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Senator John McCain' Passing Left A Massive Void In The U.S. Senate; A protester shouted "shame on you" at cardinal in the catholic church; Powerful microwaves are now the prime suspect behind bizarre and troubling attack on U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China; President Donald Trump Lashed Out U.S. Attorney General In Twitter; Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired September 3, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:33:32] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: After a week of tributes and emotional good-byes, Senator John McCain now rests among heroes at the U.S. naval academy in Annapolis. His passing leaving a massive void in the U.S. Senate. And now begins the difficult task of appointing someone to fill the late senator's vacant seat.

The high stakes decision now in the hands of Arizona governor Doug Ducey, the Republican governor who faces his own re-election in November. He must decide between selecting someone more in line with Senator McCain's maverick politics or choosing a Trump loyalist.

So let's get straight for CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston.

And Maeve, the pressure is obviously on. Do you have any indication that who governor Ducey might choose?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Brooke, it is a very long list, as you well know. And governor Ducey has kept it very close to the vest over the last weeks and months. Obviously, this was something that no one in Arizona wanted to talk about. And during the last week of services, you know, his advisors would not even engage in who was on the list.

But we know, of course, atop the list is potentially Cindy McCain who enormously popular here in Arizona but not within that right wing of the Republican Party.

As you mentioned, governor Ducey is facing political challenges of his own. So the thinking is that he may go with someone who is more of a kind of consensus pick, whether that would be former senator John Kyle or two of the former Arizona congressmen John Shadegg, Matt Salmon, or potentially someone pushed by the business community who is lesser known and like the state treasurer for example, a woman who would be potentially more of a diversity pick.

But we know they want to act quickly but also look respectful to the legacy of John McCain. And as Joe Biden said last week, you know, we may not see his like again. So a very difficult decision for the governor, Brooke.

[14:35:25] BALDWIN: Let me ask you, as of course all of us are focusing on who that might be in Arizona, the President, on this seemingly quiet memorial day Monday afternoon just tweeted again, more shade, directed toward his attorney general. We have got the tweet on the screen. Talk me through this, Maeve.

RESTON: So this is really interesting. With President Trump suggesting that Jeff Sessions is to blame for the recent indictment of two of Trump's favored members of Congress, one of them being Duncan Hunter who was indicted recently on very serious charges of campaign finance reform violations, stealing a quarter of a million dollars from his campaign treasury to support a lavish life-style.

And what President Trump is suggesting here is fairly extraordinary, that Jeff Sessions should have somehow, you know, kept these charges in check before the November elections because these were two Republican seats that would not have otherwise been in question. That's a pretty remarkable view of the justice department and one that will clearly be very popular, perhaps among President Trump's supporters. But just something that many of us couldn't have imagined a couple of years ago.

BALDWIN: Just this public berating of his A.G. continues. We will watch for fall out of that. And as you point out, the days of this president perhaps strengthening.

Maeve Reston in Phoenix, thank you.

It is Labor Day, a day off for some of you. But with midterm elections looming in politics this marks the beginning of serious crunch time. In Pittsburg, former vice president Joe Biden fronted Democrats efforts to win back Pennsylvania by marching with thousands of union members, shaking hands, posing for selfies. And remember, reliably blue Pennsylvania turned red in 2016, helping propel Donald Trump. And the former vice president there working the crowds, of course, for Democrats took a direct swing at President Trump's trade policies.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support renegotiating NAFTA?

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. We can -- we always can renegotiate everything we have to make it better. But not -- not the way he is going about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do you differ from the President on trade policy?

BIDEN: You don't have enough time.


BALDWIN: Let's go to Rebecca Berg. She is there in Pittsburgh.

And so, how did that NAFTA comment and swipe on Trump, you know? How did that land where you are in Pennsylvania?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's interesting, Brooke, because the former vice president, Biden clearly was drawing a contrast with the President on trade. And Biden has been one of the loudest voices calling upon Democrats to really engage voters on this issue, to speak to American workers not only going into 2018 but, Brooke, also 2020. And of course that was sort of an elephant in the room or rather on the parade route today with Joe Biden. What is he going to decide to do in 2020? Will he challenge President Trump? Certainly there were workers out here today urging him to do so. But he insisted that that was not why he was here today. Take a listen to what he had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk about what this means in terms of your political future here. Is this about the 2020?

