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Sen. Booker Releases Documents GOP Says They Were Cleared; Negotiating Details on Trump Interview with Mueller; Obama Will Sharpley Critique Trump in Illinois Speech; "RBG" Aires Sunday at 8:00 P.M. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 7, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Beyond that, it's hard to see any real consequences that Booker faces, which is one reason why he was saying to John Cornyn yesterday, bring it on, because there's very little that probably would ultimately try to do.

Of course, as you mentioned, Republicans saw this as all a political stunt for someone who is almost certainly going to consider running for president, may run for president in 2020. This is a big moment for him. The question is, how does it play out, this matter of debate going forward -- Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. But still, amazing to see Senators battling it out in a public committee hearing, threatening this kind of an action. It was really an amazing thing to see, even if these amazing times where we see everything that we never thought we would.

Manu, great to see you. Appreciate it.

RAJU: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Joining me now is CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

Chris, what's your take on this. What was the deal? Do you think Booker was posturing and grandstanding? Could he have not known the documents were cleared for public view when he went off on his speech yesterday morning?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. I think it can be a both/and. It doesn't have to be either or. I mean, I think that's -- in his mind, he was committing an act of civil disobedience, is how he put it.

Do I think that this was done entirely because Cory Booker thought these e-mails would either derail Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation or the public need to see them? No. I don't think it was 100 percent that. Cory Booker understands, as does Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar -- three Democrats talked about running for president who were on that committee. They know we and the other networks are carrying these hearings wire to wire. These are changes to make moments. Politics is at least in part -- people don't like to hear this -- but about performance. Presidential politics is even more about performance. I think you had a mix of -- I'm not going to question Cory Booker's beliefs in this. But you had a mix of those real beliefs with an understanding that there's a performance piece to this that he was also achieving.

BOLDUAN: You talked about Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar. This is an element of this. It was noted in real time, even in the hearing by Republican Senators. But there's so much talk about 2020 politics at play with this Kavanaugh nomination and these hearings. Aren't there also 2018 politics that are real here at well?

CILLIZZA: What you will see -- the answer is yes. It should be briefer. There are 2018 politics. Anything this big, the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice happening this close to an election -- 60 odd days -- has an impact. What Democrats are doing, without question, is trying to push their base to say, look, we know you don't like Donald Trump. We're going to remind you that Donald Trump winning in 2016 brought this. You got near Gorsuch and you are likely to get Kavanaugh. We are going to fight it. Cory Booker wants to be known as a guy who fought it, even if it's losing. And Kamala Harris. I fought this even though we lost. That's about 2020. But there's also a base-energizing piece to this, I think, Kate. There's no question that that's on display, too. Should be with something this close to an election.

BOLDUAN: Elections have consequences, says captain obvious.

Chris --


CILLIZZA: By the way, Kate --


CILLIZZA: -- very quickly, Lindsey Graham, two days ago, said, if you want to pick justices more in your liking, you need to win elections. If I was a Democrat, I would cut that and put it in ads and send it to every one of my base voters. He is right, that's 100 percent true. And that's a good way to motivate people to go out and vote.

BOLDUAN: That's what turned -- has turned out for years many Republican voters, and not so much on the Democratic side. This is what you are seeing.

Great to see you, Chris. Thank you.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

[11:34:07] BOLDUAN: Coming up, moments from now, former President Obama is set to re-enter the political spotlight with a speech coming up in Illinois. Aides say it will be his sharpest critique yet of President Trump. What's that going to look like? That's next.


BOLDUAN: We're getting new details now on where negotiations stand between President Trump and his legal team and Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team over the possibility of an interview with the president.

CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, has just spoken to the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and has all the details.

Dana, you have been tracking these conversations and all of the twists and turns in between for months. What is Giuliani telling you now?

[11:39:27] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: After being stalled for months and months, that they seem to be happening in an expedited way and according to the Trump team, Rudy Giuliani in particular, in good faith. Those are my words, not his. That is the description that he gave.

