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U.S. Senate Vote on Kavanaugh; Interpol President's Disappearance; Indonesia Disasters; Boko Haram Threatens to Kill Schoolgirl; Russian Espionage. Aired 3-3:30a ET
Aired October 6, 2018 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Judge Brett Kavanaugh set to become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice and it all came down to several dramatic Senate speeches.
A mystery at Interpol. This man, the president of the international police agency, is missing.
And the Nobel Peace Prize committee honors a survivor and doctor dedicating their lives to healing from the horrors of sexual violence.
We're live from CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for joining us on CNN NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: Another dramatic day in Washington begins in just a few hours. A final vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has the votes to be confirmed to the court after two previously undecided Republicans and a single Democratic senator announced they will vote for him.
Right now Democrats are holding the Senate floor for debate overnight. This comes after a very long Friday, a day of long speeches and a long wait to see how everyone voted. The high drama came down to a dramatic Senate speech from Republican senator Susan Collins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: This is not a criminal trial and I do not believe that the claims such as these need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The allegations fail to meet the more likely than not standard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Collins went on to say she will vote yes to confirm Kavanaugh's nomination to the court. Republican Jeff Flake and Democrat Joe Manchin also said they, too, will vote yes.
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska rejected advancing his nomination. She's expected to be the sole Republican who won't vote for him. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more of the reaction from White House.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump silently optimistic today about the fate of embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Moving into the weekend, we certainly hope that the Senate will vote to confirm --
ZELENY (voice-over): From the White House, the president watching the Senate floor.
COLLINS: I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.
ZELENY (voice-over): As Kavanaugh's nomination heads from in peril to all but certain after Senator Susan Collins revealed her support.
"Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting yes to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh," he tweeted, the president also diminishing the protests on Capitol Hill, saying on Twitter, "The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make senators look bad. Don't fall for it."
ANA MARIA ARCHILA, PROTESTER: Look at me when I'm talking to you.
ZELENY (voice-over): While there's no evidence of that demonstrations and clashes intensified.
To allay serious concerns from key Republican senators, Kavanaugh addressing questions about his temperament.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: This is a circus.
ZELENY (voice-over): After his explosive and emotional hearing last week.
"I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad," he wrote in "The Wall Street Journal."
Sanders declined to say what the president thought of Kavanaugh's apology.
SANDERS: Look, the president supports his nominee and wants to see him get confirmed. I haven't talked to him specifically (INAUDIBLE).
ZELENY (voice-over): The Supreme Court fight playing out on a day of exceptional economic news at the White House. The nation's unemployment rate now at 3.7 percent, the lowest since 1969. Larry Kudlow, the president's chief economic adviser, summed it up like this.
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We're humming. We're just humming.
ZELENY: Now President Trump was watching all of that drama unfold on the Senate floor about his Supreme Court nominee. He did not reach out to individual senators. But there was one president who did, President George W. Bush called several senators, including Susan Collins several times in recent days, assuring her of his character.
Of course, Brett Kavanaugh, who's likely to be the next justice, worked for George W. Bush in his White House. So it was the call from President Bush, not President Trump, that helped senator Collins and others make up their minds -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.
ALLEN: Let's talk about this now with political analyst Michael Genovese, author of "How Trump Governs," and CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin, a civil rights attorney and commentator.
Thank you both. We just heard Jeff refer to this saga as a lot of drama. That's to say the least. We could use so many adjectives to describe this process.
But we do know that one Republican will not vote for him --
ALLEN: -- as we saw in Jeff's report. And her reason, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said this on Friday.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: Mr. President, we are at a time when many in the country have lost faith in the executive branch. This judiciary that must be perceived as independent, as nonpartisan, as fair and balanced in order for our form of government to function.
And I think that's why I have demanded such a high standard to maintain or regain that public confidence because it is so critical that we have that public confidence in at least one of our three branches of government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Now specifically on Kavanaugh she said that he did meet the high bar that's set for Supreme Court justices and he wasn't the one for the job. I want to ask you both about how this has ended this week.
I'll start with you, Michael, and then to Areva.
MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you have to remember, this is the first time in history that a nominee has actually actively run for the job of Supreme Court justice.
You saw him going on FOX News. You saw Kavanaugh's "Wall Street Journal" editorial. So he was actively running and he was actively running as a Republican. His testimony in which he assaulted verbally all the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, calling them names. His temperament was not judicial. His temperament was that of a pit bull. And he was angry. He was defiant. And so he's selling himself as a Republican judge and now a Republican justice.
Can he be on the Supreme Court and be balanced?
It seems unlikely.
