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Trump Blasts Op-Ed from Unnamed Senior Official; Social Media Giants Grilled over Foreign Influence in the U.S.; Nike Unveils New Ad Featuring Colin Kaepernick; U.K. Charges Two Russian Spies in Nerve Agent Attack; Gwyneth Paltrow's Brand Hit over Unsubstantiated Claims; Trump Touts His Twitter Prowess. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 6, 2018 - 01:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: The resistance from within, an unnamed senior Trump official explains how Trump insiders are trying to protect the country from the president.

The Supreme Court nominee spent the day getting grilled on Capitol Hill and there are certain questions he is refusing to answer.

Plus, Korean diplomacy, new details about another round of high level talks, we are live in Seoul.

Hello everyone and thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church, this is CNN Newsroom.

It was President Donald Trump is lashing out a "New York Times" op-ed that calls him reckless and impulsive. The commentary comes from someone the paper calls a senior official in his own administration.

The anonymous author wrote, we believe our first duty is to this country and the president continues to act at a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our Democratic institutions while forging Mr. Trumps more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

It goes on. The root of the problem is the president's amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not more to any discernable first principles that guide his decision making. The president fired back.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the failing "New York Times" has an anonymous editorial, can you believe it, anonymous, meaning gutless, a gutless editorial. We're doing a great job. The poll numbers are through the roof. Our poll numbers are great, and guess what, nobody is going to come close to beating men 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: The op-ed comes on the heels of an explosive new book from journalist Bob Woodward, detailing a dysfunctional White House. President Trump calls it pure fiction and is said to be determined to find out who spoke to the author.

Woodward says he stands by his reporting.

Well, joining me now from Los Angeles, Michael Genovese is the President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, an unnamed senior official claims to be part of a resistance working within the Trump Administration and writes an explosive op-ed revealing an impulsive, petty, reckless and ill- informed president who poses a threat to the nation. And this comes a day after portions of Bob Woodward's got revealed. Some senior Trump officials think President Trump is an idiot, a liar and worse.

The overwriting message here, this president is not fit for office. How concerned should we be and is this a watershed moment for the president?

GENOVESE: Well, coming on the heels of the release of the book, "Fear," or at least the excerpts of it, this is a devastating one, two punch and it's devastating in part because "The New York Times" editorial was not from the deep state that the president's been criticizing, it's from an insider, someone the president himself chose.

And so, it's a high official that he picked who is now saying what we've heard remnants of before, well we'll stay in the White House because we need to protect the country from the excesses of the president.

This is the first time we've had something that really is hard hitting and direct, goes right to the heart of the presidency and challenges him on some of the key variables of leadership.

He's anti-democratic, he's reckless, his behavior is as unstable, he throws tantrums. So, you see a whole series of criticisms against this president coming from someone who works for him.

CHURCH: And the author reveals, the author of this op-ed, reveals there were whispers within the cabinet when vote the 25th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but instead they chose this group of people, these senior advisors chose to steer the administration in the right direction until one way or another it's over, their words. What do you make of that?

GENOVESE: Well, the only other time we've actually had serious discussions of evoking the 25th amendment, which was only passed in the 1960s, was during the Reagan years right after the Iran-Contra story broke, when the president, President Reagan, became a bit paralyzed and he couldn't -- they couldn't shake him out of this lethargy and they said, what are we going to do if he's going to be staying like -- he stays like this, we've got to do something.

So, they discussed the 25th amendment, they ruled it out because Nancy Reagan intervened and got her husband back on track.


This is a - that's a very unusual thing to do, very difficult to do because it's the inside of the - your administration doing it to your insider president. And so, that would mean that Mike Pence would have to lead this, and the majority of the cabinet would have to vote on it.

And then, certainly Donald Trump would challenge it which would mean it would go to the Congress for a decision, a Republican Congress. And so, it's - it would probably provoke a constitutional crisis. So, we're better off not going there until we really have to.

CHURCH: Right, and this group, or this author and whoever's involved seems to agree with your assessment of that. So, what do you think the motivation is for writing an op-ed like this? Is it about being on the right side of history, or is it something else? And who do you think the author may be because that may determine the motivation?

GENOVESE: Well, I would've much preferred the author signing it, letting us know who it is. But I can understand if you believe that you're doing god's work, basically, by protecting the country from your own president, then maybe you need be an insider and, therefore, anonymity was important.

