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Trump Calls Op-ed Treason; Trump Talks Impeachment; Booker Shows Resistance; August Jobs Report; Tropical Storm Florence Poses a Threat; White House Chaos on Candidates; Potential Candidates use Kavanaugh Hearing. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 7, 2018 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much for being with us.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning.

BERMAN: Leave the treason aside, because it's not treason. It doesn't meet any definition of treason. The president is flat out wrong about that and he knows it.

However, when he says that even liberal members of Congress who don't like me say that this op-ed should not have been written, he's talking about you.

SWALWELL: Yes. Well, good morning, John.

And, you know, he asked, is it treason, is it subversion. No, it's failure. It's failure of a president to do his job. But it's really failure of a Congress to check him. And what has happened here is this president has drawn us close to the Russians, distanced us from our allies, and has corruptly cashed in on the Oval Office. And Congress has not done its job to be a check. And so the result is that his own aides are running a mutiny and are going rogue and undermining his work. And that is wrong. That -- those people should come forward and present themselves. But this is his failure and Congress' failure.

BERMAN: But just on that last point, you do agree with him --

SWALWELL: I do.

BERMAN: That someone should not have -- this person -- this unnamed person should not have done this?

SWALWELL: I do.

BERMAN: OK. That's interesting because you guys don't agree on much. You don't need me to tell you.

I also want to play a little bit more of what the president said last night and how he's trying to use this politically and he brought up the "i" word, impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what you're going to have? You'll have a country that's going to turn into a third world country because if the opposite party becomes president, every time before it even starts, before you've even found out whether or not he or she is going to do a great job, they'll say, we want to impeach him, and you'll impeach him. It's so ridiculous.

But we'll worry about that if it ever happens. But if it does happen it's your fault, because you didn't go out to vote, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So it's interesting to me here, congressman, in regards to you, is that the president of the United States is using the "I" word. He's using the impeachment word. And you, congressman, are not. You have said you do not think it's time to talk about impeachment.

SWALWELL: I'm not taking that bait, John. I see him dangling it out there. It's because he has such a bankruptcy of ideas and so do the Republicans that they want us to talk about this, not to point out the fact that Republicans have gutted health care, they've given tax cuts to the wealthiest among us and they won't investigate or scrub out the corruption that exists in Washington.

We will do the investigations that we have to do when we're in the majority. We're not going to look the other way on impeachment. But the American people, they don't want us to lead with --

BERMAN: Do you think it hurts Democrats? Do you think it hurts Democrats to talk about impeachment?

SWALWELL: Well, I think it hurts Democrats if -- if voters believe that's all we're going to do and that's why we should be in the majority. I don't think voters believe anyone's above the law, whether it's a Democratic president or a Republican president. And we should assure them, we'll do our job, follow the evidence and hold anyone accountable.

But they care about what goes on at home and that's their hard work. Dose it add up to something? Do they do better and dream bigger for their kids? That's what we should focus on.

BERMAN: I know you've been watching the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. You're a House member on the Judiciary Committee, so you watch the Senate. And you saw yesterday Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey, say this is my Spartacus moment. And he suggested at one point early that he was revealing committee confidential documents that it turns out had already been OK'ed to be released. How did you assess that moment there?

SWALWELL: I don't understand, John, why those documents were even marked committee confidential. They didn't relate to national security. It was quite confusing as to why the majority did that. And I think Mr. Booker was arguing, the American people should see this. He has a very limited opportunity to question a lifetime appointee. And, you know, he was using every tool at his disposal to make sure that --

BERMAN: But --

SWALWELL: Before that person went on the bench, he was questioning.

BERMAN: In fact, though, one of the tools at his disposal, at least the first time he said it yesterday morning, was to suggest that somehow he was releasing something that had been prohibited from being released when, in fact, it hadn't been. So was that ham-handed?

SWALWELL: I -- again, I don't know too much about their process. I think the American people were just confused, why do we not have all the documents. And they still have, I think, less than 10 percent of the total writings of Brett Kavanaugh at the White House. So why would the White House stand on this privilege where no White House in the past has done this?

