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CNN NEWSROOM

Rep. Swalwell: I'm "Considering" a 2020 Presidential Run; Bomb Killing 40 Children in Yemen was Supplied by U.S.; Documentary on Ruth Bader Ginsburg Airs September 3; NYT: Weinstein Accuser Allegedly Paid Off Her Own Accuser. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 20, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: -- person in my family to go to college an opportunity. I was raised to believe that if you work hard it means something. And I think that having experience and energy to give Americans a healthcare guarantee, invest in modern schools to make sure that we green our grid and our infrastructure, that that is the path forward. And that the future for our country is a page forward. And I'm going to consider it. But again, right now, the best way to cut our time in hell in half is to win Congress. And we shouldn't look beyond that.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So let's talk about how you -- how you do that, right? And if you retake control of the House, if Nancy Pelosi is the best leader, the right leader for the party to lead you forward, as you know, there has been a growing outcry from some in your party, from also candidates like Danny O'Connor in Ohio 12 or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in New York 14 who say she doesn't represent the future of the party. Are they right? Or is Nancy Pelosi the best leader for your party?

SWALWELL: I'm supporting Nancy Pelosi. But I've heard that Nancy Pelosi tell those candidates, you do what you have to do. She's not you know making them make a pledge at all. And I think there's room in our party for Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Danny O'Connor and others. I look forward to welcoming them. And these are problems that we would love to have because that means we're in the majority and we have to figure out who our speaker is going to be.

HARLOW: So I asked you colleague Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut on Friday if he thinks leadership in your party is too old and too white. Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The fact that our top three leaders are in their late 70s -- I don't care who those leaders are -- that's in fact a problem. The Democratic Party is going to need to get some faces and some people who can speak to people in their 40s to people in their 20s.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Is he right?

SWALWELL: Well I'm the youngest one on our leadership team, Poppy. I'm 37 years old. I sit at that leadership --

HARLOW: That makes you an anomaly. That makes you an anomaly.

SWALWELL: And we have 40 candidates under the age of 40 in the most competitive seats. Most of them never imagined running for Congress just 18 months ago. So I think you're going to see a transformational class. It reminds me a lot of what I read about the Watergate babies in 1974. They stepped up because they saw what was happening to their country. They answered the call to service and they changed America. And I think that --

HARLOW: It sounds like you agree leadership overall is too old.

SWALWELL: I think we need new leaders you know at that leadership table. And that's why I hope that this freshman class is so big that they assert themselves and they have seats there, too.

HARLOW: All right. Before you go, new Gallup poll that fascinates me and it is the first time in a decade where Democrats, when you poll Democrats, they have a more positive view of socialism than they do of capitalism. 47 percent view capitalism positively. 57 percent view socialism positively. Do you see that as a dangerous strain on your party? Or do you see it as something that your party embraces and should embrace?

SWALWELL: I see that the Republicans have been so reckless with capitalism that the tax cuts have gone all the way to the top, that people don't have health care security today that I understand why people look the other way. I believe in capitalism. I believe in not redistribution but reinvestment and rebuilding. And if we go back to that, I think people, regardless of what your party is, will believe in capitalism again. And that's something we should seek to restore once we win in November.

HARLOW: We will see what happens. I think we got 79 days or something like that.

SWALWELL: That's right.

HARLOW: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for being here.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

HARLOW: All right. We have to update you on a story we have been following closely here out of Yemen. CNN can now confirm that the bomb that was used in that tragic attack on that school bus in Yemen that killed 40 children was American made. It was sold as part of a U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And now there are more questions over what the U.S. role in all of this really is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:38:20] HARLOW: All right. We do have more tragic news from Yemen. This is a story we have been following for several weeks on this show. 40 children, as you know, were killed, dozens more injured in that devastating attack on a school bus there as the civil war in Yemen rages on.

But now, this morning CNN can confirm that the bomb that was used in that attack was sold as part of the U.S. State Department sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni civil war has been ongoing since 2015. The Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting against the Houthi rebels there includes eight Arab states and logistical support from the United States.

The U.S. says it does not make decisions on targeting for the coalition but it does support its operation through billions of dollars in arms sales like this one. Let's go to our Nima Elbagir who's been following this constantly. And Nima, I mean this bomb was a bomb made by a company Americans know well, Lockheed Martin, right? That's one of the top defense contractors in this country. And it's similar to the bomb I understand that was used in that funeral hall that was struck and over 100 people died about a year and a half ago. The Obama administration banned the sale of these arms after that happened, right? They were concerned about Saudi Arabia and human rights. The Trump administration has changed that?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Trump administration overturned it. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, six months into his tenure, overturned that ban. Your question goes to the heart of this issue. Which is, when the Obama administration was speaking about human rights concerns, they were really speaking about their complicity, moral or otherwise, in the concerns around whether the Saudi Arabians and the broader coalition were being in what I've heard used the specific enough in their targeting, especially after they acknowledged fault in that funeral hall bombing, where the bomb they used there was 2,000 pounds.

