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White House Refuses to Release 100,000 Documents Related to Kavanaugh; Possible Microwave Weapons Used Against Diplomats in Cuba, 2016. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 2, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, calls the decision a Friday night document massacre, in reference to Watergate. Democrats claim Republicans are trying to force through Kavanaugh's nomination without the proper scrutiny.
For more, let's go to CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez. So, what is the reason the White House is giving for not turning over these documents?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Freddie. Lawyers for the Trump Administration citing constitutional privilege as the reason to hold back these 100,000 plus pages of documents related to Brett Kavanaugh's time as an attorney for President George W. Bush.
Now, we should point out that William Burke, the attorney who sent that letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Schumer kind of explained the process of why he was holding these 100,000 or so pages back out of 660,000 plus. In that letter to Chuck Grassley, I should say, he did point out that former President George W. Bush actually asked him to be as transparent as possible in this process, something which Democrats do not feel has taken place. You saw that tweet from minority leader Chuck Schumer who called it, "a Friday night document massacre."
Documents though are only one aspect of this confirmation battle. Ultimately, this may come down to where Brett Kavanaugh stands on some very important issues like abortion. This morning, Lindsay Graham was asked on State of the Union where he believes that Brett Kavanaugh should fall on this issue. Here is his response to Dana Bash. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATOR: Well, here's what I hope he will do, if there's a case beforehand that challenges Roe v. Wade that he would listen to both sides of the story, apply a test to overturn precedent. Precedent is important, but it's not inviolate. I'm dying to see if he believes that Citizens versus United can be overturned. The bottom line here is there's a process to overturn a precedent t and I think he understands that process, he will apply it and if it were up to me, states would make these decisions, not the Supreme Court, but it is a long-held precedent of the Court. It will be challenged over time and I hope you will give it a fair hearing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now for the reason that Roe versus Wade continues to be a main issue for Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process is because the Trump administration time and time again has promised to overturn it and allow that decision to go back to the states. The confirmation hearings actually begin on Tuesday. So far, President Trump has not weighed in via Twitter this weekend, though he has been active, I should say, on a number of other issues. Fred.
WHITFIELD: During the John McCain funeral yesterday, in fact. All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
All right, so with me now is CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer Joan Biskupic. Joan, good to see you. So let's start with, you know, this nomination, it's important. Kavanaugh if approved would replace a key swing vote on the U.S. Supreme Court. So how potentially impactful could this be?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: Yes, Fredricka. You know, we have to keep our eye on the big picture here. Just as you said, he is replacing a man who was the key fifth vote on abortion rights, on racial affirmative action, on gay marriage, and here is Brett Kavanaugh, just 53 years old, appointed to a lifetime seat, he could decide the fate of the law for a generation.
WHITFIELD: And then, the issue of these 100,000 pages that are being withheld by the White House, the use of executive privilege, all, you know, spanning time when Kavanaugh served in the George W. Bush administration, so reportedly the New York Time is putting it as such that these documents reflect deliberations, candid advice concerning the selection and nomination of judicial candidates. So is this out of the ordinary to withhold or to want to withhold that kind of information?
BISKUPIC: Yes, this is -- this is more than usual. Let me just clarify a couple of things here, because what the White House and the George W. Bush administration are saying is that they should be protected, because they were part of deliberations, because they were part of -- they're characterizing them very broadly under a constitutional privilege here citing attorney client privilege, citing communications privilege, deliberative privilege, things that are so broad that it's hard to know exactly what all is being held back, but we know lots is being held back.
They're saying that anything that Brett Kavanaugh might have done on judges because he was in the White House Counsel's Office when several individuals were chosen for very important federal appeals courts and then also for the Supreme Court during some of his tenure. And I have to tell you that when John Roberts was up for confirmation, he had also worked in the White House Counsel's Office during the Reagan administration and several of his papers on those exact same issues were made public.
WHITFIELD: So then, the Democrats are arguing unnecessarily too much is being withheld and this represents a lack of transparency. So how important is that overall in the Senate confirmation hearings?
BISKUPIC: Well, it's going to get a lot of complaint time from the Democrats, but face it, Fred, the Republicans are controlling this process and if they shut the door on these documents, there's really not much -- there's nothing the Democrats can do.
