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Woodward Book Describes White House as "Crazytown"; Trump Supreme Court Nominee Vows to Be Neutral amid Dem Protests; Russian, Syrian Jets Pound Rebel Stronghold in Idlib; Koreas Prepare for Next Summit; Brazilian Government Blamed for Neglect after Museum Fire; Democrats Are Driving Home That Republicans Keep Changing the Rules with Supreme Court Nominations. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired September 5, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Another explosive new book about the Trump White House, this time with on the record statements made to a legendary journalist.
The war in Syria, airstrikes in Idlib as the U.S. warns against attacking the last major rebel stronghold.
Plus, anger in Brazil after a fire destroys priceless pieces of the National Museum. Why the government is being blamed.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: Well, Donald Trump is pushing back on a scandalous new book about his presidency, calling it "full of lies."
It comes from veteran journalist Bob Woodward, who says he interviewed dozens of sources in Mr. Trump's inner circle. Top aides call the White House "crazytown" and describe the president as "an idiot" and "a liar." CNN's Jeff Zeleny has the details.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump has been stewing inside the White House and today we learned why.
Bob Woodward's new bombshell book "Fear: Trump in the White House" offers an unprecedented look at drama and chaos inside the West Wing, where top officials express disdain for the president's temperament, character and intellect and admit hiding things from the president to protect the nation.
CNN obtained a copy of the book, where White House chief of staff John Kelly describes Trump as "an idiot" and "unhinged." Defense secretary James Mattis says Trump has the understanding of a 5th or 6th grader.
And Woodward writes that Trump's former personal lawyer, John Dowd, who quit earlier this year, describes the president as "an F-ing liar."
He told Trump he would wind up in an orange jumpsuit if he sat down with special counsel Robert Mueller.
After a practice session in the residence of the White House back in January, the book says, the president stumbled, contradicted himself and lost his cool.
"This thing is a goddamn hoax," the president erupted at the beginning of a 30-minute rant.
"I don't really want to testify."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russian witch hunt. We've got a whole big combination.
Where is the collusion?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY (voice-over): After that mock session, Woodward reports, the president's lawyers went to Mueller's office to argue Trump couldn't testify because he's incapable of telling the truth.
"He just made something up. That's his nature," Dowd reportedly told Mueller.
"I need the president's testimony," Mueller replied, adding that he was trying to determine whether the president had a corrupt intent in firing FBI director James Comey.
The Russia investigation provides some of the most vivid moments in the book by Woodward, the legendary "Washington Post" reporter of Watergate fame, that he says is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with principals and firsthand observers.
The president was not interviewed, despite what Woodward described as repeated attempts to do so. Today "The Post" released a recording of a call between Woodward and the president from early last month...
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's really too bad because nobody told me about it and I would have loved to have spoken to you. You know I'm very open to you. I think you've always been fair. But we'll see what happens.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ZELENY (voice-over): -- and then blaming his staff for not approaching him about the book, including top aide, Kellyanne Conway.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: She has direct access. But she didn't come to me.
And you know what?
That's OK. I'll just end up with another bad book.
What can I tell you?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ZELENY (voice-over): The book opens with a dramatic scene in the Oval Office, where former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, saw a draft letter he considered dangerous to national security on the president's desk. The letter, about withdrawing the U.S. from a trade agreement with South Korea, left Cohn appalled.
"So he snatched it," the book says.
"I wouldn't let him see it," Cohn told an associate. "Got to protect the country."
The book also offers an even more personal and profane look at the president's anger with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who the president described as "mentally retarded" and "a dumb Southerner."
The 448-page book shows that the president spares few, including his current lawyer and longtime friend, Rudy Giuliani, who he once reportedly described as "a baby."
"I've never seen a worst defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You're like a little baby that needed to be changed.
"When are you going to be a man?" the president once told Giuliani, according to the book.
