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Massachusetts 10-Term Incumbent Upset from Left; Tropical Storm Gordon Turns Deadly; Trump Takes Aim at New Woodward Book; Kavanaugh Faces Day 2 of Confirmation. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 5, 2018 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:12] AYANNA PRESSLEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, it seems like change is on the way.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Another Democratic challenger pulls off a major primary upset.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Tropical storm Gordon turning deadly as it makes landfall near the Alabama/Mississippi border.

ROMANS: The Trump White House blasting the explosive allegations in that new book from Watergate legend Bob Woodward.

BRIGGS: Protesters rattled the Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings with a crucial day of questioning ahead.

An extraordinary news Wednesday. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, September 5th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

Good morning, everybody.

Let's begin here. Breaking overnight, a new Democratic primary upset from the left. In Massachusetts, a Boston City councilwoman, Ayanna Pressley, soundly defeating ten-term incumbent Congressman Michael Capuano. The 44-year-old Pressley joins a growing list of younger, more progressive Democrats, many of them women and people of color, winning competitive primaries.

CNN's Miguel Marquez was there, filed this report for us.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Dave, just an absolute upset here in the seventh district of Massachusetts. This district had been tested two times by pollster, in February and this August. In February, Capuano was up by 12 points. This August, just a few weeks ago, he was up by 13 points.

She got people out that don't typically vote. She's a city councilperson in Boston. And even though she was part of the political establishment, even though he was a far left by American standards, a progressive, liberal Democrat, she was able to best him by getting people out with basically the campaign slogan that change can't wait. She wanted a bolder campaign.

Tonight, she talked about doing this not only for women, but for African-American men behind the wall in prison, for immigrants.

Here's a little of how she addressed the crowd tonight when she thanked Michael Capuano for making her a better candidate.

PRESSLEY: Mike Capuano is unapologetically himself. On many occasions throughout the years when there was a strike or a rally, I would find myself sharing a stage, a microphone, or a bull horn with him. And, well, he forced me to bring my best, just like in this race, and I thank him for his 20 years of service.

MARQUEZ: Certainly, this is an indication that insurgent energy amongst Democrats across the country, whether it's Florida or Georgia or New York state, and now here in Massachusetts, is alive and well. Within an hour and a half of the polls closing, Michael Capuano had conceded this race. He clearly knew that the votes were just there for her in a very big way. It seems he may be the victim of a very blue wave already -- Christine, Dave.


BRIGGS: Thank you, Miguel.

Capuano could not have been more gracious. In his concession speech, the 10-term incumbent never faced a serious challenge since taking the seat in 1998. He took the stunning defeat in stride, calling it a sign of the times.


REP. MIKE CAPUANO (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Clearly, the district wanted a lot of change, and apparently, the district just is very upset with lots of things that are going on. I don't blame them. I'm just as upset as they are. But so be it. This is the way life goes.


BRIGGS: Capuano had nothing but praise for Ayanna Pressley, telling supporters she will be a good congressman who will serve Massachusetts well.

ROMANS: All right. Tropical Storm Gordon making landfall late last night west of the Alabama/Mississippi border, and it has already turned deadly. A child killed in Pensacola, Florida, from -- when a tree fell on top of a mobile home. Strong winds from that storm also knocking out power in the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama. Thousands are in the dark. The system tracking to the northwest now, leaving emergency officials

in Mississippi worried about potential flooding.


RUPERT LACY, DIRECTOR, MISSISSIPPI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: One of our concerns is that storm surge. So, we're watching the waters right now, because those winds are shifting on us. As the storm makes its approach, starts to go inland, we'll start to see winds shift and we'll see the tides come up.


ROMANS: Gordon had sustained winds of 70 miles per hour when it made landfall. The system expected to weaken rapidly today, but it could dump as much as 12 inches of rain from Florida's western panhandle to southern Arkansas.

BRIGGS: President Trump on a Twitter tirade last night, seeking to discredit a bombshell, new book by "Washington Post" reporter Bob Woodward. The president suggesting baselessly in one tweet the award- winning veteran journalist is a Democratic operative because the book released two months before the midterms portrays chaos inside the White House.

[04:05:10] CNN's Jamie Gangel has more on Woodward's meticulously reported book.


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, this explosive, new book from legendary journalist Bob Woodward goes inside the Trump White House with Woodward detailing extraordinary measures that senior aides have taken to circumvent the president, to, in effect, step in and stop what they saw as President Trump's most -- and this is a quote -- dangerous impulses, including stealing and hiding documents right off his Oval Office desk.

There are also some stunning revelations about the Russia investigation. Woodward recounts a dramatic session at the White House in which Trump's then personal attorney John Dowd puts the president through a mock interview to see, if he is capable of testifying to special counsel Robert Mueller without perjuring himself. Woodward reports that Trump fails the test.

