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Russia Launches Airstrikes; Kavanaugh Hearings to Begin Today; Kaepernick Named Face of Nike; White House Could Block Report. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET

Aired September 4, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Has been a long spanning rebellion inside of Syria against the Assad regime. Now, the Idlib province has seen air strikes in the last hour or so against an area called Giza al Shuka (ph), and that is almost, it seems, you might say, a response to Donald Trump's tweet suggesting that there would be grave humanitarian consequences if a large military campaign, as we're seeing the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies are massing for around that area, if that was, in fact, actually launched.

Now, also we've heard from the Kremlin today responding to Donald Trump's tweet, suggesting that it's necessary to deal with this problem, that's how Russia, Iran and Syria view the many militants inside the Idlib province, some of which do have some connections to al Qaeda, some of which are more moderate. And there are about 3 million civilians as well.

This has been kind of the dumping ground, if you like, for those who disagree with the Assad regime, who fought the Assad regime. They've cleaned out other parts of Syria and put those civilians in that area as kind of a last refuge. Now it's under attack.

The Kremlin has called Donald Trump's approach to this something which it's just coming out with warnings not paying attention to a very dangerous, negative potential. It brings the situation in Syria, it is not a comprehensive or a complete approach. That's the Kremlin spokesperson.

So a war of words here mounting, but all eyes really, I think, are on what comes on Friday. And that's when we see Turkey, that's the NATO ally, a bad relationship now with the United States, but they're assisting some of the rebels in that Idlib province, they're having a meeting in the capital of Iran, Teheran, with Iran and with Russia and with Syria. The hope is to perhaps to find some kind of diplomatic way out of this. I think eyes are on that, but certainly the deep concern is if that doesn't work out, we now potentially have a military campaign with 3 million people whose lives have been uprooted once, potentially in the crossfire yet again with a devastating fire power the Syrian and Russian governments use potentially in play as well.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that is the deep concern. Nick, please keep us posted on what's happening there.

Meanwhile, former White House intern turned anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky storming off the stage at an event in Jerusalem when she was asked about her affair with former President Bill Clinton 20 years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You -- you talked about being abandoned by the main figure, the crisis community intimately. Now recently in an interview on NBC News, president -- former President Clinton was rather irate when he asked -- was asked if he ever called and apologized to you personally. And he said I apologized publicly. Do you still expect that apology, the personal apology?

MONICA LEWINSKY: I'm so sorry. I'm not going to be able to do this.


CAMEROTA: Afterward, Lewinsky tweeted that the interviewer knew that that question was off limits. Lewinsky says she, quote, left because it is more important than ever for women to stand up for themselves and not allow others to control their narrative. The organizer of the conference says it stood up to all of its agreements with Monica Lewinsky and that the interviewer's question was legitimate and respectful.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, they either had an agreement not to ask that or not. And if they did have that agreement, then the interviewer violated the agreement.

CAMEROTA: Well, I think that they're sort of both right. I think that that is a legitimate question and I think that she has -- it's her prerogative and she has the right to stand up and leave when she wants the narrative -- when she wants to be able to control the narrative. And I think that she makes a great point. She doesn't actually have to sit there anymore after 20 years and answer what somebody wants her to answer.

BERMAN: No. And we do know that she has controlled her appearances over the years here and doesn't enter into any appearance, I don't think, without carefully controlled agreements. Again, if the interviewer restricted that, you know, who knows.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, we have the Supreme Court confirmation hearings with Judge Kavanaugh beginning very soon. So we will get a perspective from a man who clerked for Judge Kavanaugh and who knows his views very well. That's next.


[06:37:48] CAMEROTA: OK, in just three hours, the confirmation hearings begin for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Joining us now is Justin Walker. He clerked for Judge Kavanaugh and the man that Kavanaugh is trying to replace, retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Justin, thanks so much for being here. It's great to have you because you can give us some insights into your former boss' thinking. I know that you're a big fan of Judge Kavanaugh and you think that he is supremely qualified.

So, let's dive into the relevant issues that will come up. First, one of the big issues, does Brett Kavanaugh believe that a sitting president can be indicted or not?

JUSTIN WALKER, CLERKED FOR JUSTICE KENNEDY AND JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Well, it's an important question and it's a question that Judge Kavanaugh is going to address with an open mind and in a fair minded way.

I think if you look at what he has written in the past, he has suggested that court decisions that hold president's accountable when they break the law are some of the best and most important decisions in the history of the Supreme Court.

CAMEROTA: But, of course, he's also written something that contradicts that and this is the one that people are focused on. In the "Minnesota Law Review" in 2009, here are his words, the indictment and trial of a sitting president moreover would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.

So that sounds like he does not think that a sitting president can be or should be indicted.

WALKER: Well, this goes in part to the difference between an academic making a policy proposal to Congress and a judge interpreting the Constitution. So, it's been long standing protocol that the Department of Justice, under Democratic presidents and Republican presidents, that as a policy matter with constitutional concerns the Justice Department has suggested that an indictment of the president should wait until after the president leaves office. But Judge Kavanaugh has not said how he would decide on that as a judge, interpreting what the Constitution requires or doesn't require.

