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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Kavanaugh Takes Pointed Questions From Dems; Sen. Harris Questions Kavanaugh After Tense Exchange On Mueller; Kavanaugh Questioned On Capitol Hill For Nearly 10 Hours. Aired at 7-8p ET
Aired September 6, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITEE: -- I have shared with you that other nominees sitting at that desk or some desk like that have committed to recusing. There have been circumstances where they have committed. So, is it your opinion then that they violated some ethical code or rule?
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I don't know all the circumstances but I believe those were situations that were required recusals where they had previously had to recuse and were simply indicating their required recusals. But I don't know all the circumstances.
A discretionary recusal is a commitment to get a job or discretionary nonrecusal as a commitment to get a job, either direction, would be violating my independence as a judge, as a sitting judge and as a nominee to the court.
HARRIS: OK. It is clear you're unwilling at this point to commit to recusal so we can move on.
One of your mentors, Justice Kennedy, wrote landmark opinions in the area of LGBTQ rights that have had a major impact on the lives of many Americans. Let's discuss one of those cases and that's the Obergefell case. You know, Obergefell as you know the court held that same sex couples have a right to marry. My question is whether the Obergefell case was correctly decided in your opinion?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in a series of five cases, Romer v. Evans --
HARRIS: If we can just talk about Obergefell that would be great.
KAVANAUGH: I want to explain it.
HARRIS: I actually know the history leading up to Obergefell. So can you just please address your comments to Obergefell?
KAVANAUGH: So, I'd like to explain it if I can. He wrote the majority opinion in Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor, Obergefell, and Masterpiece Cakeshop, concluding in Masterpiece Cakeshop, importantly, with a statement, if I could just read this --
HARRIS: No, please don't, because I actually have read it, and I'm sure most have. My question is very specific. Can you comment, on your personal opinion, on whether Obergefell was correctly decided? It's a yes or no. Please.
KAVANAUGH: In Masterpiece Cakeshop, and this is, I think, relevant to your question, Justice Kennedy wrote, in the majority opinion joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Alito, and Justice Gorsuch, and Justice Breyer, and Justice Kagan, the days of discriminating against gay and lesbian Americans, or treating gay and lesbian Americans as inferior in dignity and worth, are over, to paraphrase him.
HARRIS: Do you agree with that statement?
KAVANAUGH: That is the precedent of the Supreme Court agreed with by --
HARRIS: You, sir. I'm asking your opinion. You're the nominee right now, and so it is probative of your ability to serve on the highest court in our land. So I'm asking you a very specific question. Either you're willing to answer it or not, and if you're not willing to answer it, we can move on. But do you believe Obergefell was correctly decided?
KAVANAUGH: So, each of the justices have declined, as a matter of judicial independence, each of them, to answer questions in that line of cases.
HARRIS: So you will not answer that question?
KAVANAUGH: Following the precedent set by those eight justices, they've all declined when asked to answer that question.
HARRIS: Thank you. I have limited time.
KAVANAUGH: But it's important be --
HARRIS: I'd really like to move on. You've said that Brown v. Board of Education was one of the greatest moments in the court's history. Do you believe that Obergefell was also one of those moments?
KAVANAUGH: I've said, Senator, consistent with what the nominees have done, that the vast swath of modern case law, as Justice Kagan put it, you can't as a nominee in this seat give a thumbs up or thumbs down. That was -- that's her word.
HARRIS: Do you think that Obergefell was one of the great moments in the history of the Supreme Court of the United States?
KAVANAUGH: And for that reason those nominees have declined to comment on reasons cases, all of them.
HARRIS: Is it a great moment is what I'm asking you. Not to comment on the legal analysis. Do you believe that was a great moment in the history of the court?
KAVANAUGH: Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion saying the days of treating gay and lesbian Americans, or gay and lesbian couples, as second-class citizens or inferior in dignity or worth are over in the Supreme Court. That's a very important statement, Senator.
HARRIS: I agree. That's why I think you repeated it. Thank you.
Let's move on. Over the last several months we have all witnessed the inhumane and heartbreaking separation of immigrant children from their families by this administration. Despite a court order requiring the administration to reunite them over a month ago, nearly 500 immigrant children are still separated from their parents. Do you believe that constitutional rights of parents, specifically fundamental due process rights are implicated in such family separations?
[19:04:59] KAVANAUGH: Senator, that is a matter of pending litigation I believe and as a sitting judge on the D.C. circuit or as a nominee, I of course can't comment.
HARRIS: Have you watched the coverage of any of these cases on television or have you read about the experience those parents and those children have had?
KAVANAUGH: I have seen some television.
HARRIS: In the 1889 Chinese exclusion case, the Supreme Court permitted a ban on Chinese people entering the United States. The court said the Chinese people are "impossible to assimilate with our people," and said they were immigrating in numbers, "approaching an invasion." This case has never been explicitly overruled. You've said you'd be willing to talk about older cases, so can you tell me, was the United States Supreme Court correct in holding that Chinese people could be banned from entering our country?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, the cases in the 1890s as you know --
HARRIS: 1889 to be specific.
