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Senator John McCain Laid to Rest at the U.S. Naval Academy; Trump Administration Withholds Over 100,000 Pages of Brett Kavanaugh Documents; Trump Lashes Out at DOJ, FBI, Special Counsel; Parishioner Yells at D.C. Cardinal Wuerl During Mass; Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 2, 2018 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:00] MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- to fight Donald Trump and fight fire with fire, and if you're a Republican, you're going to be thinking about, you know, protecting your guy and maybe Supreme Court picks. So sadly I think partisan politics is on a different plane from what we just saw in the life of John McCain.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Matt Lewis, good to have you with us. Thank you so much.

LEWIS: Thank you.

CABRERA: Top of the hour. Thanks for staying with me in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

And we now have confirmation from people close to the family of John McCain that the long-time senator and Vietnam War hero has been laid to rest on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Senator McCain's burial today in Annapolis, Maryland, was a private affair. Family only invited, loved ones. His funeral service and other memorial events, though, were televised and well-attended by people of every political viewpoint to drop their differences and stood together out of respect for the senator's family and to honor his lifetime of service.

The question, how long can that political goodwill last?

A major test comes in just a couple of days. That's when this man, Brett Kavanaugh, begins his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the Senate. Now Democrats already are pushing back hard about a decision that will leave a large number of documents about Kavanaugh out of the confirmation hearings.

Let's go to our White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.

Boris, that decision to withhold about 100,000 documents was made by people in that building behind you. Why are those papers being kept out of the Kavanaugh hearings?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Yes, Attorney William Burke who's been charged with determining how to process these 600,000 plus pages of documents related to Brett Kavanaugh's time as a staff secretary for President George W. Bush is citing constitutional privilege as the reason that about 100,000 pages worth cannot be released to the public. That's something that has angered Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who referred to this letter that the attorney sent to Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley as a Friday night document massacre.

Further, other Democrats are angry because there is another 100,000 or so pages of documents that can't be released to the public but they can be released to lawmakers, though those lawmakers then can't talk about the content of those pages publicly.

Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, was talking about this on one of the Sunday morning talk shows. She said this process has not been normal. Listen to this.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: I'm going to make is that this is not normal. You have a nominee with excellent credentials with his family behind him. You have the cameras there. You have the senators questioning. But this isn't normal. It's not normal because we are not able to see 100,000 documents that the archivist has just -- because the administration has said we can't see them. They have exerted their executive power. 148,000 documents that I have seen that you cannot see because they won't allow us to make them public. So I can't even tell you about them right now on this show.


SANCHEZ: Now the White House is pushing back on this. Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah tweeting out this weekend that the White House has been transparent, that the 400,000 plus documents -- executive documents about Brett Kavanaugh that have been released actually eclipses the number of documents released for the previous five Supreme Court nominees combined.

We will likely see this document battle continue to heat up as Kavanaugh gets set for his first hearings on Tuesday -- Ana.

CABRERA: And as all that is happening on Capitol Hill this week, the president is going to be leaving to do some midterm campaigning in the coming days. Where is he going?

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's right. On Thursday President Trump is headed to Billings, Montana, the site of a very heated Senate fight shaping up for the midterm elections. Then a source told our colleague Dana Bash that he is planning to head to North and South Dakota on Friday. Also campaign-style rallies to be had in that part of the country on Friday.

This is keeping in line with promises from President Trump earlier this year to campaign more as the midterm elections draw closer. We should point out that last week CNN reported that President Trump has been warned the ramifications of a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives, not only because of the possibility of impeachment, but also because of the number of investigations that could be lodged by Democrats sitting in prominent committees -- Ana. CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House for us. Thank you.

Meanwhile, the president's legal troubles still creating a cloud over the White House. You may have noticed if you've seen the president's Twitter, nine tweets so far this week and about Mueller, the FBI, or the DOJ.

Here is what's gone down in the last few days that might be getting under the president's skin. A lobbyist with ties to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller. His name is Samuel Patten, and he admits that he funneled foreign money into Trump's inaugural committee.

[18:05:06] We've also learned more about another plea deal, the one with George Papadopoulos. According to court documents, Papadopoulos told investigators that both Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions supported the idea of a meeting between then candidate Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign.

