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Judiciary Committee Aide Garrett Ventry Steps Down over Past Sexual Harassment Allegations; Deadline Approaches for Ford, Her Attorneys; Will Trump Fire Rosenstein Over 25th Amendment, Wearing a Wire Allegations; Fears Coal Ash Spilling into Cape Fear River after Flooding; Trump Attacks on Kavanaugh Accuser Sparks Movement by Assault Victims; New Cyberattacks Target U.S. Senators. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired September 22, 2018 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Ventry denies that allegation against him, however, stepped down so as not to be a distraction.

CNN's Sara Westwood joining us now from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

All of this taking place while these confirmation hearings are going on involving a nominee who is now facing sexual abuse allegations himself.

SARA WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. That's part of why this is so significant. Garrett Ventry was a visible member of the communications team as they tried to negotiate a potential hearing with Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh's accuser. Ventry has been accused of sexually harassing a female employee when he worked at the North Carolina state legislature. Those are allegations that were first reported by NBC News. CNN has not independently verified them. But Ventry did say that he resigned last night before the NBC News report came out in order to not be a distraction for the committee during this difficult time. He had been on leave from a conservative public relations firm that is also working to promote Kavanaugh's nomination. He was part of a temporary team, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee, that had come in to help with the influx of attention and requests that the committee had been getting -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: And so this deadline, meantime, while all of this is taking place, you know, is still fast approaching, 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, that the Senate Judiciary Committee is giving Ford and her attorneys to respond to the terms on the testimony. And what are you learning?

WESTWOOOD: Well, Fred, there's been a lot of back and forth between the Senate Judiciary Committee and the legal team for Christine Blasey Ford. Initially, the Senate Judiciary Committee had set a deadline of 5:00 p.m. last night for Ford's legal team to respond. Then it was 10:00 p.m. last night. Now 2:30 p.m. today. Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans are saying that is the last chance that Ford's legal team will have to accept their terms for a new hearing. Initially, they had wanted to go forward with the hearing on Monday. Ford's legal team had said that was just not possible for their client and had requested a hearing date on Thursday.

Now a compromise of sorts has emerged with the proposed hearing on Wednesday. If Ford's legal team doesn't accept the terms that the committee has laid out, then Grassley is saying they'll try to proceed to a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation on Monday. Ford's legal team protesting the way that Kavanaugh's accuser has been treated by the committee, saying in a letter, "The imposition of aggressive and artificial deadlines regarding the date and conditions of any hearing has created tremendous and unwarranted anxiety and distress of Dr. Ford. Your cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the committee is completely inappropriate."

This comes against the backdrop of President Trump shifting from his more retained tone towards Blasey Ford to a more aggressive tone towards her. He started Thursday night in Las Vegas when he began questioning why Ford hadn't gone to the authorities 36 years ago when she said the alleged assault took place. And, again, questioning how Senate Democrats had handled her allegation in a Twitter rampage Friday morning. Now President Trump's flame throwing has added another wrinkle to this already delicate and difficult process of setting up a potential hearing for Ford before the confirmation vote -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Sara Westwood, thank you so much.

It's gotten even more complicated now.

So joining me is former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Michael Zeldin, and CNN Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue.

Good to see all of you.

Congressman Dent, if I could ask you first, I mean, the timing of this, you know, is never good, but now we're talking about communications, adviser to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has now resigned because of allegations of sexual harassment while working at another, you know, place of employment and all of this taking place now on the eve of this 2:30 p.m. deadline being set for an accuser of the nominee for the Supreme Court. What are your thoughts on this?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this whole nomination has become a pretty ugly spectacle, regardless of where you come down on this. There are no winners in any of this. You know, I look at this from just a purely political standpoint. If you're a Republican in a suburban district, a marginal district, this can't be helping you. If you're a Democratic Senator in a red state, I can't imagine this is helping you. Clearly, Democrats are very motivated in this election cycle, and this issue is only further motivating them, particularly Democratic women. So this is still unfolding, this whole situation. You know, we just should hear from both of these two individuals, Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh, and then let's see where the chips fall.

