Return to Transcripts main page


Kavanaugh Accuser To Testify In Open Hearing Thursday 10:00 A.M. ET; Lawmakers Split On The Next Step In Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing; Graham On Rosenstein: Need Special Counsel To Investigate FBI; Thousands Still Rebuilding In Puerto Rico After Hurricane; United Cajun Navy Assisting With NC Recovery Efforts; "This Is Life" Premieres Tonight After "Parts Unknown". Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 23, 2018 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again. And thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with the latest in the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation battle. The highly anticipated hearing involving nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser now officially set for Thursday morning at 10:00 Eastern Time.

Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexual assault back in high school, will both have a chance to tell their sides of the story to the Senate Judiciary Committee in an open hearing. Both parties just wrapping up phone calls to hash out more details, but still a lot of questions remain.

CNN's Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider joining me right now. What are you learning?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, after days of negotiations, the hearing time and date have been set. It will be Thursday at 10:00 a.m. This is a hearing that will be open to the public. But Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys still are not satisfied with many of the details surrounding how this hearing will proceed.

In fact, they did issue a letter with (INAUDIBLE) says among those issues is who on the majority side will be asking the questions, whether senators or staff attorneys. We were told no decision has been made on this important issue, even though various senators have been dismissive of her account and should have to shoulder the responsibility to ask her questions. So that's the statement from Blasey Ford's attorneys.

They want the senators doing the questioning, including the Republican senators. Of course, on the Republican side, there were only 11 senators on that side of the committee, none of them women. So Republicans have pitched this idea of an outside counsel, who's a female asking the question. Blasey Ford's team is not too keen on that idea.

Now as for other demands, Blasey Ford's team said the committee is refusing to subpoena Mark Judge to testify. Of course, Mark Judge was the classmate Blasey Ford said was in the room when this alleged assault happened. Judge has then said he has no recollection of the incident, so he will not subpoena. The committee has also refuse to invite other witnesses for this hearing. So for now it will just be Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford.

Of course, Judge Kavanaugh has issued several forceful denials that this incident never happened and, of course, no details yet on exactly who will be doing the questioning on the Republican side.

But one senator who said she already knows what she'll be asking, she's Democrat Mazie Hirono and she talked to our Jake Tapper this morning.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: What specifically do you plan on asking Brett Kavanaugh?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: There are a lot of issues around Brett that involving what was happening in high school.


HIRONO: I would be wanting to hear what kind of environment it was in high school. Apparently, there was a lot of drinking and partying going on. This is why we need an investigation. We need an independent investigation that lays all of that out for us.


SCHNEIDER: And to that point, Senator Hirono and other Democrats, they've been pushing for the FBI to do an investigation first before proceeding with any hearing. But of course, at this point we know that won't be happening.

The hearing now set for Thursday at 10:00 a.m. And, Fredricka, it will be open to the public just like the first four days of Judge Kavanaugh's testimony was earlier this month. Fred?

WHITFIELD: And Jessica, Dr. Ford's team, you know, has raised concerns about her safety, you know, having to make sure that, you know, whether it's on the way to D.C. or while in D.C., that she is comfortable. How are arrangements being made for that?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. We know there will be accommodations because, of course, Christine Blasey Ford up to this point, you know, she's received death threats. She's had her e-mail accounts hacked. She's even had to temporarily move out of her family home in California.

In fact, "The Washington Post" reporting that her sons are now staying with family friends while Christine Blasey Ford and her husband are living out of a hotel. And at one point, Blasey Ford is even considered hiring security to accompany her children to school.

So in light of all of that, there will be precautions in place for the open hearing on Thursday. She will have dedicated security along with her as well as two attorneys from her team who will be sitting at the counsel table with her. And we know now that the preliminary idea here is to have questioning, which will be in 45 minute intervals.

So all of this, Fredricka, unfolding likely, looking now like it will be in public. It will be an open hearing, so it could get interesting, especially with members of the public potentially being allowed inside there. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

So Judge Brett Kavanaugh has spent hours preparing at the White House last week going over possible answers to questions about his teenage years and dating life.

Let's go now to CNN's White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez in New York where President Trump will head later on today to attend this week's United Nations Security Council.

