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Trump's Combative Style Begins to Influence Other Republican Leaders; Nikki Haley Resigns and Plans to Campaign for Trump in The Next Election; CNN Speaks to Heidi Heitkamp On the Campaign Trail In North Dakota. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 9, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Chief Justice Roberts welcomed him into the elite club on the court. He said, "We wish a long and happy career in our calling." Brushing aside any of the contention that brought Justice Kavanaugh here, it was a very cordial atmosphere in the court. A handful of protesters out here today, nothing major. There was a big police presence outside the court, but really it seems that that cloud that has engulfed Brett Kavanaugh over the past few weeks has definitely started to subside. And you would have not known it being inside the court.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Just curious, which Justices will he be seated next to?

SCHNEIDER: Very interesting. Brett Kavanaugh is all the way far to the right literally and perhaps figuratively as well. Justice Kavanaugh all the way on the right of the bench. That is the seat reserved for the junior most Justice. Of course, many are expecting Justice Kavanaugh will join the conservative block in his vote. He's sitting next to Justice Elena Kagan. At several points during the oral arguments this morning during the breaks the two of them sort of laughed together, shared a few moments, talked a little bit. They are no stranger to each other. When Elena Kagan was Dean of the Harvard Law School, she actually hired Brett Kavanaugh as a professor. Those two do have somewhat of a history. Can you see the lineup there, Brett Kavanaugh taking his space which is always reserved for that junior most Justice.

BALDWIN: Jessica, thank you. The President has been using the drama surrounding the Kavanaugh nomination as a battle cry.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process. Our country, a man or a woman, must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. And with that I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny were proven innocent.


BALDWIN: With exactly four weeks from the midterms, will Republicans use that same playbook? With me, Michael D'Antonio. You wrote this whole piece saying that Trumpism is winning. Tell me why.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, it's winning for a variety of reasons. First of all, the President himself defines his essence as the pursuit of victory. So Trumpism by definition is always about winning. But it really is about him winning. This is -- echoes what Colin Powell told Fareed Zakaria over the weekend. It's a President who has replaced "we, the people" with "me, the President." If you look at what Judge Kavanaugh did during the second round of hearings where he lost it and went off on this emotional tirade about the United States Senate, his manner was very Trumpian. The style of his approach to the senators and their questions was right out of the Trump playbook and others like Lindsey Graham and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley also echoed the President's style. So, we see now that Trumpism, this politics by personality and extreme rhetoric is ascendant.

BALDWIN: It worked for Kavanaugh. You also bring up Lindsey Graham. You wrote, quote, no one personifies the triumph of Trumpism more fully than Graham. Let me bring out some sound. First from 2015 and then fiery remarks directed to Democrats during that Kavanaugh hearing.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You know how you win this war? You side with people in the faith who reject this ideology. Which is 99 percent. You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.

What you want to do is destroy this guy's life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 20, you've said that, no t me. You've got nothing to apologize. When you see Sotomayor and Kagan, tell them I said, hello. This is the most unethical sham since I've been in politics.


BALDWIN: How do you explain that dissidence?

[15:35:00] D'ANTONIO: It all goes back to Donald Trump. I think of him as spreading a contagion or infection of indecency. When we heard the President in your earlier clip talking about how what was done to Kavanaugh was somehow indecent and someone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, I thought immediately of him encouraging the chance of lock her up about Hillary Clinton. And he has continued to do that in office. So, this is a man who cheapens everything, who drags everyone around him into the gutter and unfortunately Lindsey Graham hasn't been able to hold himself up. So, he's shed his dignity, he's stooped to Trump's level. I think we see the Republicans in the Senate doing this en masse. Make their calculus is that somehow they can preserve the Senate even if the GOP loses the House.

BALDWIN: We'll see in four weeks. But I'm wondering directly as a result of this Kavanaugh/ford fight, do you think this era of the never Trumper Republican is over? Do you think that has been a unifying factor for Republicans? D'ANTONIO: I think it's over for the next four weeks. For right now

no one's going to dare challenge the President. But we're already I think anticipating a new dynamic come 2019 and 2020. And someone is going to have the courage to stand up for the American people. You know, this is yet another institution, the Supreme Court, that has been sullied by Donald Trump. No one's going to go before that court and not think that there's some question about Justice Kavanaugh because we were deprived a real investigation, deprived a real consideration of the charges against him, so his legitimacy will be in doubt for millions of Americans throughout his tenure on the court.

BALDWIN: To read Michael's piece, go to Thank you very much. As we continue along, Nikki Haley suddenly announcing her resignation as ambassador to the United Nations. We talked to a former ambassador of what he makes of her timing and who might be a good replacement.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, MAJORITY LEADER: Our nation has benefitted greatly from the tough, skilled leadership that Nikki Haley brought to you U.N. her tenure will be remembered for her proud reassertion of American moral leadership and her fearless willingness to turn a bright spotlight on critical challenges, from Israel's sovereignty to Iran's sponsorship of regional violence.