[13:05:03] WHITFIELD: And so that a deadline has been set has been moved, you know, a couple of times and been set, and Senator Grassley even, you know, sent out a tweet a few times saying, "Let's move on, but I do want to hear her." I mean, it almost becomes like an aside that her story is relevant, especially when you hear the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who said yesterday that, you know, this nominee is going to be the next Supreme Court justice. So, you know, what's the message being sent here, you know, despite the process, and in spite of the process?

DENT: Well, I suspect the majority leader probably should not have made that particular comment predicting the outcome until all the facts are in. But I also tell you, too, I'm a little disturbed that Dr. Blasey's lawyer is making terms, is making demands about the order of who should be testifying, who should be subpoenaed. That's really the prerogative of the committee. It's certainly fair to negotiate with the potential witness about the terms of their presence. Some of those demands I thought were a little bit over the top.

WHITFIELD: Michael, how do you define reasonable in this process? What's reasonable for, you know, Ford's attorneys to be requesting? What is reasonable for the Senate Judiciary Committee to be proposing? While this is a very sensitive matter, you know, clearly, this allegation has traumatized Ford for many, many years. It has rattled the process. What is reasonable here?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. What is reasonable is a process calculated to get at the truth as best as we can this many years later. So we have an allegation. Typically, the way this works, if you're truly trying to find out what happened is you take that allegation, you investigate it, you call all witnesses who have relevant testimony to that allegation, you write a report of findings. Then you take the testimony of those people in a public forum such as the Oversight Committee at the Senate Judiciary Committee. If what you're doing is just patronizing Dr. Ford to allow her, quote/unquote," to testify," but the foregone conclusion is that it doesn't matter, then this is just a show. I think, Fred, the answer to your question is you develop a process that's calculated to get at the truth and then you seriously pursue that process so that, at the end of the testimony, by Dr. Ford, by Kavanaugh, by relevant witnesses, we can reach a conclusion about, what was the truth of the matter as best as we can determine that 36 years later. Otherwise, it's just a show.

WHITFIELD: And as far as we've heard in terms of what's being proposed, that it would be the proposed testimony of either Kavanaugh or of Ford, there wouldn't be any other witnesses.

So, Ariane, when you hear from Senator Whitehouse, who said, telling CNN that if Democrats win back the House and the Senate, there will be an ensuing investigation, regardless of the outcome of this confirmation hearing?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's right, Fred. What Senator Whitehouse is saying there is that the cloud is going to remain on this. And Kavanaugh, for his part, he -- after these allegations came forward, he wanted to come forward and testify. Because he wants to get his story out. On the other hand, this of course, is a lifetime appointment, right, on the Supreme Court. No age limits there, subject to impeachment. Senator Whitehouse is trying to say, look, this will continue to be a subject of a lot of controversy if this man makes the bench. And think of what a distraction that will be.

Keep in mind, on the other side, Senator Grassley thinks that he is being very accommodating on -- for his part. He's moved it. He's offered to move it. And lawyers for Ford, they say look, we're not asking that much here. What's the rush? So that's the two sides. And some of the exchanges back and forth are really very ugly.

(CROSSTALK)

ZELDIN: Fred, may I just add something?

(CROSSTALK)

ZELDIN: To Ariana's point, Judge Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegations. You would think, as a judge, what he would say is, I would welcome an independent investigation by the FBI or Montgomery County police or whomever as part of my background. I would welcome other witnesses to testify. Because I know, at the end of the day, my side is going to be proven to be correct. The failure of Kavanaugh himself to ask for the same thing that Ford is asking for, lie detector tests, witnesses, investigation by law enforcement authorities, is a bit surprising to me.

[13:09:58] WHITFIELD: Or is it even peculiar, Michael, that Kavanaugh, when he did deny it, that he wouldn't take it further, you know, by saying something to the effect of, you know, I was a kid, if something like that even were to have happened, you know, now it's being brought to my attention that it was, you know, very damaging, et cetera, but look at the path of my life since then. I mean, would that have been an opportunity for the judge to take or would that have only created add bigger mess?

ZELDIN: Well, he says it never happened. So it's not a path to take because, to his recollection, it never occurred. So he couldn't say if it occurred, and I was drunk, and I was 17, I'm now sorry. Because he says it just flat-out didn't happen --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: So any testimony has to be consistent with what was already said.

ZELDIN: It seems so.

