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Yesterday's Kavanaugh Hearing; Jong-un Expresses Unwavering Trust for Trump; Unnamed Official Slams Trump; New Kaepernick Nike Ad to Air; FaceBook and Twitter Execs on Capitol Hill. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET

Aired September 6, 2018 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:30] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In three hours the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh resume for a third day. Wednesday's session went into the late night with Democrats challenging Kavanaugh on presidential powers and abortion rights.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live in the hearing room.

Sunlen's the mayor of this hearing room, at least before 7:00 a.m., joins us with the very latest.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it certainly was a grueling and sometimes contentious 12 hours for Brett Kavanaugh. And today it is indeed round two where he'll face a second day of questioning directly from the senators. And he heads into this committee room facing many Senate Democrats already frustrated with his lack of straight answers.


SERFATY (voice over): President Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh citing precedent and repeatedly refusing to answer questions that could be crucial to the future of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Can a sitting president be required to respond to a subpoena?

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I can't give you an answer on that hypothetical question.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: President Trump claims he has an absolute right to pardon himself. Does he?

KAVANAUGH: Well, that's a hypothetical question.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Do you still believe a president can fire at will a prosecutor who is criminally investigated?

KAVANAUGH: I think all I can say, senator, is that was my view in 1998.

SERFATY: Still, Kavanaugh insisting that President Trump's nomination will not sway his decision-making and stressing the importance of an independent judiciary.

KAVANAUGH: No one is above the law in our constitutional system. We make decisions based on law, not based on policy, not made -- based on political pressure.

SERFATY: The judge seemingly caught off guard when asked whether he had discussed the Mueller probe with anyone at the law firm founded by President Trump's personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz.

KAVANAUGH: Right. I'm not sure I -- do I -- I'm just trying to think, do I know anyone who works at that firm. I might know --

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Have you had a -- that's not my question. My question is, have you had a conversation with anyone at that firm about that investigation? It's a really specific question.

KAVANAUGH: I would like to know the person you're thinking of because what if their's --

HARRIS: I think you're thinking of someone and you don't want to tell us.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: And I think it's unfair to suggest that an entire law firm should be imputed into the witnesses memory when he doesn't know who works at the law firm.

SERFATY: Kavanaugh also facing a grilling on a number of hot button issues, including affirmative action, racial profiling, gun and abortion rights.

HARRIS: Can you think of any laws that give the government the power to make decisions about the male body?

KAVANAUGH: I'm not -- I'm not thinking of any right now, senator.

SERFATY: Kavanaugh telling the committee that Roe v. Wade is settled law.

KAVANAUGH: Well, as a general proposition, I understand the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.

SERFATY: But declining to answer whether he thinks the case was ruled correctly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) our bodies, our choice.

SERFATY: Capitol Police arresting 73 more protesters Wednesday. Senator Lindsey Graham calling for civility.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I just wish if we could have a hearing where the -- the nominees kids could show up. Is that asking too much? So what kind of country have we become? (END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And Republicans hope to confirm Kavanaugh in time for the first day of the new Supreme Court term, which starts on October 1st. And it appears, as long as he makes no big blunders over the next two days here in this committee, as long as he keeps holding the Republican line, of course, it appears he likely will be confirmed, Alisyn, when he faces the full Senate.

[06:35:06] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Sunlen, it is so great to have you there every day in the committee room previewing it for us.

I feel like tomorrow when we come to you, you're actually going to be sitting in that black chair where Brett Kavanaugh sits.

SERFATY: The hot seat.

CAMEROTA: Let me just suggest -- yes, that's great. Thank you so much for the reporting.

BERMAN: She'd be confirmed with a unanimous vote.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, that is true.

All right, meanwhile, now this news.

North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un tells a South Korean delegation that he has unwavering trust in President Trump and that he wants to denuclearize in President Trump's first term. The two Koreas also agreeing to hold another summit.

CNN's Will Ripley has made 19 trips to North Korea. He joins us by phone from Pyongyang right now.

Will, help us not feel whiplash with these talks are on, these talks are off, they are going to denuclearize, they're not. Where are we?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hi, Alisyn.

Yes, we just landed here in Pyongyang. And on the surface everything is on the normal. But there is such a flurry of diplomatic activity happening behind the scenes here.

You know, this -- these remarks that the South Koreans are relaying apparently, they say, promotes North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. This is deliberate language, unwavering trust in President Trump. Kim Jong- un reportedly saying he's never said a bad word about President Trump and that he wants to denuclearize during President Trump's first term.

This is South Korea playing the role that it has really carved out for itself in this whole diplomatic, short-lived era here of almost exaggerated optimism about the situation. But the reality is, President Trump canceled Secretary Pompeo's trip here to Pyongyang that was scheduled for last week because things are not going well between North Korea and the U.S. Their definitions of denuclearization are vastly different. The North Koreans have said that they will denuclearize but first they want a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, which would then give them an argument that the U.S. should pull its 28,000 troops out of South Korea. The United States saying that that kind of concession, a peace treaty, can't come until North Korea has significantly disarmed, given up a large share of its nuclear weapons.