I -- but, again, John, I think the consequences here, this person will go on the Supreme Court at a time that we have a president who is under investigation, so legally exposed, civilly and criminally, and this judge has said that a president is above the law and cannot be sued or prosecuted. So we should put the screws to him and find out if he can either apply the law independently or recuse himself if necessary. And we saw that yesterday.

BERMAN: I know that -- I know why you think that Judge Kavanaugh has said that. And you may be right that ultimately that's a -- his opinion.

SWALWELL: It was a law review article in the Minnesota -- University of Minnesota.

BERMAN: What he says -- what he says he was writing there, and if you read it carefully, is he's saying that Congress should pass a law which says that a president can't be investigated or indicted, not that judges should rule.

Now, he may rule that way. It may be a window into his ultimate thinking. I don't know. But he's hiding behind -- or he's not hiding behind, he's using the actual language there of suggesting that Congress should pass a law to explain that away.

[08:35:10] You have been accused, congressman, and you in fact have admitted, that you're considering running for president in 2020. Am I correct?

SWALWELL: I'm considering it, yes.

BERMAN: Yes.

SWALWELL: But first things first, the best way to cut our time in hell in half is to win the midterms. And so that's going to be my focus.

I was just down in Alabama over the weekend and I saw energy there that I've not seen in the south in a very long time. And so across the country I think people want an agenda that lift -- that is for them, for the people, and we'll go, you know, go after that and see what happens.

BERMAN: And I know you've been to Iowa because you have Iowa -- conveniently have Iowa roots. But my question --

SWALWELL: My accident of birth.

BERMAN: My accident of birth. You -- that's so convenient.

Senator Booker and Kamala Harris, again, also, two senators who may be considering running for president in 2020. What's the right way to handle moments then like this Judiciary Committee? Do you think people have to be careful that it doesn't seem like they're positioning themselves in the way that they operate?

SWALWELL: Well, I think the insult that was volleyed at Senator Booker by Senator Cornyn doesn't even land to say that, oh, you're just doing this because you're running for 2020. It's not an insult to tell a qualified senator that they may be qualified enough to be the president of the United States and that during this very important time in our country's history that senator is doing their job in a way that would make them, you know, even more qualified. So that's his job and he was doing his job. So I don't see how that insult lands at all.

BERMAN: All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, great to have you with us this morning. I do appreciate it.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: OK, John, the new jobs report is just in.

BERMAN: Oh, I haven't seen it.

CAMEROTA: OK. Is it more good news? I'm going to make you wait until I can find Christine Romans.

BERMAN: All right, also, is a major hurricane headed for the East Coast? We're going to make you wait for the latest forecast, too, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:41:28] CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news right now.

The Labor Department has just released the August jobs report.

CNN's Christine Romans joins us with the numbers.

How does it look?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of very strong numbers here from the Labor Department this morning. Let me show you again. This is in line with what we've been seeing this year, 201,000 net new jobs in August. That is more than economists had been expecting.

You saw a couple of months revised lower here, but really for the year you're averaging more than 200,000 net new jobs. That means companies are still aggressively hiring every month. And that means the unemployment rate remains near this generational low of 3.9 percent.

You didn't have it drop any more here because you had some people dropping out of the labor market. But 3.9 percent. Again, that is basically full employment in this country.

Where was the hiring? We saw, again, in business. these tend to be higher paid jobs, business. In manufacturing we saw a little bit of a decline, but manufacturing has had a bit of a renaissance in months past. And health care. I have, for years, as you know, been standing here saying health care is a traditional strong job grower and it continues to be, 95 months in a row now, 95 months in a row of job creation. That has never happened in American history, guys.

Wages, about 2.9 percent. The strongest since 2009. We'll see if we can put a few months back to back like that.

BERMAN: And that might be the most important number there.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: But, again, we have to see if it lasts.

Christine Romans, great to have you with us.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Thanks for helping us understand it.

We're keeping a close eye on the tropics this morning. Tropical Storm Florence is gaining strength and perhaps headed toward the United States. This could be a major hurricane. And, again, it's the East Coast that could be vulnerable here.

