Return to Transcripts main page
White House Intensifies Hunt To Expose Mystery Op-Ed Writer; East Coast Braces For Wrath Of Major Hurricane; Serena Williams Fined $17,000 For Violations At U.S. Open; CBS Chief Exec Stepping Down Amid Sex Harassment Allegations; Trump To Provide Written Answers In Defamation Lawsuit; Police Off-Duty Cop Shot A Man After Entering Wrong Apartment; World Trade Center Subway Station Re-Opens; Shares of Musk's Tesla fell to their lowest point in five months on Friday after the eccentric CEO was seen lighting up and smoking marijuana on a podcast. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 9, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happening now in the Newsroom, Vice President Mike Pence saying today he'd be willing to take a lie detector test to prove he did not author the anonymous New York Times op-ed.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would agree to take it in a heartbeat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Trump team rebuking the author, inferring it may be criminal.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: For what I understand, there can be an investigation if there is criminal activity that happened.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And there doesn't appear to be any.
CONWAY: I don't know that and I don't think you know that. In other words that's --
TAPPER: What would the criminal activity be?
CONWAY: It really depends on what else has been divulged by an individual.
PENCE: We'll find out if there was criminal activity involved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What criminal activity would be? There was no classified information.
PENCE: Well, we will see.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CNN "Newsroom" starts now.
(END VIDEOTAPE) FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again everyone and welcome this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right, the White House still in panic mode scrambling to uncover the mystery op-ed writer claiming to be the resistance inside the Trump administration. The parade of denials and rebukes still in full swing reaching the highest levels of the White House.
Vice President Mike Pence and Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway fiercely defending themselves and the President while even floating the possibility that criminal activity could be involved. They are also showing the great lengths they would go to to prove they are not the mystery writer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should all top officials take a lie detector test and would you agree to take one?
PENCE: I would agree to take it in a heartbeat and would submit to any review the administration wanted to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the administration should do that?
PENCE: Well, look, that would be a decision for the President. But, look, I think -- the honorable thing to do here is for this individual to recognize that they are literally violating an oath. If they are that senior administration official, that they are violating an oath not to the President, but to the Constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Treason?
PENCE: Look, it's un-American. And I think that's why you've seen Republicans and Democrats condemn this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us at the White House. So Kellyanne Conway told CNN that the goal of the author was to create chaos. Is that what's happening?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the fact that we're still talking about it now, four days since this op-ed was initially dropped by the New York Times shows that there's at least a degree of concern by this White House and it is forcing them to respond on a daily basis. And what you're seeing now is a level of spin from this administration that goes first to attack the author of this op-ed suggesting perhaps there may be criminal activity at play here and at the very least there is a lack of respect for the office of the presidency. And they are taking a step further even beyond that, suggesting that it's not just the fault of the op-ed writer, but perhaps the media as well.
Listen to Kellyanne Conway's argument this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CONWAY: What does concern me now, Jake, apart from everything the President and others have said is that for a media that is constantly talking about facts, accuracy, transparency, authority, the authoritativeness to this anonymous writer was been viewed automatically because of the content. As long as the messages anti- Trump, it seems the messenger has credibility, that should concern everyone. I'm with the Vice President on this. He has said that the person should resign if the person truly is an appointee who has taken an oath to the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: That's important to point out that Kellyanne Conway is making this assessment as to what the New York Times used as the credibility of this author without knowing at all who the author is or what they brought to the table in this conversation. So it's difficult for her to draw that assessment when she does and appear to have all the facts in this particular matter. And at the very least, we know that the President is said to be obsessed trying to figure out exactly who that person is.
They've said to have narrowed it down to a few individuals. We know that as many as 25 different senior administration officials have said that they've had nothing to do with this particular op-ed. The big question now, Fred, is just how far this administration take this. They have suggested that perhaps the Department of Justice should get involved.
They echoed those comments again this morning by throwing it out there, that perhaps criminal activity was involved in the writing of this op-ed. At this point though, Fred, they provided no evidence to back up that claim.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Nobles, thanks so much at the White House. So the White House had constantly argued against the credibility of the op-ed. Listen to this exchange between White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway and CNN's Jake Tapper.
