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Trump on Woodward Book; Kavanaugh Hearing Contentious Start; Social Media Executives on Capitol Hill; Turning Points Story of Marcus Thomas. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 5, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Confirmation hearing all day. You talk about race, Charlottesville obviously comes up in this book.


BERMAN: The president sort of went everywhere after that story.

RUDDY: Right. I think the president --

BERMAN: Also he said in this book, he said the biggest mistake he made -- he's quoted as saying the biggest mistake he made is when he tried to backtrack or apologize on Charlottesville. That was the biggest mistake I f-ing made. You never make those concessions. You never apologize. I didn't do anything wrong in the first place, why look weak?

RUDDY: I think the president could do more on bridging racial divide. I think he could do better by reducing the rhetoric. Sometimes his rhetoric is not as sensitive as it should be for a head of state. And I think he comes out of a long career in show business. You knew him -- and many people here -- for 15 years where he liked to just speak his mind. I don't think he -- I think there should be a review process for Twitter.

I'm personally very strongly for legal immigration. I want more of it in this country. There's things -- many things I disagree with our president with. But the personal view of him that he's just this mean, nasty guy, this is not really an accurate portrayal and I want people to keep an open mind.

BERMAN: Chris Ruddy, you're obviously a very good friend and you're -- good of you to coming on the show and talk to us. I appreciate it.

RUDDY: All right. Thank you for having me on.

BERMAN: Thanks, Chris.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, it is day two of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings that will begin in about an hour or so. It was a very contentious start. So we have a senator in the middle of all of it joining us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:35:23] CAMEROTA: OK, in one hour, Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh will face questions from senators when his confirmation hearing resumes. Democrats on Monday repeatedly tried to delay this hearing to protest that last-minute document dump.



SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn.

GRASSLEY: The American people --

BLUMENTHAL Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.

GRASSLEY: (INAUDIBLE) heard directly from Judge Kavanaugh later this afternoon.

BLUMENTHAL: Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.


CAMEROTA: All right, that was Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, who joins us now.

Good morning, senator.


CAMEROTA: All right, you were trying to move to adjourn and you had some fans there, some of the protesters in the courtroom who agreed with that. You're -- you were trying to make the case that you and the other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee hadn't had enough time to pore through the 42,000 documents that you had gotten just the night before, but you lost that argument. And so how are you prepared today?

BLUMENTHAL: We're going to be asking tough questions about the issues that are at stake here. And so much is at stake.

The Republicans have broken all the rules and norms by continuing to conceal these tens of thousands of documents. But the American people have to see what this nominee's views are on whether Americans continue to be protected from health care abuses and pre-existing conditions, whether women can continue to decide whether they have children and when and whether gun violence protections continue in effect, whether there's an imperial presidency.

This nominee has taken the position that the president, in effect, is above the law. He can refuse to enforce laws that he deems unconstitutional and he can fire the special counsel. That's what he's advocated for, any reason or no reason at all. And, remember, the president, who's nominated Brett Kavanaugh, has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator. And so this nominee may be the crucial swing vote on the president's own criminal culpability. There's a lot at stake here.

CAMEROTA: Well, moments ago one of your colleagues, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, suggested that the Democrats have all of the vital information they need about Brett Kavanaugh's record and his past. So here is Senator Grassley.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It's irrelevant to his being a judge. And not only that, but remember what Schumer and Leahy have said in the past, that the best judge of whether a candidate should be on the Supreme Court or not is where the cases they've already heard in lower courts. And this person has 307 cases, 10,000 or 11,000 pages that people can go by.


CAMEROTA: Basically suggesting that all of the documents that you're asking for are not as relevant as his court cases. Fair?

BLUMENTHAL: As a prosecutor, Alisyn, I want to know about that crucial period in his professional life. And he's called it the most formative period when he was staff secretary to President Bush. That's three years when he may have done things and said things that are directly relevant. They are very, very important to assessing his legal career. And, by the way, his opinions indicate that he may overturn Roe v. Wade, that he would strike down gun violence protections, that he would strike down also consumer and workers' right protections. His opinions are certainly relevant. But his entire record has to be assessed.