WHITFIELD: What about on the issue of, you know, Roe v. Wade, can this issue where he stands on it, his record on decisions, you know, be a make or break potential moment even though Republicans, you know, are in the majority. We've heard from someone like Susan Collins who say, you know, there is legal precedence in her view as it pertains to Roe v. Wade.
BISKUPIC: That's right. And here's what he's done before, so we know. First of all, Fred, he sits on a court that doesn't handle much abortion at all. He had one case about a year ago in October of 2017 where he dissented, when the full D.C. circuit said that the Trump Administration couldn't block a pregnant migrant teenager from getting an abortion. And what he said -- he said that the administration was right to want this young woman to first have a sponsor and in his dissenting opinion, he talked about the government being within its right to favor fetal life. So that's the one ruling he has or the one opinion I should say. He was on the losing side there.
So I am sure senators will ask him about that. Susan Collins as you know had said that he told her that Roe v. Wade was settled precedent, but that doesn't really mean much in the whole scheme of things, because as we know, the Supreme Court will reverse precedent.
WHITFIELD: Joan Biskupic, thank you so much.
BISKUPIC: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk further on this, CNN political commentator, Nadeam Elshami and Republican Strategist Rich Galen, good to see you both. So Rich, you first, you know, what's your take on this 100,000 pages of documents the Trump Administration says, you know, it's using executive privilege to hold back, but then you just heard from Joan who said, you know, that has been crossed before with John Roberts and all of it was transparent and made available. Why is this different?
RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you referenced the New York Times article from I think it was yesterday or the day before.
WHITFIELD: Yes. GALEN: That they put it out, the fact that this is a subset of all the documents and they have released 400,000-plus other documents, A. B, this request for privilege came not from the Trump White House, but through the Bush lawyers, from the Bush White House, so I don't think -- I'm not a Trump fan, but I don't think it's fair to blame it on him in this case.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and that New York Times, just to revisit just in case somebody is now just dropping in, so in the New York Times it says, you know, withheld. These documents reflect deliberations, candid advice concerning the selection nomination on judicial candidates, the confidentiality of which is critical to any President's ability to carry out this core constitutional executive function.
GALEN: And as Nadeam knows because you've both worked on the Hill for a long time, the only issue that really matters is one way or another, will it change a single vote? I think the answer to that is no. So this is -- this is another thing where people are throwing stuff up against the wall trying to see what they can get to stick. But I think everybody is pretty much frozen in place, I'm not sure they've whipped it yet, but I think everybody has pretty much made up their mind.
WHITFIELD: So Nadeam, what likely is up ahead during this Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings?
NADEAM ELSHAMI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I mean, the buck stops at President Trump's desk, right? If President Trump believed that this information needed to be available to the Senate, then he should release it. You know, Republicans, what they're trying to do is they're trying to make this the trust me confirmation. Trust me, there's nothing to see here. Trust me, there's 100,000 pages of documents that really don't matter for this confirmation.
I believe senators should wait and senators should demand this information. We don't know what was written there about a woman's constitutional right, we don't know what then-staffer Kavanaugh was saying at the White House about Roe v. Wade. These are very critical pieces of documents. He is going to be sitting at the Supreme Court at the bench for the next 40 years, making critical decisions that would impact our lives and we need to have this information.
WHITFIELD: Yes. So because of that Rich, then that is the argument that there needs to be transparency. I mean both sides would argue that, would they not?
GALEN: Yes, sure, of course they would. But if the rules were reversed, it would be the Republicans jumping up and down and waiving their hands, not the Democrats.
ELSHAMI: Yes, they would.
GALEN: But let me just say this, Nadeam, first that, you know, we have said, again, Nadeam and I go way, way back in the House and we have said it a million times to each other, elections matter, and if you want to blame somebody, don't blame Trump, don't blame Bush, blame Hilary Clinton for the crappy campaign she ran.
ELSHAMI: Look, you know, you could sit here and you could say that if the shoe was on the other foot. By the way, the shoe was never on the other foot. They released all the papers on Kagan. They released all the papers on Roberts. And what's important at this moment is to know what was advised by Kavanaugh at the White House. Now look, you know, we want to talk about...
