Return to Transcripts main page


Trump "Obsessed" With Identifying Op-ed Author; DOJ Probe Would Be "Blatant" Abuse Of Government Power; Cohen Wants His $130,000 Back From Stormy Daniels; Obama Unleashes On Trump And GOP Ahead Of Midterms; Ex-Trump Campaign Aide Sentenced To 14 Days In Prison; Kavanaugh Vote Expected By End Of September; Exec Departures CEO Smoking Weed Sends Tesla Stock Lower; Voter I.D. Laws Can Make It Difficult For Some To Vote. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired September 8, 2018 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] CHRIST PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: No doubt. All righty. Hey, Andy, thank you so much.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the sake of our national security, the New York Times should publish his name at once.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president just found, just today, said he believes it's somebody in national security.

TRUMP: What they've done is virtually, you know, it's treason.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This comes as Trump is now demanding his attorney general: launch an investigation to uncover the identity of the person.

BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.

TRUMP: I'm sorry. I watched it, but I fell asleep.



ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

PAUL: Good morning! So glad to have you with us here on a Saturday. Thanks for keeping us company. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. There are now a lot of theories and dozens of denials, all surrounding who wrote that anonymous the New York Times op-ed critical of President Trump.

PAUL: Yes, and now, aides to President Trump believe that they have that search narrowed down to just a few individuals. A source close to the White House says the president is "obsessed with finding out who it is." Even his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, tells him, let it go.

BLACKWELL: Now, President Trump is telling reporters he thinks exposing the op-ed writer is a matter of national security, and he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into it.


TRUMP: Take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he's talking about, also where he is right now. Eventually, the name of this sick person will come out.


PAUL: Question now: will the writer out themselves? Will there be an investigation?

BLACKWELL: All right, so, let's talk about this. Joining us now from the White House is CNN White House Reporter Jeremy Diamond, and they have narrowed their search, Jeremy.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, they certainly have. We are learning from a source close to the White House that they have now narrowed this search down to just a few people. And all of this sparked by the president's ongoing anger about this anonymous op-ed, but it's not just the op-ed. It really was this one-two punch that we saw, both with this anonymous editorial posted by a senior administration official and the bombshell new book by Bob Woodward -- we saw excerpts of that earlier this week.

And both of those publications really painted a picture of a president who is incapable of leading the country and administration officials around him trying to contain his most reckless and impulsive decisions. But the president now is taking it a step further, beyond this investigation that is going on at the White House, an informal search led by White House aides. The president also saying that he wants the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to look into this matter and uncover the identity of this senior administration official.

The New York Times is now responding in a statement, saying: "We're confident that the Department of Justice understands that the first amendment protects all American citizens and that it would not participate in such a blatant abuse of government power." So, the president, however, has yet to identify any crime that he believes have been committed that would warrant such a Department of Justice investigation, but the search at the White House is certainly continuing. Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, however, says she believes that the individual who wrote this op-ed will simply make themselves known eventually. Listen to what she said.


CONWAY: I'm not interested in an investigation of this. I guess those who are investigating, great. I really hope they find the person. I believe the person will sus himself or herself out, though, because that's usually what happens. People brag to the wrong person. They brag that they did this or they did that because they, I assume part of this -- isn't the goal here not what the op-ed pretends the goal is, Christiane? Isn't the goal here really to sow chaos and get us all suspicious of each other and --

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is that what's happening? Are you all getting suspicious of each other?

CONWAY: No, that isn't what's happening.


DIAMOND: Well, we have yet to hear from the president this morning so far, but his public schedule is clear of any events, so we'll certainly keep an eye on his Twitter feed. Back to you guys.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we're in that window, 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Jeremy Diamond for us there live at the White House, thanks so much.

PAUL: So, Josh Rogin, CNN Political Analyst and Columnist at the Washington Post with us now; as well as Joey Jackson, CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney; and Walter Shaub, CNN Contributor and former Director at the Office of Government Ethics. Thank you, gentlemen, all, for being with us.