CAMEROTA: I don't have to tell you that you don't have the numbers -- the Democrats don't have the numbers to try to stop him from being confirmed. So in terms of the questions that you're going to ask him today, which you've just outlined for us, is that in hopes of -- is there any possibility that you think you could flip some Republican votes, or is this just so that the public is more aware?

BLUMENTHAL: The Republican leadership has broken the norms by concealing these documents. And my colleagues have to ask themselves, what is the administration hiding? Why -- what are they scared of the American people seeing? Because here's something very important, Alisyn. These documents will all come out in the next two or three years. History will judge them harshly for being complicit in concealing something that's relevant to assessing Judge Kavanaugh's record.

So I think we can persuade some of my Republican colleagues. And the jury here is not just in the hearing room. The courtroom is really the court of public opinion. And the American people have a right to know what's in these documents, but also to hear his response to these key questions on Roe v. Wade, on gun violence protection, on the imperial presidency that he would seem to favor on all of these issues that make such a difference. [08:40:15] CAMEROTA: I've heard enough Democrats now ask the question, what is he hiding, that that's either a talking point that you all have discussed, or you think that there is something that's being hidden.

BLUMENTHAL: There is potentially something being hidden. No question about it.

CAMEROTA: Like what?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, for example, his views on whether documents were illegally taken from Democratic staff members in the early 2000s in the Bush administration. What his views were and his participation on illegal practices regarding detention and torture. These kinds of issues, whether he was truthful in the 2006 confirmation hearing when he became a judge on the court of appeals. There are a lot of areas where there's smoke. And as a prosecutor for many years, I can tell you, I want to know whether there's fire.

CAMEROTA: OK, very quickly. You're from Connecticut. New England, of course. So I want to ask you about what happened last night in Massachusetts where this progressive candidate, Ayanna Pressley, beat the ten-term incumbent, also a progressive, Michael Capuano. Is this somehow the future of the Democratic Party?

BLUMENTHAL: The future of the Democratic Party is in the energy and passion and the really amazing turnout that we saw in Massachusetts for this new candidate. And the newness, the energy, the passion I think all bodes well for our party, even though the incumbent was a fine man with a good record. The kinds of turnout we saw I think are a positive sign.

CAMEROTA: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much for the preview of what to expect today and beyond. Great to talk to you.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.


BERMAN: All right, we do have breaking news.

British authorities believe that Russian spies carried out that nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom. Who are these people? We have new details, next.


[08:46:10] BERMAN: We are following breaking news. British authorities have charged two Russian nationals, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov in connection with that nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter. British Prime Minister Theresa May says the suspects were officers in the Russian military intelligence service and says the attack was not a rogue operation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THERESA MAY, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: The actions of the GRU are a threat to all our allies and to all our citizens. And on the basis of what we have learned in the Salisbury investigation, and what we know about this organization more broadly, we must now step up our collective efforts specifically against the GRU.


BERMAN: Sergei Skripal and his daughter were both poisoned in Salisbury in March. They were hospitalized but survived the attempt to kill them.

CAMEROTA: All right, on a much lighter note, late night comics are having a ball with Bob Woodward's new book. Here are your late night laughs.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": "The Washington Post" has released some of Bob Woodward's expose of the Trump administration "Fear." A book named after the emotion Trump feels wherever he sees a book.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": The president was upset that he wasn't interviewed for the book. In fact, he even called Bob Woodward to say so. And Woodward got that all on tape. It's quite a conversation. It's really unbelievable. At this point the Trump administration has had more men-tell-alls than "The Bachelorette."

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": President Trump once told Rudy Giuliani that he was a baby. And then, out of habit, he added, but I'm not the father.

COLBERT: Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis struggled to convince the president to keep troops in South Korea. Afterwards Mattis told associates that the president acted like and had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader. It's all in the hit new game show "are you smarter than the president?" The show where everyone's a winner.


