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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Described As An "Idiot", "Unhinged", "Liar", "Moron" By Current And Former Staffers In Bob Woodward Book; Bob Woodward Book: Trump Told Aides Sessions Was "Mentally Retarded" And A "Dumb Southerner". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 4, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in ""The Situation Room."" ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, we have breaking news. The President doing damage control after an explosive new book portraying the White House in complete chaos, quite frankly, staffers calling the President an idiot and an f'ing moron.
Also breaking, Republicans just now speaking out after claims President Trump used vulgar and highly offensive language to describe his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And, we have some more breaking news. CNN is learning Robert Mueller may be one step closer tonight to getting the answers he wants from President Trump. Let's go OutFront.
Good evening, I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight with breaking news. Crazytown. That according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward is how Chief of Staff John Kelly describes life inside Trump's White House. Kelly, along with other top aides painting a damning portrait of the west wing and the man occupying the Oval Office.
CNN obtained a copy of the book yet to be released titled "Fear". And what is described in the 448 pages, well, I said it last night, I'll say it again, there's a lot. Top aides spending their day trying to circumvent the President ignoring orders, hiding information, even swiping documents from the President's desk and that is really just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the deeply sourced book, Kelly goes to -- goes on to describe Trump as an idiot, unhinged, and off the rails. Defense Secretary, James Mattis, describing Trump as having the understanding of a fifth or sixth-grader. Trump's former personal lawyer, John Dowd, describing the President as an f'ing liar. And Secretary of State -- well former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, calling Trump, quote, f'ing moron.
Woodward also describes the President who was obsessed with his standing in the media and his poor supporters, which may explain why the President sought out a friendly conservative website to do damage control tonight. His first remarks predictable telling the Daily Caller the statements may have come from, in his words, disgruntled employees or just made up. Adding, also, it's just another bad book. Woodward had a lot of credibility problems.
Here's the thing about that one. When it comes to Woodward, history has shown he has credibility and not only that, there are tapes. President Trump said himself on the record, on tape in early August that Woodward is fair. Here's a portion of a phone call between the two men.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think you've always been fair.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Yes, you've always been fair, Trump says. CNN is also reporting at least a dozen former and current White House officials confirmed they spoke to Woodward for his book. As for Woodward, his response to Trump's attack, five words, "I stand by my reporting."
Jamie Gangel is OutFront live in Washington with us tonight. Jamie, you have read the entire book. You were able to get an early copy of this. One of the more remarkable, I guess, themes emerging, Jamie, is just how much the President's closest and senior aides distrust the President.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There is no question. We've been hearing about chaos and dysfunction. The difference with Bob Woodward's book is the level of detail and that this comes from the people who are closest to him, from his inner circle. The book opens with just a dramatic scene where former Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn, sees a draft letter on the Oval Office desk. He realizes that it shouldn't be there and he says, according to Woodward, quote, that he was appalled because he felt that if the President signed this letter, it was a danger to national security. So he goes in, he goes over to the desk, he steals it and he says, Woodward reports, got to protect the country.
What you see are -- and it's not just Gary Cohn, Rob Porter, others. And they say it was done with the acquiescence of former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. There is a pattern in this book of these people around the White House. I would describe it that they think of themselves as the thin blue line protecting the country, Kate.
BOLDUAN: You also have new reporting this evening, Jamie, about another kind of scene described in the book and it's really the first time these very confidential talks between the President's attorneys and Robert Mueller, that they're being revealed. The President's lawyer -- then lawyer, John Dowd, he was convinced that Trump would perjure himself if he testified, if he sat down for an interview. So they did a mock interview with the President. Trump failed the interview according to the book.
And in the book, Dowd described Trump as a, quote, f'ing liar and says that he would end up in an orange jump suit if he testified. Dowd then goes to Mueller. What happened and how crucial is this moment?
[19:05:05] GANGEL: So I just want to say that the quote in Woodward's book about an orange that the President would end up in an orange jump suit. Woodward reports that John Dowd actually said that directly to the President. He didn't say the bleeping liar to him. Woodward reports that that's what he was thinking but couldn't say. But he's so convinced that the President is incapable of telling the truth. According to Woodward's book, that he and another attorney, a present personal Attorney Jay Sekulow, they go to Mueller's office. Now, we've never see. This is unprecedented behind the scenes.