CONWAY: I'd like to ask you on behalf of the White House. Would you and CNN feel comfortable granting anonymity to somebody who maybe in mid-level staffer? What would it be the responsible criteria --
TAPPER: You know, it's a totally big question. I don't know who --
CONWAY: Because I see people in the media very upset with this, they're saying if it's not somebody in the Cabinet, if it's not a senior staffer --
TAPPER: I don't know who it is. If it's somebody significant then I think that that was -- then printing it is responsible. If it's somebody completely irrelevant and powerless --
[15:05:03] CONWAY: And why are we giving this person authority. This person obviously is motivated by -- TAPPER: I can't just tell you as an anchor, that I gave the story
more attention after Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo and the entire Cabinet came out and gave the op-ed credibility. It never even crossed my mind. I told to you privately. It never even crossed my mind that it was Vice President Pence --
TAPPER: -- until Vice President Pence was out there saying it wasn't him. He and the administration gave this op-ed credibility.
CONWAY: Well, I want to say something else. This person obviously is motivated by conceit and deceit and I think should in viewed with credibility.
WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now, former Trump campaign Director, Michael Caputo. So Michael, good to see you. Do you think the White House is giving credibility to the writer by these high level officials coming out and saying it's not me?
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR: Well, I think each one of those people has to do that. And the media, the New York Times in particular set that up. And the writer -- I believe the writer is a coward. But also, I believe they're diabolical. I mean, the way they wrote that op-ed, or the ghost writer wrote the op-ed, they dropped in words like load star to indicate that it might be Mike Pence.
And words like first principles, very common to the speeches that General Mattis gives to throw some shade at him and then they dropped in that off the rails comment that comes from the Woodward book that's attributed to General Kelly. And that's, to me, gaslighting the President which is very diabolical. Into believing it's one of his key agents. It's really, you know, plotting against him.
WHITFIELD: But if it's insignificant, why is it the White House keeps talking about it, keeps throwing out its top level folks to say or comment about it. It wasn't me. I don't know anything about this. It's a terrible thing. But they keep bringing it up which only gives this writer more power. Does it not?
CAPUTO: I'll tell you. I'm not one of the ones who believes this is insignificant. I have been screaming from the top of my lungs for several weeks now that we're going to lose the House of Representatives, Democrats are going to take over and that they're going to impeach the President in the first quarter of 2019. This op- ed to me is part of that strategy. This person who I believe is in the senior ranks of the administration wrote this in order to try and dampen turn out of the deplorables who would normally go out and droves to vote for the President's candidates. The Republican candidates for Congress in particular so we can maintain control of the House.
Let me tell you, Fredricka. I'm fairly certain I know who it is. I have been, you know, going through these parlor games just like everybody else has. And I'm also completely 100 percent certain that the person who wrote this is on the list of people who said they didn't write it.
WHITFIELD: All right. So, who do you think it is?
CAPUTO: I'm not going to go into that. My attorney tells me it's a bad idea. But I can tell you this. I believe, first of all --
WHITFIELD: So you talked to your attorney, you've consulted your attorney, you've said I think I know who this is based on certain language that was use and you've consulted your attorney and your attorney says don't reveal it?
CAPUTO: Right. I mean, based on language, based on the fact that I believe these kinds of people leave a trail of crumbs when they are trying to deceive people around them. That's the way it always is. The President looks at the key departments of this government that has been purged of all Trump supporters. That's a good place to start. And that actually exists.
Trump supporters have been purged from this government now for 18 months. Last week I spent the evening with several friends of mine from the Trump campaign, all of them have been forced out of the administration. So from my perspective, what's even more important here is to -- you know, it's not the parlor game.
What is the author's connection to other people? You know, we've all talked about -- you know, there are people in the White House now telling the President don't worry about the House? You can campaign against a Democrat House and win re-election in 2020. There actually people telling the President don't worry about impeachment.
WHITFIELD: As you dissect that op-ed since you do feel like you know who it is, is it the language? Is it something about certain details about the parameters of the criticism that allows you to place that person? Do you place them in the White House? Do you place them in a particular department or division?
