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DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton Says Tables Are Turned on The Senate Judiciary Committee This Time Vs. Anita Hill in 1991; Trump Declassifies Intelligence Material Related to The Russia Investigation; Rosie Perez Forms 100 Roofs to Help People in Puerto Rico. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 18, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Sure. So perhaps we don't know, perhaps negotiations are happening in the meantime I wanted to ask you about comparing the atmosphere then on now. Because then nominee Clarence Thomas' hearings, they had been concluded as have Kavanaugh's. And wham this bombshell drops. One party is pointing fingers at the other for this 11th hour quote/unquote "leak," mostly male committee. Mighty similar, congresswoman. So, what is the biggest difference in your mind?

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, NON-VOTING DELEGATE TO THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES REPRESENTING THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The biggest difference is this, seven of us including me went on the House floor to do a one minute and we had to walk over to the Senate in order to get any hearing whatsoever. It seems to me that the Senate has at least learned that you have to get a hearing and postpone the hearing that they were about to set for Thursday. But what we're doing is a little at a time. Are we going to have to wait until the next hearing to get a real hearing or to the next incident because these incidents are coming fast and furious from Judge Kavanaugh's generation. Are we going to have to wait to take the next step which is a fair hearing? And I think that is what is I hope being negotiated.

BALDWIN: What if that doesn't happen and they want this hearing and they want this -- if she doesn't show up, maybe even vote on Monday and she doesn't show, then what?

DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, U.S. REPRESENTATIVES: Then if she does not show, if we can't -- or her side can't get a fair hearing, and she doesn't show, I think that the tables are turned in the other way. And that the Republicans will make hay of that, will say that he stands accused by someone who remains anonymous. That is why I'm hoping very much that she will show. I think she has thought this through, knows what she is going to say. Dr. Ford I think is ready. And I think she is doing the right thing. I don't think that she should just show under circumstances we have now. I think that the other side has everything to gain from her showing. And they need to negotiate with Dr. Ford's side.

BALDWIN: We remember from '91 that famous photo of on one side all white men and on the right side this lone black woman sitting there at that table. We know that today the make up of the Senate Judiciary Committee is 17 men and four women. What kind of line do you think the men on this committee if she shows have to walk?

NORTON: I think they should be very careful. I don't think that you will have the typical cross-examination if I can call it that when we go to a hearing. The sides are really reversed. Their side is supposed to be lenient on her just to ask soft questions. But our side is going to ask the hard questions. Our side is going to have to ask her the harder questions so that it is clear what happened to her. The last thing that my Republican colleagues are going to do is bring out her side of the issue. So, they will try to treat her gently because will he can't afford do anything else. And they will then be on the defensive. He can't afford do anything else. And they will then be on the defensive. Which is why I hope that she will come. I don't think that she can lose. The Republicans are already running for their lives in the house and the Senate. So, I hope that we are able to negotiate some sort of fairness so that she feels she can appear.

BALDWIN: Are is there anything that you would say to her if she happened to be watching CNN right now, having experienced what you did back in '91 to get her to show up on Monday, what would you say?

NORTON: I would say to her that in the name of Anita Hill, please in fact appear. Know that the Democrats are going to be there to protect you and know that at least Eleanor Holmes Norton says that if she were in the Senate, she'd be negotiating right now to make sure that you got a fair hearing. You can do it, please come. Don't make -- don't give them the issue you with saying, see, she didn't show -- she wasn't credible and that is why she didn't show up.

BALDWIN: Congresswoman, great to see you again. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, President Trump doubles down on his unprecedented call to declassify documents tied to the Russia investigation against the wishes of his own Department of Justice and intel leaders. We'll explain why critics call it a dangerous move for national security.


BALDWIN: It is a move that has stunned and alarmed intelligence officials. President Trump has ordered the declassification of sensitive documents and text messages related to the Russia investigation. The materials include portions of the FISA application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, it also includes the release of fully unredacted text messages from former intelligence officials like James Comey and former agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

[15:40:00] Critics say it amounts to politicizing intelligence materials and today the President defended releasing the documents.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: What I want is I want total transparency. This is a witch hunt. Republicans are seeing it, the Democrats know it is a witch hunt too, but they don't want to admit it because that is not good politics for them. But it is a terrible witch hunt and it has hurt our country. And the things that have been found over the last couple of weeks about text messages back and forth are a disgrace to our nation. And I want transparency and so does everybody else. As you know congressional committees came to me and they wanted this. And I did it based on their request. But I think it is a good thing because we should open it up for people to see.