It's unclear how all of this factors into Robert Mueller's investigation because we don't yet know what his conclusions are. We don't have a final report.

With us to discuss, associate editor and columnist for RealClearPolitics, AB Stoddard, and host of "Law and Crime," and former prosecutor Robert Bianchi.

So, guys, while the nation was mourning Senator John McCain this week, and the president was airing these grievances on Twitter about the DOJ and the FBI and this comes as a new polling shows support for Mueller's investigation has climbed, up to 63 percent.

AB, does this indicate the president's attempts to discredit the probe aren't working?

AB STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: I think the rising approval for Bob Mueller is really telling. FOX News had a poll where he was up 11 points just since last month, and then the new poll that you cited with him over 60 percent approval, I think it really comes from not only his last indictments, but, obviously, from the Manafort trial where you had, you know, 11 people basically admit that they believe that Paul Manafort was guilty on 18 counts and with one holdout, they could only proceed with eight guilty counts.

But it was another show that the Mueller investigation is not a witch hunt and that people are not falling for the president's attempts to discredit him. The president wants to keep talking about him because now Mueller goes into what we assume is going to be a dark period. No subpoenaing the president. No indictments. No nothing because we're looking at Labor Day weekend in an eight-week stretch to November 6th, the midterm elections.

And I think the recent findings from Friday also show that we don't know where this sprawling investigation is going to go or end up. And I think it's going to go well into 2019. CABRERA: I want to talk about one of those developments on Friday.

The Mueller investigation, you'll recall now, has resulted in nearly 200 criminal charges, and this week the new plea deal, bringing the total to six, with Samuel Patten admitting to helping to funnel that illegal foreign money into the president's inaugural event.

Bob, is that evidence of collusion?

ROBERT BIANCHI, HOST, LAW AND CRIME: The bigger piece of the evidence is, remember, that he was working for -- this Patten, Cambridge Analytica in 2014, formed a company with pro-Russian, pro-Ukrainian ties to it, left, was alleged to be working with Russian spies during the time period that they were trying to figure out how are they able to target certain voters, how are the Russians were trolling the American electoral process.

And Patten could very well be that piece. And to the last data point, Ana, is Papadopoulos' statement is very key. He's saying, yes, the Trump -- President Trump nodded his head in affirmation about meeting the Russians and Jeff Sessions had indicated, yes, let's see about that. Let's look into that.

Is it possible Jeff Sessions could be under investigation as well? Because if true, they're soliciting foreign nationals to support a campaign. So all these data points, Russia, Russia, Russia. Hey, Russia, if you're listening, we're looking for those 30,000 e-mails. Pro change of the RNC platform, only one plank, a pro-Russian-Ukraine stance.

You have constant Russians involved. Now this guy Patten who's now spending $50,000 of illegal money in order to be in the inauguration, we don't know the whole investigative file.


BIANCHI: I am a prosecutor. I have done this and watched the media comment on my case and you only know a piece of it because there are court proceedings. And you have to -- there is a lot of data points, Ana.

CABRERA: But there is still nothing implicating President Trump directly?

BIANCHI: Well, listen, I've said this before. Whether you're -- I'm a lawyer. I'm a legal analyst. I'm just telling you as a prosecutor, when you're seeing these gyrations, it's like something odd is happening. And nothing says that he specifically knew about the Trump Tower meeting, which is more Russians. I have the whole list here, I won't bore your audience but I can go on and on and on.

CABRERA: When you think about the entirety there, that's what paints the picture that fuels the ongoing investigation and makes us all pause and say, let's just wait and see what the conclusion ends up being.

On top of the plea deal, George Papadopoulos also filed documents that contradict Jeff Sessions' testimony before Congress, as Robert pointed out, says Sessions was actually amenable to a meeting between then candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin.

AB, does this increase now the likelihood that Trump is going to fire Sessions?

STODDARD: This is such an interesting drama. Obviously, we've known -- we've been listening to President Trump dump all over his attorney general for well over a year, started in March of 2017. He made it very clear in July of 2017 that he couldn't forgive him from recusing himself from the investigation because he thought the attorney general was there to protect him from such an investigation.