Who was it - who might it be, maybe General Mattis. It could Mattis. He has been critical of the President. In Bob Woodward's book he has some very harsh things to say about the President. We don't really know and perhaps we never will. But my guess is that it's some who, number one, is trying to do a public service, but number two, might also want to be on the right side of history when that is written.

CHURCH: Yes, and of course the President is fighting back, calling Bob Woodward's book a work of fiction, and the op-ed gutless, and treason. And the President is hunting down the author of this op-ed. This is what he tweeted late Wednesday, does a so-called senior administration official really exist, or is it just the failing New York Times with another phony source?

If the gutless, anonymous person does, indeed, exist, the Times must, for national security purposes, turn him or her over to the government at once. So, the President calling for the New York Times to turnover its source, so, your reaction to that?

GENOVESE: We don't do that in this country. We don't turn people over to the government because they criticize them. And I think the President was way out of line on that.

But look, nobody likes to be criticized. The President has a very thin skin, but that goes with the job. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

The President, though, wants, desperately, to find out who did this, wants to make an example of that person saying, we're going to, basically, string you up and show everyone around the White House that if you start to cross the President, you will meet this same fate.

The problem is, so many people around the President and within his own party don't have the kind of loyalty, or affection, or support for the President that he demands. And consequently, the President is going to be demanding support from people who are unlikely to respond to him.

CHURCH: And it's not going to be a nice place to be, I would think, in the next few days at the White House. Michael Genovese, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

GENOVESE: Thank - thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, on Capital Hill it was another day of pointed questions and angry protest at the contentious hearing for President Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. CNN's Jessica Schneider reports from Washington.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The President's Supreme Court pick repeatedly refusing to answer questions pertaining to the power of the presidency.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Can a sitting President be required to respond to a subpoena?

BRETT KAVANAUGH, PRESIDENT'S PICK FOR SUPREME COURT: 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: It's a question. Therefore, that's a hypothetical questions that I can't begin to answer in this context, as a sitting judge.

LEAHY: Does the President have the ability to pardon somebody in exchange for a promise from that person, they wouldn't testify against him?

KAVANAUGH: Senator, I'm not going to answer hypothetical questions of that sort.

SCHNEIDER: Refusing to answer hypotheticals is common for judicial nominees who insist they can't answer questions about possible future cases. But Judge Kavanaugh did praise the 1974 decision U.S. v. Nixon when a court ordered President Nixon to comply with a subpoena from a special prosecutor for tapes and documents. And ruled those items were not protected by executive privilege.

KAVANAUGH: The court stood up for judicial independence in a moment of national crisis. SCHNEIDER: Judge Kavanaugh repeatedly asserted he would be an independent arbiter, uninfluenced by politics.

KAVANAUGH: We make decisions based on law, not based on policy, not made - based on political pressure, not based on the identity of the parties, no matter who you are in our system, no one is above the law in our constitutional system.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The committee's top democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, pressed Kavanaugh to uphold Roe versus Wade, but he didn't directly answer.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't want to go back to those death tolls in this country and I truly believe that women should be able to control their own reproductive systems within in, obviously some concern for a viable fetus.

KAVANAUGH: I understand how passionate and how deeply people feel about this issue. I understand the importance of the issue. I understand the importance that people attach to the Roe versus Wade decision to the Planned Parenthood versus Casey decision.

I don't live in a bubble, I understand - I live in the real world - I understand the importance of the issue.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats also focus on Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House, asking what he knew about controversial interrogation techniques on accused terrorists and warrant list surveillance.

KAVANAUGH: I was no read into that program, not involved in crafting that program nor crafting the legal justifications for that program.

UNIDEFNITIFED MALE: Did you ever raise questions about warrant list surveillance?

KAVANAUGH: I can't rule anything out like that. There was so much going on in the wake of September 11.

SCHNEIDER: Some democrats attacked Kavanaugh's creditability. Questioning whether he knew if he had received strategy information stolen from senate democrats in 2003.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I am concerned because there is evidence that Mr. Miranda provided you with materials that were stolen from me and that would contradict your prior testimony.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Did you ever knowingly participate in stealing anything from Senator Leahy or another Senator?


GRAHAM: Did you ever know that you were dealing with anything that was stolen property?


SCHNEIDER: All this leading Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, to lament what he says has become an overly politicized process of Supreme Court picks with protest irrupting in the hearing room.