CAPUTO: I don't believe this person is in the White House. But also as, you guess, Jake had said earlier today, this person really has to be pretty high up. It's got to be a deputy secretary level or higher otherwise the New York Times --
WHITFIELD: Do you believe it's someone who has taken an oath?
CAPUTO: I believe so. And, in fact -- I mean, if I can just continue my thought, you know, we -- you know, the White House political office and others have kind of shrugged about the idea of losing the House and maybe being impeached because the Senate won't do anything about. They won't convict the President on the charges of impeachment. But I think when we find out who this person is and the President's team should find out, we're going to find out this person has real deep and abiding ties to Congress and this op-ed is one step closer not just to impeachment but conviction.
[15:10:04] WHITFIELD: So do you feel like you've figured it out who the person is? Do you believe the White House has figured it out?
CAPUTO: I believe the White House is getting closer to it. I love the fact that --
WHITFIELD: Well how come you know and they don't?
CAPUTO: Well, I believe they are getting there. I have my opinions. You know, I started with this. Who is the person who I believe hates the President the most? Who is the person in the administration who has screamed about him in their own private office and gone forward and purged their entire office of Trump people? That's what I'm looking at.
The language of the op-ed I think is useless to look at because it's a ghost writer. If we did like we -- Remember when primary colors came out and they actually compared the writing through a software program and discovered that it was Klein (ph) wrote that book. I believe that would be useless in this regard because ghost writers write for dozens and dozens of people. It's not going to get us any closer. We'll be able to identify the ghost writer, but then we'd have to get the ghost writer tell us who this person is.
WHITFIELD: All right. Are you thinking it's a matter of days, weeks, or months?
CAPUTO: I'll tell you this. I think that, first of all, this person will never admit it. Because in my mind, the author of this op-ed believes that she is a hero to the American people. That she, in fact, should be --
CAPUTO: -- the president instead of Donald Trump. And in my mind I believe that the President should move forward with a team of people to discover who this is. But the President himself should focus on the mid-terms. Because -- We are going down a rabbit hole, you know, by gaslighting the President into believing his closest aides with those clever words dropping this op-ed are plotting against him. They're sending him down a rabbit hole instead of off on to the Hastings (ph) where he should be campaigning for Republican candidates so that we keep the House and embolden the Senate in support of the President's policies. If he focuses on this instead of the campaign trail, we are in real trouble.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. Michael Caputo, good to hear from you. Thanks so much.
CAPUTO: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, the East Coast bracing for a major hurricane as Florence gather strength. Shelves already emptied in some stores as people are preparing. We'll have the latest on the path of the storm next.
And later, controversy on the court. Serena Williams slapped with a $17,000 fine following an outburst at the U.S. Open. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[15:16:32] WHITFIELD: The eastern United States is directly in the path of Hurricane Florence. Almost the entire coast from Florida to Massachusetts could feel the impact of this major storm. Florence is currently a category one hurricane, but is rapidly gaining strength over the Atlantic Ocean.
The latest model show Florence is making landfall as a major hurricane possibly a category three or higher as early as Thursday. States in the storm zone are preparing for the worst. Governors in Virginia and north and south Carolinas have all declared states of emergency.
I want to go to Kaylee Hartung who is in Carolina Beach, North Carolina where it looks beautiful picture perfect right now, but what are folks bracing for?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does, Fred. And with landfall not expected until Thursday as you mentioned, many folks on Carolina Beach saying they are taking today to enjoy these beautiful beaches before the weather does turn ugly here. Surfers here, in particular, they are thrilled to see the waves that the orbit (ph) make. No mistake people understand the threat that Hurricane Florence poses to this area.
As one long time resident of Carolina Beach told me, he wakes up every morning prepared for a storm to hit this area, that's the risk you run when you choose to live on the coast. The first visual signs we're seeing of people taking their precautions, those come at the super market, grocery stores. People are stocking up on water, maybe bread and milk, perhaps batteries and flashlights, ahead of the storm. But no one is ready to board up their homes just yet.
People here remember two years Hurricane Matthew, preparations were made and that storm turned and didn't affect this area. You're hearing a lot of optimism, a lot of people crossing their fingers and knocking on woods in hopes that Hurricane Florence will avoid them. And yet there are too, the memories of Hurricane Floyd back in 1999. The costliest storm to hit the state of North Carolina. People say they learned a lot of lessons there, you've got to get ahead of it. But today, Fred, it's a day at the beach today for a lot of people living in the area.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much.