PAUL: Josh, hoping that maybe you can clarify something for us, we're trying to determine whether this short list of people now that the White House has identified, if it's actually an issue of national security, as the president said, or if it is somebody in national security. Let's listen to the two viewpoints we're getting here and see if we can get some clarification.


[07:05:10] CONWAY: The president just found, just today, said he believes it's somebody in national security.

TRUMP: National security. I would say, Jeff should be investigating the author of that piece was, because I really believe it is national security.


PAUL: OK, I don't know if you could hear that, Josh, but it's the president saying it is national security. Kellyanne Conway saying it is somebody in national security. Do we have clarification to which it might be?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know what the president is referring to, but I think in both cases, he doesn't know what he's talking about. First of all, I don't think the White House knows squat about who wrote this e-mail. I've been getting contacts from White House officials ever since the thing published, and every single one of them has floated the name of the person who they already had a grudge against, OK, and they're all different, OK? So, just based on what I'm hearing from many White House officials, they're all pointing fingers at each other and in different directions. They don't know anything, OK?

PAUL: So, wait, Josh, you're saying that this is coming down to people pointing fingers at people because there are grudges held against them, not because there's actually any evidence that they wrote this piece?

ROGIN: Exactly. Yes, it's score settling and throwing their enemies under the bus and trying to get reporters to float names of people who they want to smear for their own personal political grudges and retribution. That's going on all day every day. You know what else is going on all day every day? Senior administration officials telling reporters that the president is immoral and unfit for office. That's been going on for two years, right? There's not actually a lot new in this op-ed. It's new and shocking that it's in the New York Times and at this particular moment in time and everything like that, but this just reinforces what people have been saying on background, anonymously, in the papers, not in op-eds, but in articles all day, every day, OK?

And by the way, leaking is not a matter of national security, it's not a crime. There's no basis for an investigation. And if you want to say, oh, well, the president thinks it's someone who works in the national security bureaucracy, well, that's pretty obvious. If you read the thing, it's all about foreign policy and Russia and John McCain, you know, and what's going on with the president's judgment on foreign policy. So, you don't have to be the FBI or the amazing Creskin to figure out it's somebody with a national security background.


ROGIN: That's what any human being would see. So, I haven't seen one shred of evidence that they have one iota of actual information about this person, and that's why they're throwing up all this rhetoric and threats and smoke screens, to try to, you know, create this fear culture inside the administration where somebody's going to say something, but so far, there's zero evidence that they're any closer than you or me.

PAUL: OK. So that you know. Joey, let's get to that point that he was talking about. The president has called this treason. He wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into this. Are there legal ramifications for anyone who did write this op-ed?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Simple answer. Always great to see you, Christi.

PAUL: You, too.

JACKSON: No, OK? Now, it could result obviously in loss of job, but that's about it. To Josh's point about zero evidence, since when did evidence become relevant to the president or the administration in terms of saying what you want, doing what you want? And so, there's two things that I point to: number one, in terms of the op-ed, it's corroboration, right? We not only see this op-ed out there which essentially calls into question the fitness of the president, but we see a number of books, right? "Fire and fury," we see. We see "Unhinged," and of course, Bob Woodward's book itself, you know, speaking to those issues. But on the legal issue of someone expressing their point of view about the president, I mean, anyone and everyone can do it. The bigger question to me is the danger of the president talking about Jeff Sessions as he continues to berate him and rip him apart and assail him and force him to resign or want to resign.

The president believing that the Justice Department works for the president of the United States. As a technical matter, that's true, right? He's the president, he's the executive. But as a practical matter, Christi, the Department of Justice investigates crime where there's probable cause to believe one's committed. It's not just the president, hey, you, I don't like you, be investigated! And that is further dangerous -- last point, Christi -- as it relates to, we see the congressional persons who are under indictment at this point in time, right, where the president's saying that they shouldn't be prosecuted because of the party they're in. So, we are in different and new times and alternative states of facts.

PAUL: OK, so, with that said, Walter, I mean, the president has called on the DOJ to stop investigating him, to start investigating Hillary Clinton, to investigate who wrote this op-ed. If Sessions does get involved, is there an ethical space for that?

