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Speculation Continues over Author of Anonymous Op-Ed in "New York Times" on Trump Administration; Michael Cohen Asks to Discontinue NDA with Stormy Daniels; Tropical Storm Threatens U.S. East Coast; Former President Barack Obama Criticizes President Trump; Police Officer Kills Man After Mistaking His Apartment for Hers; Group Helps Potential Voters Obtain I.D.s in Texas. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 8, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: -- as the writer. Is that a possibility?


SMERCONISH: Yes, that is a possibility.

I'll see you next week. Thanks.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Saturday. I hope it has been good to you so far. I am Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I am Victor Blackwell. Good to see you. So, who wrote it, the anonymous op-ed criticizing the president from inside his own administration? Days later, the president still wants to know, and his aides say they have now narrowed the search to just a few people.

PAUL: A source close to the White House says the president is, quote, obsessed with finding out who it is, even chief of staff John Kelly tells him to let it go.

BLACKWELL: Now, after a week is a saw strong job numbers and a Supreme Court nominee a step closer to confirmation, President Trump says the anonymous op-ed writer may be a threat to democracy.

PAUL: And the president said this is a matter of national security, in fact. The question is, is he going to try to involve the Justice Department?

BLACKWELL: Joining us now live from the White House with more, CNN White House reporter Jeremy Diamond. Jeremy, what do you know?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Victor and Christi, the hunt is still under way here at the White House. White house officials informally scrambling to find out who this senior administration official who penned an op-ed in the "New York Times" really is. And Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, has offered some indication. She said she doesn't believe it's somebody in the White House. But here's what she said the president believes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that person is inside the White House?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Most of us don't think that. The president just today said he believes it's somebody in national security. But what I do believe is that who has said that ought to come forward and say it, or ought to resign because the loyalty is not to the president only, or at all. It's loyalty to the presidency, it's loyalty to the constitution.


DIAMOND: And Kellyanne Conway there explaining part of the reason the president has been so upset in recent days over the op-ed, fuming about it both privately and publicly, calling the author of this article a gutless coward. And the president also saying that he has concerns about the national security implications of this. Listen to what he told reporters just yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Supposing I have a high level national security and he has got a clearance, we talked about clearances a lottery centrally, and he goes into a high level meeting concerning China or Russia or North Korea or something, and this guy goes in. I don't want him in those meetings.


DIAMOND: And the president is now invoking national security, trying to go a step further. He really wants to escalate this informal investigation happening at the White House, turning it over to the Justice Department, saying just yesterday that he wants the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to investigate the author of the anonymous op- ed to uncover that person's identity. Of course, the president has yet to offer any indication of a crime that's been committed.

And the "New York Times" is responding to that in a statement, saying "We're confident that the Department of Justice understands that the First Amendment protects all American citizens and that it would not participate in such a blatant abuse of government power." And as I mentioned, the president and the White House yet to offer allegations of a crime that occurs. That's typically what's required for the Justice Department to get involved. Back to you guys.

BLACKWELL: Jeremy Diamond for us at the White House. Thank you.

PAUL: Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian and history professor at Rice University is with us now, as well as CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, Donald Trump biographer and author of "The Truth about Trump." Thank you for being here. Douglas, I want to start with you. Do you see this situation putting Attorney General Sessions in somewhat of a precarious position? He already seems to be on thin ice with the president, and now the president of course calling for him to get involved in this. DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The Donald Trump-Jeff

Sessions relationship is so dysfunctional at this point, one doesn't know what to make of their tit for tat game they play. We have a book coming out by Bob Woodward in which the president of the United States reportedly calls Jeff Sessions mentally retarded, mocks his southern accent. There are drumbeats on the right. All you have to do is watch FOX News and you'll hear the right drumbeat to get rid of Jeff Sessions because of his failure to recuse himself.

So I think Donald Trump is just trying to divert people now. This is the week of the Woodward rollout. Instead he is hoping he could ferret out who anonymous is. He wants help from the Justice Department. Rand Paul is recommending maybe lie detector tests. He's shaking down staff any way he can. Instead of looking for Al Qaeda, in a segment we saw on CNN, he is doing the mad hunt for who wrote an op-ed piece because it wounded his ego so mightily.