BALDWIN: Joining me now Welcome, Robert. Can you explain why this move is unprecedented?

ROBERT LITT, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, OFFICE OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DURING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Well, the President talked about total transparency. Total transparency is really not consistent with intelligence operations. This sort of information is classified for a reason. It can involve sensitive sources and methods. Disclosing it can provide clues to our adversaries as to what kind of intelligence capabilities we have and how we're using them. So, I think that this is completely unprecedented for an application for a warrant from the FISA court to be released. I don't believe it has ever happened before. And it is unprecedented I think to have a President who is potentially implicated in the matters under investigation seeking to determine what is and is not going to remain classified.

BALDWIN: On your last point, could this move backfire against the President?

LITT: Well, it is hard to tell without knowing what is in the documents. It is as I said a selective d declassification. The President presumably is declassifying things because these are the matters that he wants declassified. But it is certainly not going to be total transparency in the sense of releasing everything that is the basis for this investigation.

BALDWIN: You say total transparency. That is not consistent for intelligence operations. Is there a legal case to challenge this move?

LITT: Probably not. Under the law the President has ultimate authority over all classification decisions. And if he wants something declassified, he can declassify it. It is a little unclear from the White House statement how much the intelligence community is going to be able to push back and say, no, you really can't release this. I think we'll just have to see how that plays out. But if the President orders something released, it gets released.

BALDWIN: Is there any benefit just trying to think entirely on this, is there any benefit for the President to say I want transparency -- I guess what I'm asking, could this move benefit him?

LITT: Well, I think you have to assume that he thinks so. I think again we don't know what is in the material that will be released. And we'll have to see how the various spin doctors on both sides deal with it. But that very statement is an indication of why this is bad for the intelligence community because intelligence should not be politicalized. And this information will be taken by political partisans and used to their advantage.

BALDWIN: As if the relationship between DOJ the and intel community wasn't already frayed. I appreciate you coming on.

President Trump is planning to visit the Carolinas tomorrow to see the devastation firsthand left behind by Hurricane Florence. Meantime, CNN is also staying on top of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria In Puerto Rico. Coming up next, Rosie Perez will be on. She's been working on the ground really since the storm hit. We'll talk to her and get her reaction to the President continuing to question the number of people who were killed.


BALDWIN: As the full impact of Hurricane Florence is still unfolding, a CNN investigation is shedding light on this incredible mental toll the natural disasters can have on young people. And CNN has obtained the results of a survey of 60,000 public school students in Puerto Rico that show double the rates of depression for a typical youth population, one 17-year-old lost her aunt a month after Hurricane Maria because she didn't have access to a ventilator. The teen has the same lung condition and she worries what could happen if another storm comes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could lose the house completely and like the next person like to die after this thing will be me.


BALDWIN: Her aunt was one of nearly 3,000 people who died as a result of Hurricane Maria. A figure the President questioned claiming that this was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible. If a person died for any reason like old age, just add them on to the list, he tweeted. With me now, Rosie Perez and Ramon Rodriguez, activists in Puerto Rico on the ground helping rebuild since the storm hit. And we'll talk about their project 100 Roofs in a second. But first just well could to both of you. And Rosie, let me start with you on what I just mentioned with the President's tweet about the 3,000 deaths and blaming Democrats and adding them to the list. What did you think of that?

[15:50:00] ROSIE PEREZ, ACTRESS AND ACTIVIST: I thought that it was very insensitive and it was adding insult to injury. Listen, if the electricity was restored in a timely manner, if the troops were sent in a timely manner, if water supply was sent in a timely manner, maybe the death toll wouldn't be so high. And it is just insane to me that he would be attacking the residents of Puerto Rico now. Look at that young girl that you just showed. You know, it is just -- it is just demoralizing and unfair.

BALDWIN: Ramon, what do you think?