GRAHAM: You live in unusual times, as I do. You should get more than 90 votes but you won't and I am sorry it has got to where it has. It's got nothing to do about you.

I just wish if we could have a hearing where the nominee's kids could show up, is that asking too much? So what kind of country have we become?

SCHNEIDER: Judge Kavanaugh did clarify that he is not, in fact, taking a position on where a sitting president can be indicted as a constitution matter. He said that his 1990 article arguing against it was only a matter of policy and then he said that he would keep an open mind if the issue came before the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh also refused to commit to (ph) himself if any issues of criminal or civil liabilities to the president came before the Supreme Court. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

UNIDEFNITIFED FEMALE: (Austin Dove) is a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. Thank you so much for joining us.

AUSTIN DOVE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Pleasure, thank you for having me.

UNIDEFNTIY FEMALE: So, day two of the hearings and Judge Brett Kavanaugh received a grilling from the democrats. Some softballs questions from the Republicans that didn't answer many questions at all, as we saw there. Exactly as you expected?

DOVE: Exactly as I expected. I mean, we've kind of - picking up a trend that we've seen happen with these kind of hearings, less is more. He knows that the questions are going to be a (ph) on either side so that the Republicans will ask one way and the Democrats will another.

The (ph) questions that come out when something daunting may be put out there, so he did - he was strategic and thoughtful, and probably as a person in his position should be given the scope and importance of this selection.

UNIDEIFITED FEMALE: Now, the biggest issue for most people as they watch these hearings is abortion. What do you think Kavanaugh revealed he might do when it comes to Roe versus Wade and what are you guided by when you look at some of his past writings and his past decisions?

DOVE: Well, you see that he did the very, very conservative (ph) consist with maybe some signs that he might go toward either chiseling away at parts on Roe versus Wade or maybe outright reversing Roe versus Wade. What's going to happen is there's going to be a test case or two that will come through this system from different states. Maybe some in Michigan, or South Dakota, or another state that's going to authorize a ban on abortion or wider restrictions on abortion.

It'll work its way up to this system.


The Supreme Court will cherry-pick which one of those cases to take.

And then, once they take one of those cases on, they will decide how - which rung (ph) of that case they're going to make a decision about. They're going to be very careful to keep some parts of the precedent in tact. But while they'll be careful on that end, they will be strategic in selecting the parts that they would want to undermine, dismantle, or change.

So, that's what we're going to see. It's going to depend on those test cases. We've seen it in other context, affirmative action. Other voting rights issues coming up before the Supreme Court. So they'll be tactful about it, and then they'll separate and parse it out. And that's how precedent is often made in ways it can be very far reaching.

CHURCH: Yes, and, of course, the - the other issues whether a president can pardon himself, or whether a sitting president can respond to subpoena, or be indicted, again, Kavanaugh, not very forthcoming, but should he be answering questions like that as a future Supreme Court justice?

DOVE: I think - I think he probably was - he's doing - he's playing dodge ball very - very effectively. But those are important questions, but what we have to rely on as the - the questioning senators did on the committee is his past work, his past writings.

That'd tell us a great deal about where he's going to tend to lean, what he's going to do. These are important issues. They're hot button issues. But the way that you can really predict where he's going to go. And it's very - very clear from the writings, and you pointed out one or two of them, previously.

Where he'll go with this is quite obvious. And it's going to be a big - big swing in the pendulum, now, with the court's composition the way it is now, and this additional member, very likely to be confirmed, almost certain that he'll be confirmed. What that (INAUDIBLE) going to be. And so, then it's going to be up to other parts of the institution to figure out what can - what can come up and win. And then, how the responses are on the ground level.

CHURCH: Austin Dove, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

DOVE: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has unwavering trust for President Trump. And once (INAUDIBLE) while Mr. Trump is in office, that news coming from South Korea's Director of National Security who met with Mr. Kim on Wednesday in Pyongyang.

And the two sides just agreed on a date for a third summit between the country's leaders. So, a lot to get to, our Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul with more details on all of this. So, Paula, first, this is interesting, surprising news since the wake of recent souring relations between North Korea and the United States. We, suddenly, hear this from Kim Jong-un. What are we to make of it?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Rosemary. We're just getting more information from the National Security Advisor and the visit to Pyongyang, at the Blue House saying that when President Moon spoke to President Trump just a couple of nights ago, Mr. Trump had, actually, asked the South Korean President to pass on a message to the North Korean leader. Kim Jong-un.