WHITFIELD: It can't be --

ZELDIN: It seems so. Which is why I think it calls for an independent investigation of the facts surrounding it as best as we can. Otherwise, we get a "he said/she said" at the end of the day, and then nothing is advanced as a matter of truth finding.

WHITFIELD: So, Congressman, in terms of how it has been handled, how it is being handled, since, you know, Republicans are in the driver's seat in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the president showed restraint but then ended up commenting and, you know, saying if it was as bad as she describes, why didn't all these things happen, from parents to, you know, being, you know, reporting it, from her reporting it, et cetera, how does that potentially backfired, how does that color the process?

DENT: The president had shown, you know, uncharacteristic restraint until, I guess, yesterday where he made those comments that were, in my view, unhelpful and inappropriate. By the same token, I will tell you I get the sense Dr. Blasey was not necessarily treated well by those on the Democratic side, who are charged with protecting her anonymity and somehow this all leaked. They say it's all about the victim. Why did somebody out her? I don't know who did it. But I suspect it came from Senate Democrats because they're the ones who had the letter. So this has been -- I actually think Grassley has tried to be sensitive and has tried to be accommodating. But he's in a -- I think he's in a no-win situation. He'll never be as sympathetic as his critics feel he should be. So we need to get on with this. They need to hold the hearings. I do think the FBI should, you know, reopen the background check investigation. But it's going to be very hard for her to prove what happened. It's very hard for him to disprove what happened. I do think it's going to be a "he said/she said" at the end of the day.

WHITFIELD: And still difficult to know the sequence of event because, reportedly, the letter that went to Feinstein with anonymity, then went to the FBI and then reportedly Grassley got that letter or other members of the committee. So still unclear who leaked it, why, et cetera.

But, Ariane, meantime, there's still that deadline today, 2:30 p.m. Is there a real expectation that Ford's team will respond by 2:30 p.m.?

DE VOGUE: Well there's an expectation, but we've seen it -- we have seen it slip. Remember one thing about the investigation. This letter came to the Hill all the way back in July. And Senator Feinstein received it. She couldn't do anything with it because the woman didn't want to come forward. She sent it to the FBI. And what Grassley says is there's a separation of powers thing. It's up for the Senate to be able to do this investigation. That's why he wanted to proceed with his own investigation. But the Democrats, they wouldn't participate with it. They don't want to do that kind of investigation. They think it should. So while Grassley, on one side, is pushing forward and trying to do an investigation, he's doing it without the Democrats. That's another complication here.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now.

Ariane De Vogue, Representative Charlie Dent, Michael Zeldin, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.

[13:13:55] Also still ahead, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he never discussed having the president removed from office. The denial coming after reports Rosenstein also discussed wearing a wire to record conversations with the president. Questions now include, will the president fire Rosenstein.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is denying leaked memos that suggest he schemed to remove President Trump from office. CNN sources confirm the "New York Times" report that, last year, Rosenstein discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump for allegedly being unfit.

President Trump has not directly addressed the report but he did give an ominous warning about the Justice Department at a rally in Missouri last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have seen what happens at the FBI. They're all gone. They're all gone. They're all gone.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: But there's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So now a question remains: What will happen to Rosenstein under the Trump administration?

CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Fred, the news that Rosenstein privately mentioned invoking the 25th Amendment and even taping the president throws a grenade into an already rocky relationship.

(voice-over): If the president is your boss, this is not what you want to hear when he's asked if he'll fire you.

TRUMP: You figure that one out.

BORGER: Trump was dissing his own Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, for whom everyday can be a near death experience. As a frustrated president lashes out at the Russia investigation.

TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt and there's no collusion.

[13:19:57] BORGER: Rosenstein became the man in charge once the attorney general recused himself. So he's the one who hired the special counsel and now stands between Trump and any move to fire Robert Mueller. Which leaves him on the hot seat, under attack not only from the president but also from some angry Republicans who blame him for keeping information from them and want this Russia investigation over.

REP. TREY GOWDY, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you have evidence that this president acted inappropriately, present it to the American people. Whatever you got. Finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.

BORGER: Oddly enough, Rosenstein started out as a teacher's pet.

TRUMP: He's highly respected. Very good guy. Very smart guy. The Democrats like him. The Republicans like him.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This guy is a man of upstanding character and essentially the gold standard at the Department of Justice.

