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Polls: Missouri, Nevada Senators Face Tight Re-Election Bids; Facebook Hack Exposed Info of 50 Million Users; WSJ: Trump Sought Restraining Order against Stormy Daniels. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 2, 2018 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: That's the key question here. There is demeanor. He sure didn't show the demeanor of a judge at the hearing. There is partisanship. He brought out the most raw form of partisanship, so unbecoming of someone on the district court, federal appeals court, let alone the Supreme Court. And he did not show any semblance to always being 100 percent honest and truthful, which is what we need in a Supreme Court justice.

So again, even if you feel that what happened when he was 15 and 18 shouldn't matter, what happens when he's 53 does matter. And his credibility is in real doubt. Doubt enough, I think, for most Americans to say this man does not belong on the Supreme Court. There ought to be somebody, many people, who would be a whole lot better.

I yield the floor.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Well, there you have two very different points of view on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination from the Senate majority leader and the Senate minority leader, partisan politics, a huge part of all this.

Let's get down to the facts. We have just gotten in as we were listening to those two representatives of the American people, those two senators, the lawyer from Mark Judge, the man who Dr. Ford says was in the room when she was allegedly attacked, he's finished his interview with the FBI. That is what his lawyer says. And that's a very significant interview because, remember, he wrote that letter and signed it, but said I have nothing further to add. So, what has he told FBI investigators?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The other news, we talked a bit this morning about a bar altercation that Kavanaugh took part in. There was a police report.

HARLOW: 1985.

SCIUTTO: 1985. We have now learned that a friend of Kavanaugh's, Chris Dudley, who went on to becoming an NBA basketball player, he was actually arrested in that fight. Of course, Kavanaugh was not, but it speaks to perhaps how serious that altercation was. - We'll continue to follow. HARLOW: We just heard -- Elie Honig is joining us now, a former federal prosecutor. Also with us is former FBI assistant director for the Criminal Investigative Division, Chris Swecker.

Elie, to you, we just heard Schumer say - I mean, it seemed to indicate the Democrats are sort of shifting the argument away from what may have happened at age 17 with Judge Kavanaugh to the credibility of him now and the testimony that he gave under oath on Thursday. He said his credibility is in doubt at age, you know, 53. Are you sensing a shift in the tone here and the argument from the Democrats on this?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think both of those things matter. I think it matters what his credibility is now at age 53 and it matters very much what he did and how he acted back at the time of the attack alleged by Dr. Ford. We heard Senator McConnell before that sort of dismiss the inquiry into the drinking and fighting as trivial attacks.

I disagree. These are not trivial. The way that Kavanaugh and judge conducted themselves, drank, behaved, is central to doctor Ford's allegation, right? Because remember, she says they were both very drunk when this happened. It's central to Kavanaugh's defense because if he wasn't that drunk to the point of no memory, his defense is fairly meaningless, as his judge's denial that we saw. So, these are essential matters. And this is why we have an investigation. We need to know how serious. Was it just an ice throwing incident or was it serious enough for someone got arrested.

SCIUTTO: Chris Swecker, let me ask you this because the other issue here is the truthfulness of Kavanaugh's testimony, his description of his behavior in college, high school, et cetera here. Let's be purely in terms of a background investigation. If you're doing a background investigation, and you interview the nominee, and then you interview others about same instances, behaviors, et cetera, if there's a contradiction there, there's evidence that the nominee lied about those, is that typically relevant in a background investigation? Is that something that the FBI would cite when it reports back to the White House or whoever else has nominated this person for federal office?

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASST. DIR. FOR THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Yes, certainly character and truth and reputation for truth and veracity is a central focus of a background investigation, a special inquiry, which is what this is, not an FBI investigation. It is a spin. So they're going to go talk to people. They're going to report what they heard. They're going to report the records that they have searched that may corroborate or contradict. They're going to report all of this, and the reader, the Senate and the president, are going to have to decide who's telling the truth a what the credibility is.