GALEN: I think that's exactly why they should not be, I mean because that's the nature, Nadeam of -- and Fred of executive privilege, is to allow staffers to know that when they -- if they're going to give their advice freely and openly to the chief executive, that it's not going to come back and they're not going to have to explain it 7 or 10 or 15 years later.
ELSHAMI: What was good for Chief Justice Roberts should be good enough for Judge Kavanaugh.
WHITFIELD: And so, you know, a potential question, just like we saw in the last confirmation hearings will be allegiance to the President, the President and the people around him, still under investigation and it's likely some of those cases just might make it o the U.S. Supreme Court, so one has to wonder, Nadeam, the line of questioning that will go to Kavanaugh and how much of it will be dedicated to that, the loyalty, the allegiance, which is critical.
ELSHAMI: Sure. Well look, I mean Judge Kavanaugh is a very capable lawyer and I'm sure he has an answer already for that question. Now, we don't know if the President ever asked that question to him or not. What we want to know is what he really believes about Roe v. Wade, what he really believes about precedent and what was said before in the Court. Well, precedent is important.
GALEN: Well, he's not going to answer how he's going to vote on Roe v. Wade in the meeting.
ELSHAMI: No, but precedent is important and settled law is important, but settled law is a meaningless fact today. What's he going to do tomorrow? I could say, you know, it is settled law that I had two cups of coffee yesterday. But tomorrow, things could change.
WHITFIELD: And Rich, I mean, the questions might be asked, he may not answer it the way in which some, you know, Senators want it to, but how it is answered can also speak volumes.
GALEN: Oh sure. And I mean, again, we've all been through this a lot, you know that the first thing that the briefing team is doing everyday is asking, here are the 74 ways how Roe v. Wade is going to be asked, tell me how you're going to answer it this time, this time, this time and this time. So he's going to have that wired.
WHITFIELD: Go ahead, Nadeam.
ELSHAMI: Yes, I'm sorry. What's unfortunate is Senator Graham provided a roadmap on how to overturn precedent. And that clearly Republicans are anticipating that the opportunity will come when they are going to have a Supreme Court that is conservative, that's going to overturn Roe v. Wade.
WHITFIELD: Rich, will this be fiery, the start of a very fiery confirmation process?
GALEN: Oh yes. No, I think it will be great TV. I think that will be fun to watch.
ELSHAMI: I agree.
GALEN: I just don't think anybody is going to change their minds. I think they could take the vote tomorrow and by the way, the session, the Supreme Court session, as we all know, opens the first Monday on October which happens to be October 1 this year. So there is time to get all this stuff done. And Governor Ducey of Arizona had some time to decide which whom he wants to replace the vacancy left by the death of Senator McCain, so that will enter into some of this stuff.
So there're a lot of moving parts that will be fun to write about and talk about.
WHITFIELD: Right, the hearing is getting underway with that seat vacant now as a result of the passing of John McCain. All right, Rich Galen, Nadeam Elshami, thanks to both of you, I appreciate it.
GALEN: Sure, thanks, Fred.
ELSHAMI: Thank you. Thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. All right, still ahead, do you remember those sonic attacks in Cuba last year leaving American diplomats with headaches, hearing loss? Well guess what, the U.S. State Department believes they now know what may have caused them. A live report from Havana, next.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back, new details on a series of bizarre attacks. Dozens of unexplained illnesses including head injuries forced the U.S. to bring home diplomatic staff from China and the Embassy, the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. Speculation at that time was that it was some sort of sonic attack, but now, the scientist who led the investigation tells the New York Times, the main culprit is likely some kind of microwave weapon.
CNN's Patrick Oppmann is following the story from Havana. So Patrick, what happened at the U.S. Embassy that led authorities to suspect that it was indeed an attack and now we're talking about this, you know, a microwave weapon?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's still very much a diplomatic mystery, but let me walk you through what is a very complicated case. It all began in November, 2016 right after the U.S. presidential election and that was when U.S. diplomats based here in Havana been beginning to experience these really strange symptoms, often at night, sometimes while they were in bed asleep in their homes or their hotel rooms in Cuba, and they said that they would feel nausea, hear loud sounds, hearing loss. But if they got up out of bed, if they left the room where they were in, it would stop. If they walked back in to where they felt this incident, this attack as they described it, it would start again.
