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Ohio Special Election Too Close To Call; Trump-Backed Republican Holds Slim Lead In Ohio; Trump's Pick Kobach In Tight Race In Kansas; Josh Hawley Wins GOP Senate Primary In Missouri. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 8, 2018 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will shrink. It will go the way of the wigs and we see evidence, empirical evidence of this every single day. Washington Post just did a story about the Aryan Nation in Potter County, Pennsylvania getting emboldened thanks to Donald Trump and what he has said in his behavior. That is disgraceful and the Republican Party needs to speak out more against that.

DON LEMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it. It's a fascinating three hours here. That's it for our coverage right now but our coverage continues with John Vause in L.A. John?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Don, thank you. Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world I'm John Vause, this is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles and there is breaking news from Ohio at this hour. A special Congressional Election remains too close to call. Many were looking to the vote as a litmus test for the U.S. President. Right now the Trump endorsed Republican Troy Balderson leads with a razor-thin margin. The Democrat Danny O'Connor has not conceded because more than 8,000 absentee and provisional ballots are yet to be counted. Donald Trump campaigned for Balderson and as he claimed victory just a few hours ago, he made a point of thanking the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TROY BALDERSON (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, OHIO: America is on the right path and we're going to keep it going that way. It's time to get to work. Over the next three months, I'm going to do everything I can to keep America great again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Democrat Danny O'Connor also called out the President as he addressed the borders late Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANNY O'CONNOR, (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, OHIO: We see division and discord tearing apart our country. We must remember that each and every one of us are God's children and that all of us need to be treated with dignity and respect and I think we could use a lot more of that spirit in Washington these days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: A lot to talk about the next two hours so let's get to our panel now. Jessica Levinson a Professor of Law and Governance at Loyola Law School, Mo'Kelly Host of the Mo'Kelly show here in Los Angeles, also with us Shawn Steel California Republican National Committeeman and Ron Brownstein, CNN's Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor for the Atlantic. And Ron, to you first, with a big picture here and the implications for the coming midterms just a few months away, every special election we say the same thing focus on the final margin on necessarily who won. So what's the takeaway from here?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I feel like this election put a big sharpie underline under the trends that we've already been seeing in this election on really on both everything that's been happening since Donald Trump's to victory in 2016. On the one hand, there was an unmistakable movement toward the Democrats in the white collar suburban parts of this district. Franklin County which is affluent, diverse well-educated, Danny O'Connor 65 percent of the vote there, really an unprecedented showing for a Democrat. He gained as well in Delaware County but not as much and that ultimately is what's thank him.

On the other hand, we saw Republicans were maintaining very big margins even with slightly disappointing turnout in all the rural parts of the district. And to me, that's basically what we saw in Virginia and Alabama and the special election in Pennsylvania that we talked about a few months ago when Connor Lamb won. The -- you know the distribution of this district was a little different which allow the Republican to maintain this narrow lead and in a place that the incumbent had never won less than 64 percent of the vote in and where Trump and Mitt Romney both won by double digits.

But if you add it all up, John, I think it basically points toward a November election in which the Democrats are in a very strong position against Republicans defending white-collar suburban districts where Donald Trump is much less popular than a Republican president usually is and Democrats facing a much tougher climb in rural and small-town places where Trump remains very strong and the -- I think the upshot of that is that we're going to come out of this election with an even deeper trench between kind of blue Metro America and red non-Metro America and finding any common ground between these two increasingly divergent pieces of the country is going to be even more daunting.

And by the way, points toward an absolute Battle of the Bulge type 2020 election between this urban America in which Trump is very unpopular and a small town in rural America where he remains very strong.

VAUSE: A Battle of the Bulge election in 2020. OK. But for now, they say a win is a win. Donald Trump likes a win. He tweeted a short time ago "When I decided to go to a home Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turnout for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win big in November. So Jessica, to the President's point how, much of this is, in fact, a win for Donald Trump keeping in mind that Balderson he was up one point before the election. It looks like he will win by one point.

JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND GOVERNANCE, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: He held steady against an opponent who was rising. So how much of the win is this for Donald Trump, it's a win only in the sense that he did no harm. I think -- I do not think that the President can point to this and say look at this victory. This is a district that has been held by Republicans for three decades. It's a district that was won by what Mitt Romney, by Donald Trump. It's a district that by all stretches of the imagination should be a solidly Republican district and then you have the President of the United States coming throwing all of his political weight around saying you have to vote for this person and we have about a 1,700 votes dividing the two candidates, we may have a forced automatic recount. I don't think anybody can put this into a win category.