[07:10:00] SHAUB: Well, I think you've hit on the most terrifying aspect of this entire thing. I don't have a lot of respect for the op-ed author, but I think the White House's reaction is just simply very dangerous. This is a consistent theme of the president trying to misuse the investigative apparatus of the state, the criminal law mechanism, to go after political rivals and to protect political allies. That's just terrifying. And if Jeff Sessions were to get involved and use DOJ's resources to investigate a human resources matter, not a criminal matter, that would be an extremely dangerous abuse of authority, and it would be the beginning of something far worse than anything we've seen so far.

PAUL: So, where do you think it would lead?

SHAUB: Well, I think it would lead to the president feeling he had a free hand to take control of the Department of Justice, which would then lose all independents, and he would do what he said he wanted to do, which is investigate his political rivals, call off investigations of his political allies, use the investigative process to harass people who displease him. It would be a very dangerous statement. It defies one of the most important norms of government, which is that the White House stay out of the Department of Justice's criminal work.

PAUL: All righty. Joey, I have to ask you about something else that's happened in the last, oh, 12 hours or so, I think. There's this Michael Cohen statement that he says he wants to tear up the nondisclosure agreement that he reached with adult film star, Stormy Daniels, in the months prior to the 2016 election. Now, revoking that agreement, we know, would require that Daniels pay back the $130,000 that she took to stay silent about that alleged affair with then President Donald Trump. She's already said she'd pay the money back so she can talk. Where do you see this going?

JACKSON: Well, listen, Christi. You know what, as any litigant, they're entitled to use the courts that we have and our great system and our great democracy, and you know, the courts that I love to be in, but here's the reality. In the event that you do that, you're subject to being deposed, giving information in terms of the agreement, how it came about, who was involved in it, who, if anyone, you took direction from, and that's a dangerous road to hoe.

Michael Cohen has been through an awful lot as it relates to his relationship with the president, his criminality, his plea of guilty. You know, could new and different and other crimes emanate from any deposition such as perjury, potentially? And so, I think it's -- you know, he should be careful. He has a right to get his $130,000 back in the event that has the road he wants to follow. He's a litigant like everyone else, but be careful what you ask for.

PAUL: All righty. Josh Rogin, Joey Jackson, Walter Shaub, always so grateful to have you gentlemen with us. Thank you.

ROGIN: Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Former President Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail ahead of the midterm elections. Coming up, his searing rebuke of the Trump administration and his message to voters.


OBAMA: As a fellow citizen, I am here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it.


PAUL: Listen, there are deadlines to register to vote in November elections that are coming up. Well, voters in several states need to make sure they have the right I.D., of course, before they cast a ballot. There's a volunteer group helping citizens get the I.D.s they need so they can exercise their right.

BLACKWELL: Tesla's visionary and CEO Elon musk lights up.


ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA: I mean, it's legal, right?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does that work? Do people get upset at you if you do certain things?


BLACKWELL: But his latest antics are raising questions about his well-being.



[07:17:43] OBAMA: In two months, we have the chance, not the certainty, but the chance, to restore some semblance of sanity to our politics, because there is actually only one real check on bad policy and abuses of power, and that's you. You and your vote.


BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN Political Commentator, Jack Kingston, former Republican Congressman from Georgia. Jack, welcome back. Haven't seen you in a while.

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's good to be with you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. So, let's start there with President Obama and his call to voters, essentially -- and I'm paraphrasing here a longer stretch of his remarks -- if you want to check on this president, you have to vote for Democrats because congressional Republicans have not and will not do it.

KINGSTON: Well, I think that's a message to be expected a former president from the other party, so it doesn't surprise me. I will say this, just a quick reminder that 62 percent of the voters leaving the election in November 2016 said the country was on the wrong track after eight years of Barack Obama, and those weren't Republicans. For Republicans, it was like 90percent. But 62 percent of all voters said the country was on the wrong track after him.

BLACKWELL: And now about 60 percent of people who were polled by the latest, I believe it was ABC News, found that they had an unfavorable view of this president.

