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Vermont Dems Nominate First Transgender Candidate For Governor; CNN Reality Check: Will Democrats Support Pelosi For House Speaker?; Six Million Georgia Voters Records Exposed. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 15, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] SHAUN DOUGHERTY, SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ABUSE BY PENNSYLVANIA PRIEST: -- that teaches morality but has none.

But what am I supposed to say to them? I have to deal with them as the way that they treat their organization.

They're not treating it as a moral faith-based organization. They're treating it as a business.

So as a business -- and I own a business -- I can give them advice on that -- you have a horrible public relations problem and you're about to lose a ton of money.

So -- and they understand money because when one of their priests embezzle, they prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. When you've embezzled from the church, as a priest, you go to jail.

When you rape a child, as a priest, you get transferred to a whole new flock of kids.

So, it's a business. So maybe that'll do it. Money has been their pressor their whole time, in my opinion.

So this, right now, is a public relations problem for his business and he is the CEO of that business.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Shaun Dougherty, thank you. Thank you for coming in this morning. Thank you for speaking up for so many.

DOUGHERTY: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

HILL: John --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Erica.

A candidate for governor in Vermont becoming the first transgender nominee for its state's highest office. Christine Hallquist joins us next.


[07:35:17] BERMAN: History made in Vermont. Democrats in that state nominated Christine Hallquist, the first transgender nominee for governor by a major party. She will now face the incumbent Republican, Gov. Phil Scott.

Christine Hallquist joins me now. Thank you so much for being with us.

This is history. You've had a night -- you've had a chance to sleep and reflect on it all. What do you see as a significance?

CHRISTINE HALLQUIST (D), NOMINEE FOR GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: Well, it certainly -- I will tell you, we're all -- we were all working hard every day and I didn't really necessarily think about what it would look like to win. But it is starting to sink in -- the historic significance of this, nationwide.

You know, Vermonters have always been a very loving and welcoming state so it really hasn't necessarily been an issue for Vermonters. But I'm definitely proud and honored to be making history for the nation.

BERMAN: It is interesting, though. As historic as it is, this isn't really the reason you jumped into the race. You weren't jumping in -- getting involved in politics in Vermont to make history really, were you?

HALLQUIST: Oh, not at all. In fact, it -- that doesn't even necessarily occur to me or probably occur to any Vermonters.

The reason I'm in here is because of what happened in 2016. In the world of physics, we say for every action there's an opposite and imposing reaction. Well, I'm definitely a reaction to 2106.

BERMAN: Who -- what exactly in 2016 -- because my understanding from reading overnight is that you actually voted for the incumbent Republican governor, Phil Scott, in Vermont. So what exactly are you reacting to from 2016?

HALLQUIST: I'm reacting with surprise that our governor is using the same tactics that the Nationalist Party has used.

You know, November 8th, 2016 was different than November 9th because we ended up with a despot in power. But, you know, I will say I was kind of naive of -- in 2017 I was in denial because I didn't think it could happen there.

But then, you know, I look at what our governor's been doing. He's been -- he's been focusing on fear and division and he's been going after our public education system.

BERMAN: And one of the things he's done and the reason he's actually run into some problems with his support recently after being popular is he actually signed some gun control measures. His popularity has dropped among his own party for some of the active measures he's taken on guns.

HALLQUIST: Yes, and I commend him on his courage for signing that bill. You know, that's -- I don't -- I don't think the governor and I differ too much in terms of our view on gun control and gun safety. BERMAN: The major issue driving your candidacy is then what, Christine?

HALLQUIST: It is rural economic development. You know, if you look what's happening in rural Vermont it's the same thing that's happening in rural America.

We're seeing increasing rates of poverty, flights to the city, an aging demographic, and we could change that. So it's about -- it's about economic growth for the bottom 20 percent on the economic ladder.

BERMAN: I'm really glad you brought that up because it gets to a really fascinating national poll that came out this week.

And, Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters were asked their view of capitalism and their view of socialism. And for the first time in Gallup's measurement here -- at least the first time we've seen -- more Democrats viewed socialism favorably than capitalism.

Does that surprise you?

HALLQUIST: Well, you know, I'm not a person that's big on labels because I've found labels are used to separate people.

You know, I look at the platform of a living wage and health care for all. That's called civilized society. I don't even know how that became socialism or Republican or Democrat. Let's be a civilized society.

BERMAN: Do you support capitalism?

HALLQUIST: I -- you know, I -- well, obviously, the long history of measuring ourselves by increasing of gross domestic product is a flawed measure because that just encourages consumption, and we could see what consumption is doing to our world.

BERMAN: So again, I know you don't like labels and this poll didn't ask people to choose between capitalism and socialism. But when faced with a choice between the two it does sound like you look more favorably -- again, the labels, you have an issue with -- on the ideas behind socialism.

HALLQUIST: Well, yes, and I'm not sure I even know what socialism is, so I just don't have the background to answer that question.

[07:40:02] BERMAN: So, going back to the beginning here which is this morning you sit here having made history around the nation as the first transgender nominee of a major political party, people are looking at this year.