[10:05:02] PAUL: So Michael, he made such a good point. And coming off this week where there are great economic numbers to discuss, is the president essentially sabotaging himself by keeping this going?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, DONALD TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: I think he is. Your comment about him sabotaging himself is really apt. This is a man that's practiced self-sabotage most of his life, everything from his personal relationships to his business bankruptcies to much of what goes on in his presidency really boils down to Donald Trump sabotaging himself.

And as I was listening to the opening to the program, I noticed that just about everything everyone said was the opposite of reality. So the president says that this is a national security problem. Of course, we know that it is not. Kellyanne Conway talks about disloyalty to the presidency, and it's not. Actually, this op-ed was an attempt to reassure Americans the presidency is under some watch, that there's somebody looking out for us at least preventing the most extreme things from happening. So this is all, as you say, deflecting attention not only from Bob Woodward's book but from the accomplishments or the good news that the president could be bringing to our attention.

PAUL: I want to run some sound here of Josh Rogin, we speak with him a couple hours ago on "New Day." And here's what he said about where this is going in terms of who is anonymous.


JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I have been getting contacts from White House official ever since the thing published, and every single one of them has floated the name of the person who they already had a grudge against, OK, and they're all different, OK. So just based on what I am hearing from many White House officials, they're all pointing fingers at each other in different directions. They don't know anything.


PAUL: Douglas, how much time can be spent on this and do some possible real damage?

BRINKLEY: Well, that's what I was intimating, that Donald Trump is obsessing over this and it's not good. He needs to follow the advice of General Kelly and move on. If you're going to spend weeks now doing a hunt for this person you very likely may come up empty handed.

One thing I can tell you for certain is that the "New York Times" isn't going to reveal who anonymous is, so you would have to be basically interrogating your staff, creating a toxic environment in the White House that everybody sees a potential enemy, a trojan horse living amongst you. You can take the paranoia up to such a high level that it becomes radioactive, and Donald Trump has paranoia problems. So he is keeping exacerbating his problem, he's keeping the story alive. It's going to meld this week Bob Woodward doing 100 interviews. And instead of talking about what he could be, the economy and the fact that unemployment is what it is, there's many positives he can talk about, he's obsessing over this. I think in the long run it hurts him.

PAUL: I wanted to ask you real quickly about Nikki Haley, Michael. We just have a couple of seconds left here, but she, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. wrote of anonymous that, she said "As a former governor I find it absolutely chilling to imagine a high ranking member of my team would secretly try to thwart my agenda." She said it is cowardly.

On the other side of that we have Norm Eisen who is senior fellow from Brookings who wrote in a CNN opinion that anonymous, he said "I believe the author is doing the ethical thing in resisting Trump from within and writing about it openly." He called anonymous an American hero. In your opinion is anonymous a hero, is he or she a coward?

D'ANTONIO: I think anonymous is a hero. I think Norm is correct. Nikki Haley is a normal public leader. She's applying a metric that doesn't apply here. Donald Trump is not normal, he's not up to the duties that he's assumed, and I think this writer is doing what he or she can do to alert us to the reality at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

PAUL: All right, Douglas Brinkley and Michel D'Antonio, gentlemen, we appreciate you both taking time for us today. Thank you.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: President Trump's former fixer says he wants his money back. Michael Cohen says he wants to tear up the nondisclosure agreement he reached with adult film star Stormy Daniels. This was in the months before the 2016 election. Revoking the agreement would require Daniels to payback the $130,000 she received to stay silent about an alleged affair with then candidate Donald Trump.

[10:10:00] So joining me to talk about this, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu. Shan, welcome back. Let's start here. Is it as simple as we tear it up, you return the money, we're good? SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Definitely not, Victor. Although it is

possible Cohen could use that money to pay his mounting legal bills, I don't really think that's the legal strategy at work here.

This is part of a pattern that he is doing trying to drop some of these suits which could expose more information he doesn't want exposed. Obviously having to go forward with the suit in a civil situation you're going to have what's called discovery, you'll have depositions, and with regard to the president, there is some legal precedent dating back from Clinton days that the deposition, civil suits, might not be stayed. So all of that is the can of worms that he will want to avoid.