What he has said repeatedly is that a case like the United States v. Nixon, where the Supreme Court stood up to Richard Nixon and required him to turn over the Watergate tapes, Judge Kavanaugh has said that that is one of the three most important decisions in the history of the American judiciary.


[06:40:13] WALKER: And every time that Judge Kavanaugh has taken a stand in terms of executive power, whether it's for the president or whether it's against the president, at no time has the Supreme Court reversed him. And on multiple occasions, the Supreme Court has vindicated his decisions --

CAMEROTA: Yes, those are important. I -- WALKER: Because his decisions (INAUDIBLE) to this question are mainstream and independent and thoughtful.

CAMEROTA: I hear you, that those are important data points to understand about his decisions.

But on this topic, we need a window into his thinking. And this "Minnesota Law Review" seems to be a window into his real feelings and how he thinks.

He also has shared that because he was involved in the impeachment of Bill Clinton that he came to regret that, that he came to regret Bill Clinton being embroiled in legal wrangling and he thought that that did force the president to take his eye off the ball, particularly with, say, Osama bin Laden.

WALKER: Well, I think that it's unfortunate that when someone like Judge Kavanaugh, shortly after Barack Obama had been elected, writes an article saying maybe we should think long and hard about whether or not, as a policy matter, Congress should be allowing a president to be distracted from his job. Maybe -- maybe that's a good policy thing. Maybe that's a bad policy thing.

But I think it shows, first of all, that even though there was a Democratic president, Judge Kavanaugh didn't say, oh, well, we should go after a Democratic president. The party of the president didn't matter to him at all, just like as a judge the party won't matter to him.

And then, secondly, I think that we should -- we should remember that every time Judge Kavanaugh has issued an opinion on executive power, not a single time has the Supreme Court reversed him on that. And multiple times they've affirmed it. I mean I know we've -- we've, you know, covered this to a degree, but I really think it's an important distinction between what he writes as a policy recommendation, which is, I think, something we should be encouraging all people who care about the public to do --


WALKER: Versus what he does as a judge.

CAMEROTA: OK. I think that those are -- those are fair points.

So now give us some insight into what you think he will do with the Affordable Care Act because, again, we just have some bread crumbs, OK, that we can follow for some clues. But you have some real insight.

First, I want to read for you what President Trump tweeted in terms of what he was looking for in a Supreme Court nominee. If I win the presidency, my judicial appointments will do the right thing, unlike Bush's appointed John Roberts on Obamacare. And by that the right thing he means overturn it, get rid of it. OK.

So now here is Brett Kavanaugh's statement on Obamacare. He said -- this was from The Federalist Society meeting, November, 2012. The power to regulate commerce is not the power to force people to enter commerce. Meaning, the mandatory -- the mandate quality. So what would he do with Obamacare?

WALKER: Well, Judge Kavanaugh's statement that you just read is merely a recitation of what a majority of the Supreme Court had already decided in June of 2012. And if you want to know how Judge Kavanaugh will approach future constitutional questions regarding the Affordable Care Act, or any act of Congress, I think you can look at his 300 opinions over 12 years. And one of them, by the way, concerned the Affordable Care Act. And in that case, he did not strike down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional. He read a statute as a good, textuous (ph) judge.

Now, some of us disagree with his reading of that statute, but he said that that statute does not allow the court to decide the constitutionality of the questions at that time. And so even though that decision was something of a victory for the Obama administration, it shows that Judge Kavanaugh approaches every question as a textuous and a jurist who goes where he believes the law leads without any kind of passion or prejudice for one political party or one policy outcome.

CAMEROTA: OK. Justin Walker, really helpful. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and insights on your former boss Brett Kavanaugh. Thanks so much.

WALKER: Thank you.


BERMAN: All right, Nike drawing a line in the sand with a provocative choice for their new campaign. Details in the "Bleacher Report." That's next.


[06:48:22] BERMAN: Nike making a big statement, signing Colin Kaepernick to a new multi-year endorsement deal.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, John. Yes, this deal surprised a lot of people because Nike is the official uniform and apparel supplier of the NFL. And while Kaepernick continues to sue the league's owners for collusion, Nike signed him to a new multi-year deal to be one of the faces of their 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign.

Kaepernick tweeting his first ad which said, believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.

Now, as a part of this new deal with Nike, Kaepernick will appear on billboards and TV ads. They will also be making him his own signature shoe and apparel line. And Nike's also going to contribute to Kaepernick's Know Your Rights charity. And Nike's VP of brand telling ESPN, we believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward.

Now, Kaepernick has not played in NFL since the 2016 season, which is when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.

All right, we had a shocker at the U.S. Open last night. Roger Federer going down to unseed John Millman in four sets. This is the first loss for Federer at the U.S. Open against an opponent ranked outside the top 50. The 20-time grand slam winner said afterwards he just couldn't overcome the heat. And it's going to be another scorcher out there in Flushing Meadows today. Going to feel like 100 out there, Alisyn. It's going to cool down a little bit for the night games and that's when Serena's going to be in action in the quarterfinals. We'll have to wait to see how she handles all the heat.

