next week under conditions acceptable to both sides if perhaps both sides don't get everything they want.
still at that point, senators will then have to vote. likely hearing contradictory accounts of what happened those 36 years ago. if you, if democrats in the house are not satisfied with what they see and brett kavanaugh -- it goes forward and he is confirmed, would you consider a congressional investigation of brett kavanaugh in the next term, presumably this would be if democrats take the house. would you investigate a sitting justice if you are not satisfied? >> look, it really depends on a whole variety of things. not the least of which is if the fbi is allowed to complete their investigation. on this and any other investigation that goes forward, including the russia investigation as part offer t t what role the gsa and the white house played on the role in the fbi building and clearly this investigation. we decide what gaps are there,
what needs to be done. i don't want the american public to think our job is to go in there in a manner in which the republicans did their investigations we would go forward. we're going to do the right thing. we're going to investigate what needs to be investigated and we're going to do it the right now. >> thanks very much for taking the time. >> any time. thank you much. well, as we were just speaking there, the president has tweeted again and maybe fair to say gloves are off as far as dr. ford is concerned. he said the following, tweeted the following, i have no doubt that if the attack on dr. ford is as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement authorities by either her or her loving parents. i ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time and place, exclamation point. we have jeffrey tubin back now. jeffrey, the president showing some restraint, even reveling in
the reviews of the restraint he showed. >> let's keep in mind that this woman was -- this woman. this girl was 15 years old at the time of this alleged incident. so what he's saying is this 15-year-old girl should have made this report. i mean, the fact that he is assuming that that is what any normal person would have done shows a complete lack of understanding about how these events are experienced by young women. the fact that there is a tremendous amount of shame, uncertainty, fear about reporting incidents like this, especially by someone as young as 15, you know, this just shows that they are going to go after her and attack her and attack her behavior and her motives and
her behavior in the same way they went after anita hill, that this is getting closer and closer to what happened in 1991. >> we have abbie phillip at the white house as well. a marked change in tact from the president, a remarkable one here. what happened? >> reporter: yeah, jim. a change that was foreshadowed last night when he appeared at a rally and spoke with fox news's shawn hannity and questioned why the fbi wasn't alerted to this 36 years ago. jim, this is exactly what the white house has been dreading for days now. they have been surprised, according to our sources, by the president's restraint up until this point. but now he's doing exactly what they had hoped that he wouldn't do by suggesting that perhaps as jeffrey just mentioned a 15-year-old girl should have gone to the fbi about something that happened to her at a party
that according to her she never told anybody about for a long time until he was she was in counseling. i think the president is opening the door to a new kind of attack on this accuser that questions her motivations for coming forward, that perhaps suggests that maybe the -- that she's lying, that the incident doesn't happen. up until this point, the president was saying he wants to hear her side of the story, that he wants to hear what she has to say. he's not saying that anymore. frankly, the white house hoped he wouldn't go there and left it up to the senate to adjudicate the claims out there. >> it is what you see so often, which is attacking the accuser in cases such as this. thanks very much. critical information. michael cohen's attorney reportedly says that the president's former fixer just sat down for hours with robert mueller's team. what does he know?
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welcome back. abc news is reporting that president trump's former attorney, michael cohen, has spoken with bob mueller's team several times for several hours over the past months. they focussed primarily on the president's dealings with russia and whether trump and his associates discussed the possibility of a pardon for cohen. that would be relevant to an obstruction of justice.
