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NYT Op-Ed Brings Denials from Many Trump Officials; Trump Sees Treason Right in The White House; Hugely Popular Actor Burt Reynolds Dies At 82; U.K., Russia Face Off At U.N. Security Council; Trump: Author Must Be Revealed For Sake Of National Security; Kavanaugh Questioned Whether Roe v. Wade Was Settled; Protests Run Rampant In Basra; India's Supreme Court Repeals Anti-LGBT Laws. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 6, 2018 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN London I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, seething inside the White House. Donald Trump is

taking names as one by one officials come out to say that explosive op-ed wasn't me.

Also, ahead, fiery scenes at the United Nations as allies back Britain's Novichok nerve agent allegations against Russia. And in India love and

freedom for all as the Supreme Court abolishes an archaic law that banned gay sex. We will have a report.

Extraordinary guessing game is gripping Washington this hour as the White House tries to hunt down an enemy within. Top Trump administration

officials are racing to deny any connection to an anonymous opinion piece in the "New York Times" that says secret resistance within the government

is protecting America from its own commander-in-chief.

Here's some big names who have denied they are the author, including the vice president, Mike Pence. The secretary of state. The defense

secretary. Aides are reportedly printing their denials as they come in. And delivering them to the president. The op-ed by a senior official calls

Mr. Trump erratic, impulsive, ill-informed, reckless, saying his immorality is the root of the problem.

It says "Many officials are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and worst inclinations. I would know, I am one of


Mr. Trump fired back, where else on Twitter suggesting the official is guilty of treason. He questioned whether the person really exists and said

if so the "New York Times" must turn him or her over to the government.


DONALD TRUMP: U.S. PRESIDENT: So, 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. Guess what? Nobody will come close

to beating me in 2020 because of what we've done.


GORANI: CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson says we're watching the opening act of a stunning attempt to topple Donald Trump. He joins me live

from Washington. Also, Josh Rogen, political analyst. Stephen Collinson, this is incredible when you think about it. Someone has written an op-ed,

someone within the administration saying, he or she is not the only one working to thwart the commander-in-chief, the duly elected president of the

United States agenda from within the administration. What's going on?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is such a flagrant act of insubordination and mutiny. You can only conclude that the

author whoever it was wanted to inflict the most damage on the president. This comes at a time when the White House was already reeling from the

devastating portrayal of the president in Bob Woodward's new book that is coming out next week. You know, I think we can conclude that the president

of the United States, if you take the collective conclusions of Woodward and what this op-ed writer is saying is no longer fully in charge of his

own government, and when you think about that, that's quite something.

And also the fact that the author of the opinion piece in the "New York Times" said that there have been whispers earlier in the administration

among some officials about the possibility of invoking the 25th amendment, which would be a mechanism to try to sort of get rid of the president,

which has never ever been used before and many people didn't really know existed in the Constitution until this chat came up a few months ago. So,

this is something that the president must be asking himself, who can he trust in his administration.

GORANI: Josh Rogen, a big guessing game who could it be. We know who denied it. Historically that's not an indicator of not having authored it

as we've seen in the past. What's the reaction here of Donald Trump, because this is on another level. This isn't revelation, this is someone

saying I'm a senior official and I'm working against my own president.

JOSH ROGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I think that for a White House that's constantly mired in chaos and paranoia this is taken to a new and

different height. But my opinion is that the actual revelations in the op- ed are not different from what we've heard from senior administration officials for the better part of these three years.

[15:05:00] If you look what the Bob Woodward book says and other books and reporting by news outlets over and over again you see a consistent message.

Not that these officials are working, they are working against the president, they believe they are working in the country's best interest.

Of course, that's a subjective belief but distinct from trying to bring down the president of the United States. In fact, they are trying to

mitigate an unqualified commander-in-chief. To be fair there's a ton of evidence that their concerns are well founded. So, yes, it is new and

shocking and interesting that the "New York Times" would publish an entire essay based on an anonymous senior official if I recall. If you look at 20

stories in "The Washington Post" or CNN you would see those stories spread out saying the exact same thing. I think what you've got here is a

reinforcement of this idea that throughout the administration there are people who are conflicted about their service for President Trump, who are

trying to do things that they believe are in the country's best interest and who honestly believe, although they may agree with the president's

agenda, they don't think the president is fit to serve. That's not a new idea. Just an idea that's getting confirmed over and over again.