But first in Washington, D.C., the testimonies of Trump Supreme Court nominee and his accuser are scheduled Thursday, 10:00 a.m. What are we hearing from the White House about all of this?

[15:05:02] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. Yes, President Trump relatively quiet this weekend when it comes to the announcement that Christine Ford is getting set to testify on Thursday and bring forward her accusations against the President's pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Now, just a few days ago, President Trump actually went there and he questioned why it took Ford so long to come forward with this accusations. That's something that didn't sit well with a number of Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

We're hearing from sources that McConnell actually called the President on Friday and told him that those tweets were not helping Kavanaugh get confirmed.

Other Republicans having gone quite as far, but today on State of the Union, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke to Jake Tapper saying that she believes that Christine Blasey Ford should be heard. Listen to this.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: What I have said clearly is every accuser always deserves the right to be heard. And -- but at the same time, I think the accused deserves the right to be heard. I think that's going to happen, which is great.

The Senate has a huge responsibility here. They have to make sure it's fair. They have to make sure it's responsible and they have to take the politics out. And for the good of both families, I think they have to do this swiftly and quickly and they have to do it with a lot of care. And so with that, we don't know what the truth is 35 years ago, but we'll find out. And I think that's the best thing we can do is to hear from both sides and then take it from there.


SANCHEZ: Now, the White House did put out a statement related to some of the latest developments coming from Ford's camp. They write impart, "One week ago, Dr. Christine Ford claims she was assaulted at a house party attended by four others. Since then, all four of these individuals have provided statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee denying any knowledge of the indictment or even having attended such a party."

Now, one of those people is presumably Leland Keyser, a long time friend of Dr. Ford's who reportedly told the "The Washington Post" that she couldn't remember any such party back in the '80s that Brett Kavanaugh and Mrs. Ford attended. I did want to point to a statement put out by Ford's attorneys, though, in which they essentially say that they don't expect Keyser to have remembered such an occurrence.

Listen to this, Fred, "It's not surprising that Ms. Keyser has no recollection of the evening as they did not discuss it. It's also unremarkable that Mrs. Keyser does not remember attending a specific gathering 30 years ago at which nothing of consequence happened to her."

One other note, Fred, as you mentioned, we are hearing reporting from "The Washington Post" that Kavanaugh has spent several hours over the past few days at the White House going over what would be essentially mock confirmation hearings, mock testimony being asked questions by White House aides pertaining to Dr. Ford's accusations. Clearly the White House wants him to do well when he goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez in New York, thank you so much.

All right, let's talk more about all of this with Georgetown Law Professor Emma Coleman Jordan. She was one of Anita Hill's attorneys back in 1991. She helped Hill prepare to testify against Clarence Thomas so many years ago during his confirmation hearings. Also with me, CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein. Good to see both of you.

First, before we get into it, I do want you to both listen to two members on the Senate Judiciary Committee, a Democrat and a Republican, talk about Kavanaugh's nomination. Listen.


TAPPER: Doesn't Kavanaugh have the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?

HIRONO: I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases. As I said, his credibility is already very questionable in my mind and the minds of a lot of my fellow Judiciary Committee members, the Democrats.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you have an open mind on this and is there anything that Dr. Ford could say that would persuade you to vote against Kavanaugh's nomination, honestly?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: I want to listen to her, but I'm being honest with you and everybody else. What do you expect me to do? You can't bring it in the criminal court. You would never sue it civilly. You couldn't even get a warrant. What am I supposed to do, go ahead and ruin this guy's life based on an accusation?


WHITFIELD: All right. So, Ron, you first, our minds already made up before they are even to hear the testimonies about these allegations from these two.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think most minds are made up, but at the margin, you know, is where it could be decided, you know. On the one hand, you do have a number of Republicans, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham even before today, the candidates running in North Dakota.

Dana Rohrabacher was quoted today in the (INAUDIBLE) all being very dismissive of this and that probably is the vast majority of Republican senators. But, of course, it only takes two Republican senators to derail it and the same thing on the Democratic side.