He had also said that he wanted President Moon to be the main negotiator, the chief negotiator representing the two sides, the U.S. and North Korea, which affectively sounds like he's asked him to be the official mediator, and the go between - between the U.S. and - and North Korea which is, effectively, what President Moon has been doing this entire time.

But we do know that a message was passed on - on Wednesday to Kim Jong-un from the U.S. President. And we also know there is now a message from the North Korean leader back to the U.S. President. And that will be relayed this evening local time. It's about 7 a.m. eastern time in the U.S.

That is going to be the National Security Advisor here. We spoke to Kim Jong-un, speaking to the National Security Advisor in the U.S., John Bolton, passing on that message from Kim Jong-un.

So, there's certainly a lot more negotiation, a lot more talking, a lot more messages between the U.S. and North Korea than we have seen for some time. As you say, Kim Jong-un said that he does have unwavering trust in President Trump even though there has been some difficulties recently.

But also, reiterating something that is very important to North Korea and is a massive sticking point in these negotiations. Given the concessions that North Korea believes that they have made, they want to see similar things from the United States.

They want to see matching measures with the way it was described. And the U.S. has, consistently, said they was denuclearization first, and then they'll give concessions. So, that really is the major sticking point here, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Indeed, and of course, what more are you learning about the upcoming third summit between North and South Korea? From what I understand, there's a date now. What are they hoping and expecting to achieve?

HANCOCKS: Well, that's right. This is going to be the 18 to the 20 of September. President Moon Jae-in will travel to Pyongyang for the first time. He's the third South Korean President to do so for a summit with a North Korean leader.


He's the third South Korean president to do so for a summit with a North Korean leader and we know a number of other things. That there's going to be a liaison office set up in Kaesong, which is in North Korea. It's where there used to be a joint North sized Korean financial hub, effectively.

So, that is something that had been promised back in April. It just shows a continuing push towards this inter-Korean dialogue. The main topic that we are expecting at this submit is the declaration of the end of the Korean War.

Back in 1953, the Korean War ended with an armistice. Both North and South Korean want a formal declaration to the end of the war. In fact, Kim Jong-un had told the national security adviser on Wednesday that the U.S. should not be concerned by this because it doesn't effect the U.S. (ph), it doesn't effect the (ph) of 28 and a half thousand U.S. troops that are stationed here in South Korea.

CHURCH: All right. (ph) joining us live from Seoul in South Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well coming up after this short break, British authority's say they know who tried a former Russian spy and even have the suspects on surveillance video.

And as airstrikes pound (ph), a last ditch effort to avoid a humanitarian disaster. We are back with those items in just a moment.


CHURCH: Two Russian nationals have been charger by British authorities for trying to assassinate a former Russian double agent and his daughter last March. Police say these two men traveled to Britain using alias and stayed in a London hotel. Surveillance video shows they took two train trips to Salisbury and then flew back to Moscow.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skirpal, and his daughter Yulia were in Salisbury and nearly died from exposure to a toxic nerve agent called, Novichok. The British Government all but accused the Kremlin of ordering the attack.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Based on a body of intelligence, the government has concluded that the two individuals named by the police and CPS are officers from the Russians Military Intelligence service, also known as the GRU.

The GRU is a highly disciplined organization with a well established chain of command so, this was not a rogue operation.


The GRU is a highly disciplined organization with a well established chain of command. So, this was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.

The actions of the GRU are a threat to all our allies and to our citizens. And on the basis of what we have learned in the Salisbury investigation and what we know about this organization more broadly, we must now set up our collection efforts specifically against the GRU.


CHURCH: Britain is not seeking extradition of the suspects, so a European arrest warrant was issued in case either man leaves Russia and travels to Europe.

Well, public furry in Iraq's southern oil hub boiled over in a third day of violent confrontations. Activists say security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at demonstrators in Basra Wednesday. Anger has grown over extended power cuts, contaminated water and high unemployment. At least six protestors have been killed this week.

Iraq's prime minister said he has ordered an investigation and blames the unrest on unknown troublemakers.

Well, a meeting Tehran may be the best hope of averting a humanitarian disaster in Syria. A government offensive to retake the last rebel stronghold in Idlib appears to be imminent. The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran will discuss the crisis Friday. Fred Pleitgen is in Damascus and has the latest developments.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hearing Bashar al-Assad certainly appears to be (inaudible) by another warning coming from the American president, Donald Trump. President Trump was saying that in light of a possible moving large scale offensive in Idlib, the last territory in Syria still held by opposition forces. President Trump saying, the world is watching, the world would be very angry and America would be very angry.