GORANI: On a different platform, an op-ed, but Steven, for those who follow U.S. politics very closely, and news related to Donald Trump very

closely. He is, after all, most days our lead story. They will ask is this it? Is this going to be the development that gets Republican elected

officials on capitol hill so angry or so worried about the state of affairs that they will do something? The answer is no, right

COLLINSON: That's right. The answer is no. The reason right now it's not in the political interest of those lawmakers who could challenge the

president perhaps by holding hearings to look into the truth of these allegations to do so. I think it's going to be a very interesting moment

after the mid-term elections. Should the Democrats have a blue wave and sweep to power in the House of Representatives, and then we move into the

sort of period ahead of the 2020 election, Republicans will have to make a judgment whether their best interests at that point are served by sticking

with the president who you could argue in that scenario has led his party to great defeat in the midterm elections or by trying to put some distance

between them.

If the president is crippled, facing multiple investigations from a Democratic led House, if his approval ratings start to dip into the low

30s, 20 percent range, that's the moment when people in the Republican party on Capitol Hill will for self-preservation if nothing else start to

splinter away from the president and if he's not an effective president, that could be the one thing that would, you know, affect his standing with

his loyal political base that's always been by his side. So, you know these kind of events are huge and they are interesting politically, but

right now it doesn't seem like they are going to shake the political infrastructure.

GORANI: We're not there yet. Thanks.

The actor Burt Reynolds known for his leading roles in movies like "Boogie Nights" and "Deliverance" has died. He was 82 years old. His agent tells

CNN Reynolds passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Here's a look back at his career with Stephanie Elam.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Burt Reynolds was one of the top box- office draws in the '70s and '80s but the big screen was not where he set out to be. Nope. The handsome, charismatic Michigan born actor. Wanted

to be a football star. He attended Florida State University on a football scholarship but an injury derailed his athletic career and put him on the

path to Hollywood stardom. At first, he landed roles on television including shows like "Gunsmoke" and "Flipper," but it was the 1972 film

"Deliverance" that was his break through role. He became a sex symbol and posed nude in ""Cosmopolitan" magazine.

[15:10:00] He capitalized on his success in the 1974 sports drama, "The Longest Yard." By 1977 the actor who was known for his signature mustache

was riding high with the success of "Smokey And the Bandit" alongside Sally Field. The film became a successful franchise for Reynolds. So, did the

movie "Cannonball Run" in 1981. He kept the laughs coming as the sheriff in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" costarring Dolly Parton.

Although his film career slowed down by the late 80s Reynolds found success on television in the 1990s series "Evening Shade." It ran for four seasons

and earned him an Emmy and a Golden Globe. While this TV career was on a high, his personal life unraveled. He ended his five-year marriage to Loni

Anderson in 1993. And was involved in a messy custody battle over their adopted son Quentin.

By 1996 Reynolds filed for bankruptcy. But things began to look up for the actor when he landed Paul Thomas Anderson's film "Boogie Nights." The role

led to his first Oscar nomination. He didn't win an Oscar but he received critical acclaim in the hockey film "Mystery Alaska" in 1999. Throughout

the 2000s he kept busy with a number of TV and film roles like "Dukes of Hazard" in a career that took him from the football field to one of the

biggest stars in Hollywood. The legendary actor will be remembered for decades of iconic roles in film and television. Still to many, Burt

Reynolds will always be the bandit.


GORANI: As we mentioned, Burt Reynolds a huge, huge star around the world in the '70s and '80s. Star of movies like "Smokey And the Bandit", like

"Deliverance", "Boogie Nights" more recently of course. He made a movie come back just a few years ago, beloved Burt Reynolds whose agent says died

of cardiac arrest today at the age of 82. Also, a star of "The Longest Yard," some of those very well known, high-profile movies of the last

several decades.

Stephanie Elam joins me now from Los Angeles. Always sad there was something so -- everybody around the world knows the name Burt Reynolds.

He's legendary in that sense.

ELAM: He's one of those movie stars where you hear his name it sounds like a movie star. Just the name Burt exudes the idea of a handsome movie star.

And that is exactly what this man was. It was something about his eyes. All the way through his career that people were always swooning over Burt

Reynolds. A man really wanted to go into sports and found his way into Hollywood and reinvented himself several times. During tea 70s and '80s

that's when Burt Reynolds shot to fame and probably stole away with more than a few hearts around the world.