[15:10:01] I mean, the vast majority of Democrats I think as, you know, senator from Hawaii noted have tremendous questions about his credibility and veracity already based on his answers about at least three other matters that came up in this confirmation hearing.

But there are a few red state Democrats who had been on the fence and I think it does matters for them. So, yes, the vast majority have their minds made up, but it is at the margin where this will be decided.

WHITFIELD: And Professor Jordan, is this deja vu? Were minds already made up when Anita Hill began her testimony?

EMMA COLEMAN JORDAN, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. The minds were made up and the framework for hearing what she had to say was set in a very basic way.

Clarence Thomas tossed the question back on the all white male committee when he said this is a high tech lynching. And so he put the racial element in the four and he put the senators on the defensive.

And when the senators began to question him, he essentially said, "I'm not answering lies." And so the minds were made up, the candidate, the nominee was allowed to push the senators into a corner of racial discrimination, citing the southern history. And, of course, it didn't help that. Senator Howell Heflin was the questioner who was asked to question Clarence Thomas. So, minds are made up. Some of this has to do with our current situation about the unreported sexual harassment in the nation. We know we are living in a sea, an ocean of unreported sexual predation from our religious institutions, entertainment industry. Why should we be surprised when someone nominated to the highest court in the land has an issue of this sort coming forward?

We need a clear problem solving approach to deal with this in advance so that we're not surprised. Minds made up on both sides, opposite ways without taking into account the human beings. You don't plow through human experience.

There is an expectation that our leaders, senators will take the opportunity to show the country how this particular problem of the massive under reporting of sexual crimes or sexual harassment can be solved. It's too late when we get to this high stakes setting.

WHITFIELD: So now in the meantime, it's this Thursday. It's 10:00 a.m. And, you know, Professor, we have already heard through the reporting, through the, you know, Katz, Debra Katz, the legal team, you know, for Dr. Ford that she is under duress. She has had to be separated from her family because of security concerns. Her e-mail has been hacked. It's not safe and comfortable to be back home.

So then talk to me about how would you be advising her. How did you have to advise or prepare Anita Hill under such duress and then be able to tell, you know, this very delicate story, this very personal account in front of an all male, mostly all male, you know, committee and to the world?

JORDAN: Well, you know, we have the ideal client. Anita Hill was a law professor. She had worked in the public arena in Washington, D.C., before at the Department of Education and also at the EEOC. And she was teaching at Oral Roberts University. So, she was accustomed to a certain level of scrutiny.

But, nobody can be prepared for this kind of intense smear campaign that can be unleashed. So, I think our preparation for her was essentially to press her with questions that might be a little bit of a surprise for her and to see how she reacted.

As we can see over the last 26 years, 27 years, she has held up quite well because she is a very centered person. And I can only hope and wish that Dr. Ford has that same fortitude from her family, from her own experience from life to be able to stand up to this. This is more than we should expect from any citizen who wants to contribute to what we know about a Supreme Court nominee.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And, Ron, again, there are no GOP women on this committee. There are four Democratic women. However, testimony, you know, while scheduled for Thursday, so many minds made up.

[15:15:03] Do you see that, you know, it is going to be difficult for either one, Dr. Ford or even Judge Kavanaugh, you know, to really go beyond, you know, the testimony? I mean, both will forever, you know, I guess be scarred by what transpires this week. BROWNSTEIN: Well, first of all, I mean, I think it is correct that Republicans have steered this in a way to maximize the possibility that Americans will view it essentially as a he said she said kind of collision by not having a more exhaustive investigation before the fact and refusing to bring anyone else in under oath and does having just the two of them as the protagonist.

I would point out, I would flag a tweet today from Jerrold Nadler of New York who would be the chair of the House Judiciary Committee if Democrats win the majority in the House who said that essentially if the Republicans will not subpoena these other witnesses, the House Judiciary Committee certainly could down the road.

I'm not sure that if he is confirmed on a party line vote and Democrats win the House that this is the end of the investigation, because certainly Democrats feel is being short circuited.

And it's worth noting that, you know, in the Anita Hill testimony is credited with instigating the -- or igniting the original year of the woman in 1992. There were 70 Democratic women nominated for the House in 1993, its 183 this time.

