Return to Transcripts main page


Senate Braces for Kavanaugh Confirmation Fight; Gillum: Racist Robocall Targeting Him Deeply Regrettable; McCain Laid to Rest in Private Ceremony at Naval Academy; Couple Ordered to Hand Over Money Raised for Homeless Vet. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 2, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: -- until Tuesday, but there is already a fight over Kavanaugh's records. Explain.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. An attorney charged with essentially determining whether to make some of Kavanaugh's records during his time as a staff secretary for President George W. Bush public or not ultimately decided to withhold some 100,000 pages worth of documents.

That is something Democrats are not happy about. That attorney, William Burck, citing constitutional privilege as a reason to hold those back. There are some 148,000 or so documents that are being released to Congress but not to the general public.

That also making some Democrats like Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar very upset. She called this process not normal.

But this fight is going to be about more than just documents. Certainly, Kavanaugh's position on Roe versus Wade will come into question in part because we've heard President Trump say that he was going to install Supreme Court justices that would overturn that piece of legislation.

Now, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was asked about how he would like to see Brett Kavanaugh approach Roe versus Wade if he were to become a Supreme Court justice. He was on "STATE OF THE UNION" speaking to Dana Bash this morning. Here is his response.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, here's what I hope he'll do. If there's a case before him 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 invalid. I'm dying to see if he believes Citizens versus United can be overturned.

The bottom line here is there is a process to overturn a precedent. And I think he understands that process. He'll 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 he will give it a fair hearing.


SANCHEZ: Now, if you recall, Ana, as he was picking his nominee for the Supreme Court, President Trump said a number of times that he would not ask interviewees their position on Roe versus Wade.

As far as the release of documents go, the White House is pushing back on Democrats' claim that this is not the normal.

Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah making the case on Twitter this weekend that the administration has released more documents -- executive documents on Brett Kavanaugh than had been previously released for the five previous nominees to the Supreme Court combined, Ana.

CABRERA: And, Boris, as we referenced earlier, Democrats are also concerned about Kavanaugh's view on whether a sitting president can be subpoenaed. Tell us more about that.

SANCHEZ: That's right. Well, Brett Kavanaugh served on an independent counsel back in the mid-1990s, in 1995 actually, for Kenneth Starr, investigating Bill Clinton's acts as governor of Arkansas and as President. And he was asked specifically whether there was legal precedent to indicate that a president, because of the dignity of the office, could avoid a subpoena.

His response was that that argument was weak. He actually made the case that a president would have to go before a grand jury if subpoenaed, though did he argue that a president should not be indicted. And that if necessary, a president could make the case that they have executive privilege over certain kinds of communication.

You can bet that his position on that will be discussed during his hearings beginning on Tuesday, Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House. Thank you, my friend.

Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein.

Also with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and author of "The Making of Donald Trump," David Cay Johnston. He has been covering Donald Trump for 30 years.

So glad you're both with us. Ron, let me start with you because our CNN polling shows only 37 percent of Americans favor Kavanaugh's confirmation. That is the lowest poll number of any nominee since Robert Bork who was famously rejected years after he had helped to execute President Nixon's wishes in that Saturday night massacre.


CABRERA: How do you see this playing out?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think that those numbers are a reflection of the extent to which both Kavanaugh is seen as an extension of Donald Trump and thus is kind of caught in the shadow of how people feel about the President, but also because people recognize that this is a pivotal moment in the history of the court with the potential to cement a conservative majority that might -- given, you know, Clarence Thomas is the oldest member at 70 -- could easily govern into the 2030s, regardless of what happens politically over that time.

And by the way, I think that is a recipe for growing tension over time as we saw in the 1930s with Franklin Roosevelt and a court that had been appointed in decades earlier resisting what he wanted to do.

Look, I think this is probably going to play out largely along party- lines. Unless Democrats can peel away one of the Republican senators -- and Susan Collins has given every indication that she is looking for any kind of fig leaf to support Kavanaugh, so I think it's almost down to Lisa Murkowski.

Unless they can do that, they can probably expect a few of the red- state Democrats to defect in the end, anyway. Because if Kavanaugh is going to get confirmed, they will see no reason in kind of going out on a limb to oppose him.