BORGER: Rosenstein's stock rose even higher when, after just two weeks on the job, he wrote a now-infamous memo at the request of the president, lambasting FBI director, James Comey, for mishandling the Clinton e-mail investigation.

ANDY WHITE, ROSENSTEIN FRIEND & FORMER COLLEAGUE: If the president asks you to look at this and give your thoughts, you can't say no.

BORGER (on camera): So he writes the memo.

WHITE: He writes the memo.

BORGER: And then?

WHITE: All hell breaks loose.

BORGER (voice-over): The president loved it. Almost as much as he hated Comey. So much, in fact, he received it, released it, and fired Comey, all on the same day last May.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. We have major breaking news.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president of the United States has terminated the director of the FBI, James Comey.

BORGER: Josh Campbell, a close Comey aide, was with him in Los Angeles when Comey learned watching CNN that he had been fired.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: They said, we have a letter from the president that was dropped off at the Visitor's Center at FBI headquarters.

BORGER: Visitor's Center?

CAMPBELL: At the Visitor's Center, indicating you've been fired. They said there's something else. There's something attached to this letter. There's a lengthy explanation from the deputy attorney general laying out a case against you.

BORGER: Was he surprised at Rosenstein?

CAMPBELL: He was very surprised at Rosenstein. Again, not that they were chummy or friends. None of this was telegraphed.

BORGER: Do you think he knew it was going to be used by the president as the rationale, publicly, for firing Comey?

WHITE: I think he had to know it was going to be used in some degree. I don't think he realized the president was going to put Greyhound bus tracks on his back with that memo. I don't think he realized it was going to be used in that way.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: My memo truthfully reflects my views. I'm not in a position to comment on anybody else. For my perspective, Senator, that memo is about what it's about. I did not know what was in anybody else's mind.

BORGER (voice-over): But in Comey world, Rod Rosenstein is seen as a Trump collaborator, not an independent actor.

(on camera): What's the motive?

CAMPBELL: I think the motive is to keep his job.

BORGER: What's Rosenstein's rep now?

CAMPBELL: There's conflict there. He's someone that people are suspicious of but, in these interesting times, people are looking at him and thinking he might be the last best hope that we have to ensure that Bob Mueller's allowed to do his job, which is a strange place to be in.

BORGER (voice-over): Rosenstein is 53, married, with two teenage daughters.

WHITE: He's a dad, you know, his world has changed a lot because of this.

ROSENSTEIN: My younger daughter was 14 at the time. When she heard I was going to become deputy, she asked me an important question: Dad, does this mean you'll get your picture in the paper?

(LAUGHTER)

And I said no.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: But he keeps his own counsel even with his friends.

WHITE: With Rod, you scratch the surface and you get more surface. But that's him. He is -- he is inscrutable, publicly. Professionally, he is devastatingly effective. He's methodical. He's thorough.

BORGER: A career Justice Department official with a Harvard law pedigree. A former U.S. attorney from Maryland for a dozen years. A Republican appointed by George W. Bush.

JAMES TRUSTY, ROSENSTEIN FRIEND & FORMER COLLEAGUE: He's been preceding over a small district that was bringing every case you could imagine from material support of terrorism, to public corruption to M.S.-13, to corrupt jails where almost all the guards get indicted. I mean, he's been aggressive and he has not shying away from the political spotlight when it comes to prosecutorial decisions.

BORGER: He was confirmed for his counter job last April, 94 to six. But the shine wore off quickly after the Mueller appointment and then Rosenstein further enraged Trump by signing off on the Michael Cohen raid.

[13:25:08] TRUMP: So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys. Good man. And it's a disgraceful situation.

BORGER: An increasingly tenuous one for Rosenstein.

SALLY YATES, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: No one is above the law, even the president.

BORGER: Obama appointee, Sally Yates, is a former deputy attorney general fired by Trump last year.

YATES: The president can't fire a prosecutor because he's mad that he authorized a search warrant of his lawyer's home and office.

BORGER (on camera): He could be mad about it.

YATES: Sure, he can be mad about it as long as he's not trying to influence his conduct.

BORGER (voice-over): At a meeting with the president, Rosenstein himself volunteered that the Cohen raid did not put Trump in any legal jeopardy but the president remained furious.