Our meteorologist Allison Chinchar has the latest forecast.

Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right.

So let's take a look at where it is now. Just a tropical storm. It did weakened in the last 12 hours. It's kind of hit a more high shear environment. Something that tends -- typically tends to weaken these storms. But that is going to change in the next 24 hours. It's going to move back out over much warmer water, but also in a -- much less shear. That's going to allow that storm to likely intensify back to the hurricane.

The question then becomes, OK, where does it go from here?

Two of our most trustworthy models, the ones we really put a lot of weight into, are the European, which is the yellow line, and the red, the GFS, the American model. This is where they have it go. Both of them are pretty consistent on having it go south of Bermuda. The European model wants to make it track toward the Carolinas, whereas the American model wants to take it a little bit further north, up say towards Virginia. Part of that reason is this high pressure that we expect to kind of push its way out over the Atlantic. That's what's going to help to steer this storm closer to the yes (ph). But there's a lot of questions about when will that high come in and what the exact impacts will be.

BERMAN: What about the idea that there's something else out there that could push it out to sea? Is there another front that could move it?

CHINCHAR: Yes. So there's actually two things. One, this high pressure system, does it slow down, does it speed up? Any change in where this high is expected could have a big impact on whether this just rotates back out over open water, but also a front that could be pushing down from Canada could mean it could just end up skirting along the coast and then go back out over open water.

Again, this is a week out. A lot of things can change. But the potential is there, so we'll want to keep a very close eye on it.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) the East Coast is a giant target.

Allison Chinchar, thanks very much.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, last night were very violent storms where I was. I don't know about you. But, I mean, it just gave me a taste of what it would be like if the hurricane came. The trees were blowing around. The wind was -- it was like thunder crashing. It was really intense, by the way.

BERMAN: So bad you missed back to school night. Back to school night was canceled.

CAMEROTA: Yes, back to school night got canceled because the storms were so bad. That wasn't even a hurricane.

BERMAN: That almost never happens. That and postponing football games almost never happens.

CAMEROTA: Good point.

BERMAN: All right, so how is the chaos in the White House affecting Republican candidates in November? We've got some new reporting on that. "The Bottom Line" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:48:47] CAMEROTA: The White House is in damage control this morning, fighting against those bombshell revelations in that "New York Times" op-ed, as well as Bob Woodward's book called "Fear." How is all of this drama impacting Republican candidates?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, great to have you here.

What is the ripple effect of everything that we've seen this week involving the White House? DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the headline from

Republican operatives I'm talking to who are trying to keep the control of the House in Republican hands in two months is not good. First and foremost, I am told, that there is a real problem with the -- what they call the donor base. It's become more and more difficult for Republicans, particularly on the -- the -- sort of the leadership level and on down to raise money because Republican donors are not as eager to write checks in this environment. And they're seeing it in a big way, I'm told. And also just the chaotic environment is not good for these House candidates.

Now, on the Senate side, it could be a little different. For example, you talked about the fact that the president was in Montana last night. There was a huge Senate race there. He won that state by 20 points. So he's an incumbent Democrat. There's no reason the president should not be able to gin up the base there, particularly since Republicans are not so sure they can take that seat, and on paper they should be able to.

[08:50:12] House races are totally different because every time, I'm told, the president says something, does something, an op-ed comes out, the Woodward book comes out, the swirl and the chaos, that takes over even local news and it's not about what the Republican candidates are trying to talk about, what their message is. So it's increasingly difficult, again, particularly in those suburban districts where the race to control the House is going to be won or lost.

BERMAN: And the last 20 minutes is a microcosm of this because 20 minutes ago the new jobs numbers came out and they're good.

BASH: Exactly. They're really good.

BERMAN: And the wage numbers came out and they're good. Yes, the president, last night, in this 90-minute speech, talked a lot about impeachment, talked a lot about this op-ed, and a lot about the notion that there are people out to get him in the White House, so he can't fully escape that. And I also think the bottom -- you mentioned these suburban districts. These are folks faced with a decision, Dana, which is to run with or against the president. And it's so hard for them. It's so hard because if they split from the president in any way, they threaten that solid base --

BASH: Yes.