KAVANAUGH: OK. In that era reflect discriminatory attitudes by the Supreme Court. Of course, that's the era also of Plessy v. Ferguson.
HARRIS: So would you be willing to say that was incorrectly decided?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, I don't want to opine on a case -- particular case without looking at it and studying the discrimination.
HARRIS: Are you aware that that case has not been overturned?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, I know that with a number of the cases like Korematsu -- let me use that as an example.
HARRIS: Which we've discussed earlier. But in this particular case in particular, were you aware that it had not been overturned
KAVANAUGH: Senator, I realized that there's still cases in the immigration context --
HARRIS: Have you ever written about any of those cases and your thoughts about whether they should be re-examined or potentially overturned and sometimes obviously they should be overturned? KAVANAUGH: Well, there is a swath of cases.
HARRIS: Have you talked about this case ever?
KAVANAUGH: I do not -- I do not believe. I'm happy to be refreshed if you have something that suggests I have.
HARRIS: No, it's actually a question.
HARRIS: And under the constitution, Judge, do you believe that Congress or the president can ban entry into the United States on the basis of race?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, that was of course one of the issues that was just in litigation and there's still litigation about the immigration laws and how exclusions --
HARRIS: You're not going to answer that?
KAVANAUGH: That's pending litigation so I think I as a matter of independence and precedent --
HARRIS: Will not answer that. That's fine. Let's move on. In 2013 Texas passed a law that imposed new restrictions on health care facilities that provide abortions. The effect was that after the law was passed, half of those facilities closed which severely limited access to health care for the women of Texas.
In 2016, Whole Woman's Health was decided where in the Supreme Court invalidated the Texas restrictions. Was Whole Woman's Health correctly decided? Yes or no. And we can keep it short and move on.
KAVANAUGH: Senator, consistent with the approach of nominees --
HARRIS: You will not be answering that?
KAVANAUGH: -- following that nominee precedent.
HARRIS: OK. I'd like to ask you another question which I believe you can answer. You've said repeatedly that Roe v. Wade is an important precedent. I'd like to understand what that really means for the lives of women. We've had a lot of conversations about how the discussion we're having in this room will impact real people out there.
And so my question is what in your opinion is still unresolved? For example, can a state prevent a woman from using the most common or widely accept medical procedure to terminate her pregnancy? Do you believe that that is still an unresolved issue? I'm not asking how you would decide it.
KAVANAUGH: So I don't want to comment on hypothetical cases. Roe v. Wade is an important precedent. It's been reaffirmed many times.
HARRIS: So are you willing to say that it would be unconstitutional for a state to place such a restriction on women for Roe v. Wade?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, you can -- the precedent of the Supreme Court was -- in Roe was reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey of course and that's precedent on precedent and then there a lot of cases applying the undue burden standard and those themselves are important precedence and I have to apply them --
HARRIS: And we've discussed that many times. So I've actually had the benefit of sitting through most of the hours of your testimony the last two days.
KAVANAUGH: Thank you.
HARRIS: I know you've talked a lot about that. Can Congress ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, that would require me to comment on potential legislation that I understand and, therefore, I shouldn't as a matter of judicial independence following the precedent of nominees --
HARRIS: OK. And we can move on. I'm going to ask you about unenumerated rights.
[19:10:00] So you gave a speech praising former Justice Rehnquist's dissent in Roe. There's been much discussion about that and you wrote "celebrating his successes stemming the general tide of free willing judicial creation of unenumerated rights." That is what you said in celebration of Justice Rehnquist.
So unenumerated rights is a phrase that lawyers used, but I want to make clear what we're talking about. It means rights that are protected by the constitution even if they're not specifically mentioned in the constitution. So they're net book that you carry.
So what we're talking about is the right to vote. That's an unenumerated right, the right to have children, the right to control children, the right to control the upbringing of your children, the right to refuse medical care, the right to love the partner of your choice, the right to marry, and the right to have an abortion.
Now putting those unenumerated rights in the context of the statement you made, which was to praise the stemming of the general tide of freewheeling creation of unenumerated rights, which means you were -- the interpretation there is you were praising this quest to end those unenumerated rights. My question to you is which of the rights that I just mentioned do you want to put an end to or roll back?
KAVANAUGH: Three points, I believe, Senator. First, the constitution, it is in the book that I carry. The constitution protects unenumerated rights, that's what the Supreme Court has said.
HARRIS: But that does not explicitly protect the rights that I just listed in. And we both know that that's the case.
KAVANAUGH: Right. So that's point one. Point two is Glucksberg, the case you're referring to, specifically cited Planned Parenthood v. Casey as authority in that case. So Casey reaffirmed Roe. Casey is cited as authority in Glucksberg, that's point two. And point three, Justice Kagan when she sat in this chair pointed repeatedly to Glucksberg as the test for recognizing unenumerated rights going forward. I, in describing the president, I agree with her description of that in her hearing.
HARRIS: So -- thank you for that. So then let's put the rights that I mentioned which are unenumerated in the context of your praise of Justice Rehnquist as having stemmed the general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights. Arguably, every rights that I mentioned on that list was a judicially created unenumerated right. And my question then is when you praise a jurist who attempted to end those rights, which rights in particular do you believe are praiseworthy of ending?