ZELENY: Shortly after the release of this book, a string of denials has started to come in: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders saying all the accounts are fabricated; White House chief of staff John Kelly said he did not call the president an idiot. And the president's former lawyer, John Dowd, said he did not call the president a liar.
Yet all of this book, based on hundreds of hours of reporting from Bob Woodward, paints an account of paranoia and anger inside this White House -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: And U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis says the words attributed to him in Woodward's book were never uttered by him. He calls them "a product of someone's rich imagination."
CHURCH: CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot joins me now to talk more about the impact of Bob Woodward's book, "Fear: Trump in the White House."
Good to have you with us.
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: Well, it has shaken the White House to the core with revelations former top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, stole a letter off the president's desk to protect national security; Defense Secretary Mattis, comparing Mr. Trump's intellect to a 6th grader; his chief of staff, John Kelly, calling him an idiot; his own former lawyer, John Dowd, calling him a liar.
It is damning stuff. But now all involved are pushing back, releasing denials that they said any of this.
So who are we to believe?
BOOT: Yes, I believe Bob Woodward. He is a reporter with a track record of nearly half a century of unearthing scoops about presidents and the Washington elite. He is on one side and he says that he has tape recorded all of his interviews.
On the other side, you have a White House that has set a new record for mendacity, exceeding even the Nixon White House. This is a president who lies, according to "The Washington Post," an average of eight times a day. And that has trickled down falsehood, that includes his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and others, who emulate his example.
So it's hard to take their denials seriously because -- especially because what is reported in Bob Woodward's book tallies with all the previous information we've had.
For example, it's very similar to what Michael Wolff reported in "Fire and Fury" or what Omarosa reported in her own memoir, which came out just a month or so ago, a similar picture of a president, who is engulfed in chaos, doesn't know what he is doing and is looked down upon by his own subordinates.
Bob Woodward is basically just supplying new details to confirm what we already understand about President Trump.
CHURCH: So you're saying President Trump and the White House are lying?
BOOT: Well, they are liars. There is no way to deny it. Again, President Trump himself lies an average of eight times a day and, you know, he's just adding to the mendacity here.
I think you probably have to -- if you look at the denials put out by Jim Mattis and John Kelly, you probably have to parse the language very closely; because, for example, John Kelly denies that he called President Trump an idiot but maybe he called him a moron or something else.
We know that Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, actually did call President Trump an F-ing moron. He certainly does not deny that he has disparaged the president or has a low estimation of his intelligence, which I think are pretty common views within the West Wing.
CHURCH: We heard the telephone conversation between the president and Bob Woodward, where Mr. Trump admitted Woodward has always been fair.
But just a few hours ago, he tweeted this, "The Woodward book has already been refuted and discredited by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly. Their quotes were made-up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise, other stories and quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative. Notice timing."
So Max, Bob Woodward is an award-winning investigative journalist, who has worked at "The Washington Post" since 1971, one of the most respected journalists in this country.
How will he likely respond to this effort to discredit the contents of his book?
BOOT: Woodward already responded. He said he stands by his reporting and that means a lot, because people know the track record of Bob Woodward.
Even Ari Fleischer, who was the press secretary in the Bush White House, vouched for Woodward's reporting today, saying he dealt with him personally on multiple occasions and he had never known him to make up a story or a quotation.
And that certainly tallies with everything that we're familiar with. In any kind of credibility contest between Bob Woodward and the Trump White House, Bob Woodward is going to come out ahead.
CHURCH: Is that going to be enough, though?
NBC's Chuck Todd wrote recently that journalists have to stop being naive and just sitting back and thinking that their work should speak for itself. They need to start standing up and saying, 'This is the proof I have. This is -- I know that this was said or this was done.'
Otherwise, if there is enough of this refuting and this denial, people out there across Middle America will accept the words of the president. They will accept and they will think that this is all a fraud.
Will they not?