KINGSTON: Well, it's going to be a tough election year. I spent a couple weeks on the hill lately and spoke to people like Kevin McCarthy, Democrats and Republicans alike, as a matter of fact, including Marcia Fudge from the Democrats' side, but several others, and they're all out there working. They know that the wind is against them, particularly if you're the incumbent party who has the White House, but I think --

BLACKWELL: Do you think this case -- I'm sorry, because we've got a limited amount of time -- do you think the president's case is effective, former president's case -- his argument will be effective?

KINGSTON: Well, I really don't. When you look at the unemployment numbers being down at historic lows for all groups of people, when you think about the successful business expansion because of the tax cuts, when you think about our strong national defense now, the president, you might not like the way he does North Korea or trade agreements -- it's unorthodox, but he does get results, so --

BLACKWELL: But the way he does it is actually much of the case that the former president was making there. Let me turn now to this search for the anonymous senior administration official and the president's call for Jeff Sessions to look into it. What crime would the Department of Justice be investigating by searching for this person?

KINGSTON: Well, he could have violated his oath of office, his oath to the constitution. If he's senior enough -- and we don't even really know if he's senior. You know, that's a term that's undefined. Journalists throw it out a lot. People who work government always call themselves senior. You never see a junior staff member quoted, for example, so we really don't know much about this person. But if he or she is conspiring with others, which is what he or she is bragging about, you know, is there sedition? Are they given --

BLACKWELL: You've given me four ifs in three questions now.

KINGSTON: It's an anonymous letter, Victor. I mean, that's the problem when you quote anonymous letters and you put it up as if it's gospel. And you know, I mean, coming from the New York Times to me that's suspect in itself.

BLACKWELL: So, should Sessions investigate? Should the DOJ investigate?

KINGSTON: I think they should look at it. Is there sedition? Is there treason? I'm not sure -- you can't say that there is based on that letter, but there is an allusion that something's going on. There is a verification that there is a deep state, if you will, which the president was laughed at for many years. We do know that you have people like Lisa Page and Peter Strzok and Bruce Ohr, 25 DOJ officials have had to --

BLACKWELL: We're talking about -- listen, we know that the Department of Justice has ramped up their investigation of leaks, but that's based on releasing classified information, which would be a crime. What is the crime? You've given me, again, a list of questions and a list of ifs. Don't you need more than that to start a federal investigation?

KINGSTON: I don't know that you do. I think if you have somebody who's going around saying, look, we're trying to thwart the democratically elected president of the United States from doing his duties, I think that could be a crime. We don't really know because this person hasn't come forward and said we did the following, but the person is bragging about, oh, we do a lot of things. Well, what does it mean? It's very uncomfortable to me. I think Kellyanne Conway, did, though, make a point that I think the purpose of the letter really is to sow discord within the White House. And I'll say this, when I was in Congress, in House Leadership, it's somewhat of a pressure cooker and you have staff that attacks other staff, and it's possible this could be some kind of internal turf battle within a staff --

BLACKWELL: It certainly could be. That sounds like an H.R. issue, not a criminal issue, but we will have to wrap it here. Jack Kingston, good to have you back.

[07:22:44] KINGSTON: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: Well, former Trump Campaign Aide George Papadopoulos is spending 14 days in prison for lying to investigators about his contacts with people connected to Russia during the 2016 campaign.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Jake Tapper spoke to Papadopoulos exclusively in his first interview. And while he maintains he does not remember telling anyone on the Trump campaign that he was told the Russians had Hillary Clinton's e-mails, he also left open the possibility that it did happen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: There are going to be people out there who think, there's no way George Papadopoulos didn't tell anyone on the campaign. Did you tell anyone on the campaign?

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: As far as I remember, I absolutely did not --

TAPPER: You didn't tell Corey Lewandowski?

PAPADOPOULOS: As far as I remember, I absolutely did not share this information with anyone on the campaign.

TAPPER: Not Sam Clovis?


TAPPER: Dearborn --


TAPPER: Mashburn?