GORANI: We're learning he died of a heart attack. He had some heart issues over the years. For me Burt Reynolds is my childhood, because I'm a

child of the '70s and '80s. He was such a prominent figure during those couple of decades.

ELAM: Oh, completely. I don't think you can go and spend too much time taking in a movie, taking in a TV show and not see Burt Reynolds. It's the

same for a lot of people around the world. I think too he was that iconic star, for people around the star that's who they saw, a man who was cool,

smooth and was a very handsome guy. All of that made him seem iconic even more so.

GORANI: It's the end -- we're seeing these actors in their 80s. Kind of the end of a chapter, a Hollywood chapter.

ELAM: I was recently thinking about that too because you see so many of these actors that start as children and they group and get older and pass

way. Sort of a class, if you were, a cohort that's passing on. For some of us it does feel a little bit your childhood is coming to an end when you

see these stars passing away like Burt Reynolds. For many people it feels the end of an era.

[15:15:00] And then maybe you haven't seen him in something recently, just knowing he was out there was somehow, felt like old Hollywood to you.

GORANI: Internationally, what I was telling our viewers is there are these stars that are big stars in the United States or they have their niche

market in the United States. There are big stars outside of the United States. There are those then that transcend, that are global superstars

because they have a brand, they have that name Burt Reynolds and they are known all over the world.

ELAM: You know, I also think too when you think back to the '70s and '80s there weren't a lot of vehicles to superstardom. Smaller movies came out

and TV shows and it was easier to have eyes on you. Burt Reynolds came from that era. A lot harder now because there are so many different tv

shows, so many movies coming out every year. Definitely from a time when you had more of the attention on you. That's true. He definitely

transcended and was a star for the ages around the globe.

GORANI: Loni Anderson, I was reminded he was married to her for a few years. Thank you so much. Michele Turner is the host of "Entertainment

Tonight" and she is a CNN contributor and joins me on phone. We were discussing, this is the end of a Hollywood era.

MICHELE TURNER, HOST OF "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": Oh, Yes. Oh, yes, absolutely. Burt Reynolds was the quintessential leading man. Think about

him tall, good looks, that rugged cheek bone, the dark eyes, the mustache. He was what a lot of actors in Hollywood aspire to be. But it is a time

past. I heard about you talking about it at the end. At one point he was the star in Hollywood. For four years running from '78 to '82 he was the

biggest box office grossing actor in Hollywood and at one point he had four movies in theaters at the same time which is unheard of for an actor in

Hollywood today. That's how big he was. And he definitely -- he was married once before, Loni Anderson was his second wife. When they got

together she was the buxom blonde and ruggedly handsome actor. They were so striking. They were relationship gold. Then had a very messy divorce

and very messy break up.

GORANI: I apologize to my viewers I don't remember name of the movie but very recently in a movie playing an ageing Hollywood star who is invited

back to a small fan club in the middle of nowhere and I can't remember the name of it. But he could play dramatic roles, he could play-action roles,

he could play dramatic roles as well very effectively.

TURNER: His road back to a drama actor was a tough one and he would often say, you know, that one of his biggest regrets was kind of playing the

screwball off the wall whacky characters because he felt it type cast him and Hollywood turned away from thinking he could be a dramatic actor. Then

when he got back to it, he felt like it was almost too late. You know, when he came back in "Boogie Nights" and was nominated for the Oscar for

that movie was kind of everyone's eye opened back up to him and said look it's Burt Reynolds and we didn't realize he was such a great actor. He

said no I've always been here, you just looked at me as the bandit and not the actor. So, you know, one of the things that hurt him was in that film

too but he didn't win the Oscar for that. He lost out to Robin Williams for "Goodwill Hunting." he never captured the golden ring. It was his

come back.

GORANI: Thank you for joining us with more on the passing of Burt Reynolds who died today age 82. We'll be right back. Stay with CNN.


GORANI: That anonymous "New York Times" op-ed has touched off a fierce debate about the author. Some say if a senior administration official

feels that strongly he or she should just resign. And in their resignation letter say everything that they said in that op-ed. Others believe it's

crucial to have critics inside the government keeping Donald Trump in check. Let's bring in CNN contributor Norm Eisen and CNN commentator and

Republican strategist, Doug Heye.

Norm, what is your position on this? What did you make of the fact that someone inside the administration at a very high level is writing anonymous

op-eds published in the "New York Times"?

NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me back. I support the op- ed writer both in the work that anonymous is doing in government to keep President Trump from following his worst impulses and attacking the pillars

of our constitutional order and in stepping forward to write this op-ed, just finished a book about that, history of the past 100 years. And every

person I wrote about, in the critical moments when democracy was at stake over the past century faced the same choices anonymous, whether to follow

the dictates of their conscience and do the right thing or to follow the strict bureaucratic procedural requirements that may have pointed in the

wrong way.

GORANI: Then why not resign? Why not resign. Rather than help facilitate -- if they believe this president is a threat to American institutions and

American democracy, then why are they trying to smooth, you know, over, smooth the edges, if you will, of the president and his actions?

EISEN: Having served this country both in the White House and abroad as an ambassador, there are so many critical opportunities to help every day.

And I think that more harm would to be done by resigning, by losing anonymous and losing the people like anonymous than the good that such a

declaration would do. I will say that at the end of the process, the walls are closing in on Donald Trump, and sooner or later, it may be later, maybe

in the 2020 election he'll be evicted from the White House. The moral thing to do anonymous, the moral thing to do at the end is to step forward

and then to accept the consequences. But for now, it would destroy the whole project if the person resigns. So, no, I do not support resignation.

[15:25:00] GORANI: Doug, the Republican senator who spoke out against the president had this to say about the op-ed. Listen.


SEN. BOB CORKER, (R), TENNESSEE: I think, again, I didn't look at it. Anyone who has had any dealings over there knows that this is the reality

that we're living in and I don't know a lot has been made out of nothing. The biggest issue they will have is who wouldn't print a letter like that.


GORANI: Doug, what do you make of that, that a Republican senator is saying, of the president, who wouldn't have written an op-ed like that in

the administration?

DOUG HEYE, CNN COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that's pretty true. Most of the conversations I've had, overwhelmingly with

people who were work in this administration, whether in the White House or other departments and agencies say similar things. The problem is when you

don't know who this is, you don't know where they are coming from. So, this could be somebody who talks to the president every day or may be a

deputy assistant secretary to the secretary of interior who maybe met the president two or three times. Very loose sourcing makes it hard to know

and as you know I've said a lot of these same things on air. I agree with the substance and I find it troubling. Since we don't have any idea who it

is, it's so broad, it could be anybody in this administration.

Frankly there are over 1,000 people who are appointed or confirmed by the Senate that have been appointed by the president. It could be anybody.

This news sourcing could make it hard to see how real it is and also, I think hurts the credibility of the press here. We've seen the White House

not just going after trying to find the leaker, which of course they will do, probably unsuccessful but go after the media on this.

GORANI: Do you support the actions of anonymous?

Heye: I think you should have the courage of your convictions.

GORANI: There's a group of people in the administration who believe Donald Trump is basically a menace.

HEYE: I think you should have the courage of your convictions and stand up and say this. Frankly you could have a whole lot of people in the

administration stand up and use the name in the confirmation hearing today, I'm Spartacus. But idle trust and a majority of the American people don't

trust the "New York Times" editorial page to serve the best interest in this case with such loose source. It further breaks down the trust that we

have and the trust we need in media.

GORANI: Well, they say they were able to ascertain the identity of the person. They used an intermediary. They are confident of their position

within the administration. Norm, is there any historical parallel to what we saw with that op-ed?

EISEN: Yes, there is. Every administration has a place where you go back and the staffers don't necessarily agree with what the president may have

said in a meeting or another senior official or there may be some leeway, some lack of clarity and you have policy entrepreneurs who push that

envelope. I think what's different in the United States is that in America we are not accustomed to having a president like this. He is a 20th

century style autocrat. I don't want to compare him to the worse ones of the 20th century, he's not that capable. He's a petty drifter, a petty


You have to look at the civil disobedience of the 20th century. In my book I talk about a general at the end of the war in Prague and took on his own

army to protect Prague and the people in it from destruction. This is a very different situation. The theme is civil disobedience. When is it

right to follow a higher order? Your morals, your conscience. As an ethicist -- they called me the ethics czar in the White House I give

anonymous the stamp of approval. Anonymous thank you for being transparent. Even though you couldn't put your name on it, you told us

what you are doing.

GORANI: Thank you very much. Doug, quick last one to you. Unrelated to politics --

HEYE: Yes.

[15:30:00] GORANI: Isn't that nice? Isn't that a nice little mental break? You tweeted, if anyone wants to do a race from the east coast to

the west coast and contribute to Burt Reynolds, I'm in.