[10:35:00] That's not the purview of a background investigation. They're not going to make credibility determinations. They're going to let the facts and the statements speak for themselves. And if there are, you know, in some cases, they may be ambiguous. Details are incredibly important in this type of scenario. And fresh, un-stepped on statements from witnesses who haven't had a chance to coordinate with each other and have not heard each other's statements is important.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: Well, that's the point right there, the FBI investigate it. They say this is what we got. And again, it's up to the senators to make the final decision. Elie Honig, Chris Swecker, thanks very much.

Still to come, we're just five weeks from - if you could believe it -- those midterm elections. New polls show races, very key races, tightening for several incumbent senators and the balance in the center - in the Senate, hangs in the balance.

HARLOW: Certainly does. Also, it is the biggest, most significant data breach in Facebook's history. The social media giant now has to face questions from lawmakers about it, and the real question is, what are regulators going to do about this, if anything, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:40:07] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. There is new reporting this morning that President Trump sought a restraining order to keep Stormy Daniels from publicly talking about her alleged affair with him.

HARLOW: The timing of this matters, let's bring in our great reporter Kara Scannell. So, Kara, the "Wall Street Journal" broke the story and the -- what they're saying is this was in February. So that would have been months before the president's now famous remarks denying knowing anything about the Stormy Daniels payments, that was in April, on Air Force One. What is the significance of the timing here in this reporting?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Poppy, so the "Wall Street Journal" is reporting that President Trump personally was involved in an effort to try to stop Stormy Daniels from going public with her story about an alleged affair with Trump back in February. That was February.

And then what "The Journal" is saying is that Trump called Michael Cohen, his then personal attorney and had him get his son, Eric Trump, involved in this effort to seek an arbitration to silence Stormy Daniels.

Now, this is the first time we have ever heard Eric Trump surface in anything involving Trump's legal issues, whether personal ones such as Stormy Daniels, or even you know the Mueller investigation. Eric Trump and his brother Donald Trump, Jr., were put in place of the Trump organization when the president became the president. And he had to cede control of his business or at least partially cede control of it.

So, now the timing here is interesting because we have Stormy Daniels wanting to go public in February with this allegation of the affair. This is when Michael Cohen gets involved with directing Eric Trump to become involved in this. And Michael Cohen says at the time that he was the one who made the payment, it was personal, but in April, on Air Force One, Donald Trump denied having any knowledge of this payment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why did Michael Cohen make it? (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: You have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: I don't know, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCANNELL: So there we have Trump denying that he knew anything about this payment, and according to "The Journal," Trump two months earlier was involved in directing Cohen and his son Eric Trump to try to seek an arbitration to silence Stormy Daniels.

So, Poppy, Jim, we now see that the president did know about this in advance, and of course, Michael Cohen pled guilty in August, he said that he had paid Stormy Daniels at the direction of the president.

HARLOW: Right. All important points. Kara, thank you for the reporting as always.

SCIUTTO: The president was also being misleading because later he denied that Michael Cohen really worked for him that much, you know, minimizing his role. There, he talked about -

HARLOW: And he played a crucial role.

SCIUTTO: -- what is a fact that he worked for him for years - yes, no question.

New CNN polls show that two crucial Senate races are now neck and neck with just five weeks until midterms and the control of the Senate hanging in the balance. We're going to discuss that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:47:40] HARLOW: All right, count them. How many weeks, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Five weeks.

HARLOW: Five weeks until the midterms. We got of course new CNN polling. And what does it show us? Two U.S. senators in very close re- election bids. We're talking about Missouri where the incumbent Democrat, Claire McCaskill, only three points up against Republican contender Josh Hawley, and also Nevada. SCIUTTO: Republican Dean Heller down four points to Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen.

Let's discuss now what it all means. CNN politics senior writer and analyst, Harry Enten. So, first thing I know is about those polls. Both those numbers are within the margin of error, close to the margin of error. What does that tell you about the broader look at how and if the Senate might flip?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes, exactly. We should point out those polls are within the margin of error. Indeed there are so many races that are within the margin of error. Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, Florida. The list goes on and on and on, where you have all these close races which means we have a best estimate about what might happen in the Senate come November, but it really could be a Democratic wave or could be a Republican wave if the polls are off in one direction.

