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Trump Warns He Will "Get Involved" At DOJ And FBI; "RBG" Premieres Monday On CNN At 9 p.m.; Celebrities And Fans Say Final Farewell To The "Queen of Soul"; Prince Harry's Singing Wows "Hamilton" Crowd. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired August 31, 2018 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I just think the volume and the -- to me, irrationality of some of the things he's saying in his tweets at least tell me that the walls are kind of crashing in on him.
And with all -- when you think about the sequence of events in the last week or so with the Manafort guilty plea and the Michael Cohen plea bargain, and the revelations about past misdeeds that the "National Enquirer" has been suppressing.
And I just think that more and more, he's legally -- I think he feels like he's in jeopardy. And I think what he's trying to do -- to use a military expression -- is prep the battlefield for taking some action later. And in the meantime, to the maximum extent that he can, undermining the credibility of the investigation.
So I guess it's a rhetorical ratcheting up here from a hoax to something illegal. You know, the fact he hadn't used that adjective before is probably pretty significant.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We should note it's not been an illegal investigation. It's an investigation by completely legal constitutional means.
BERMAN: But you're saying he's prepping the battlefield by calling it illegal. Prepping the battlefield by perhaps referring to this Lester Holt tape that we've all seen -- this interview -- this unedited interview.
BERMAN: The president claiming it was somehow fudged.
CLAPPER: That's a -- that's an example of what I think is emblematic of the pressure that the president's under.
You know, this happened last year -- months and months ago that this interview took place, and only now is he alleging that it was fudged. If he were concerned about the interview it would seem to me that someone would have said something in the immediate aftermath of when it happened. So, to me, it's patently obvious what -- you know, what he's doing.
BERMAN: You said his change or his ratcheting up -- you're talking about prepping the battlefield.
Are you of the mind, just looking at this as an observer, that we should be on high alert for the special counsel to something perhaps today -- the Friday before Labor Day?
CLAPPER: Well, I don't think it'd be that soon. I think -- I think a lot will have to do with midterm elections. And it appears that he's extended Attorney General Sessions' lame duck status through the midterm elections.
And I think that's when if there's going to be a further progression in this crisis that that's when it will occur. I don't -- I could be wrong. I don't know. I can't predict this White House but I doubt that it would be today.
BERMAN: It is interesting if you look at the ABC News polling. The polling seems to back the position of Jeff Sessions and Jeff Sessions seems to have enough support -- enough support among the Republican Senate to survive, at least into the midterms.
Let's do some housecleaning, Director, if I can.
Do you still have your security clearance?
CLAPPER: Well, I guess. I don't know. I haven't heard -- I haven't heard anything.
The last I read in the media is the White House was trying to come up with reasons to revoke the eligibility of others on his list.
BERMAN: So you still have your security clearance as far as you know.
While you still have it maybe you can lend us your expertise on North Korea. Obviously, the situation -- the negotiations over denuclearization seem to have stalled. The president canceled a trip from the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to go there.
And in this interview with "Bloomberg" overnight, the president did talk about how he views his relationship with Kim Jong Un. He says he looks at it as one where he has a lot of patience.
He says, "I have greater patience than any human being in the world. People don't understand that about me."
Is being patient with Kim Jong Un, Director, the right path?
CLAPPER: Well, first, I guess I -- my observation was not consistent with that statement. I found him to be pretty impulsive.
And yes, having said that, you need great patience when it comes to North Korea, whom I continue to believe are not going to denuclearize. It's just not -- that's their ticket to survival and they're just not going to do that, certainly not -- certainly not in my lifetime.
BERMAN: I will note, the Obama administration policy toward North Korea was one of strategic patience, so patience is something that has been tried with Kim Jong Un --
BERMAN: -- in North Korea.
The president now suggesting he will be patient with him. We'll see how long that lasts. We'll see how long.
Director, I want to ask you -- you had the opportunity to deal with John McCain -- who was chairman of the Armed Services Committee for a time -- extensively over your career.
Your observations as the country remembers him?
CLAPPER: Well, I think -- well, the country's lost an icon, although he leaves a great legacy. And I, like many other witnesses that appeared before Sen. McCain, was on the receiving end of a lot of barbs, even insults.
[07:35:11] But I came to understand that underneath all that was a great patriot who has rendered tremendous service to this country and has tremendous character and integrity.
Just one quick vignette.
When I testified before his committee, I think in early 2012, and this was when Libya was heating up and Gaddafi was still power, Sen. Liebermann, I believe, asked me who I thought would prevail, the rebels or the government. And I said well, the government had the weight of military power and unless there was some outside help that they were going to prevail.
Well, people went nuts over that. The White House distanced themselves from my statement.