HEYE: I can tell you, the movie -- this will tell you a lot about me, unfortunately. The movie I've seen more than any other is "Cannonball Run"

especially in college so I would do that immediately. You mentioned earlier you could remember the title of

his recent film, it's called "The Last Hollywood Star" in a way that's what Burt Reynolds is. God I'm going miss him and so many others will.

GORANI: Thank you for reminding me what that title was.

HEYE: Thanks for the break from politics.

GORANI: Burt Reynolds has died today at the age of 82. Thanks to both of you.

Still to come unfounded, historical, at least that's how Russia sees it as it clashes openly with the UK over Britain's allegations in the Novichok


Key issue surrounding Mr. Trump's lightest supreme court pick is addressed at his confirmation hearing. The rules around abortion. Hear what was

said in a moment.


[15:30:07] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: There were some fiery scenes today at the U.N. Security Council. The U.K. and Russia came face-

to-face again over the Novichok poisoning.

A day after British officials said Russian intelligence operatives were behind the Salisbury attack. The Russian ambassador refused to accept the



VASILY NEBENZYA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: London need this story for just one purpose. To unleash a disgusting anti-Russia hysteria and to

involve other countries in this hysteria. Now, the number of inconsistencies and unresolved issues in connection with the new British

so-called quote-unquote "evidence" is off the charts.


GORANI: The British representative fought back with the jibes of her own.


KAREN PIERCE, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We have not assumed that the Russians are guilty. We have done an investigation. The assumption of

guilt over innocence may happen in the Russian judicial system, madam president, it does not happen in the United Kingdom's.


GORANI: Phil Black has been following this investigation since March. That was when Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found poisoned

in Salisbury. And the brits have -- a lot of they say, a lot of evidence, that they relied on many, many hours of CCTV footage, a dozens of

detectives. They spent months looking into this.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and a clear evidence, they say. That's what we heard from the British prime minister yesterday. We heard

it again in the Security Council again today from the British ambassador, again, backed up by the U.S. ambassador there as well, talking about just

simply the detail, the thoroughness, the 1,000 plus, it's 1,400 hours of CCTV, video, the many statements, the detailed way that they have built a

case which shows who did this and how they did it.

The U.S. ambassador described it as a master class in responding to a chemical weapons incident.

GORANI: And the Russians are saying, what? Because there is all this material. They have to acknowledge that this material exists.

BLACK: Well, the Russian ambassador today said, some of you might be impressed by this but I'm not. It's a spectacle, it's made up, invented,

just like all the other episodes we've seen before, he said.

He barely really didn't try to hide, exaggerated his disdain, I would say. He talked about the courageous British investigators, the mythical

Novichok. He made it very clear that, once again, he doesn't buy the British case, regardless of how many times they repeated all the degree of

detail that presented in this incident.

GORANI: So, where do we go from here?

BLACK: Well, I think Britain today will be satisfied in terms of the international support it received, because even before that hearing began,

there was a statement released by the leaders of the U.S., France, Germany --

GORANI: We could put it up, in fact, the statement.

BLACK: Indeed. Whether it basically said, we buy the British version on this. We have full confidence on the British assessment that says that

these two suspects, work for the Russian military intelligence services. You can see there also known as the GRU and it goes on to say that we also

agree that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level.

[15:35:09] So strong words of support. That whole notion was knocked down by President Putin's spokesman today. But from the British point of view,

they got the words of support, what further action could be taken? Well, remember, they've already expelled 150 plus diplomats around the world by

Britain's allies. That same statement goes on to say that -- and it's a big blow for GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency, implying that a

lot of those who were expelled worked for the GRU.

Could there be further sanctions? Could there be further expulsions? Britain would probably want that but it doesn't appear to be any momentum

or appetite for that. Just yet. Certainly not in Europe. In the United States, certainly not from the U.S. president. Perhaps from other members

of the U.S. administration or Congress. But there's no momentum in that regard just yet.

GORANI: So it's staying at the war of words level for now.

BLACK: I think that's safe to say.

GORANI: Phil Black, thanks very much for joining us.

More on our top story. The mere fact that an op-ed, like the one in the New York Times by senior administration official even exists is raising

concerns about a key issue and that is national security.