On Wednesday, President al-Assad hosts the (inaudible) president here in Damascus and on Thursday the Damascus Fair is set to kick off for the first time in five years with, actually, international people coming to that event and talking about Syrian reconstruction. So, the Syrian government already seems to be trying to move into the next phase after it believes it's obviously winning on the battlefield here in Syria.

Now as far as that offensive in Idlib is concerned, there are many people here on the ground in Syria who believe that offensive will happen and they believe that offensive could happen very soon.

Idlib, it's surrounded by Syrian government forces and indeed by some of the most elite Syrian government forces that have been battle hardened in some of the biggest battles here in Syria.

And then if you look at the backers of the Syrian governments, specifically the Russians and the Iranians, both of those countries are saying they believe that Idlib's what they call a hot bed of terrorism and that the situation there needs to be resolved very soon. Now, of course, the international community, the U.S. and also the

United Nations fear that there could be wide spread carnage, especially among the many civilians who are still there in Idlib and many are now looking to a September 7th meeting between the leaders of Turkey, Russia and also Iran to try and sort out how to move forward, especially with that offensive in Idlib possibly looped (ph).

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Damascus.

CHURCH: And still to come here on CNN Newsroom, social media executives are summoned to Capitol Hill to explain what they're doing to stop the foreign influence in U.S. politics.


[01:31:09] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.

Want to check the headlines for you this hour.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will travel to Pyongyang later this month for a third meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. As details of that summit were ironed out just hours ago, South Korea revealed that Kim wants to achieve denuclearization while President Trump is in office.

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake has struck northern Japan, triggering landslides that buried a number of homes. At least two people have died. Dozens are hurt and 20 others are missing. The quake also collapsed roads and knocked out power to nearly three million homes.

Donald Trump is calling for the "New York Times" to turn over the anonymous insider who wrote a scathing commentary on his presidency. The paper says the essay comes from a senior Trump administration official who claims to be part of an internal resistance. It calls the President amoral, reckless and ineffective.

Joining me now to talk more about this is CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Always great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration claims in this "New York Times" op-ed to be part of a resistance working within the administration to thwart parts of the President's agenda and his worst inclinations because the author deems him a threat to the health of that nation.

How significant is this? And is there any historical precedent for it?

BRINKLEY: There really isn't anything in history where you have somebody in the proximity of the President of the United States warning people in this kind of anonymous fashion that the President is a danger. Many people might wonder why doesn't this person put their name on the line? (AUDIO GAP) will down the pike. But it may be more than one person. There may be a number of people in the White House -- there is kind of a resistance movement from within letting the American people know that we're keeping an eye on the behavior of this president.

The amount -- Donald Trump's been deeply erratic. His tweets are often crazy. And so they -- I think they -- the signals coming from the anonymous article are that there are people in the White House that are minding the store while we work through the Mueller investigation and the like.

CHURCH: Right. And of course the overriding message from this bombshell op-ed and from Bob Woodward's book, the portions we've seen at least, is that President Trump is not fit for office. Let me just read a section of that op-ed.

"Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the President. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis so we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until one way or another it's over.

So Douglas Brinkley -- instead of invoking the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, these senior officials have opted to guide this administration until it's over, one way or another -- whatever that means. Now, what do you make of that particular part?

And also for the author, is this about being on the right side of history, do you think? What would be the possible motivation for basically outing themselves? Because this will eventually happen, right?

BIRNKLEY: Well, back in 1947, we had a great American diplomat in the State Department named George Kennan. And Kennan wrote a piece called Mr. X. He did an anonymous thing but he called himself Mr. X and it was called "The sources of Soviet conduct" when he was warning about the threat within the Soviet Union and what it would mean to Western Europe and so he kind of went a bit rogue.

[01:35:07] We see that happening now, except the threat that needs containing is the President of the United States. So I think this anonymous person does want to be on the right side of history right now.

But it's just another piece of evidence, along with the Woodward book and in many other testimonials, that Donald Trump's behavior is deeply sick and erratic. And we haven't had this problem with a president of the United States except for Richard Nixon during his last year in office when people would disregard what Nixon would say.