Senator Lindsey Graham went on television later that afternoon and said I should -- denounced me and said I should resign.
Senator McCain took it upon himself to call me that evening and enjoined me never to color anything I said. When I asked for my professional opinion I should render it.
And he said 99 times out of 100, I'm going to agree with Lindsey Graham but this is one time where he shot from the lip, which is kind of a cool turn of phrase.
And I had many other encounters with Sen. McCain. Notably, when I went back to Vietnam -- the first time I returned there in 47 years and had some discussions with him and things that he wanted me to -- messages he wanted me to convey to the North Korean.
I went to Hanoi and visited the Hanoi Hilton and saw where he was imprisoned for those five-plus years. And I went where the -- the site of where he went down in the lake in Hanoi and there's a very crude monument that the Vietnamese erected in honor of that event.
And I took a picture of it and sent that picture to Sen. McCain after I got home and he did a very generous inscription on that picture and signed it, and it was something I'll treasure the rest of my life.
James Clapper, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate you sharing your memories.
CLAPPER: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: Alisyn --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right.
Well, her dissent led to change and now CNN is profiling the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One of the key figures in the new CNN film is Lilly Ledbetter and she joins us next with her thoughts.
[07:41:18] CAMEROTA: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has earned countless accolades during her groundbreaking legal career.
Now, a new CNN original film "RBG" takes a closer look at Ginsburg life, including her role in the pay discrimination case, Ledbetter versus Goodyear.
Here's a little preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LILLY LEDBETTER, EQUAL PAY ACTIVIST, PLAINTIFF IN SUPREME COURT CASE, LEDBETTER VS. GOODYEAR TIRE AND RUBBER COMPANY: And I looked at the court makeup. That's when Justice Alito had just gone on the bench. Justice Ginsburg, at the time, was the only female left.
Justice Alito read the opinion. He said I was definitely discriminated against but I had not filed my charge timely. That I waited too late to file my charge.
SAMUEL ALITO, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Justice Ginsburg has filed a dissenting opinion.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: The court does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination. Congress intended to govern real-world employment practices and that world is what the court ignores today.
Initially, you may not know that men are receiving more. Only over time is there strong cause to suspect that discrimination is at work.
LEDBETTER: She's hit the nail on the head because she definitely said they do not know what it's like in the real world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Justice Ginsburg's dissent in that case was the basis for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009.
And, Lilly Ledbetter joins us now. Good morning, great to have you here.
LEDBETTER: Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here.
CAMEROTA: What a case and like you have had.
So just to recap to remind our viewers of what happened, in 1999, you sued Goodyear, your employer, when you discovered that during the course of your 19-year career that the men -- your male counterparts -- were paid more than you were.
And a federal court sided with you and agreed with you, and you were awarded something like $3.8 million in back pay and damages. And then, Goodyear appealed and it made it up to the Supreme Court.
And just tell us about that moment when your case was in front of the Supreme Court.
LEDBETTER: That was an awesome experience but as the film stated, I looked at the makeup of the court and I was a little leery. But there were other --
CAMEROTA: Eight men, one woman.
LEDBETTER: One woman, yes. But there were other men on that bench that had made good rulings in women's cases back in the day of Sandra Day O'Connor. They had ruled with her so I still had hope.
And you always have hope. You never, never give up your hope and trust in the system. And I believed in the system.
And actually, the system -- I won the -- I lost the war but I won the battle simply because it has paved the way for other people, without a doubt, to be able to file a charge and to get their due.
BERMAN: You lost that Supreme Court case. You didn't get the money but --
BERMAN: -- during the Obama administration, the very first law he signed changed it for every other woman going forward.
This all started, obviously, with you and your case. But the dissent -- the dissent -- and we heard Ruth Bader Ginsburg give the dissent in that case.
What role did that have, do you think? LEDBETTER: That -- she challenged Congress to change the law back. She said this is a grave injustice and she said the ball is in your court.
And I tell audiences today, when that ball went to the Congress I went with it because I marched the Halls of Congress -- the House and the Senate -- testifying over and over because what we talk about right here now, it's not Democrat, it's not Republican. It belongs to every American citizen across this great nation.
[07:45:09] CAMEROTA: And she made the great point that for whatever reason in the law previously, you had like a 180-day window or something to file a complaint.
And then she made the point that you don't know necessarily that your male counterparts are making more than you for years. It takes a long time. You worked for 19 years without necessarily knowing that.
And so, that's why it was unrealistic and why we needed this law.
So tell us what your relationship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been since that time.
LEDBETTER: It's been a wonderful relationship. She is so right down to the "i" over that "i" -- the dot -- and the "t" on that "t" because she is strictly by the law.