KAVANAUGH: Right. So that was the test that was set forth by the Supreme Court going forward for recognition of additional unenumerated rights. That was cited as authority in that case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe.
HARRIS: So let's talk about the right to vote. Do you believe that that falls in the category of having been caught up in the general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights?
KAVANAUGH: What I was describing with Chief Justice Rehnquist and it was that description of his career was in a variety of areas. And his role --
HARRIS: Specifically, the reference was to unenumerated rights.
KAVANAUGH: Right. And in a number of areas I've described five different areas of jurisprudence where he had helped the Supreme Court achieved what I think has been a common sense middle ground that stood the test of time in terms of precedent in a variety of areas that resets how others have described it.
The Glucksberg case, as Justice Kagan explained when she was in this chair, is the case that the Supreme Court has relied on for forward looking future of recognition of unenumerated rights.
HARRIS: Thank you, sir. I'm familiar with that. I think you're not going to address the specific unenumerated rights or are you? Because if not, we can move on.
KAVANAUGH: I think I've addressed it. Thank you, Senator.
HARRIS: OK. In 2011 you were a judge on of the challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The court you sat upon held -- you dissented on procedural grounds on the court which upheld the act. One of your former law clerks described your opinion in that case, and that's the seventh sky case as, "a thorough takedown of the individual mandate." He would go on to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Kennedy that year or the next year and the Supreme Court then held -- or heard the challenge of the Affordable care act.
And according to him, your opinion was "roadmap" for the dissenting justices, the ones who would have struck down the Affordable Care Act. Given you wrote the "roadmap," according to your law clerk, could one reasonably conclude that you would have voted to strike down the Affordable Care Act had you been on be the Supreme Court?
[19:15:06] KAVANAUGH: Couple of points, Senator. First, I concluded -- in one case, I upheld the Affordable Care Act against an Origination Clause challenge. In the case you're referring to, I did not reach the merits but I discussed the merits pro that were being argued in both directions. My opinion has been described as the roadmap for both sides because I described both positions. And actually it wasn't a roadmap at all because I didn't reach --
HARRIS: You also described it as a takedown.
KAVANAUGH: Well, I speak for myself and my own opinions speak for themselves.
HARRIS: It was out of bounds. Chairman wants to close this questioning so we can leave it with that. Thank you, Judge.
KAVANAUGH: Thank you for your time, Senator.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before I call on Senator Gordon --
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. You have been listening in to Democratic Senator Kamala Harris questioning President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Another day of marathon questioning, another day marked by high drama. We're going to continue to monitor this hearing for you which is now heading into its 10th hour today.
But first, I do want to get to Phil Mattingly who has been watching the hearing all day long.
Phil, let's talk about Kamala Harris. She is at it again right when she started off with the questioning after she sparked somewhat of a mystery in her line of questioning over Kavanaugh's contacts with the law firm that first represented President Trump in the Russia investigation. Kavanaugh's answer tonight looks about as clear as you're going to get. What's this all about?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, Kate, last night after, I think, we were -- just past 12 hours of yesterday's testimony, this is one of the things that made everybody really sit up in their chair because it seemed like it came out of the blue and Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee, was clearly caught off guard by it.
What Kamala Harris was essentially asking is had he had any discussions with anybody at the Kasowitz law firm, it's used to be the personal attorney for President Trump about special counsel Mueller. Brett Kavanaugh last night was very clearly confused by the line of questioning, was trying to identify who actually worked at the firm. So he didn't think he did, but he wasn't sure because it was a large law firm, it's a firm he wasn't familiar with. That exchange caught fire. It went viral, if you want to call it that. It also raised a lot of questions as in what did Senator Harris actually have? Did she have documents? Did she have some kind of evidence? We haven't gotten great answers to that throughout the day. Brett Kavanaugh and people related to Brett Kavanaugh variously been asked about this throughout the day and said no conversation happened.
Senator Harris said a couple of times throughout the day she believed that there was still information that one existed. Well, you just saw it play out again in the questioning at the committee where Senator Harris made very clear what the question was and Brett Kavanaugh after seeking a little bit of clarification, said the answer was no.
Here's the reality here. This moment, viral as it was, sit up in your chair as it was, the person who hasn't produced any documentation or evidence of it yet has been Senator Harris. And now, Brett Kavanaugh is on the record saying firmly, no, it didn't happen. We will have to see if anything comes later. We'll note, Senator Harris said when she was asking the question that she had good reason to believe he had good information that that happened. What that information is we still don't know, Kate.
BOLDUAN: I guess we will wait and see as you said. So, Phil, another big drama moment though today is over, again, releasing documents against committee rules and it all really centered around Democratic Senator Cory Booker. What happened?
MATTINGLY: Yes, that's exactly right. Let's start with the micro and then we'll pull out a little bit. The hearing kind of devolved into a partisan shouting match this morning related to these documents that actually was another thing that happened pretty late last night. When Senator Booker started talking about e-mails that were considering committee confidential, committee members can look at them but they couldn't be released publicly.