What's more remarkable is that Dowd and Trump's current attorney Jay Sekulow then go and re-enact the scene to Robert Mueller himself in an attempt to convince Mueller that Trump is incapable of getting through an interview. According to Woodward, Mueller isn't convinced and responds, quote, I need the president's testimony, and then Mueller says, I want to know what was his intent on Comey, I want to see if there was corrupt intent -- Dave, Christine.


ROMANS: Certainly some startling revelations there, and some of the most startling quotes in Woodward's book come from two of the president's top aides. Chief of Staff John Kelly is reported to have called President Trump an idiot, erratic and unhinged. Woodward reports that he ranted in a staff meeting, quote, we are in crazy town! This is the worst job I've ever had.

The book portrays Defense Secretary James Mattis as exasperated and alarmed by the president. Mattis is quoted as saying Trump has the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader. Both men among the chorus of the administration officials pushing back o the book. Chief of Staff Kelly saying he and the president have, quote, an incredibly candid and strong relationship and calling the story, quote, complete B.S.

Mattis also denying he uttered the contemptuous words attributed to him, describing the book as fiction.

BRIGGS: One important player not appearing in the book is President Trump himself. That's why Bob Woodward decided to release audio recordings to prove he did make an effort to interview the president and get his side of the story. Listen now to the conversation between Woodward and Mr. Trump when they connected by phone three weeks ago.


BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: And as you know and are living, we are at a pivot point in history.


WOODWARD: And I would have liked to have done that, and I maximized my effort, and somehow, it didn't get to you or --

TRUMP: It's really too bad, because nobody told me about it, and I would have loved to have spoken to you. You know I'm very open to you. I think you've always been fair, but we'll see what happens.


BRIGGS: No doubt, the president concedes on tape that Woodward has always been fair. Overnight, Mr. Trump suggested the legendary journalist included lies and phony sources in his book.

I should note, he also added, Christine, on that phone call, well, OK, Lindsey Graham did actually tell me that you did want to interview me for this book. So, he lied on that very phone call about knowing about having told him.

ROMANS: And Woodward had lunch with Kellyanne Conway about that and the president denies that he ever heard from Kellyanne Conway. Kellyanne Conway said that she --

BRIGGS: She walked into the office when he was on the phone with Woodward.

ROMANS: Just remarkable. All right. Special counsel investigators responding to President

Trump's legal team, saying they will accept written responses from the president related to whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 election in his favor. Sources say the letter from Mueller's team left open the possibility of an in-person interview as part of a wide-ranging Russia probe. The decision represents a concession by Mueller to Trump's lawyers and appears to make a subpoena of the president less likely.

BRIGGS: Brett Kavanaugh faces another day of confirmation hearings this morning.

One day after this ugly scene. Warring senators, jeering protesters, dramatic demonstration rocks Kavanaugh's hearing on Tuesday. Democrats came ready to attack. Senator Richard Blumenthal, one of the leading voices opposing President Trump's Supreme Court nominee called for the hearings to be adjourned almost as soon as it began. He said his colleagues had not had time to review tens of thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's time at the Bush White House.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Mr. Chairman, we have been denied -- we have been denied real access to the documents we need to advise --

[04:10:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, regular order is called for.

BLUMENTHAL: -- which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms.


BLUMENTHAL: And Mr. Chairman, I therefore move to adjourn this hearing.


BRIGGS: Kavanaugh's views on reproductive rights and environmental protection have been under the microscope since the moment he was nominated, but one senator on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Ben Sasse says opponents' hysteria has nothing to do with Kavanaugh and everything to do with Congress, tweeting this: Judge Kavanaugh doesn't hate women and children. Judge Kavanaugh doesn't lust after dirty water and stinky air. No, looking at his record, it seems to me that what he actually dislikes are legislators that are too lazy and risk- averse to do our actual jobs.

ROMANS: All right. Ten minutes past the hour. Time for an early start on your money.

High-level players from Facebook and Twitter face Congress today. They'll respond to accusations of political censorship and lack of security against foreign interference. The Senate Intelligence Committee will grill Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and chief executive of Twitter Jack Dorsey about their efforts to prevent election meddling this fall and accusations of a lack of effort. Both platforms have admitted to negligence in allowing Russian manipulation on the sites in the 2016 presidential election.

In prepared testimony released yesterday, Sandberg wrote this: We're heavily invested in people and technology to keep our community safe and keep our service secure. This includes using artificial intelligence to help find bad content and locate bad actors.

Dorsey will testify before the Congress about Twitter's algorithms and content monitoring involving hate speech and harassment. Internet giant Google declined to send a high-level executive to Capitol Hill today. That should be very, very interesting.

BRIGGS: And we hear an empty chair might represent Google at these hearings, which will certainly turn into a circus.