[01:05:31] VAUSE: OK, so Shawn, don't believe Jessica, believe maybe Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster who tweeted this. I'm sure Republicans will celebrate tonight but a one-point victory in that district is nothing to commend. As well the GOP have to do something really significant in September if they want to keep the House in November. You know, and to Jessica's point, this wasn't just a safe Republican district, this was a district which lead 14 points more towards Republicans than the nation as a whole and now the result has come down to a nail-biter.

SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN: Well, it's a Special Election. It has such as a moderate district. It's a close to big urban area Clovis, Ohio and it turns out that despite all what the Democrats mainstream media, Elena Schneider of Politico explaining why it's going to go Democrat and all the predictions and that's going to be the nemesis for Trump, the Democrats lost big. They spent twice as much money, they put out an anti -- no, no, they put out an anti -- they put it in -- Planned Parenthood alone matched the RNC.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Did the candidate raise more money to the Republican candidate and then the Republican Committee statement in --

STEEL: At the last minute. That's true.

VAUSE: But they spent more.

MO'KELLY, HOST, MO'KELLY SHOW: Fact, facts, Shawn, facts.

STEEL: But still the Democrat has more money than the Republican then the outside groups came in and we still don't know the final amount. The unions, there was over a hundred unions who put money into that race. Now, there's more than that. If this was a litmus test of you had a Democrat, a so-called moderate Democrat equivocal on Pelosi equivocal on abortion, equivocal on the Second Amendment, look good, nice guy, divorced attorney. He had all the things going for him and yet the Democrats playing the best face forward couldn't do it in that district. It's a -- it's a failure --

(CROSSTALK)

STEEL: Only a Democrat could lose an election that's got all this popularity behind it and call it a victory. You know, we'll take more victories like that.

MO'KELLY: How can every -- how can everything be going for the Democrat if it's a largely Republican district? Now, I have to ask a question.

STEEL: You were supposed to win. You didn't win.

MO'KELLY: There's no -- supposed to win, yes.

VAUSE: But the Democrats never led in the polls. I think only once was the Democrat ahead of the poll.

MO'KELLY: We're talking facts here and with all due respect --

STEEL: He was going to win. He was going to win.

MO'KELLY: The fact is -- I will say this, it was more symbolic than substantive for the Democrats. Yes, they had some gains but ultimately -- yes, they did not win but the question I want -- the question is whether Donald Trump took a very safe race and put it in jeopardy or whether he took a race which they were likely to lose and then put that Republican candidate over the top. I think it's probably the former more than the latter.

STEEL: You're dreaming. You're dreaming.

VAUSE: Ron, this is to you because initially, Troy Balderson campaigned on the GOP tax cut. He campaigned on the strength of the economy but when the race time, he switched to attacking O'Connor, liberal policies, he went after Nancy Pelosi the Democratic Minority Leader in the House. That meant that at did end of the day the Democrats were the only ones talking about the Trump tax cut. Here's one of the campaign ads they ran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's Troy Balderson. He's running for Congress. And why are those people look so happy? It's because Balderson supports a massive corporate tax break. This rack up $2 trillion in debt and what will that mean for us? Balderson's plan could mean cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

VAUSE: So Ron, what does it say when the Republican tax cut doesn't actually work as a campaign message in the wealthiest district in the state of Ohio?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, it is striking, you know. I mean, that they ended up emphasizing -- the Balderson ended up and particularly the outside groups ended up emphasizing the cultural type themes that the President stressed. There's a lot on immigration accusing the Democratic being for open borders and amnesty for illegals and it is all part of this trade that Trump is imposing on the party which is that he is strengthening their hand in rural areas, in blue-collar areas with Evangelical voters but he is driving clearly again tonight driving away a lot of white collar voters not to mention that he is animating and moving away and alienating millennials and minority voters.

And by the way, one of the reasons why this was OK for the Republicans tonight was because there's an 86 percent white district and you did not have any kind of real minority presence to be part of the equation. But you know, I think -- as I said, from this election you can -- from this election tonight, I think you could draw a straight line from what we saw in Virginia, and Alabama, in Pennsylvania and it points toward significant risk for Republicans in suburban areas everywhere, Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, Miami, Detroit, Orange County, all of those places.

On the other hand, it shows how much of a headwind Democrats still face in the small town of rural areas where those kinds of cultural polarization themes may work better and it all points toward I think Democrats still having the overall advantage for winning the House but the likelihood of just this extreme division after the election and frankly the Republicans who are most uneasy about the direction Trump is taking the party and the electoral trade he is imposing on the party are the ones who are most likely to lose in November kind of stripping those voices out of the caucus and it'll be interesting to see how that plays out if it, in fact, that is the way the election falls.

[01:10:43] VAUSE: Just to get -- just with regard to the Trump tax cut, it's increasingly becoming unpopular. So it's peaked -- spiked rather in popularity a few months ago. It's now down to 34 percent approval according to Monmouth Poll back in June, six points down from a month earlier. By November, by the time the Midterms come around, will the Republicans be even be talking about this tax plan?