All right, meantime, we've learned now that Serena Williams has been hit with a $17 thousand fine a day after losing the U.S. Open to Japan's Naomi Osaka. The fine is the result of a series of violations. Williams was visibly upset after being given a warning for coaching from -- by wave hand signals and a point penalty for smashing her racket. But she was docked the game, an entire game following her heated exchange with the umpire in which she called him a thief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very unfortunate.
SERENA WILLIAMS, CALLS OUT SEXISM AFTER U.S. OPEN LOSS: Are you kidding me? Because I said you're a thief? Because you stole a point from me? But I'm not a cheater. But I told you to apologize to me. This is out. Excuse me, I need the referee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN Sports Anchor and Reporter Andy Scholes is at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows. What has been the reaction thus far?
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Well, Fred, the reaction to the fine is pretty similar to the reaction we got from a lot of fans last night leaving the match. Many people think that the umpire Carlos Ramos was, you know, out of line, giving Serena three code violations in this match and even the broadcasters during the match win as far as to say they've never seen anything like this especially in a grand slam final.
[15:20:06] And the $17,000 fine it was broken up like this by the U.S. Open tournament referee. $4,000 for the coaching violation and $3,000 for the racket abuse and $10,000 for the verbal abuse. Now, despite getting those three-code violations, after yesterday's loss, Serena said she was proud of the way she acted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality. And for all kinds of stuff and for me to say thief and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. I mean, like -- he's never taken a game from a man because they said thief. For me it blows my mind. But I'm going to continue to fight for women and to fight for us to have equal -- they should be able to take a shirt off without getting a fine. Like this is outrageous, you know?
And I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and want to express themselves and they want to be a strong woman. They are going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn't work out for me, but it's going to work out for the next person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Not it happen -- it would happen between Serena and umpire Carlos Ramos has really sparked a debate on social media over sexism. Many thinking including former male tennis players that Serena was treated unfairly. Some even saying they said worse to umpires during their playing days and did not receive a violation for verbal abuse.
Now, on the other side of things, there are many people think that Serena was acting out of line. Many think that if she was winning this match, Fred, she would maybe not have reacted the way she did. She was having a very frustrating time out there on the court and losing that first set and things weren't going well for her in the second set. So this has been a heated debate and I'm sure it will continue to go on.
WHITFIELD: Andy, is there any feeling at the USTA, you know, WTA, U.S. Open, any of those bodies that are willing to jump in to tackle this issue?
SCHOLES: Well, the USTA basically put out a statement saying that, you know, the decision is made on the court were final. There's no reversing those. And you can see by this, this is the U.S. Open tournament referee distributing these fines to Serena, Fredricka. So, you know, they're not reversing any of the decisions that were made by the umpire, Carlos Ramos.
And, you know, all that being said, Serena did took home a check for $1.85 million for runner up at the U.S. Open. So a $17,000 fine in the grand scheme of things doesn't mean much, but --
WHITFIELD: Yes. And it's not that money, it's -- yes, it's the double standard that some are citing. And, you know, she -- and you said male players have said, I've said worse but no fine. So, still unresolved potentially.
All right, Andy Scholes, thank you so much.
President Trump will answer questions in a defamation suit brought by a former apprentice contestant, but he won't be doing it face-to-face with his accuser or her lawyers. We'll explain, next.
[15:27:53] WHITFIELD: Les Moonves is stepping down in the coming hours as the head of CBS. His departure is part of a corporate settlement fight for control of the network. It also follows a series of accusations by women of sexual harassment and assault going back as far as the 1980s including claims of physical violence and forced sex.
CNN's Brian Stelter explains why this case takes on so much stature.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, this is the first time we've seen a fortune 500 CEO stepping down amid allegations of harassment and assault in this almost year that has passed, when we talked about the Me Too movement. We've seen many Hollywood stars and journalists and others lose their jobs. But this is differently. This is a CEO who runs a giant company who makes hundreds of millions of dollars.