If they are released publicly, that is against Senate rules. And one of those rules, if broken, could lead to expulsion of the Senate. So, there's a back and forth this morning. Senator Booker was talking about the need to release these e-mails and saying he was willing to do it. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY: I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate. And if Senator Cornyn believes that I violated the Senate rules, I openly invite and accept the consequences of my team releasing that e-mail right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: So, Kate, here's the interesting piece of that. That e- mail -- those had already been cleared for release by the committee when Senator Booker did that. Republicans had work through the night to actually get those e-mails cleared and release them. So the demonstration you saw wasn't necessarily in line with the reality. But the more interesting element, kind of the broader picture here is the frustration that Democrats have had about the entire document process. The paper trill for Brett Kavanaugh in lights on in the government service is enormous. A lot of those documents either haven't been released at all or are only privy to U.S. senators. Democrats say that is keeping key issues away from his record and their frustration continues and, Kate, Brett Kavanaugh has done testifying in just a few hours.
[19:20:03] BOLDUAN: Phil -- who knows, Phil? Thank you so much. In your cast, we're keeping eye on it. Appreciate it.
All right. Let's talk about this right now. OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, he is top the Democrat on the House Judiciary.
Congressman, thanks for coming in.
REP. JERRY NADLER, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It's a pleasure.
BOLDUAN: Let's start with where Phil let off. Senator Cory Booker and those documents, the e-mails, Republicans are calling him out now for really making a total show of it only because -- and this is what Republicans are saying, because of 2020 presidential aspirations. Was that all a show in your view?
NADLER: No. The Republicans made clear that they weren't going to release those documents and many other documents that's still haven't been released. I assumed that Senator Booker, when he was talking about that, assumed that those documents wouldn't be released by the time they released them. And he may not have known that they have been cleared. They're cleared apparently early --
BOLDUAN: Don't you think that's something you'd check on if you had the OK so you don't have to have this argument at the moment?
NADLER: I don't think they had the OK in advance. I think it came through with the last minute from what I'm hearing. But in any event, the real issue is that the Republicans are still withholding and rushing the hearing despite hundreds of thousands of relevant documents that haven't been released. And the real question is where do they have to hide? I mean this is being rushed forward when we're told that hundreds of thousands of documents cannot possibly be released until even October I think.
BOLDUAN: There is lot of documents that our tribe (ph) are still working through and that's definitely part of this whole fight.
NADLER: The real question is what do they have to hide? You know, this is a lifetime appointment of incredible consequence and we got to know everything about the nominee. And the nominee is sitting there and refusing to answer any relevant question.
BOLDUAN: I wouldn't say that. You can't go that far. I mean you're saying -- NADLER: Almost that far. He's ducking everything that's hypothetical. He doesn't -- others have done this too but it makes the Senate hearings at farce. You don't really get a sense of where he's going to be and he doesn't have to do that.
BOLDUAN: What do you make then of Kamala Harris's insinuation? This back and forth that we were just seeing play out, that Kavanaugh was holding back somehow about his contacts with Trump's old law firm in the Russia investigation about that very same Russia investigation?
NADLER: I don't know what to make about that. I have no information.
BOLDUAN: Do you think -- I mean, do you think it's another -- well, you don't think that's a show. Is this a show?
NADLER: No. I assume she knows -- she has something to base it on when she's talking about and we'll find out.
BOLDUAN: In the end, Republicans say -- I mean they said very clearly in the hearing, Brett Kavanaugh is going to get confirmed. They have the numbers that they hold together. Do you concede at this point, Congressman, that is a foreground conclusion?
NADLER: Do I concede what?
BOLDUAN: That he's going to get confirmed as a foreground conclusion?
NADLER: I don't think it's a foreground conclusion. I think unfortunately, it's highly likely. I think it would be a very destructive of women's rights and of health care, and of rights of working people against major corporations. I think he's going to be very solicitous of letting the corporations run politics by unlimited campaign contributions and he won't let Congress regulate them. I think he's going to be a very disruptive Supreme Court justice.
I am afraid that if the Republicans won't stand firm, I have to say I think Susan Collins if she is -- and Senator Murkowski, if they are really pro-choice, they should know that by voting to approve Senator Kavanaugh, they'll be voting for the end of abortion rights in the country essentially and they have to know that regardless of his evasions on the witness stand.
BOLDUAN: I want to turn right now to this "New York Times" opinion piece, Congressman. The list of cabinet officials now and other top officials denying that they wrote it. It keeps growing and growing and growing. I mean do you take them at their word when they deny writing the opinion piece?
NADLER: Well, I think you have to take at their word all the people are denying it except one. I don't know who that one is. Somebody wrote it. And that's somebody, I assume, will deny it. Everybody else is telling the truth.
BOLDUAN: Do you think the identity of the writer matters?
NADLER: Yes, I think it matters in the sense of how serious we should take this piece. If this writer was a very low level person, and it's interesting. But if he were a high level person cabinet rank or high ranking national security council or whatever, becomes a much more important piece and you have to take it much more seriously, obviously.
BOLDUAN: John Kerry says it's pushed us into a constitutional crisis. Do you think we're there?