SCIUTTO: Republican wave in the Senate, in the House?

ENTEN: In the Senate, not in the House, because obviously, the Senate - the Senate battleground is significantly different than the House battleground. You have 10 states which have Senate Democratic incumbents running that Donald Trump won in 2016.

SCIUTTO: Right.

HARLOW: It keeps you employed.

ENTEN: It keeps me employed and the fact that we're five weeks. I'm ready to throw a celebration.

HARLOW: Right.

ENTEN: You know, the fast food is coming in hard. And the cream soda is popping.

HARLOW: It's always Wendy's with you or Popeye's.

ENTEN: Wendy's or Popey's or Bojangles.

HARLOW: But what -- is there something that tells you that this year, this midterm is different than others?

ENTEN: I would say the thing that is so interesting about this map and about what is different about this midterm is a few things. Number one, you have a national environment that is very favorable towards Democrats. So that's good for them. You also have a lot of Democratic incumbents which is good because incumbents tend to do better than you would expect in an open seat. But a lot of these incumbents are running in red states, which kind of is it counter narrative to everything that's going on which is why the Senate is much more difficult to kind of disentangle than say the House is.

HARLOW: Right. SCIUTTO: Let me ask you, and again, this is -- we learned this in 2016, right? You know, tight polls, you can miss. You can miss signs in there. Do you notice any trend here towards a tightening in the Senate, for instance? Do you notice a trend of, you know, there was discussion of a blue wave, big generic ballot advantage for Democrats. Do you notice a tightening there as we get closer to election?

ENTEN: I will say the generic ballot does seem to be tightening a little bit, which is actually good news for Republicans.

[10:50:00] I think that you know there's a lot of talk with, oh, Brett Kavanaugh and this whole confirmation mess, that in fact that might hurt Republicans, but it doesn't actually seem to be so far. We're actually seeing some tightening in the Senate races and more than that, we're seeing tightening in the House races as well.

HARLOW: On that point, how and how importantly do you think Kavanaugh will play into the midterms? For example, you look at the Quinnipiac polling, 61 percent of college educated white women opposing him, not believing his testimony. I think 58 percent of those not thinking he should be confirmed. They're important. They were important for the president in the election. How is he going to factor in and how much of a sense to the midterms?

ENTEN: Right. I would say number one, he's one of the most unpopular nominees since Robert Bork. In fact he is the most.

HARLOW: Right.

ENTEN: But his numbers are still better than Donald Trump's numbers are. So, the more focus that's on him and the more this makes it a partisan fight if you look at those Kavanaugh numbers, you know, it is Democrats one way, Republicans another. If you put voters into their partisan circles, that may actually be good news for Republicans especially considering the Senate map in front of us.

SCIUTTO: As a key, the issue, the big gap that was consistent was an enthusiasm gap, right? With Democrats with a big advantage over Republicans, and the question is, is this an enthusiasm driver - the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings for Republican voters.

ENTEN: Yes. I would say you know Democrats seem a little bit more enthused than Republicans are, but the key bloc for me is independents, and they don't seem to be leaning necessarily one way or another.

HARLOW: That's interesting.

ENTEN: They don't seem enthused about this. And so, I think this may be an instance of a real partisan fight and not something for independents.

SCIUTTO: As we launch this why I'm voting series, the one consistent thing --

HARLOW: Right, your idea, by the way. (CROSSTALK) It was Jim's Idea. SCIUTTO: I'll take that credit. But I haven't seen a voter yet mention Kavanaugh's --

HARLOW: That's true.

SCIUTTO: Not scientific there, but it's just noticeable.

ENTEN: Health care, health care, health care.

HARLOW: OK.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: I wonder if this new trade deal is going to help Republicans.

ENTEN: It could. We'll see. We'll see what the polling says.

