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Stormy Daniels Get Star Treatment in Vogue; Bipartisan Resolution to Rename Senate Building for McCain; Voters Going to the Polls in Arizona and Florida; Puerto Rico Changes Official Hurricane Death Toll Two 2,975. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 28, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: So, you talk about, I have to quote this line in your piece. Because you set it up comparing to her -- to of course, what we saw in that "60 Minutes" interview, all fancy and makeup job and everything. And you write, in person Stormy is nothing like that stoic, on message woman. She is blunt, foul mouthed, funny. I ask her for more details on her alleged 2006 affair with Trump. The quote is, how many details can you really good give about two minutes? she says. Two minutes? I ask. Maybe. I'm being generous.

AMY CHOZICK, WROTE NEW VOGUE ARTICLE ON STORMY DANIELS: Yes, she's very dry. She has the sardonic wit. And it was something she kept kind of relying on every time the conversation got too heavy about this weight that millions of Americans placed on her shoulders seeing her as this kind of beacon of the resistance.

BALDWIN: Which she says she didn't really mean to be at all.

CHOZICK: Exactly. Exactly. I mean, she, you know, she tells me that the demographic that used to come to the strip clubs and buy her adult films, you know, white men, middle aged, are just gone and now the hordes of women.

BALDWIN: You were there at one of the -- doing your homework at one of these strip club.


BALDWIN: Who's there cheering her on?

CHOZICK: I went in Milwaukee, which is kind of like the heart of Trump country and it was like the people lining up, I saw Bernie Sanders shirts, I saw gay couples who had never been to a strip club before, I talked to women, I talked to a secretary who couldn't wait to get a selfie.

BALDWIN: Who are going to watch her strip?


BALDWIN: To -- with like t-shirts that saying team Stormy.

CHOZICK: Stormy told me the strangest thing about this whole experience is that she has sold hardly any nude photos since it started. Because she sells merchandise after the show. So, she sold team Stormy t-shirts and she sold, you know, mugs and things like that to these people who see her as this person taking on the President.

BALDWIN: So, the color in your piece is extraordinary. But you know, you point out what makes her an effective foe of Trump is that he sort of -- you can't humiliate her.


BALDWIN: Because, you know, she's like, you want to -- you want to expose the sex tape? Here you go. $29.95.

CHOZICK: I'll leak all of them.

BALDWIN: Why is she -- she's sort of this perfect adversary.

CHOZICK: She really is. I mean, I try to dig into that a little bit. What makes her such a perfect adversary? And it's partly that. She cannot be humiliated. I mean, she told me that working in the adult business there's harassment her whole life. She said I did not turn on Twitter and get called whore for the first time. You know, she doesn't have a carefully crafted image to maintain. She doesn't have a political base to make happy. She sort of is who she is and I think that's why a lot of women identify with her. There's something very flawed and real that they see in her.

BALDWIN: Then you have the camp saying, OK, your 15 minutes of fame, lady, are way, way up. But you have the Russia investigation over here. You have Michael Cohen and what happened in that federal courthouse, you know, and campaign violations and pleading to myriad felonies. And she's taking on this President and I'm wondering for people you talk to might it be this porn star, not this, but this porn star that takes the President down?

CHOZICK: Oh, absolutely. The kind of details of her case don't seem that big. Who signed the nondisclosure agreement? She suing for defamation. But this could be a catalyst of historic proportions. As it already saw it led to Michael Cohen pleading guilty to campaign finance violations. I mean, I talked to a lot of legal experts who said, this could be the string that unravels the whole thing.

BALDWIN: Your biggest takeaway after sitting down with her?

CHOZICK: I think just how fun she is. I think people have a perception about porn stars and what their kind of sex filled lives are like. She is a working mom. I mean, talking about 15 minutes, some of her friends I talked to were like, yes, she's got a family to support. Is she cashing in when she can? Sure. But she's also got crazy expenses. She's had to hire bodyguards. She calls them her dragons and they go with her everywhere. And so just kind of how different it was from our perception of this glamorous or whatever you think of porn stars. She's working mom, she's got her horses in Texas. A gun, she got a gun.

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: She's a Republican. She says I never in a million years imagined I would be in this position. Amy Chozick, thank you so much. And you can read her entire piece go to for that. Thank you.

CHOZICK: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next, Senators have introduced a bipartisan solution to rename a Senate building after John McCain. Not everyone is on board with that. We'll talk about the history of the man who the building is named after. Richard B. Russell. Coming up next.


BALDWIN: A number of lawmakers are pushing to rename a federal building after Senator John McCain, building up on Capitol Hill. At least two Republican Senators are coming out against this idea, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy. The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, just announced a quote, gang of bipartisan members to come up with a fitting memorial for the late Arizona Senator.