Over one third of which are women of color polls out again today the widest gender gap we have seen, particularly among African-American women and college educated white women.

The Republicans realized, I think, they are playing with fire against the backdrop of what is already transpiring this election largely as a reaction to President Trump. So, this is really high stakes even if they can hold their party together to get to a narrow confirmation.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And as it pertains to potential investigations, it has been, you know, said that there is no statute of limitations on this kind of offense in Maryland and thereby it is possible that there could be some other investigations that ensues regardless of, you know, what the testimony is or the confirmation outcome is that is in Maryland. We will see.

Professor Emma Coleman Jordan, Ron Brownstein, good to see you both. Appreciate it.

All right still ahead, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham say there's a bureaucratic coup against President Trump, this after a report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed having the President removed from office. So what does this mean for the ongoing Russia probe and Rosenstein's future?


[15:21:52] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. President Trump has yet to respond to the bombshell report that Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General and the man overseeing the Russia probe talked about wearing a wire to record the President and suggested building support for the 25th amendment to force Trump from office. Well, Rosenstein has issued two statements denying that report. And today, Senator Lindsey Graham gave Rosenstein the benefit of a doubt, but also claimed the DOJ and the FBI were trying to overthrow the President.


WALLACE: Should -- one last question here. Should the President fire Rosenstein and to what degree does this revelation can't compromise the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, from Rosenstein appointed?

GRAHAM: He shouldn't fire Rosenstein unless you believe Rosenstein is lying. He said he did not do the things alleged, but there's a bureaucratic coup against President Trump being undiscovered here.


WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now, Sally Kohn, a CNN Political Commentator, and Nan Hayworth, a former Republican Congresswoman from New York. Good to see you both.

All right, let me begin with you, Sally. You know, Senator Graham's claims that there is a bureaucratic coup against the President. What do you see?

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I don't see evidence of that. I don't understand how he can see evidence of that if he saying he believes that Rosenstein said he didn't do it. I'm a little confused.

But, again, Lindsey Graham is the same one who is saying that he's going to listen to, you know, the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, but he's already decided that he's going to confirm Kavanaugh. So, I don't know what's going on with Lindsey Graham.

But what I do know is that it's a strange coup if Rosenstein was originally a George W. Bush appointee who Trump appointed. People seem to be forgetting that. He's not some enemy hold over from the Obama administration. He is Trump's guy.

And the problem is that Trump doesn't like when people like Rosenstein or his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the FBI or anyone actually try to uphold the laws of this country, so I don't know.

If someone trying to uphold the laws of this country is considered a coup against Trump, then I guess if under that definition, maybe, but come on. He's doing his job.

WHITFIELD: So, Congresswoman, what do you believe about this reporting?

NAN HAYWORTH (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, look, Rod Rosenstein is being given the benefit of due process concept, as you will, one that is welcome, obviously. He has denied that he made this invitation or this claim. "The New York Times" obviously has a detailed account. They have numerous sources, none of whom they name. So there is other credible evidence, obviously, evidence that Mr. Rosenstein has been at the head of an agency that clearly has harbored some very troubling figures, notably Peter Strzok, of course.

Every bit of what the American public has been able to see of his communications with folks like Lisa Page, but not only Lisa Page, indicates that Mr. Strzok has been on a mission along with many other colleagues to discredit President Trump and to derail this presidency.

[15:25:19] That is serious stuff. And Mr. Rosenstein is at the head of that agency. So I think there are plenty of questions that we can ask legitimately about his intentions towards the President.

WHITFIELD: All right. So, Sally, how do you see that this report might potentially, you know, influence the Mueller investigation? Because, you know, if you recall the memos of Andy McCabe went to the Mueller team back in May and now suddenly we're reading in this report that that information is leaked and in the body of these memos would be, you know, Rosenstein commandeering this kind of overthrow. So how does this impact the Mueller team at all?

KOHN: Yes. Let's go back, in case I'm -- unless I'm mistaken, just so we can, I don't know, keep facts as facts. Rod Rosenstein is not in fact the head of the FBI, he is the deputy attorney general. Those are two separate bureaus, two separate departments -- branches of government.