You know, Nixon would give an order to somebody on the foreign policy team and they'd say yes, sir and then not carry it out. So there is clearly insubordination going on in the White House right now. I can understand why President Trump's angry about it but his response was to charge this op-ed writer with treason and trying to now do a witch hunt in the White House. He's making the situation worse for him because he can never take any kind of criticism from any source.

CHURCH: Right. And that wording, you know, they will guide this administration one way or another until it's over. What do you think that means? "Until it's over".

BRINKLEY: The 25th amendment is quite a stark thing to do. It would be the cabinet, meaning including Vice President Pence to start moving to say Donald Trump's unfit for office. We're only weeks until a midterm election.

The proper most likely way that Trump gets resolved, first the Democrats win Congress and then they will start issuing subpoenas and you will have the word "impeachment" being bandied about and investigated. And it may be that the people's house -- Congress, Senate -- in the end are the ones that truncate Trump's presidency.

Remember we have the Mueller report coming out. We already have convictions of people like Manafort and Cohen, more to come. So it is just a hot mess in Washington, D.C. and Donald Trump is at the center of it.

The U.S. government was built to last. We're going to be here for hundreds of years and beyond. The idea that Donald Trump can hijack it is sort of what this anonymous article is saying. There is a conscience within the White House that's keeping tabs on what he's doing. It's a bit spooky, but we live in strange times.

CHURCH: We appear to, yes. Douglas Brinkley -- thank you so much. We appreciate it.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, U.S. senators summoned three of the biggest names in tech hoping to find out how those companies plan to stop foreign influence in U.S. elections. Twitter sent its CEO Jack Dorsey. Facebook sent COO Sheryl Sandberg. Google had offered to send someone but the panel wanted a more senior executive, which the company refused.

Here were some key moments from the hearing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear to give this committee the truth, the full truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

SENATOR MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I'm deeply disappointed that Google, one of the most influential digital platforms in the world, chose not to send its own top corporate leadership to engage this committee. Because I know our members have a series of difficult questions about structural vulnerabilities on a number of Google's platforms that we will need answers for. SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, FACEBOOK: Russia used social media as part of,

and I quote, "a comprehensive and multi-faceted campaign to sow discord, undermine democratic institutions, and interfere in U.S. elections and those of our allies". We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act. That is on us.

JACK DORSEY, CEO, TWITTER: We must ask the question, what is Twitter incentivizing people to do or not do and why? The answers will lead to tectonic shifts in Twitter and our industry operates.

SANDBERG: We don't think it's a question of whether regulation, we think it's a question of the right regulation that supports users, is transparent and doesn't squash innovation and we're happy to work with you on the proposal.


CHURCH: Joining me now, cyber security and online privacy expert Steve Shillingford. Thanks so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So what all did the senators learn from Facebook and Twitter executives? And what did they truly reveal about their plans to stop foreign influence in U.S. elections?

SHILLINGFORD: Well, I think my take is this was a fact-finding mission and I think it was probably education on both sides. You've got sort of bureaucrats on one side of the table and technocrats on the other.

And I think there is a sort of a first step in learning what the other side is thinking about. And I would commend, you know, the committee for actually setting up the conversation and actually being impressively informed. You could tell they did their homework.

[01:40:02] And I would give Facebook and Twitter, you know, kudos for showing up, being transparent and answering pretty difficult questions.

Alternatively, I really think if we were to grade this exercise, you've got to give Google an F. I mean, for a company that has as much influence, where over 90 percent of the world's, you know, thoughts and searches and sort of moods go through their platform, for them not to show up sends a pretty strong signal, I think, that we should all be concerned about.

CHURCH: Yes, I think particularly coming in the wake of President Trump targeting Google in particular in recent days. So why did Google not send a senior executive? What are they afraid of?

SHILLINGFORD: You know, it's a great question. I think that they do have a reason to be concerned and I think they know that. And I think, you know, in some ways, unlike Facebook and Twitter, who have embraced the problem -- and there is no silver bullet to this problem. It's a very, very difficult problem to address. It's going to be a series of measures, not just one, you know, effort.

I think it is strange that they wouldn't come to the table, at least for the discussion. And you know, whether they were worried about sort of corporate exposure or public liability or maybe they just weren't prepared to answer really tough questions.

