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Russia Blames Israel for Downing Its Plane over Syria; The Trump Presidential Pivot that Never Came; Kavanaugh Accuser Wants FBI Probe Before Testifying; Trump: Democrats Obstructing Kavanaugh Nominations; Stormy Daniels Details Alleged Trump Affair In New Book; Doctor Says Anti-Putin Activist Likely Poisoned; Kim Hosting Moon For Summit Talks In Pyongyang; Are Bert and Ernie Gay? Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 19, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, the woman accusing a U.S. Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, now demanding an FBI investigation and says she won't testify publicly until it happens.

(INAUDIBLE) a great leap forward towards peace in the Korean Peninsula. On the second day of the landmark summit in Pyongyang, the leaders of North and South, say they have agreed to a plan for denuclearization.

And later, are they or aren't they? An insider spills the details on the decades long relationship of Bert and Ernie.

Hello, everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and this is NEWSROOM L.A.

Republicans are rallying behind their nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, insisting public hearings will be held next Monday, of accusations that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman more than 30 years ago. But Christine Blasey Ford is demanding an FBI investigation before testifying before Senate committee. She says, when she was a teenager, a drunken Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take off her clothes.


LISA BANKS, ATTORNEY FOR CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: She will talk with the committee. She's not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday. This just came up 48 hours ago.


VAUSE: The president, though, standing by his nominee and in turn accusing Democrats of obstruction.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel so badly for him that he's going through this. It is a shame, because this is a great gentleman. I feel terribly for him. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Michael Genovese is President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University; David Katz, a Criminal Defense Attorney and former Assistant U.S. Attorney. Good to have you guys back. OK. So, this all happened in the last couple of hours. Ford's attorney was speaking to Anderson Cooper, basically outlining that she wants this FBI investigation to happen before testifying. Here is the president at news conference earlier on Tuesday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would be the problem with the FBI reopening their background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh, would you support such a thing?

TRUMP: It wouldn't bother other than the FBI, John, said that's they really don't do that, that's not what they do.


VAUSE: David? The FBI doesn't investigate? What does that "I" stand for? Isn't this what they do?

DAVID KATZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AND FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducts investigations. They conduct background investigations. When I was the assistant U.S. attorney under President Reagan, they conducted one of me. This is an allegation that certainly deserves investigation by the FBI. They could shed a lot of light on it, like exactly what they did, did it happen, where did it happen, take pictures of the location. Find out who else was there. Interview this fellow judge who was the third person which is unusual in alleged sexual assault cases. None of that seems to be something that the president or the Republicans in the Senate want to do.

VAUSE: Also, I got to say, because right now, you know, we have -- we have the woman is making the accusations, Christine Ford, and her attorney saying this is all happening way too fast, we want to slow this down. And the other on the scale, we have here the Republicans in the Senate, who want to move this forward very quickly and they want this hearing to go forward on Monday. Here they are. Listen to this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We're looking forward to hearing what she has to on Monday. She's going to have her opportunity heared Monday.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: We hope that she will take advantage of that opportunity, and we can move forward with this process.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: We certainly hope that she takes advantage of this opportunity if she still would like to. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So, Michael, what's the fallout here if the FBI doesn't go forward with this investigation? And you know, Ford doesn't show up to tell her side of the story.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT OF THE GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE AT LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well, if she doesn't show up, you play into the hands of the Republicans because they can then say we want a transparent process, we were open to having her testify, we invited her and she just didn't show up. And so, it really undermines to a degree the position that she's taking. And you know, both sides should be presumed innocent until guilty and everyone should get due process. But she's going to -- in a way, interfere with the due process. In a perfect world, yes, you want to investigate and then have the hearing. This is not a perfect world. And I think the Republicans want to railroad it through. So, Monday becomes the magical day; they have to do it Monday. I don't know why.

VAUSE: Well, here is a tweet from the Republican Senator Orrin Hatch: "The FBI does not do investigations like this," which we've established in not the case. He went on to say, "The responsibility falls to us." So, David, again, you know, leaving the first part of that statement to one side, is a Senate committee here an appropriate body to assess the truth or otherwise in these kinds of allegations?

KATZ: Well, the Senate can assess credibility, but they're putting the trial before the investigation. So, she's absolutely right that there ought to be an investigation. It would elucidate matters quite a bit. In a case, as I tried, there's always investigation first and then people testify to trial later. But I do agree with the professor that if they don't -- if she doesn't show up, if Dr. Ford doesn't show up, this is her opportunity.

It's almost like you have a hearing, the hearing is set for Monday. It is her chance to speak to the nation. I know there's a tug of war going on, but she needs to pull the rope toward her side and publicly testify to the nation because that's going to keep Senators Collins voting against the confirmation. That's going to keep the other senators having to disbelieve her. But if there's no evidence, that's what the Republicans will say that there was no evidence, there was just a poison pen letter.

[01:05:56] VAUSE: We got to understand that, you know, from a woman who said that she's gone through an assault like this -- this is obviously different, Anita Hill, back in 1981 accused Clarence Thomas during his nomination process, you know, of sexual. She was dragged through the mud. And on Tuesday, she wrote an op-ed in New York Times, he's part of it: "A fair, neutral and well-thought out course is the only way to approach Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh's forth coming testimony.