What do we just -- the word we use about Mueller in the investigation is secretive. We've never seen this. They go to the office and in an attempt to try to convince Mueller that he's got to let Trump out of this interview or do an interview where the President gets to answer all the questions ahead of time in a script. They reenact the mock interview that John Dowd did in the White House. And John Dowd plays Robert Mueller and Jay Sekulow plays President Trump and they go back and forth and try to show Mueller that the President is simply incapable of telling the truth. And Woodward reports that at the end they say, you see, this is what will happen. We just can't let him testify.
BOLDUAN: So the White House is calling these fabricated stories. Now at least in my count Dowd, John Kelly, James Mattis, and now Giuliani I think this evening have all issued statements in some way denying some of the reporting in the book. I mean, you know Bob Woodward well and the quality of his reporting. What do you make of that?
GANGEL: So I would say a couple of things. I actually thought that the Chief of Staff Kelly's push back was fascinating because he said, I didn't call him an idiot. But in the book Woodward also says that Kelly calls him unhinged, erratic, and that he's worried about, quote, dangerous impulses. So, the only one that he was denying, for some reason, was the word idiot.
But to Bob Woodward, Bob Woodward is a legendary investigative journalist. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He interviewed dozens of sources, all firsthand people who've been in the room with Trump. And when you read the book, what you will see is that they're all quoted extensively. And why are they quoted extensively? Bob Woodward did hundreds of hours of taped interviews with his sources. He is known for his credibility. And in the past when he's been questioned, you know, there's the great denial that happens when a book comes out and people don't like the way they've been quoted, but then it's proven that it was accurate.
BOLDUAN: It's all coming back to tapes, Jamie.
GANGEL: That's right.
BOLDUAN: It's all coming back to the tapes.
BOLDUAN: All right, Jamie, stick around. I'll also add to the conversation right now, John Dean is here. He is a former Nixon White House Counsel. And Eliana Johnson, she is a White House Correspondent for POLITICO. Thanks guys for being here tonight.
John, I've got many questions, but an attorney to the President warning him that he can't testify because he's going to perjure himself. A mock interview that he fails and then his attorneys -- the President's attorneys accusing the President of lying to them. Does this sound familiar at all?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: A little bit, but not totally. One thing, Richard Nixon was very competent at all times. We're getting out of this report a lot of incompetence. Trump is -- lies about everything, Nixon only about big things. But Nixon did not report to his lawyers, did not keep his lawyers informed and his final lawyer, indeed, had to go back up to the House Impeachment Inquiry and confess that he had been misled by his client, which is not good.
BOLDUAN: Which is not good, I think -- yes. No true words have been spoken there, John. Eliana, in public words, note to readers in his book, he says this, in partly says. He says, President Trump declined to be interviewed for this book, and that is an issue that the President raised with Woodward in this phone call that we played you a portion of just earlier. Let me play a bit more for our viewers.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Who did you ask about speaking to me?
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR": Well, about six people. You know --
TRUMP: Well, they don't tell me.
WOODWARD: Senator, I talked to Kellyanne about it two and a half months ago.
TRUMP: Who were the senators? They never called me about it.
WOODWARD: Senator Graham said he had talked to you about talking to me. Now is that not true?
TRUMP: Senator Graham actually mentioned it quickly on one meeting.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Now follow me here. Again, I could feel like I have to say this every night.
[19:10:00] This is really quite a bizarre thing that ends up playing out, Eliana. I mean, he says he was never told about any interview. He contradicts himself and acknowledges he was then told, and then Kellyanne -- he actually puts Kellyanne on the phone with Bob Woodward who then admits to Bob Woodward that he did put in a request through her and others to get an interview and she said the request was rejected. I mean, what is going on here?
JOHNSON: You know, Kate, if there's one thing we know, it's that Trump is a master of getting his message out to the media, and I spoke to a former White House official today who said that he finds it impossible to believe that the request to interview Trump from Woodward would not conveyed to the President and believes the President simply didn't want to talk to Woodward. So I think it's convenient that Trump ultimately reached out to Woodward when it was too late to speak to him on the record for his book but did get the message out, gee, I wanted to talk to you. So sorry I got to you after the deadline.
I think that's a message Trump wanted the readers of Woodward's book to hear and he spoke very calmly, admitted that Lindsey Graham did convey the message. Ultimately, if the President wanted to talk to Bob Woodward for this book, I think he would have. And I think that's the take away from that conversation.