BIDEN: It doesn't mean anything for my political future. I have known these guys my whole life. And my grandfather (INAUDIBLE). I go anywhere with these guys. These guys that (INAUDIBLE) as they say.


BERG: Now, as you mentioned Brooke, Pennsylvania was Trump country in the 2016 election. But Biden is a hometown boy here. He grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, as he likes to mention. And so, in many ways this felt like being on his home turf today.

And by the way, he wouldn't entertain the possibility today of running for president. But he said hypothetically, if he was to run he would be in here Pennsylvania a lot. -- Brooke

BALDWIN: Well, you know, we saw you in the shot right there next with the vice president. And all the jokes, good, bad and everything in between have been made today.

Guys, keep the running video - I mean, what is he, 75 now? I mean, the guy is running along. Everyone is making the same bad joke. He is running.

BERG: By the way, Brooke, I confess I was one of the people making that bad joke on twitter. He was literally running. Looks like he was pretty high energy. So President Trump maybe won't be able to bring back his low energy swipe in the context of Joe Biden. But no announcements from the vice president -- former vice president today about any future runs he might be making -- Brooke.

[14:40:09] BALDWIN: Rebecca Berg, thank you, in Pittsburgh.

Still ahead here, a stunning rebuke of a cardinal during Sunday mass.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Considerable animosity.



BALDWIN: A protester shouting "shame on you" at Cardinal Donald Wuerl as he addressed sexual abuse this the catholic church.

Rosa Flores was sitting in on the service. She will join me next on she heard and saw.

Also, thousands of years of Brazilian history going up in flames when a massive fire ripping through the country's national museum.


[14:45:11] BALDWIN: A stunning outburst and a shamming two very different yet powerful means of protest directed straight in this embattled cardinal during a catholic mass in Washington D.C. on Sunday. The protest came as cardinal Donald Wuerl addressed priest sex allegations, allegations Wuerl is accused of covering up. Here is one moment during that mass.


CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: Increasingly it's clear that he is the object of considerable animosity.



BALDWIN: Shame on you. That's what was shouted. At the same time, it was a silent protest. Another parishioner stood in the choir loft, arms crossed, back turned to the cardinal as he spoke.

So CNN's Rosa Flores was inside that church when this was all unfolding.

And Rosa, you talked with both of the protesting parishioners. What did they tell you?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brooke, it was a very intense moment. And I'll start with the gentleman who screamed at the cardinal. He didn't want to talk on camera. But he did say that he was fed up. That he is asking for transparency and accountability. And what he called the church not responding appropriately to the Pennsylvania grand jury report. And then there was the woman that you just mentioned. She crossed her arms, gave the cardinal her back, and then said this. 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: And she is not the only one that is asking for his resignation. In the past week, I have been here in Washington, D.C., talking to multiple people. The attorney general has asked for his resignation, a university president, also priest from his diocese. And we did ask the archdiocese about this protest. And here is what they told us. They sent statement saying quote "Cardinal Wuerl has spoken extensively over the past two months conveyed his sadness apologies and contribution and addressed every issue as it has arisen in a straightforward and transparent manner."

Now we have to give you some context, Brooke, because for the most part that mass was uneventful. People greeted him well, very warmly. They applauded him. It was when he started speaking about clerical sex abuse that emotions boiled over. Now we also asked the archdiocese about that call for the cardinal to resign. And they told us that he is not resigning.

BALDWIN: Rosa Flores. Thank you. Thank you for sharing. Glad you were there.

Back to the breaking news here. President of the United States once again going after his own attorney general very publicly this time calling him out over the indictments of two Republican congressman. We will take you to the White House for more on what just happened on twitter.

Also ahead, remember those sonic attacks in Cuba last year that left American diplomats with headaches and hearing loss? It was bizarre. So the state department now believes they know what caused them. That's ahead.

And make sure to tune in tonight, 9:00 eastern and pacific for the new CNN film, "RBG."


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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We 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: To 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What has become of me could happen only in the America. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has become such a rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really the closest thing to a super hero I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is known (INAUDIBLE). The world over as the notorious RBG.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I ask of our brother is that they take their feet off our necks.



[14:53:55] BALDWIN: Crazy video shows this woman leading police in Texas on a high-speed chase. And she took her baby along for the ride. Watches this with me. You can see the woman weaving between cars, crossing the median into oncoming traffic. This happened in June in (INAUDIBLE) county after the driver bolted from a traffic stop. At one point she crashes this SUV, then goes around to grab the child in a car seat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is in the back. She is in the back seat. She has got the baby, and we are running. We are running.