TAPPER: Whalid Phares, none of them?

PAPADOPOULOS: I might have, but I have no recollection of doing so. I can't guarantee it. All I can say is my memory is telling me that I never shared it with anyone on the campaign.


BLACKWELL: So, watch the rest of this interview tonight in a CNN special: "THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS." That's tonight on CNN at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. PAUL: So, what are the chances Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to

the Supreme Court without a hitch? We're going it talk to our analyst here in just a moment.


[07:28:49] PAUL: Well, after four days of some pretty fiery exchanges and rowdy protesters, the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing is over now. The committee vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh expected a little bit later this month. But a lot of topics on the table during the hearing -- presidential power, Roe versus Wade, confidential documents. Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director for the Judicial Crisis Network is with us now, she was also a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas; and Katherine Mangu-Ward, Editor in Chief for Reason Magazine. Ladies, thank you both, so much, for being with us. Cary, I want to go to you first, what did Kavanaugh get right, what did he have that maybe was problematic for him?

CARRIE SEVERINO, CHIEF COUNSEL AND POLICY DIRECTOR, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Well, I think one of the themes we saw going around is the Democratic senator's trying to press him to effectively behave like a politician, make campaign promises. They kept on trying to say, how would you rule on this issue? You know, we want you to change the law, effectively, in different directions. That's not the job of a judge, and I think what Kavanaugh did great was continue to hold firm that a judge needs to be independent, not make those promises.

[07:29:53] That's the standard that every justice in the Supreme Court sitting right now has held themselves too. And it's so important to preserving our independent judiciary, but you did get at the end of especially hearing the witnesses speaking about him yesterday, the bipartisan support, they kind of across the legal spectrum how respected he is and what an amazing and outstanding judge he's become. I think, very excited to see him hopefully be confirmed soon.

PAUL: Katherine, what stood out to you?

KATHERINE MANGU-WARD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REASON MAGAZINE: You know, I think Kavanaugh is a really strong candidate but at the same time, what I think we need right now is a court that's willing to stand up to and balance the powers of the other branches.

And we heard over and over from Kavanaugh how he planned to be deferential. Now, it's, of course, appropriate to be deferential to precedent in many cases, that's the role of the judge. At the same time, I would have liked to hear more from him about places that he would be willing to in his role as a Supreme Court judge, pushback against both the White House and Congress when they -- when they err.

PAUL: Yes, there was a moment that he was asked about presidents being indicted in office. Let's listen to what he said to that.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Can you speak to that credible suspicion that people might have that this system is somehow rigged, and the president is putting somebody up just to protect him from a criminal investigation.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Senator, three quick points. One, my only loyalty is to the Constitution. I've made that clear and I'm an independent judge. Two, the Justice Department for 45 years has taken the position and still does that a sitting president may not be indicted while still on office. Three, I have not taken a position on the constitutionality and promised you I have an open mind on that.


PAUL: All righty. Katherine, what's your thought on that?

MANGU-WARD: You know, I think that's a -- that's a great example of a place where he could have made a stronger clearer position. He could have said -- you know, I am -- I am not -- I am no and beholden to no man, certainly not the president. Instead, he talked around it. I get again, that this is a prudent thing that nominee is doing this situation.

But, when you contrast that with Gorsuch for instance, who just, for example, said when asked, do you think the Constitution protects the right to privacy? "Yes, Senator, I do." And we just didn't get a lot of those "Yes, Senator, I do" moments from Kavanaugh.

PAUL: Well, why didn't we? Why didn't we, Carrie?

SEVERINO: Again, the standard that it is because of judicial ethics, you can't say how you're going to rule in a certain case. This is absolutely a case that is being litigated right now certainly in the public -- in the sphere of public opinion is going to probably hit the courts.

It would be absolutely improper for him to a state where he stands on it. Now, that said, he had 2-1/2 years after being nominated by President Bush to the D.C. Circuit to sit in that Court.

In that time, eight separate times he ruled against that administration. 15 times against Bush's administrative agencies. If you want to know whether he's independent of the president that appointed him, he has a longer track record than anyone I know of, of doing exactly that.