BOOT: Well, certainly Trump's supporters will. He's actually carried out a fairly clever strategy, which inoculates him against the scandal that continues to emerge from the West Wing, which is that he has told his supporters that it's all fake news, that they should not believe the evidence with their own eyes.
They should only believe what he himself says and that the media just constantly lies about him.
Now that's not true but certainly a lot of Trump supporters believe it and, in fact, in a lot of Republicans think that Trump --
BOOT: -- should have the power to muzzle the press. So he has certainly worked his voodoo with his own supporters, convincing them that alternative facts have more standing than actual facts, that the truth isn't the truth, as Trump's own lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said just recently.
But it's not working with the larger public. Keep in mind that Republicans only constitute about 26 percent of the American electorate and among the other 75 percent or so of voters, there is deep skepticism of President Trump, as evidenced by the fact that, just last week, "The Washington Post" ABC News poll found that 60 percent of voters have a negative impression of Trump and only 36 percent have a positive impression; 49 percent are in favor of impeachment.
So, you know, Trump's attempts to discredit the negative news coverage worked with his own followers. They don't really work with anybody else.
CHURCH: Max Boot, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
BOOT: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: Well, in just a few hours, the high-stakes confirmation process continues for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. And if it's anything like the first day, the hearing may be dramatic.
On Tuesday, Judge Kavanaugh sat through an intense partisan showdown. Senate Democrats tried to delay the hearing, accusing the White House and Republicans of hiding key records about Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. Mr. Chairman, I'd like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed.
The committee received just last night less than 15 hours ago 42,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You are out of order. I'll proceed.
Judge -- SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONN.: If we cannot be recognized, I
move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.
GRASSLEY: To hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh --
BLUMENTHAL: We have been denied real access to the documents we need --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, regular order is called for.
BLUMENTHAL: -- which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), N.J.: What is the rush?
What are we trying to hide by not having the documents out front?
What is the rush?
What are we hiding by not letting those documents come out?
Sir, this committee is a violation of the values that we as a committee have striven for: transparency. We are rushing through this process in a way that is unnecessary and I appeal for the motion to at least be voted on.
Your commitments you've made to transparency, this violates what you have said and called for, sir.
GRASSLEY: You spoke about my decency and my -- you spoke about my decency and integrity and I think you're -- you are taking advantage of my decency and integrity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: In addition to those exchanges -- in addition to those exchanges, you also heard there shouting protesters, repeatedly interrupting the hearing. After seven hours, Judge Kavanaugh finally got the chance to speak. He defended his record and promised to be neutral and impartial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: A good judge must be an umpire, a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy.
As Justice Kennedy explained in Texas v. Johnson, one of his greatest opinions, judges do not make decisions to reach a preferred result. Judges make decisions because the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result.
I do not decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge, I'm not a pro-prosecution or pro-defense judge. I am a pro-law judge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: All right. We'll continue to cover that story, of course, but let's take a very short break now.
Still to come, laying the groundwork for peace and denuclearization. How North and South Korea are preparing for their leaders' next summit.
Plus, 200 years of historical research destroyed. Irreplaceable collections spanning 11,000 years likely lost forever. Why the fire that gutted Brazil's National Museum may have been preventable. We'll have all of that next.
CHURCH: The last major rebel-held area in Syria is bracing for a government offensive. Russian and Syrian jets reportedly pounded the western edge of Idlib province on Tuesday.
Meantime, the White House is warning Syria to refrain from any chemical attacks.
Its statement reads in part, "Let us be clear, it remains our firm stance that if President Bashar al-Assad chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its allies will respond swiftly and appropriately."
The U.N. Security Council meets Friday to discuss the crisis. Separately, leaders from Russia, Turkey and Iran will do the same.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAFFAN DE MISTURA, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: Now the guarantors of this de-escalation area have a special responsibility. And they have a responsibility to find a sustainable formula, which is not impossible, that would spare the civilian population.