HARLOW: Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thanks, Harry.

HARLOW: All right. Facebook has some explaining to do. Company officials there all the way up to the top getting ready to brief lawmakers this week on what is the single biggest data breach, the biggest hack in the company's history. Everything you need to know about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:55:00] SCIUTTO: Don't miss this story. This week, Facebook officials are expected to brief Washington lawmakers on what was the biggest data breach in the company's history. May have gotten lost in the Kavanaugh controversy, other politics in Washington this week, but Facebook says the accounts of some 50 million people were exposed. That could include your account, my account, and folks who are listening right now.

HARLOW: Right. I think as our colleague Brian Stelter says in his newsletter, there's a little bit of data breach fatigue, but there shouldn't be. This is really, really important. Not just your Facebook account. Think about the outside accounts that you have linked to through Facebook. Hackers can log in to those as well.

Brian is here magically with us.

This is a story, I'm so glad you led your newsletter because it's a story that's not getting enough attention with all the other news but it affects so many people. How significant is this?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: There's much going on in D.C., but this is actually a D.C. story as well because this involves potential regulation of Facebook. There has been so much scrutiny of the social networks in the past few months. Facebook executives and others have been testifying on Capitol Hill. And now, this is another bad, bad headline for the company. Because it is, as you said, the worst breach in the company's history. And Facebook still doesn't know exactly what happened here. It's almost as if hackers were able to get into 50 million homes, snoop around, but we don't know what they did in the houses yet. They might have stolen stuff, they might have moved stuff around, or maybe not. We don't know.

Facebook is still trying to figure out exactly what was done to these 50 million accounts, but these hackers were using an exploit in the code, something called access tokens, in order to snoop around in people's accounts, and the company is still trying to get to the bottom of it now.

SCIUTTO: So, if you make cars and something in the car doesn't work and makes you less safe, that car company is liable for it.

HARLOW: Right, right.

SCIUTTO: Technology companies don't have liability for data breaches like this and other companies don't have target or -

(CROSSTLAK)

STELTER: Right. You know we're the product. When we use Facebook, we are the product because Facebook is selling our data to advertisers in order to make a lot of money. Because the product is free, I think people have low expectations when they logon about what's going to happen, but I think people should have high expectations for their privacy. We should not get used to these data breaches even though there is a lot of fatigue --

SCIUTTO: Right. It's not really free because you may not be paying with money -

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: But you're paying with your information and privacy.

STELTER: That's right.

HARLOW: We pay our lawmakers to deal with things like this.

STELTER: Right.

HARLOW: I mean their job is to regulate companies to protect us. That's a big part of their job. Is there, like, legislation out there that you think could be an effective tool that's being pushed that might actually make it through Congress?

STELTER: To some extent, the problem is it's a game of whack-a-mole. So even if there were more intense privacy regulations put in place, you have got hackers out there getting better every day of finding new ways in. So it's a constant challenge.

And I think as much as one law or one piece of regulation might make a modest improvement, there has to be constant scrutiny on these issues. It is notable our colleague Don Sullivan is reporting that this week Facebook will have to go to D.C. and speak with lawmakers, basically, briefing lawmakers about this. That shows there is some attention from our Congress people about this.

SCIUTTO: One thing I picked up from reading this morning was log out of your account and log back in because that resets the tokens to some degree, and that's one security step every one of us could take. Brian Stelter, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you. Thanks, Brian.

And also, we leave you with little bit of money news from Amazon, making headlines this morning, the retail giant, the baby of Jeff Bezos, raising wages for all U.S. employees to at least $15 an hour. Amazon says it's going to affect a quarter million of its workers, full-time, part-time, temps and another 100,000 seasonal hires.

SCIUTTO: The raise takes effect November 1st, includes employees at whole foods as well.

HARLOW: Bernie Sanders, who has been a critic, cheering this. So we'll see if other companies follow suit.

Thanks for being with us this morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "At This Hour" with our colleague Kate Bolduan starts right now.