[19:04:57] So you're down to a very small number, but I think a virtual party line vote that will further the feeling among the public that the court, rather than being an impartial arbiter, is just one more arena in this widening and escalating red/blue divide.

CABRERA: David, Democrats are obviously worried about Kavanaugh's views on executive power. Take a listen a listen to Senator Dianne Feinstein.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: One of the things that is unique about his views are his -- is his position on presidential supremacy. And he is way up there. he believes that a president cannot even be investigated, if you will, let alone convicted while he's in office.


CABRERA: David, you have studied this man for a long time. Do you believe Trump picked Kavanaugh specifically to move oversight and potential roadblocks out of his way?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP": Well, he did that because people advising him told him that. Donald doesn't know anything about the constitution. I mean, just look at the interview he gave Fox the other day where he said there is something about high crimes in the constitution.

But he listened to advisors who made it clear to him that if he was looking for protection and refuge as things go forward with the Mueller investigation, this would be the kind of guy you'd want to have on the Supreme Court. And I think the question Democrats should be asking Kavanaugh at the hearings is, will you recuse yourself from any decision that arises out of or goes to the Russia investigation and the President? CABRERA: Ron, I need to also ask you about Florida's governor's race.

Because today, on "STATE OF THE UNION," Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, who was Black, addressed some new racist robocalls in that state which come after his Republican opponent said Florida voters should not, quote, monkey think up by electing Gillum. Let's listen.


ANDREW GILLUM, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: 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 call 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. And we saw in Charlottesville that that can lead to real, frankly, dangerous outcome.


CABRERA: It is a 78-second robocall message, and it mocked Gillum's race, has jungle noises in the background. Ron, how did we get to this point?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I think it's very clear. I mean, you know, I think Donald Trump, in a campaign and even more strikingly as president, has appealed to racial resentments more openly than any national figure of either party since George Wallace in 1968.

And you can point to a long series of comments about African-American leaders or athletes who he describes as either unpatriotic or low I.Q. or what he has said about undocumented immigrants. And he has -- and there is kind of a trickledown effect that we are seeing in portions of the Republican Party.

But this is part of -- I mean, this is part and parcel and intrinsic to the basic trade that he is imposing on the party and that we will see play out in races across the country this fall, which is that he is strengthening their position among the portions of American society who are not necessarily racist, some are, but are also those who are most uneasy about demographic and cultural change at the price of pushing away voters who find the entire tone and tenor of his presidency simply unacceptable.

And in Florida, you will see, I think, an enormous tension in this battle. Gillum is well positioned to increase turnout among younger African-American and Hispanic voters who have not turned out heavily in midterms. DeSantis should do very well with the core Trump constituency, blue-collar, older, rural, Whites.

What do those white-collar suburbanites, particularly in that I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa who normally decide Florida elections -- neither one of these is their ideal candidate. Where do they ultimately go? It's going to be one of the most fascinating things to watch this fall.

CABRERA: And, David, I know you have some thoughts on this because you recently drew a connection between President Trump and Ron DeSantis' "monkey this up" comment. And you said this earlier this week. You said, we are seeing the Republican Party die right before our eyes and become the cult of Trump.

JOHNSTON: Yes. It is very troubling to see Republicans who, in private, will say that they're very uncomfortable with Trump's racism and his ignorance and a number of other things refuse to stand up with him -- to him because they fear they will be voted out in Republican primaries.

I'm the son of a hundred percent-disabled veteran of World War II. My father died prematurely because of that. He never once felt that he did anything other than sacrifice for the welfare of his country. And if you're afraid of losing an election to do the right thing, shame on you.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, can I say something real quick, Ana?

CABRERA: Mm-hmm.

BROWNSTEIN: I agree that the Republicans are afraid of what the Trump effect might be in a primary, but that's not the totality of why they are sticking with him.

[19:09:58] There are essentially congressional Republicans buying into a -- his electoral strategy for the midterm for governing, has been to aim not only his rhetoric but his agenda almost entirely at the Republican base.

The idea is that they can avoid the usual midterm losses for the President's party by turning out more of that base than unusual, and that is the bet that they are making. The risk in that bet is both energizing the other side, younger voters, African-American women, college-educated White women, and moving away some of those suburban swing voters.