Hence we will look with great attention and concern and hope to the crucial summit in Tehran on Friday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Now our Jomana Karadsheh joins us live from Istanbul.
So Jomana, what are you learning about what's happening on the ground in Idlib right now?
And what has been the reaction to the U.S., again drawing a line in the sand when it comes to the use of any weapons?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, as you said, the U.S. is really just drawing a line when it comes to chemical weapons.
And when you talk to Syrians and people who have been trapped in rebel-held areas for years now, they say they've really given up on the international community or the United States or anyone, really, to do anything to stop the bloodshed.
You know, when they hear these kinds of warnings and threats and comments about chemical weapons, they ask, what about conventional weapons, what about the barrel bombs, what about the airstrikes?
These kinds of attacks are claiming the most lives.
So they ask, what is the international community going to do about that?
And it seems like no one is going to do anything. So right now, you know, you had that warning from President Trump, that tweet. You had various statements from U.S. officials and that's really not having any impact, as is expected.
On Tuesday, opposition activists in Idlib reported up to 25 airstrikes. They claim there were Russian airstrikes on the western part of Idlib. They say at least 18 people were killed, most of them women and children.
So you have a population right now, Rosemary, that is living in a state of constant fear. As they told, you know, our colleagues, Arwa Damon and her team who were there recently, it feels like they are on death row and just waiting for, you know, for their death penalty to be implemented.
So you know, you have more than 3 million civilians, according to the estimates, that are crammed into this part of Syria. Idlib, for more than a year now, has been, you know, relatively safe for most people.
So they have been bused from other rebel-held areas that have fallen to the regime; people who refused to remain under regime control because of fear of the region were bused to Idlib. Right now --
KARADSHEH: -- they have nowhere else to turn to, nowhere safe. As one analyst put it, Idlib has no Idlib.
CHURCH: Jomana Karadsheh, bringing us the latest on what's happening on the ground in Idlib. Many thanks to you.
A high-level South Korean delegation is in North Korea to discuss plans for their next summit. The two sides are expected to discuss a path toward peace and denuclearization. It comes as relations between the United States and North Korea continue to sour.
So let's turn to our Paula Hancocks. She joins us live from Seoul in South Korea with more on this.
Paula, what are you learning about this upcoming summit? And how far might the two Koreas go in denuclearizing North Korea?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, we are hoping either by the end of today or tomorrow to have an indication of when this summit will take place, an exact date. At this point, we know that Moon Jae-in will meet with Kim Jong-un middle of September, that sort of time.
We're hearing that really the scope of this summit has widened since that relationship between Washington and Pyongyang has started to sour.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a planned trip by the U.S. secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to Pyongyang was cancelled by U.S. president Donald Trump, saying that he simply didn't think enough progress was being made on the road to denuclearization.
So there's a broader sense now that this summit between President Moon and Kim Jong-un will be more important. It is more inclusive. It is going to be President Moon almost reverting back to his mediator role, trying to bring Washington and North Korea closer together.
Now we know that President Moon had a phone call with President Trump on Tuesday night local time, a 50-minute conversation. They agreed to meet in New York at the U.N. General Assembly. That's later on in September. That will be just after President Moon has met Kim Jong- un. So he will be able to brief President Trump in person.
He also had a few positive words to say about Mr. Trump's behavior towards North Korea and towards the talks that are happening at the moment, saying it's his decisiveness that has led to this point. But certainly what we're seeing is more of a push from South Korea at this point than we are from the U.S. -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes, and, of course, South Korea wants to keep President Trump and the United States happy. He's been very careful there.
But from the North Korean perspective, how much of this is about squeezing the U.S. out of the picture?
HANCOCKS: Well, we did see a statement today that was posted on the foreign ministry's website in North Korea, saying that what they wanted was a declaration to the end of war. The Korean War back in 1953 ended in an armistice.