LEVINSON: Well, if they don't have other legislative wins to talk about, they'll be talking on the tax plan. You have to talk about having accomplished something --

VAUSE: Well, there's still those wedge issues, its cultural issues.

LEVINSON: Well, I think that there'll be a lot of the wedge issues but I think that the people who will be talking most about the tax plan is what we saw in this election in that case this election was a microcosm of what's to come which is the Democrats are going to say do you like your Social Security? Do you like Medicare? Do you like being able to eat? Do you like being able to feed your kids? Well then you might not like this tax cut that much. And Democrats can show charts of the national debt just ballooning exponentially. I think the other thing that's problematic is that people really aren't feeling it in their pocketbook. The working people, even blue-collar people, even kind of lower white-collar people are not saying look at all this extra money I have in my bank account, maybe I will vote Republican again. And so I think we're going to be seeing much more of this cultural wedge issues from Republicans. VAUSE: We'll get you in a moment Shawn, but Mo, I'm just curious

because if you -- the flip side of this is the Democrats and all these special elections, they seem to be fairly consistent in the message and the candidates they put forward. They put forward these moderate candidates who try to distance themselves in some ways from Nancy Pelosi. They've also been campaigning essentially on issues like health care, like economic fairness and they sort of avoided going after Donald Trump.

MO'KELLY: Because they are speaking to their would-be constituencies. They're taking the detect that all politics is local. They're speaking to directly to the issues of that congressional district or that state and I think you should do that in a midterm election because there is no singular person that people have want to coalesce around for the Democratic Party. So it's incumbent upon them, no pun intended to make sure that they're speaking to the specifics of that district.

VAUSE: So one thing which I've wondered is that when you look at those rallies like you know, the rallies that Donald Trump held during this campaign for Ohio, a lot of people turn up there and there's a lot of grievances. But the President never actually put forward a lot of solutions.

STEEL: The grievances are real.

VAUSE: Sure, but never really solutions.

STEEL: For the -- that's not true. For the -- that's absolutely not true. For the longest time, the blue-collar class has been ignored by both parties, the flyover country, the working person working with their hands, they were always in the Democrat-controlled, they were loyal Democrats a lot at that time and Donald Trump actually introduced middle-class Republicans to this forgotten blue-collar class. It's a huge coalition. You get the middle class along with the working class, it's unbeatable. Now, what are the solutions? How about the best economy we've had since Clinton and Reagan? How about the lowest unemployment in the Black community and the history of measurements? How about --

MO'KELLY: Thanks to Obama.

(CROSSTALK)

STEEL: What did you think George Washington said?

VAUSE: Why didn't they campaign on it then? Why didn't the Republicans campaign on this? Why didn't they --

STEEL: This is the best economy in your life.

MO'KELLY: #thanks Obama.

VAUSE: Shawn, why did they switch to the message halfway through? Why did they switch -- why did the Republicans switched the message halfway about a month or so into this campaign if the economy and all other stuff is great? Why was the message changed to attack O'Connor and trying to bring down Pelosi --

MO'KELLY: They cannot win on their record. That's why.

STEEL: That not true. The fact is both sides actually went into a vicious attack against each other. Every one of these races have been that way are going to be that way. It turns out it was a based election. Our side wanted to win more than the Democrats. And you know what, the Democrats lost and CNN viewers despite the fact that it says not decided, it's decided.

VAUSE: OK. And with that we'll take a short break. We like you all stay with us. When we come back, Donald Trump also his choice for the Kansas governor's race, their primary there, it was not the actual Republican incumbent. We'll see if the President's endorsement paid off in that race. And also had a very rough day of questioning for Paul Manafort's former right-hand man, also the prosecution's star witness, one of the very latest on the trial and how it ties to the Trump campaign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:18:36] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. 18 minutes past 10:00 here on the West Coast. It's our special coverage of election night in five U.S. states. Donald Trump's choice for Kansas governor may not make it to the November.

Despite the president's endorsement, Kris Kobach is locked in a neck- and-neck battle with incumbent Jeff Colyer, for the Republican nomination. The winner will face Democrat state Senator Laura Kelly in November.

In Missouri, CNN project attorney Josh Hawley -- Attorney General Josh Hawley will win the Republican Senate primary and will face the very vulnerable two-term incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.

And in Michigan, CNN projects former state legislator Gretchen Whitmer will be the Democratic candidate for governor, beating out progressive Abdul El-Sayed who will -- was actually hoping to become the first Muslim governor in the U.S.