So they felt that they were being targeted with some sort of mysterious beam of energy. Initially they complained to Cuban authorities about what they felt they were being targeted with sonic weapons, and these are weapons that do exist, usually used for crowd control. But experts said, experts consulted by CNN at that time said that sonic weapons really don't work like that. They don't usually cause somebody to hear a noise and they're much too large to be used in this capacity.
Now, we have scientists that have met and helped treat some of those diplomats coming out and saying, then perhaps it's a microwave weapon.
This is also a weapon, but much more portable that shoots a beam of energy and can be pinpointed in the way these diplomats describe, both here in Cuba and in China, and that it can actually cause people to think they're hearing sounds, but this is just a symptom of this beam of energy that's being hit, directed at people and it can cause these kinds of symptoms.
One of the researchers told CNN it causes concussion without actually causing a concussion, the immaculate concussion they said. So again, we know a very little bit about these weapons because so few countries use them. Cuban authorities say there is no evidence that the diplomats were ever targeted here. They have called on the U.S. to release more information about this. So right now, it may be one piece of still a very big puzzle, Fred.
WHITFIELD: It is mysterious, but you know, there are a couple of things from that reporting that there is some place of blame or at least looking seriously at Russia, and then the other is it's not just a very disturbing high-pitched noise, but there might even be voices or a message, a continual message that people have been victimized by this sound that, you know, that there's this kind of messaging coming from it. What more do we know about that or who is adding any credence to that?
OPPMANN: There are a number of -- it's really fascinating stuff.
OPPMANN: There are a number of countries including the former Soviet Union and now Russia that have microwave weapon programs going back decades, there's some evidence that they have been used in other countries against U.S. diplomats that this was a very active program the USSR had. Again, still no evidence that they were used here, hard evidence they were used in Cuba, but it seems to fit the scenario.
Now, the Cuban officials here said we would never allow this to be used, but of course in a country like Cuba, it's impossible to imagine a third actor could come in and use these weapons without Cuban officials knowing. They have allowed the FBI to come in. They have allowed Canadian investigators because there are some Canadian diplomats that have complained of similar symptoms and they have turned up nothing. But in a way, you read about these weapons and these weapons programs that did exist and it's kind of the perfect weapon because it leaves no trace.
WHITFIELD: It's fascinating and troubling. All right, Patrick Oppmann, thank you so much.
OPPMANN: No trouble.
WHITFIELD: And this, just into CNN, the United States has confirmed that it killed the head of ISIS in Afghanistan. It happened during a coalition air strike last weekend. That strike also killed 10 other ISIS fighters. This ISIS leader's death is the third time U.S. forces have killed a self-proclaimed head of ISIS in the past two years.
Still ahead, a Catholic parishioner turns her back on a Cardinal in the middle of mass in D.C. and another yells at him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD WUERL, CARDINAL: -- considerable animosity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you.
(ENDS VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: You heard that, "Shame on You." This, as the Catholic Church faces worldwide criticism for its sex abuse scandal.
WHITFIELD: A stunning outburst during Sunday mass at a Washington D.C. Catholic church. A parishioner shouted out at Cardinal Donald Wuerl as the Cardinal addressed priest sex abuse allegations, allegations he is accused of covering up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WUERL: We need to hold close in our prayers and our loyalty, our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Increasingly, it's clear that he is the object of considerable animosity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you.
(ENDS VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Shame on you, you heard that, CNN's Rosa Flores was inside the church during the remarks. Rosa, you spoke to the man who actually yelled that at the Cardinal, so what did he have to say?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, I did and he said that he was very frustrated for what he called the church not addressing the root of the problem. He said that the church is not responding properly to the Pennsylvania grand jury report which, as you know, revealed about 300 predator priests and more than 1,000 child victims. And so this is the type frustration that we heard from other parishioners there as well, asking for transparency and accountability. They want the church to be held accountable, the hierarchy in the church to be held accountable.
Now, this man was not the only one to make a loud statement. There was a woman who did just that with her silence. Take a look at this picture. She stood up, crossed her arms and gave the Cardinal her back. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he should resign. I think he should understand that just because you didn't mean to do something doesn't mean that there weren't terrible consequences for lots of people. And I feel he should resign as Cardinal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Now, let me take you inside the church, because we were in there for the duration of this mass. The Cardinal was received warmly. He was also applauded, and so it was not all in protest. It was at the end of that mass that we saw that gentleman stand up and say, "Shame on you," and that woman also stand up and give him his back.