Some are looking at it as the rainbow wave. LGBT candidates around the country having more success than they have in the past.

What do you attribute that to? HALLQUIST: Well again, I attribute that -- you know, if you look at the number of women that have jumped it's incredible as well. I'm going back to the fact that we are all reacting to what happened in 2016.

You know, I'm hoping our children and our children's children will look back at 2018 and say that's when we made history and we can be proud of our democracy because our democracy will have survived a despot. You know, I think we all have to rise up and get involved because we -- our democracy is threatened.

BERMAN: Christine Hallquist, congratulations on making that history. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. I appreciate it.

HALLQUIST: You're welcome and thank you for having me.

BERMAN: Erica --

HILL: She is the target of Republican attacks on the campaign trail. Will Democrats, though, have Nancy Pelosi's back if they win the House? A CNN "Reality Check" is next.


HILL: Nancy Pelosi -- Republicans love to hate her and now, some prominent Democrats are turning on her as well.

[07:45:03] And if you think that frustrates the two-term former Speaker of the House who is looking to take back the gavel -- well, you're right.

John Avlon joins us now with a "CNN Reality Check" -- John.


Look, there's a lot of understandable focus on the GOP civil war these days but Democrats have their own growing divisions and lately, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is sounding a little, dare we say, Trumpian, blaming the media -- specifically, NBC -- after it released a story on the 50-plus Democrats running for office who don't want to see her become speaker again.

Now, take a listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I know NBC has been on a jag of this. This is one of their priorities to undermine my prospects as speaker. But again, that is the least -- the least important question of all, with all due respect.


AVLON: Now, Pelosi, who ran for speaker nine times and held the gavel for two terms, often accused her critics of hating her because they're sexist, ageist, or just plain scared of her political skill, and some of that may be true.

But that doesn't explain away her favorability among Democrats -- a strong 55 percent. But here's the thing. That's the lowest it's been in nine years.

As one of the nation's longest-serving party leaders, Pelosi also rejects the argument that the party needs new blood.

Now, according to NBC, more than 40 of the 51 Democrats opposing Pelosi are party nominees. In other words, a rising generation of Democrats. And whether they're at the center or the left of their party they don't necessarily see Pelosi as an asset.

Take Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, a progressive Muslim who won her primary just last week, and listen to what she said to our own John Berman.


BERMAN: Will you vote for Nancy Pelosi?



AVLON: Not terribly subtle.

And it gets worse. When one of the party's rising stars, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was asked about Pelosi about Chris Cuomo -- well, this happened.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, NEW YORK DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: She is the leader of -- no, she -- I mean, speaker -- or rather leader Pelosi hopefully, you know, we'll see. She's a -- she's the current leader of the party and I think that the party absolutely does have its leadership in the House. We have our leadership in the Senate, as well.


AVLON: Not exactly a ringing endorsement from the new guard.

And all of this has Republicans sensing weakness.

And, of course, President Trump couldn't resist piling on, tweeting, "Democrats, please do not distance yourself from Nancy Pelosi. She's a wonderful person whose ideas and policies may be bad but who should be definitely given a fourth chance." I'm sensing some sarcasm there.

Now, Republicans have run against San Francisco Democrats since at least 1984 when Jeane Kirkpatrick ripped Bay Area Democrats for quote "always blaming America first."

It does not help that Nancy Pelosi is literally a San Francisco Democrat, representing the Bay Area in Congress for the past 30 years.

Now, is a lot of this being drummed up by Republicans who love to hate Pelosi? Of course -- evident in the campaign ads.

Is it a lot of the progressive Democrats from the left -- something that Pelosi doesn't necessarily embrace? Definitely.

And on the flip side, swing state Democrats see Pelosi as a liability in their effort to reach out beyond the base.

But one thing Pelosi can't blame for her troubles, the media.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: John Avlon, thanks so much.

Nancy Pelosi also one of the few people left in Washington who can count votes --


BERMAN: -- which is the very thing you need to be able to do as a party leader. That is undeniable. You'll hear that from parties -- people on both sides of the aisle.

However, it's also just undeniable that she is being used in these elections against Democrats. And to some extent, it's working.

AVLON: As a cudgel. It's evident in campaign ad after campaign ad after campaign ad.

But as you say, she can count the votes and she can raise the money, and those are two critical things for a party leader and a speaker to do.

BERMAN: All right, John Avlon. Thank you very, very much.

A mother and her son reunited after being apart for nearly three months, separated by the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy. Nine-year-old Anthony Ortiz -- you can see him hugging his mother Elsa after arriving back in Guatemala overnight.

Attorney and frequent Trump critic Michael Avenatti was granted temporary custody of the boy and traveled with him for the reunion.

Last week, the government told a federal judge nearly 400 children are still in federal custody after their parents were deported.

HILL: Glad to see they are reunited but boy, what a story -- yes.

Millions of voters in one state had their information exposed online. The state is insisting, though, the voting system, it's secure.


[07:53:34] BERMAN: New concerns about election security after the records of more than six million Georgia voters were exposed online.