Back to our panel now. Let's take a closer look at Kansas. Ron, Trump's endorsement of Kobach via tweet came less than 24 hours before the polls open. Kobach seems to think it came just in time, it was a needed boost, and that's been the case in recent Republican primaries. Where the president's endorsement has pushed a candidate just over the line.

I guess, most recently, Ron, it was in Georgia.

[01:19:41] BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Know the president -- look, the president is operating with extremely high approval ratings in the Republican Party. And the entire thrust of his presidency in rhetoric and policy is about consolidating that base.

There's a cost to it, obviously, and we saw again one piece of that cost tonight in Ohio, 12:00, where the suburban -- white-collar suburban areas that have been traditionally Republican in this district moved further away from the GOP.

The other piece of it -- the other cost was not relevant tonight which is this kind of backlash among millennials and particularly minorities which are -- which are not present in that district but in Kansas, you see the continued magnetic pull, I think of Trump, in redefining the GOP in his image as kind of this Ethno-nationalist Party that is very hostile toward immigration and trade.

Kris Kobach, you know was Trump before Trump on those issues, and has been an architect of some of the most controversial policies in the administration. Including the idea of adding a question on citizenship to the census in 2020, which could have a significant effect on who is counted -- and the electorate -- and that thus the Electoral College and redistricting.

So, whether Kobach gets over the top or not -- and as I understand it, many of the votes that are out left or in a kind of more affluent suburban areas, where it may be tough for him. The general trend in the Republican Party is that Trump is consolidating his control over it. And those who feel are -- you know, kind of out of place in this party, have not yet figured out an effective strategy for trying to reverse what is as I said, a trade that he is imposing on the GOP.

Like it or not, trading as Tom Davis likes to say, the country-club for the country.

VAUSE: OK. Well, let's take a look at the president's scorecard so far -- so far. He said, "Overwhelming success in backing winners in the Republican primaries. 18 wins, 1 losses."

When it comes to the general election though, not so good, kind of mixed, Jessica, that seems to be the story of Donald Trump in general. What animates the base can also energize -- you know, the Democrats when it comes to the general election.

LEVINSON: In a shocking twist, the country is really polarized.

VAUSE: Yes.

LEVINSON: And Republicans and Democrats are deeply polarized. And I think, what Ron is saying there are so many pieces of that, that are really important. Part of what we're seeing is two different Americas in the sense of Democrats versus Republicans. We're seeing suburban voters versus rural voters. We're seeing older voters versus younger voters. We're seeing Caucasian voters versus minority voters. There's so many lines of division.

And I think that the Republican Party which I believe is shrinking is becoming the party of President Trump. And I think that the rest of the Democratic Party and people who view themselves as independents are really increasingly put off by this -- I think, dangerous and volatile behavior.

And it's seen in an interesting way in the Kansas race where we have Kris Kobach, who is endorsed by the president, who is someone who has really peddled, lies, about voter fraud. Who has said, we need voter I.D. laws. Who has said, voter fraud exists when none exists, and who has been held in contempt of court based on court proceedings that deal with these various voter I.D. laws.

And this is President Trump's pick, and I think this will -- that in itself shows, this will continue to divide everyone who is an independent, who's a moderate Democrat, they don't like this candidate.

VAUSE: OK. Well, let's listen to Kris Kobach last year on voter fraud. Keep in mind he was the vice chairman from Voter Fraud Commission which ends up fighting no voter fraud, but this is what he said at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATY TUR, CORRESPONDENT, NBC: Do you believe, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 to 5 million votes because of voter fraud?

(CROSSTALK)

KRIS KOBACH, SECRETARY OF STATE, KANSAS: You know we may never know the answer to that. We will probably never know the answer to that question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes, we do know the answer to that question, but I'm just wondering if Trump's endorsement of Kobach, despite the fact that Kansas officials asked him not to get involved -- asked the president not to get involved into this race if the endorsement from the president was simply repaying a debt.

MO'KELLY: I think that was not only repaying a debt, but it's more of Trump being Trump. He likes people who likes him. Who are -- who perform like him, who will espouse the same rhetoric as him.

And the funny thing about this in ironic sort of way, he might have weakened the Republican Party. In that race by having Kobach, if he should win this primary, the president will probably celebrate, but it's actually putting that race in jeopardy in terms of November.

VAUSE: Which exactly what the state officials were worried about and within the Republican Party. But Sean, calling the Republican, he took over from Brownback, the very unpopular governor in Kansas to trigger a very healthy economy and basically trashed it.

But he raise more money, then, Kobach, he was endorsed by the NRA at the back in the Republican Statesman Bob Dole. I was writing to the president's endorsement of Kobach, did that just simply carry more weight?