[10:40:11] That's a 2-ton bomb, killed a 144 people. The bomb that was used in the bus attack that killed the children was 500 pounds, half a ton. That's an extraordinary weapon to drop on top of a bus carrying children, Poppy.

HARLOW: What about response and responsibility, right? I mean now there is an overwhelming outcry over this happening and it is gaining attention. What about U.S. lawmakers? I mean some are writing, right? They're writing and demanding congressional oversight. Is there a sense that something will change, something will happen as a result of this?

ELBAGIR: Well there's a real push and pull. Even the act that lawmakers pressured for that was signed the Monday after the Yemen bus attack, even that we understand came after Secretary of Defense Mattis really had a tug-of-war with the White House where he was pushing for this reporting period, which ultimately did end up in the act, which is in 180 days they have to come back to Congress, which should be about mid-February, and talk about what happened with regard to that greater specificity of targeting. But it still isn't enough. We understand the Secretary of Defense would like more because if at some point the coalition ends up -- stands accused of war crimes, will the U.S. stand accused similarly as a co-belligerent? That's the issue here, Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Nima, just looking at those children, my goodness. Thank you for reporting on this and keeping us posted and digging to find answers to all of this. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:46:11] HARLOW: She's notorious, she's fit and she says she's not going anywhere any time soon. Of course we are talking about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 85-year-old self-proclaimed - proclaiming "flaming feminist" litigator has spent 25 years on the high court. And the new CNN film "RBG" about her life premieres September 3rd.

And ahead of that, we have a new podcast "RBG Beyond Notorious" and we take you behind the scenes of the film and her life, each episodes of a decade by decade journey from her roots in Brooklyn, New York to her journey all the way up to the Supreme Court and her lifelong fight for women's equality amid all of the division in Washington.

And we talked to people who know her best including her granddaughter who shares the sage advice of the woman that she calls Bubbie. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARA SPERA, RUTH BADER GINSBURG'S GRANDDAUGHTER: You see both through her writing and through her very public friendships that she does not yell. She doesn't go overboard. And she really tries to be a consensus builder when that's possible. Her advice to me is very much the same advice that her mother gave to her, which is "be fiercely independent but also be a lady." So don't let your anger get the better of you. You can't win an argument by yelling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: With me e on this journey, my co-host CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. This is fun.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It was totally fun.

HARLOW: This was fun. An 85-year-old Supreme Court justice has become in many ways a pop icon.

TOOBIN: Well you know she's both a remarkable person as an individual. Her personal story is extraordinary. She lost her mother as a teenager. She married Martin Ginsburg, who was a tremendous partner and a great love story, for many, many years.

But it's also a story about how America has changed. That you know when she started litigating cases, women could get fired because they got pregnant. A married woman couldn't get credit cards without signatures from their husbands. It's such a different world. And she was one of the key people in changing all those laws. Of course, it led to her time on the Supreme Court, which has been distinctly a mixed record for her --

HARLOW: It has.

TOOBIN: -- because she was a liberal in largely conservative times.

HARLOW: Right and she's become the great dissenter. If you will not a position - and not that she wanted or sought out, but that has been the reality. She - and we talk about this throughout the podcast. Her journey and the impact she has made on equality, so much of it was before she was on the Supreme Court.

TOOBIN: Right.

HARLOW: So much of it was about her as a lawyer.

TOOBIN: She would be a major figure in American law if she had never even been appointed a judge because when she started litigating cases in -- American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s here in New York, the women's rights legal movement scarcely existed. There had been the civil rights movement, led by Thurgood Marshall. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg really became the Thurgood Marshall of the women's rights movement. And she argued cases before the Supreme Court and won them.

HARLOW: She did.

TOOBIN: Later got to cite them in -- as a justice.

HARLOW: Yes. But the Thurgood Marshall title, which she doesn't like because she does know - you know I didn't risk my life for this as he did. Let's talk about some of this. We had Lilly Ledbetter on who of course named famous now with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. But here is an exchange that stood out to me between the two of you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOOBIN: How did you feel when you lost?