In addition to that, of course, Cohen personally has the issues going on with the Justice Department's investigation and his criminal liability. All of these types of issues where he would have to participate exposes him to further jeopardy. He might have to take the Fifth Amendment. So it has become impractical for him to proceed on this or, for example, those libel suits they had against "Buzzfeed" as well. It is becoming an overwhelming dead end for him.

BLACKWELL: You remember, as our viewers will, an attorney, a friend of Mr. Cohen coming on and saying that every time Michael Avenatti or Stormy Daniels talked about the president or talked about the details to which this deal was made, was $1 million fine. They would have to pay $1 million and it's racking up. Whatever happened to that? Was that ever plausible?

WU: That does not seem plausible. While you can argue each instance of the alleged breach is another amount of damages, you'd have to quantify damages. And that's one of the big issues in civil lawsuits which are all about money as opposed to criminal, which is about going to jail. You have to have a damages expert establish what kind of damage arises from those individual breaches. And particularly if you're talking about a situation where someone like President Trump is trying to allege that damage arises from breach of a questionable NDA to begin with, he is already a public figure. There's so much back and forth about him that I think it would be very, very hard to establish what kind of damages he has.

BLACKWELL: We'll see where it goes next. Shan Wu, thank you.

WU: Thank you, Victor.

PAUL: Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos is going to spend 14 days in prison for lying to investigators about his contacts with people connected to Russia during the 2016 campaign. CNN's Jake Tapper spoke to Papadopoulos exclusively in his first interview, and he maintains that he doesn't remember telling anyone on the Trump campaign that he was told the Russians had Hillary Clinton's e-mails, but he also left open the possibility that it did happen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: There are going to be people out there that think there's no way George Papadopoulos didn't tell anyone on the campaign. Did you tell anyone on the campaign?

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: As far as I remember I absolutely did not.

TAPPER: You didn't tell Corey Lewandowski?

PAPADOPOULOS: As far as I remember I absolutely did not share this information with anyone on the campaign.

TAPPER: Not Sam Clovis?


TAPPER: Dearborn, Mashburn?


TAPPER: Walid Phares, none of them?

PAPADOPOULOS: I might have, but I have no recollection of doing so. I can't guarantee it. All I can say is my memory is telling me that I never shared it with anyone on the campaign.


PAUL: You can see the rest of that interview tonight in a CNN special, "The Mysterious Case of George Papadopoulos." That's tonight on CNN at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

BLACKWELL: Friends and family of the man killed by a Dallas police officer who shot him after entering an apartment she believed was her own say they want justice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are people who are very angry. They're calling me, what are we going to do, we must take action.


BLACKWELL: We'll have some of the growing list of questions in this case ahead.

PAUL: Also, deadlines to register to vote for the midterm elections are coming up. So we're going to look at how people for some, it seems like a simple task can be made more complicated just because they cannot get their I.D.

BLACKWELL: And we are watching the tropics. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is tracking a few storms out there.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right, not one but three tropical systems to keep an eye on. We'll talk about what impacts will be to the U.S. coming up.


[10:18:42] PAUL: All right, there's a lot going on in the tropics right now. The main concern at the moment is tropical storm Florence.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the storm is creeping toward the east coast and it is getting stronger. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is tracking it. What are you seeing?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We are seeing that strengthening. And we expected that and we expect it to continue to strengthen over the coming days. In fact it's expected to get back to hurricane strength here within the next 48 hours. And by the time we get to middle of the week, say Tuesday and Wednesday, we actually expect it to get up to a major hurricane status.

Right now, though, winds about 65 miles per hour moving west about nine miles per hour. So again, it is slowly continuing its trek to the west. But notice one, two, three, four, we expect it to continue to strengthen as it pushes out to the west. The question really becomes where does it go from there. What impacts would be felt for the U.S. Truly, when we talk about all of the different options, this is likely to have impacts for the entire east coast, even places like Florida, even places like New York, because even if the landfall goes about here, the Carolinas, you will still likely have rip currents that will be felt up and down the east coast. So keep that in mind.

Also remember, the landfall point only refers to the center of circulation. You have those outer bands that can bring torrentially heavy rain for several states after that.