As of now, North Korea hasn't even been transparent with the United States about what nuclear weapons it processes, where the nuclear fuel is being enriched, where they're building missiles, that sort of thing. And here we are in the North Korean capital, perhaps just days away from a major military parade where we could see potentially intercontinental ballistic missiles rolling through this city. But yet you have these kind words designed to, you know, tempt (ph) the ear of President Trump and to certainly discourage him from shifting back to that hard line, that maximum pressure that arguably got North Korea to the negotiating table in the first place.


BERMAN: All right, Will Ripley for us inside North Korea, following the very important developments there.

In the meantime, I want to show you a live picture of the White House. What is going on behind those doors and windows this morning. Who is working on behalf of the president? Who is working against him? And that is an open question this morning after this blistering op-ed in "The New York Times" where this person claims to be among unsung heroes protecting the country from the president.


[06:42:08] BERMAN: An unnamed senior Trump administration official sounding the alarm in a very public way, in a blistering "New York Times" op-ed, declaring that he or she is part of the resistance trying to thwart from within the president's reckless decisions, trying to prevent some of these decisions that the president could make.

Joining us now, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the first female undersecretary of state for political affairs. Her diplomatic career includes working as a lead U.S. negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal. And her new book, "Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power and Persistence," is in my hands and on bookshelves right now.

Ambassador, thanks so much for being with us.


BERMAN: We've been talking for 20 hours now about this really unprecedented op-ed in "The New York Times" today. I want to ask you about specific angles that deal with your area of expertise, and that's diplomacy and foreign affairs.

The person who wrote this suggested that there are two tracks when it comes to foreign affairs and national security inside the White House, the president's track and then I think whoever this person considers the unsung heroes track.

And let me just read you an excerpt of this. On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin's spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But this national security team knew better. Such actions had to be taken to hold Moscow accountable. This isn't the work of the so-called deep state. It's the work of the steady state.

So, to you, are you reassured that these people allegedly exist, or is it disconcerting to you that they have to exist?

SHERMAN: I think it's both. On one hand, we all like to think that the state is a steady ship. Leaders around the world want to know they can rely on what they hear from the president of the United States. So that makes it concerning because you never know when the rug is going to be pulled out from under you.

Let me give you an example.

So the president said he would meet the president of Iran any time, any where, unconditionally. And then, almost immediately, Secretary Pompeo says, well, maybe not so much. Here would be the conditions. And so who does the leader of Iran listen to, the president of the United States, who is the commander in chief, who is the one who can push the buttons and have nuclear weapons go off in defense of the United States of America, or Secretary Pompeo, who ostensively is keeping the ship at sail?

It is very concerning, very worrying. Leaders don't know what to do around the world. And people in our own government, who are assigned to negotiate, which is very tough to do as I explain in this book --


SHERMAN: Takes a really long time. Never know whether they're going to be backed up by the president of the United States.

BERMAN: But you hear it from members of Congress, Republican and Democratic members of Congress, who will say this to you pretty opening that they're so glad that James Mattis is there. They were glad that McMaster was there. And they're glad that the people -- the diplomatic corps (ph) who have held over are still there. Is that something you look at and say you're pretty sure (ph)?

[06:45:09] SHERMAN: Yes, absolutely. I'm -- rather they be there than not. But there's a very thin line here. And the line, which I think we're all trying to wrap our arms around, is, at what point do you really have to, you know, sort of call time out and say, what is going on here is so bad, the president of the United States is so unfit to be president, whether it's the 25th Amendment or, more likely, the midterm elections that lead to a change and to greater accountability for this government and perhaps a change in 2020. Indeed we are concerned -- so concerned that these patriots ostensively, who are holding our government together, they weren't elected. They aren't the president of the United States.

BERMAN: Very quickly, I want to move on to some diplomacy issues. Is this person an unsung hero? Is the author of this op-ed an unsung hero, as he or she asserts?

SHERMAN: I think, sadly, that this person is probably trying to be able to say that there are Republicans who are good guys, who have protected us and are leading us, if you're really cyclical about this, into the midterms saying, we aren't all bad. The Republican Party's a good, really preserver of our institution.

But what really matters here is, who's the president of the United States and who's leading our country.

BERMAN: Do you have any guesses on who might have written it?

SHERMAN: Oh, I think we all have lots of guesses. But I think it's irrelevant. I think if we focus only on process, we're missing the big picture here, and that is what's happening to the leadership of our country.

BERMAN: I agree (INAUDIBLE). I don't think it's irrelevant. I think if this person is a senior cabinet official, it matters a lot more than it could be some -- some relatively lower level functionary inside an agency.