BOLDUAN: Maybe fits him, again, into this category of the staff trying to protect the President from himself. John, as Jamie mentioned earlier, the book opens with this dramatic scene and she describes it the painting a picture of the staff thinking the President is a danger to himself, to the country, he's a national security risk. National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, Joan Walsh in the book about stealing the document off the President's desk is this. "I wouldn't let him see it. He's never going to see that document. Got to protect the country." A country that needs protecting from its own President, I mean, can you see this happening?
DEAN: It's a great title, "Fear", because that's what this presidency causes for a lot of people who understand the presidency like my self. He gives me a knot in my stomach because I know he doesn't have a clue what he's doing and he has ever since election night.
BOLDUAN: Is that --
DEAN: So, they're acting wisely.
BOLDUAN: Was that a consideration? Was that ever -- in Nixon's time, to start swiping documents from his desk?
DEAN: Never. I heard -- no, I know staff at times moderated and filtered what he was saying, but never took any documents about it.
BOLDUAN: Eliana, according to Woodward, the White House is described as crazy town by John Kelly. He also according to book describes the President as an idiot and unhinged as we've talked about. They have had a touch and go relationship. What do you think the impact of this book is going to be on that?
JOHNSON: You know, Kelly worked to tamp down speculation about his departure, which really had been rampant, by announcing to White House aides that he had agreed to stay on at the White House through 2020.
JOHNSON: And I think very few people in the White House really believed that. But we know that the beginning and the end for Rex Tillerson was the news that he had called Trump an expletive moron. Trump disavowed publicly Steve Bannon on the news of what he had told Michael Wolf for his book, and so I think it would not be surprising if Kelly's tenure was cut short by word of what he has reportedly told Bob Woodward in this account. And we heard the President telling Bob Woodward over the phone, you've always been fair, I trust you, and so on. So I think Woodward's book carries more force with this President than perhaps some of the others.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And Jamie, can you just put this book in perspective here. What do you think the full impact of this really could be? I mean, is this just another bad book as the President is putting in interviews now?
GANGEL: I don't think so because of Bob Woodward's credibility. You know, he describes the book -- in the book he used a phrase that it was the nervous breakdown of an American presidency that he was seeing. But just to step back, what do we want a President to do? We want them to be able to manage a crisis when we have one. Throughout this book, there is one theme, and that is the sense that as Woodward reports, the top aides around him don't think that this President has what it takes to manage a crisis.
BOLDUAN: Jamie, thank you so much. Really appreciate your reporting. Great to see you. John, Eliana, thank you guys so much. Appreciate it.
OutFront for us next, we're going to have more on the breaking news including the offensive insult President Trump is said to have hurled at Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Yet, another one. Plus, a fiery start to the confirmation hearings for the President's Supreme Court pick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: That is unprecedented. That is not regular order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That is Senator Mazie Hirono. She is my guest.
And breaking news, Gordon is gaining strength and closing in on the Gulf Coast, expected to make landfall shortly. Damaging winds, wrenching rains already pounding several areas. We're going to have the very latest. That's coming up.
[19:18:57] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, the ultimate betrayal. That is how President Trump viewed Attorney General Jeff Session's decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe. That coming out of the new book by Bob Woodward. Woodward is reporting that Trump told an aide Sessions was, quote, a trader and that during a conversation with former staff Secretary Rob Porter, Trump feigned a southern accent and also said this then of Sessions. "This guy is mentally retarded. He's this dumb Southerner." Republicans on Capitol Hill tonight far from happy with learning of these comments. Manu Raju is OutFront with more on this. Manu, what are you hearing from Republicans on this?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, I talked to a lot of Republican senators tonight. And I can tell you, Kate, a lot of them are just not happy with this. They're very concerned the President crossed the line by these apparent comments that he made in private and this coming after months of going after Sessions in a very public way because as the Attorney General's decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.
Now, Senator Johnny Isakson said he resents those comments. Senator Ron Johnson told me it was totally inappropriate and Senator Lindsey Graham just moments ago also raising concerns that he was very uncomfortable about this. And now he thinks that Bob Woodward is a good reporter.
[19:20:12] Now this comes after that tweet from yesterday where the President attacked Sessions for not preventing two Republican congressmen for being indicted. And when I talked to two other key senators about this, they also pushed back.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I'm appalled by those comments, the President's continuing public humiliation of the Attorney General is deeply inappropriate.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: He doesn't like his service. He can look him in the eye and terminate him. So, you know, whining is pretty unbecoming of a 13-year-old but very unbecoming of a 71 or 72- year old President.