RAMON RODRIGUEZ, ACTIVIST IN PUERTO RICO: I think that it is an awful message to send to folks who lost family members on the island that are dealing with mourning their losses. You know, I lost an uncle the losses. It's deplorable and sends an awful message. Island that are dealing with mourning their losses. You know, I lost an uncle the losses. It's deplorable and sends an awful message.

BALDWIN: Just last week CNN, we caught these pictures of 20,000 pallets of water still sitting on a tarmac in Puerto Rico. And now, you can't use them because the water is contaminated. To both of you, how is this happening?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I mean, you know, I think this is a lot of the stuff that was happening as soon as the storm hit when we had food resources and water stuck at the docks and the ports in Puerto Rico. Not allowed entry or, you know, when we were trying to receive help from international countries it wasn't allowed. This is part of the bureaucratic red tape that's -- Puerto Rico's been dealing with, unfortunately. It is a constant when you see the footage you showed. This is something we're dealing with today still.

BALDWIN: Nearly a year later. But you all are doing something about it. You have been working on doing something about it I know for a while. You both most recently in Puerto Rico in February and March. Tell me about the 100 Roofs Project.

PEREZ: 100 Roofs Project is an initiative to help rebuild the over 60,000 homes that are still without roofs as a result of the devastation of Hurricane Maria. And we also are incorporating an apprentice program where we are teaching the homeowners and residents and members of the boys & girls club of Puerto Rico how to rebuild for themselves. Teach a man to fish is what we're moving forward with. And we are partnering with Heart 9/11 and today on brave and we're going to have a gala commemorating the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria on September 20th here in Los Angeles to raise funds to help pay for all the costs that are involved. It's substantial costs. Each roof is about $5,000 to build. And so, Yes. So, we're trying to move forward. We're trying to put a positive spin on the rebuilding of Puerto Rico instead of concentrating on the President's negative tweets.

BALDWIN: Well, let's end on the positive. Ramon, tell me a story of someone you were able to help.

RODRIGUEZ: We were there in February, March. I was directing a documentary showcasing the process of not only rebuilding roofs but teaching locals carpentry. We were in a town in the center of Puerto Rico that was very neglected. There was no access to get up there. Roads had really fallen apart.

BALDWIN: For months.

RODRIGUEZ: For months. We were working in a community that was, you know, the community was filled with people that were mute, really couldn't commute to the outside people and we were there building their roofs and to see the impact, I have to tell you we were there and the woman we were rebuilding her roof not a day I saw her she wasn't just crying. Looking out just crying and couldn't believe that these people just showed up at her doorstep, climbed up on her roof. These strangers she didn't know working on the roof and teaching a local kid, Jose, carpentry and working with the carpenters, the message of how he feels that Puerto Rico is not giving up, resilient and keep fighting and he's excited that people out there that do care and that want to help them be empowered and move forward.

BALDWIN: So wonderful. 100 roofs with a "f." we got you.


PEREZ: Please go to the site and donate and rebuild Puerto Rico. Your tweets are wonderful but your actions speak volumes.

BALDWIN: Yep. Rosie and Roman, thank you so much.

[15:55:00] PEREZ: Brooke, thank you once again! You are always there. You are always there on the front lines and always supporting. I love you.

BALDWIN: Love is mutual. Thank you both.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: A quick programming note. CNN's special report of Hurricane Maria, storm of controversy this Friday night. CNN separates fact of fiction of what really happened in Puerto Rico.

Still ahead, it is being called a tell-all book with emphasis on the all. CNN has obtained a copy of Stormy Daniels' forthcoming book offering extremely intimate details about the alleged affair with Donald Trump.

Who says romance is dead? HBO and Netflix grabbed the lion's share of awards at the Emmy awards last night but this was the move. The surprise move that has everyone talking today.


GLEN WEISS, PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR: You wonder why I don't like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife. This is the ring that my dad put on my mom's finger 67 years ago. And to my sisters and brothers I didn't swipe it. Dad knows I have it. OK? Jan, I want to put this ring that my mom wore on your finger in front of these people and your parents and my mom watching from above. Will you marry me?


BALDWIN: Holy moly, right? Glen Weiss seizing the moment with the show's first marriage proposal. He popped the question to his girlfriend and soon to be wife Jan. Congratulations.