BERMAN: She'll handle it.

CAMEROTA: Yes, she'll handle it.

[06:50:00] BERMAN: She'll handle it. She can handle anything.

CAMEROTA: And you know what she'll wear?

BERMAN: Whatever the hell she wants. Whatever the hell she wants.

CAMEROTA: I never gets old. It never gets old.

Andy, thank you very much.

OK, so Rudy Giuliani says that President Trump's --

BERMAN: He wears whatever the hell he wants.

CAMEROTA: He pretty much does. He says that President Trump's legal team struck a deal with Robert Mueller about what information will be publicly disclosed from the special counsel's report when it is issued. We're going to ask Jeffrey Toobin about that because he just interviewed Giuliani for a fascinating new profile.


BERMAN: Could the White House block parts of Robert Mueller final report on the Russia investigation when that report comes? In an interview with CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says the president's legal team may invoke executive privilege to stop parts of final report from being released to the public. It's all part of an in-depth profile in the latest edition of "The New Yorker."

[06:55:04] Jeffrey Toobin joins us now.

And, Jeffrey, in between the boozy, cigar bar scene-setting dynamism of this article, there's this nugget of news. Let me read -- let me read this quote for you. Giuliani pointed out a little known aspect in the agreement that Trump's original legal team struck with Mueller, the White House reserved the right to object to the public disclosure of information that might be covered by executive privilege.

Interesting. A deal. I'm not sure we knew too much about that, Jeffrey.


What happened was, in the original deal where they said, OK, we will let you see 1.4 million documents it turned out to be, we will let you interview White House staffers, we reserve the right down the line to object to any public disclosure of material we think is covered by executive privilege. You, Robert Mueller, and your staff, you can hear the whole story, but we're not agreeing to everybody hearing that story.

OK, fast forward ahead. Mueller is going to write some kind of report. Giuliani says, well, we may object to anything in that report that is covered by what we believe is executive privilege. And, remember, Rod Rosenstein will get that report. And Rod Rosenstein is an employee of the administration. He will have to decide, does he defy the White House in -- what happens then? It is not clear.

And it's also not clear that these objections will be filed. Giuliani said to me, look, that's going to be up to the president. But if we know the president, anything he can do to interfere with the Mueller investigation he will do.

CAMEROTA: But, so where does that leave us? Will we know, at the end of the day, after all of this -- these months and months of speculation and dribs and drabs, will the public know definitively what Robert Mueller has concluded?

TOOBIN: Alisyn, you know, I wish I could give you a definitive answer to that question. But I think what Giuliani is saying is maybe no, is that even though Mueller has conceded, as Giuliani said, there can be no criminal charge against the president, he will certainly do some sort of report and he may well say -- and the president may well say, well, I'm not agreeing to disclose it. I don't see how there could be any real lawsuit about it. Obviously someone, members of Congress, members of the public would sue to obtain --

CAMEROTA: Members of the press.

TOOBIN: Yes, the press would sue to obtain access to this document. But it is not out of the question that it will remain secret, at least for the foreseeable future.

BERMAN: And there's also the possibility that someone, somewhere along the way, might leak. It does -- it does happen occasionally.

CAMEROTA: Occasionally it happens.

TOOBIN: It does happen. But, you know, not as much as we think. I mean it's -- that -- nothing has leaked from the Mueller office, that's for sure. BERMAN: Right.

TOOBIN: And if there's only a copy or two delivered to the -- to Rosenstein. I don't know. I mean, look, I think counting on leaks is a long shot.

BERMAN: And that's an important distinction here because they're talking about challenging it as it gets to Rosenstein before it goes to Congress, if it were to go to Congress. So Congress might not ever see the unredacted or the completely, you know, privileged form.

TOOBIN: That's exactly right. And I think that's an important point to make is that, you know, if it got to Congress, I assume it would leak. But the issue Giuliani was saying is that we will not agree to it going to Congress if it has the executive privilege material included. That's a claim that might -- that they might make.

CAMEROTA: OK. I want to talk a little bit more about Giuliani because, again, your profile is fascinating. And you asked him the question that so many people are wondering. I hear it all the time out at, you know, dinner parties, out at the supermarket.

BERMAN: What is it? I'm dying to know what the question is.

CAMEROTA: Here it is. I'm going to read it. At one point I asked Giuliani whether he worried about how this chapter of his life would affect his legacy, and he answered, I don't care about my legacy, he told me, I'll be dead.

That is the burning question. So many people, when he was America's mayor after 9/11, so many people respected his wisdom and the way he framed things for Americans who were so scared and grieving and people have wondered how he threads that needle now and you got the answer, Jeffrey.

[06:59:39] TOOBIN: Well, and it isn't even thread the needle. I mean he just says, look, I'm a lawyer. I'm working for a client. I'm doing what I can to help my client. And the way he says he's going to help his client is, this is not a court case. This is a case in the public arena. And my job is to trash Robert Mueller. My job is to basically, as I say in the piece, to be the legal auxiliary to the president's Twitter feed. And he is as outrageous as filled with half-truths, falsehoods as Trump's Twitter feed is. And, you know, that's -- that's one way