NADLER: I think we're getting into a constitutional crisis. I mean we now have a lot of evidence that the president is incapable of performing his duties, that maybe the 25th Amendment. It should be invoked from people around that are saying it.
BOLDUAN: Do you think so?
NADER: I don't know. I don't have the evidence. But people around him are telling Bob Woodward, people around -- one of the people that wrote this said that he's irrational, as he has the understanding of a sixth grader. This could be very, very dangerous, especially --
[19:25:08] BOLDUAN: What more evidence do you need to see?
NADLER: Since he's got the fingers on the nuclear button.
BOLDUAN: If you think we're going that direction, what more evidence do you need to see where you're going to be calling for the 25th Amendment?
NADLER: I don't know. I'm not in a position to see that evidence, but if more people come out and say -- let me just say this.
NADLER: Whoever wrote that anonymously, not as a matter of national security, but as a matter of patriotism, or they come out and say so publicly. And if the people who talked about Woodward are telling the truth, which I assume they are, they got to say so publicly. So we have the evidence and we know what kind of a crisis we're dealing with.
BOLDUAN: So do you think this person is a patriot or a gutless coward as Trump puts it?
NADLER: He's a patriot but he's also -- I don't know about a gutless coward but he's not showing a greatest courage.
BOLDUAN: He or she because we still do not know.
NADLER: He or she. And the same goes for all the people talked about Woodward, someone who observes the president behaving in a dangerous way, dangerous to the lives and safety of Americans ought to come out and say so, so we can deal with it.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for coming in. I appreciate your time.
NADLER: You're welcome.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, we're following some breaking news. National security advisor John Bolton, FBI Director Christopher Wray, they, just moments ago, are also denying that they wrote the anonymous "New York Times" op ed. They are joining a long list of those officials, senior administration officials as the White House grappled with the fallout of this "New York Times" piece.
Plus, the with hunt to uncover who wrote that piece. One top Republican suggesting White House aides undergo lie detector tests. And remembering a legend tonight, actor Burt Reynolds dead at the age of 82. Tonight, we look at his extraordinary life and career.
[19:30:43] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Tonight breaking news. FBI Director Christopher Wray, national security adviser John Bolton just moments ago denying they wrote the anonymous "New York Times" op-ed. This comes as the White House is really struggling to get ahead of the scathing piece by a senior Trump administration official.
The White House wanted a, quote/unquote, coordinated response to the piece according to another administration official. Instead, we are seeing one denial after another, a flood of them really, at least 27 denials now from the highest echelons of the Trump administration.
Vice President Mike Pence moving very quickly to say he did not write the critical essay. His office releasing a statement first saying this: The vice president puts his name on his op-eds. And he is not alone. I'm going to show you the list so far of everyone who has issued a denial, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, each of those denials, according to the White House, a White House official, printed and hand-delivered to the president.
But here's the thing: History has shown just because someone denies they're not the source, denies they're the source, doesn't necessarily make it true. Take Watergate. 1974, Washington was consumed with another whodunit. Who was Deep Throat?
Mark Felt, an FBI special agent, denied he was the source, leaking information to reporters about the Watergate break-in. Here it is in black and white from "The Wall Street Journal". June 25th, 1974, if you drink scotch, smoke and read, maybe you're Deep Throat. Mark Felt says he isn't now nor has he ever been Deep Throat. Flash forward 30 years, it's revealed Felt was "The Washington Post" source.
Lesson there tonight, if you want to know who's behind this whodunit, maybe wait just a minute or 30 years.
Let's get to Kaitlan Collins at the White House.
Kaitlan, what are you hearing inside the White House tonight?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're seeing these denials continue to roll in. Of course as you make that great point there, just because someone denies writing the op-ed doesn't mean they didn't write the op-ed.
But another point that you're seeing with all these denials that are coming, with these highest ranking officials in our government tripping over themselves to say that it wasn't them who trashed President Trump in that op-ed, is because they know that the president is getting all of these denials delivered to him -- hand delivered to him and printed out by aides. And he is paying attention to he is denying this and who isn't. That is why we are seeing so many officials go on the record to say, no, it wasn't me who wrote that op- ed.
Even the vice president, the defense secretary, even the labor secretary, as you showed that extensive list. That's because they know the president is keeping an eye on those people. That's because this manhunt here to find out who it is who wrote this is still very much underway, still very much a guessing game with the president who even isn't here at the White House, he's in Montana for a rally tonight, tweeting just a few minutes ago, asking if "The New York Times" reporters are going to figure out who wrote this op-ed, with the president writing on "Twitter", Kate, who is the anonymous letter writer?
That is certainly something that everyone here at the White House wants to know. We've got Sarah Sanders telling reporters they should be calling "The New York Times" to ask them who the identity of the author is instead of asking her. And then, of course, you've got one of the president's biggest allies here in Washington, Senator Rand Paul, suggesting that those White House officials who have security clearances should be taking lie detector tests to figure out who it is that's talking to the media.
While that seems like a farfetched idea, Kate, you have to keep in mind that it was Senator Rand Paul who suggested revoking John Brennan's security clearance and he listened to him. He did that. So, we'll see if he listens to that. He didn't respond to those shouted questions about it.