Where are they right now? They are in conversations, as you know, we have been talking about the written proposals for months back and forth, sometimes taking weeks and weeks for the Mueller team to get back to the Trump team on. Now they're having oral conversations by phone, including what they expect to happen today. What they are surrounding are talks about written questions to the president solely on the issue and the topic of alleged or potential collusion during the campaign for what Giuliani called phase one. That's all they're going to talk about right now. Not ruling out any kind of questioning for anything that happened since Donald Trump has been president. But they're going to put those discussions off until they get through the written questions that they hope to happen with the Mueller team in and around questioning of collusion with the Russians during the campaign. That's obviously something that the president has said repeatedly he didn't know anything about, didn't happen, so on and so forth. Everything else they're hoping to put off for good. But for now, they say they want to put off for now.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting. The strategy of you give me this now and maybe we will give you this, what you might want later. Does that suggest -- does Giuliani give any suggestion that Mueller agreed to phase one?

BASH: An important question. As we have said before, we are getting this information from one side and one side only, the Trump legal team. The Mueller team is not talking in any way, shape or form. According to Rudy Giuliani, yes, they feel good about where these negotiations are with the Mueller team, that the Mueller team is in a good place with at least in what Giuliani called phase one, written questions and answers about alleged or potential collusion with Russia during the campaign. But there's no deal until there's a deal. We won't really know what is agreed to unless and until there's an actual deal that we can see and is announced by both sides.

BOLDUAN: Let's wait and see what happens tomorrow. You will be back on --


BASH: Or in five minutes.

BOLDUAN: Or that.

Great to see you. Thanks, Dana.

BASH: You, too.

BOLDUAN: Live picture right now. Coming up, President Obama is set to deliver a speech just moments from now. Aides are calling it his sharpest rebuke yet of President Trump, as former President Obama hits the campaign trail for Democratic candidates in the 2018 cycle. We will have details on what he could say, next.



[11:44:59] BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse, can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult, in phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It's a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but, in fact, is born of fear.


BOLDUAN: That was former President Obama speaking at John McCain's funeral with a clear rebuke of the politics of today. But also a dig at the man currently in the Oval Office.

Today, Obama is hitting the campaign trail once again. You are taking a live look at this event that will be happening any minute now. Sources tell CNN that President Obama's speech will be the clearest rebuke yet of President Trump since the 2016 election.

Joining me now CNN political commentator, Dan Pfeiffer, former senior advisor to President Obama, author of "Yes, We Still Can," and co-host of "Pod Save America."

Great to see you, Dan.


BOLDUAN: What do you think the sharpest rebuke yet is going to look like coming from Obama?

PFEIFFER: I think you are going to see a lot of the themes of American values and democracy and citizenship that the president talked about at the McCain funeral and put in the context of the elections coming up in 60-some days. It's very important to -- for everyone to understand what the stakes are, what the very real threats to our democracy that are happening, and the role that everyday Americans can play in being a check on those threats.

BOLDUAN: I don't think Obama has mentioned Trump's name in his criticisms when he has issued statements, which is what we have seen. Do you think he needs to call Trump out by name now?

PFEIFFER: I think people need to know what's happening. There's an elephant in the room here, literally and figuratively, I guess, that needs to be addressed. You will see the president address it. Everyone knows --


BOLDUAN: You think he will call him out by name?

PFEIFFER: That's my expectation. Whether he mentions the name or not, everyone knows who and what he is talking about. We reached this sad state of affairs in America where any time you talk about core American values in any way, shape or form, it's seen as a rebuke of Trump, which says a lot about Trump.

BOLDUAN: You saw that conversation a lot, especially when we were talking about McCain.


BOLDUAN: He has very clearly taken a hands-off approach until now, which is not -- not anything other than to say, that's a tradition of many former presidents. If Obama is one of the favorite people the Republicans like to run against -- they still are, for goodness sakes -- you --


PFEIFFER: They never have beaten him. So --


BOLDUAN: Do you see -- it's not like he has a lot of people elected in midterms. That's why I'm asking, do you see a risk in Obama jumping in

[11:49:56] PFEIFFER: Well, I'd say a couple things. First, this argument that Obama is somehow going to fire up the Republican base was the same argument you heard Republicans make when he was campaigning in Virginia in the 2017 gubernatorial race as he was doing robocalls and other things for Doug Jones in Alabama. In both cases, the Democrats did very well.

If I was the Republicans, I would be very nervous for two reasons. There are two kinds of districts that are going to control the House. The first are districts that Hillary Clinton won and are currently represented by Republicans. Then it's all about turning out the Democratic base. Obama is the best person to do that. Second, there are these counties that are filled with these people who voted for Obama in 2012, Trump in 2016, these rural counties Trump did very well in. NBC did a poll of those counties last year, and 438 counties that Trump unproved performance. Obama is actually more popular in those, quote/unquote, "Trump counties" than Trump. So for these voters that we need, who may have voted for a third-party candidate or reluctantly voted for Trump but now have concerns, Obama is a great messenger to get them to vote for Democrats and provide a check on the corruption and incompetence that's happening in Trump's Washington.

BOLDUAN: Let's see what the message is when he takes the microphone shortly.

Thanks, Dan. Appreciate you coming in.

PFEIFFER: Of course. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, the latest White House witch hunt, as in which top Trump administration official wrote that scathing opinion piece. Most of Trump's top brass say they did not do it. The White House reportedly has more leads. Much more on that ahead.


BOLDUAN: Over the past 20 years, our next "CNN Hero" has helped hundreds of survivors of wars and natural disasters as well as children living with birth defects. Here she is.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: We're empowering them because we're giving them back what they lost, a chance to stand on their own and write and go to school and to contribute to society.

They come from different corners of the earth, and they all heal together, laugh together. They don't speak the same language, but love is universal.

So often, people will say, why can't you help your own? Aren't they our own? Don't we share this earth?


[11:54:20] BOLDUAN: That is a message to remember. For more on her story, go to

Be right back.


BOLDUAN: Professor, litigator, role model, dissenter, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has earned all of those titles during her groundbreaking career. Now the new CNN original film "RBG" taking an intimate look at the personal and professional life of Justice Ginsburg. Here's a preview.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud to nominate this path-breaking attorney, advocate, and judge to be the 107th justice to the United States Supreme Court.


RUTH BADER GINSBERG, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: We may be in trying times but think how it was in those days. The judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To put women on the same plane as men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite literally changed the way the world is for American women.

GINSBURG: What has become of me could happen only in America.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's become such a rock star.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really the closest thing to a superhero I know.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is known the world over as the notorious RBG.

GINSBURG: All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.


BOLDUAN: I find myself repeating that quote all the time.

Joining me now is award-winning filmmaker and producer, Julie Cohen, one of the directors of "RBG."

Great to see you.


BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming in.

What's so unique is the access that you were able to get to Justice Ginsburg. You travel with her. You're with her when she works out. You sit with her in her chambers. You, of course, knew a lot about her going in. What surprised you, though, coming out?

COHEN: Yes, you know, we think of this person, and she has this reputation as being a serious-minded, sober, quiet, reserved judge, and she is that, but she's a lot more. She has a sense of humor. She's quite hilarious. In the film, you see her watching the impression of her on "Saturday Night Live" and like cracking up. That's the only word for it. Also, she's a hopeless romantic. Madly in love with her late husband, Marty Ginsburg. The film, in a lot of ways, is a love story.

BOLDUAN: It's a wonderful love story.

What does she make of her superhero, rock-star status?

COHEN: You know, she seems to enjoy it. At first when it unfolded that she became this huge deal to Millennials and people were like wearing t-shirts and had tote bags and even tattoos, and there are a bunch of them with Ruth Bader Ginsburg tattooed on their arm, at first she and everyone else thought this was a little weird. But with you see her now with crowds cheering for her, there's a glimmer of joy in her eye. I think you'll notice it in the film. She seems to enjoy it.

BOLDUAN: Like most justices, she doesn't really seek the attention. She doesn't speak out too much. Were you surprised that she was open to having this documentary done on her?

COHEN: Well, you know --


COHEN: -- it took some doing. When we first approached her about this in January 2015, her initial answer was, not yet. You know, my co-director, Betsy, and I just kept plugging away over a long period of time, and ultimately, we started making the film without her in it. Ultimately, she went for it.

BOLDUAN: So you were going to do the film without her in it.

COHEN: No. She was going to be in it all along.


COHEN: But we started the elements that didn't involve interviewing and filming her.

BOLDUAN: And fingers crossed she would agree. Thank goodness she did.

COHEN: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you. Thanks for coming.

COHEN: Great to see you.

BOLDUAN: Congratulations.

COHEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: An amazing accomplishment.

Be sure to tune in. "RBG" airs this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, here on CNN.

Thank you, all, so much for joining me.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now. [12:00:13] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Kate.