RAJU: Now Corker went on to say, Kate, that the President's tweet from yesterday going after Sessions for not preventing those two Republican congressmen from being indicted is a sign that this -- if it were up to the President, if you're up to his, quote, own accord, that he could turn this country into Venezuela, an authoritarian regime. So some pretty strong comments coming from Capitol Hill about their former colleague, Jeff Sessions. Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes, I would say so. Manu, thanks so much. I really appreciate it.
Let's talk about this. OutFront right, a member of the Trump 2020 Advisory Board, Rob Astorino and National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, Joan Walsh. Thanks, guys, for being here. First, Rob, your reaction to what you heard from Republicans there on Capitol Hill. One Republican Senator, Susan Collins, I mean, she was calling it appalled, called it humiliating. Is Senator Collins right to be appalled, what Trump said about Sessions?
ROB ASTORINO (R), FORMER NEW YORK GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first, let's start with the basics and it's alleged, right? It's something that Bob Woodward is putting in his book. We had a previous book that got a lot of attention for two straight weeks that was taken as Gospel and some of that was proven to be false.
And I do think that obviously some of these, if they were said, they're not nice. Certainly not nice, and it's unbecoming of a President to say something like that. But, again, if they were said in private, you would hope that people within the White House would keep them private and that's a complete separate issue of how this stuff got in a book if it's true.
BOLDUAN: Joan, let me just -- this just came up so let me read it to you. I want you to react. Donald Trump just tweeted about the book.
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Great.
BOLDUAN: More about the book and he wrote, when it comes to the quotes from Mattis, Kelly, all the quotes, they're quotes from made up frauds, a con on the public. Likewise other stories and quotes, Woodward is a Dem operative. Notice timing he asks. I assume that means -- on the fly I'm assuming it's meaning, this -- I don't know, is he trying to say this is like the October surprise or something?
WALSH: Notice the timing, he finished the book. I don't know what that means. We've known about the book for over a month, Kate. And we also have tweets. There's always a tweet from Donald Trump for every occasion, right? We've had tweets where he laughs at Obama for criticizing Woodward and says Woodward has the goods and Woodward is a good reporter and a good writer. I mean, I don't know how Rob, you can impeach him on this with no evidence.
People have problems with his methodology periodically. But people don't come out and call him a liar. He's not known to be a liar. We have other people -- this is not the first time that Donald Trump is said to have called his own Attorney General a dumb Southerner. And, you know, I think every Democrat running in the South should put this on a billboard, that Donald Trump thinks you're all dumb southerners, that he would use that. Let's not get into the fact that he used the R word which is a really disgusting epithet that decent people don't use in this country anymore. You know, I'm not shocked but it's all a little bit more disgusting than it was yesterday.
BOLDUAN: I mean, Lindsey Graham was asked and he said that, you know, this doesn't look good for folks in the South if this is what you're saying. I mean, should he be concerned?
ASTORINO: First of all, I think that 90 percent of the Democrats who hate Donald Trump are not going to change their opinion. The 90 percent of Republicans who agree with what the President is doing are probably not going to change their opinions.
WALSH: Down to 78 in the last poll.
ASTORINO: No, but that will go back up.
WALSH: I don't know. ASTORINO: But here's what's happening with the country. And people understand what they voted for with Donald Trump because we had the Bush tapes, we have all those things that came out before the election. They knew --
BOLDUAN: So nothing that comes out no matter how horrible it is or how horrible --
ASTORINO: This isn't shocking, I don't think because it's --
BOLDUAN: You don't think this is shocking?
ASTORINO: It's par for the course of what we've been seeing for 18 months by a book, a press, you know, people leaking things. So I don't think people are going to be shocked. I just don't think so.
WALSH: First of all --
BOLDUAN: You're not shocked that he fails a mock interview, he --
ASTORINO: He shouldn't be -- I've said this many times, there is no way he should be sitting down with Bob Mueller. No way --
WALSH: And now we know that he won't.
ASTORINO: -- for any reason. Any reason. Because you can fall on to a trap and be perjuring yourself when you are in fact telling your side of the story, which is true.
[19:25:10] And if there's contradictory evidence or corroboration from someone else, it's two people's opinions.
BOLDUAN: But can I ask you just about how the President describes people according to Bob Woodward in this book. I mean, it's from -- you just -- the way you described Jeff Sessions and even Rudy Giuliani he --
ASTORINO: This is really the shocking, yes.