And the law, in previous cases like mine, had always been based on the interpretation of -- and I filed within 180 days from the time I found out that I worked for a corporation that said if we discussed our pay we would not have a job. So I could never find out exactly how I was paid.
But on meeting Ruth Bader Ginsburg in November of 2010 was an awesome day of my life. I just love her to death because when I get down and out I just read her dissent. It will inspire anyone to adhere to the law.
BERMAN: What was that like when you finally did get a chance to meet her in 2010?
LEDBETTER: It was just awesome and it was so exciting for her and me because she was just moving into that large corner office that had become available and I got to visit with her.
And she told her assistant to send -- take me on the tour of the entire building. And he said now, Justice, you know I can't go in the decision room and she said you can show it to Lilly Ledbetter. You can take her, so he did. He gave me a tour.
But she and I visited. And her husband had just recently passed away and later, she sent me a copy of his book. She wrote me a note and sent me a copy of his cookbook that she had put together.
CAMEROTA: And you've continued to lobby Congress. You've continued to be involved since your case. You continue to speak out about what you want to see for workers and for women.
And so, as part of your effort you've, I think, reached out to Ivanka Trump --
CAMEROTA: -- and you've heard back from her. And so tell us about what she said and what you hope for.
LEDBETTER: She said that she'd be glad to sit down in a meeting with me but I've not been able to get back to Washington in order to have that much time because I don't have the financial situation to buy a plane ticket and stay a couple of days in Washington for the visit.
And it's very critical and really important because unequal pay, it affects a person's livelihood, how they live, their -- how they live -- daily life, their family. And it only -- and it also goes on into your retirement. It's your retirement, your Social Security, and 401(k)s.
CAMEROTA: And you're living proof of this.
LEDBETTER: I am, I am.
CAMEROTA: And so hopefully, Ivanka Trump, if she's listening or the message gets to her, they can find the financial means for you to come so that you and she can have that important conversation.
LEDBETTER: That would be great because I think when I carried the -- if I carried the folder that was presented in trial, she'd have to see beyond a shadow of a doubt.
And this is our American families. It means if the children are eating dinner at night and they have a mother at home to help them with homework because most of the time these single mothers, especially, they're out working two and three jobs. And a lot of the couples, they'll be one of them working two jobs.
CAMEROTA: For sure.
Lilly Ledbetter, thank you very much for sharing your personal thoughts on Ruth Bader Ginsburg and your personal story.
LEDBETTER: Thank you. I have tremendous respect. She is my hero forever.
BERMAN: It's an honor to meet you.
LEDBETTER: Thank you.
BERMAN: Discover the inspiring life and career of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- "RBG" -- a CNN film. That's Labor Day, 9:00 p.m., right here on CNN.
The city of Detroit is set to honor the "Queen of Soul". The big names who will be there for Aretha Franklin in her hometown.
[07:53:26] CAMEROTA: At least seven people were killed in a head-on collision between a semitruck and Greyhound bus in New Mexico. You can see the horrible aftermath on your screen.
Police say the accident was caused when the truck blew a tire, sending the vehicle across the median and into oncoming traffic. Passengers tried to climb out the windows and bystanders grabbed ladders to help them escape.
BERMAN: A California man charged with making a series of threats to "Boston Globe" employees that echo President Trump's anti-press message.
Prosecutors say 68-year-old Robert Chain was angry after the paper encouraged the press to publish editorials standing up to the president. Court documents show that Chain called the paper saying quote, "You're the enemy of the people and we're going to kill every f***ing one of you."
Now to be fair, the president has never said that.
CAMEROTA: Well, he said that we're the enemy of the people.
BERMAN: He said the enemy of the people. He has not said we're going to kill every f***ing one of you.
CAMEROTA: OK. But somebody who is unhinged is parroting those words.
BERMAN: I -- no, no, absolutely. Clearly, yes.
Police say Chain made at least 14 threatening calls to the "Globe's" newsroom.
CAMEROTA: I mean, look, this is a real world consequence --
BERMAN: Absolutely and we had shootings --
CAMEROTA: -- of labeling the free press as the enemy.
BERMAN: We had shootings at a newspaper in Maryland. I mean, this is a very serious issue and you should not -- you should be very careful of what you say.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, and that guy -- you know, they interviewed him. He's as unhinged --
CAMEROTA: -- as they come and obviously, gets what he thinks are his marching orders from somewhere.
Meanwhile, Detroit is saying its final farewell to the "Queen of Soul" today. Aretha Franklin's funeral has a star-studded line-up of speakers and performers coming to celebrate her life.
[07:55:00] And that's where we find CNN's Ryan Young. He's in Detroit with more on how she will be remembered -- Ryan.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, look, everybody wants to come to this funeral and about a few hours ago they said that people from the general public could show up to this funeral. Just to show you, Detroit has really showed up. They all are here, all lined up at this point because they want to pay their respects to the "Queen of Soul".