Now, we asked the archdiocese for a response and here's what they said, quote, "Cardinal Wuerl has spoken extensively over the past two months, conveyed his profound sadness, apologies, and contrition, and addressed every issue as it has arisen in a straightforward and transparent manner." Fred.
WHITFIELD: Right. Rosa Flores, thank you so much in D.C. All right. Happening right now, family and friends of Senator John McCain saying their last goodbyes in a private ceremony now. In Maryland, people lining the streets earlier to pay their final respects as well, we'll take you to Annapolis. Live, next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Right now, Senator John McCain's family and close inner circle of friends are saying their final goodbyes after a week of public mourning and celebration of the senator's life, the private memorial and burial is happening right now at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. At the request of McCain himself, his final resting place is right next to his longtime friend and naval classmate, Admiral Chuck Larson. It was a pact the two men made decades ago, a true testament to the senator's loyalty and pride in his roots, Chuck Larson's wife telling CNN, "Chuck has his wingman back now."
CNN's Brian Todd is outside the U.S. Naval Academy there in Annapolis, what is happening right there? Of course, the ceremony, you know, is taking place privately, but what would you ascertain is happening?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, we were just told by the Navy that the ceremony actually has just concluded, and that the mourners, the family and others who are invited to the ceremony will be walking over to the burial site. That will take some time, so this is ongoing and now we're in a bit of a transition period after the ceremony and before his interment at this beautiful plot that we're told is overlooking, it's on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Severn River and College Creek in Annapolis, really a beautiful spot for him to be buried there.
And we do know that tributes were given to John McCain by his son, Lieutenant Jack McCain, a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Navy, as well as Senator Lindsey Graham, his long time and very close friend, and General David Petraeus, former CIA director and former head of U.S. Central Command, he was the lead commander during the Iraq War. You know, Fredricka, a lot of questions have been asked about why John McCain is being buried here in Annapolis as opposed to maybe Arlington National Cemetery. That's where his father and his grandfather are both buried. Maybe why not at his ranch, his beautiful ranch in Arizona?
Of course both great places to be interred, but from everything we're getting, this is really the place that drew John McCain back. He had some of his best and worst experiences here at the Naval Academy. His exploits here are legendary, he almost got kicked out a few times because of demerits, he graduated near the bottom of his class. But this is really the place that is said to have shaped John McCain, shaped him and forged him, forged his toughness that he would, of course, rely on during the Vietnam War as a POW for five and a half years.
So, this is a place that really drew John McCain back. And it's just -- again, part of the great emotional, this kind of emotional situation, this is this atmosphere that we're all going through now, and saying our final good byes to John McCain.
You mentioned Chuck Larson, the admiral, his longtime friend, his classmate here that he's very next to, Admiral Larson's wife said that one day about 20 years ago, he came back home and said, "I've just gotten my burial place, and by the way, John is going to be next to me." So, these stories that we're weaving in here really all speak to the fabric of John McCain's life and we're about to really say goodbye to him for the final time in just a few minutes. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Right. And these are his wishes, his wishes crafted, you know, like you said, decades ago with pact, but at same time, you know, in these last few months of his life crafting his funeral, his sendoff. And this is being carried out just the way he envisioned. Brian Todd, thank you so much, in Annapolis.
TODD: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, the candidate for Florida
governor is responding to a racist robocall, mocking his race and playing jungle noises in the background of that robocall. What Andrew Gillum is saying about what he calls racist dog whistles. Next.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. The Florida governor's race is one of the most consequential of 2018 and it's also becoming one of the most racially charged. A racist robocall is targeting Democratic candidate Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum just days after winning the primary, and if he wins in November, he could become Florida's first African-American governor.
The robocalls follow controversial comments from Gillum's Republican challenger and President Trump supporter, Ron DeSantis, who used the word monkey when referring to Gillum's primary victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DESANTIS, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: We've got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction, let's build off the success we've had on Governor Scott, the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.