The details of what the process would look like should be guided by experts, who devoted their careers to understanding sexual violence. So, Michael, in this op-ed, she essentially is laying out the case, you know, for maybe some kind of independent body away from the Senate. You know, these experts to look at this, you know, outside of politics. It seems like a great idea that has absolutely zero chance of ever happening.

GENOVESE: Zero chance because the Republicans want the nomination to go for a vote. They could get him confirmed and the longer they wait -- number one, the more likely it is that people will take seriously these charges and might investigate it and might get some more information. And if you take the time, what you can do is, you can bring in judge who was allegedly there. And he says, yes, I'm going to add, but you want his testimony and you want the context. But we're not going to see it. They want to go fast, rather than right, and they want to play hardball rather than fair ball. And they have the votes to do it.

VAUSE: Right, that's the key, right? OK. So, the president, at least on Monday, who's fairly measured; by Tuesday, he was sort of ratcheting up the heat a little bit. A short time ago, he tweeted this: "The Supreme Court is one of the main reasons I got elected president. I hope Republican voters and others are watching and studying the Democrat playbook." And he also went after the Democrats, you know, at -- about the timing of, you know, the release of all of this information. This was at a, you know, news conference on Tuesday.


TRUMP: This should have been brought to the fore, it should have been brought up long ago. And that's what you have hearings for. You don't wait until the hearing is over and then all of a sudden, bring it up. When Senator Feinstein sat with Judge Kavanaugh for a long period of time. A long, long meeting, she had this letter, why didn't she bring it up? Why didn't she bring it up, then?


VAUSE: So, David, I think Dianne Feinstein the Democratic senator received that letter from Professor Ford back in June or July, when Kavanaugh's name was first mentioned to be on a short list. Was there any legal or moral obligation for Feinstein to actually take that information and present it to the committee or take it to the FBI or any kind of authority, or was it beholden upon her to keep it confidential at the request of the woman?

KATZ: I think she actually an obligation to keep it confidential because Dr. Ford had not wanted her identity known. And Dr. Ford, this Stanford professor, apparently had made a calculation that she just didn't want to be dragged through the mud, as she's being dragged through the mud right now. And so, she'd made that calculation she wanted to stay confidential and then it was actually leaked. I think too many people ended up knowing about it. And it might've been a neighbor, it might've been somebody who knew leaked it.

They told it to somebody who told it to somebody, and it was blazing hot. And then, all of a sudden, her place was being, you know, surrounded reporters; her friends were being interviewed. And she said, you know what on balance, I'm going to be public about it, and then, of course, just the kind of bloodbath of bad publicity -- bad in the sense of who would want to be at center of this? What does she gain?

VAUSE: Yes, and Michael, the timing too, did you see this as the Democrats playing politics here? That you know, this comes up at the last minute or do you see it as this is how it played out?

GENOVESE: Well, I think the president is right. It would have been much better had this been revealed six months ago or three months ago -- a month ago. But the reality is it was revealed just recently, and so it's not a matter of the choice of -- it just was out there. And I don't give the Democrats enough credit for playing the game that well to manipulate the process this way. I think it's just the way things worked out. And so, we're stuck with that. Question is, what do you with that? Do you do the right thing or do you rush through the votes?

[01:10:14] VAUSE: It's not like Mitch McConnell -- you know, they can hold up a Supreme Court nominee for 440 days.

KATZ: I was going to say that. The Republicans went eight months to 10 months. So, whatever it was without ever filling that slot. The idea that there's a huge rush because the Supreme Court is going to start hearing cases, the first Monday in October. They allowed the Supreme Court to sit there with a 4-4 tie. The Republicans did month after month, after month. So, what's the great haste? Let's get to the bottom of it. It's bad for the court, it's bad for the system, it's bad for both of them if it just sits out there as he said, she said. Having said that, I believe that she ought to testify on Monday.

VAUSE: Obviously, very difficult for woman in that position, you know, to go through all of this, in this environment -- a partisan environment. Michael and David, thank you so much. Always great to have you guys.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

KATZ: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, another tell-all book about the U.S. president. This one called, "Full Disclosure," written by adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, who alleges a sexual affair with Donald Trump. There are lurid new details about the president and the alleged sexual encounter. The time is tough that once it's read it will probably stay with you for a very long time and not in a good way. CNN has obtained a copy of the new tell-all book and if there are children around, it's best to send them to another room. Here's Sara Sanders -- Sara Sinder, I should say.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In her tell all book, Stormy Daniels writes that her first sighting of Trump in 2006 in his hotel suite in Lake Tahoe was shocking. "Trump came swooping in wearing black silk pajamas and slippers," she writes. "What are you doing?" I yelled. "Go put some effing clothes on!" She writes that he changed and they both joked about his hair. "I pointed to his hair, "What's going on with this?" "I know," he said with a smile, "it's ridiculous." She said, the talked about family. "What would your wife think of you being here with me?" Stormy writes. "Oh, don't worry about that," he said, "It's not a big deal and anyway, we have separate bedrooms."

She writes, "Trump then brought out a picture of Melania, holding their Barron," who was just four months old at the time. And when Daniels came out of the bathroom, she claims Trump was lying on the bed in his underwear. They had sex. She then describes his genitalia in great detail: "His penis is distinctive in a certain way," she writes. Proof, her attorney, Michael Avenatti says, she's tired of being called a liar by Trump's people.