STEEL: I like Kris Kobach, but I'm pretty -- I don't care who wins Republican nomination. The Republicans got 2-1/2 times voters than Democrats. As Kansas, there's kill -- don't tell me there's even a ghost of accountable, help may help you out, Democrats are not going to get Kansas, they're never going to get Kansas. Now -- (CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: But, it just took to the president, people were talking affair.

STEEL: Now, Trump had a major impact. Then, obviously, it impacted the voters. But again, I -- you know, I'm ambivalent on that. One thing I'm going to give a Professor Jessica, a chances that don't say there's no voter fraud, of course, there's voter fraud.

The Democrats, Democrats legislators in Pennsylvania have been jailed for voter fraud. There's voter fraud in Texas, there are voter fraud -- now, the question is how much is it?

(CROSSTALK)

[01:25:04] MO'KELLY: There is election fraud. That's not (INAUDIBLE).

STEEL: But don't say -- don't use the, absolute. Saying that there's no fraud when there's prosecutions all over the country.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: It's like 0.0000001 (INAUDIBLE).

MO'KELLY: Statistically, there is no voter fraud.

STEEL: Oh, that's silly.

MO'KELLY: You've had a thousand from the past 20 years. A thousand -- that's from the heritage foundation. 1,000.

STEEL: Yes.

VAUSE: OK.

MO'KELLY: Are they not -- are they not valuable?

STEEL: A thousand investigation? So, or 10 -- I mean, look you don't -- you it there's no voter wreck because very few people --

VAUSE: When is voter fraud ever change the result of election? There we go.

STEEL: Yes, yes, in Philadelphia, it'll have -- you'll have -- you have two Democrats --

(CROSSTALK)

MO'KELLY: If there was voter fraud, why did President Trump dissolved his own voter commission?

VAUSE: We will take a break. Ron will be staying with us, everybody else because you -- next hour. When we come back, we'll take a look at the extramarital affair admission, also admissions of embezzlement, also admissions of tax evasion. The prosecution's star witness taking the stand in Paul Manafort trial. More on that in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN "BREAKING NEWS".

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Came up to 10:30 here on the West Coast, we like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:29:55]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody.

Ten minutes to 10:30 here on the West Coast. We'd like to welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Well, under blistering questioning during cross-examination the prosecution's star witness in Paul Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial continue to insist he's telling the truth. Rick Gates was the former Trump campaign chairman's right-hand man.

He was that for a decade, but he admitted to embezzling money from Manafort and said he made a mistake and is now to taking responsibility. Gates also described how he helped Manafort hide millions of dollars in foreign income from Russian-backed Ukrainian politicians to evade U.S. taxes.

Well, for more on this CNN's legal analyst Areva Martin is with us here in Los Angeles; also Ron Brownstein sticking around for more. But Areva -- first to you, you know, this was a brutal cross- examination of Gates; they went on for hours and hours and hours. But before they -- you know, Manafort's lawyers got hold of him the prosecutors put some evidence forward which was kind of interesting. Those e-mails from back in November, and basically it was Manafort who was no longer with the campaign, e-mailing Gates wanting some favors.

Among them he wanted some help to get a job within the administration for a guy called Steven Calk, founder and CEO of the federal savings bank in Chicago. Here's part of the e-mail chain which went from Manafort to Gates.

"We need to discuss SC, Steven Calk for secretary of army. I hear the list was being considered this weekend." And here's what CNN reported last month. Prosecutors and special counsel Robert Mueller intends to present evidence at the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that a banking executive allegedly helped Manafort obtain loans of approximately $16 million while the banker sought a role in the Trump campaign.

The senior executive is unnamed in this filing and in a previous filing prosecutors identified Lender D as the Federal Savings Bank." Ok. In effect they want to work as legal adviser to the campaign; never actually secured that job within the administration.

If you look at it just on the surface, it's looking a lot like pay for play.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. And what's interesting about today was this is the first time that Donald Trump's name really comes up in this trial, and it's not with, you know, the context of collusion, but it is this pay-for-play scheme where Manafort is trying to get loans from this bank and in exchange he's going to help this bank executive get a job in the Trump administration.

And we know that the prosecutor has put into evidence that the documents that are being submitted to this bank for this loan are fraudulent documents. So Rick Gates is walking the jury through his role and Manafort's role in this scheme to defraud essentially this bank in exchange for this bank executive getting hired on with the Trump administration.

VAUSE: So Ron -- to you, you know, Areva mentioned this is the first time the Trump campaign has actually been referred to but up until now it was always a presidential campaign. So now we have a situation where there's what appears to be pay for play, Manafort and Gates sort of manipulating, you know, administration appointments. It didn't quite happen but at least there appears allegedly to be an attempt. At the very least it's not a good look for the President.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. you know, let's start with the foundational problem that his campaign chairman, you know, seems very much on track towards being convicted on a series of financial fraud charges relating to his work for foreign interests who were in a position to put him under enormous pressure.