The entire party is wrapping their arms around not only Trump but his strategy, and we'll see how that plays out in November, particularly in some of these suburban House seats that are the real fulcrum of the battle for control in that chamber.

CABRERA: And yet the President is not going to places where it could have --

BROWNSTEIN: Only in the red states.

CABRERA: -- a swing vote. Right, he is coming up going to states that are Republican strongholds like Texas, or he's going to visit these other red states where there are Democrats perhaps currently in a Senate seat where he finds them to be vulnerable. What do you think of this strategy, David?

JOHNSTON: Well, Donald is not a brave man. He's not a man of strong character. So he's only going to go where people are going to adore him. I mean, as a human being, be glad you're not Donald Trump. He's an empty vessel who desperately needs people to look up to him.

And remember that in his own mind, he believes and has said for decades, you know, he is superior to the rest of us. The Trumps are superior to the rest of us. And they really believe that. And even though it's nonsense, it motivates his actions, including only going to places where crowds will adore him.

CABRERA: The President's allies have said they are worried the President isn't prepared to protect himself from a possible Democratic takeover of the House. In fact, one ally, Ron, telling "The Post," winter is coming. Do you agree?

BROWNSTEIN: Maybe before it does come to "Game of Thrones" which we're still waiting for. Look, yes, I think that I -- the first point is that, you know, it is possible -- both things are going to be true.

In some of those states that he is visiting, the red states where Democratic senators have been holding on even though they're preponderantly White, older, blue-collar, not racially or religiously diverse, he is going to help Republican candidates in some of those places like a North Dakota and like Indiana.

At the same time, he is absolutely an undertow for Republicans in many of the districts that will decide the House, anything that touches on a large metro area, you know, where he is probably underwater in his popularity.

So it is entirely possible that this election will leave us feeling even more divided afterwards, where Democrats are even more dominant than they are today inside all of the big blue metro areas around the country. And Republicans are still pretty strong outside of them and maybe even stronger in the Senate in those kind of heartland states where Democrats have been holding on.

And that, I think, is a very dangerous environment for the President. Because I think you're going to see Democrats under enormous pressure, not necessarily to impeach right away but to certainly begin intensive investigation and oversight of the kind that Republicans have, you know, essentially abandoned.

And Lindsey Graham and Paul Ryan have both supposed --


BROWNSTEIN: -- openly said re-elect us because, otherwise, Democrats will perform too much oversight of the President, which is, I think, a pretty remarkable kind of argument to make to voters.

CABRERA: I've got to leave it there, gentlemen. Thank you both for being with us, Ron Brownstein and David Cay Johnson, who I also what to point out is the author of another book. That is "It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America."

Again, thanks. Good to you have both with us. CABRERA: An American hero is reaching his final resting place this

afternoon, this evening. Coming up, Senator John McCain is laid to rest as the political subtext of his funeral continues to ripple across Washington.


CABRERA: A military flyover honoring the late Senator John McCain. These jets in the "Missing Man" formation, a salute to a fallen pilot.

McCain was buried today at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Senator's family and inner circle of close friends gathering there at the end of what has been five days of public mourning and celebration of McCain's life.

His final resting place has sentimental value. It is next to one of his academy classmates, Admiral Chuck Larsson. McCain and Larsson made a pact 20 years ago to be buried next to each other.

Yesterday, eulogies delivered by McCain's daughter, Meghan, as well as presidents Obama and George W. Bush spoke to McCain's aspiration to stand for something higher -- honor, integrity, a moral clarity. And yet the moment was made all the more extraordinary by the glaring absence of the current president who was not invited.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we're ever tempted to forget who we are, to grow weary of our cause, John's voice will always come as a whisper over our shoulder. We are better than this. America is better than this.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small. And mean. And petty. It's a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but, in fact, is born of fear.


CABRERA: Joining us now, Trump biographer and author of "The Truth About Trump," Michael D'Antonio.

Michael, other analysts have called McCain's funeral a call to arms and the biggest resistance meeting yet. All we know is the President went golfing yesterday. He refrained from tweeting about McCain or any other public comments about McCain. How do you think he is reacting privately to this service?