BOLDUAN: -- went after. So Rudy Giuliani goes out, defends the President the weekend of the "Access Hollywood" tape comes out. After that, according to Woodward, Trump tears into him and says, "Rudy, you're a baby. I've never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You're like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?"
I mean -- and Giuliani is the one -- like one of the few people defending the President.
WALSH: He went on five Sunday shows. He went on all five Sunday shows to defend the President that day.
BOLDUAN: Perhaps this is not -- and it's not only that, it's how he describes, you know, Reince Priebus. It's how he describes (INAUDIBLE).
ASTORINO: Let's start with how he allegedly describes.
ASTORINO: Because -- I mean, we don't know it to be true. You weren't in the room. You weren't in the room. I wasn't in the room. So we're taking this book and we're saying it's gospel. Now, I guarantee you some of that it's true. I believe some of it's true, but I believe some of it's probably not true. And there are people within the White House who, for their own reasons, could say anything that they wanted and what they say and what Bob Woodward writes down, then he has every right to take their quote and put it in his book whether it's true or not.
WALSH: But Kate just played -- whatever -- I mean, it's so amazing. It's so great. He has tape of the President claiming oh, I really wanted to talk to you but then well did Lindsey Graham ask you? Oh, you know what, maybe Lindsey did ask me. And Kellyanne is there, too.
People asked him. He was asked. He didn't want to sit down with Woodward. And then he lies to Woodward about it and then Woodward catches him on tape in the lie.
BOLDUAN: I just wanted to interrupt here because I know you were fighting me about this in the break. Would you be answering me differently, had you not signed an NDA with a non-disparagement agreement clause in your contract with the campaign?
ASTORINO: No, and CNN wouldn't have hired me if they didn't think I could because in the nine months I have said more things critical of the President than I bet you or other hosts have said things --
BOLDUAN: On this we know the President tells -- has lied. Do you believe Bob Woodward or do you believe Donald Trump tonight?
ASTORINO: I think there's probably truth in both of them.
WALSH: You can't have it that way.
BOLDUAN: Good people on both sides.
ASTORINO: Could there be exaggerations? Could there be outright lies from people who wanted to --
BOLDUAN: Enough to fill 448 pages of disclosures.
ASTORINO: I just said some of them I think are true, and some of them are not. I don't know what you wants are.
WALSH: We're going to be talking about this for a long time.
BOLDUAN: Joan, Rob --
ASTORINO: Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: -- thank you very much.
OutFront next, breaking news, Robert Mueller responding to team Trump. Could the President soon be answering questions from the Special Counsel?
Plus, the President's Supreme Court nominee avoids shaking hands of a father of a Parkland shooting victim. Why? Fred Guttenberg, the father, is my guest.
[19:31:09] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: New tonight, mob rule. That is how a top Republican senator is describing today's confirmation hearing for President Trump's Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.
Fireworks erupted seriously immediately as the hearing started with protest after protest not just from the audience but also from Democrats sitting on the committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I extend a very warm welcome to Judge Kavanaugh, to his wife, Ashley, their two daughters.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Mr. Chairman, I agree with my colleague, Senator Harris. Mr. Chairman, we received 43,000 documents that we haven't been able to review last night and we believe this hearing should be postponed.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn. I move to adjourn.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BLUMENTHAL: Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.
SEN. MAIZE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Mr. Chairman, I'd like a clarification. I'd like a response why you are requesting us to submit our questions to you.
GRASSLEY: I ask that you stop so we can conduct this hearing the way we have planned it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Democratic Senator Maize Hirono who you just saw there will be my guest in a just a moment.
But, first, let's go to Phil Mattingly.
I mean, Phil, we have seen a lot of contentious hearings on Capitol Hill, but what happened today?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was unruly, it was chaotic, it was certainly a little bit of a cluster but, Kate, it was coordinated. Sources saying Democrats actually planned out what they did at the beginning of the hearing over the course of the weekend on a phone call led by Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
What you basically saw was in some ways a cathartic release for Democrats that have been angered by the process. They don't feel like they got access to the documents they want on Judge Kavanaugh's career. They don't feel like the public has had access to those documents either.
There's also a recognition that there's not much Democrats can do here. They don't have the votes to block them in the committee. They don't have the votes on their own to block him on the floor. So, this was a form of protest, certainly not a silent one, a very loud one.
Now, we talked to Republicans today. One aide told me this, Kate. If they're focused on the documents, that means they don't have anything else. Well, we'll get a pretty good opportunity to see if that's the case in the next couple of days.