So, he's not going to prejudge the matter, and I think that's exactly what we should want from a judge. Someone who's going to be independent.

PAUL: OK, real quickly, Elena Kagan, in 1995 described confirmation hearings. She, of course, is Associate Justice who was confirmed in 2010. But she described confirmation hearings as a vapid and hollow charade.

Basically saying that you know, nominees don't do themselves any favors by going in there and answering specific questions. And the Senators, a lot of times it's believed already have their minds made up. Katherine, sad truth to that.

MANGU-WARD: A 100 percent true. Unfortunately, these hearings are partisan showmanship. It was much more about who's going to be running for president in the next cycle than Kavanaugh's qualifications.

Again, I think he's a strong candidate, I think he did the best in what is frankly a pretty ridiculous situation to put some of our most impressive jurors. At the same time, I would have liked to see a slightly stronger statement from him even admits what was essentially a bunch of campaigning that had nothing to do with him.

PAUL: Yes. I'm so sorry that we've run out of time, ladies. Carrie Severino and Katherine Mangu-Ward, appreciate you both being here. Thank you.

SEVERINO: It's good to be here.

MANGU-WARD: Thank you.

PAUL: Sure.

BLACKWELL: It's been a strange few weeks for Elon Musk. But, is there fire where there's smoke?


[07:38:20] PAUL: Well, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, somebody loud people talking about right now. Particularly, because he lit up during a recent interview, there it is.

Musk and host Joe Rogan, smoking pot.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's what it is. After that, Tesla stock fell six percent by the end of the day. This is the latest if you've been following, it's a string of incidents making investors ask questions. CNN's Dan Simon has more for us.


MUSK: Says that a joint?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is one of the world's most successful CEOs with a net worth estimated at more than $20 billion. So, when Elon Musk started smoking a joint on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast, people noticed.

JOE ROGAN, HOST, PODCAST: Probably can't because of stockholders, right?

MUSK: I mean it's legal, right?

ROGAN: It's totally legal.

MUSK: OK. ROGAN: How does that work? Do people get upset at you if you do certain things? It's tobacco and marijuana in there. That's all it is.

SIMON: It's just the latest bizarre incident for the high-profile CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, he's had a turbulent couple of months.

MUSK: Alcohol, alcohol is a drug. It's been grandfathered in.

SIMON: On the same day, the podcast was published, Tesla's chief accounting officer announced his resignation. He did not cite the incident. Last month, during an emotional interview at the New York Times, Musk said that 120 hour work weeks were taking a toll on his physical health.

"I've had friends come by who are really concerned," he said. Some of Tesla's board members have raised concern about his use of the prescription drug Ambien, which Musk admit he sometimes takes to help him sleep. A little red wine, vintage record, some Ambien, and magic he tweeted last year.

The 47-year-old engineer has been called the real-life Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man. But his reputation taking serious hits.

[07:40:18] BOB O'DONELL, FOUNDER, TECHNALYSIS: He's a great tech visionary, it's not clear that he's necessarily a great business leader, and I think that's the fundamental problem that he's running into right now.

SIMON: Musk judgment was also questioned when he announced he wanted to take Tesla private. The company lost nearly 2 billion last year and has never earned a profit. Amid a chorus of criticism, he reversed course saying Tesla will remain public.

And even his admirers had to be dumbfounded when he attacked one of the British divers who helped rescue 12 boys this summer trapped in a Thailand cave. After most proposed using a kid-sized submarine to rescue the boys, the diver called it a P.R. stunt. Musk retaliated, calling the man a pedo, short for pedophile. Musk

later apologized, but then, last week in an e-mail to BuzzFeed escalated the attack, calling him a child rapist.

BuzzFeed says Musk did not provide proof of the claims that diver is reportedly planning to sue.


PAUL: Dan Simon, thank you so much for that now. In a company-wide e-mail yesterday, Musk, wrote, quote, "We are about to have the most amazing quarter in our history for a while. There will be a lot of fuss and noise in the media. Just ignore them, results are what matter."