The president was quick to jump on that saying, "Does the so-called senior administration official really exist or is it just the failing New York

Times," as he likes to call it, "with another phony source? If the gutless anonymous person does indeed exist the Times must, for national security

purposes, turn him, her over to the government at once."

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who's in India on a trip right, by the way right now, said the opinion piece is compromising

the administration's work.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is sad that you have someone who would make that choice. I come from a place where if you're not a position

to execute the command orders until you have a singular option, it's to leave. This person said, according to the New York Times, chose not only

to stay but to undermine what President Trump and this administration are trying to do. And I have to tell you, I find -- I find the media's efforts

in this regard to undermine this administration incredibly disturbing.


GORANI: That was Mike Pompeo on a visit to India.

By the way, we have some footage of the president, Donald Trump at Joint Base Andrews there boarding Air Force One. He's on his way to Billings,

Montana for another rally, another Make America Great Again rally.

He did not, by the way, answer shouted questions at the White House just minutes ago that reporters shouted at him as he was making his way to Joint

Base Andrews.

Juliette Kayyem is our national security analyst and formerly worked at the Department of Homeland Security and she joins me now from Harvard


So, Juliette, what are the national security implications of this op-ed?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, the national security implications actually have to do with the substance of the op-ed, not the

fact that it existed.

The administration is conflating a lot of things, right? They are conflating national security, they're going after the media, it's not the

New York Times fault that this op-ed writer wanted to write this.

But they're not going after the substance of the editorial. And that -- that's because either it's true or because it seems so familiar. I mean,

in other words, there's nothing in the op-ed that seems shocking to anyone. I mean, it's shocking someone that wrote it. But it's consistent with a

series of books. It's consistent with our reporting, with the New York Times reporting. And that to me is the bigger national security issue than

whether there's someone in the White House who, you know, is trying to save us from Trump himself.

GORANI: But I mean it's not new but in a sense it does provide a clearer picture of some sort of shadow resistance within the administration trying

to save, in the words of this op-ed writer, basically save America from a reckless president.

KAYYEM: Right. But it's nothing that our allies didn't already know and I'll explain in a second or our enemies. So the lead up to you coming to

me just now was obviously the question of the poisoning in Britain.

The United States signed on to that document, right? So they already know that there's a two-tier foreign policy, one is in which we agree with them

and their intelligence about what happened. The other is the president sort of applauding Putin.

We've already asked of our allies to do this two-tier, so it is shocking that someone in the White House just, sort of, laying it all out there.

But our allies have already adapted to this, an unreliable principal, staff, and perhaps cabinet secretaries who are more reliable. Tweets that

should be ignored and --

GORANI: But then they're -- effectively, Juliette, there's no president here. I mean there's just --

KAYYEM: You got it. I mean --

GORANI: But what you're saying -- I'm not -- I mean, if I'm interpreting what you're saying correctly is the president's, you know, pronouncements,

his tweets, what he says about Putin, all of that, we put that to one side and then we let the cabinet officials, the ambassadors, the senior

intelligence officials do the work of establishing American policy and communicating it to our allies. Is that the picture that you're painting?

[15:40:19] KAYYEM: And that is -- that is the picture that I think -- that is the picture that the United States apparatus has adapted to and that is

clearly the picture that our allies and enemies have adapted to, right? I mean, in other words, they already knew this.

Look at the Canada trade negotiation. Same thing, right? There is long- term negotiations going on. The president sends a tweet, disrupts it for a couple hours. They're now back at the table.

I am not saying this is good. I think it is terrifying, I mean, in the sense that we have an unreliable president. We're sort of unreliable to

the world. Our enemies take advantage of it. Our allies are going elsewhere like China. It's not that it is good. It is just after two

years, it was the only option with this president, right? Because he is not reflecting a policy that is, I think, in the best interest of the

United States.

So I think in some ways, this editorial is reflecting on what happened the last two -- or almost two years of this presidency which is you just saw an

adaptation by the world to what was going on.

GORANI: Juliette Kayyem, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, though, his approval rating is pretty steady. So the Americans who support him are still supporting him, which kind of provides an

interesting political picture around this.

Juliette, always a pleasure. Thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

GORANI: On Capitol Hill today, Brett Kavanaugh directly faced an issue that surrounded his nomination for the Supreme Court from day one,

abortion. Or I should say, abortion rights. The rights of women to decide whether or not they can have an abortion and terminate their pregnancy.