We've heard from North and South Korean leaders, after their meeting in April in Panmunjom at the DMZ, that they want to try to declare the end of the Korean War by the end of this year.
Now that will be one of the key topics at the summit this month as well. But what North Korea's calling for is for Washington to be on board with this, to declare the end of the war as well. North Korea wants a peace treaty. They want things that go with the peace treaty as well. But Washington wants to see denuclearization first.
So there is really a very strong split between North Korea and the United States as to which should come first. That's really where the sticking point is at this point -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: All right. Our Paula Hancocks, bringing us up to date on the situation there in Seoul, South Korea. Thanks for that.
Frustration growing in Iraq as politicians struggle to form a new government after inconclusive parliamentary elections in May. Many in the oil-rich south are frustrated with poor basic services, water pollution and unemployment. Five people were killed Tuesday during the latest clashes between protesters and security forces in Basra.
Prime minister Haider al Abadi says his cabinet will investigate the unrest in Iraq's second biggest city. Many Iraqis are still angry with the political elite, which is widely seen as corrupt.
A devastating cultural and academic loss in Brazil may have been preventable. Brazil's oldest and most important museum was gutted in a massive fire Sunday night. Most of the museum's precious and irreplaceable collections are now feared lost forever. As Clare Sebastian reports, many blame the government for years of the neglect.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The rubble still smolders two days after fire ripped through the 200-year-old Brazil National Museum. As firefighters begin their investigation into the cause of the blaze, the finger-pointing is well under way.
These protesters blame the government for diverting critical funds away from the museum's restoration.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The museum is part of Rio's federal university and most of the protesters are students. University and museum officials say the museum's budget has been repeatedly slashed. Brazil's minister of culture says there was a sprinkler system in place. It wasn't enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This fire has been caused by several years of neglect by the federal government. Our anthropology program suffered absurd budget cuts these two last years.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Although the extent of the damage remains unknown, Brazil's oldest and most important historical museum has been gutted. It was home to 20 million artifacts, spanning 11,000 years, most of its collections are now feared lost, including priceless artifacts from the pre-Colombian period.
And officials from Rio's civil defense apartment say the building itself is still at risk of collapsing.
Employees, researchers and academics shed tears as they stood outside the destroyed museum.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): During the cleanup process and the aftermath, we're going to have the participation of museum employees. It will be a slow process so that we can, who knows, recover a fragment, something that could still have historic value.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): One museum curator rushed to collect what was left of the meteorite exhibit before it could be swept away with other debris. Brazil's minister of culture says he hopes the building can be rebuilt and some artifacts can still be salvaged.
He also wants to start a campaign to encourage collectors to donate or sell their collections to the museum so they can start again -- Clare Sebastian, CNN.
CHURCH: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, the wives of two Reuters reporters sentenced to hard labor in Myanmar are begging for their release.
Plus, a dire new prediction about the future of U.S. elections from the former head of security for Facebook.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. Want to update you now on the main stories we've been following.
[02:30:00] CHURCH: Well, now to Myanmar where two Reuters' journalists sentenced to seven years of hard labor will appeal their sentence.
Their case has been widely seen as a test of press freedoms in the Asian nation. Our Alexandra Field has this report.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists sentenced to seven years in prison in Myanmar. The ruling now sparking international outrage and heartbreak at home. Wa Lone's wife gave birth to the couple's child while her husband sat behind bars. Kyaw Soe Oo's wife is raising a three-year- old daughter.
CHIT SU WIN, KYAW SOE OO'S WIFE (via translator): I feel it is totally unfair to be convicted for seven years. He is the best husband ever to me. I will teach my daughter to be proud of her father. I hope the state will have mercy on them. I want to have a happy family.
FIELD: The ruling can be appealed in two higher courts. The journalists were detained last December. They say they were framed by police while investigating the killings of 10 Rohingya Muslim men. Reuters' editor-in-chief Stephen Adler has vowed to fight the verdict blasting the case here on CNN. STEPHEN ADLER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REUTERS: The very arrest and the
indictment was based on no evidence whatsoever as your report I think your report showed very well. They were set up. The documents that were placed on them were done, were placed there so that they would be arrested.