[19:19:54] MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Well, I'm sure he is stewing about it. This is a man who really is impatient when anyone else has the public's attention. He is so devoted to drawing attention to himself that he has to be restrained from tweeting when it would be against his own interests.

I think that even the act of going golfing during the ceremony yesterday demonstrated who he really is. He's a person who didn't even have the grace and sense of respect to simply stay at Camp David and maybe reflect on awesome responsibilities he shoulders as president but generally shirks.

CABRERA: The President's daughter, Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, did attend McCain's funeral. Do you think it bothered the President that Ivanka had to sit there and listen to these veiled digs about her father?

D'ANTONIO: Well, that's a really good question. I have thoughts about that yesterday myself seeing the coverage on television. Certainly, her presence there, I think, benefited the President. It indicated that someone representing the White House was willing to honor McCain and honor the American people.

And, you know, I think this is something that gets lost in our consideration of this issue. And that is that this was a loss for all of America and really for the world when you heard the outpouring of esteem and affection for John McCain from all quarters, including from his captors in Vietnam. You heard the respect the world has to offer a great man.

And I think for Ivanka and Jared to go was wholly appropriate. It's what grown-ups would do. I think it pointed up the President's absence. But in many instances, Ivanka is the person that represents humanity in place of the President. And she was performing that task yesterday.

I think it was to his benefit that she do so. Just as it was to his benefit that Mike Pence delivered an address on Friday, you know.

But I couldn't help but notice that Jennifer Rubin, the conservative columnist at "Washington Post," talked about how Pence was a spineless representative of a president whom he claims sent him to do this duty. But I think there was no one in the room in that -- at that gathering who believed that President Trump intended to honor McCain.

CABRERA: That's interesting. You know, it has been a brutal summer for this president. Here we are, it's Labor Day weekend.

When you think about all that has transpired in the past couple of months and even just in the past couple of weeks between the guilty pleas and the Russia probe backlash that we saw early over his summit in Helsinki, the stalled talks in North Korea, are you seeing signs that this president is increasingly isolated in the White House right now?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I think he must be feeling isolated when you consider that so many members of his cabinet are gone, so many people that were entrusted to manage things in the White House have been replaced. He clearly is imposing his will on everyone there now with no real filters, and there's no one who I think can advise him in an effective way. And when people get this isolated, they become even less controlled if

they suffer from the pathology that the President suffers from. This is a profoundly narcissistic person who thinks it's "me against the world."

I suspect if he got word of or heard Meghan McCain's brilliant talk yesterday, it bothered him to no end. You know, this is a woman who was expressing profound grief and profound love for her father and affection for her country.

And as you mentioned, this was part of a resistance, I think. And it was a resistance to Donald Trump personally, and he's got nowhere to go. Where will he turn for the kind of rational support and guidance that all presidents need? I don't think there is anyone who is going to speak truth to him.

CABRERA: Michael D'Antonio, thank you for your insight. And I appreciate you being with us.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: It is an act of kindness turned ugly court battle. Coming up, a couple who was helped by a homeless man and then returned the favor by raising thousands of dollars for him are now accused of withholding that money and spending it on themselves.


CABRERA: Listen to this. It began as a heartwarming good Samaritan story that went viral. But when a huge sum of money became involved, it turned into a nasty dispute in a New Jersey court.

Homeless Marine Corps vet Johnny Bobbitt gave his last $20 to a woman who ran out of gas. So Kate McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, started a GoFundMe page for him, and they raised more than $400,000.

And that's when the trouble started and ended up in court. CNN's Kaylee Hartung joins us now.

Kaylee, why did this couple refuse to give him the money?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, just as this feel-good story has evolved into a feud, it seems the couple's reasoning has changed too.

[19:29:53] As this GoFundMe total grew, the couple said that the money would be put into two accounts for Bobbitt, one that would dole out sort of a regular salary for him and another that would be invested for his future. But that never happened.

Somewhere along the way, the couple deposited all of the funds raised into their own personal accounts. They say they did that because Bobbitt didn't have a bank account of his own. They say he didn't have any of the personal documentation that somebody would need to open up a bank account so this was their solution. And with that bump in their account balance came more problems for all of them. Bobbitt says the couple had complete control of the funds. He says he felt like he was in a very weird situation as if he was having to go to him like they were his parents to ask them for money.