But, clearly, this is something that is still very much at the top of the president's mind, someone who has been paranoid before, and who was in the past thought that people were actively working against him, and now, with the release of this op-ed, he has that notion confirmed, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes. At the same time, Sarah Sanders calling this all a media obsession. So, we'll see.
OUTFRONT tonight -- thank you, Kaitlan. OUTFRONT tonight, Jamie Gangel, CNN special correspondent, David Brody, chief political analyst for the Christian Broadcasting Network, also author of "The Faith of Donald Trump", and Eliana Johnson, White House correspondent for "Politico".
Guys, it's great to see you. [19:35:00] Jamie, this list of cabinet officials and other top officials putting out a denials, I mean, it just keeps growing. I feel like I miss it if I haven't looked at my e-mail in the last two minutes.
What are you hearing? Should people take these denials as gospel or do you think people should take all of this with a grain of salt?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, your Mark Felt example and that fact that he denied that, you know, I think answers that question. Look, there's only one person, as far as we know, wrote "The New York Times" op-ed, we can assume that most of these denials are genuine.
But what is stunning here is this demand for denials. The White House -- you know, President Trump's need, it does have the feeling of a loyalty test. And even if they are making these denials, let's not forget, it doesn't mean that some of these people don't have concerns for the president, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Eliana, you've been talking to some Republicans who some of whom share the fears and concerns that are laid out in this opinion piece about the president? So, what is the impact of this then on them?
ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: That's right, Kate. You know, I think most Republicans share the concerns of the op-ed writer and most Republicans, both in the White House and on Capitol Hill have worked to rein in the president and to harness, or corral his worst instincts.
But in talking to both lawmakers and Republicans in the White House, I'm hearing a lot of concern and trepidation that if the goal of this op-ed was to actually rein in the president and continue doing that, it's going to backfire and have the opposite effect, because paranoid people actually do have enemies. And the president is acutely aware of that. And I heard -- somebody told me, you know, that when the president's advisers broke agreements with him now, he's going to become paranoid that they are out to get him and it will make him less likely to hear differing points of views and increasingly concerned with finding disloyal advisers both in the White House and on Capitol Hill.
BOLDUAN: Yes, and if that was a goal the op-ed, that could very well backfire, if he's going to listen to any adviser, could become even more reckless when it comes to that.
David, Democratic senator, she's a frequent Trump critic, she's a frequent Trump target, Senator Elizabeth Warren. She said today that the op-ed in her view is further proof that it's time for Trump to go.
Let me play you what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If the senior officials think that the president of the United States is not able to do his job, then they should invoke the 25th Amendment. The Constitution provides for a procedure whenever the vice president and senior officials think that the president can't do his job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: David, you've been talking to many in the evangelical community, an important part of the president's support and base. What is the reaction to all of this?
DAVID BRODY, CBN NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: More you power to 'em. I think it's that simple. They don't believe anything that's coming from what they call a mole, and that's an exact attribution, a quote from some of the evangelicals I'm talking to. They think there are moles in the White House. They think everybody is out to get this president.
This is what evangelicals were saying. And, look, let's be honest here. You know, Donald Trump was talking about deep state and people out to get him and oh, by the way, hmm, he's right. And I don't think there's any question about it.
So, I mean, this is a perfect storm if you think about it for Donald Trump politically at least with his evangelical base. You've got "The New York Times", or as he likes to call the failing "New York Times", you know, putting out something that's anonymous, which, of course, that's a problem in and of itself, and then you throw the deep state, establishment, never Trumper inside the White House, I mean, it is a perfect storm for evangelicals right around the midterm elections. Isn't that interesting?
BOLDUAN: You could see it working for him.
BOLDUAN: I mean, Jamie, the quest to find the author of the piece, it's definitely happening inside the White House and definitely happening outside the White House. I mean, a lot of people are focusing on one particular word to try to find -- people are focusing on anything to try to figure out what this is. But this one word, lodestar, not in everyone's vernacular. Definitely not mine.
One person who has used it many times we've all found is Vice President Mike Pence. Just watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the lodestar.
Who continues to be the lodestar.
And that's going to continue to be a lodestar.
Jack's lodestar was --
Must once again be our lode star.
Vigilance and resolve will be our lodestar.
It really was the lodestar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: If the impact of this has already been felt though, I'm just shocked he uses that word, if the impact of this has already been felt though, either damaging or beneficial, depending on how you look at this, does it matter who wrote it in the end?
GANGEL: I think it does.
[19:40:00] I just want to say when you parse the letter, and I confess I am guilty of having gone through it. I have never used the word lodestar, but I had to wonder if there were several things in there that -- to disguise who wrote it. There was a mention of McCain. There was lodestar. There was national security economic policy.
But I think in the end, what will matter is not only who the person is but how high up this goes? What is their position? What is their relationship with the president? After that, I think the question will be, do other people come forward, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Eliana, what are you hearing from your sources inside the White House, just how they function now with this all, this another storm, you know, kind of circling about?