[18:10:11] He has made it clear through that Bloomberg interview a few days ago that he has sort of acceded to congressional Republicans fighting to hold their majorities in the Congress and the Senate that he is going to wait until after the midterms. But they basically telegraphed that he's going to lose his job on November 7th. That's very clear.

And the pressure will build in the midterm campaign from Democrats telling voters, look, Sessions is going to get dumped. This is an indication the president wants to put someone in there who can restrain, limit, confine, maybe end, thwart at least the Mueller probe. And that I think is a terrible political talking point for the Republicans.

I think Jeff Sessions is likely to survive until the election because the Republicans have begged the president to hold off, but I still think there's the fact that we know he is going to lose his job in eight weeks is really a political problem for Republicans and President Trump.

CABRERA: And in that same Bloomberg interview, Trump also called the Mueller investigation illegal.

Bob, is that his best defense?

BIANCHI: Yes, that's not illegal. And this is the definition of obstruction. When you're trying to impede or influence the outcome of an investigation. When I was nominated by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, I was in a black box. I couldn't be fired. I could only be impeached, removed for cause.

How they don't have this in order to stop the president from pressuring when he is under investigation, well, it's another data point that shows obstruction in my mind. With all due respect to the president, maybe he doesn't get it. Maybe he doesn't care to get it. It is not right. And if you've done nothing wrong, then you shouldn't be concerned of what the outcome of that investigation is.

But moving out Sessions sends a message to everyone underneath him, you are all in jeopardy if you dare to continue to challenge this investigation. If this investigation doesn't end your career ends. And we've seen that, Ana. And that's bad for justice because I wish the little guy could get even just a break every now and again by having prosecutors look at their cases. To actually remove a prosecutor, remove U.S. attorney, remove assistant United States attorneys because you don't like the way an investigation is going, the rule of law is obliterated if that happens.

CABRERA: It sends a chilly message.

Josh Campbell who is a former FBI special -- supervisory special agent wrote in an op-ed today, quote, "Lost in the president's relentless campaign to undermine our institutions of justice is the realization that Trump and his enablers are actually making it harder to hold agencies like DOJ and the FBI accountable when they do, in fact, make mistakes. Trump is constantly crying Wolf and it is to the detriment of good governance." That's a quote.

AB, do you agree?

STODDARD: I do. I mean, at some point people begin to tune out President Trump. If they didn't, we wouldn't see such high numbers for the Mueller probe and the conduct with which Robert Mueller has conducted himself as special counsel. People are really blowing off what President Trump says. And Josh is right. How do you actually get to solve -- get at real problems and solve them if he is already just been on this campaign to sort of undermine the DOJ and the FBI, that people kind of blow off as just his, you know, his intent to gaslight us.

I do think congressional Republicans need to listen, though, to what President Trump is telling them. He is telling them he is going to interfere with the Mueller probe. He is telling them he is going to fire Jeff Sessions. He is selling them that he -- just like he said at a rally a few night ago, he's going to have to get involved. They are making sure that they are not listening and I think they're going to pay a price for that.

CABRERA: AB Stoddard, Robert Bianchi, thank you both. Good to have you with us.


CABRERA: Now the president does have access to more information than perhaps anyone in the world, so why is someone who has the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA on speed dial turning to FOX News for his information?

The latest conspiracy theories being touted by the president next.


[18:18:09] CABRERA: More so than ever before, President Trump appears to be clinging to and spreading conspiracy theories. Any ideas that are not rooted in reality and often completely rejected by his own intelligence agencies.

The president's most recent theory? That NBC's Lester Holt fudged the tape of his interview with Trump on Russia. The one where the president admitted this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.


CABRERA: That entire interview is posted online. You can watch it for yourself. So can President Trump. But still, despite video evidence, the president appears to claim in his tweet that the footage was not only doctored but also that Lester Holt was, quote, "badly hurt" for it. Again, that never happened.

That's not all. The president also tweeted another theory this week claiming that China had hacked Hillary Clinton's e-mails. His tweet came shortly after this FOX News segment.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Now there are reports, and this doesn't surprise me in the slightest, that China was hacking her e- mails in real time.