But the couple says that as Bobbitt gained access to the funds, they saw a very troubling pattern of behavior developing. One in which they feared giving him any large sums of money would just be there for him to buy drugs.

They say that in a two week period, he spent $25,000 partly on drugs. Now Mark D'Amico told the "Philadelphia Enquirer" about a week and a half ago that he would rather burn the money in front of Bobbitt than giving it to him because giving an addict money would be like giving him a loaded gun.

Now that judge in court on Thursday, Anna, ordered that this money, whatever is left of it, be put into an escrow account within 24 hours. We spoke to Johnny Bobbit's attorney today who says that money is still not there.

ANNA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The court order deadline, though, has passed. And the couple didn't hand over the money it sounds like. Are they talking?

HARTUNG: At this point, they're not. The last thing we heard from their side was from their attorney. He is saying, look, the couple is willing to allow forensic accountants to come in and look at their books, look at their financial records and that's a big question to be answered here.

How much of this money is left? $400,000 was collected from 14,000 donors and Bobbitt saying he's only seen $75,000 of it.

CABRERA: Wow. Kaylee Hartung, thank you. What a crazy story.

Vladimir Putin in the wild. The Russian president flexes his muscles during a trek through Siberia. But he keeps his clothes on this time. Details of his latest vacation get away next.


[19:36:30] CABRERA: Russian President Vladimir Putin flexing his might in some new videos released by the Kremlin. They show the 65- year-old leader of Russia vacationing in Siberia and the release of these pictures is incredibly strategic. Trying to convince his own country and the world that he is clearly in command.

Putin was joined on vacation by his defense minister and the head of the Russian Intelligence Service. And that brings us to your weekend presidential brief. A segment we bring you every Sunday night highlighting some of the most pressing national security information the president will need when he wakes up tomorrow.

And joining us now, CNN national security analyst and former national security council adviser Sam Vinograd. She spent two years in the Obama administration helping to prep for the president's daily brief.

Sam, what is the strategy behind these videos?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Putin is definitely showing off a lot of his assets even if he kept his shirt on this summer. He held a massive military expo in Russia a few weeks ago. And he is kicking off the largest ever Russian military exercise with China and Mongolia supposedly with 300,000 Russian troops and 3200 Chinese troops as well. This is not accidental PR.

Putin's probably trying to cover up some relatively grim realities at home. Economic growth is only expected at about 1.8 percent this year. The rubble hit its lowest level in two years after our last round of sanctions. And the pension reform that he was planning to implement, he had to roll back because of domestic backlash.

So Putin is trying to look big and powerful on the world stage, probably because he wants to cover up the fact that he's on some shakier footing at home.

CABRERA: And yet President Trump continues to at the very least sort of ignore Russia at the moment, but he's attacking our ally Canada. Do the president's words matter?

VINOGRAD: Well, I think that Prime Minister Trudeau thinks that this is par for the course at this point. And remember the last time that Trudeau answered President Trump, Trump walked away from the G-7 summit. And right now Trudeau is probably pressing the mute button because he doesn't want trade negotiations to fall apart with President Trump.

And there is a very strong possibility that Trump is going to be able to declare himself king of the north or king North American trade at the very least.

There is 25 days left until the final text of a new agreement is due to Congress. So there is a chance that Canada could come onboard. I think Trudeau is motivated to make a deal. He doesn't want to be the odd-man out because the cost of not making a deal would probably outweigh the cost of concessions.

He'd probably be hit with pre-NAFTA tariffs as well as these car tariff that Trump is threatening to impose. Vehicle exports the United States from Canada account for about $59 billion last year. So if Trump puts tariffs on, they could be very significant.

So as this administration works on NAFTA, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, meantime, is engaged in his own economic deal making.

Do you think calling off the trip that Secretary Pompeo was going to take to meet with the North Korean leaders had had an effect?

VINOGRAD: I don't think Kim is waiting to see what our next move is. He is moving full steam ahead with deflating our maximum pressure campaign. And he is very consciously recoupling with our allies, South Korea. President Moon has announced a massive economic and diplomatic relief package with North Korea that includes infrastructure investments. And he's even going to visit North Korea later this month and reopening or opening, excuse me, a diplomatic office there. The visit will be followed by President Xi of China. So, you know, Kim is pretty popular at this stage.