[10:20:00] So you're still going to have some pretty big impacts with this storm. At this point, however, it does look like the models are coming into consensus with a landfall likely around North or South Carolina. The main two models we use are the European and the American model, the American being this red colored dot, and the blue being the European. One has landfall over North Carolina, the other has landfall over South Carolina. So really anywhere around that vicinity has a pretty good chance.

Keep in mind that if this makes landfall as a category four it would be the first category four to hit the Carolinas in nearly 30 years. Hugo back in '89 was the last time we had that strong a storm impact the region. But again, it is not just one. We have other tropical systems we're keeping an eye on. Right now over open water we have tropical storm Helene and TD-9. This, Victor and Christi, could end up becoming tropical storm Isaac in the next 24 hours.

PAUL: Oh, my gosh.

BLACKWELL: Yes, so you've got a busy ten days or so?

CHINCHAR: Give or take, maybe more.

PAUL: Goodness. All right, Allison, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Former president Barack Obama back on the campaign trail ahead of midterm elections. Coming up, his searing rebuke of the Trump administration and his message to voters.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: As a fellow citizen I am here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it.


[10:25:54] BLACKWELL: Former president Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail, taking on the Republican Party and the Republican president, Donald Trump. Today, the former president heads to California before campaigning in Ohio and Pennsylvania in the coming weeks. In the past, former presidents have avoided critiquing their successors until yesterday. President Obama mostly kept that tradition, speaking to thousands of students, though, at the students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign there, the president offered his first public criticisms of the president by name.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.


OBAMA: It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say we don't target certain groups of people based on what they look like or how they pray. We are Americans. We're supposed to stand up to bullies not follow them.


OBAMA: And we're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be, saying Nazis are bad?

And if you thought elections don't matter, I hope the last two years have corrected that impression.


BLACKWELL: Joining me now, Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and former spokesman for Georgia Republican governor Nathan Deal, and Tharon Johnson, president and CEO and Paramount Consulting Group and former south regional director for Obama 2012. Gentlemen, welcome back. So Tharon, we just listened to a bit of the former president there. Thousands of people in the room, right? Didn't sound like thousands when they applaud. Was this the fiery response, is this what you want to hear from the president, does it get the job done?

THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTH REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: Absolutely. What we saw was someone who actually can behave and act presidential. I thought that President Obama's speech yesterday showed that he has taken some time off, he had to reboot during this sort of time off. But I think that he knows this upcoming election, because that was really the center of his speech is that Democrats must get out and vote. You can organize all you want, you can actually resist this president and President Trump all you want, but if you do not turn out and vote in November, then all this change that you want to see will not happen.

BLACKWELL: Does he have passion that matches that of the base?

JOHNSON: One of the things he did, Victor, is he sort of said hey, I've had conversations with progressives, and progressives want to emulate some of the Republican tactics. And he said he did not agree with that. He said when he campaigned and he became president not once but twice, he got votes from all Americans. And I think that is the key. If you look at President Obama's numbers in 2008, 2012, he did well with these suburban, college-educated whites that a lot of us are talking about that Democrats have to do well nationally. So I thought he was fired up, he was ready to go. He was tan, he was relaxed.

BLACKWELL: Isn't he always tan?


JOHNSON: A little bit more gray. But I just think that the American people really are going to think twice about President Trump. A lot about what President Obama said yesterday may agree with them.

BLACKWELL: Brian, how does this message work for those as there mentioned, the exhausted independents who are just tired of the vitriol and want a check on this president that Republicans in Congress apparently are not going to offer.

BRIAN ROBINSON, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL: That is the group both of us have to reach. Here in Georgia we have a governor's race, and that group will decide who the next governor is here. And that is going to have national implications as well. Look, President Obama has a record and has a terrible record in midterms reaching those very independents. They turned out against him in force in 2010 and 2014. Hey, he does great in presidential years. We all know that.

BLACKWELL: When he is on the ballot.

ROBINSON: When he's on the ballot. He has never been able to float the boat of anybody else. And so Republicans in Congress are seeing somebody who has got a really bad midterm record, and guess what. This is a midterm.

BLACKWELL: So let's switch it over now to talk about who wrote it, and looking for this anonymous senior administration official. First to you this time, Brian. Should the attorney general call for an investigation into who wrote this?