The question and answer period will start tomorrow and Democrats have a series of issues they want to drill down on. Whether or not Brett Kavanaugh comes out of that unscathed is an open question, but as I noted, right now, if Republicans all stay together, whether protests, raucous or otherwise, Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed as a justice for the Supreme Court, Kate.
BOLDUAN: And that is an important note to remember. Great to see you, Phil. Thank you.
OUTFRONT now, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democratic Senator Maize Hirono of Hawaii.
Senator, thanks for coming in.
HIRONO: Sure. Aloha.
BOLDUAN: So, what was the protest all about today? Do you acknowledge it was all a show as Republicans said?
HIRONO: It's certainly not a show because we have a responsibility as senators to provide advice and consent, to let the American people know what is at stake with this nominee. Clearly, a person who is very greatly supported by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, very right wing organizations that want Judge Kavanaugh to be the fifth vote on the Supreme Court to provide them with the kind of decisions that will -- that will advance their right wing agenda.
So, it was really important for us to know how important it was for us to get the documents we needed and to go forward in a way that would allow us to really hone in on the kind of questions that we wanted to ask him. But short of that, there are enough other indicators of where Judge Kavanaugh is going. So many important issues like choice for women, environmental protections, the expansive use he has of presidential power.
[19:35:02] That all of this will be coming out tomorrow, and I think the American people will find out what a dangerous nominee this person will be as the fifth vote on the Supreme Court.
BOLDUAN: I think I might know the answer to my next question. You're going to question Brett Kavanaugh tomorrow. Is there any answer that he can give or any document that he could produce that could get you to a yes at this point?
HIRONO: I've already discovered and not just me but a pattern of decisions that he makes that are very much for polluters against the environmental protections that do not support a woman's right to choose, that raises questions as to whether or not he will support the Affordable Care Act protections for people with pre-existing conditions. So, he's going to need to show me, and as I mentioned very early on, he bears the burden to show me that he can be the fair, impartial decider.
And the more I review his cases, particularly his dissents, the less convinced I am that he will be that impartial non-ideologue justice.
BOLDUAN: Also brought up in today's hearing was President Trump's latest attack -- one of the latest attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his tweet yesterday. I'm sure you know it, but what he tweeted is two long running Obama era investigations, two very popular Republican congressmen were brought to a well-publicized charge just ahead of the midterms by Jeff Sessions' Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. He says, good job, Jeff.
Senator, this morning, Jeffrey Toobin of CNN, he said that he thinks with that tweet this may be an impeachable offense. Do you think it is?
HIRONO: This is why it's so important for the Mueller investigation to continue because I think there are all kinds of indications that the president has engaged in obstruction of justice and this is yet another example also of the president viewing everything through his lens.
Everything is about him. People are out to get him. Sessions is out to get him. I think it just shows the paranoia of the president.
BOLDUAN: Paranoia, maybe, but impeachable?
HIRONO: Well, this is why the Mueller investigation has to continue, because I think there is a pattern of obstruction of justice with the firing of Comey and all these other tweets that he sends out.
BOLDUAN: So you hold on that opinion until Mueller pulls out his report?
HIRONO: I'd like to do that, yes.
BOLDUAN: Also tonight, Senator, we're learning that Robert Mueller, speaking of, his team has responded to the president's legal team and their latest proposal over the possibility of interviewing the president. The discussions for a possible presidential interview, they are continuing is what the sources are saying and the focusing -- they're focusing more now on an emphasis on written questions for the president. That is the news coming in tonight.
Do you think the president should be allowed to give answers in writing or should it all be face to face?
HIRONO: Well, I'm not going to second guess how Mueller wants to conduct his investigations because as far as I'm concerned, he has been conducting his investigations in a very thorough manner. So my understanding is even if the president were to respond in writing, that does not preclude the Mueller team from requesting that they interview the president directly.
BOLDUAN: And the discussions continue as they have for months and months and months.
Senator, thank you for coming in. Look forward to your questioning tomorrow of Kavanaugh.
HIRONO: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, the father of one of the teenagers killed in the Parkland shooting, he says the president's Supreme Court pick turned his back on him. I'll speak to Fred Guttenberg about the encounter today.
Plus, we have breaking news. Homes evacuated, businesses closed as millions along the Gulf Coast prepare for what could become Hurricane Gordon.