FIELD: The U.S. Embassy in Myanmar calls the conviction of the journalists a major setback to the government of Myanmar's stated goal of expanding democratic freedoms. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley tweets, we will continue to call for their immediate and unconditional release describing the conviction as another terrible stain on the Burmese government. Last week, a U.N. fact-finding mission accused Myanmar's top military leaders of genocide in its investigation into the deaths of thousands of Rohingya Muslims and the exodus of hundreds of thousands.
The same report said the country's de facto leader, Nobel Prize winner leader Aung San Suu Kyi failed to use her moral authority to stem the violence. Myanmar's government says it's conducting its own investigation. The families of both jailed journalists say they have petitioned Myanmar's top leaders to help. For now, they only have hope. Alexandra Field, CNN, Hong Kong.
CHURCH: Two of the top executives from the tech world will be on Capitol Hill in the coming day. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey are set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. They're expected to face tough questions about what their companies are doing to fight election interference. Google's Larry Page was also invited but he declined. Well, the former head of security for Facebook has some dire predictions about the future of cybersecurity. He spoke with CNN's Laurie Segall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX STAMOS, FORMER CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, FACEBOOK: The political polarization on election hacking is a horrible, horrible problem for our country. It is the reason why we are not much better shape in 2018 than we were in 2016. If you don't have everybody accepting that this happened, how can you move on and fix the fundamental problems? You know, two years after Pearl Harbor, the United States had quadrupled the size of our navy.
Two years on from the election and people are still arguing whether we were even attacked and I find that amazing.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: So you were in the room, what do you say to them?
STAMOS: The first, there was a concerted campaign by the government of the Russian Federation to influence the 2016 election. That campaign to drive wedges into American society has not stopped. If anything it's intensified. We have the risk of turning our elections into the world cup of information warfare where everybody wants to have a piece in it because we have not demonstrated that we will punish countries that do this to us and we have not addressed the fundamental issues that caused us to get here in the first place.
In the spring of 2017, at this point we had a reasonably good understanding of the classes of issues we're dealing with. We went and proactively talked to the House and Senate Intel Committees.
SEGALL: What were those conversations like?
STAMOS: Considering how much things blew up later in the year, there was a lot less interest from Congress than I would have expected in the spring. Yes. So most of the Republicans were not interested in revisiting what happened in 2016 and because we were not directly talking about activity by the Trump campaign, it was some less interest to democratic side. I was honestly a little bit disappointed that there wasn't more interest at the time.
SEGALL: Because for you it felt like this is a pretty big deal?
STAMOS: It felt like a massive deal and also one of the conversations we wanted to start was the fact that collectively we had kind of all fallen down, to say we need some more help here, right?
[02:35:10] We get help on terrorism issues. We get help on, you know, traditional hacking from the North Koreans or Iranians. We're not getting help on this. And as a result, we were completely on our own in trying to find it and understand it. When you get Iran involved, when the Chinese are involved, when the North Koreans get involved, there is not going to be any political party or any candidate who is safe from these kinds of attacks and we're going to have to demonstrate that collectively the tech companies, law enforcement, other parts of the government are going to be open about what is going on so people can make intelligent decisions before they vote.
SEGALL: Those things you say are very powerful, but how do you actually do it?
STAMOS: It is hard. It's -- if you look at what's happened to Facebook for the last couple of years, it's reasonable to think that transparency is actually a bad idea, right? No company has come out and talked more about these issues and no company has therefore gotten more criticism. Any content decision we make, any step we take to try to do something that sounds not controversial like protect an election will be portrayed by somebody else as being a partisan decision.
But I think we're just now getting to the point where the transparency is going to start to pay off.
