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Groups For & Against Kavanaugh's Nomination Launching TV Ad Campaigns; Trump Orders Declassification of Russia Probe Info; China Retaliates After Trump Imposes More Tariffs; Trump to Visit Hurricane- Damaged Carolinas. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 18, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] CARRIE SEVERINO, CHIEF COUNSEL, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: If they though her story was credible and relevant to this, they should have been investigating it back in July. And so from the Democrats themselves, they're not treating this as a serious investigation. They're treating it as a political pawn. Senator Durbin, for example, from his statement yesterday, it sounds like he had these for over a week, didn't do anything, did ask when he had opportunities to mention it in the hearing, in the committee meetings, submit questions for the record to Kavanaugh. He chose not to.


SEVERINO: He waited to hold it until the end.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have many more days to talk about this.


BOLDUAN: I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.


BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.


[11:35:12] BOLDUAN: President Trump has ordered intelligence and law enforcement officials to declassify a slew of documents relating to the Russia investigation. This includes text messages, interviews, even the surveillance application of former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. Republicans call it transparency. Congressman Mark Meadows tweeting this: "It's time to get the full truth on the table so the American people can decide for themselves on what happened at the highest levels of their FBI and Justice Department."

Democrats call it something quite different -- playing politics.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), CALIFORNIA (voice-over): The fact that they simply don't care about the repercussions to national security, all they care about is defending the president or for the president putting out material that he thinks they can use. It tells you a lot about where their priorities are.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now, CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez, and Michael Zeldin, CNN legal analyst and former Justice Department official.

So, Evan, what exactly is the president ordering to be released?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot of pages in this FISA application that was first declassified back in July, Kate, that look a lot like this. There's a lot of blanked out parts of the document that were released. So what the president is ordering is specific pages, where there's a lot of this type of material, is for that to be essentially to be released in full. As journalists, obviously, we often want to see more of what these documents contain, than less. So I think it's going to be important for us to see the full document that the FBI submitted in order to get this application to do the most intrusive type of surveillance on Carter Page, who, at the time, was someone who was associated loosely with the Trump campaign.

What's interesting, though, is that part of what the president is also asking for declassification is what is known as the Woods File. A lot of this is what the FBI did in the background, interviews with people to try to put together this application. And so according to people who are close to the way this was done, they say that that could, could violate one big thing, one big no-no that the Justice Department does, which is to not show sources and methods in the way they put together these types of applications.

BOLDUAN: Michael, how unprecedented is this?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALAYST: It's completely unprecedented. The president can declassify. Let's be clear, he has the authority to do this. And presidents have done that historically, declassify something related to the Kennedy assassination or the Warren Report or Vietnam or something that is of interest to historians.

In real time, when there's an ongoing investigation, and sources and methods and the ongoing nature of the investigation are on the table, presidents just don't do that. In this case, the president has determined that it is in his interest, it seems to me, to release selective pages of these warrants and the background information that gave rise to them, as opposed to the overarching national interest in keeping sources and methods in ongoing investigations clean from intrusive review by outsiders.

BOLDUAN: Michael, do you see this as transparency or do you see this as abuse of power from your perch or is there somewhere in between?

ZELDIN: Well, abuse of power, you know, is a specific term that relates to activity that could give rise to an impeachment inquiry. I don't know that it's there. But it certainly is not transparency, Kate, because he's asking for only selected portions, those portions which he deems to be most favorable to him to be released. This is not full transparency. And, indeed, he has to be very careful, I think, or those who are behind this theory of transparency, have to be careful, because Congress has its own declassification powers and it has the power to read documents that are classified into the congressional record under the speech and debate clause. So he may be setting up a process that he just doesn't want to do if he thinks about it a little longer.


PEREZ: Kate, one last --


PEREZ: One last quick thing. Look, I think the president and his supporters really believe that what happened here, that the FBI essentially crossed a line, that this was a thin application, that they didn't have enough reason to do this intrusive surveillance, and so they think that the release of this document is going to make that clear. You know, we have seen this backfire on them before. We'll see when we see these documents come out in the next few days whether that's the case or not.

BOLDUAN: All right, Michael and Evan --

ZELDIN: And also --


BOLDUAN: -- great to see you guys.


[11:39:54] BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. Really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, going blow for blow. The U.S. and China go another round, announcing billions more in tariffs. Who's going to get hurt this time? We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: We ask this every time, so I'll ask it again. Is this now what a trade war looks like? In the last 24 hours, President Trump announced another round of tariffs against China, a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports. Just this morning, China responds, retaliating with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods, effective next week. Is this, again, what a trade war looks like?

Joining me now is Rana Foroohar, CNN global economic analyst and associate editor of the Financial Times,"

Great to see you, Rana.

[11:45:06] RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: It's nice to see you.

BOLDUAN: What's your take on this latest round? Is this the second or third? I can't remember.