I think it's very concerning and I think we should all be sort of asking ourselves, you know, in a situation like we have today facing, you know, a very important election coming up, for that platform not to be at the table trying to solve really our problems, you know, should really make us sit up.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And, of course, your overall feeling then for Facebook and Twitter is kudos to them. Great first step, but what happens next?

SHILLINGFORD: You know, I think that while I would recognize Facebook for sort of acknowledging that they were late to the problem and I think, you know, they said all the right things. I think we have to be a little bit concerned about some of their answers because when you look at sort of the drive to more detail and more identification of its users, you also have to remember that that actually serves their business units and their business interests, right?

The more they know about you, the more valuable you are as a consumer. And let's face it -- you're still the product on a platform that harvests data.

Twitter on the other hand I feel like has, you know, a more, I think, reasonable approach where, you know, what I heard from Jack Dorsey today was I don't want to be an arbiter and I want to look at behavior and I want to look at reputation and I want to look at trust. I think those are the types of approaches that win in the long run.

But I think we also have to ask ourselves, when you have platforms this big, you know, are you going to regulate the speech that happens on the platform or do you really need to look at the platform itself? And I think that's a question that, you know, our leaders in Washington really need to sort of, I think, take under consideration.

CHURCH: Steve Shillingford -- thank you so much. We appreciate it.


CHURCH: All right. Time for a quick break.

But first, an amusing moment from U.S. Congressional hearing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. When a protester interrupted the session a congressman used his skills as a longtime auctioneer to drown her out. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair now recognizes the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regular order. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll have order in the hearing room or you'll be

asked to leave.

Ma'am, if you'll please take a seat or we'll have to have you -- then you'll need to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please help us, Mr. President before it is too late because Jack Dorsey is trying to influence the election to sway the election --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's she saying? I can't understand her. What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have another hand 12.5, 15, 7.5 $20, 7.5, 30. Yes. $30 down here. Do I have 35, 40. Yes, $40 -- do I have 45 -- (INAUDIBLE) $50 down here --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer, will you escort this young lady out, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. 2.5 and now 5. $55, $70, up 2.5 now (INAUDIBLE) $80, $85, $85, 90. $100 (INAUDIBLE)

One has to do to get order. (INAUDIBLE)

We're selling the cell phone there. (INAUDIBLE)

I'm out of time. (INAUDIBLE) I yield back.

[01:45:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somehow I think our auctioneer and resident is going to get tweeted about today.



CHURCH: Colin Kaepernick has not played in a U.S. pro football game since 2016, but you can see him Thursday night in the National Football League's season opener. The controversial quarterback appears in a new ad campaign for Nike called "Dream Crazy".

The decision to feature Kaepernick has some people burning their Nike gear. President Trump tweeted, "The company is getting killed with anger and boycotts", but others are defending Kaepernick and the sports wear company.


SCOTT GALLOWAY, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: I think that over the last 20 years, the best summary of whether a company should enter politics is what Michael Jordan said. He said that Republicans buy sneakers, too, saying that we shouldn't politicize sports. And I think that was the right demeanor for a company over the last 20 years.

Unfortunately, sports have been politicized. And I think that Washington and the White House have made it very difficult to stay out of the fray here. So I'm not sure companies really have a choice anymore. So they've weighed in.

I would argue that it's a -- it is a risk. There is some downside here but it's a good risk. People have a -- history favors individuals not based on their beliefs but on their conviction.

And I think you'd be hard-pressed to deny that Mr. Kaepernick hasn't incurred a pretty substantial cost here. So I would argue that this is a good risk.

The athlete every brand wishes they'd endorsed, Muhammad Ali. Stripped of his medals and then 20 years later was asked to light the Olympic flame in Atlanta. I think this was a good bet.


CHURCH: Kaepernick sparked controversy during the 2016 NFL season when he got down on his knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice. He is suing the league, alleging he was blacklisted because of the protest.

Well, the Russian embassy in London immediately dismissed the charges as politicized public accusations.

CNN's Phil Black explains the intriguing tale and latest twist.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two Russian men arrived at London's Gatwick Airport on March 2nd; their mission, according to British police -- assassination. Investigators tracked down their movements over several days using security video. That night they stayed in this East London hotel.

[01:50:04] The following day, March 3rd, they made a suspected reconnaissance run to Salisbury traveling by train and returning to London to sleep at the same hotel. Sunday March 4th, they traveled to Salisbury again.