CHURCH: All right. We'll take a very short break here. But still to come, Tropical Storm Gordon makes landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast and it's already proving to be a deadly and dangerous storm. We're back with that.
CHURCH: A shocking find in Botswana. The remains of 87 elephants killed and mutilated for their tusks. The tragedy has outraged people around the world including those whose life work is trying to ensure the creatures survive. CNN's David McKenzie has more.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a devastating blow for conservationists as elephants in Botswana face an imminent threat. And I must warn you, some of these images are disturbing.
MCKENZIE: Shot by poachers, their tusks brutally hacked out for ivory. It's an elephant slaughter on an epic scale. In an aerial survey, scientists in Northern Botswana counting 87 elephant carcasses so far. They're only halfway done. Four years ago, they counted less than 10. Scientist Mike Chase calls the massacre shocking and unprecedented. Botswana long thought as a safe haven for the herds. In 2016, CNN reported on Chase's work leading the great elephant census, a continent-wide aerial count.
This study showed that in less than a decade, elephant numbers had plummeted by at least 30 percent across Africa mostly killed by poachers driven by the insatiable demand for ivory in Asia.
MIKE CHASE, ELEPHANT ECOLOGIST: It's incredibly disheartening because I know that historically these ecosystems supported many thousands of elephants compared to the few hundreds or tens of elephants.
[02:40:07] MCKENZIE: The global outcry of ivory helped to persuade China to ban all trade at the beginning of this year, but it's not working. Recently, CNN investigated the illegal trade in nearby Mozambique finding poachers still active and syndicates operating unabated despite the ban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) elephant number (INAUDIBLE)
MCKENZIE: Even with the help of GPS, we found just one herd in the expansive mass the reserve that should hold tens of thousands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's an elephant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I got one. I got one.
MCKENZIE: The new killing fields in Botswana are even more disturbing as they are deep in conservation and popular tourist territory usually a stronghold of the species.
MCKENZIE: Earlier this year, the Government of Botswana disarmed anti-poaching units in national parks and scientists like Chase believe that could have opened the door for more poaching. David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.
CHURCH: And Botswana is calling the accusations of increased poaching unsubstantiated and sensational media reports. In a statement posted on Facebook, the Government of Botswana said that it wishes to inform members of the public and other key stakeholders that these statistics are false and misleading. At no point in the last months or recently were 87 or 90 elephants killed in one incident in any place in Botswana.
The government suggests the number of elephants killed is actually in the 50s and it insists a majority of the animals were not poached but rather died from natural causes and retaliatory kills as a result of conflicts between humans and wildlife. Well, Tropical Storm Gordon has made landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Residents in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi were cautioned about a wall of water that could inundate low-lying coastal areas.
One death is reported in Florida. A tree fell on a mobile home killing a child. In Japan, a record-breaking typhoon has left at least eight people dead and hundreds injured. The storm tore through the mainland with fierce winds and rain. CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater has more.
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TOM SATER, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: A roof is ripped from a building in Japan. A turbulent calling card from the then Typhoon Jebi, the strongest storm to hit the mainland in 25 years. Howling winds hailed its arrival which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. Before its landfall midday on Tuesday, it had sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour. The powerful system overturned vehicles and left more than a million and a half people without power.
The government issued evacuation advisories to more than a million people many heeding the warnings and staying off the streets which were filled with pelting rain and flying debris. The storms submerge. Kansai International Airport, flooding runways, and forcing hundreds of flights to be cancelled. Parking decks and other structures look like waterfalls because of the run-off waters. Nearby, a 2,500-ton fuel tanker collided with a bridge after being swept up in the strong currents.
Jebi has dumped more than 50 centimeters of rain on parts of Japan with the Capital Tokyo spared from the full force of the storm. Tom Sater, CNN, Atlanta.
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CHURCH: And thanks for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. World Sport is up next. And I'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM in 15 minutes. Don't go anywhere. Stay with us.
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