And as you see all these people, one of the things that's kind of an issue right now is there's no tickets to get inside that funeral. There's been a lot of conversation about who they're going to let in and who's not going to make it in.
On the other side of this, though, you have all the pink Cadillacs that are starting to line up down the street as part of the procession. So all of this is happening at the same time.
Of course, people want to pay their respects to someone they consider not only an icon in the civil rights movements, but someone they consider an icon for Detroit, so you feel a lot of passion here.
And as we look at the list of some of the speakers who are going to be here, we know Bill Clinton is going to be here. We know Rev. Jesse Jackson is also going to be here as well.
But you can feel the energy just in terms of the fact that people really want to get a chance to be able to say thank you to the "Queen of Soul". She never left Detroit.
And as we've seen this year, we know this is going to be a gospel service that's going to last quite some time. They said about five hours but people here are already thinking that it's going to last maybe seven hours when it comes to this funeral because this will be a chance to really pay the homage to a woman who meant so much to this city.
Again, it will be interesting to see how they deal with this line that stretches for blocks because people want to get inside. So, over the next few hours we'll see how it all goes.
CAMEROTA: Wow, Ryan, look at the people behind you who have come dressed in their finest -- sometimes, you know, Sunday wear --
CAMEROTA: -- to honor her.
CAMEROTA: A 5-hour --
YOUNG: It's an Easter --
CAMEROTA: -- gospel concert will be really important to watch.
BERMAN: All right.
The royal surprise at a benefit performance of "Hamilton." Prince Harry not throwing away his shot.
CAMEROTA: He wowed the London crowd by suddenly bursting into song.
CNN's Jeanne Moos has the video.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a break-up song King George III sings to American revolutionaries in the musical "Hamilton."
"HAMILTON" CAST MEMBER (Singing): You'll be back soon you see. You'll remember you belong to me.
MOOS: No wonder the audience ate it up when the King's real-life grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grandson opened his mouth and out it came.
PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX (Singing): You say --
MOOS: OK. Prince Harry sang only the first two -- count 'em -- two words. They couldn't coax more out of him.
PRINCE HARRY: That's definitely not going to happen.
MOOS: "People" reports his wife Meghan saying, "Harry loved Hamilton and now he can't stop singing the songs."
PRINCE HARRY (Singing): You say --
MOOS: The audience tends to go nuts no matter how little a celebrity sings.
Remember when President Obama paid homage to Al Green?
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (Singing): I, so in love with you.
MOOS: Bill Clinton made a splash playing the sax.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (Playing saxophone).
MOOS: But when it comes to singing John Lennon's "Imagine," we can only imagine he did it because he was put on the spot --
CLINTON AND LIEL, ISRAELI SINGER (Singing duet): Imagine all the people --
MOOS: -- coaxed into a duet by an Israeli singer celebrating Shimon Peres' birthday. CLINTON AND LIEL (Singing duet): "Imagine."
MOOS: Hillary Clinton also sang a duet with herself, played by Kate McKinnon on "SNL."
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE AND KATE MCKINNON, ACTOR, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" (Singing duet): We know that there's always tomorrow.
MOOS: And then-candidate Trump went all out in an "SNL" parody of "Hotline Bling."
TRUMP: And you used to call me on the cellphone.
MOOS: Cell phones captured not only Prince Harry singing -- check out the cast member behind Prince Charming. She's not just charmed, she's gobsmacked.
PRINCE HARRY (Singing): You say --
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BERMAN: You're unredeemable. I have decided you're completely unredeemable because two words -- he sang two words.
CAMEROTA: It's not just that I love Harry and Meghan. It's that I --
BERMAN: Which you -- which you do.
CAMEROTA: Which I do. I love their story. I love the fairytale.
But I also love when people burst into song as you know I'm known to do but I can't carry a tune, which is the tragedy of my life. I'm going to take singing lessons. I just said it.
BERMAN: Harry can help you just like he can help everyone.
CAMEROTA: Can he? OK. And now I'm even more intrigued by the possibility.
BERMAN: And now I'm even more creeped out.
All right, we're following a lot of news this morning. We better get to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our Justice Department have to start doing their job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His idea that the Mueller investigation is illegal just doesn't sit right on its face.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just better not do anything to take away the power of Bob Mueller. TRUMP: I'd just like to have Jeff Sessions do his job. The job entails two sides, not one side.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds like close of business on the day of election. Jeff Sessions will be out looking for a new job.
CLAPPER: He'd much prefer that the attorney general do his bidding in terms of who to investigate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country has fallen in love with John McCain this week.