[19:42:52] BOLDUAN: Tonight, one moment you may have missed if you weren't watching the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing closely. The father of a Parkland shooting victim says Kavanaugh refused to shake his hand. Video shows Fred Guttenberg approaching Kavanaugh during a break in the action and you can see him reaching out his hand.
The Supreme Court nominee appears to see him before walking away. What appears to be going on is up for debate.
Guttenberg's daughter Jaime was one of 17 people killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year.
OUTFRONT now, Fred Guttenberg is joining me.
Thank you so much for coming in.
FRED GUTTENBERG, PARKLAND FATHER: How are you?
BOLDUAN: I'm well. Thank you. So, you're at the hearing as a guest of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. She even mentioned you and she was talking about some folks. What were you hoping to do by approaching Kavanaugh?
GUTTENBERG: So I was there all day, as you said, at the request of Senator Feinstein, and when I was listening to Judge Kavanaugh this morning at his introduction, he looked over at his family and he specifically talked about his kids. He's got a beautiful family.
I went up to him as a dad, to be quite honest. I don't go home to my complete family anymore. My daughter was killed, and I am really concerned about how he is going to rule on certain things that matter a lot to me because I don't want to see other families go through what we've gone through.
The NRA is spending a lot of money to help get him selected, but the problem is, they're also filing lawsuits all over the country. Florida, for example, we actually passed gun safety after what happened in Parkland. The NRA filed a lawsuit. These lawsuits are going to end up in front of Justice Kavanaugh, and unfortunately, based upon his prior statements and rulings, we can predict how he's going to rule.
Candidly, my hope to him was simply to say, I hope you change your stance.
[19:45:00] I hope you look in my eye. I hope you see that this pin that I wear on my lapel or these bracelets that I wear, that's all I have to get close to my daughter now, and I hope you can be part in making sure no other parent has to feel the way I do because we can fix this. And I have concern that he won't be that person, but he's a father and I tried -- I was hoping to appeal to that.
BOLDUAN: So the encounter today, it did go viral. And the White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, he responded to it.
BOLDUAN: And he tweeted this. He says, as Judge Kavanaugh left for his lunch break an unidentified individual approached him. Before the judge was able to shake his hand, security had intervened.
Do you think this could have just been a misunderstanding, that he wasn't trying to sleight you?
GUTTENBERG: No, and that statement isn't true.
So, number one, I was there all day and I was introduced by Senator Feinstein. To make it a little bit more, I also when I attend things like this, I don't sit. So I stand out like a sore thumb. I refuse to sit because -- and I stand there all day because it's my way of making sure people know who I am when they talk about issues of gun safety. So you couldn't miss me.
After they announced the break to go to lunch, senators started mic mingling around. Judge Kavanaugh was talking to somebody. I walked up to talk to somebody to the right of Judge Kavanaugh. He was talking to someone to my left. When that conversation was breaking up I turned around and honestly I can't remember if I tapped him on his elbow or shoulder, but I was trying to get his attention and I put out my hand to shake his hand. I simply said, hi, I'm Fred Guttenberg. I'm the father of Jaime Guttenberg who was murdered in Parkland.
As soon as I got out parkland, that's when he turned and moved and walked the other way and that's where you saw security start to help direct him. But he was listening to me. All he had to do. All he had to do is extend his hand back and say, I'm he sorry for your loss, tell me about your daughter.
BOLDUAN: And that would have been enough for you?
GUTTENBERG: You know what, it would have been a way for one dad to look another dad in the eye and maybe he would have asked me more questions about why I'm there, but instead as soon as I said "murdered in Parkland", he just did an immediate turn and went the other way. He also went to security afterwards and what happened after lunch as I got back in the room and I sat down and security, a couple of minutes later, came and pulled me out of the room and said that they thought -- Judge Kavanaugh thought that I may have crossed a boundary.
I didn't intend to. So, I hope he doesn't think I was rude. I put out my hand to say hello and I'm certain he was the one who told them to take me out because he described these bracelets that I wear on my wrist, which commemorate my daughter.
BOLDUAN: Fred, are you going to -- especially with that in mind, are you going to try to meet him again tomorrow?
GUTTENBERG: Well, I intend to be there for part of the day tomorrow. I always say in the process of trying to get gun safety done, I will talk to anybody, and that includes him. So, I -- nothing here for me is personal. Actually, everything is personal. I lost my daughter, but I will talk to anybody with a hope that I can get them to understand we can do more.