BALDWIN: Police say she then tried to carjack another driver while holding the baby, look at this, before she got arrested. The baby, thank goodness, is fine. The woman who had outstanding warrants now faces several charges including child endangerment.

Irreparable that is how the director of about still's national museum describes the damage a massive fire engulfing this building. (INAUDIBLE) was fire and Rio De Janeiro turned centuries old artifacts into ashes. The fire erupted when the museum was closed.

The president of Brazil tweeted the loss to the collection is too great to even be calculated. The 200-year-old museum was home to at least 20 million ancient relics. Items thought to have been destroyed include the oldest human remains ever to be discovered in Brazil.


[14:55:16] SERGIO KUGLAND DE AZEVEDO, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL MUSEUM: It is a loss for the world. This can never be recovered. For the people, the building. There is no way to get it back.


BALDWIN: Amazingly, no one was hurt. The cause of the fire remains unknown. Powerful microwaves are now the prime suspect behind bizarre and

troubling attack on U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China. Dozens of unexplained illnesses including head injuries forced the U.S. to bring home staff from embassies in Cuba and China. All kinds of speculation, focused on some sort of sonic attack. But now, scientists who led this investigation tell the "New York Times" they believe the main culprit, likely to be some kinds of microwave weapon.

Patrick Oppmann is following the developments for us there in Havana.

Patrick, microwave weapon? Can you explain that?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN HAVANA-BASED CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, you know, there are weapons that do exist unconventional weapons that use radiation, microwaves. And they concentrate them and they can used for crowd control, to anti-missile defense to psychological warfare. The question is whether or not they were used in Cuba or China. And the jury is still out on that.

You know, initially when the story broke out almost last year, the first incident was reported almost two years ago. And initially U.S. officials once they sore of put together that the beginning falling six here in Cuba they felt a sonic weapon could have been used. High pitched sound waves.


OPPMANN: Now they have discounted that, saying that doesn't work and they believe it's the microwave weapons because that fits with the injuries that were described. Essentially, concussions and other head injuries where there was no physical trauma. So that is one U.S. theory, the leading theory.

I have just come from an interview with a Cuban investigator and they say that doesn't fit with their investigations. They don't feel that a microwave weapon can be used in such great distance with such great precision. So here we are almost two years after the first incidents began and we are still arguing over the science of whether or not these attacks is even possible.

BALDWIN: And so, is it - did they - obviously, it sounds like your Cuban interview disagrees. But from what's being reported that the microwaves is that what is believed to have happened both in Cuba and in China?

OPPMANN: They just don't know because there is no physical evidence here on ground that supports this. The FBI has come to Cuba many times, has gone through the diplomats' homes. Of course, these diplomats are back in the United States as you said getting care and attention. So the scientists that have been talked about the U.S. government, this is what they have come up with. This is they say the hardware that makes this kind of attack possible. But they have yet to see any hard evidence on the ground that really supports this. So it is the leading theory Brooke but it is still just a theory.

BALDWIN: Got it. Patrick Oppman, thank you, in Cuba. Let's continue on.

Top of the hour. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me on what is hopefully a quiet labor day Monday for you.

We do have some breaking news for you. The President has just sent out a stunning tweet, a slam of the justice department and the man who leads it for doing his job, and charging people suspected of a crime. The people, two Republican congressmen. So let me just first read you these two tweets from Trump.

Quote "two long running Obama-era investigations of two very popular Republican congressmen were brought to a well-publicized charge just ahead of the midterms by the Jeff Sessions justice department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job, Jeff, dot, dot, dot. The Democrats, none of whom vote for Jeff Sessions, must love him now."

The president is referring to New York congressman Chris Collins and California congressman Duncan Hunter.

So let's have a conversation about this, shall we? I have with me CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny and CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston.

And let's back up two steps first, Jeff to you, on the context of the charges that these two Republican congressmen face. Remind us.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well Brooke, Chris Collins, the New York Republican who was an early and loyal supporter of this president was charged a month or so ago on a variety of insider trading charges, about a pharmaceutical company in Australia, if I recall. And this inside trading, very serious. He was indicted on those charges. The justice department of course oversaw that indictment. But there, you know, is no reason to believe that politics played any role in that and. Duncan Hunter was more recently charged, he and his wife, for a variety of things - wire fraud, other matters, campaign finance violations.