And also, by the way, this all involves Trump firing the head of the FBI, which by the way was something that Rosenstein apparently supported but did thought the way that Trump went about it was problematic, including him citing what seem to a private memo.

So, again, the issue is like, if we're looking for people who are supposedly trying to take down the Trump administration, you think they wouldn't be Trump's appointees who are supporting him with memos and -- right?

Also, I do find this incredibly fascinating that we're debating the veracity of, you know, certain people's defenses of themselves and also now citing "The New York Times." Like, it's really interesting that the conservatives like "The New York Times," "The Washington Post" and CNN, you know, when they support Trump, but they don't otherwise and then they start accusing fake news, right? They want to accuse Rosenstein, but they want to believe Kavanaugh. Like come on, does anyone actually care about the truth?

WHITFIELD: So in other words, you know, Congresswoman, it doesn't make sense. I mean, is it plausible?

HAYWORTH: Is the accusation against Rosenstein plausible?


HAYWORTH: Yes, it is. And what Sally just said was a mash up of, I don't know, basically kind of an incoherent series of accusations against Republicans. Republicans take the evidence into account. Certainly some news organizations have a certain point of view and that also is quite evident to any intelligent reader.

But the fundamental point is that we have ample evidence that the Department of Justice and the FBI, which of course is overseen by the DOJ, have had within their ranks, numerous actors, including not only Peter Strzok, but Bruce Ohr, who has actively --


WHITFIELD: There have been expressed concerns, but none of those expressed concerns have been proven to have instigated or influence the outcome of anything. And what we have here though, you know, through this report is the inference that the Deputy A.G. was commandeering something very significant.

KOHN: Wait a second. Can we just said that if the reporting is correct, right, and I'm going to assume it is, if the reporting is correct, what's interesting here is the Republicans similarly instead of being worried about what a Mueller investigation may be uncovering that they're continues to be credible of it and said the investigation being forward (ph), instead of actually wanting to get to the truth, they just want to attack the investigation.

Similarly here, doesn't it concern people that now we have allegedly Rosenstein, this anonymous op-ed writer on the senior staff of the Trump administration who are so concerned with the mental stability and response -- lack of responsibility and recklessness of this President that there are seem to be repeated conversations about invoking the 25th amendment? I mean, let's talk about that concern.

HAYWORTH: Sally --

WHITFIELD: All right, so Congresswoman, go ahead and respond.

HAYWORTH: Number one, Rod Rosenstein is described in the time his own account is having been experiencing a significant amount of distress, if not a certain amount of perhaps, you know, self doubt about his own situation in all of this.

He was the one who actually wrote the memo, again, according to the Times account. He was the one who wrote the memo that was used to substantiate the reasons which were ample and sort of have been agreed on long --

WHITFIELD: The letter that the President asked him to write, though.

[15:30:03] HAYWORTH: -- long stands by both Democrats and Republicans, all observers, that James Comey's conduct was highly questionable and it was entirely appropriate and within the President's purview to fire him.

Furthermore, to invoke the 25th amendment, give Mr. Rosenstein credit for understanding what the amendment provides for. It provides for actual incapacitation, i.e. the President is in a coma. The 25th amendment was passed in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. It does not deal --

WHITFIELD: But in his statement --

HAYWORTH: -- does not deal with it.

WHITFIELD: But in his statement he said that he did not try to promote it.

HAYWORTH: I disagree with the way this man goes about doing his work.

WHITFIELD: All right. But in his statement he did say that he did not try to promote it.

KOHN: Correct.

HAYWORTH: Correct.

WHITFIELD: OK. Let's leave it right there. Sally Kohn, Nan Hayworth, thanks so much to both of you.

KOHN: Thanks, Fredricka.

HAYWORTH: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll be right back.


[15:35:24] WHITFIELD: All right. It's been more than a year since Hurricane Maria left much of Puerto Rico in ruins. Recovery efforts have been in full force since then. And while power has been restored for most, thousands of others are still trying to replace roofs torn off by the deadly storm. Here is CNN's Rafael Romo.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before you can grasp the true extend of the devastation, you have to see it from above.

We're flying over Puerto Rico a year after Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean Island.