WHITFIELD: Brian Stelter, thanks so much. Sources tell CNN that CBS is likely to announce the deal by tomorrow morning. President Trump has agreed to provide written answers in the Summer Zervos defamation lawsuit that's according to court documents obtained by CNN. Zervos is a former contestant on "The Apprentice" and said Trump defamed her after she accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2007.
CNN's Polo Sandoval is following the developments. So Polo, how will this work? Are Zervos' lawyers going to submit the questions directly? What? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They're basically -- They exchanged these questions, Fred, and they now have until September 28th to submit those answers. Something interesting to keep an eye out for here. Both sides will have to respond to these questions and answer to them under oath, which means any potential false answers could lead to charges of perjury if that happened. So certainly something to watch out for.
But overall this is really just another step in this ongoing defamation lawsuit, this litigation that continues between both of these parties including the President and his attorney, though, did submit a letter to the judge recently. Basically saying that the other side, the President Trump's attorneys were basically being difficult to work with here, even submitting some of these responses late, of even responded at all.
[15:30:03] So what this does, it certainly does highlight that the Trump defense team is planning to fight these charges every step of the way which they have been doing. They've been denying these allegations from the very start. Again, though this is a fairly process-related development here, it is certainly something to keep an eye on here.
Finally, Fred, we should mention that even though these pleadings will be exchanged back and forth between both sides, that does not eliminate the possibility of depositions being taken down the road. So, again, even though there are switched trading these questions and answers and have until later this month, that doesn't mean that either one of these parties could be in front of a camera as part of the deposition and of course eventually part of a potential trial.
WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.
Dallas police are now identifying the off duty officer, they say, entered the wrong apartment thinking it was her own and fatally shooting a man. Why she has not been charged yet, next.
[15:35:40] WHITFIELD: Dallas police have now identified an officer who allegedly entered the wrong apartment thinking it was her own and fatally shot the man who lived there. Amber Guyger, a four-year veteran of the department was off duty at the time. According to police, she shot 26-year-old Botham Jean.
We are also learning the Texas rangers have taken over the investigation now and have postponed pursuing a manslaughter warrant for officer Guyger. Police say the rangers are waiting now until they can follow-up on information that they received from interviewing the officer. The mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, is joining me now on the phone. Mr. Mayor, what can you tell us about the postponement of these charges? What does it tell you?
MIKE RAWLINGS, MAYOR OF DALLAS: Well, it tells us we don't have all the facts yet. And that's what is important in this situation. It's a terrible tragedy. Botham was a model citizen. We have a police officer that had a great reputation. Something happened. We know something terrible happened. We don't know the details of that. I think the chief of police was very right in bringing in an outside law enforcement agency to investigate and now we've got to make sure that it's done correctly and we get to all the truths so we can know what happened.
WHITFIELD: Still so curious how is it that this was a mix up of an apartment. She lives there and allegedly she went to the apartment that is not hers and that's how the shooting took place? I mean, that sounds very curious. How does it hit you?
RAWLINGS: Bizarre, there's no question. I haven't spoken to folks firsthand, but allegedly the parking lots, you walk from the parking lot to your apartment floor. And her apartment, she got parked her car on the wrong floor. We don't know how she got into that door. And as I said, we've to get to the bottom of this for everybody.
WHITFIELD: There was also a vigil for Botham Jean last night. What's been your message to the family?
RAWLINGS: Yes, there was a vigil and then we had a church service this morning. I worshipped with them. I've met Ms. Jean, who was a wonderful mother. She told me, I'm not angry, I just want answers. And she deserves those answers. She was a great mother. A leader in St. Lucia, a governmental official there for 30 years.
In fact, the prime minister from St. Lucia is flying from Toronto tomorrow and I'm going to be meeting with him, the ambassador is coming here. So she is a great international notoriety and they loved her son. Botham was a favorite son of that country. And a great executive here already in the city of Dallas. And so, what we are trying to do is lift him up and be more like bo (ph) in everything we do.
WHITFIELD: And so many have said those who knew him, Mr. Jean, that he was a model citizen, a model neighbor. You know, really contributed significantly to the community. So what do you say to, you know, community member who were saying the story is very confusing?