TRUMP (voice-over): I'm very disappointed in my Justice Department. But because of the fact that it's going on, and I think you'll understand this, I have decided that I won't be involved. I may change my mind at some point because what's going on is a disgrace.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I believe that Attorney General Sessions, my good friend, and Rosenstein, who I don't know, I believe they should, in the interest of justice, end this investigation.

WHITE: If he asked Rod to fire Mr. Mueller, Rod would resign, is my guess. At that point, it's untenable. You have a president who's not respecting the process, not respecting the Constitution. He won't do it.

BORGER (on camera): He won't?

WHITE: No. YATES: It would be a red line for the president to fire Bob Mueller.

But it should equally be crossing a red line if he were to follow Rosenstein as well.

BORGER: What red line is that?

YATES: Well, it's a red line in terms of totally turning the rule of law on its head.

BORGER (voice-over): Some Republicans would see it as a step in the right direction, charging Rosenstein with hiding information about the Hillary Clinton and Russia investigations.

REP. JIM JORDAN, (R), OHIO: Mr. Rosenstein, why are you keeping information from Congress?

ROSENSTEIN: Your statement that I'm personally keeping information from you trying to conceal information --

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: You're the boss, Mr. Rosenstein.

ROSENSTEIN: That's correct. And my job is to make sure we respond to your concerns. We have, sir.

BORGER: The question now is whether Republicans have given the president an excuse to fire Rosenstein, something Trump himself hinted at in a May tweet: "At some point, I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the presidency and get involved."

UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Are you afraid of President Trump firing you?

ROSENSTEIN: No, I'm not, Congressman.

TRUSTY: Rod is, he is like shockingly fatalistic.

ROSENSTEIN: There are different people who have been making threats, privately and publicly, against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.

WHITE: He is a career public servant. He's a career prosecutor. Whatever Mr. Trump wants to say, frankly, can only make his reputation go up.

BORGER (on camera): Even if he gets fired?

WHITE: Especially if he gets fired.

BORGER: But he's on the job at least for now. The rest is up to Donald Trump -- Fred?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Gloria Borger.

All right, Hurricane Florence, well, it's gone, but not really. The danger is still very much in place for many people in the Carolinas. Residents bracing for more flooding, in fact, after record rains have swelled rivers, pushing dams to the breaking point.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:33:02] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It's been a week since Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas and still waters are rising. Today, floodwaters have reached a dam at a power plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, sparking fears coal ash might be spilling into the Cape Fear River.

CNN correspondent, Kaylee Hartung, is with me now from Wilmington.

Bring us up to speed.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, we're in a situation here where environmentalists fear that coal ash is getting into the Cape Fear River, while Duke Energy, the power company that owns the property that's home to two coal ash basins, on a plant site that was formerly a coal burning power plant that's now a natural gas plant, say that's probably not happening, at least not yet.

You have both sides being very careful with their verbiage because the fact of the matter is, it is just too early for anyone to be certain one way or the other. The reason being, that sampling of this water just began yesterday when a dam was breached on the cooling lake after it was being flooded by the waters of the Cape Fear River. Samples are expected to have results returned to Duke Energy tonight. Those first results will give us a clearer picture of the danger the people in Wilmington could be in if this coal ash was to get into this river. But at this time, Duke Energy maintains that the coal basins are secure. They say when the cooling lake started taking on water, they began excavating even before the storm this coal ash industrial waste debris, moving it to a landfill, building a steel wall to protect those basins.

So, again, Fred, at this time, just too early to tell, but the dangers of coal ash really threatening this area.

WHITFIELD: And then, Kaylee, where you are there in Wilmington, how about folks returning to their homes, you know, assessing the damage? Still some people kept away from their homes. What's the situation?

[13:35:04] HARTUNG: It's complicated. To say the least. Wrightsville Beach where Hurricane Florence made landfall, there's a perfect example of an area where the waters have receded. Upon first impression, it looked like there wasn't much structural damage to homes. In a sense, it looked like they dodged a bullet. Once people got back into their homes, they realized the damage done inside. Holes in roofs allowing the multiple feet of water that came down here by way of rainfall to destroy the inside of their homes. So the damage having to be -- come to terms with once you actually walk through your door. For so many people, whose homes were destroyed in the course of the storm that ended up in shelters, they're still in the shelters, questioning how long they will be able to stay there, and really uncertain of what they will have to do upon the time that those shelters close.