[19:40:00] And at the same time, our leverage is really decreasing. Trump has said, he tweeted last week, in this official White House statement that he could instantly restart military exercises or joint exercises with South Korea. That's illogical.

If President Moon is trying to integrate with North Korea and keep Kim happy, it's not likely that he's going to risk upsetting him by restarting these military exercises.

CABRERA: Sam Vinograd, I always learn so much from you. Thank you very much.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Hero, icon, dissenter at 85 years old, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a force to be reckoned with, not to mention a pop culture icon.

Coming up, I'll talk to the members and the makers of a film about her life and legacy.


[19:45:10] CABRERA: Welcome back here at CNN.

We are so excited about a new original film that showcases an amazing woman -- a professor, litigator, a role model, and on the Supreme Court a force to be reckoned with, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Our film premiers tomorrow night on CNN.

Here's a sneak peek.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud to nominate this path-breaking attorney, advocate, and judge to be the 107th Justice to the United States Supreme Court.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: They may be in trying times, but think how it was in those days. The judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She put women on the same plane as men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite literally changed the way the world is for American women.

GINSBURG: What has become me could happen only in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has become such a rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really the closest thing to a superhero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is known to the world over as the notorious RBG.

GINSBURG: All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.


CABRERA: What a woman. That preview spoke volumes.

Here with us now the two women who worked to put this fascinating film together -- Julie Cohen and Betsy West, producers and directors of "RBG."

Great to have you ladies with us. That was just a rush. I loved seeing the workout video. What was it like making this?

BETSY WEST, PRODUCER/DIRECTOR, RBG: Oh, my goodness. Well, being there in the studio with her when she was doing the workout routine was definitely a highlight.


WEST: But, overall, you know, it was just a wonderful experience to be able to profile the life of this extraordinary woman.

CABRERA: Julie, why is this the time to tell Ruth Bader Ginsburg's story?

JULIE COHEN, PRODUCER/DIRECTOR, RBG: Oh well, you know, we actually started working on this film about three and a half years ago. So it's just kind of only become more relevant. She's become a bigger figure.

In fact, when we started the idea of the film, we thought, like, oh, you know, is it going to be too late? Are people still going to be interested by the time we finish a documentary on her? And, boy, we were not correct about that concern.

CABRERA: Oh my gosh. The notorious "RBG" is now her new nickname. And as you point out, I mean, she -- her prominence and her popularity has only grown in recent months and recent years.

Why do you think that is? Why do you think she is striking a chord now with women in particular than more so than she has in any other point in her career?

WEST: Well, I think certainly people who agree with her opinions and dissents on the Supreme Court have always been big supporters of her. But I think in the wake of the "Me Too Movement," time's up and in our, you know, very divided political environment, she is seen as someone around whom people can rally.

I think one of the things about this film and why we wanted to do it was that many people didn't know the history of what Ruth Bader Ginsburg did as a young litigator to challenge laws that had been in effect, laws and practices for centuries, that discriminated against women and she changed that landscape. And I think people are, women especially, but men, too, are inspired by that.

CABRERA: We heard her say that it really only in America could her story come true. Why do you think she feels that way?

COHEN: Well, you know, she was referring at that point during her confirmation hearings in 1993 to being the child of an immigrant family on both sides. First generation on one side, second generation on another.

Coming up from quite humble beginnings to go to Cornell and then both Harvard and Colombia law schools, graduating first in her class in Colombia Law School. Very difficult to get a job as a young female attorney in the late '50s and early '60s.

She had to struggle every step of the way. But she forged a path and, you know, got to the highest job a lawyer can get, Supreme Court Justice. And I think that's what she meant when she said only in America, when you look at what my parents had to go through and then where she got to.

She said at one point the difference between being a bookkeeper which is what her mother was and a justice one generation.

CABRERA: That is incredible when you really think about it.

WEST: Yes. Yes.

CABRERA: And she is sort of this epitome, too, of the old saying, "Big things come in small packages." Because she is such a tiny person but such a big personality.

WEST: She is.