I mean, you know, if you think about someone who was potentially vulnerable to being kind of pressured by foreigners, foreign interests, who would fit that description more than Manafort.

And the thing that's kind of interesting about this trial, and I'm not the legal analyst here, but just kind of looking at it as an observer is that for all of the fireworks over this, the testimony of Gates and the accountant and particularly Gates and the cross-examination, just the documentary evidence here just seems so powerful and so overwhelming that it does kind of bring you back to this question that I think people have been asking since the indictment came down which is what is the reason that Manafort has chosen to go to trial?

Why hasn't he made a deal with the special counsel? And is there any chance that that could change after a verdict is reached in this trial?

VAUSE: And just very quickly, Ron -- if you look at what we know so far, we know that Manafort was not being paid for his role as the Trump campaign chairman. It's starting to look like he was being paid by somebody else. BROWNSTEIN: Or that he was anticipating that there would be

opportunities to make money off of that influence down the road. I think that clearly looks like the play here, you know. But look, I mean Manafort -- whatever happens to Manafort I think is not of great, you know, moment to the kind of the future of the republic. The question really is what does he do if he is -- if he is convicted?

And, you know, so far there's been no indication of him willing to make a deal with Mueller. On the other hand, I think Gates has shown himself to be a pretty effective witness, even with all of the flaws and blemishes.

[01:35:00] And prosecutors will tell you that when you've got people from inside criminal conspiracies to testify, very rarely are they choir boys. So I mean that isn't particularly unusual, he has shown a lot of, you know, potential as a witness.

And also, I think the Mueller team has shown tremendous ability to piece together a case, and I'm sure that has not failed to catch the attention of the Trump lawyers.

VAUSE: Areva, to the point that Ron was bringing up about Gates. You know, the strategy is obviously from Manafort's lawyers to try and destroy his credibility.

MARTIN: Yes. And they want to --

VAUSE: So can they save their client by destroying Gates' credibility.

MARTIN: Well, they want to destroy his credibility. They also want the narrative, John, to be that Gates was acting independently and that he was the one that was, you know, involved in these fraudulent schemes, he was hiding the money. That he was the person in charge of, you know, the finances and that Manafort was not directing him.

And you know, really it's distancing Manafort away from Gates and Manafort's attorney walked out of the trial and said this was a good day for Paul Manafort. And I think they did think that the statement was made because he did come under some pretty blistering cross- administration.

He had to admit and talk about the sexual fear that he was having, these false invoices that he submitted, that he himself was stealing money -- not just that he and Manafort were stealing money and hiding money and, you know, engaged in tax evasion; but that he himself was committing crimes against Paul Manafort. So, you know, he's not the kind of witness that jurors are going to like.

VAUSE: But there was one moment I think, and I forget the exact wording, where something came up that Manafort was very disappointed about, you know, paying too much tax. And it was basically he sort of chastised Gates for it which seemed to imply very much that, you know, Manafort was the one who was the boss. He was the guy in charge.

MARTIN: And that's to Ron's point about the documentary evidence. You have this criminal, Rick Gates, who is the star witness in some ways for the prosecution. But the prosecutors are not relying solely on Rick Gates.

And they have presented tremendous amounts of documentary evidence to support and to corroborate their theory of this case. And after Gates is gone, after his testimony is concluded, we should expect to see other witnesses to come forward, e-mails, you know, other bank records and other financial documents to support the government's case because jurors I think aren't going to like Rick Gates.

He was evasive today. He was combative even with the defense attorneys and jurors don't like that. So they're going to have to decide, you know, who is telling the truth as between Rick Gates and Paul Manafort who --

VAUSE: That's going to be a hard decision.

MARTIN: -- they may not hear from. They may not hear from Paul Manafort.

VAUSE: He won't take the stand.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Gates wouldn't even look at Manafort, wouldn't even make eye contact.

We'll leave it there. Areva -- thank you so much. Come back next hour, please. And, Ron -- thank you. We appreciate you being with us.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks -- John.

VAUSE: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., a climate change emergency with a new study warning global warming might soon cross a tipping point and nothing we could do will be able to stop it.

[01:37:58] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Welcome back -- everybody. It is 10:41 here on the West Coast. And we are following breaking news out of Ohio where a special election seen as a test of Donald Trump's popularity remains too close to call.

Right now Republican Troy Balderson has a slight lead in the 12th district race, a district Donald Trump won by 11 points in 2016. But more than 8,000 absentee and provisional ballots have not yet been counted.

Balderson is still claiming victory. He is thanking Donald Trump in a speech to supporters. That was just a few hours ago. Meantime the Democrat Danny O'Connor says he will continue to fight.