(on camera) What would you say, Daniel, is the main challenge as you're trying to rebuild all of those homes, people who have left homeless after the hurricane?

DANIEL STEPHENS, FIELD OFFICE DIRECTOR/SAMARITAN'S PURSE: And we're still going to places every week over finding new homes of people that are leaving under blue plastic tarp. You know, one year after the hurricane, there's still thousands, thousands of homes that the only covered they have is the blue tarp over their roof.

ROMO (voice-over): We're flying with the team from Samaritan's Purse, an American charity helping people rebuild their homes.

STEPHENS: A lot of the area from the island are extremely remote, extremely difficult to access high up in the mountains. ROMO (on camera): Blue tarps were meant to be a temporary solution for homeowners whose roofs have been blown by the hurricane, really a 30-day fix, but they are still visible around the island and they are the symbol of the devastation as a reminder that there are still much to be done.

(voice-over) On the ground, this is what recovery sounds like. Obrahiam Rios, a heart patient, could not be more grateful that his house is getting a new roof.


ROMO (on camera): He said it's like being able to live again.

(voice-over) After waiting for more than a year, blue tarp will finally be replaced with a real roof. In some of the most remote areas where power was unreliable even before the hurricane, Samaritan's Purse is providing solar panels to residents.

ZACH SPRAU, SAMARITAN'S PURSE: So we designed the system to be able to run a mini fridge 24 hours than with some other small appliances like lighting and device charging and a fan.

ROMO (voice-over): Today, they are installing the panels of Aida Gonzales' (ph) home, a diabetic who needs refrigerated insulin around the clock. Back in Arecibo, Bexaida Rodriguez shows us her house.


ROMO (on camera): She said this is still the living room.

(voice-over) It's been a difficult year for Rodriguez, her daughter and granddaughter, the hurricane completely blown off their roof, forcing them to live elsewhere.


ROMO (on camera): Everything got wet.


ROMO (on camera): The fridge got damaged. And then take a look at this. This is a clock in the wall that stops at 7:05. That was the moment when it got wet because the hurricane had blown off the roof.

(voice-over) A sign is among the few things that were not damaged at their home, having a place to go it says it is home.


ROMO: Back live in San Juan now. This charity along Samaritan's Purse has helped 251 home owners, Fred, to repair their homes and the need is so great. So many people need help that they are expecting to be able to help an additional 139 before the end of the year. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: OK, extraordinary look there. Thank you so much for bringing it to us, Rafael Romo. And we'll be right back.


[15:43:50] WHITFIELD: Eight rivers across the Carolinas are still in major flood stage. But as the floodwaters begin to recede, recovery efforts are ramping up.

CNN Correspondent Kaylee Hartung is near Wilmington and she's actually on a boat on the Cape Fear River. So, what are you seeing? And you're riding along with the United Cajun Navy, right?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Fred. I'm here with our Captain Panama and switch water (ph) here volunteers from the United Cajun Navy. Guys, you've both been down here for a week and some change. How many rescues have you each been a part of?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been a part close to 300.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been a part by close to 250.

HARTUNG: And now we're moving beyond that rescue stage. Your mission at this point has really transition to that of supply-delivery. Tell us where we're going right now and what the goal is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now we got a call on to our dispatch for a 5-year-old who ran out of his medication. Family member where they will pick other prescription and wanted us to run (ph) up river to them, so we're going about 20 miles of the Cape Fear River to Rocky Point to make contact with him and his grandmother and deliver it. They're flooded and they can't get out to be able to get his medicine, so.

HARLUNG: We've got a convoy of about six boats here, water, baby food, diapers, all sorts of supplies that can be delivered are stop after this one home will be a shelter in Bargo (ph).

[15:45:11] What's your understanding of how dire the situation is in Bargo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, my understanding is in a few times I've been up to Bargo, I mean it got all completely wiped out by the flood. They had a real battle there. I know they're doing -- they've done air drops and supplies in there. And every day since we started rescues, we get to have rescues and supply drops in Bargo. As far as I know, they are the worst off.