CABRERA: And, again, just her career is so impressive what she's been able to do. I mean, her career aside, this film also has a really beautiful love story about her and her husband, Marty Ginsberg.

[19:50:10] What made their relationship so special, Betsy?

WEST: Well, they were completely devoted to each other. And now -- even now when you talk to Justice Ginsburg about her late husband, Marty, who died in 2010, her face just lights up. You can tell they were deeply in love and they supported each other throughout their careers.

He was a very successful tax lawyer. But as Ruth Bader Ginsburg's work in women's rights litigation began to take off in the early 1970s, Marty Ginsburg took over some of the responsibilities at home. He was a very feminist husband. And he eventually moved to Washington for her so she could take a job as a judge. And then when there was an opening on the Supreme Court, Marty Ginsburg was lobbying for her. So you really can't ask much more from a spouse than that. They were devoted to each other.

COHEN: Meanwhile doing pretty much all the cooking.

WEST: Oh yes.

COHEN: Great cook. By her own admission, Justice Ginsburg is not good in the kitchen and he just took over.

CABRERA: That's so awesome.

WEST: The kids kicked her out.

CABRERA: You spent a lot of time with her, obviously, off camera in doing this -- making this project and creating this film.

What is she like when she is not on the bench?

COHEN: You know, she is a soft spoken, tiny little woman and yet she has got this aura. She has a lot of presence. People tend to kind of lean in to hear what she has to say. She is serious by her own description. You know, she is kind of a serious, sober judge. And yet she has quite a sense of humor.

When we played her the "Saturday Night Live" skit of Kate McKinnon doing an impression of her, she -- you'll see the reaction on the film. She found it quite hilarious.

WEST: Yes. We didn't -- we actually didn't tell her ahead of time. So we were just wondering how was she going to react. And her first thing was, "Is this "Saturday Night Live?" We're not sure she's seen it before and then she just burst out laughing.

COHEN: It was quite wonderful.

CABRERA: Oh, I can't wait to see it. Thank you ladies for coming on and for sharing her story with the world.

Julie Cohen, Betsy West, good to have you with us. And congratulations.

Be sure to tune. "RBG" airs tomorrow night at 9:00 right here on CNN.

It is the call that has the Internet dialing up the jokes. Jeanne Moos reports on Trump's technical difficulties.





[19:57:15] CABRERA: Finally, when things get awkward for President Trump, the memes follow. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a speakerphone that refused to speak.

TRUMP: Enrique?

MOOS: When President Trump called the president of Mexico --

TRUMP: You can hook him up.

MOOS: In front of a horde --

TRUMP: You tell me when.

MOOS: -- of press. Awkward.

But the president wasn't the only one pressing buttons. Internet meme makers edited in music.

TRUMP: Hello?

MOOS: From the credits on "Veep" to the theme from "Curb Your Enthusiasm".

TRUMP: Enrique?

MOOS: Critics offered technical suggestion. For instance, a phone featuring buttons for Russia, nuclear launch, Diet Coke, cheese burgers and chicken.

"The Daily Show" left a message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are calling you from the investigation team of IRS. We have just received a notification regarding your tax filings.

MOOS: President Trump is a meme machine. The other day he inspired two memes during one visit with kids.

Kids opted to draw red and white stripes. But someone noticed the president has colored his flag wrong, creating a blue stripe.

Now we're pretty sure the president knows what color the stripes really are.

As someone noted, he literally has it pinned to his suit coat. Plus, he likes to wrap himself it in. Someone suggest head might be drawing a Blue Lives Matter flag in support of police. Another taunted it's the Russian flag.

As for the other moment that was flagged, call it the glare. It's not so intense in the video, but the photograph was irresistible to captioners. Don't you bleepin' flip on me.

Another day, another meme. And by the way, once you get the speakerphone to speak, make sure it doesn't keep listening after you hang up.

TRUMP: Goodbye, Enrique.

MOOS: Twice.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Hello on this Sunday evening. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with me.

Tonight, a decision that could change the course of history. 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, the highest court of the land could be conservative well into the 2040s. You can expect a lot of questions on abortion and whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe V. Wade, but you'll also likely hear Democrats grill Kavanaugh on other issues like does Robert Mueller have the power to subpoena President Trump in the Russia probe and can a sitting president be indicted.