Police believe soon after this image was captured they sprayed the nerve agent Novichok on the front door of Sergei Skripal's home. That afternoon, Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on a bench in the town center, critically ill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're releasing these photographs --

BLACK: By that time, police say, the suspects had already traveled back to London to board a Moscow-bound flight from Heathrow Airport. At that point, it's likely they felt the operation was a cleanly- executed success, but if so, they were wrong.

The target, Sergei and Yulia, survived. Police officer Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was also poisoned. He's recovering.

But Local woman Dawn Sturgess lost her life because of a plot that had nothing to do with her. Months later at the end of June, the 44-year- old mother of three and her partner Charlie Rowley found what they thought was a small bottle of fancy perfume.

Dawn sprayed it on her wrists. She collapsed that day. A week later she died. Charlie Rowley also fell ill but survived.

Police say the bottle and its packaging were clever things (ph) used to smuggle and deploy the same nerve agent used against the Skripals.

NEIL BASU, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER COUNTERTERRORISM POLICE: We do not believe Dawn and Charlie were deliberately targeted but became victims of the result of recklessness in which such a toxic nerve agent was disposed of.

BLACK: Police say the suspects were traveling on real Russian passports using the suspected aliases -- Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.


BLACK: Britain prime minister says a body of intelligence shows these men are members of Russia's military intelligence agency the GRU.

MAY: The GRU is a highly-disciplined organization with a well- established chain of command. So this was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the Russian state.

BLACK: Police have not revealed the suspected motive behind any of this and Russia has denied any involvement. But the GRU is also the Russian intelligence agency Sergei Skripal officially worked for while he was spying for Britain. Coincidence -- or proof Russia's spies never forget or forgive a traitor.

Phil Black, CNN -- Salisbury.


CHURCH: And we'll be right back with more news. Do stay with us.


CHURCH: In the movies, Gwyneth Paltrow always captures the imagination of her fans but now the actress is in very real trouble over claims some of her products took an imaginative leap too many.

This is a jade egg, part of Paltrow's lifestyle brand Goop. For a mere $66, the company claimed the egg could balance hormones, support the uterus and increase bladder control. But California prosecutors didn't buy it. And after a lawsuit, Goop agreed to pay damages for its unscientific claims.

The egg was one of three products under fire; as you would expect, the reaction and mockery was swift. This tweet, one of the more tasteful ones, perhaps, simply read, "Why do people buy this stuff?: It's not the first time Goop's unusual range of goods has been lampooned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [01:55:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not time for my nap yet. Why are you bringing me upstairs? On Goop Gwyneth Paltrow says I should avoid stairs. Goop says I shouldn't exert myself. Goop says my ankles are weak. We should buy an elevator like Goop says.


CHURCH: Roger from "American Dad" hoping Goop might alleviate the symptoms of his pregnancy. Yes, I said "his pregnancy".

Well, the great American author Ernest Hemingway once said there is nothing noble in being superior to your fellowman. True nobility is being superior to your former self. Might be good advice perhaps, for Donald Trump, the man who calls himself the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter.

Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Would Ernest Hemingway be amused or would he be catty about it. In Bob Woodward's new book, President Trump compares himself to one of America's greatest writers. While lamenting Twitter's switch from 140 to 280 characters, the President is quoted as saying "It's a bit of a shame because I was the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters."

As sure as the sun also rises, so did the spoofs. An imagined Trump tweet -- The sun also rises should only set. Earth laughing at it, getting sunlight for free -- I will change."

And how do we know that line out of Woodward's book is true? Because the President himself has said the same thing on camera. It was almost three years ago --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody said I'm the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters. Can you believe it?

MOOS: Some couldn't. I've read Hemingway and you, sir, are no Hemingway. The hybrid @TrumpHemingway became a Twitter account posting tweets such as, "I like any bulls who like me." It is true that both men seem partial to bulls.

Instead of a farewell to arms, someone tweeted "A farewell to Nambia", referencing the time --

TRUMP: Nambia.

MOOS: -- President Trump mispronounced Namibia's name. The quote "Somebody said I'm the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters" even ended up on a pillow.

It was repeated by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He's the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter. MOOS: Hemingway's heyday was long before Twitter.

President Trump has likewise been known to write deceptively when he bangs out those tweets in earnest.

TRUMP: Bing, bing, bing.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: Bing, bing, bing.

MOOS: -- New York.


CHURCH: What would Hemingway think?

I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more of CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment.

Do stay with us.