Kavanaugh said the legislation of Roe v. Wade is an important precedent, that ruling. But he has narrowly interpreted when a woman can exercise

that right. This is what he said when confronted about some of his controversial past views as highlighted in a leaked e-mail from 2003.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: In that draft letter, it was referring to the views of legal scholars and I think my comment in the e-

mail is that might be overstating the position of legal scholars and so it wasn't a technically accurate description in the letter of what legal

scholars thought. And I'm always concerned with accuracy and I thought that was not quite accurate description of legal -- all legal scholars.


GORANI: So Ariane de Vogue is on Capitol Hill with more. This e-mail was written in 2003. It was leaked to the New York Times. Essentially, Brett

Kavanaugh saying, challenging that the precedent establishes a settled law of the land, that it could be technically reversed.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: You're absolutely right. And remember, Roe v. Wade is so important in these hearings because of the man

Kavanaugh is replacing. Justice Kennedy. He was the swing vote. Democrats are very fearful here that Kavanaugh is going to be the fifth

vote to overturn it or overrule it and -- or at least weaken it.

And so one of these documents came and Kavanaugh was asked, look, most law professors are going to write in this op-ed say that it's settled law. And

he came back in the document and he said no, no, wait a minute. Most law professors don't actually say that and neither do some people on the

Supreme Court.

So right there, he's probably right, because there are many people who don't think it's settled law. Why this exchange is so important is he's

acknowledging that an opinion like Roe v. Wade that's been on the books for -- since 1973 can be reversed.

And that was why that was an important moment in this hearing because Democrats have said all along, look, these candidates come to us. They say

it's settled law. But, in fact, when they get on the court, they can vote to reverse it. And here you have Kavanaugh acknowledging, look, settled

law can be unsettled as it were. That's why that was important.

GORANI: Right. And this, of course, is what's worrying so many opponents of Brett Kavanaugh during this hearing. Kamala Harris, the senator from

California asked Brett Kavanaugh whether or not he had ever discussed the Mueller probe with someone from a law firm that was founded by one of the

president's attorneys. This is the part of the exchange.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: How can you not remember whether or not you had a conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with

anyone at that law firm, the investigation has only been going on for so long, sir?

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

HARRIS: That's not my question. My question is, have you had a conversation with anyone at that firm about that investigation? It's a

really specific question.

[15:45:06] KAVANAUGH: I would like to know the person you're thinking of because what if --

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


GORANI: That was an eight-minute exchange. In the end, she didn't get an answer out of him. But it went viral online, because people saw that as

Brett Kavanaugh side stepping the question, not answering it on a technicality.

DE VOGUE: Right. Well, that was a very unusual moment last night and we were all surprised that it had been a long day. She's the last Democrat to

speak. And so she launched this line of inquiry and he did seem a little uncomfortable, though if you ask lawyers questions like that the way she

did, it makes them uneasy and he sort of wondered about it.

And then this morning, he came back and he said, he was asked by a Republican about it and he said, I have never had any inappropriate

conversation with anybody regarding the Mueller investigation. And then on top of that, the law firm that where Trump's lawyer worked, came out of a

statement and said there's never been any contacts or conversations.

But Kamala Harris, when we asked about it outside of the hearing room, she said, well that's how he answered under oath. So it shows again how --

even though this hearing is about Brett Kavanaugh, who's going to be if he's confirmed on this court for years and years and years, the focus right

now is on Donald Trump.

And that's been an interesting aspect of this hearing because, of course, if he lasts, his tenure on the Supreme Court is going to last a lot longer

than the president but it's been such a key focus.

GORANI: All right. Ariane De Vogue, thanks so much.

Still to come tonight, things spin out of control on day four of some deadly protests in Basra. We have dramatic video, a violence on the

ground. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Breaking news from Brazil. A right-wing presidential candidate has been stabbed, according to reports coming into us. Jair Bolsonaro's

son said his father was attacked at a campaign event but is out of danger. Bolsonaro has been rising in the polls ahead of this month's presidential

election. He's known for making some controversial far-right populace comments.

Let's go to Shasta Darlington, she's in Sao Paulo with more.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (through telephone): Hala, the -- obviously the details of the stabbing were just becoming aware

of them. There's some amateur videos that are now being posted on social media where you can see Jair Bolsonaro being carried by his supporters. He

is the front-runner right now in presidential elections due to be held on October 7th and he tends to get a warm, very popular greeting when he

arrived for his campaign rallies.