RAWLINGS: I can say, I can relate to them. I mean, on the surface, it's confusing to all of us. And that's why having a set of independent eyes, being thorough about this process is important. I know -- look, in moments of tragedy, we all want to know exactly what happened realtime, OK?
I think good investigation takes a little bit of time and I want to get to the bottom of it. And I want it to be very transparent so everybody knows how we got to the bottom of it. So I call for a little patience here. But making sure that we honor and stand up for the victims' rights here.
[15:40:04] WHITFIELD: Mayor Mike Rawlings, thank you so much. Our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Jean.
RAWLINGS: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, we take a closer look at the amazing life story of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and how she has become a pop culture icon.
WHITFIELD: New York subway line number one has reopened an important station. The World Trade Center, a Cortlandt Street station reopened for the first time since September 11th, 2001.
[15:45:00] The old station was destroyed during the terrorist attacks when the World Trade Center collapsed above it. The new station pays tribute to its history with words of freedom and inspiration along the walls. The opening comes just days before the 17th anniversary of the attack.
Professor, litigator, role model, decenter. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has earned countless titles and accolades during her groundbreaking career on both sides of the bench. And now the new CNN original film "RBG" takes an intimate look at the personal and professional life of Justice Ginsburg who has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. Here's a preview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm proud to nominate this path breaking attorney, advocate and judge to be the 107th justice to the United States Supreme Court.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may be in trying times, but think how it was. In those days the judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To put women on the same plane as men.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite literally changed the way the world is for American women.
GINSBURG: What has become of me could happen only in America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has become such a rock star.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really the closest thing to a super hero I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has known to fans the world over as the notorious RBG.
GINSBURG: All I ask are our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: With me now to discuss this is a CNN Supreme Court reporter, Ariane de Vogue. Ariane, good to see you. So you've covered Justice Ginsburg and the Supreme Court for years now. And on top of being a Supreme Court justice, she has recently really become a pop culture phenomenon. Why do you think she is having such a moment right now?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, you know, in recent years, her dissents really have become scathing. And that's in part, Fred, because Justice John Paul Stevens, he was the most liberal, most senior liberal and he retired and she stepped into his place a few years ago and that means she chooses who writes some of the dissents but she takes on some of the bigger ones herself.
And, for instance, she wrote one in Hobby Lobby. Remember that with the case where a for-profit company didn't want to provide the contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act out of religious -- rejections. And her colleagues ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and she wrote a scathing dissent to all of the males there. And then later some young men picked up the dissent and put it to music and suddenly we see that the younger generation is looking at her. She's this pop icon. She carries a bag called I dissent with her. So it's really amazing to see that transformation, Fred.
WHITFIELD: So is there something in particular that may have happened in recent years that has made her so much more outspoken?
DE VOGUE: Well I think in a lot of ways, she saw what was happening and now, of course, what we're seeing is with Kennedy, Justice Kennedy announcing his retirement, she's only going to have to get more aggressive. Because Kennedy as you know, he was the key vote on those issues, affirmative action, abortion, LGBT rights. Now, those issues could turn at the court and plus we're seeing Trump administration policies come to the court.
We saw the travel ban, right? And we're going to see things like the Dreamer, DACA. We're going to see the Affordable Care Act that Trump administration wants to narrow that. So now she is really -- she's 85, she said she is going to maybe serve until she's 90 even and she's really going to have to continue with these dissents.
WHITFIELD: And so, the contentious and, so I'm going to say, very combative, you know, nomination hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week has caught so many by attention. Do you suppose she was watching it closely or has strong opinions about just how contentious it was?
DE VOGUE: Fred, I'll tell you. If she was watching it, she would have been very disappointed, and I bet she was. And the reason is, is because we look at Brett Kavanaugh, from the Supreme Court perspective, if someone who is going to take the bench for decades and decades to come. But he wasn't really commenting a lot on constitutional issues. Instead what came up a lot in those hearings were politics, right? The Trump administration -- people were asking Kavanaugh, well, does he think that a president can pardon himself, a subpoena, indictment, all those kinds of questions. And then you saw the Republicans on the committee sort of needling some Democrats who might have presidential aspirations. Justices on the Supreme Court and Ruth Bader Ginsburg don't like that because they think then the general public is going to think the Supreme Court is a political branch. And they say that's bad for the court.