There's still so many questions here for so many people. And areas that are still being threatened by floodwaters that continue to move.

WHITFIELD: Kaylee Hartung, in Wilmington, thank you so much.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:40:36] WHITFIELD: President Trump sparking controversy again, questioning the validity of Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh, tweeting this: "I have no doubt that if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward."

Well, almost immediately, survivors of sexual abuse took to social media with their own accounts of why they didn't come forward right away with #whyidntreport.

Joining me now, Sheela Raja, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and co-author of the book "The Sexual Trauma Workbook for Teen Girls."

Sheela, good to see you.

So, you know, explain the complications why, in many cases, it takes years for survivors of sexual assault to come forward.

SHEELA RAJA, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST & ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHICAGO & AUTHOR: Yes, exactly. It does take years. And what we're hearing here is actually the most common story, not an uncommon story. You know, really, most victims don't go forward and prosecute. We know that, you know, survivors of trauma that actually go ahead and prosecute in the legal system are the ones usually assaulted by strangers and they're the ones who sustained serious physical injuries. So especially when there's acquaintances involved and when people are younger, these things are, you know, vastly underreported.

WHITFIELD: On that issue, when people are younger, you know, I grew up with the stat kind of, you know, emblazoned in my mind, one out of four women will be sexually assaulted, but why is it the case that for young ladies between the ages of 16 to 19, those numbers are actually much higher?

RAJA: Yes, they are. I mean, the thing is that when you're young, you know, I wish that I could say that this is a rare story. But it's not. You know, I know teenagers in my own town that have survived sexual trauma and then told a trusted adult about it, only to be told, are you sure you were interpreting that correctly, are you sure this wasn't just mixed signals. And when we treat survivors like that, particularly when they're younger, they can be very, very retraumatized. And so I think that, you know, that's why the "Me Too" hash tag has been so powerful, the movement has been so powerful. Because, I, as a psychologist, can say you're not alone. Other people have experienced this. When young women and women overall are looking out there, and looking at that "Me Too" hash tag, it's really humanizing, an epidemic we have going on.

WHITFIELD: I heard Tarana Burke, the founder of the "Me Too" movement, you know, she said what this is about right now, while some people are confused that, you know, the "Me Too" movement would be associated with, you know, the thoughts and concerns about this allegation involving a Supreme Court nominee. And she says it's about justice. It's really not, you know, specific to workplace, you know, or the power that men may have over women in a workplace but it really is about justice. That's why even this, you know, nomination process and these allegations of how it's treated is so incredibly significant.

RAJA: Yes. We ask ourselves I think the wrong question. We asked, why didn't she report. That could be Dr. Ford or anybody else. The question we really need to ask ourselves as a culture and a society is, what are we doing to make it safe for survivors to actually report sexual trauma. Are we creating processes where people are not being retried or, you know, tried themselves or, you know, their character called into question? Are we making it safe for them? And are there clear reporting processes? You know, not just from a legal standpoint but, for example, if this happens in a school setting or if this happens in a religious setting or if this happens in military culture. I mean, the only good thing happening recently is we're having these really difficult conversations about how we've got an epidemic on our hands.

[13:45:04] WHITFIELD: And we've --

RAJA: And we need to address it.

WHITFIELD: And we've heard people assess this so differently. Some might explain it away by saying, wait, they were kids and if there was, you know, alcohol involved, you know, perhaps, you know, it was a mistake. But then, at the same time, when you hear people talk about they were children and you listen and hear more details about the Catholic priest abuse allegations, you don't hear the same kinds of explaining away for these children and their stories coming out 20, 30 years after the fact. Is there a double standard?

RAJA: Yes, I do think there's a double standard because, I mean, we know that trauma is trauma from a larger standpoint. I mean, you know, you quoted some of the statistics on girls. Yes, it could be as, you know, one in five is a conservative estimate. But also one in eight boys are, you know, being traumatized in some way. And so, you know, sexually traumatized. So we do need to shine the light, destigmatize these issues and start, you know, listening to them both with our hearts, but also our minds. You know, with an understanding of epidemiology, the fact that it's happening fairly often. And also clinical science. The fact that, you know, she didn't come forward right away is not really that out of the ordinary. Often people may be just tell, you know, someone close to them or someone close to them says you're not act like yourself anymore or maybe you tell your boyfriend down the line. But, you know, most people don't sort of right away come out. So this has been the power of the "Me Too" movement. There's that power in numbers and people are saying, wow, I'm not alone.