CABRERA: Now the FOX News report was based on a piece in "The Daily Caller," a consecutive publication which used unnamed sources. You know those things the president usually hates?

The president's tweet forced the FBI to come out and deny any truth to the commander-in-chief's claim. The bureau saying in a statement, quote, "The FBI has not found any evidence the Clinton servers were compromised."

We should note the president has the ability to access intelligence that would show the FOX News report and "The Daily Caller" piece were inaccurate before tweeting about them.

Another conspiracy theory touted by the president this week that Google is purposely altering the results when people search Trump news. And instead is only showing negative stories. This tweet also came after a FOX News segment.


[18:20:12] LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Google blatantly suppressing conservative media outlets from Americans searching for Trump.


CABRERA: There is no evidence to support this, and Google released a statement saying as much. It reads, "When users type queries into the Google search bar our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds. Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results towards any political ideology."

These are just three of the theories touted by President Trump this week. There were more. We just don't have time to go through all of them. But we must ask ourselves, why is a man with access to more information than perhaps anyone in the world spreading these segments, watching them on TV, promoting conspiracy theories? And why is he then trying to spread them and, perhaps most importantly, why does he want to convince you that false information is true?

A cardinal yelled at in the middle of mass.





CABRERA: This as the Catholic Church faces worldwide criticism of its sex abuse scandal.

But first, this week's "Before the Bell," here's CNN's Alison Kosik -- Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Wall Street will be focused on Washington this week. And that's after taking Monday off for Labor Day. Markets will be closed. On Wednesday, Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey will face tough questions from lawmakers about election interference, how they monitor online content and what they are doing with user data. They'll appear at a hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Later that same day, Dorsey is also slated to talk to lawmakers on the House side. The other big highlight this week, the government will release its employment data for August. 157,000 jobs were created in July. Lower than the average for this year. The unemployment rate currently stands at 3.9 percent.

Keep an eye on wages. Signs of inflation have been perking up around the economy. But we get to see that show up in paychecks as wage growth has been stuck below 3 percent during this recovery, and that's one of the data points the Federal Reserve will be watching as it decides when the next interest rate hike will happen.

Alison Kosik, CNN, New York.


[18:27:14] CABRERA: A shocking outburst during Sunday mass in Washington today at D.C.'s Enunciation Church. Cardinal Daniel Wuerl was talking about priest sex abuse allegations when a person in the congregation yelled at him. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WUERL: We need -- 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.



CABRERA: That is Cardinal Donald Wuerl, now the archbishop of Washington. He has been under pressure to resign since a grand jury report found he did not adequately deal with pedophile priests when he was a bishop in Pennsylvania.

CNN's Rosa Flores was inside that church during the outburst, and Rosa, I know you spoke with that man who yelled at the cardinal. What did he say?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, he was very frustrated, Ana. And that's what I feel that most of the Catholics that I've talked to here in Washington, D.C. feel. They are fed up and they are asking for transparency and accountability. And he wasn't the only one to send a very loud message during that mass. There was a woman as well. Take a look at these photos. Because she stood up. She crossed her arms and she gave her back to the cardinal.

Here's what she said. Take a listen.


MARY CHALLINOR, PARISHIONER: 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.


FLORES: Now we asked the diocese for a response to that protest 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."

Now I was inside that church. I can tell you that the cardinal was received warmly. He also received applause. But, Ana, it was when he started speaking about the clerical sex abuse towards the end of that mass, that's when emotions boiled over -- Ana.

CABRERA: Rosa, you've been there in Washington all week talking with parishioners, survivors, priests. What more are you finding?

FLORES: You know, I keep on hearing the exact same thing, that Catholics are fed up, that they want transparency. They want accountability. And they're not going to give the church a pass. Not this time. They're not just going to sit in the pews and listen. As a matter of fact, there are high-profile Catholics here in Washington, D.C. asking for Cardinal Wuerl's ouster.

The Attorney General, who is also a Catholic, he is asking for his ouster. There are a group of Catholic teachers. So these teachers work for the diocese, they are asking for his ouster. Then there is one of his priests who, from the pulpit, asked for his resignation.

And so, Ana, these are a growing number of Catholics and in different areas of the Catholic Church and in different ministries that are asking for him to resign. Even the President of a Catholic university who I talked to said that she has a great relationship with the Cardinal, but she thinks he has to go.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It tells us the story is not over yet.