[15:50:06] And that's why if she was watching it, she would have been disappointed. As would other members of this court who worry about the politicization of the process.
WHITFIELD: She really has risen through the ranks, you know, I mean, the breathe of her career is extensive from professor to ACLU, lawyer to D.C. Circuit Court judge, to the pinnacle of, you know, the American legal system as a Supreme Court justice. How do you suppose she is hoping her legacy will be shaped?
DE VOGUE: Well, I believe that she'll be one of those rare justices who may be remembered more for the work she did before she took the bench. Because we're all talking about her as this Supreme Court justice, but as you see in this film which I think is so important is that as a young lawyer, she graduated from law school, she couldn't get into any law, any firms. So she became a professor.
And she took on gender discrimination as an issue across the country, trying to strike down laws that discriminated between men and women. And that changed the landscape for women and for gender equality. I believe that's really -- that's one of her most lasting legacies. And that, Fred, that's how she's going to be remembered.
WHITFIELD: Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much.
DE VOGUE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And be sure to tune in, "RBG" airs tonight 8:00 right here on CNN.
All right, still to come, the CEO of Tesla smoking marijuana on camera. Elon Musk's bizarre podcast appearance comes amid scrutiny surrounding his attempt to take his company private. The fallout straight ahead.
[15:56:16] WHITFIELD: Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk is not taking a break from creating some rather eyebrow-raising headlines. Just two weeks after changing course on plans to take Tesla from a public company back to private, he spent more than two hours talking to the podcast host Joe Rogan while smoking marijuana. Tesla's stock fell 6 percent on Friday.
And CNN's Dan Simon picks up the rest.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is one of the world's most successful CEOs with a net worth estimated at more than $20 billion. So when Elon Musk started smoking a joint on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast, people noticed.
ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA & SPACEX: Probably can't because of stockholders, right?
JOE ROGAN, THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE HOST: I mean, it's legal, right?
MUSK: Totally legal.
MUSK: How does it work? Do people get upset at you if you do certain things? There's tobacco and marijuana in there, that's all it is.
SIMON (voice-over): It's just the latest bizarre incident for the high-profile CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. He's a turbulent couple of months.
MUSK: Alcohol is a drug. It's been grandfathered in.
SIMON (voice-over): On the same day, the podcast was published, Tesla's Chief Accounting Officer announced his resignation. He did not cite the incident.
Last month, during emotional interview with the New York Times, Musk said that 120-hour workweeks were taking a toll on his physical health. "I've had friends come by who are really concerned", he said. Some of Tesla's board members have raised concern about his use of the prescription drug Ambien, which Musk admits he sometimes takes to help him sleep. A little red wine, vintage record, some Ambien and magic he tweeted last year.
The 47-year-old engineer has been called the real life Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man, but his reputation taking serious hits.
BOB O'DONNELL, TECHNALYSIS RESEARCH: He's a great tech visionary. It's not clear that he's necessarily a great business leader. And I think that's the fundamental problem that he's running into right now.
SIMON (voice-over): Musk's judgment was also questioned when he announced he wanted to take Tesla private. The company lost merely $2 billion last year and has never earned a profit. Amid a chorus of criticism, he reversed course saying Tesla will remain public.
And even his admirers have to be dumbfounded when he attacked one of the British divers who helped rescued 12 boys this summer trapped in a Thailand cave. After Musk proposed using a Kizi submarine to rescue the boys, the diver called it a P.R. stunt. Musk retaliated calling the man a pedo, short for pedophile. Musk later apologized but then last week in an e-mail to BuzzFeed escalated the attack calling him a child rapist. BuzzFeed says Musk did not provide proof of the claims. The diver is reportedly planning to sue. (on camera): While announcing a slew of management changes, Elon Musk e-mailed his employees saying in part, quote, there will be lots of fuss and noise in the media. Just ignore them. In the meantime, Tesla shares have lost about a third of what they were since August. This latest incident is not likely to help. What will help is profitability and Musk says the future quarter looks bright. It can't come soon enough.
Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.