HARLUNG: Now, you guys aren't federally funded. You're not any sort of government organized entity. Can you describe to me the hole that you guys fill in the need for the people of this area right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We don't get any money for it. We actually have some guys that have lost their jobs to do this and it is just -- there are some things that not everybody with emergency services can always do. So we try to kind of fill that void to help them out and make it easier on them, lighten their load, let them focus of what they have to focus on. And we also had things like Red Cross and these disaster relief guys, somehow they can't make it to certain areas that we have access to because we have the boats, we have the manpower and we get the donations and supplies.

So, you know, in turn of it, so the (INAUDIBLE) have talked about local law enforcement all over town and they've all, you know, sugar and thank us for doing what we're doing to say help them and help the community out.

HARLUNG: And now the boats and the manpower, Fred, headed up the Cape Fear River to Rocky Point and Bargo to people who need help.

WHITFIELD: And they are all doing amazing work. And I know folks are very grateful that they are there. Thank you so much Kaylee Hartung, appreciate it with the team. All right, we'll be right back.


[15:51:12] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. President Trump often invokes the gang MS-13 and their extreme violence in his calls to reform immigration law and crackdown on crime. But what is MS-13 and who are its members?

Tonight, the CNN Original Series, "This is Life with Lisa Ling" returns for an all new season and Ling takes us to the front lines of the battle against one of the most feared street gangs in America.


LISA LING, HOST, "THIS IS LIFE" (voice-over): Armed with tactics of seduction, coercion and threats, MS-13 has had no shortage of potential recruits. Over 100, 000 unaccompanied minors have arrived at the United States since 2014 and most are vulnerable to recruitment.

Under the cover of night I met one such target, a young teen who recently reunited with his mother after a decade apart.

(on camera) How old were you the first time you saw someone get killed?


LING: You were 9 years old? Did a lot of your friends join MS-13 in El Salvador?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. 10 of my friend had joined MS-13.

LING: What happened to their lives?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two of them are dead already.


WHITFIELD: And Lisa Ling joins us now from Los Angeles. Good to see you. So to help tell the story you embedded with law enforcement to understand, you know, this fight against MS-13. And overall, what did you see?

LING: Well, Fred, it's true. The Trump administration would have us to believe that MS-13 is a trans-Atlantic criminal enterprise. They really are such a pariah in the eyes of the Trump administration.

But the reality is that the FBI has estimated there are over a million street gangs in the United States and MS-13 only accounts for less than 1 percent. They really are the greatest threat to their own communities, many of which consist of large populations of people from Central America.

And over the years, there has been a massive wave of unaccompanied minors who've shown up at the border of the U.S. and Mexico and so many of these kids are really traumatized.

They have come to the United States not having a relationship with family members who left Central America many, many years ago and they're really vulnerable and they've become prime targets for the gang.

And the gang has been in this country since the 1980s. And MS-13 is a very complex issue, and to really understand it, I hope you'll watch the episode tonight and read the piece that I wrote on, because the U.S. government has actually played a pretty big role in the evolution of MS-13.

WHITFIELD: In what way? What do you mean?

LING: Well, the U.S. funded and funneled billions of dollars into countries like El Salvador and Guatemala throughout the 1980s into the hands of corrupt dictators and human rights abusers. And then in the '90s, deported thousands of criminals, many gang members who began their gangbanging in Los Angeles. And so deporting tens of thousands of gangsters back to these countries that were already hugely unstable made for a very, very deadly combination.

WHITFIELD: So, quickly, in tonight's episode, you're going to be telling the story of Damaris Reyes Rivas. What is it about her story that is so compelling?

LING: Well, first of all, she was a 13-year-old girl who was savagely killed by a 17-year-old girl in addition to a number of other MS-13 members. These days, the reason why MS-13 has gotten so much attention is because of the savagery that they perpetrate. And it's particularly -- it's by teens against teens and I hope people will tune in to better understand why this is happening.

[15:55:08] WHITFIELD: Incredible. Well, important story to tell. Lisa Ling, thank you so much. And of course, we'll all be watching tonight for the all new season of "This is Life," 10:15 right after the premiere of "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown."


WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

This just in to CNN, we are now learning that Christine Blasey Ford will testify first about her sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh will testify after her. This highly anticipated hearing is set for this Thursday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern time.