[15:40:00] Minority Leader Schumer is supportive of this effort. Renaming it.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: For three decades, Senator McCain was a fixture in those marble halls, an institution of the Senate. It's only fitting that his name should adorn a physical institution of the Senate.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I'd like to put together an official group that can elaborate an bring ideas of current members, former colleagues and friends. It will be bipartisan as only befits John's legacy. And come to think it, we'd probably call it not a committee but a gang.


BALDWIN: Senator McCain's name would replace that of Senator Richard B. Russell, long time Georgia Senator and segregationist with a storied past. Let's talk about that past with CNN's presidential historian, Tim Naftali. He's also the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library. Tell me about Senator Russell.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Senator Russell was a powerful legislator. He was from the early 1950s until 1969, he was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and he was chairman of the armed services subcommittee of the senate appropriations committee. So, in other words, he was the key person on spending money on the military. And he made the position of Senate Armed Services Committee chairman even more powerful. Every new military system had to get his approval before it could actually be paid for.

The House plays a role but without the Senate it doesn't happen. He's very famous among students of the national security state of that. He's also well-known because he was a quiet critic of Vietnam. But -- this is the key part -- his greater loyalty was to Lyndon Baines Johnson. He was the mentor of younger -- of younger Johnson. When Johnson got stuck in the morass of Vietnam, even though Russell had said, don't do it, he stood up for him and he kept pushing through military budgets that helped further the war in Vietnam.

BALDWIN: You turned our attention to this sound from the early '60s. This is President Johnson speaking to Senator Russell.


LYNDON JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: What do you think about this Vietnam thing? What -- I'd like to hear you talk a little bit.

RICHARD B. RUSSELL, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Quite frankly, Mr. President, if you want to tell me I was authorized to settle it as I saw fit I would respectfully decline to undertake it. It's the damn worse mess that I ever saw, and I don't like to brag. I never have been right many time in my life, but I knew we were going to get in this sort of mess when we went in there. And I don't know see how we're ever going to get out without fighting a major war with the Chinese and all of them down there in those rice paddies and jungles. I just don't see it. I just don't know what to do.

JOHNSON: Well, that's the way I've been feeling for six months.


NAFTALI: Well, but there's another side to Richard Russell that's very important to keep in mind. Richard Russell signed something called the Southern Manifesto in the late 50s. He supported Jim Crow laws. He supported the caste system, the apartheid system in the South. He was a racist. He was a great friend of Strom Thurman's. We wouldn't want an office building named after Strom Thurman in Washington. Richard Russell has an office building named after him. He died in 1971 and next year the office building was named after him. Why did Republicans, don't forget, this's the Nixon era. Why would Republicans have wanted this Democratic legislator to have his name on a building? Because in the 1970s, Republicans were competing for the votes of Southern Democrats. This was the time of Richard Nixon's Southern strategy.

BALDWIN: How about that?

NAFTALI: He wanted to embrace those who had been against the civil rights legislation.

BALDWIN: Ergo the naming --

NAFTALI: Ergo the naming of the building.

BALDWIN: How difficult is it -- last question -- to rename a building such as that?

NAFTALI: Well, we have seen a number of buildings renamed in the last few years. After all, the old executive office building is now the Dwight D. Eisenhower building. The Justice Department's building is now the Robert F. Kennedy building. Buildings can be named easily. But it's up to the Congress to name it.

Here's the thing. Are members of Congress prepared to name a building after a maverick? To name a building after someone whose value system reflects Reagan conservative values at a time when Reagan conservative values don't reflect those of the Republican Party? We'll see.

BALDWIN: We will. Tim, thank you.

NAFTALI: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Very much.

Coming up next, an Arizona senate candidate apologizes for suggesting that Senator John McCain's family timed their announcement about his health to hurt her campaign. Why she says she was misunderstood. We'll dig into the other key primary races in Arizona and Florida.


BALDWIN: All right. Right now, voters in Florida and Arizona heading to the polls. It is one of the last primary days before the November midterms. When you look at Arizona three Republican candidates are running to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake. One of those candidate under fire and now issuing an apology to Senator John McCain's family. This is Dr. Kelli Ward under all kinds of criticism for suggesting that an announcement by the late Senator's family that he would end his cancer treatment was at all tied to, you know, hurt her campaign. So now she's back tracking from that and blaming the media.

[15:50:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLIE WARD, (R) ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: To be clear, my comments were in no way directed at Senator McCain or at his family or his team. My comments were in reference to the media and a lot of you know I've been kind of critical of the media, not quite as critical as the President has been but I have been critical of you, as well. And that the media sometimes might hope for that narrative that would hinder the momentum of our campaign.