>> absolutely significant. really, why would michael cohen be doing this? that's the big question. and probably the answer is yes, as much as he has said he's doing it for the good of the country and protect his family, the bigger thing here is it's likely he's hoping to get some leniency from the judge when he eventually get sen etenced for s plea in new york. that is set to take place in december. the government has promised him nothing. his lawyer last night after all these stories published admitted, yes, michael cohen is cooperating here, has met with the special counsel. he said good for michael cohen in providing critical information to the mueller investigation without a cooperation agreement. no one should question dishonesty, veracity or loyalty to his family and country over the president, essentially. >> in abc's reporting, the topics he was asked about included both obstruction of
justice issues, the idea of a pardon, et cetera, but also still the question of collusion. >> yeah. well, that's obviously still ongoing, right? the special counsel is still looking at any potential brush with collusion. the president has said he's welcome. he wants to answer questions about collusion. he doesn't want to answer questions about obstruction. we also know from what the stories say that michael cohen is also playing a factor in that part of the investigation. if it's true that, as abc is reporting that the special counsel is asking michael cohen questions about whether anyone promised him a pardon, that's important to the obstruction investigation. in the end what's going to happen, we'll see. it could be that his information is fruitful, helpful to the special counsel, to other parts of this investigation. down the line, he could get a letter from the u.s. attorney in new york or from the special counsel that gets sent to the judge to say this guy is colorac cooperatin cooperating. we're hoping you can show some
leniency in his jail sentence. >> the president has to be concerned. >> i would be, yeah. >> thanks very much. just weeks before the midterm elections, new questions this morning about the security of the u.s. election system. google saying foreign hackers tried to break into the e-mails of senators and their staffers. >> what makes this simple salad
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system is still vulnerable to cyber aattacks. senators and staffers are both parties have been targeted by foreign government hackers. we are in washington following this story. how serious? >> reporter: that's a very important note because a vast majority of the serious attacks have been against democratic infrastructure, most notably the dnc in the hillary clinton campaign. this was against democrats and republicans in the senate. this came to light with a senator from oregon who announced yesterday that there had been this attempted breach. he didn't provide too many details. did not say who the foreign actor was who might have been behind this. of course, we assume that it could have been russia, but there are plenty of other actors that might have been involved. china, iran, north korea. we reached out to google. they did confirm it was their platform that this foreign actor had gone after, their platform gmail, the personal accounts of
these senators and their staffers. google said this does not mean the account has been compromi d compromised. a government backed attacker has likely attempted to use the user's account or computer. we should note, jim, that he also said in his letter to senate leadership that he was disturbed that the senate started an arm, which is currently a controlled security of senate e-mail does not also take care of the personal devices and personal e-mails, e-mail accounts of senators. >> they are big targets. just to be clear, are these phishing attacks? >> yes. one year after hurricane maria slammed into puerto rico, we speak with two cnn correspondents who covered the storm extensively over two
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it has been one year since hurricane maria devastated puerto rico, but the wounds still far from healed. cnn takes a deeper look at rebuilding efforts on the island, how the government agencies handled the crisis, as well as the ongoing human toll. all part of a cnn special report, storm of controversy, what really happened in puerto rico. here's a preview. >> as soon as i got off the chopper, a gentleman came forward me, and he said, hey, who are you. i said i'm cnn.
>> my colleague has been providing relentless award winning coverage since day one. >> he was so angry. i mean, he was mad. >> because you weren't fema. >> because i didn't have any help with me. i had questions. and, so, he was angry. he walked away. within seconds, a woman came out of nowhere and just hugged me. she had no idea who i was. but i was the first outsider she had seen in days. >> these poor people. we're joined now by part of cnn's special report. it is powerful stuff and you were on the ground earlier and more extensively than really anyone. as you met with the people of puerto rico on this most recent trip, how were they doing a year later? >> i think a lot of people feel
forgotten. and i got to be honest, yesterday was the one year mark. as you look on facebook and twitter, it was a big day. i mean, people are sort of still feeling anxious over the fact that we're still in the hurricane season and what could be coming. i myself took some time today scrolling over old photos on my phone and sort of reliving the day that changed everything, the day that changed the island, the day that changed our families, the day that changed everything. and, so, one year later, so many people feel forgotten. i mean, it took 11 months for the power authority to say mission complete and still today there are communities on generators. still today there are, according to the governor's office, at least 45,000 homes with tarps on them. yes, i think everyone feels that progress has been made. but i think even more people feel that there is a long way to go here. and that needs to be
acknowledged. >> yeah. it bears repeating. some americans amazingly still aren't aware this is part of america. this is part of america in the year 2018. as you travel the island, laicallay lpower got up just a month ago. where do recovery efforts stand? are homes being rebuilt, roads, hospitals? what did you see? >> it's a slow motion, slow rolling disaster that we're just now beginning to see the full implications of. 300 schools have closed. a lot have had to do with the death crisis before. but there has been this exodus. they don't know when they're going to go back. but plenty of people stayed because they want their fellow americans to know that they're alive and well. most of the hotels are back and they'd love to have you down and see how far they've come and how hard they're fighting.