BERMAN: It may only be 35, you know, 40 percent, but a solid base who love the president.

BASH: That's right. And what most of these Republican candidates are trying to do is just ignore it and just say, I'm not -- I'm going to focus on what I can focus on. I'm going to focus on the people of the -- you know, pick your number district in whatever state it is. It is very difficult because what these campaigns are finding is that, sure, their -- you know, the voters do care about their particular districts, they care about things close to home, but it is impossible for them to ignore the overwhelming amount of chaotic news from Washington and for those independents, suburban women, those who are mostly, according to polls and focus groups, done internally at these campaigns, so fed up that it doesn't matter who you are or what you're talking about, the person on the ballot, these voters very likely will go into the polls and just mark the person who is not a Republican just as a protest. And we've seen that on both sides of the aisle historically depending on who's in the White House for the past, you know, generation.

CAMEROTA: So we're 60 days away from the midterms. A good time, I think, to start talking about 2020.

BASH: Why not.

BERMAN: Never a bad time.

CAMEROTA: So, right, I mean there is --

BASH: There is never a bad time.

CAMEROTA: Time is, you know, fleeting.

So yesterday we saw Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris sort of on full display or whatever they're --

BASH: I didn't notice that. That's so interesting.

CAMEROTA: People felt that perhaps there were some auditioning for 2020 or maybe they were just cross-examining Brett Kavanaugh at the confirmation hearings. What did you see?

BASH: Lucky for them, the two were not mutually exclusive. They run very nicely together.

Of course the Democratic base is electrified and they are pounding their chests and they are doing everything they can to send signals with a bullhorn, I guess, maybe (INAUDIBLE) signals that they want their elected officials in Washington to stand up to the president, and that means, from their perspective, take no prisoners when it comes to every single person in and around the president.

And so, of course, that's what people like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris who, there is no secret, they are seriously considering running for the Democratic nomination, what they did. Now, interesting, both of them went big for a viral moment and neither of them had very much payoff in the end when it comes to substance. I mean Kamala Harris is a perfect example. It was -- it was -- went bonkers online when she asked him about whether he had had any conversations about the Mueller investigation with anybody from the Kasowitz firm, which, of course, has represented the president for many years. He didn't -- he sort of fumbled on his answer, but at the end of the day, or at least the next day, she was -- she seemed to have been fishing, which is fine for that viral moment, but not necessarily for the payoff. That might not matter and it certainly doesn't seem to matter for the base who just want to see a fight.

BERMAN: Both Harris and Booker's office will say, look, you know, Cory Booker, maybe the timing on his Spartacus moment wasn't exactly what it seemed initially, but it was because of his move that you had a discussion and you did end up seeing more about the thinking of Brett Kavanaugh years ago and that is valuable, even if it won't impact the ultimate decision by the Senate on the Supreme Court nominee.

Dana Bash, have a great weekend. Thanks so much for being with us.

BASH: You too.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: Bye, guys.

BERMAN: Now to our latest CNN Hero. Over the past 20 years, Elissa Montanti has helped hundreds of survivors of wars and natural disasters, as well as kids living with birth defects. She's helped them get prosthetics and rehab and she keeps helping them into adulthood.

[08:55:08] Meet CNN Hero Elissa Montanti.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISSA MONTANTI, CNN HERO: We're empowering them because we're giving them back what they lost, a chance to stand on their own and write and go to school and to contribute to society.

They come from different corners of the earth, and they all heal together, laugh together. They don't speak the same language, but love is universal.

So often people will say, why can't you help your own? Aren't they our own? Don't we share this earth?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, that's God's work that she's doing as so many of our CNN Heroes do.

For more on how Montanti is transforming lives, you can go to cnnheroes.com.

All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow will pick up after the break.

Have a wonderful weekend.

John and I will see you next week.

You're out of here.

BERMAN: I'm out of here.

CAMEROTA: You're out of here.

BERMAN: Gone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:03] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. It is Friday. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

And we do begin this morning with breaking news on the economy. And 201,000 jobs added last month. It's a big number. A positive sign.

Christine Romans, our chief business