I fear that what will happen is certain basic laws that have already been getting passed around the country raising the age to 21, red flag laws, things that are saving lives, he will rule unconstitutional, and it's predictable if he does it, more people will die. And I don't want that to happen. So I would love to speak with him so I can share with him my concern.
BOLDUAN: At least, as you're saying, the first thing at the very least you would like is to shake somebody's hand.
Fred Guttenberg, thank you for coming in.
GUTTENBERG: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.
GUTTENBERG: Have a good day.
BOLDUAN: You, too.
OUTFRONT next, we're following some more breaking news. Curfews now in effect for parts of the Gulf Coast, as Tropical Storm Gordon grows more powerful by the hour. It's expected to make landfall in just hours.
Plus, there's no place like home apparently for Dorothy's ruby red slippers.
[19:52:21] BOLDUAN: Breaking news: Tropical storm Gordon is just hours from making landfall in the Gulf Coast. Gordon still has the potential to become a hurricane before it slams into the Mississippi and Alabama coast. Authorities are already warning Gordon's storm surge could be deadly.
Allison Chinchar is OUTFRONT from the CNN weather center.
So, Allison, what is the latest track right now for Gordon?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right, Kate.
So, when we take a look at it, right now, it's just over 50 miles away from what we would deem landfall, the center of that circulation about 50 miles due south from the states. And again, right now, winds about 70 miles per hour.
Keep in mind, that's only 5 miles per hour below what would be a hurricane status, a category 1. It still has the potential. They have hurricane hunters out flying through the storm as we speak. It still has the potential to become that low end category one storm before it makes landfall.
But the main concern going forward is really going to be the water, both the rain that would be coming down, but also the storm surge, that water that's coming in from the ocean. Three to five feet is expected in these red shaded areas. Two to four feet for the orange shaded areas. That includes cities like Pensacola as well as Mobile.
One of the other threats is the severe aspect. We're talking waterspouts and tornadoes for a lot of those same areas, Panama City as well as Mobile.
Here's a look at the track. Again, it will eventually make landfall just in the next few hours here. It's expected to make landfall tonight, likely just before, say, 11:00 p.m. then it continues to cross inland.
It weakens very quickly, but here's the thing. The storm itself doesn't die out. This weird shaped track is very important. We have this high pressure that's basically sitting here. That's what's going to steer it.
The thing, yes, this will have impacts, Kate, to a lot of the areas along the Coast. But look at all of this rain that surges inland. So even states like Missouri, Illinois, areas of Arkansas, they're also going to get a significant amount of rain it of this storm in the coming days.
BOLDUAN: That's going to screw up a huge part of the country, even when it starts slowing down.
BOLDUAN: All right. Allison, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
OUTFRONT for us next, Jeanne Moos on Dorothy's ruby red slippers. They're not in Kansas anymore, but they have been found.
[19:57:59] BOLDUAN: Tonight, there is no place like home. Here is Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From Dorothy's feet to FBI evidence --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Under the rainbow.
MOOS: -- the ruby red slippers stolen 13 years ago have been recovered. Thirteen years of police asking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ruby slippers, what have you done with them?
MOOS: We still don't know whodunit, broke into the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and smashed a display case, leaving one tiny thing behind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a single sequin off the shoe.
MOOS: The author of "The Ruby Slippers of Oz" says the stolen shoes are --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The holy grail of all Hollywood memorabilia.
MOOS: OK. There are at least four pairs of slippers used in the "The Wizard of Oz." These, for instance, are at the Smithsonian.
The yellow brick road was a dead-end for investigators despite loads of tips.
SCOTT JOHNSON, GRAND RAPIDS, MN POLICE CHIEF: Everything from a roadside diner in Mississippi to when I was with my boyfriend when he threw them into a iron ore pit.
MOOS: Divers even searched in vain for the slippers. Last summer, authorities finally got a credible tip. They say someone tried to extort the shoe's owner. The slippers were finally recovered this summer in a sting operation. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clap your heels together three times. There's
no place like home.
MOOS: Yes. But where is home for the long lost now found ruby red slippers?
An insurance company owns the shoes, worth $2 million to $5 million. But they remain in FBI custody as evidence. They're actually a mismatched pair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right shoe of this stolen pair actually matches the left shoe at the Smithsonian.
MOOS: And the right shoe at the Smithsonian matches the left of the stolen pair. Authorities have identified multiple suspects but are still asking for the public's help to nab the slipper thieves who have given them the slip all these years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll get you, my pretty!
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no place like home.
MOOS: New York.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no place like home.
MOOS: Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.