[10:30:04] ROBINSON: I think this is a personnel matter, not a criminal matter. I do think the White House has every right to infuriated by this, not only by the staffer in question, if it is a staffer. We don't know, it is anonymous. And two, with "New York Times" for doing something that would never, ever be allowed if there was an attack on president Obama or any other Democrat. BLACKWELL: You think so? You think it is partisan?

ROBINSON: Absolutely. Look, the "New York Times" covering Obama's speech is all about what his message is. If it was a Republican doing what Obama did yesterday, it would be Republicans break tradition, uncivil, taking on the presidential fraternity.

BLACKWELL: We're talking two different things.

ROBINSON: It is liberal bias there.

BLACKWELL: But I think you've got an audience for the treatment potentially of one president talking about another, right? The president even addressed that in his opening remarks about trying to keep the tradition of not commenting on a successor. But --

ROBINSON: As he did it.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's true, as he did it for more than an hour. But what then about the concern that another president wouldn't have a group -- I'm trying to avoid the word "cabal," but a group within his administration that is working to undermine him. Obama didn't have that and wouldn't have that, because although he may have been or was on the left side of the aisle, there weren't many people that thought what he was doing -- well, there are people going to think what he was doing was dangerous, but not to this level.

JOHNSON: Here's the challenge. Let's just say, and Brian has definitely got this spin together that he says this is so crazy that a major publication would do something like this, how dare you print an op-ed and not quote the source. When did we get into anonymous sources?

Here's the problem. Let's just say that may be something that they've done differently in the past. But the reason this is so believable, because we've heard from staffers who have left, Omarosa, Bannon, now Woodward has a book that's coming out that says exactly some of the things that are actually in this op-ed.

And the one thing "New York Times" said is they vetted the information. So the question is not so much who wrote it. It's is this actually happening in the White House? Do you have a silent majority of staffers trying to help this president not basically self- destruct? This man is governing our country, he's supposed to keep us safe. So I think this op-ed crystalized what a lot of Republicans are saying and hearing in Washington. And I do think this is a very bad situation for the Trump administration.

BLACKWELL: Two quick ones to you. We've had several Democrats on the show the last several hours call anonymous a hero. Are you willing to go that far and say this person is a hero?

JOHNSON: I think this person, whoever he or she may be, definitely should be applauded for basically bringing something to the light that a lot of Americans thought was happening in this administration. I just hope that this person once he or she is identified is not attacked in a very harsh way for doing something that they can do as an American.

BLACKWELL: So not a hero?

ROBINSON: I am not that far to say hero.

BLACKWELL: To you. Do you believe there is a two track government?

ROBINSON: I agree with my preparatory school alumni Nikki Haley that this is cowardly, that if you have a problem with what's going on with the administration, you quit.

BLACKWELL: Not how or why the person did this, but do you believe that there's a two track government, the president says one thing and the, as they have been characterized, the adults in the room go with the tempered approach?

ROBINSON: I think we know President Trump has a chaotic management style. I don't think anybody in the White House denies that, right? But what Republicans are saying, what they're seeing are results. You're seeing it with Brett Kavanaugh going before the Senate to tip the balance of the Supreme Court.

BLACKWELL: On the two-track government, I'm going to give you one more shot. Do you believe that the president says do one thing and then these others who believe they know better do what they think is best?

ROBINSON: I believe that there are people around him who delay some of his rash or quick made decisions. I do think there's a delay process. But at the end of the day, you're seeing this on trade where the president comes down hard, he wins the day.

BLACKWELL: OK, we'll see where Canada is on the new NAFTA if that's the line you're drawing. Brian, Tharon, thank you both.

ROBINSON: Thank you.


PAUL: The Texas Rangers have been called in to investigate the death of a man shot and killed by a Dallas police officer. That officer we understand attempted to enter the victim's home, allegedly mistaking it for her own.


PAUL: So glad to have you with us here. Dallas police are seeking a manslaughter warrant now for an officer they say shot and killed her neighbor. This officer shot 26-year-old Botham Jean after she tried to enter his apartment, rather, alleging mistaking it for her own. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is following this story. So here's what is perplexing I think for a lot of people. How would she get into the apartment if it was not her own?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dallas police chief Renee Hall is saying there are many more questions than answers right now. That is one of them, though I can say we've learned in this apartment building they have electronic key fobs rather than the old-fashioned key that you would stick into a lock.