but the infrastructure is what you would see in the most primitive parts of the developing world. some of roads in the center are so -- still so dangerous. people are wet beds under leaky rooves a year later. so these are tough people, used to austerity,ulesed to blackouts, used to an island that's been neglected for a half century, but it's really taken a human toll that's hard to tell in terms of ptsd, suicide attempts are up. the kids, the maria generation will be haunted by this for a long time. >> those wounds, they last. leyla, you are aware president trump has repeatedly questioned the death toll. what is the official death toll for the hurricane in the aftermath of the hurricane, 2,975 people. i had the opportunity with poppy yesterday to speak to the governor of puerto rico. he said that he treats that as
the official death toll. 2,975. did you ask people about this? do they have a reaction to that when their president questions that toll? >> well, one of the things i noticed quickly in the weeks we were there, everyone mentioned -- just about everybody -- they knew somebody or knew somebody who knew somebody that lost somebody from hurricane maria. the death to him wibeing in the thousands is very real of them. everybody knows of a case of someone who died not only in the hurricane, but maybe somebody who died months later because of the condition, because of not having power. because of not having dialysis centers, because of not having hospitals. i mean the conditions that followed. the response that didn't make up for that. so, of course, there are questions to be asked of every single level of government.
>> that includes central, the president the government of puerto rico and every single one of those municipalities. what we see and i have noticed, when i comes to municipalities or the governor of puerto rico, there is stomach knowledgement of we could do better. we can change things. we can make a difference. that's why that death toll is so important, to understand how you can prevent this from happening in the future we're not really seeing that from the president of the united states. he calls this an unsung success. >> and jim, let me point out, leyla will be too humble to say so. it wasn't until leyla and her team sued the puerto rican department of health for data to see exactly what was happening to under cover waterborne illnesses they should have known about. so tonight i'm proud to present her incredible reporting that really blew up some answers, so important for people to absorb now. >> you want to say, this is required watching. these are our fellow americans
happening right now, carolina residents continuing to brace for more flooding in the aftermath of hurricane florenceful half of the counties in south carolina could still be impacted by flood waters all these days later. cnn's nick valencia joins me from conway, south carolina, tell me what you are seeing
there. >> reporter: jim, this has been described by residents as a slow motion disaster. the water is slowly creeping into the neighborhoods and the residents here. at wa waccamaw river, the flash flooding from floerns the first time around. the local management team here tells me it is getting progressively worth. they are doing the worse they can to prepare. there is giant sandbags here as well as pumps to get out that water that eventually is going to come in. they are particularly concerned about a coal ash pond, which is just a few hundred yards away from where we are standing. they brought in an inflatable dam easy mentioned now, it is a wait and see game this river the
waccamaw is not officially expected to crest until monday. jim. >> that coal ash can be dangerous. nick valencia, thanks very much. ♪ > . i'm jim scuitto in washington. the restraint is over. president trump is on a tear this morning defending brett kavanaugh and going after his accuser christine blasey-ford saying his supreme court pick is under attack by democrats. if it is as bad as she said, charges would have been filed by her or her loving parents. i ask she bring those filings forward. he adds, the radical left lawyers want the fbi to get involved now. why didn't someone call the fbi 36 years ago. the lawyers claims kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school are now