JOHNSON: You know, this was not an isolated incident, the publication of this op-ed. It came on the heels of excerpts released from Bob Woodward's book. And that came on the heels of President Trump's essentially his exile from John McCain's funeral, which brought together the rest of Washington, including some members of Trump's cabinet. And that had him exorcised as well.
So, I think what's happened in the White House, one administration official described to me, really a meltdown with White House officials caught flat footed by this, struggling to -- not only to try to contain the president, but with how to respond themselves. And so, I think they are really trying to come up with a plan and also, they are trying to find who the author of this op-ed was. They've come up with a short list of people who they believe it is and there's going to be a really -- a real effort to ferret out the author.
BOLDUAN: They can just follow the president's example, deny, deny, deny.
David, does this strike you as a turning point or do you think this is just another blip that will soon are forgotten in this administration?
BRODY: Well, the way this has been going since day one with the Trump administration -- I mean, just give it an hour and we'll just be on to something else potentially. No, this is more than a blip, but it's not that huge. And what I mean by that, to be clear, we need to find out the rest of the details clearly. But the way this administration moves, I mean, I just don't know if it's going to have really any sustaining power.
BRODY: However, the bottom line is, you know, we've heard these words before, witch hunt, witch hunt, witch hunt, when it comes to the independent counsel, or the special counsel. Now we're going to hear it about what's going on here in Washington, deep state inside his administration. So, once again, whoever this anonymous, mister, miss, whoever it is, has really set up Donald Trump on a very positive way politically for the midterms.
BOLDUAN: Jamie, can't let you go. You also have some new reporting about Bob Woodward's book, about that opening scene of Gary Cohn's swiping a document from Trump's desk. I want to play for you what Donald Trump said about that document yesterday, which was a draft letter on a trade deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's been done for about two months and we'll do a ceremonial signing over the next very short period of time. But that was another thing in the book that was just totally false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Totally false and no documents.
GANGEL: Right. He said it was phony. Here it is. Here's the letter. I've read the book. It's in the book. It's absolutely real.
Look, what's critical about this is that it explains, it makes the case as you said according to Woodward's book, why White House aides, and this wasn't just one person, it was a group of White House officials, were so concerned about the president's, what Woodward reports, quote, dangerous impulses, his lack of understanding about foreign policy, economic policy, that they think it's a danger to national security.
I want you to know, we -- I reached out to Bob Woodward, again, today, because there have been a lot of denials, all, by the way, people who either still work for the president or are lawyers for him. And Bob Woodward says he stands by all his reporting in the book.
BOLDUAN: Jamie, great to see you. Thank you all so much. I really appreciate it.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, one Republican senator has a surprising idea for President Trump and how he can figure out who wrote that anonymous op-ed.
Plus, remembering one of Hollywood's most popular leading men, Burt Reynolds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURT REYNOLDS, ACTOR: Where are we going? No, don't tell me. Let me guess. We are a bride in search of a wedding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:47:47] BOLDUAN: Tonight, both sides of the aisle for very different reasons would like to know the identity of the senior administration official who penned that bombshell editorial in "The New York Times", but how do we figure it out, do you ask? Well, Republican Senator Rand Paul has an idea.
He says, let's -- let's all put them on a lie detector. Thought I had a sound bite but I don't. But I know what he said. He said polygraph.
Are we seriously going to see a polygraph rolling into the West Wing now? Well, let's find out.
Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for "The Nation". She's here. And Rob Astorino, member of President Trump's reelection advisory board, is here as well.
Rob, are you with Senator Rand Paul, so libertarian of him, lie detector tests -- lie detector tests?
ROB ASTORINO, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S 2020 RE-ELECT ADVISORY COUNCIL: No. I think it's silly. Honestly, I mean, look, this is an executive branch function. This is a personnel matter. This is I think -- you know, we can get into what we do about whether "The Times" should have or should not have published it. I do not think they should have anonymously. I think there are a lot of issues here that are getting into very dangerous territory.
BOLDUAN: Would you feel differently the level of the person that it is?
ASTORINO: We don't who it is.
BOLDUAN: No, but would that change your opinion?
ASTORINO: If we knew, if that person had or his name on it, I think that would be significant, yes. However, if you read "The Times" intro, and then if you read the actual op-ed --
ASTORINO: -- nowhere does it say this person is a Republican, nowhere does it say this person may or may not have been a holdover.
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: They're not.
ASTORINO: There many, many people. There could be.
BOLDUAN: The sense of the letter is pretty Republican.
ASTORINO: No, not, but that could be to throw of everything. This person could literally --
BOLDUAN: Sure. I was laughing because everything is a possibility, I guess.
ASTORINO: I know and that's the intrigue here. I think it's really dangerous what the "New York Times" did. I think their criticism is warranted in this.
WALSH: Look, Rob, I'm going to say this. If this comes out and this person is a holdover and a Democrat and a deputy so and so, I will join you right here with Kate and I will say it was wrong.
ASTORINO: Book it.
WALSH: Book it, but I don't think that's going to happen.
WALSH: They have depicted this as a news-making senior White House, excuse me, administration official. If this is somebody lower than that, we will all be disappointed and then I will say it's wrong.