A high-profile mayor just made a major career decision.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: This has been the job of a lifetime but it is not a job for a lifetime.


BRIGGS: More from Chicago's Rahm Emanuel, just ahead.

ROMANS: Familiar face replacing the late Senator John McCain on Capitol Hill.


[04:16:10] BRIGGS: Former Republican Senator Jon Kyl tapped by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to replace the late John McCain. Kyl happens to be the Republican attorney who's been advising President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Now he gets to vote on his confirmation.


JON KYL (R), CHOSEN TO FILL JOHN MCCAIN'S SENATE SEAT: It is my honor to be helping on the Kavanaugh nomination. I believe in Judge Kavanaugh. And in that capacity, I've been able to support not just Judge Kavanaugh, but the administration, and I think the proper administration of justice.


BRIGGS: Kyl is well liked by the president's political team and McCain family. He says he won't be running for re-election, leaving open a bruising primary in 2020.

ROMANS: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he will not seek a third term. He announced the decision at a city hall news conference alongside his wife. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMANUEL: This has been the job of a lifetime but it is not a job for a lifetime. Amy and I have decided it is time to write another chapter together. We have more to do, and from now until then, we'll do everything in our power to get it done and walk out the door, hopefully, leaving Chicago and Chicagoans in a stronger place.


ROMANS: Emanuel previously represented Chicago in the U.S. House and was President Obama's chief of staff for nearly two years, bringing his trademark brash style to the mayor's office. Emanuel declared the city a Trump-free zone, harshly criticized the president's immigration policies. Twelve candidates have announced they will run to replace Emanuel next February.

BRIGGS: Well, it's already turned ugly in the Florida governor's race, shaping up to be a fight to the finish. A new Quinnipiac poll shows the Democratic candidate, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, leading his Republican opponent Congressman Ron DeSantis by three points, 50 percent to 47 percent. The race will be the most closely watched contest in November. DeSantis has tied himself to president Trump, who endorsed him in the primary against more establishment figures.

Gillum would be Florida's first black governor. Just days after winning the Democratic nomination, Gillum was targeted in a racist robocall that came just after DeSantis told Florida voters don't, quote, monkey this up by electing Gillum.

ROMANS: North Carolina's unconstitutional gerrymandered map will be used in the upcoming midterm elections. A federal court ruling says there is insufficient time to redraw it before November, and imposing a new schedule for the elections would likely confuse voters and depress turnout. Republicans hold 10 of North Carolina's 13 seats in the House. A redrawn map could affect the overall balance of power. The current North Carolina map will not be used again after November 6th.

BRIGGS: All right. Coming up, famous filmmaker Tyler Perry stepping up to try and solve a 15-year-old mystery.

ROMANS: And another mystery surrounding the most famous slippers in movie history is now solved.


[04:23:28] ROMANS: A warning from the Food and Drug Administration, do not eat, sell, or buy Kellogg's Honey Smacks. The salmonella outbreak linked to the breakfast cereal has sickened 30 more people. That makes 130 total cases in 36 states since the outbreak was announced earlier this summer.

The FDA ordered Honey Smacks removed from store shelves back in June but warned some locations are still selling the product. Get rid of your Honey Smacks.

BRIGGS: Filmmaker Tyler Perry along with civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump announcing a civil suit against a former sheriff's deputy they believe may be responsible for the disappearance of two men 15 years ago. Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos went missing in Naples, Florida, one in 2003, the other in 2004. Both were last seen with then Deputy Steve Calkins, who arrested them. He was later fired for giving conflicting statements to investigators, but no charges were filed.

Tyler Perry now doubling the reward he was offering to $200,000 for information leading to the conviction in the disappearances of the two men.

ROMANS: It wasn't the wizard, but an FBI sting operation that recovered the most famous slippers in movie history, 13 years after they were stolen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tap your heels together three times.


ROMANS: The ruby slippers that Dorothy wore in "The Wizard of Oz" were taken in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota. The pumps, size 5 1/2, are one of four known pairs that Garland wore in the classic film. It is estimated they are worth more than $2 million.

[04:25:01] Authorities still looking for whoever stole the slippers. But they have them back.

BRIGGS: Referred to as the holy grail of Hollywood memorabilia by one prominent author.

ROMANS: All right, a major Democratic primary upset overnight. The challenger who beat a ten-term incumbent, next.

BRIGGS: Plus, all-out war between President Trump and Watergate journalist Bob Woodward over his damaging, new book.






BRIGGS: Another Democratic challenger pulls off a major primary upset.

ROMANS: Tropical storm Gordon turns deadly as it makes landfall near the Alabama/Mississippi border.

BRIGGS: The Trump White House blasting the explosive allegations in a new book from Watergate legend Bob Woodward.