Daniel said, the night after her sexual encounter with Trump, he invited her to a club. She showed up to find Trump and NFL Super Bowl Champion, Ben Roethlisberger talking. She writes: "Trump eventually suggested, Roethlisberger walk her to her hotel room." "At the door," Daniels write. Roethlisberger asked her a question while pushing lightly on her door, "'How about a good night kiss?' I was terrified," she writes. "I am rarely terrified." "He stood outside not leaving. Every now and again, he'd knock, rubbing his knuckles in a lined low along the door. "'Come on', he repeated in a sing song voice. I won't tell. He eventually left."

CNN reached out to Roethlisberger for comment. We have not heard back. But in January, after a few details came out in Intouch Magazine, Roethlisberger's agent said, Roethlisberger was aware of it but had no intention of addressing the story. President Trump had never spoken her name in public, nor admitted to any sexual (INAUDIBLE), but his spokespeople and attorneys have denied it happened again and again. Trump and Daniels allegedly met months later at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She reveals, while in his room as the two were watching T.V., Hillary Clinton called. Clinton was vying for the Democratic presidential nomination against Barack Obama. When he hung up, he was effusive about Hillary. "I love her," he said. "She is so smart," Daniels writes. Fast forward almost a decade to the Trump and Clinton campaigns, and you'd never know it.

TRUMP: Lying crooked Hillary. She's a liar.

SIDNER: Daniels also reveals she was raped as a child. She writes, "It happened repeatedly by a man who lived next door to one of her friends. I was nine. I was a child, and then I wasn't," she writes. "He was raping Vanessa, so I put myself between them -- continually offering myself up, so he would leave her alone." Daniels say, a school counselor called her a liar when she revealed the rape.

And that's one of the disturbing details she recounts in her young life. One of the theme that is throughout the book is Stormy Daniels hates being called a liar. And that explains why she went into such detail about President Trump. Her book comes out on October 2nd. Sara Sidner, CNN Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [01:15:01] VAUSE: Michael Avenatti is the Attorney for Stormy Daniels, he joins us now. OK. So, this book goes on sale in what, two weeks. A little more than a month before the midterm congressional elections. Was that timely planned, so that it would have a prominent role just as voters are sort of thinking about who are they going to vote for at these elections?

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER OF STORMY DANIELS: You know, I'd like to tell you that it was planned, but it was not planned that way. It just happened to be when the book was completed. And then, there's of course, advanced number of weeks that have to be factored into the schedule.

VAUSE: But you think it will have an impact?

AVENATTI: You know, I don't know if it will have an impact or not. I mean, I -- you know, as I've said for some time now, and as my client has said, Stormy has said for some time, it's not about the sex, it's really about the cover-up and lying to the American people and the fact that Donald Trump together with Michael Cohen conspired to violate campaign finance law and keep this from American voters in connection with the 2016 election.

VAUSE: Yes, because early on Tuesday you tweeted this. "The most important thing about Story Daniel's book is not the description of his sex with Mr. Trump, it is instead a description of her life and role as a modern woman unafraid to speak truth to power. I'm proud to call her my client, and my friend."

The thing is that this book doesn't have a lot of new sort of bombshell revelations and it -- you know, except have some new details about -- you know, the lurid details of the alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

At one point she writes this, "It may have been the least impressive sex I'd ever had, but clearly, he didn't share that opinion." So -- you know, if there are -- it is heavy on sex.

AVENATTI: Well, see, I disagree that it doesn't have a lot of bombshells.


AVENATTI: I think there's a lot of facts that are -- that are in this book that are going to be new to people. There is certainly a lot of facts about my client's life. And this book is not just about Donald Trump. It is about the journey that Stormy that Stormy Daniels has been on from her early childhood up through to today.


AVENATTI: Through the filing of the case. And I think there's a lot of facts relating not only to the relationship with Donald Trump but also the relationship of or what exactly transpired with Donald Trump and Michael Cohen attempting to silence her and how she fought back against that, and really stood up to them. VAUSE: Right. We'll get to -- you know, Stormy Daniels and -- you know, her character is pretty if you like them home. But, there is this one claim which has that (INAUDIBLE) to me. It comes from 2007, a year after the sexual affair. Stormy Daniels writes she's in a hotel room with Donald Trump, and he gets a call from Hillary Clinton, who was running against Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

She writes this, "Then, to make it crazier, Hillary Clinton called. He had a whole conversation about the race, repeatedly mentioning 'our plan."

She doesn't detail what "our plan" it's just no. But what do you think "our plan" is? What was she talking about there, or what was he talking about?

AVENATTI: Well, what she was speaking of -- well, there was really two plans that were being spoken about at the Beverly Hills Hotel. One was Stormy's intention of going on The Apprentice and Donald Trump's plan to --

VAUSE: To put the fix in.

AVENATTI: Correct. To attempt to put the fix in and suggested that Stormy -- that Donald would fix it so that Stormy could stay on the show longer than she otherwise would be on the show, which is fairly ironic. And then --

VAUSE: Well indicative?