LILLY LEDBETTER, PLAINTIFF, LEDBETTER VERSUS GOODYEAR TIRE AND RUBBER CO.: I sort of expected it. But I knew when I made the decision, I knew -- I was two years away from retirement. But I had to do it because it was the right thing to do. And I think whatever it is that drives Justice Ginsburg to do the right thing is what drove Lilly Ledbetter, too, because it was the right thing to do and I have talked to so many, many people who have gotten their due on due day with their money they should've gotten after the Ledbetter Bill passed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:50:11] HARLOW: This was a scathing dissent, because -- that she wrote, Justice Ginsburg, right? She was defeated in this but it ignited action from Congress.

TOOBIN: You know it was a moment of perfect timing. It was a case where Lilly Ledbetter sued for pay discrimination that she only found out about years after the pay discrimination began. She filed a lawsuit and by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court, she lost. She said, the court said, you filed it too late. Ginsburg said, this was outrageous and it was just before Barack Obama was elected president, Democrats took over Congress. And they passed the law that extended the statute of limitations. It was the first law that Barack Obama signed as president.

HARLOW: Right.

TOOBIN: And it's called the Lilly Ledbetter Act but it never would have happened but for Ginsburg's dissent.

HARLOW: What will surprise people most, you think? We only have six episodes. We have all these guests on.

TOOBIN: The story of her life. I mean the personal story, the story of a young woman who grew up in modest circumstances in Brooklyn. Who fought her way through law school, found a supportive husband, managed to get jobs when women didn't get legal jobs and how she became the architect of the legal women's rights movement and then a very important judge.

HARLOW: I was struck - I mean by so much. The fact that she did not -- could not get hired, graduating at the top of her law school class, could not get hired. Why? Because she was a woman.

TOOBIN: True also for Sandra Day O'Connor.

HARLOW: Exactly.

TOOBIN: The first woman justice as well as the second.

HARLOW: All right. Jeffrey, this is fun. Thank you for being here. And of course, do not forget to subscribe to the podcast. It drops today. "RBG Beyond Notorious" subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast and don't forget to watch the premiere of "RBG" the CNN film right here September 3rd.

All right, ahead for us, Asia Argento, she was one of the first people to come out and accuse Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, but according to a bombshell report in the "New York Times" the actress and director were paid hush money to a co-star accusing her of sexual assault, all the details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:56:50] HARLOW: This morning, stunning accusations against one of the most prominent faces of the Metoo Movement, talking about this woman, the actress Asia Argento. She was one of the first and most vocal accusers of embattled movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Now according to new reporting in "The New York Times," the Italian actress is accused of sexually assaulting one of her co-stars, a 17- year-old child actor, and then paying him to keep quiet. "The New York Times" says it received the information in an encrypted e-mail from an unidentified party. We also want to know, CNN has tried to reach all the parties in this. "The New York Times" has been trying to get a response from Asia Argento since Thursday, to no avail. Our Jean Casarez is following the story and joins me now. Wow.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wow. The CNN -- "The New York Times" did get this through an encrypted e-mail, anonymous source. But they checked it with three people that are familiar with this case and they do believe it is credible.

Now let's look at the facts of what this documentation says, according to "The New York Times." Asia Argento allegedly -- I will say -- sexually assaulted -- sexually battered a young man when he was 17 years old, years ago, in a hotel room in California. His name is Jimmy Bennett. He was a child actor. He is still an actor and rock musician. The years went on. And according to the documentation, "The New York Times" got, his attorney said that when she, Argento, came out last October as the public face, one of the major faces in the New York magazine article along with just fronting the fact that she said that Harvey Weinstein raped her, that it was too much for this young man, who had grown up, 27 years old now, to bear.

And it called up memories of the hotel reunion. Quote, "His feelings about that day were brought to the forefront recently when Ms. Argento took to the spotlight as one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein." That's when his attorney reached to her with the notice of intent to sue. And that led to the allegations of sexual battery, sexual assault, emotional infliction of emotional distress. And that led to a negotiated settlement. "The New York Times" documentation is saying of $380,000. April was when the final papers were written up with the payments involved. Also, there was a photograph of the two of them in bed together. And she requested, demanded to get the copyright of that picture.

HARLOW: Wow.

CASAREZ: We have reached out, as you said, to the attorneys on both sides. And "The New York Times" has tried to reach Argento since Thursday.

HARLOW: Right. And no answer?

CASAREZ: No response from anyone at this point.

HARLOW: OK. Jean Casarez, important reporting, thank you.

As always, thank you all for being with me today. I will see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. "At This Hour" starts now.