ALLEN: And to you, Areva, same question.
What do you think?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, this is a very depressing and disappointing day for me and I think for women all over this country. I listened to what Susan Collins said to try to justify her yes vote. And I was really disappointed in her comments.
She talked about this presumption of innocence and that Kavanaugh should be given this presumption of innocence.
But if you look at how she treated Senator Al Franken when allegations of sexual misconduct were levied against Al Franken, she called on him to resign. There was not one investigation, there was not any admission by him of this conduct.
He, in fact, asked for a Senate ethics investigation. So she didn't give him that same presumption that she is now giving to Judge Kavanaugh. She didn't talk about Dr. Ford and the very credible allegations that she made against Brett Kavanaugh.
She didn't talk about the perjury, the lies that Brett Kavanaugh made, the many students that came forward from Yale, that talked about him being a sloppy drunk, talked about him blacking out and the belligerent conduct that he engaged in.
So I think women all over this country looked at Susan Collins. We had some hope that she would make a decision that would validate sexual assault survivors. And she didn't do that. So it's a really sad day, I think, for survivors.
ALLEN: And bigger picture, Areva, what about the Senate Judiciary Committee and this process?
The FBI investigation has been called vacuous at best.
MARTIN: Yes, there's even reporting now tonight that the president's White House counsel, McGahn, told the president, if we engage in a full-scale investigation, Brett Kavanaugh will not make it.
He knew that there was -- there were leads, that there were witnesses, that if those witnesses were investigated and talked to by the FBI, they would come forward with the information that would establish that Brett Kavanaugh is unfit for the Supreme Court.
And because they knew that about the investigation and where that investigation would lead them, they purposely limited the investigation to the point where, basically, it was a sham. It was a check the box. And for those Republican senators to say they felt satisfied that the investigation was thorough, again, those are such vacuous statements on the part of those senators.
ALLEN: And it was a display, wasn't it, Michael, of the partisanship that continues in Washington. The Republicans claimed Democrats were out to fail this judge from the start. And Democrats claimed he shirked the duties and didn't want to investigate to find the truth.
GENOVESE: Well, I think this hearing and this case brought out the worst in both sides. I think both sides behaved improperly. Neither side brought honor to its side. And I think it is part of the function of living in an age of Trump, where life is a zero-sum game. Everything's a binary choice.
And instead of trying to persuade, using rational arguments, this was about mobilizing your angry base and getting them out to vote and getting the --
GENOVESE: -- angry voters even more angry. So very little positive will come of this. I think we're already in a damaged political system. This is going to only make things worse.
ALLEN: I want to play another sound we have from the Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan from Friday, speaking at Princeton. She said this about a partisan Supreme Court. Let's listen and then I'll begin with you, Areva, for reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: And it's an incredibly important thing for the court to guard, is this reputation of being fair, of being impartial, of being neutral and of not being simply an extension of the terribly polarized political process and environment that we live in. And you know, this is a challenge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: So, Areva, to you first about the Supreme Court.
And has it lost some of its credibility as this pushes on?
MARTIN: I think absolutely. If the confirmation goes forward tomorrow as planned, I don't think the Supreme Court will have the same stature that it's had in this country. I think there will always be an asterisk by Kavanaugh's name by any decision that he renders from that court.
All we need to do is listen to what retired Justice Stevens said. He originally gave Kavanaugh a vote of approval. He said that he was fit to serve on the court. But once he watched him and listened to his testimony during the last hearing, he said he was no longer qualified.
He talked about his statements about the Clintons and his statement that what goes around comes around. Those are not the kinds of statements that judges, who are supposed to be impartial and unbiased, make. So Justice Stevens himself said that he did not find that Judge Kavanaugh could serve as an impartial just on the highest court in the land, highest court in the United States.
ALLEN: Yes, thank you, Areva.
Michael, last comment from you. Let's look at down the road.
How will this affect the midterms?
Will it motivate the Republican base, the Democrat base, what do you think?
GENOVESE: Both bases have been energized and both are angry. Some elections are about hope. This is going to be an election about anger.
The key is going to be women.
Will women get out and vote?
And I think after the chairman of the Judiciary Committee Grassley's statement yesterday, where he said, you know, women aren't on the committee because there's a lot of hard work involved and women just don't like to do the hard work.
And so women survivors, women who have been victims of male domestic and superiority in society, those are the women who are going to be the key. If they turn out, the Democrats will do well. If they don't turn out, the Republicans will have a good shot of certainly holding the Senate and maybe even the House, although that's less likely.
ALLEN: We always appreciate you joining us, both of you, and your insights. Michael Genovese, Areva Martin, thank you both.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
MARTIN: Thanks, Natalie.
ALLEN: Christine Blasey Ford's attorney says her client is satisfied she told her story and does not have plans to pursue it further. The attorneys spoke with CNN's Dana Bash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA BANKS, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD'S ATTORNEY: I don't think she has any regrets. I think she feels like she did the right thing and this was what she wanted to do, which was provide this information to the committee so they could make the best decision possible.
And I think she still feels that was the right thing to do. So I don't think she has any regrets.
DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Would Professor Ford like impeachment proceedings to begin? DEBRA KATZ, CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD'S ATTORNEY: Professor Ford has not asked for anything of the sort. What she did was to come forward and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And agreed to cooperate with any investigation by the FBI. And that's what she saw to do here.
BASH: She said no. She's not going there on impeachment.
BASH: She does not want him to be impeached.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Next in this process as we mentioned, the final Senate vote is expected later Saturday. If he's confirmed, Kavanaugh would likely take his seat on the bench almost immediately.
That's because the current Supreme Court term has already started. It began the 1st of October. He could vote on cases now under consideration; however, it is traditional that only those on the bench during a case's oral argument get to vote on its resolution.
The president of Interpol is missing. Meng Hongwei's wife told police that she last heard from him 10 days ago and had received threats on social networks and by telephone. There is a report that he was in China but police in Lyons, France, where Interpol has its headquarters, will only say that he was not on French soil when he was last seen.
Let's go to China now and talk with senior producer, Steven Jiang. He's live for us in Beijing.
Hello to you, Steven.
And Steven, there is a report from a Hong Kong based newspaper that he was taken --
ALLEN: -- in by this China. What could that mean?
What do we know about that?
Can that be confirmed?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: That's right, Natalie. The South China Morning Post, which is known to have connections inside the Chinese government citing an anonymous source said that Mr. Meng was taken away as soon as he landed her in China last week and he is now being under investigation for unspecified reason.
Even though there was no official confirmation yet but given the fact that he and the vice minister of public security here, his vanishing act bears hallmarks of what happens to senior Chinese officials when they are suspected of violating the Communist Party's regulations, usually corruption.
Fighting corruption has been a top priority for the president here. It has been a very popular campaign but also extremely controversial because of the tactics and the methods deployed by these party investigators.
They're known to snatch people away, hold them incommunicado for months at a time and even use torture to extract confessions. This whole process is usually shrouded in secrecy.
I always want to point out how extremely sensitive this story is. The Chinese state media has not reported the story at all. On social media, even though Mr. Meng's name has not been entirely censored, any mention of his disappearance has been scrubbed clean.
And as we speak right now, CNN's signal is actually being blacked out in China for viewers in this country -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Yes, as it sometimes does when they don't like what we're reporting. I want to follow up. This will be the second disappearance of a notable Chinese national, weeks following the disappearance of a famous actress.
What do we know about her whereabouts?
JIANG: That was also a very fascinating and somewhat terrifying story. Fan Bingbing, the actress that's often compared to Jennifer Lawrence because she was one of the most famous and highest paid actresses her.
She vanished just out of the blue in June and then we only found out what happened to her a few days ago by the government announced that she was being investigated for massive tax evasion. And she was found guilty and ordered to pay back taxes and funds totaling about $130 million U.S. So that example really illustrates how nontransparent and murky this legal and political system is here. That certainly does not bode well for Mr. Meng in this latest case.
ALLEN: A famed actress and now a world leader for Interpol. Thank you, Steven Jiang, following it for us from Beijing.
America's top diplomat has arrived in Japan. The first stop for Mike Pompeo on a trip to Asia. He'll meet with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in the coming hours. Afterwards, Pompeo is set to make his fourth trip to North Korea.
He will meet with the Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. And likely on the agenda, denuclearization. Pompeo could also lay the groundwork for a second summit between Mr. Kim and President Trump.
The hope of finding survivors is fading, more than one week after the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Indonesia Sulawesi island. The rescue teams are searching for more than 1,000 people who are missing but they are mostly bringing back victims.
Officials say more than 1,500 have died and that number will likely rise as information from remote areas continues to trickle in.
The parents of a kidnapped schoolgirl are begging the Nigerian government to do everything to free their daughter from her captors who have threatened to kill her. We'll have the chilling details next.
Plus Russia being mocked after being caught in an alleged spy plot. CNN's Matthew Chance will have that for us from Moscow. You're watching CNN's NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: Welcome back.
In Nigeria, the parents of a kidnapped schoolgirl tell CNN, the terror group Boko Haram threatens to kill their daughter if its demands are not met. Our Farai Sevenzo has the chilling details of her story from Nairobi for us.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are real concerns in Northeast Nigeria about the fate of 15-year-old Leah Sharibu, who was abducted along with 100 other of her schoolmates from the Government Girls' Science and Technological College up in Dapchi, northeast Nigeria.
Over the last couple days, Leah's parents, Nathan and Rebecca Sharibu, have issued a desperate plea for the government of Nigeria to try to do everything they can to bring their daughter back. They say that the militants have threatened to kill Leah this October if their demands are not met.
No one has been privy to them but we know that, in the past, they usually involve money, exchanging of money and the freeing of captured Boko Haram insurgents. Now we don't know what stage these negotiations are at. And we do know that October, no firm fixed date but October is when reportedly the Boko Haram militants have said that they will kill 15-year-old Leah.
And President Buhari is very keen to be seen to be on the side of those who are aching for better security up in the northeast of Nigeria. He tweeted in the last couple of days, "Toady I spoke with Ms. Rebecca Sharibu to reiterate our determination to bring her daughter, Leah, back home safely."
And of course he says we will do everything we can to bring them back. There are over 1,000 kids that have been taken by Boko Haram since
2013. And remember also, April 2014, 200 girls taken from Chibok. About 93 of those still remain missing. But the fate of Leah no one quite knows what will happen to her -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.
ALLEN: In conflict zones across the world, terror groups like Boko Haram often commit horrific crimes against women and girls. This year, the Nobel Committee gave its coveted Peace Prize to two people dedicated to healing those women and stopping the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Dr. Denis Mukwege is a surgeon in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has treated thousands of women in his country brutalized by rape and extreme sexual violence. He heals them physically and emotionally.
Nadia Murad is a young Yazidi woman who survived sexual slavery by ISIS. Now she works the United Nations to fight for justice for victims of human trafficking.
A story we've been following here, prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is still missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday. He is a staunch critic of Saudi leaders. Saudi Arabia claims he left the building but Turkey says he may still be inside.
Russia is fighting back after being accused of waging a worldwide campaign of malicious cyber attacks saying it's all hysteria and spyphobia. The U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand are among those pointing fingers at Moscow and identifying Russian spies.
Just this week, the Netherlands announced it had expelled four officers of the GRU, a Russian intelligence agency. They were accused of planning a cyber attack on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
But despite their reputation, a British official says the Russian agents behaved a lot more like Mr. Bean than James Bond. CNN's Matthew Chance explains --
ALLEN: -- from Moscow.
ROWAN ATKINSON, ACTOR, "JOHNNY ENGLISH": Johnny English. I'm here to see Pegasus.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's all too easy to mock a bungling spy. More Johnny English than James Bond is how one British minister dubbed Russia's GRU agents in a series of embarrassing blunders. Take the four agents recently expelled from the Netherlands. Not only
were they caught red handed trying to hack the global chemical weapons watchdog, but one of them even had a Moscow taxi receipt in his pocket showing a ride from GRU headquarters in the Russian capital to the airport. Great for accounting, not good for espionage.
Of course, even the best secret agents can make mistakes. Not that long ago, Russia mocked British spies after filming them using an electronic gadget disguised as a rock to receive information. And it's just a few years since an alleged CIA agent was unmasked in Moscow and shown on TV wearing a particularly bad blond wig.
The concern about recent sloppiness of Russian spies, though, is that they don't seem to really care about being caught. The suspected GRU agents accused of poisoning the Skripals in Britain earlier this year made little attempt to hide their tracks. The pair were repeatedly caught on CCTV traveling to and from Salisbury, even Novichok, the poison used, is identifiably Russian.
And as for their cover story, as broadcast on Russian state television, unconvincing is one that springs to mind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our friends have been suggesting for quite some time that we visit this wonderful city.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Salisbury, a wonderful city?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What makes it so wonderful?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's a tourist city. They have a famous cathedral there, Salisbury Cathedral. It's famous throughout Europe and in fact, throughout the world, I think. It's famous for its 123-meter spire. It's famous for its clock.
CHANCE: Implausible deniability, that's one way of seeing it. The Kremlin sending a blunt message to its enemies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, remember, every agent would carry a pen that looked just like this, completely innocent to the untrained eye, but click it twice --
CHANCE: Plain old incompetence, though, cannot be ruled out.
"ENGLISH": Have you seen my secretary?
CHANCE (voice-over): Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
ALLEN: Very good, Matthew. Got to love Mr. Bean.
Thanks so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. "CNN TALK" is coming next.