AVENATTI: Yes, exactly. And then, Trump never really disclosed to Stormy what his plan with Hillary was at that time but he was very complimentary about Hillary and her talents, and her intelligence level which, of course, is completely counter to what he said in 2015- 16.

VAUSE: You mentioned that this book is also about Stormy Daniels in her life and what she's been through. Here's a fairly typical comment directed at Stormy Daniels about this book on social media on Twitter, "Disgusting, Stormy Daniels gives the dirty details and sick new book against Trump." And he reply, "Thank you for helping me promoting out about my book, Full Disclosure."

This is a woman who doesn't get rattled.

AVENATTI: Well, absolutely. And I think, you know, as the note to the book that's already been published states that I -- that I drafted, you know, this is a remarkable woman who's had a remarkable journey. I was very moved by the book the first time that I read it.

I had to put it down a couple times. I think people are going to be very impressed by the book, by its honesty. And what's most impressive about my client, my friends, Stormy Daniels is -- she is who she is, and she owns who she is at all times. She doesn't apologize for it, she doesn't attempt to be somebody that she is not and I think that's rather refreshing in today's day and age. VAUSE: Full Disclosure, it joins this really long list of tell-all books about this White House. Here this, Fear, Unhinged. Earlier there was Fire and Fury. Normally, these sort of accounts -- you know, these insider accounts take years to emerge. These come on one after the other and we're what a year and a half -- two years into this administration. What does it say about this White House?

AVENATTI: Well, I think it says that Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving. And that -- you know, his unpredictable nature and his lack of judgment in the fact that he's prone to do anything at any period of time makes for a great fiction, but even better non-fiction.

[01:20:04] VAUSE: OK. Michael, good to see you. Thanks for coming up.

AVENATTI: Good to see you. Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Still to come here, the leaders of North and South Korea say, they have agreed on a plan for denuclearization. But wait, there is more and there's a whole lot more after a historic summit in Pyongyang.

Also, was it poison that put an anti-Putin activist in hospital, unable to speak or move? We now actually have an answer.


VAUSE: Well, doctors are treating an anti-Putin activist with ties to Russian protest group, believed he was poisoned. The doctor goes on to say he believes it's only way to account for the symptoms that include a sudden loss of sight, as well as the ability to move. We get details now from CNN's Atika Shubert.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the latest images of Pyotr Verzilov in a Berlin hospital. Awake but confused whatever attacked his nervous system still clouding his brain. Cared for by the women closest to him.

VERONIKA NIKULSHINA, BAND MEMBER AND GIRLFRIEND OF PYOTR VERZILOV: You know right now she's not in that condition.

SHUBERT: Not at all?

NIKULSHINA: Not at all. He is not -- just a few days ago, he understands that he's in the hospital. And then, he probably is poisoned. But he asked if he's poisoned by food or did he ate something bad? So, he doesn't want to go now right now.

SHUBERT: So, he still sorts of in a very intensive care? He's still in and out and he's not fully aware exactly of what happened?

NIKULSHINA: Exactly, yes.

ELENA VERZILOVA, MOTHER OF PYOTR VERZILOV: You know, we didn't explain to him what happened because he just buddy how to do simple things. But a stitch now is like from the -- you know, like for the child. Particularly, at a child.

SHUBERT: Pyotr Verzilov has been a thorn in the Russian government's side for years. Staging protests with punk band Pussy Riot, fiercely critical of the Putin government calling for political prisoners to be released.

This summer, charging the pitch at the World Cup final. Dressed as police officers, with girlfriend and fellow political activist Veronica Nikulshina. A stunt that landed both in jail.

It was at Nikulshina's court hearing that she believes, Verzilov may have been exposed to poison. Losing his sight, then his ability to walk. After several days in a Moscow hospital, his family scrambled to fly him to Berlin. A specialist from Berlin's Charite Hospital say it is with high possibility that he was poisoned. But have yet to identify the source.

Russia's Foreign Ministry made no comment on the suspected poisoning, referring instead to Russian law enforcement which has so far not responded to CNN requests. His family and friends spoke to reporters after the doctor's announcement.

For Verzilov's wife Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, founding member of Pussy Riot, there is no question what happened. They say he was poisoned.

[01:25:24] NADEZHDA TOLOKONNIKOVA, WIFE OF PYOTR VERZILOV: It will be really dangerous for him to go back because probably it was an assassination attack -- attempt. And if not it was an intimidation because probably between you something that he wasn't supposed to know. And we have a suspicion on what could it be but we cannot talk about it without Pyotr's consent.

SHUBERT: She was due to play at the Chicago Riot Fest when she found out about the poisoning, she performed with a banner that read "We will punish those who poisoned Pyotr Verzilov."

TOLOKONNIKOVA: We want to make investigation and we -- yes, we want to punish those who poisoned Pyotr. That's why they put it partly, that's why he is in Berlin because here we have a chance to have a really independent investigation.

SHUBERT: Both Nikulshina and Tolokonnikova believed they too may be in danger if they return to Moscow. But for now, they are focused on his recovery. Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.


VAUSE: Well, it might be easier to list what North and South Korea have not agreed to during a leadership summit at Pyongyang. Both Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un, say they have a plan now for denuclearization and that -- near future.