[19:50:00] Right now, this sounds like what we've been hearing from the White House for a long time. We've heard from our own reporters that there is a pact -- there have been pacts between -- they're gone, Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, John Kelly, Jim Mattis -- we've heard that people are staying on their jobs, Kate, because they're afraid of this president going --
BOLDUAN: But even before then, there seems to be one more possibility about what this all is, it's all made up, because that is -- along with the denials, you also have the president questioning if the person actually exists.
WALSH: Well --
BOLDUAN: The president tweeting does the so-called senior administration official really exist? And Mike Pompeo even saying very similar. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: If this piece, if it's true, if it's accurate, if it's actually -- I think they described it as a senior administration official, they should not well have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive, bad actor's word for anything, and put it in their newspaper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: It's a lot to accuse the "New York Times" of taking something from somebody who doesn't exist. I mean, I'm a liberal and I have criticism of "The Times" all the time. But I would not say, but I would not say -- I think this was vetted very carefully.
BOLDUAN: Is that even place where they need to be?
ASTORINO: I think somebody wrote this, I just question why there's anonymous attached to it. Have the guts to come forward and take a stand.
There's some really bad accusations in there. I mean, in all due respect to Burt Reynolds who I love, his movie "The End," go watch that funny movie, but it had to do with mental institution and mental incompetency. That's what they're making this to be, the White House.
And let me tell you something, we're getting into very dangerous territory. Take Donald Trump, the person, who I know makes some people vomit just by saying Donald Trump, the resistance. But let's go to president 46, 47, 48, you cannot have subordinates taking the president's papers off his desk like Gary Cohn did because they don't agree with him, or people making this kind of accusation, that is subverting the executive branch.
BOLDUAN: That is one thing. But let's take it outside. I am interested in the impact even before you find out who the identity of this person is.
You listen to David Brody. You listen to Lindsey Graham, he says back home in his state, it's going to have zero effect.
ASTORINO: That's right.
BOLDUAN: It does not matter at all. Do you think that's the case?
WALSH: No. I think it will -- I think it continues. Kate, it backs up so many things already.
BOLDUAN: It has no impact?
WALSH: No. His approval rating is falling.
WALSH: Yes, it is.
ASTORINO: The Rasmussen poll that came out yesterday --
WALSH: Rasmussen is always the best poll for him.
WALSH: This is about Republican -- this is about Republican officeholders, this is about swing voters, this is about independents, this is about continuing -- this is another --
BOLDUAN: Would you also make the case that this could help him?
WALSH: It could help him with his base, yes, but we're not --
BOLDUAN: He doesn't need help with his base?
ASTORINO: "The New York Times" is like --
WALSH: This is what we heard from so many people already, Rob. This is just one more piece of evidence. You may not like it but it echoes --
BOLDUAN: Are you in a camp where this is a big deal or like no big deal? Because Lindsey Graham makes the case this is not a big deal.
ASTORINO: I don't think it's a big deal, honestly. I don't think it changes anyone --
BOLDUAN: But then you have Sarah Sanders saying this clearly is a big deal in this White House. That's the main thing.
WALSH: It's a big deal.
BOLDUAN: Welcome to Washington, everybody is trying to have it every way.
BOLDUAN: Rob, good see you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. So great to see you as well.
OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos remembers the heartthrob who became one of Hollywood's biggest stars. Burt Reynolds, dead tonight at the age of 82.
[19:57:38] BOLDUAN: Tonight, we remember a Hollywood icon.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From clean shaven to mustachio to bearded, Burt Reynolds's brand was good old boy.
When "Smokey and the Bandit" made it big at the box office, sales of that Pontiac Trans Am soared. Cool behind the wheel, cool with the ladies.
He called Sally Field the one who got away. Burt was married twice, his second marriage to Lonnie Anderson ended in a nasty divorce fodder for the tabloids and earned Burt a consoling call on "Larry King Live" from a fellow actor. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forget all this crap that's going on in your life.
You're a superman.
MOOS: Years later.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: You loom large in my mind. You're Burt (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Reynolds.
MOOS: In his memoir, Burt said I wasn't interested in challenging myself as an actor, I was interested in having a good time.
But he did challenge himself in "Deliverance".
BURT REYNOLDS, ACTOR: You don't beat it. You don't beat this river.
LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: Anything you turned down you regretted?
REYNOLDS: You mean women-wise?
KING: Either way? Women or film?
REYNOLDS: That was crude sexist remark and I apologize to everyone for it.
MOOS: But he did turn down films that became huge from "Star Wars" to "Terms of Endearment" to "Pretty Woman". He said yes to "Boogie Nights".
His role as a porn filmmaker won him a Golden Globe.
Then, there was the time he bared all on a bear skin rug in "Cosmo Magazine". He later said he regretted it taking away attention from his serious film "Deliverance". Boy, did he deliver in appearances with Johnny Carson, their whipped cream battle, is the cream of crop comedy, Burt Reynolds didn't just play a good old boy, he lived it.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BOLDUAN: A lot of cleaning up.
Burt Reynolds, at the age of 82. We celebrate him tonight.
Thank you all so much for joining us tonight.
Anderson Cooper is in. "AC360" starts right now.