Now, despite that huge breach, Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp insists the voting system is secure. Now, it should be noted Kemp happens to be running for governor.

CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has more.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Right around the same time Russians were trying to penetrate state voting systems in the summer of 2016, cybersecurity expert and part-time hacker Logan Lamb decided to check out how Georgia's centralized voter system was holding up. What he found was an open window.

LOGAN LAMB, CYBERSECURITY EXPERT: There were documents with Election Day supervisor passwords. There was a voter registration database with 6.3 million records of all of Georgia's voters.

GRIFFIN: Including full names, dates of birth, even driver's license and partial Social Security numbers all wide open to anyone snooping around.

And now we know during this same time, Russians were snooping around. According to the Justice Department's special counsel investigation, that included snooping around Web sites of certain counties in Georgia to identify vulnerabilities.

Lamb didn't know about the Russians but he did know having voting records so easily accessible was a problem. So he e-mailed and then he called Georgia's Center for Election Systems, run out of this house on the campus of Kennesaw State University, to warn them. Six months later, all that Georgia voter data was still unprotected.

[07:55:08] GRIFFIN (on camera): All the passwords -- everything was still available to anybody who wanted it?

LAMB: Right, yes.

GRIFFIN: What does that tell you about the secure election of the state of Georgia?

LAMB: Georgia's election systems, they should not be trusted.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Eventually, Kennesaw State closed the security loophole and notified the state. A lawsuit was filed challenging the security of Georgia's elections.

Then, shockingly, evidence of what took place vanished. I.T. workers at Kennesaw State University wiped the election system's computer hard drives clean, deleting any potential evidence of tampering.


GRIFFIN: The person in charge of Georgia's election is Georgia's secretary of state, Brian Kemp. He is the Trump-style Republican now running for governor and the voting mess under his watch has turned into a mild campaign issue.

Kemp's office says the Secretary of State had no idea Georgia's voter information system as so vulnerable to attack until months after Logan Lamb's warning. Kemp blamed Kennesaw State's Center for Election Systems for the entire debacle, ended the state's long-running contract with the center, and shut it down.

On Facebook, he called the actions of the Election Center employees "reckless, inexcusable, and showing undeniable ineptitude." And then he hired the director of the center to work with him at the Secretary of State's office.

And to assure everyone all this didn't mean anything, he posted, "Georgia's elections are safe and our systems remain secure."

GRIFFIN (on camera): How can he possibly say that?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Marilyn Marks, a self-funded advocate for improving election integrity, is part of a group that has sued Georgia. She says the state's system is easily penetrable and if the system fails, if it's hacked or infected with malware, there would be no way for Georgia to double-check the votes.

In part, she wants a paper ballot back-up for the upcoming midterm elections. The state says no.

MARKS: When told that hey, you've been exposed to bad guys, you've been exposed to viruses, you've been exposed to every known bad thing that could happen to an election system, they just say OK -- next election.

GRIFFIN: And that pretty much sums up what Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp is saying. We'll take care of this in 2020 after he becomes Georgia's next governor.

GRIFFIN (on camera): The Georgia Secretary of State's office says it's just too late to switch to another system of voting before the next election, saying it would lead to voter confusion and possibly suppress the vote.

And in Trump-like style, Brian Kemp is blaming the press for overhyping Georgia's voting problems, saying any report, like the one you just saw, is fake news.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: All right, Drew Griffin. A disturbing report -- certainly something to think about.

In the meantime, we're following a lot of news this morning so let's get to it.



OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Had I heard it while I was working in the White House, I would have left immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is racist. We don't need to have a tape to know that.

PATTON: He told me that he has never said this word. I take him at his word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president has repeatedly targeted people of color and women.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This has absolutely nothing to do with race. The fact is the president's an equal opportunity person that calls things like he sees it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day I met him I was around 18 months old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The largest report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They targeted me because I was fatherless.

DOUGHERTY: They abused it and the church covered it up.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, August 15th, 8:00 here in the east.

Alisyn is off; Erica Hill joins me this morning.

And if you want a direct answer from the White House on whether President Trump has ever used the "n" word or whether there could be a recording of it, you're out of luck. Press Sec. Sarah Sanders says she can't guarantee it.


KRISTEN WELKER, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Can you stand at the podium and guarantee the American people they'll never hear Donald Trump utter the "n" word on a recording in any context?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can't guarantee anything, but I can tell you that the president addressed this question directly. I can tell you that I've never heard it.

WELKER: Just to be clear, you can't guarantee it?

SANDERS: I -- look, I haven't been in every single room.


HILL: There you go. That's the response just hours after the president called his former aide, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a dog.

Sanders said that insult directed at an African-American woman isn't racist. Why? Well, because the president, as you heard, is an equal opportunity person who fights fire with fire, according to Sanders -- according to Sanders.

The Trump campaign, meantime, now taking legal action against Omarosa, claiming she violated a 2016 confidentiality agreement while working for the campaign -- when it was signed during that time. Omarosa shooting down claims and saying she doesn't believe she violated it all.