BALDWIN: With me now to talk Arizona and Florida, CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten. Harry, big picture. You write about this today. Right? So, Democrats are obviously trying to take back the House, the Senate but specifically with the Senate it's a bit of an uphill battle. Talk to me about how crucial Arizona is?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I mean, look, they need to win in Arizona if they're going to take back the Senate most likely. Right? They need net pickup of two. There are only nine seats, Republican House seats where they have any shot in, because that's where the Republican Senators are. And Arizona is one of the few states where Hillary Clinton actually performed half decently back in 2016. That and Nevada. If you could pick lose those two seats up and then not lose any, you'd take back the Senate. But of course, you need to win both of them in order to do that.

BALDWIN: Yes. In Florida, the story is basically assumed that it's going to be Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, and then it will be the governor, Rick Scott, the Republican, who will skate through his primary. And ultimately it will be the two of them who will face-off in November. But talk to me about the drama of the primaries to replace Governor Scott.

ENTEN: Yes, I mean, look, Ron DeSantis, who has been endorsed by Donald Trump and has basically come from behind and is beating Adam Putnam who was long thought to be the favorite. But Trump gives the endorsement to DeSantis and now all of a sudden DeSantis in most of the polling is well ahead of Putnam. And that will set up a very interesting general election. Because there hasn't been a Democratic governor elected in Florida since 1994. And the polling does in fact, show that Gwen Graham, who looks likely to be the Democratic nominee, has a real shot at beating DeSantis in the fall. But it'll be a very, very close battle. Florida, of course, being the ultimate swing state.

BALDWIN: So, just quickly, last, what is the number one thing you will watch for lately tonight?

ENTEN: I think, for me, Arizona and the Senate side does, in fact, Martha McSally who is very much favored in that primary, get the 50 percent or more.

BALDWIN: OK. Harry Enten, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up here, a reminder, you don't want to miss the new CNN film, RBG, this Labor Day, 9 o'clock Eastern, 9 p.m. Following the life and career and life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, CNN FILM, RGB: Conventional expectations of marriage were very different when Ruth Bader wed Marty Ginsberg in 1954. Back then men supported families financially, while women took care of the home. The law reflected that. Recognizing that gender bias has negative impacts for everyone, RBG used cases that impacted men to win rights for all genders.

In 1971 as a lawyer, she wrote the Supreme Court brief in a case that overturned the law that males must be preferred to females in the control of estates. Four years later, she won a widower the right to claim his deceased wife social security benefits, so he could stay home with their young child.

When landmark same-sex marriage case was argued on the Supreme Court in 2015, RBG pointed out that society's ideas about marriage had evolved.

RUTH BADER GINSBERG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Whether the norm has changer as it could in my lifetime.

Watch RBG on Monday, September 3 at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.



BALDWIN: Right now, the governor of Puerto Rico is holding a news conference, reacting to this study that was just released by George Washington University, puts this number of storm related deaths from hurricane Maria to nearly 3,000. Keep in mind that is a far cry from that official death toll at 64, 46 times the government's official toll.

Leyla Santiago is with me now. And Leyla, it was your reporting -- the reporting from the CNN team that led to some of these new investigations and then I understand the governor just announced he will now change that official number.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, when we run that graphic, we're now going to be able to say official toll, 2,975. It will no longer say 64, as it was just minutes ago. Because the governor has now said that he will be accepting the findings of this study and make that change to acknowledge, to understand, to let everyone know that hurricane Maria claimed way more than 64 lives nearly a year ago.

The governor also spoke about a few different things that he plans to do in moving forward. He says he wants to establish a commission. He will call it the 9/20 commission, 9/20, September 20, the day that hurricane Maria destroyed that island.

He acknowledged that the protocols to be prepared for planning need to change. And this is somewhat stunning here, Brooke, he acknowledged that Puerto Rico was prepared for a category one hurricane when they prepared for hurricane Maria, which came nine days after hurricane Irma. So, now, he is saying, yes, we want to be prepared for a category 5. Because at the time, the lack of communications, the daily challenges that came after the power grade was wiped out, after cell towers, communication, after all of that happened on that island, they have learned now, and the study confirms they need to be prepared for much more than a cat 1 hurricane heading toward that island.

BALDWIN: Tell me, in 45 seconds, why this number so matters for families in terms of funding.

SANTIAGO: Well, in terms of funding, it matters because the families need to be on the official death toll in order to qualify for assistance from FEMA. So, that could help with funeral expenses. And the big picture this matters because this could prevent deaths in the future, understanding what happened could prevent how they react, how they prepare and, in turn, prevent deaths in future disasters, not only in Puerto Rico, but across the world. BALDWIN: And elsewhere. Leyla Santiago, thank you again so much for

that, to you and the team and the investigations leading to this official death toll. Thank you.

Thank you for watching, I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. Jim Scuitto is in for Jake Tapper. "THE LEAD" starts now.