Well, the historic wildfires ravaging California are highlighting the catastrophic effects of climate change. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore is among many environmentalists who are sounding the alarm. Al Gore writes that "deeper droughts and longer hotter summers driven by the climate crisis are making wildfires more common and increasingly worse. The U.S. President has mentioned several reasons for the ferocity of the fires but he's not mentioned the words "climate change".

Jess Phoenix is a geologist and a volcanologist. And this year she ran for a U.S. congressional seat representing the district of California. Welcome back.

Ok. The tweet from vice president Al Gore, that's typical. We see that kind of a lot -- almost eye glazing warning in many ways. What is not typical is this warning that we're hearing from the authors of this new study from the Stockholm Resilience Center. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHAN ROCKSTROM, STOCKHOLM RESILIENCE CENTER: If we pass two degrees Celsius most indications are that we can still adapt. But if we reach three or four degrees Celsius warming from the evidence we have today looking back geologically, it would moan a planet that cannot basically serve the modern world as we recognize it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Cannot serve the modern world as we recognize it. You know, this study is warning that regardless of what we do the planet could be on its pathway to destruction.

JESS PHOENIX, GEOLOGIST AND VOLCANOLOGIST: Right. I mean we -- our goal needs to be to stabilize the planet. If we can stabilize it at about two degrees Celsius which is a little over three degrees Fahrenheit, then we've got a chance at just having to deal with the coral reefs dying off, the Persian Gulf becoming uninhabitable and sea level rising several feet which is a big enough challenge. If we go beyond that it really becomes difficult for us to maintain the same way of life that we have now.

VAUSE: Ok. Here's part of the report. "The earth system may be approaching a planetary threshold that could lock in a continuing rapid pathway towards much hotter conditions. They are calling it hothouse earth. This pathway would be propelled by strong intrinsic bio-geophysical feedbacks difficult to influence by human action, a pathway that could not be reversed, steered or substantially slowed. The impacts of a hothouse earth pathway on society would likely be massive, sometimes abrupt and undoubtedly disruptive."

What they're warning is that there's a tipping point coming here with the way the earth operates and, you know, natural forces which in the past have protected us in some ways, you know, from CO2 gases. And climate change will start working against us and then we're in big trouble.

PHOENIX: Yes. And this is something we've known about since 1896.

VAUSE: Not breaking news. PHOENIX: This is not breaking news which is funny that we're here --

[01:40:01] VAUSE: Yes.

PHOENIX: -- but the problem is that for too long people have passed the buck. They've said, well, you know, it's not now so I don't have to deal with it in my job. And we saw that through different administrations back in -- you know, as far back as Johnson moving up through, you know, Carter, and all the way up to recent administrations.

And you also see scientists trying to get the message out but not understanding how politics works. And you know, in order to get action we need to show people that this is -- it's not some day. Some day is now.

VAUSE: Ok. this all comes on a day when research found that CO2 levels are at an 800,000-year high as of last year which would be nothing apparently if we cross this threshold because all those marsh lands and swamps and areas which absorb the CO2 right now, they will then release all that into the atmosphere and this is one of example of what could happen.

PHOENIX: Yes. And you know, basically what happens is a lot of our CO2 is stored currently. And it will -- it can be released and other hydrocarbons can be released as well as everyone who has heard about the melting of the ice caps, et cetera.

But we're also going to see die-offs of a lot of marine mammals and terrestrial mammals too, and marine organisms because a warmer ocean has less nutrients in it. So entire ways of life, fishing communities, people who depend on the oceans and our whole planet. It basically helps our planet breathe.

VAUSE: Ok. It's unclear though what the chances are that this will happen. Again I'm going to quote from the report. "Other scientists acknowledge the situation laid out in the new paper as uncertain as it is somewhat speculative and not covered by most existing climate change predictions. But they nonetheless admitted it was plausible."

PHOENIX: Yes.

VAUSE: So that's in there. And we know it's going to happen and we know what happens with climate change deniers and those who doubt the science. They point out and say look, they don't even know if it's even going to happen.

PHOENIX: That's scientific talk and it's because scientists don't ever want to say anything is 100 percent absolute --

VAUSE: Right.

PHOENIX: -- because we're really good at, you know, in finding new technology or proving ourselves wrong. But I'm just telling you person to person right now, this is not a partisan issue. This is not a country-specific issue. Our climate is being stripped away from us right now because of our own actions. And we can take steps to help prevent this from being, you know, irreversible damage that we can't live with.

But we have to act and we've been saying this. Scientists have been saying this since the 70s.

VAUSE: Yes.

Unfortunately, there's not the global leadership from this country as this president won't --

(CROSSTALK)

PHOENIX: We have to help, and it has to be all the countries. It can't be one person and one country only.