FOROOHAR: It's impossible. This is a big deal. That's the long and short of it. I think this is the moment that we're going to look back and say, yes, there was a fundamental reset in U.S./China trade relations. The reason I say this is not just the size of these tariffs, because you're talking about, as of Monday, if all this goes through, you'll have over half of Chinese imports to the U.S. under tariff. That's a big deal, just in sheer numbers.

The other thing that's important is this is not just President Trump. You're seeing folks on both sides of the political spectrum, some defense interests, some trade hawks, you know, progressive left, labor folks, saying, you know what, we really need to disentangle certain elements of the supply chain. That's a big deal.

BOLDUAN: This isn't just a moment where folks, companies are unhappy about it.

FOROOHAR: Yes. They definitely are.

BOLDUAN: That Donald Trump says short-term pain, long-term gain.


BOLDUAN: You think this is a moment in history we're going to look back on as a fundamental change happened here?

FOROOHAR: I do. I think that, again, because it's not just the president. In some ways, if this was just Donald Trump acting on a whim, I actually think it would be more likely you would see a flip because the president has shown that, look, if he can get something out of China short term, he's willing to flip and make deals. I think that the fact that you're seeing a broader coalition of interests -- and not just in the U.S., but in China. The Chinese have a slowing economy. This is not a time when they can actually afford to look weak. So Xi Jinping, the leader of China, can't go back and lose face and say, oh, we're going to cave to the U.S. So I think you're going to see a real acceleration of tensions.

BOLDUAN: I'm looking forward to your column on Monday.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Rana, great to see.

FOROOHAR: Great to see you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, we just learned that President Trump will be heading to the Carolinas tomorrow to see firsthand the damage and destruction that Florence brought to the region. And let's be clear, the danger there is far from over. We'll go there next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:51:27] BOLDUAN: Just in to CNN, President Trump will travel tomorrow to areas hit by Hurricane Florence. Trump is going to be visiting Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. But it's not clear where he will be heading in North Carolina.

Right now, in the region, deadly flood threat remains for many. The death toll from Florence rising to at least 32 people and two major rivers in North Carolina have not even crested yet.

Joining me on the phone is Mitch Colvin, the mayor of Fayetteville, which sits on the Cape Fear River.

Mayor, can you hear me?

MITCH COLVIN, MAYOR OF FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): I can hear you. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

The storm has passed, but it's clear the danger is very real in your town. What are you most concerned about today?

COLVIN: We are continuing to watch the river. It is now almost 60 feet with a crest expected tomorrow early in the a.m. at around 61 or 62 feet. We put a lot of concentration in evacuating those residents around a one-mile radius of the river. We've had a pretty good response. We are trying to keep people focused and not become complacent. It's an 80-degree day so we don't want them to think the worst is behind us. We are monitoring that.

BOLDUAN: The video coming from WTB TV (ph), the video is just astonishing. Do you want the president to come to Fayetteville?

COLVIN: Yes, I would love for the administration to come and see the damage that we have just to make sure we have a good response during the recovery phase that is upcoming. They have reached out to us and been very helpful so far, expedited our emergency declaration. And our governor is doing a great job with keeping the lines of communication from North Carolina to the White House. We hope we are on his list of stops to make and we look forward to showing him around, if he comes.

BOLDUAN: We will look to see what that itinerary includes.

Do you have a sense yet, Mayor -- I know you are in the middle of it -- but do you have a sense, when you look at all this water, when Fayetteville will start looking like itself again?

COLVIN: It's hard to say. Two years ago, we went through Hurricane Matthew and we have parts of the city still trying to put itself back together. We won't know that the impact of this fully until after the river crests and is behind us. But a lot of the city is getting back to normal. We have a lot of citizens that are trying to get back to safety and get back to their normal lives. But we ask them to be patient and not put themselves in harm's way. Life preservation is critical right now. BOLDUAN: That's such a tough thing. Right? The rain is not falling

and folks want to and need to get back to their regular lives. How are you going to make sure people stay safe and they abide by the evacuation and don't start trying to go back to their homes?

COLVIN: We are watching that. We are trying to do an excellent job, our communications team, of keeping the word out as to what current status is. A lot of times when you are in a shelter and hunker down, you don't have access to good current information. We want to make sure they stay informed. We are lifting the curfew today, which has been in effect the last couple of days to areas that have their power restored. Our utility has 98 percent back online with power and people are able to return home in a safe manner. But we impress upon them not to avoid or disregard the barricades in the streets and to try to make practical decisions and not put themselves in harm's way.

BOLDUAN: It seems it has been a long road already and it will be another long road for recovery for the entire town.

Mayor, thank you so much. We will wait and see where President Trump will be heading when he is traveling down to the region tomorrow to North Carolina and South Carolina.

Mayor, thank you very much for jumping on the phone. Good luck.

[11:55:14] COLVIN: Thank you for having me. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, we continue to follow the latest on Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. The top Republican on the committee, on the Senate Judiciary Committee said that he hasn't heard yet from Christine Blasey Ford or her attorney about testifying on Monday. Republican sources say there might not be a hearing on Monday. What is happening now? Stay with us.