(VIDEO CLIP ENDS)
WHITFIELD: So today, Gillum is responding to DeSantis and the racial rhetoric surrounding the campaign so far, and here's what he told Dana Bash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW GILLUM, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I have to tell you, I do find it deeply regrettable, I mean, on the day right after I secured the Democratic nomination, we had to deal with some of the dog whistles directly from my opponent. I want to make sure that we don't racialize, and frankly weaponize race as a part of this process, which is why I've called on my opponent to really work to rise above some of these things. People are taking their cues from him, from his campaign, and from Donald Trump.
DANA BASH: And we should...
GILLUM: And we saw in Charlottesville that that could lead to real, frankly, dangerous outcomes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And we're joined now by Florida political reporter for Politico, Marc Caputo. Good to see you. So, things are really getting ugly, Marc, you know, race baiting is now part of the strategy for the Republican contender, you know, to win. How might Florida voters think about that?
MARC CAPUTO, POLITICO REPORTER: Well, good question. Just real quick, the DeSantis campaign denies that he was intentionally race baiting or that he was race baiting, they just said this was an unfortunate choice of words, but the problem that the DeSantis campaign has is that he was walking in to the primary or better said, the general election, with the wind at his back. Ron Desantis had more than a majority of Republicans behind him, he has a very good bio background, he's an Ivy Leaguer.
And he was really looking forward to a general election campaign, but he wasn't expecting from it from Andrew Gillum, and was kind of caught flat-footed, and when some of his rhetoric which even Republicans say is unfortunate came out, it really threw his campaign into a tailspin. So the question is...
WHITFIELD: And he hasn't apologized or anything like that. And do you think Gillum said, you know, look, he's a Harvard grad, he has a much better vocabulary than the one that was just on display, and even challenged, you know, DeSantis to having some dialogue, meeting each other in the middle, talking about issues but there's been no response.
CAPUTO: Right. I think Ron DeSantis' decision not to respond to this is a good example of the fact that I don't think his campaign wanted to communicate this, at least that's what his campaign is telling us, telling the press like, "Look, there was no racial intention here" and the like. You know, if we break down the electorate in kind of raw black, and white, and brown terms, there is a possibility that this helps the Democrat a little more in the midterm than the Republican.
Now, in the last presidential election, President Trump had some very raw, and difficult, and tough rhetoric which was widely viewed by a lot of people who were nonwhite as being racially charged. The thing is is in primaries or in general elections in Florida, in midterms, Democratic voters, African Americans and Hispanics voters have had a tendency to underperform.
Now we've seen not only the nominee of the Democratic Party be the first African American, and not only have we seen very strong black turnout, we've now seen this comment and this issue gain attention like we've never seen it before in a Florida gubernatorial race.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Florida is very...
CAPUTO: And voters are paying attention.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Florida very diverse, however has also voted very conservatively, you know, on a statewide basis, but Gillum even promised that he's going to being in these next few weeks, you know, really crisscrossing the state, spending a lot of time in the Panhandle, which may ordinarily kind of get overlooked, ignored particularly by, you know, a Democrat, but that's his mission. We haven't heard anything about DeSantis' strategy and et cetera nor
response to this, because, you know, he hasn't said yes to a lot of invitations, but then there's another issue, it's not just the race baiting, you know, or this, you know, race laced, you know, talk, even the robocalls, but the FBI apparently has also been investigating development deals in Tallahassee during Gillum's term as mayor, and reportedly, that is being -- perhaps, potentially used to the advantage, you know, of DeSantis while he's campaigning. But this is what Gillum said to our Dana Bash when responding to the question of, you know, what about this corruption investigation? Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW GILLUM: We want to make sure that any individual that participated in that is held fully accountable. The good news is is that it doesn't involve my government or myself. Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis have tried to undermine and undercut the FBI at every single turn, the president even going so far as to suggest a deep state as a way to undermining that work. That is an absence of leadership, and I think that what we've done here has frankly been a model of how you deal with these kinds of things as a way to root out any bad players, any bad activity, and nobody wants to bring that to conclusion quicker than I do.
(VIDEO CLIP ENDS)
WHITFIELD: Most importantly, what does the electorate potentially think about this corruption investigation, is it an issue, does it matter to people, Marc?
CAPUTO: Well the Republicans are, and Ron DeSantis are certainly going to make this an issue, and we're going to see how it plays out, you know, that's what campaigns are for. One of the things that is interesting with Gillum is that when he did meet with the FBI, and he did meet with them, he met with them voluntarily, and he didn't have a lawyer. Now most people who usually think that they are criminally exposed have an attorney, and Gillum says, he did not.