VAUSE: Right. Jess -- thank you.

PHOENIX: Thanks so much -- John.

VAUSE: A short break. When we come back, Elon Musk shocks Wall Street announcing via Twitter he wants to take Tesla private. The Investors like it.

[01:47:30] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

Elon Musk has stunned investors announcing he wants to take his company private. In a tweet he said he's already lined up funding at $420 a share, this would be for Tesla.

Let's go to global business executive Ryan Patel -- because SpaceX, his other company, is already private. Ok.

If you look at the last part of the tweet there, he wrote fund secured -- exclamation point. No details have been released about, you know, how all this will be financed which raises the question at $420 a share, Tesla would be valued at what -- about $60 billion, $70 billion -- more than any other U.S. carmaker? That's a pretty big price tag for a company which has never actually made a profit and is burning through a ton of cash.

RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: Well, he would tell you that they are about to make a profit.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Show me the money.

PATEL: Hence why they want to go private.

VAUSE: RIGHT. And I think part of this is as an -- as him being an entrepreneur and I've been -- I've worked for three publicly-traded companies, this is the move you want to go is to go private for him. And not to have to face -- not to face backlash from the short investors that he has.

He doesn't have to take the backlash to Wall Street, and, you know, you think about this for a sec. What did he just do? What he did was he increased his 11 percent by just a tweet.

VAUSE: Right.

PATEL: He went -- and pretty much said, you know what, I don't want to deal with this. I want to just close shop, go back and I did it all on Twitter. He won. There isn't -- he won for himself.

VAUSE: Yes. Ok.

PATEL: Because I think, again, not everybody right now on Wall Street wants to be a publicly-traded company and him specifically this is now his realm.

VAUSE: Well, that's interesting. Because here's part of the reason that he touched on this. He put this out on his blog. "As a public company we're subject to wild swings in our stock price that could be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter but not necessarily right for the long term.

Yes, ok -- well welcome to the world of publicly-listed companies. Put on your big boy pants and grow up.

PATEL: Well, that's what -- but he -- again, if we know, if you've been live around Elon -- he's out there. He said he's out there when it comes to thinking. He's not made for this, right.

VAUSE: Then why take it public in the first place?

PATEL: Well, now he's learning that he shouldn't have.

VAUSE: He wants a do-over.

PATEL: I mean he -- the thing about an entrepreneur like himself --

VAUSE: Right.

PATEL: -- he's been able to get what he wants, right. He took something, he made it great and then all of a sudden he has to report to somebody. That's not his style, right, at the end of the day. I'm not saying it's right or wrong but for him --

VAUSE: Ok.

PATEL: -- when I saw the news, I'm like, what did he do? I mean it was him.

VAUSE: Ok. A good play for him, maybe not the best for investors. Ok. Recently, you know, he apologized for his odd behavior during the earnings call when, among other things, he said boring bonehead questions. They're not cool. Next.

And you remember, during the rescue of those kids in the cave in Thailand he actually had to apologize after he got into a Twitter fight with one of the rescuers and labeled him a pedophile. And now we've got this.

It seems a little loopy, a little sort of, you know, off balance. How long can he get away with this for?

PATEL: Not very much longer. I think he lost this from Thailand tweets specifically. I think he lost a little bit of credibility on that, not just with Wall Street but with individuals. And I think with this, you know, now people are questioning, not to say his attorney, is this legal that he can tweet it and he's got 22 million followers or whatever the number is and now people are talking about it.

These are distractions.

VAUSE: Yes.

PATEL: If you're a CEO of a company, publicly-traded company or any company nowadays --

VAUSE: There are rules.

PATEL: -- There are rules.

VAUSE: Very quickly, because he had a lot of goodwill from the SpaceX, (INAUDIBLE) from that. Everyone was celebrating the cows in space and everybody thought he was, you know, a bit of a hero. And all that goodwill seems to have gone.

PATEL: Listen, it's what have you done for me lately.

VAUSE: It's a cruel world.

[01:55:00] Ryan -- thank you.

PATEL: Thanks.

VAUSE: Cheers -- mate.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. I'll be back with a lot more after a very short break >

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Hello everybody. We're coming to 11:00 here on the West Coast. We'd like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm John Vause.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

And we begin with breaking news from Ohio where the race for the 12th congressional district is too close to call. Donald Trump campaigned just a few days ago for the Republican Troy Balderson but he's now locked in a nail-biter with Democrat Danny O'Connor.

This race should never have been this close. The state has been in Republican hands for more than three decades. But Democrats say their strong showing gives them momentum heading into November's midterms. Thousands of ballots still have to be counted and O'Connor is not conceding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[02:00:04] DANNY O'CONNOR (D), OHIO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We see division and discord tearing apart our country.