International inspectors will be allowed in the North which is a greatest -- engine testing sight -- Yongbyon nuclear facility if the U.S. takes corresponding measures. There's also a deal on joint military path, the plan to link railways, corporation on health care, and also family reunions.

Kim Jong-un, says he'll visit Seoul soon, and if that goes ahead, he'll be the first North Korean leader to do so since peninsula was divided into North and South at the end of World War II. And a good measure, both countries say they will bid jointly for the 2032 Olympic Games.

Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul in South Korea. All that and a set of steak knives, as well. I mean, this is an incredible list of what they in a plan to do, it's very ambitious. It's very positive it all happens, but there seems like there's a lot of areas along the way where all of this would come undone. And one big area could be the U.S.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John. As you say, there is an awful lots in that declaration including the military agreement. But looking at exactly what the U.S. is going to be looking at, the denuclearization element that the fact that they have said that they will close down shut down permanently the Punggye-ri testing centers.

And despite and the fact that they will allow international inspectors into there, that is new. The fact that they will have inspections. But we do know that Donald Trump, after that Singapore summit have already said, he'd been promised by Kim Jong-un that, that particular test site was going to be shut down.

Now, the next part is unconditional. They say that they would be willing to shut down also the Yongbyon Nuclear Facility, but they say that they want to have U.S. corresponding measures.

And this is the key here, it is conditional it's a quid pro quo for North Korea. They want a step-by-step denuclearization. Something which in the past Washington set they weren't going to do. They wanted complete denuclearization, then, they would look at conditions.

But then, you look at the response from the U.S. President Donald Trump. He tweeted very soon after this declaration was announced saying that Kim Jong-un has agreed to allow nuclear inspections subject to final negotiations, and to permanent dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts.

Now, the one key thing there is Donald Trump, saying he had allowed -- agree to allow nuclear inspections. Now, that did cause some confusion here was nobody heard that throughout the declaration. It's not written in the declaration, the agreement between these two countries.

But certainly, we've heard from the U.S. president that he considered it exciting. So, he sees it as a successful outcome. John.

VAUSE: Yes. In so many ways, we've seen the North Korean sort of go down this road before and making these gestures but nothing on this scale. I mean, I remember back when 2008 they -- you know, in the cooling tower. Yongbyon, they dismantled the reactor and that was kind of it. And it was easily reversible. This seems to be in a whole different league entirely.

HANCOCKS: I think the most significant moves we've seen are between the two Koreas. This military agreement is very wide-ranging. Talking about no-fly zones, talking about the maritime border which there have been many naval skirmishes over the decades that talking about that being redone.

That the fact that they're going to dismantle guard posts along the DMZ, they're going to remove landmines. And also, this joint excavation for the remains of Korean War veterans. So, certainly, it is very wide-ranging in that respect.


HANCOCKS: But the fact that they're going to dismantle guard posts along the DMZ, they're going to remove land minds. And also this joint excavation for the remains of Korean War veterans. So certainly it is very wide ranging in that respect.

And the fact that Kim Jong-un has said he is willing to come to Seoul. Now if I remember rightly, that has been said before by his father, the late Kim Jong-il after those summits but that never took place. So that would be very significant, the very first time that a North Korean leader has come to the South since the Korean War.

So there is an awful lot in here that you could point to as being a success. And that is certainly what the South Korean President Moon Jae-in will be doing. But when it does come to denuclearization part, it is still conditional and that's the important part for Washington that North Korea still wants a step by step process.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Moon Jae-in needed a win. If this works out as it is advertised, it'll be huge.

Paula -- thank you.

Still to come here on NEWSROOM L.A. Russia-Israeli relations strained. Now each side are actually blaming someone else after a Russian military plane was brought down over Syria.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The woman accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than 30 years ago says she wants an FBI investigation before testifying publicly. The Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Christine Blasey Ford to appear on Monday.

South Korea's president says the era of no war has started on the Korean Peninsula. On the second day of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Moon Jae-in said they've agreed on a path towards denuclearization. They also announced a joint military pact (INAUDIBLE) to make railways and to cooperate on healthcare. As for Kim Jong-un, a visit to Seoul might just be in the near future.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted about the developments calling it all "very exciting".

Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling the downing of a Russian war plane over Syria a tragedy. Russia's defense ministry blames Israel saying Syria actually mistakenly shot down the plane during an Israeli airstrike.

Israel has expressed sorrow for the 15 crew which were killed but it's actually blaming the Syrians.

Matthew Chance has more on the diplomatic challenges now facing Russia and Israel in dealing this situation.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is an extraordinary incident which underlines just how crowded the Syrian battlefield has become and how rival military forces often pursuing different objectives can potentially clash with one another.

[01:34:54] Russia has angrily condemned the shoot-down of one of its military aircraft with the loss of 15 Russian service personnel on board. Defense officials here in Moscow say an Ilyushin-20 naval patrol aircraft was shot out of the sky by anti-aircraft missiles fired by Russia's own Syrian government ally.

They say Syrian air defenses were trying to interrupt Israeli war planes, attacking targets in Syria and have blamed what they Israel's careless actions for the incident. For its part Israel says it followed standard deconfliction procedures but Russia's defense ministry -- Russian defense officials say the Israeli military did not give them sufficient warning of their attack and that Israeli war planes hid behind the Russian aircraft which was hit by a Soviet era S-200 surface-to-air missile.