[15:50:05] And so in these videos, you can see him being carried by his supporters, wearing a yellow t-shirt and all of a sudden, he sort of

doubles over. You can't really see what happens next.

Another amateur video shows him being carried by his supporters and placed inside of a car. Clearly in pain. But as you said, his son who's also a

politician running for office, who was not with him, says that he has information that he is out of danger, that he was stabbed but he isn't

running any serious risks at this point. This is obviously going to really shake up this already splintered and divisive election.

As you mentioned, Jair Bolsonaro is a far-right candidate who has made some pretty incendiary comments. He's actually being thrived for making these

derogatory comments about gays, blacks, and women. So he's already a very politicized figure.

But I imagine there will be a lot of -- people questioning who could have done this, why is happening, and it could even boost support for him. He's

got 22 percent of voter intention, far above the next candidate behind him who are getting around 12 percent. Hala?

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Shasta Darlington with that breaking news.

We'll be right back. Stay with us.


GORANI: The streets of Basra in Iraq look very much like a war zone after four back-to-back days of deadly protests. This exclusive CNN video shows

a massive blaze in the Iraqi city, with a plume of smoke stretching far into the sky.

We don't know exactly what was burning. But witnesses said fires were set at two government buildings on Thursday. And an independent watchdog says

nine people have been killed in the violence so far and more than 110 others injured.

Let's go now to our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman. He's joining us from Beirut. What is behind these violent protests, people are

so angry in Basra?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me first update you, Hala, on some information we're getting. We're getting from medical

sources in Basra that three people have been killed so far today. And that there has been a new curfew announced in the city. This is after this

afternoon at 3:00 p.m. There was a curfew announcement minutes before it was supposed to go into effect, it was cancelled probably because the

authorities realized that they can't enforce it anyway.

So we understand that this new curfew are supposed to go into effect, but we're already receiving video that nobody seems to be respecting that


Now, as far as the reasons for these violent demonstrations and protests, it goes back quite some time. Going back to July, there were protests and

there were people killed in those protests against the deterioration in basic public services, things like drinking water which has become

contaminated and sent thousands of people to the hospital. Electricity cuts that go on for hours and hours in the city where oftentimes the

daytime temperatures get up to 50 degrees centigrade.

Basra is a city that produces about 80 percent of Iraq's oil, but much of that has not been or not much at all, has been reinvested in the city

itself which suffers from high unemployment, and as I said, a crumbling infrastructure.

[15:55:14] So the situation very volatile. The level of anger on the street only getting worst day-by-day, certainly as the death toll continues

to climb.

Frankly, this reminds me of what was going on in Cairo in January of 2011. What we are seeing it appears at this point is that the government in

Baghdad which is already afflicted by divisions four months after an inconclusive election is simply losing control of Iraq's third largest

city. Hala.

GORANI: All right. People are fed up. Thanks very much, Ben Wedeman.

India is a nation that prides itself on its cultural and linguistic diversity. In fact, there are 22 different ways to officially say, I love


But now for the first time in one and a half centuries, a part of the population is being given a chance to openly say those words all together.




GORANI: Now these people are celebrating in India, a huge social moment for the country. That's because the Supreme Court in India has struck down

a 150-year-old colonial law that criminalized consensual gay sex. The law had brought a maximum sentence of life in prison and is seen as a huge

victory for the LGBTQ community.

CNN's Nikhil Kumar has perspective from New Delhi.


NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN INTERNATIONAL NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: People were cheering, people are just so happy that they can finally be themselves.

The law carried a potential penalty of life in prison. Now, you can imagine what that meant for millions, tens of millions who just couldn't be

themselves. There's a law out there that said that they couldn't be themselves and that if they were themselves, that if they embraced their

identity they could go to jail potentially for life.


GORANI: Well, people directly affected by this change couldn't quite hide their happiness.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) for who we are. But today and anymore from now on, we are not criminals. We can live our life as who we are. We are

really happy. Thank you Supreme Court.


GORANI: And the news was greeted with delight, not just by activists but also by some of India's biggest names.

Bollywood actress, Sonam Kapoor, tweeted, "This is the India I want to live in. Not one filled with hate, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and

intolerance." So momentous day in India.

All right. Do stay with CNN. There's going to be a lot more ahead, of course, on that anonymous op-ed, not just -- not just about who could have

written it but the implications of what was said in it.

And after a quick break, you'll also have your top business stories on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS." I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see you next time.