Rosa Flores, we'll see where it heads. Thank you very much.

Battles brewing on Capitol Hill over President Trump's latest nominee to the Supreme Court. What you need to know about Brett Kavanaugh. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:36:37] CABRERA: Expect a showdown this week on Capitol Hill. Republican and Democratic senators are gearing up to do battle over President Trump's latest nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.

Hearings begin on Tuesday, and the latest CNN poll shows 37 percent of Americans want the Senate to approve Kavanaugh. It is the weakest support in a poll for a Supreme Court nominee in more than 30 years, and it could give Senate Democrats some fuel to wage their opposition.

Let's discuss with CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane De Vogue.

Ariane, this is going to be a big fight.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: This is going to be a big fight, Ana. And in large part, it's a big fight because of the man that Kavanaugh is seeking to replace, and that's Justice Anthony Kennedy. Remember Kennedy was the swing vote on so many of those key social issues -- abortion, affirmative action, LGBT rights.

And now Kavanaugh is going to step in. He's got that Ivy League education. He clerked for Justice Kennedy. He went on to work for Ken Starr, and then he was in the White House, and then on the bench.

And his opinions, almost 300 of them, are solidly conservative. And that's why this is important, because his votes could very well, if he gets confirmed, solidly tilt this court to the right for decades, Ana.

CABRERA: So how are Democrats planning their attack?

DE VOGUE: Well, they've got their work cut out for them for sure. And they are going to look at a couple of key issues, and one of them, of course, will be abortion. Remember, Roe v. Wade, it's almost -- it's more than 40 years old. And that opinion that legalized abortion is going to be front and center.

Now, he has never said one way or the other if he -- what he thinks about Roe v. Wade. He did dissent when his whole court recently ruled in favor of an undocumented teen who sought an abortion, but nobody really knows how he'll vote.

He came out of an important meeting with a Republican who supports abortion rights, and she said, look, he said Roe v. Wade is settled law. But, of course, saying something is settled law doesn't really mean much because while lower court judges have to file a Supreme Court precedent, a Supreme Court justice can vote to overturn precedent.

And that's what -- supporters of abortion rights, that's what they're worried about. And Democrats, Ana, are going to make that opinion once again front and center during these hearings.

CABRERA: And, of course, the Mueller probe is likely to come up as well on this issue of executive powers.

DE VOGUE: Well, exactly. And some of the Democrats will say, look, Kavanaugh has believed very strongly in executive power, and he said that he doesn't think a president should be indicted.

And they are looking at all these investigations around President Trump, and they might say, look, we want you to recuse yourself if these issues come for the Supreme Court. But that's likely going to fail.

Supreme Court justices rule all the time on issues that have been brought forward by the people that put them on the bench. So I don't think that's going to get a lot of traction during these hearings.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about another Supreme Court justice. Tomorrow, "RBG," a CNN film about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg airs on CNN.

DE VOGUE: Right.

CABRERA: Why do you think she is having such a moment right now?

[18:40:02] DE VOGUE: Well, look at her past. And you see this in the -- in this movie that's premiering tomorrow. Really, she started off as this young lawyer. She couldn't get a job out of law school, and she decided to take on the issue of gender discrimination.

And she picked these cases very carefully, even before she took the bench, to say that she wanted to strike down laws that discriminated against women or gender in general. And she was masterful at this. And that's even before she took the bench.

And then once she was on the bench, she wrote one major decision called the Virginia Military Institute. And there she struck down the all-male admissions policy at this public university, a state-funded university. And only in the last few years though, after John Paul Stevens stepped

down, did she start writing these stinging dissents. And really, the younger generation took issue. They looked at it, and now she has become absolutely a pop icon, which is so unusual for a Supreme Court justice.

CABRERA: Ariane De Vogue, you have a busy week ahead, no doubt. Thank you for spending some time with us on this Sunday.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.

CABRERA: Someone who will be visibly absent from a possible vote on Supreme Court justice, John McCain. Today, the late senator's family and inner circle of close friends said their final goodbyes.