But be that as it may, I want to ask you a little bit about diplomacy, simply North Korea. We have Will Ripley in Pyongyang where the North and South leaders are about to meet again for a third time. That's something. I mean that's not nothing. And when you talk about the impact of the president's foreign policy here, and inside this op-ed and other places, North Korea is right at the center of that. You know, there have been three meetings -- or there will have been three meetings between the leaders of North Korea -- North and South Korea during this administration. Isn't that progress? No matter how we got there, isn't that progress?

SHERMAN: Well, it is progress that we're not at war. That is for sure. We had, you know, months of fire and fury and I think the entire world was worried we were going to be at war. And war with North Korea would be no small matter. Hundreds of thousands of people would be killed. It would be catastrophic for all of us.

I think Will Ripley had it right, though. Even though we've had these good meetings, we are still just so far apart. The North says they want denuclearization, but that means the U.S. military out of South Korea, the U.S. out of the region, North Korea holding onto its nuclear weapons. We, of course, think denuclearization means they get rid of their nuclear weapons. So I think Will had it exactly right about what's going on here. Of course I'd rather us not be at war, but I have no idea what the president's strategy is for getting us anywhere in North Korea.

BERMAN: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thanks so much for being with us. Again, diplomacy is hard, as you note. Not for the faint of heart.

SHERMAN: Indeed.

BERMAN: In your new book. I appreciate it.

SHERMAN: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, John, as you know, NFL season kicks off tonight and Colin Kaepernick is part of it. Just not on the field. We have all of the details in the "Bleacher Report."


[06:52:20] CAMEROTA: Well, the NFL season kicks off tonight and Nike is revealing its first ad with Colin Kaepernick.

Andy Scholes is live in Philadelphia for tonight's season opener amidst some of this controversy.



It's going to be an exciting night here in Philadelphia.

This "Bleacher Report" is brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.

The Eagles are going to be unveiling their first ever Super Bowl championship banner. The fans here, of course, are pumped for that.

But as another NFL season gets going, a guy that's not even playing continues to grab the headlines. Colin Kaepernick remains without an NFL team, but you will see him tonight if you watch the broadcast. Nike says Kaepernick's new Nike commercial will air at some point during the game. Kaepernick narrates the more than 2 minute long ad which celebrates the 30th anniversary of Nike's "Just Do It" campaign.


COLIN KAEPERNICK: And if you're a girl from Compton, don't just become a tennis player, because the greatest athlete ever. Yes, that's more like it.

So don't ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if you're crazy enough.


SCHOLES: Again, that ad will air at some point during tonight's game.

8:20 kickoff between the Eagles and the Falcons. Philly, of course, beginning their quest to try to win back to back Super Bowls. The last team to do it, John, your Patriots back in '04 and '05. And I was going to ask you who you've got winning this year? I'm guessing the Patriots, like always.

BERMAN: Yes, the Patriots. And I'm right like every year. I'll say that every year and I'm right every other year.

CAMEROTA: Wow. Andy, wow, you just --

SCHOLES: I'm going Packers over Texans.

CAMEROTA: What do you do?

BERMAN: That's week one. That's Sunday.


BERMAN: All right, Andy Scholes, great to see you. Thanks so much.

Social media executives grilled on Capitol Hill. What they're doing to prevent foreign influence ahead of the midterms, that's next.


[06:58:11] CAMEROTA: Executives from FaceBook and Twitter on Capitol Hill taking questions on foreign interference and anti-conservative bias. The tech giants acknowledge they have more work to do to protect the midterms.

CNN's Laurie Segall joins us now with more.

OK, that's an important admission.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, I -- a very different tone than past hearings. I was there for Mark Zuckerberg's hearing back in April. It was more, thanks for showing up, how are you protecting us ahead of the midterms? And, you know, FaceBook's Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey, they both made their cases about trying to create a safer platform. Take a listen.


SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, FACEBOOK: When bad actors try to use our site, we will block them. When content violates our policies, we will take it down. And when our opponents use new techniques, we will share them so we can strengthen our collective efforts.

JACK DORSEY, CEO, TWITTER: We don't believe that we can create a digital public square for people if they don't feel safe to participate in the first place. And that is our number one and singular objective as a company is to increase the health of this public space.


SEGALL: It should be noted, there was an empty chair for Google. Google offered to send their senior VP. The committee said they wanted someone more senior. They wanted a c (ph) suite (ph). So they left an empty chair there to send a message, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Why didn't Google send somebody more senior?

SEGALL: Great question. I think a lot of senators had that question. And they said this was the best person. But, at this point, they wanted someone more senior. They want the CEO, the COO of these companies to show up to answer these incredibly challenging and important questions about the future.

CAMEROTA: That sounds fair.

Laurie Segall, thank you very much for all of the reporting.

And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO (ph): It seems like he's the, you know, the commander of the chaos. It looks like there's a tornado every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is somebody working for the president of the United States who is trying to destroy him.

[07:00:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be talking about impeachment. The Republicans are putting party loyalty above patriotism.