Well the Russian president also condemned the incident. It appears to be ratcheting down the tension with Israel rejecting comparisons to a 2015 shoot down of a Russian war plane by Turkish interceptors near the Turkish-Syrian border.

Take a listen to what Vladimir Putin had to say.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, (through translator): Here it is more like a chain of tragic accidents or circumstances because Israel didn't shoot that plane down. But there's no doubt, no doubt at all that we will have to take a serious look at what in fact happened.

And our view of this tragedy is set out in a statement issued by the Russian Federation ministry of defense which has been fully agreed with me. As for our response, that will be concentrated on taking additional security measures to protect our servicemen and our assets in Syria. And those will be steps which everybody will take note of.

CHANCE: Well, Israel also reluctant to fuel tensions with Moscow, has issued a statement expressing sorrow at the loss of the 15 Russian aircrew. The Israeli military says it was targeting weapons that would have been used to attack Israel. And the Syrian air defense batteries fired indiscriminately failing to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.

Matthew Chance, CNN -- Moscow.


VAUSE: Remember the days of the pivot? Well, it seems possible Donald Trump might just change his ways and become presidential. It never happened and the proof it never would was right there in plain sight. More on that, in a moment.


VAUSE: Remember the pivot of 2016?


[01:40:02] SENATOR BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think that what you've seen today hopefully is the beginning of a pivot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday was a natural -- call it a pivot into the general election.

REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He knows the pivot is important. He has been better. And I think he's going to be great moving forward.


VAUSE: It went something like this. At some point during the U.S. presidential election, candidate Donald Trump would stop all the bigoted and racist insults. The misogyny, the school yard name- calling and bullying would come to an end.

He'd no longer mock the disabled, nor would he insult more veterans. Instead there would be respect for the families of fallen soldiers. The narcissism would give way to altruism.

Somehow the man who seemed to have no decency or shame, who boasted and bragged, who was often petty and mean would just pivot and become presidential.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can be presidential but if I was presidential, we'll only have only about -- 20 percent of you would be here because it would be boring as hell, I will say. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: The elusive pivot is just around the corner. No, it is not. But the reality is by now everyone has realized it is never going to happen.

If there's one thing about Donald Trump, it is this. He is who he has so always shown himself to be. It was always there in plain sight long before he descended that golden escalator and called Mexicans rapists and drug smugglers and launched his run for the White House.

And it's all here in this new book -- "He Started It: My Twitter war with Trump". It's written by Danny Zuker, five-time Emmy Award writer, comedy writer and currently the executive producer of the hit TV show, "Modern Family". And boy -- are we glad to have you here.


He's going to pivot, right?

VAUSE: Sure, any day now. It's just --


VAUSE: -- going to happen.

ZUKER: I was reading off the monitor and I'm not kidding. I thought it said "pervert". And it was like I don't know if that was Freudian --

VAUSE: I think that's Freudian.


ZUKER: And that's not a joke.

VAUSE: It's part of the Russia investigation.


VAUSE: Ok. But the point is this happened between you and Trump in 2013.

ZUKER: It did. This is long before, you know, the Presidential runs and that kind of stuff. And it all started out because he was tweeting about the ratings on his reality TV show "Celebrity Apprentice".

He said he was number one. You called him out. Here's the tweet from all those years ago. "Cool story, here's how you really did." And you actually included the ratings there and --

ZUKER: Easily checkable facts.

VAUSE: Well yes --


VAUSE: -- which you know, don't really often sit well with this President because when he was just a reality TV show star, he tweeted back less than three hours later. "Failed show Danny Zuker, I've never heard of you and was told you are a loser. After reading your post I have no questions about it." We call that classic Trumpian.

ZUKER: Yes. That's great. That's great. He's not wrong. I have some terrible credits but --

VAUSE: We all do I think.

ZUKER: -- but I also have -- I think I have more Emmys than he does.

VAUSE: But what was interesting about this is that --

ZUKER: He has zero.

VAUSE: -- what was it about that tweet? Because you actually had a go at him a couple of times before.


VAUSE: Why did he respond to that one?

ZUKER: Well, I'll answer that question with another question. Why was his first act as president to make Sean Spicer go on TV and lie about crowd size? This is what -- it's all about numbers.

There's no -- everything with Donald Trump is black and white. It is white. Let's face it -- really white. I mean super white. But yes, that's all. It all goes to services his ego. So it's all about that.

VAUSE: Ok. Here's another back and forth from June 2013. Donald Trump tweeting about how great it was to see Sarah Palin back there on Fox. "She's a wonderful woman, a great commentator," he said. He tweeted this, "I'll never write anything funnier than this."

Trump, he was back at you about an hour later. "Loser Danny is obsessed with Trump." And this was really sort of an early sign of how Donald Trump would actually deal with, you know, all these candidates and all of his challenges on social media.

ZUKER: Yes. It was. I mean, he's -- you know, I have a tweet in here at one point that I -- you know, sometimes you know, it was a long Twitter war, they're not all gold. But the book is for charity, so you can buy it anyway.

VAUSE: Pretty soon, book 2.

ZUKER: That's why it's all for charity. I had to cut tweets. It became repetitive.

VAUSE: Right.