BLACKWELL: Well, registering to vote and presenting I.D. when you're ready to cast a ballot sounds simple. But for a lot of people, this is more complicated than they expected and more complicated than you might expect.

PAUL: Professor, litigator, role model, the center, of course, we talked about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She's earned all those titles during her groundbreaking career. And now the new CNN original film, RBG, takes an intimate look at the personal and professional life of the justice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: VMI fought very hard to keep women out. I had an alumni walk up to me and he says, "I'm not going to shake your hand. I want to know why you're here and why you decided to ruin my school."

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, UNITED STATES ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: I know that there were some people who did not react well to the change. And my response to this was, wait and see, you will be proud of the women who become graduates of VMI.


PAUL: RBG is tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.


[07:47:05] BLACKWELL: We are now fewer than 60 days from the midterm election, and several states have some laws in place requiring identification to vote. Now, proponents say the laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud, but in practice, those laws can prevent eligible Americans from exercising their rights.

And getting together the documents and paying for them, some people just don't have the resources but there's no help for people who fear the laws can prevent them from casting their vote.


BLACKWELL: Michelle Coto is an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Houston. What's her major? Well, she doesn't have an answer for that yet, but she does have an enthusiastic answer to another question.

You're looking forward to voting.


BLACKWELL: This will be your first time, obviously.

COTO: Yes.

BLACKWELL: But Michelle is one of more than 600,000 Texans who are otherwise eligible to vote but who do not have a state required I.D.

COTO: You should be able to identify yourself whenever you're voting, so, they make sure that there's no fraud. But then again, some people don't have the resources to get one. BLACKWELL: Texas will enforce its new voter I.D. law for the first time this November. And as Election Day nears, voter rights groups are scrambling to get IDs into the hands of eligible voters. Many of whom cannot afford the process.

CHRISTINA SANDERS, TEXAS STATE DIRECTOR, SPREAD THE VOTE TEXAS: It's very challenging to be poor and so want to vote right now in Texas.

BLACKWELL: Cristina Sanders is the Texas State Director for Spread the Vote.

SANDERS: Make sure you're heard.

BLACKWELL: It's a non-partisan, non-profit volunteer-based group working in Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Georgia and Florida. Five states with voter I.D. laws and with marquee midterm races.

SANDERS: Texas has one of the strictest laws and it's very challenging to get identification or driver's license in the state.

BLACKWELL: A 2013 law that required all voters to present one of a handful of accepted state or federal IDs was blocked during the 2016 election. A federal court determined it disenfranchised minorities and poor voters. The state reworked the law to allow a voter without the necessary I.D. to sign a declaration confirming his or her identity.

But, a federal judge blocked that one too before an appeals court decided the adjusted law would be enforced this remember.

SANDERS: Well, on average, it costs $40 to get an I.D. which includes getting necessary birth certificates or any type of proof of residency.

BLACKWELL: But for some, the challenges not primarily financial. David Robertson lives just outside Austin. His out-of-state I.D. expired in 2009. To get a Texas I.D., he says he was told he needed to track down his California birth certificate.

DAVID ROBERTSON, VOTER, TEXAS: We were to credit going to a notary public to certify I was who I was which put me in the odd position of needing a photo I.D. to get a photo I.D. I could probably sign an affidavit saying -- you know, I couldn't get the I.D. but then, if somebody decided that in their mind there was some way I would go get it, not only will my vote be invalidate, but I would be in some kind of some legal jeopardy.

[07:50:07] BLACKWELL: According to the document, the reasonableness of your impediment cannot be questioned which means the state wouldn't challenge his claim. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, says the revised voter I.D. law removes any burden on voters who cannot obtain a photo I.D. But Sanders predicts the changes and controversy will scare off some eligible voters.

SANDERS: Every time that there are new laws and a lot of changes and there's a lot of confusion that always deters people from voting. BLACKWELL: Michelle has more work to do to get her I.D., but after months of help from Spread the Vote volunteers, David will have his state I.D. in time to vote in person in November.