WHITFIELD: Yes, sadly, there's that association of shame. So many, you know, alleged victims talk about, you know, being ashamed and being fearful of expressing what happened for fear of further repercussions.

All right, Sheela Raja --

(CROSSTALK)

RAJA: And I think we need to ask ourselves -- yes, we don't do that to other victims of crimes. Why do we do that when there's, you know, sexual trauma involved? That's when we need to start changing as a culture.

WHITFIELD: Sheela Raja, thank you. Appreciate it.

RAJA: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, alarming new details about cyberattacks against U.S. lawmakers. So who do investigators think is behind the attacks and what are they doing to stop it? Straight ahead.

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[13:51:55] WHITFIELD: All right. We're learning new details about attempted cyberattacks targeting some Senators and their staff members G-mail accounts.

Here's CNN's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Members of the U.S. Senate are now on alert that their personal e-mail accounts have been targeted by foreign government hackers. Google has confirmed to CNN the company warns specific Senators and their staffers that their personal G-mail accounts were targeted.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, whose aides say his account was not targeted, is sounding the alarm with Senate leadership.

SEN. RON WYDEN, (D), OREGON: For dangerous foreign hackers, this is just a no-brainer. These personal accounts are low-hanging fruit. The fact is, if you look at 2016, what you saw is the personal account, particularly of people like John Podesta and Collin Powell, were the ones they went after first. This is how you find out who people go to, to talk to. TODD: CNN has learned the targeting of Senators' e-mails occurred in

recent months. Neither Senate aides, nor Google would tell CNN which Senators were targeted. But sources say attempts were made at both Democratic and Republican staffs. Google and Senate sources are also not saying whether any of the attempted hacks have been successful?

(on camera): Could they have been successful? How vulnerable are Senators' personal e-mail accounts?

MICAH SHERR, PROFESSOR, CYBERSECURITY EXPEDRT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: They could be successful. It depends on the member of Congress and their staff and whether they've done things like used two factor authentication and done their best security practices.

TODD (voice-over): Which foreign government is trying to hack Senators? A source tells CNN multiple nations are targeting people associated with political leaders and their staffs. A group of Russian hackers, nicknamed Fancy Bear, commanded by Russia's military intelligence agency, targeted the Democratic Party in 2016 and then leaked embarrassing information. This fake e-mail from Russian intelligence officers, prosecutors say, tricked Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta, into clicking on their fake link and entering his password. Analysts say there would be a treasure-trove of valuable information for foreign spies on a given Senator's personal G-mail account.

SHERR: One thing you could do is come up with a social network, their friends, contacts, certainly documents that you shouldn't have on your personal e-mail account. We know some people have done this in the past.

TODD (on camera): How would some of America's enemies use that information?

SHERR: One thing they could certainly do is find information that could be used for blackmail.

TODD: The Russian, Chinese and North Korean governments have always vehemently denied trying to hack America's political leaders. But just last month, there was a separate episode. Microsoft announced it had thwarted part of a Russian military intelligence operation targeting the Senate and some Washington think tanks.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

But first, the final episodes of "PARTS UNKNOWN," hosted by Anthony Bourdain, start tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN" (voice-over): Who gets to tell the stories? This is a question asked often. The answer in this case, for better or for worse, is I do. At least this time out.

(SINGING)

[13:55:10] BOURDAIN (on camera): First time on this continent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's unbelievable.

(SINGING)

BOURDAIN: Astonishing.

(SINGING)

(SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always wanted to do it.

BOURDAIN: Try that in New York.

(on camera): New York in your mind is where the writer's life was?

(CROSSTALK)

BOURDAIN: Here we go.

(SINGING)

(SHOUTING)

(SINGING)

ANNOUNCER: Anthony Bourdain, "PARTS UNKNOWN": THE FINAL EPISODES," starts tomorrow at 9:00 on CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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