CAMEROTA: Was that Jeff Foxworthy, in this picture that they used there? That's awesome.

BERMAN: These guys were all on vacation for two weeks and you could tell they were itching to get back in their game.

CAMEROTA: And unshaven.

BERMAN: Interesting. What does that mean?

CAMEROTA: Coincidence?

BERMAN: It gets a rash.

All right, social media executives on Capitol Hill today to answer questions about what their companies are doing to thwart Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections. Details ahead.


[08:52:34] CAMEROTA: OK, so, today, executives for FaceBook and Twitter are set to be grilled on Capitol Hill about what they are doing to stop foreign efforts from influencing American elections.

Joining us now is CNN's Laurie Segall. She's spoken with all of the key players from Twitter and FaceBook.

Laurie, what have they told you?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Look, in the last year, I spoke to Mark Zuckerberg, who said I never envisioned this happening when I was making, you know, FaceBook out of my dorm room. We talked to Ed Williams, the founder of Twitter, who said we were too naive. And I think now we're at this pivotal moment where these companies realizing they're not just platforms, there are very real and serious consequences.

So today you'll have Sheryl Sandberg, you'll have Jack Dorsey answering about what they've been doing. You know, this -- this hearing is going to be very different this morning than it was a year ago because it's looking forward. It's saying, this is what we've done to protect folks from -- you know, from -- as we head towards the midterms. This is what we're doing. They've taken down many pages. They've done quite a bit. And I think this is going to be them answering the senator's questions, which hopefully will be a little more tech savvy than when they -- when they ask questions of Mark Zuckerberg. But they'll be answering questions and hopefully able to be forward thinking rather than looking back.

BERMAN: One of the questions I expect you will hear from Republicans is this notion that there's a conservative bias or a bias against conservatives in social media, either within the logarithms in FaceBook or in these so-called shadow bans on Twitter.

SEGALL: Sure, I -- and I think we'll see Jack Dorsey try to get ahead of that. He's at a hearing later today. And I've actually read his testimony. And he says that he's really trying to get in front of this in the testimony. He says conservative voices have a strong presence on Twitter. He goes on to say, we don't shadow ban people based on political ideology.

They're under fire in the last year because people don't understand exactly how Twitter works and Twitter hasn't exactly made it clear how Twitter works and what type of content they take down, what they moderate. And I think, you know, it's time for the CEO of the company to answer those questions and give a little bit more clear answer. I think sometimes you think they wake up and decide something shouldn't be on the platform. I think they're going to see that today. And this will be a very political event. It will be interesting to watch Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg take the hot seat.

CAMEROTA: Very, because, I mean, they have not been -- let's be honest -- SEGALL: Yes.

CAMEROTA: They have not been transparent, and today they may have to be.

SEGALL: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: So, thank you very much, Laurie, for all of that reporting.

OK, CNN's special coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearing will pick up after this short break with Wolf Blitzer.

But first, we leave you with this week's "Turning Points."

BERMAN: An accident left Marcus Thomas --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The one consistent thing in our lives that has given him purpose is painting.

[08:55:01] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Marcus Thomas did not plan on being a painter. But at age 26, the avid outdoorsman hit a tree while skiing.

MARCUS THOMAS: The right people were in place to save my life, resuscitated me three times on the way to the hospital.

GUPTA: Marcus was paralyzed from the neck down. While adjusting to his new life, a gift from future wife Ann helped Marcus picture what could be possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I bought him the water colors. He started painting. And that was it. I mean he was hooked.

THOMAS: I had never painted. Not even doodle. It gave me that little bit of purpose. So I just had one brush and I just mixed my colors. All I need is Ann or someone to squeeze the paint out for me.

GUPTA: The passion turned into a profession.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we just started doing the art shows. And as time progressed, we just started doing more and more shows. And now it's just what we do.

THOMAS: I realized I could live outdoors through my paintings. The freedom of thought is much the same as the freedom of flight.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.



[09:00:01] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to CNN's special live coverage of the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.