McCain has now been laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland, ending a week of public mourning and celebration of McCain's life. CNN's Brian Todd is in Annapolis outside the Naval Academy.

And, Brian, a huge send-off there today?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really was, Ana. And ironically, this was a day where the key events were really supposed to be private. And they were private -- the ceremony, the funeral inside the Naval Academy Chapel, closed to the public and to the media, the burial service at the cemetery on the Naval Academy grounds that was also closed to the public and to the media.

And yet there were two public images that everybody could witness and, in some cases, take part in. One was the images of hundreds of people lining the streets of Annapolis, on the streets leading up to the gates of the Naval Academy that wanted to come and get one last look, maybe at the funeral procession going in, to pay their respects to Senator John McCain.

We saw hundreds of people out there. We've talked to a lot of them who said that it was very important for them to show up on this final day of his farewell.

Another image that everybody could see was that incredibly powerful flyover that took place a couple of hours ago. We were here live when the planes flew right above us, and it was -- that's always just a very, very powerful image, these FA-18 fighter jets, four of them, flying in formation.

This was at about the moment where the procession was getting to the cemetery, and, you know, it symbolizes the loss of a comrade when one of the planes peels off. And in this case, one of the pilot, the pilot who peeled off, made a very dramatic maneuver, basically turning his plane straight upward and flying away from the formation.

So those were two very, very powerful images today, Ana. You know, again, a very emotional day capping a week full of emotional days as we say our farewells to Senator John McCain, Ana.

CABRERA: Brian Todd, thank you. Senator John McCain now in his final resting place. His family closing this chapter, but his legacy lives on. And as the nation moves forward, we remember his daughter, Meghan McCain's, powerful words.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: My father is gone. My father is gone, and my sorrow is immense, but I know his life. And I know it was great because it was good. And as much as I hate to see him go, I do know how it ended.

I know that on the afternoon of August 25th, in front of Oak Creek in Cornville, Arizona, surrounded by the family he loved so much, an old man shook off the scars of battle one last time and arose a new man to pilot one last flight. Up and up and up, busting clouds left and right, straight on through to the kingdom of heaven. And he slipped the earthly bonds, put out his hand, and touched the face of God.

I love you, dad.



CABRERA: Welcome back. Human rights advocates have called Georgia's Stewart Detention Center the black hole of immigration facilities in America. So you can imagine our surprise when, after repeated requests by CNN to go inside this facility, our Nick Valencia was finally granted permission.

And there, Nick was able to meet a detainee who is seeking asylum in the United States from the violence in his Central American homeland.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is rural Georgia, home of the Stewart detention facility, one of the largest immigration detention centers in the country with over 1,900 detainees.

We were given rare access inside the facility. But for security reasons on the outside, we're not allowed to film beyond this point. Only inside the interview room where we are about to meet the detainee.

HECTOR, ASYLUM-SEEKER FROM CENTRAL AMERICA (through translator): My life has been really hard. I used to smile.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Death followed 28-year-old Hector nearly his whole life in Honduras. Now, in the United States, he is still so scared of being killed, he asked not to be shown on camera.

He says, back home his, sister was raped and later murdered. One day after witnessing a random murder himself, he feared he would be next.

[18:50:02] HECTOR (through translator): They showed up one day, two men on motorcycles. They threatened to kill me. They threw me to the ground. They threatened my wife and told us, while pointing a gun, that if we kept on with the police complaint, they were going to kill me and my family.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Hector fled north, crossing through Mexico into San Diego where he asked for asylum. He was detained and sent to Philadelphia. Once released, he settled in North Carolina with his family.

Fitted with an ankle monitor, Hector was told he would have regular home visits from ICE agents. But he missed a visit. In January, he landed back in detention. This time at Stewart. Conditions here have broken his spirit.

HECTOR (through translator): They took my I.D. And in those three days, I did not eat.

VALENCIA (through translator): And that I.D., what's it for? To eat?

HECTOR (through translator): Yes, you have to show it to it.

VALENCIA (through translator): So you didn't eat for three days?

HECTOR (through translator): No, for those three days, I didn't eat.

VALENCIA (voice-over): He says he's lost close to 10 pounds because of the poor diet at the medium security facility. According to him, not only are his basic needs not met, he alleges the guards discriminate against the mostly Latino detainees.

VALENCIA (through translator): Do you think they're racist here?

HECTOR (through translator): There's several of them that are racist. There are good ones and bad ones.

VALENCIA (through translator): The majority?

HECTOR (through translator): The majority.

VALENCIA (voice-over): While Hector navigates the daily challenges of life inside detention, on the outside, he has advocates.


VALENCIA (voice-over): Dan Werner is with the Southern Poverty Law Center and provides pro bono legal work. But it's an uphill battle. The approval rate of asylum claims at Stewart is in the single digits.

WERNER: People are just churned through the system and spit out the other end as quickly as possible.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Unfortunately for him, Hector's future has already been decided. A judge at Stewart denied his asylum request. Soon, he will be deported.

HECTOR (through translator): What's going to happen with my life? What's going to happen with my family? My kids need me a lot. I don't know if I'll ever see them again. If I'm deported, who know? VALENCIA (voice-over): Nick Valencia, CNN.


CABRERA: A leading theory is now emerging into what caused those mysterious attacks on American diplomats in Cuba. We'll explain live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go away.


[18:56:22] CABRERA: We have this just in to CNN. The United States has now confirmed that it killed the head of ISIS in Afghanistan. And this happened during a coalition air strike last week, and we're just learning about it now.

That strike also killed 10 other ISIS fighters. This ISIS leader's death is the third time U.S. forces had killed a self-proclaimed head of ISIS in the past couple of years.

And new information now on a series of bizarre attacks on U.S. diplomats. Dozens of unexplained illnesses including head injuries forced the U.S. to bring home diplomatic staff from China and Cuba.

Speculation at the time pointed to a sonic attack. But now, the scientists who led the investigation tells "The New York Times" it was likely some kind of microwave weapon. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is following the story from Havana for us.

Patrick, fill us in.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, those investigators have now confirmed these reports to CNN saying that microwave weapons -- and they may not be something you're very familiar with because it sounds strange.

When you think of microwaves, you think about heating up food. You think about cell phones. But there are weapons that shoot electromagnetic beams, and it can be used for crowd control. They can even be used for psychological warfare, make you hear sounds that just do not exist.

And that's where the U.S. diplomats in Havana, and possibly China, come into it because they were saying that they were hearing these strange sounds, feeling unwell, feeling dizzy, nauseous. And some of them even had signs of a concussion.

And brain scans have revealed, CNN has learned, that they underwent some kind of physical trauma that is still yet to be explained. So they've come up with this new theory, but there really isn't much on the ground here to back it up.

Because the FBI has come here multiple times -- they've been allowed by Cuban authorities -- to come here and investigate. They found nothing. So right now, it's a very intriguing theory but it lacks evidence. CABRERA: So where does the investigation go now? Because as you

point out, investigators, they've been able to travel to Cuba and have come up with, really, few answers.

OPPMANN: Absolutely. And Cuban authorities, even though it's their responsibility to keep U.S. diplomats here safe, say that they have investigated it. No one has said that the Cuban government is behind it. But certainly, the U.S. believes that some individuals in the Cuban government must have known because it's so difficult to carry out this kind of attack in a country where everything is so tightly controlled.

So the U.S. and the Cuban governments are at a standstill, a bit of a standoff, over who needs to come up with information, who needs to provide evidence. And the U.S. is not letting this go, and they have pulled out most of their diplomats and say they will not send them or their families back until this matter is resolved.

CABRERA: All right. Patrick Oppmann in Cuba for us. Thank you for that update.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Hello on this Sunday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

And tonight, a major test for the bipartisan spirit that rained under the capitol dome in the wake of John McCain's death. In less than 48 hours, the Senate will begin confirmation hearings for President Trump's Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh. And the stakes couldn't be higher.

If confirmed, he could cement conservative dominance on the high court well into the 2040s.

And while you can expect a lot of questions about abortion and whether he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh could also be the swing vote on a more immediate issue. Does Robert Mueller have the power to subpoena President Trump in the Russia probe?

[18:59:55] Let's bring in our CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House tonight.

Boris, the hearing isn't until Tuesday, but there is already a fight over Kavanaugh's records. Explain.