ZUKER: But yes, it is all going -- I want to point this out -- it is all going to World Wildlife Fund --

VAUSE: Planned Parenthood.

ZUKER: Yes. And Races for Lilly (ph) at the border. But, no I said to him, I said the one thing you never inherited from your father was clearly a thesaurus because I mean he really does have the smallest vocabulary.

VAUSE: It's very -- he uses the same words over and over again.

And again, here is a moment from Donald Trump sort of foreshadowing part of his presidential campaign tweeting about the need to get tough on China. You know, he's been going on and on about that. He says you hit back with, you know, photographs of his clothing brands, tags that read "Made in China".

And you wrote, "You've always been tough on China, sir, particularly the children who make your" -- not so nice -- "clothes."


[01:44:58] VAUSE: You know, what challenged (ph) me about this is that there is this narrative which has been created around Donald Trump. He's the master of social media, you know. He's a mean tweeter. He can knock you out with a single tweet.

You seem to get the better of him many, many times. Why is it that Hillary Clinton or the other Republicans who are challenging him couldn't do it?

ZUKER: This was the question that kept me up at night. I would always hear people talk about him as a master, you know, a master communicator and all of that.

VAUSE: Yes. He's sort of mastered this new communication.

ZUKER: It would be the -- it was -- it -- I got a lot of accolades for taking Trump on in 2013 and baiting him down. But I honestly do not know a child in my son's middle school who wouldn't have been able to do this. That's not hyperbole. They all would have been able to do this.

And so I don't understand. I think, in the case of the Republican (INAUDIBLE), it is fear. It's like, the dark secret came out. For Republicans to get a lot of -- to get their votes, you need racists. I'm not saying Republicans are racists. I'm just saying to win, you need those.

VAUSE: There's an element of Trump's followers who --


VAUSE: -- tend to go towards that part.

ZUKER: And no one wants to -- you know, no one wants to come out. I mean look how craven they're being right now. VAUSE: Yes. Again, I love the tweets because this is another one,

another back and forth. Trump tweeted "I can't resist hitting lightweight Danny Zuker verbally when he sucks up because he's just so pathetic and easy (stupid)!"


VAUSE: The reply from you, "It's adorable that you think you're winning this. Bless that area on your body where a heart should be."

Your reply is pretty good.

ZUKER: Thank you.

VAUSE: But what's interesting though is that this is the stuff coming from the man who would be the 45th president of the United States of America.

ZUKER: Yes. And how is it any different what he's tweeted to me than what he's tweeted to -- to Kim Jong-un?

VAUSE: It's no different.

ZUKER: It's no different. Somebody -- I gave this book to somebody at a prominent newspaper here in the states and I -- and I what she told me was she said this. It made me a little bit sad. I was -- I'm glad, because I've been sad for two years.

I was, you know, I was down in Mexico where this Twitter war -- I became something of a Mexican folk hero for this Twitter war when this had happened. And I was at a party with journalists in Mexico City.

They had a cake with a wall down the middle of it. And we were going to slice it open and eat it on election night. I was there. And honestly one of the saddest nights, a most unbelievable night.

VAUSE: No cake that night.

ZUKER: There was not a lot of cake. There was a lot of tequila, sad tequila.

VAUSE: Well, here's the book, "He Started It" -- very grade school sort of title.

ZUKER: Yes. I wrote it with -- can I just say, I wrote it with Paul Slansky.


ZUKER: I could not have done it without Mr. Slansky.

VAUSE: I'm glad you got that in. I meant to say that but I forgot.

VAUSE: Good luck. Appreciate the book. Thank you. The tweets are funny.

ZUKER: Thank you.

VAUSE: Ok, still to come here -- are they, or aren't they? It's the question asked for years about Bert and Ernie. Now a former writer of "Sesame Street" has weighed in.



VAUSE: For almost 50 years they've lived together in the basement of 123 Sesame Street, sleeping in separate beds but the same room sharing their clothes and caring for one another. As often happens, people talk asking the question, "Are they gay?" What is the deal with Bert and Ernie? Are they a couple? Are they in a relationship?

Now a former writer for Sesame Street Mark Saltzman is quoted in the LBGTQ magazine "Queerty" as saying, they're gay. I always felt that without a huge agenda when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were. I didn't have any other way to contextualize them."

But the makers of Sesame Street after years tried to shut down speculation about Bert and Ernie and now are quick to do so again issuing a statement which read, "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics, as most Sesame Streets muppets do, they remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation."

Ok. Let's bring in our pop culture expert and TV host Scott Nevins for more on this. Ok. The "New York Times" has just pretty much moved the story in the last hour so with Saltzman saying essentially this is all taken out of context -- the old out-of-context.

This is part of what he told "The Times". "As a writer you just bring in what you know into your work. Somehow in the uproar that turned into Bert and Ernie being gay -- there is a difference." I don't know if that actually does anything to the debate or to the story because, you know, if you look at "Sesame Street" over the years there's been, you know, bilingual puppets who speak, you know, Spanish and English. They've had American puppets, Latino and Latina puppets and had kids with disability as part of the cast. There was an HIV muppet in South Africa, muppets with autism. You know, it just goes on and on but not a gay muppet in sight.