What we do know is that on Thursday night this uniformed off duty police officer shot and killed her 26-year-old neighbor, Botham Jean. Immediately after firing the weapon, she called 911. Police responded. The investigation that then began, the Dallas police department says they were following protocol for an officer involved shooting.

[10:40:05] Now the police chief saying, though, that as they learned more, as this investigation has continued, she recognizes this is a very unique and a much different situation than she first understood it to be. And so the Texas Rangers have been called in, the state's law enforcement agency now running a parallel independent criminal investigation here. They've also taken a blood sample from the officer to test for drugs and alcohol in her system.

And as you mentioned, Christi, they are seeking a warrant for her arrest on the charge of manslaughter. It is very unclear the circumstances of the encounter between these two, their interaction that led to the officer firing her weapon, and the relationship between the two unclear as well beyond the fact they were neighbors in the same apartment building.

PAUL: Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much for filtering that out for us. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: We have new video this morning from that deadly shooting in Cincinnati. Omar Enrique Santa Perez killed three men, injured two others. This was in a building off the city's Fountain Square. Edited surveillance video shows the shooter in a white dress shirt walking through fifth third center lobby as he fired that handgun. Watch.




BLACKWELL: Now, this is bodycam video showing police officers outside shooting him through a glass pane. You saw the window break. Investigators still are trying to find a motive for the shooting.

PAUL: Registering to vote and presenting an I.D. when you're ready to cast a ballot you would think is pretty simple. But apparently a lot of people are finding it can be much more complicated than you think, and they're racing to get things done so they can get to the polls.

BLACKWELL: Professor, litigator, role model, dissenter, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has earned all those titles during her groundbreaking career. The new CNN original film "RBG" takes an intimate look at the personal and professional life of Justice Ginsburg.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the thought I might catch a glimpse of her is overwhelming. I have a mug of her in my room. It says "Herstory in the making."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have her sticker on my computer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I just ordered tons of merch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is easy to take for granted the position young women can have in today's society, and that's a lot in thanks to Justice Ginsburg's work.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is more disdained or told to go away than an older woman. But here's an older woman who people really want to hear everything that she has to say.


BLACKWELL: "RBG" airs tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.


BLACKWELL: We are fewer than 60 days from the midterm election now, and several states, you may know this, have laws in place that require identification to vote. Proponents say the laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. But in practice the laws can prevent eligible Americans from voting, getting together the documents required to get an I.D. can take money and time that some people just do not have. But there's help for people that fear that costs will prevent them from casting a vote.


BLACKWELL: Michelle Coto is an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Houston. What's her major? She doesn't have an answer. But she does have an enthusiastic answer to another question.

Are you looking forward to voting?


BLACKWELL: This will be your first time.

COTO: Yes.

BLACKWELL: But Michelle is one of more than one of 600,000 Texans who are otherwise eligible to vote but do not have a state required I.D.

COTO: You should be able to identify yourself whenever you're voting so they make sure there's no fraud. But then again, some people don't have resources to get one.

BLACKWELL: Texas will enforce its new voter I.D. law the first time this November, and as Election Day nears, voter rights groups are scrambling to get I.D.s into the hands of eligible voters, many of whom cannot afford the process.

CHRISTINA SANDERS, SPREAD THE VOTE TEXAS: It is challenging to be poor and want to vote right now in Texas.

BLACKWELL: Christina Sanders is the Texas state director for Spread the Vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make sure you're heard.

BLACKWELL: It's a nonpartisan, nonprofit volunteer based group working in Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Georgia, and Florida, five states with voter id laws and with marquise midterm races.

SANDERS: Texas has one of the strictest laws, and it's very challenging to get identification or a driver's license in this state.

BLACKWELL: A 2013 law that required voters to present one of a handful of accepted state or federal I.D.s was blocked during the 2016 election. A federal court determined it disenfranchised minorities and poor voters. The state reworked it to allow a voter without necessary I.D. to sign a declaration confirming his or her identity. But a federal judge blocked that too before an appeals court decided the adjusted law would be enforced this November.