ROBERTSON: Is going to feel incredible. It's going to -- the best way to put it is I feel like I'm a real person again.


BLACKWELL: Well, then, more than half of the states across the country, they have some type of voter I.D. law in effect. The some requests, others require a photo I.D. And be sure to check your state's requirements to make sure that you are prepared to vote in person on Election Day. Christi?

PAUL: All right, hey, Victor, thanks. Now, rapper and music producer Mac Miller has died. He was just 26 years old. Cause of death? Well, that hasn't been released yet. But the Los Angeles County coroner's office says he was found unresponsive inside his home yesterday.

Tributes are coming in for him. To Chance The Rapper said, "Beyond helping my -- me, launch my career, he was one of the sweetest guys I ever knew." And the music streaming service title tweeted, "Our condolences to Mac's family and friends. Terrible loss for the hip- hop community.

We are watching multiple storms on the radar. In fact, North Carolina has already issued a state of emergency and anticipation of what is now Tropical Storm Florence, expected to be much more than that. We're live in the Weather Center, next.


[07:56:22] PAUL: So, in today's "STAYING WELL", a 71-year-old woman lost 100 pounds and dropped her blood pressure just by swimming.


VIVIAN STANCIL, RETIRED TEACHER: I didn't start swimming until I was 50. I was 319 pounds. A doctor told me I was going to die. So, I start swimming. I had some very good coaches willing to work with me even though I'm visually impaired.

They had no idea that I was going to swim with the senior games. I won at the local and state level.

DR. DAVID REUBEN, CHIEF, DIVISION OF GERIATRICS MEDICINE, UCLA: Swimming is a great exercise for the entire lifespan. Swimming tends to lower blood pressure and it tends to prevent hardening of the arteries that you see with high cholesterol. It doesn't have much stress on the joints particularly, weight-bearing joints. The risk of injuries with swimming is much less than other sports.

STANCIL: It's so peaceful, nobody bothers me. I can sort out things. I love so over a hundred pounds today in my blood pressure's 114 over 76. Before I started to swim, I had depression, I had no motivation -- I feel energized. I'll be trying to find somebody to compete with me.


PAUL: Good for her. I love it.

BLACKWELL: Yes. That's good. All right, we're going to turn to something not so uplifting. Tropical Storm Florence, it is now regaining strength and it's creeping toward the East Coast and could hit land as a major hurricane sometime next week.

PAUL: Yes. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar, tracking the latest in the CNN Weather Center. What do you think about this one, Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. So, in the short term, the concern is how much strength it gains going forward? We've already seen a jump from 60 miles per hour up to 65 miles per hour with the latest advisories. We're starting to see that transition for this to re-strengthen back into a hurricane.

We expect it to do that in the coming days as it continues to make its trek off to the west, eventually getting to at least, a Category 3 which would make it a major hurricane. The thing is it's going to enter much warmer water. This is a favorable environment for a tropical system.

So, that's what's going to help, it begin to strengthen in the short term. The question is where does it go from here and what would the impacts be on the U.S.?

So, when we talk about our two models that we pretty much hone in on, the red one is the GFS or the American model, and the blue one is the European model. These usually give us some of the best outputs as to where this system is likely to go.

Here is the thing, both of them have impacts to the U.S. they just have slightly different ideas of exactly where it's going to hit. The thing to note though is for areas of the Carolinas, Virginia stretching up even as hot far north as New Jersey, you're still likely to have impacts from this storm in the form of heavy rain.

Then, after Florence, Victor and Christi, that's not the only thing we have. We also have newly named tropical storm Helene that just got named overnight last night and tropical depression nine which is expected to be Tropical Storm Isaac within the next 24 hours.

So, things are starting to ramp back up but keep in mind technically Monday is the peak of hurricane season.

PAUL: All righty. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.


TRUMP: For the sake of our national security, the New York Times should publish his name at once. CONWAY: The president just today said he believes it's somebody in national security.

TRUMP: What they've done is virtual -- you know, it's treason.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This comes as Trump is now demanding his Attorney General launch an investigation to uncover the identity of the person.