SCOTT NEVINS, POP CULTURE EXPERT: I'm just impressed by your muppet knowledge right now.

VAUSE: I'm a big muppet fan.

NEVINS: You know, it's true. There is not a gay muppet in sight. And that's a shame, right.


NEVINS: Because there are studies that have proven that if children see characters on TV and movies that look like them, that represent them, they have more self-confidence. They do better in life. They're more successful. These are actual studies.

So I think it is --


VAUSE: It's a missed opportunity.

NEVINS: It's a very big missed opportunity. And I think today they realize that, you know, once again because this uproar has been happening for years.


NEVINS: This company, you know, has to deal with this for years and now it's really come back and they've sort of stepped on it.

VAUSE: Ok. Well Frank Oz who created Bert tweeted this, "It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert and Ernie are gay. It is fine that he feels they are. They're not of course. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There's much more to human beings than just straightness or gayness."

VAUSE: You know, the latter part of that is right. But you know, it' a little bit offensive because, you know, the reality is it does matter because what happens on Sesame Street eventually leads to acceptance on Main Street.

NEVINS: Absolutely -- great point. Absolutely.

And you know, he got a lot of heat for saying, you know, "they're not, of course."


NEVINS: That "of course" is very important because that's saying of course we wouldn't have a gay character or a guy puppet. And you know, the writer Saltzman was saying, you know, I was misunderstood, but also I think they should have a live human who is gay or a gay couple. I'm all for that, too.

This lack of representation though is really not good because children are coming out younger and younger. And I think it is important to them to see characters when they're growing up. And there aren't a lot of them.

VAUSE: You know, Frank Oz also said, you know -- he may be accurate. Bert is not gay and he should know because he created Bert. But you know what, there are a lot of parents, you know, who feel exactly the same way. I mean they've been through all of this and they did -- (INAUDIBLE) ok. I created him well guess what?

You know what I mean. This -- you know, for Frank, maybe he just needs to deal with it. NEVINS: Yes. And maybe he needs a little acceptance, right. My dad

maybe played softball for years and I hated it.

But here's the thing, you know, it is still fascinating because first of all no gay person would wear horizontal stripes like that or have a uni-brow. So let's just start there. But I still don't think that disqualifies him.


NEVINS: It sure has. But you know, I think -- I think it is sot fascinating that there was so much push back and then there was so much glee from the -- not only the LGBTQ community but from many minority communities saying yes, this is great.

VAUSE: You know, back in 2013 there was that -- the tabloid "The New Yorker" and it was really sweet. It was sort of Bert and Ernie cuddling on the couch together. They're watching television, it was the Supreme Court making the announcement about, you know, striking down a very controversial part of the Defense of Marriage Act which was seen as a, you know, big moment for the LBGTQ community. It was described as moment of joy.

[01:55:00] And you know, I remember seeing it, thinking well that kind of settles not the issue of law -- it settles, you know, Bert and Ernie. They're together.

NEVINS: Yes. The more important fact -- Bert and Ernie.

I did too, actually to be honest. And there was no real pushback on that.

VAUSE: Yes. From Sesame Street Workshop -- Sesame Workshop.

NEVINS: None of it really. And that was a huge cover. I mean I shared it. Everyone thought it was the great moment combined with gaining these rights, you know.

But I also find it hypocritical that they say, you know, our puppets don't have sexual orientation. Really? Because there was Miss Piggy and Kermit --

VAUSE: Right.

NEVINS: -- the female and male who are in love for years.

VAUSE: Yes. But it's a pig and a frog.

NEVINS: Yes. But they have muppet babies.


NEVINS: Important topics we are covering here. You know, but it's interesting, you know.

VAUSE: They had babies? NEVINS: "Muppet Babies" was a huge show.

VAUSE: You're right. Ok.

Last year what -- there was the animated short film which was made by a couple of teenagers (INAUDIBLE). You know, a little boy has got a crush on another little boy. It was a really sweet movie. It was only made for the Academy Awards. Didn't win but should have. It's actually a bit of a tear jerker.

There was also this coming out episode of "The Simpsons". Apart from those kind of moments on television I can't -- I can't think of a lot of children's programming where -- there's a normalization of a gay character.

NEVINS: And there's a reason for that.


NEVINS: Because children's programming is also viewed by millions of right-wing religious people.

VAUSE: Really?

NEVINS: Yes, yes. And you know -- and they would have a big issue with that.

You know there was a fake story out today, I won't say fake news -- a fake story that was out today about Huggies or one of those companies removing the "Sesame Street" characters from their diapers because they were gender specific to boys and girls. And I couldn't believe the comments being -- I would never let my boy wear a tutu. And I don't care. I want and it's that kind of mentality that stops companies --

VAUSE: Right.

NEVINS: -- from doing it. But yet, I thing we're inching toward that. But I thought today could have been a great opening for them.

VAUSE: It was a day that had promise I guess for a lot of people. And you know the debate's still out there. Maybe, you know, maybe they'll come out.

NEVINS: Yes, right. I hope so. Listen the only allegedly gay puppets I'm worried about right now are Mike Pence and Lindsey Graham. That's it for me.

VAUSE: Ok. We're going to leave it there. Scott -- thank you.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'M John Vause.

The news continues on CNN after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:00:10] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The woman accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault --