Return to Transcripts main page


Kavanaugh Sworn in, Capitol Hill Aftermath; Saudi Critic Killed inside Consulate; Pompeo Heads to South Korea after Japan; "Brazil's Trump". Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired October 7, 2018 - 03:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Judge Brett Kavanaugh takes his seat as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court after a vicious confirmation battle.

A possible update in the case of the Saudi journalist gone missing in Turkey

And the U.S. secretary of state heads to North Korea for new talks with Kim Jong-un.

I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: And thank you for joining us.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now justice Kavanaugh, the U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court Saturday. Then surrounded by his family, he took two oaths. One constitutional. One judicial.

This ended a contentious confirmation process that included accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. Meantime, President Trump took the stage in the state of Kansas to trumpet his victory.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I stand before you today, on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation. Our people. Just a few hours ago, the U.S. Senate confirmed judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.


ALLEN: Now that the confirmation battle is over, what's next?

Both Republicans and Democrats just weathered a bloody political battle. And of course people took to the streets to protest all across the country. Phil Mattingly takes a look at the mood in Washington from Capitol Hill. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed. Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in. Brett Kavanaugh is now a justice in the Supreme Court. It's what's lying in the wake of this confirmation battle, one of the most bitter I've ever seen for nomination ever.

What happens next in the Senate, what happens next in the Supreme Court, what happens next politically?

You get a gauge of that in just about a month with the midterm elections. The question is, what kind of impact, if any, will this have?

There's no question it has rallied both sides, the bases of both sides.

Will it help one side or the other?

It's something that Senator Mitch McConnell weighed in on. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY.), MAJORITY LEADER: Our base is fired up. We've finally discovered the one thing that would fire up the Republican base and we didn't think of it.

I was talking to two of my political advisers yesterday about the advantage of these guys by their tactics have given to us going into the red state competitive races. And we're really excited. They managed to deliver the only thing we had not been able to figure out to do, which was to get our folks fired up.

The other side is obviously fired up. They have been all year.

MATTINGLY: Listen closely to that last point, McConnell points out something that has been very clear for more than a year. The Democratic base is very riled up. The Democratic base is very motivated.

Will the Democratic base come out in a midterm election where they traditionally struggle?

Not just help them perhaps flip the House to the Democratic side but also give them a chance in the Senate. That's the open question, there's also a broader question here.

What happens next beyond the politics, what happens next for the institutions, the United States Senate, the Supreme Court and, frankly, the country. I don't know anybody that came out this feeling good about the process that just occurred.

You can talk to senators in both parties who acknowledged that they were angry, who acknowledged that they were disappointed, who acknowledged that they aren't very happy with one another right now.

It's a question I asked McConnell. He said the country has been through worse times and the country will move forward through this. The Senate will as well.

But is a question that people are asking right now, is this a rock bottom moment?

Is this a moment where people take a step back and figure out that cooling down might be the better option?

Right now it seems unlikely. One senior GOP aide I talked to toward the end of the day yesterday said just bluntly, it's only going to get worse from here. Not a lot of optimism but I think the baseline here is nobody really has an answer of what is next. Everyone agreed that what just happened probably was not the best thing -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, Capitol Hill.


ALLEN: The allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh prompted protests at the Supreme Court and in cities all across the country.

In Seattle, Washington, hundreds marched to the U.S. courthouse there to make their voices heard.

In Austin, Texas, protesters made a human chain, blocking a bridge. Police eventually arrested 14 people there.

And meantime, the biggest protest was at the Supreme Court building in Washington. Miguel Marquez was there. Here's his report.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So it was anger, tears and defiance as Brett Kavanaugh was being confirmed in the Senate. And then it turned into civil disobedience. Some pretty harried moments here --


MARQUEZ: -- in front of the Supreme Court.

What is happening here now, police officers from both the Supreme Court and the Capitol police moving a barrier across the front area of the Supreme Court, trying to move everybody out. After some tense moments, the crowd had been here much of the day, moved onto the steps and then right to the doors of the Supreme Court itself.

They were pounding on the doors. About 12 members of the Supreme Court police formed a wall along that door, keeping the protesters from getting to the doors. The point, they say, is that their frustration with this nomination process, they want to make sure that Brett Kavanaugh, who they believe was in there being sworn in at the time the protest was happening, actually heard their protests. They also chanted, "We believe survivors," as that swearing-in was

going on. The other theme for the day and what protesters have been chanting, we've heard it on the Senate floor as well, is that, "Remember in November." They want to take the anger that they have here and turn it into votes on November 6th -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: This has been quite the contentious and divisive issue both in the halls of Congress and out in the streets for so many American citizens paying close attention. Let's talk about it with CNN analyst Michael Zeldin. He's in the maroon tie. He's a former federal prosecutor.

And CNN political analyst Michael Shear, White House correspondent of "The New York Times," wearing glasses.

Thank you, guys, for looking different tonight. Let's talk about this. Brett Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court, sworn in. This is a huge win for President Trump and conservatives.

To Michael Zeldin, first to you, this has been quite a win for this president and he's been quite savvy in his zeal to move the court to the right.

How did he do it?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He has Mitch McConnell to thank for this. Remember this started in the last year of the Obama administration when Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, refused to have a hearing for Obama nominee Merrick Garland.

He then moved into this term when the Trump presidency began and changed the rules with respect to how many votes are needed to confirm a Supreme Court justice from 60 to 50.

Once he had the 50 votes, he was able to push through two very conservative jurists, Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh. And Mitch McConnell really has shaped this court on behalf of Donald Trump.

ALLEN: How does that look to the people who were very much upset about how this hearing played out, to you, Michael Shear, how this hearing played out and as well how the investigation played out or didn't play out?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I mean, look, it depends, largely, on where you, where you were on whether or not Kavanaugh should be on the court from a philosophical perspective.

In this case, I think people viewed what happened through that lens. People who generally thought that Kavanaugh shouldn't be on the court anyway tended to view his testimony skeptically and believed his accusers.

And people who thought from the beginning that Kavanaugh should be on the court saw it the other way around.

I think the real question going forward is going to be, are there lasting damages from this division, from the real polarization of this country?

Are there people in the middle who were swayed one way or the other by all of this really rancorous and bitter division over the last couple weeks?

And did that carry into not only the elections as to how people see and perceive the Supreme Court for a long time?

That's going to be, that could be the ultimate lasting damage to what we've just gone through.

ALLEN: We've also heard from Supreme Court Justice Kagan on that. The question is, this will be a court with no centrists in the makeup.

How long has it been since we've seen that on the Supreme Court?

And what could that hold for the decades to come?

I'll go back to Michael Zeldin for that.

ZELDIN: It's been a long time. I think maybe the court, where Earl Warren was the chief justice, a liberal court, where you had a pretty sharp divide between liberals and conservatives, with the liberals in the majority. However, there were people who did swing in that period of time. The question is going to be up to John Roberts.

What role is he going to play?

Is he going to be a steadfast vote on the Right so every decision is going to be 5-4, if it has any political implication to it?

Or Roberts going to try to forge a middle ground and bring some consensus that Kennedy brought during his tenure on the court?

I think there's a lot of pressure on Roberts to make this court less ideological, especially after the debacle of the Kavanaugh appointment.


ALLEN: And you mentioned where do we go from here, the Kavanaugh effect and how might that play out at the polls. Let's listen to Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Saturday.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), MINORITY LEADER: So to Americans, to so many millions who are outraged by what happened here, there's one answer: vote. If you believe Dr. Ford and other brave women who came forward and you want to vindicate their sacrifice, vote.

If you believe the Supreme Court should uphold women's rights, vote. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: What do you think about that?

And do you think people are going to vote more so Democratically because of what they witnessed here, with this Supreme Court battle?

ZELDIN: Well, that's the $64,000 question, whether this galvanized the Democratic base more than they were already galvanized because of the Trump administration or whether it reinvigorates the more dormant Republican base because they've now got this win under their belt and they're happy for the way things have been going economically and they want to see it going that way.

Honestly, however, my view is that Susan Collins yesterday, a senator from Maine, who was the deciding vote caster, said that this situation is just untenable and can't go forward this way.

What I'd love to see happen is for Schumer and Collins to put forth a proposition to the Senate that they return to 60 votes in order to confirm the next Supreme Court justice so that we don't have this situation repeat itself next year, the year after or anytime since this one.

ALLEN: Michael Shear, Michael Zeldin, really appreciate your insights, thank you so much for your time.

We are following a developing story in Haiti after a deadly earthquake stuck just hours ago off the northern coast. The 5.9 magnitude quake was felt across the country, at least seven people have been confirmed killed. Some 130 people are reported injured so far. Haiti's president tweeted there's damage reported near the northwest coast.


ALLEN: The last time a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia was seen, he was entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. What happened inside is a mystery. And the details read like a Cold War novel. We'll have that story coming up.

Plus the run-up to Brazil's presidential election has been a wild ride. Just last month, this far-right candidate dubbed Brazil's Trump was stabbed. Now he has a realistic chance of winning and becoming the country's next president. More about that as CNN NEWSROOM continues.





ALLEN: Welcome back. ALLEN: The mystery surrounding the disappearance of a prominent Saudi

journalist and critic is taking a sinister turn. Unnamed Turkish officials are now saying Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he was last seen on Tuesday. That is according to "The Washington Post" and Reuters News Agency.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm these reports. Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance could strain relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia even further. Our Jomana Karadsheh is following this mystery and joins us on the phone from Istanbul.

Jomana, let's talk about the whereabouts of this journalist and what you're hearing.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, this has been a mystery. He was last seen on Tuesday entering the Saudi consulate, where he was trying to obtain paperwork that would allow him to get married to his Turkish fiancee.

Since then he hasn't been heard from or seen. And we have two different versions of events. We've heard from Turkey over the past week. Officials say they believe he was inside the consulate (INAUDIBLE) after entering on Tuesday at lunchtime.

Then we heard from Saudi Arabia, that he was in the consulate but he left shortly after applying for that paperwork. And over the past 12 hours or so, we are getting these reports as you mentioned from the Reuters News Agency and "The Washington Post," for which he was a contributor as an opinion writer.

And they're saying that they learned from two Turkish officials, unnamed officials, that he was killed inside the Saudi consulate. They don't provide any information on how Turkish officials reached this conclusion or any evidence how they know that this is the case.

Now we've also heard from Saudi Arabia from their state media in the past few hours. According to officials at the consulate, denying these reports, that they are baseless and denouncing this as saying that they cast doubt at that this is coming from Turkish officials.

So now the ball is in the court of Turkish authorities. We have to wait and see if any official statement is going to be made on the record by the Turkish government confirming these reports.

So many of his friends and colleagues (INAUDIBLE) concerned about his well-being and his safety they told us that they're concerned that he may have been kidnapped or he may have been killed.

ALLEN: And of course he had been reporting on developments in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia not liking his report. But we also mentioned that this could further strain relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

What can you tell us about that?

KARADSHEH: Well, the relationship between these two countries, these are two major powers in the region. They have not really seen eye-to- eye on several issues in the region. They've had a bit of a rocky relationship over the past year. So actually during the Gulf crisis, the Qatar crisis, if you recall, that is when --


KARADSHEH: -- Saudi Arabia and its other Arab and Gulf allies, they gave support to allow it to overcome that blockade.

In the recent weeks, (INAUDIBLE) come to the rescue with the current economic crisis in Turkey, pumping in billions of dollars (INAUDIBLE) trying to support President Erdogan and Turkey.

So this is all really added to the strain between the two countries and also that Turkey maintains good relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia's number one enemy in this region. So when you look at this current situation, it does feel like a diplomatic crisis to say the least, in the making.

Turkey, of course, this is a very serious issue for Turkey, whatever happens (INAUDIBLE) with all the finger-pointing here at Saudi Arabia and Saudi officials, this really could strain ties between the countries. A lot more especially since people see this as a breach of its sovereignty.

ALLEN: And we're still trying to find out exactly what happened to him. Jomana Karadsheh, covering it for us, thank you so much.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is due to visit North Korea. It will be the second stop on his Asia trip. Pompeo is expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and he has promised to discuss the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea many years ago.

Nuclear and missile issues of course; another U.S.-North Korean summit as well, could also be on the agenda. Much to talk about. Pompeo's also set to travel to South Korea and that's where we find Alexandra Field to talk about.

Alex, what South Korea's hoping to see from Pompeo's trip to the region.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, they see this visit by secretary of state Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang as a victory in and of the fact that it is simply happening. It is, of course, the fourth trip for the secretary of state to the North Korean capital.

But the last trip that was scheduled for August was scrapped at the last minute because President Trump declared at that time that not enough progress was being made in terms of talks toward denuclearization.

So officials here in Seoul see this as a step forward. It is in their best interest, of course, to keep the talks going. They want to see both sides having some flexibility here when it comes to the idea of talking out ways to move forward, steps to try and achieve the objective that was laid out during the Singapore summit, which was to work forward denuclearization.

We haven't seen significant progress toward that end in the intervening months since the summit. In fact, you've heard Mike Pompeo say that North Korea continues to produce fissile material for its nuclear weapons.

We know North Korea has yet to take significant steps like handing over a list of its arsenal of nuclear weapons and facilities. And you've heard North Korea make its own demands, saying they won't make significant steps forward without corresponding steps from the United States, like, as they would suggest, a peace treaty that would end the Korean War, the fighting which stopped 65 years ago.

So this trip is really about figuring out how to proceed and directly it's about planning the next summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump himself. While we have not seen tangible progress on the denuclearization front, we have certainly seen the progression of the relationship between the American president and the North Korean dictator.

It was just a short time ago that we heard President Trump say that he had fallen in love with Kim Jong-un. And he spoke last month about the beautiful letter that he received from the North Korean dictator.

So yes, while we know that both sides are talking about how to proceed, a lot of hopes are being pinned to the relationship that's being cultivated between Kim Jong-un and President Trump. Secretary Pompeo, trying to keep that on track.

ALLEN: That was kind of a bizarre comment from the U.S. president, wasn't?

FIELD: It was.

ALLEN: -- about denuclearization and we'll see if we get there. Certainly hope so. Alex Field there for us. Thank you.

In a few hours, Brazil will vote for their next president and the far right candidate leading in the polls has been dubbed Brazil's Trump. Opponents of Jair Bolsonaro accuse him of being a misogynist and a homophobe.

Just last month, former president Lula da Silva was considered the front runner but a court barred from running because he was convicted of corruption. Yet his influence is still being felt. Here Shasta Darlington from Sao Paulo.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the scene just a few months ago adoring crowds greet the man leading the polls by a wide margin. Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. That was just hours before he handed himself in to --


DARLINGTON (voice-over): -- police to serve a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The more days they leave me in there, the more Lulas are going to be born.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) sidelined, a far right former army captain jumps to the head of the race, Jair Bolsonaro. But last month, he was stabbed in the stomach at a campaign rally and spent weeks recovering in the hospital, posting selfies and defiant videos.

"This country is ours, Brazil above all, God above everyone," he shouts in a recorded message for his supporters. For years, Bolsonaro, the congressman, made headlines for his support of the military dictatorship and attacks on women, gays and blacks.

Here, telling a fellow lawmaker he wouldn't rape her because she doesn't deserve it. But with the country's major political parties engulfed in a corruption scandal and an economy sputtering, Bolsonaro has convinced voters he's Brazil's Donald Trump. anti-establishment candidate who will drain the swamp and tackle Brazil's endemic violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He's going to win because he wants to make it easier to own guns and that will help good citizens," says this waitress.

A message that resonates in a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, 175 homicides a day, according to a recent study.

In a crowded field of candidates, his main rival is Fernando Haddad, handpicked by Lula to replace him on the ballot for the left-wing Workers Party.

DARLINGTON: Here in the heart of Sao Paulo's financial district there's definitely more support for Bolsonaro than abagi (ph). But on both sides, people are often voting more against a candidate than for a candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My vote is just an attempt to avoid a worse person getting in office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): These elections brought hate and division. You can't talk about politics if you don't want to lose a friend or a job.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): Rejection rates run high for both candidates. Tens of thousands of women organized protests against Bolsonaro a week before elections, declaring "Not him."

But with Brazil's powerful evangelical lobby and agribusiness leaders lining up behind Bolsonaro in the last week of campaigning, the Not Him crowds are being drowned out -- Shasta Darlington for CNN, in Sao Paulo.


ALLEN: That is CNN NEWSROOM. I'll be right back with our top stories.