And he says in addition to that, he was told he wasn't a target. And while he was on the city councilor or better said, as mayor, when there were subpoenas flying around city hall, Gillum had all of those subpoenas in those documents put out publicly. He's not acting like a politician who has something to hide from the press.
Now, he has had a bit of a local war with the Tallahassee Democrat, which has done some good reporting on it, but as for this being this being a killer issue in the general election, we're going to have to see.
However, as Gillum's messaging points out, Ron DeSantis on the Judiciary Committee has spent a lot of time raising questions about the effectiveness of the FBI, talking about this being a deep state issue. And it's a little bit of a turn for Desantis to say on one hand, look, this FBI investigation over here which has netted a certain number of convictions, indictments, charges, and a broad number of subpoenas, and interviews, well that one's bad.
CAPUTO: But the investigation that's locally is good, you know, how he threads that needle, we're going to have to see.
WHITFIELD: Yes, interesting, Marc Caputo, thank so much. I was looking at my notes on, you know, listening to Gillum's interview earlier and he -- and he did underscore that, you know, every step of the way, they've publicly made a lot of those, you know, documents available, you know, for the sake of transparency. Thank so much, Marc, appreciate it. Much more straight ahead in the newsroom right after this.
TODD: I mean, literally, right over our heads, we saw one of the F/A- 18's peel off really peeled above them in a really dramatic maneuver. And there they go, this is really the final (inaudible) the final send off for a man who meant so much to his country, John McCain buried as we speak at this cemetery overlooking the Severn River and College Creek in Annapolis next to his friend, Admiral Chuck Larson.
This is one of the most powerful moments that you can imagine for anyone really, for a sendoff for anyone, and certainly, an appropriate one for Senator John McCain, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Oh, indeed. I mean, it has such finality, at the same time, there is a sense of peace, I mean, you're hearing the roar of those, you know, F/A-18's, but at the same time, knowing what it symbolizes, knowing what it represents, there is a certain peace.
So, Brian, earlier, you talked about how many people lined the streets there in Annapolis as that motorcade with the hearse and, you know, the family then made their way to the U.S. Naval Academy for this private ceremony, were there also people who stuck around, so to speak, who anticipated that there might be this flyover taking place today?
TODD: Certainly there would be, Fredricka. There were hundreds of people as you mentioned lining the streets going to the Naval Academy, and even on along the highway that we took coming to Annapolis, Route 50, they were on overpasses. So, and these are people who are -- who know this town, and know the Naval Academy, and they know the traditions here very well. I've been to several football games at the Naval Academy, there's often a flyover to symbolize something important that's just happened or the pageantry of the moment.
So these are people who know about these events, even though it's not publicized ahead of time that there's going to be a flyover, they could probably surmise that there certainly would be one on this day. So, the people who come to this town, the people who come to these events, to the football games, and to the other things, they really do understand that this could really be a very powerful moment, and indeed just moments ago, it was.
Again, John -- so much of John McCain's history is signified in Naval air power, he spent -- he got his wings at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, along with Chuck Larson, and, you know, of course, we all know of his experiences in Vietnam, 22, 23 combat missions in Vietnam before he got shot down, then spending five and a half years as a POW refusing the North Vietnamese offer to send him back early.
The North Vietnamese hoping that that would generate some good publicity and goodwill for them, John McCain would have none of it, because he understood that the POW code was the last guy in is the last guy out, and that's the order that you go in. And, you know, just this, you know, the symbolism here with this flyover, it symbolizes all of that really, the power, the commitment, the sacrifice that he gave to the United States and what drew him back here to be buried here in his final resting place. Just a powerful moment all the way around and a very emotional afternoon. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: It is an arresting moment, and you didn't have to be right there on that street making its way to the entrance there of the U.S. Naval Academy. If you were anywhere, and near Annapolis, and you saw it, heard the roar of those F/A-18 fighter jets, you knew exactly what it symbolized, you knew what it meant, you knew that this was, you know, that missing man formation of flyover for the late now Senator John McCain, now buried right there at the U.S. Naval Academy. Brian Todd, thank you so much for bringing this to us.
We've got so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom. And it all starts right after this.
WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.