SANDERS: On average it costs $40 to get an I.D., which includes getting necessary birth certificates or any type of proof of residency.

[10:50:00] BLACKWELL: But for some, the challenge is not primarily financial. David Robinson lives just outside Austin. His out of state id expired in 2009. To get a Texas I.D., he says he was told he needed to track down his California birth certificate.

DAVID ROBINSON, TEXAS VOTER: It would require going to a notary public to certify I was who I was, which put me in the odd position of needing a photo I.D. to get a photo I.D. I could probably sign the affidavit saying I couldn't get the I.D., but then if somebody decided in their mind there was some way I would go get it, not only would my vote be invalidated, but I would be in some legal jeopardy.

BLACKWELL: According to the document, the reasonableness of your impediment cannot be questioned, which means the state wouldn't challenge his claim. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the revised voter I.D. law removes any burden on voters who cannot obtain a photo I.D. But Sanders predicts the changes and controversy will scare off some eligible voters.

SANDERS: Every time that there are new laws, and a lot of changes and a lot of confusion, that always deters people from voting.

BLACKWELL: Michelle has more work to do to get her I.D. But after months of help from spread the vote volunteers, David will have his state I.D. in time to vote in person in November.

ROBINSON: It is going to feel incredible. The best way to put it is I feel like I'm a real person again.


BLACKWELL: More than half of the states have some type of voter I.D. law in effect. Some request, others require a photo I.D. Be sure to check your state's requirements to make sure that you are prepared to vote in person on Election Day.

PAUL: The mystery of who wrote that anonymous "New York Times" op-ed is continuing today. But Jeanne Moos is on the case.


[10:56:08] PAUL: Today's CNN hero started bringing children to the United States for medical treatment 20 years ago, working from her walk-in closet. In that time, she has helped more than 300 children from 46 countries get life changing medical help. We want you to meet Elisa (ph) Montoute (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are 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?


PAUL: See how Elisa (ph) is transforming the lives of the children. Go to

BLACKWELL: It is the guessing game no one can resist. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is without question the question of the summer. Who do you think wrote the op-ed. Stunned silence on the street and TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could be this person, or actually that person. It could be a lot of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was written by the secretary of?

MOOS: Endless speculation, punctuated by some daring to name names.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it fits Dan Coats like a glove.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suggested it was Kellyanne Conway. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was Mr. Vice president.

MOOS: The op-ed's use of the word "lodestar," a weird word, that the Vice President favors. But could "lodestar" be a loaded word pointed at Kellyanne Conway?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's the kind of person who would find out that Mike Pence used the word "lodestar" a lot and put "lodestar" in to try and pin it on Mike Pence.

MOOS: Colbert claimed he had an exclusive with anonymous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you Mike Pence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not. Even Mike Pence's silhouette is white.


MOOS: On the betting site My Bookie, people were putting money on Pence. Omarosa offered a multiple-choice survey, the Vice President's chief of staff came in first. But enough with the who-done-it. Let's move to who denies it. For instance, the vice president.






MOOS: Up sprang walls of denial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not me, I didn't do it.

MOOS: Someone tweeted a live look inside the White House as they try to figure out who wrote the op-ed. But if you're going to rip into.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better learn how to say it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anonymous, really anonymous, gutless.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

Who do you think wrote the "New York Times" op-ed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very smart people.


MOOS: New York.


PAUL: I can imagine the people that didn't make the cut on that, people in New York and on the street, and what they might have had to say.

BLACKWELL: I wonder, instead of who, maybe we should be thinking when, because this is going to come out at some point, don't you think?

PAUL: Don't you think? Probably, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point -- let's bring in Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It is a matter of how patient are we.

BLACKWELL: They should be calling dates, not names. October 3rd.

WHITFIELD: We have the ticker at the bottom we'll tell you, countdown to a certain event. Countdown to when it's all revealed. When that reveals themselves or when they are revealed. We'll see.

BLACKWELL: It's all yours, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Good to see you, guys. Have a great one.

PAUL: You, too.

WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone, it is the 11:00 hour on the east coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Newsroom starts right now.