BALDWIN: Senate Majority Leader there Mitch McConnell moments ago praising Ambassador Nikki Haley as we learn that she will be leaving her post at the end of the year. CNS sources indicate that she notified the president last week. This caught most top administration officials off guard. Here's what she said this morning in the oval office about her departure.


NIKKI HALEY, U.N. AMBASSADOR: There's no personal reasons. I think it's just very important for government officials to understand when it's time to step aside. I have given everything I've got these last eight years, and I do think that sometimes it's good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it.


BALDWIN: With me now, Stuart Holliday, a special ambassador for political affairs. Welcome back.


BALDWIN: There has been a lot of talk about Nikki Haley's political ambition, maybe she was still irked that she wanted the Tillerson job at state. This is a tough job she's had these last many months. Is it possible part of this is just burnout?

HOLLIDAY: It is. It's a combination of a couple things. She'll be the first cabinet member to go out on her own terms. That in and of itself for her political future is a great thing to have in her pocket. It is a tough job. She's accomplished quite a bit. She's remarkably been able to move a hard-line conservative agenda at the U.N. but still be popular and effective within the U.N. and that's not easy to do. Also, she's been able to have a little bit of a free reign when Rex Tillerson was at the State Department. It's an arduous job and she's traveled quite a bit, long hours. So, I think she is going to keep her powder dry for the future

BALDWIN: We've been hearing from various diplomats and the community at the U.N., they really describe this as a real loss for them. I'm wondering who then becomes that strong, that push-back voice in this administration once she leaves?

[15:45:00] HOLLIDAY: Well, I think, you know, Dina Powell's been mentioned as a candidate. She would be in my view an ideal person who has experience and a view of the context of things in the international arena. There are others. I think Secretary Pompeo is actually gaining his footing and has rebuilt to a certain degree the State Department's morale. But I think the most important thing for people at the U.N. is does the person have Donald Trump's ear and I think everybody knew that Nikki Haley did. That's critical for the credibility of the job.

BALDWIN: What about on the policy side? The U.S. is smack dab in the middle of negotiations with North Korea, tariff war with China. Will her departure impact those discussions at all?

HOLLIDAY: I don't think so. Again, Secretary Pompeo is leading the North Korea discussions. I think that the policies are, yes, she has a leading voice in them but they're really formulated by principles committees, the NSC is playing a very active role as well. I think you'll see the policies continue whether you like them or not. There will be continuity on those.

BALDWIN: Ambassador Holliday, thank you.

Coming up, Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp reveals why she wasn't always a no vote on Brett Kavanaugh. What she did that made her change her mind.


BALDWIN: North Dakota Senator, Heidi Heitkamp, is one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for re-election. She was more than ten points behind Republican challenger, before she voted against confirming Brett Kavanaugh last week. And that vote could put the red state Democrat at even more risk of losing in November. CNN's Dana Bash tracked her down as she campaigned in North Dakota to find out what it was about Brett Kavanaugh that prompted her to risk it all.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Heidi Heitkamp having fun, walking in a classic North Dakota parade.

SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP, (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Hi there! Hi! Nice to meet you!

BASH: Her smile masks her political reality.

H: We're going to win this.

BASH: She is the most endangered Senate Democrat, and knows voting against Brett Kavanaugh probably didn't help.

HEITKAMP: It's been a tough week for me. Because, you know, the political rhetoric is, you can't vote that way if you expect to come back. And I tell people Ray and Judy Heitkamp didn't raise me to vote a certain way so I can win. They raised me to vote the right way.

BASH: Applause here, but elsewhere, reminders that President Trump carried the state by 36 points.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how we're going to ever get over that.

BASH: So, you're obviously a North Dakota voter. You're disappointed with her vote against Kavanaugh?


BASH: Her Republican challenger, Congressman Kevin Cramer, well ahead in the polls, said he was shocked.

REP. KEVIN CRAMER, (R), NORTH DAKOTA: I really fully expected her to vote yes.

BASH: Why?

CRAMER: Because she had been building her entire campaign, really her entire brand, the bipartisan senator from North Dakota.

BASH: Heitkamp voted for Neil Gorsuch, and planned to do the same for Kavanaugh.

HEITKAMP: I had the office prepare -- begin to prepare a statement saying that I was voting for him.

BASH: Really?

HEITKAMP: Up until that hearing.

BASH: Wow.

HEITKAMP: No, that --

BASH: That changed everything.

HEITKAMP: It did for me.

BASH: She didn't believe him, and worried about his temperament, especially after watching a second time with the sound off.

HEITKAMP: We communicate not only with words, but we communicate with body language. We communicate with demeanor.

BASH: What did you see in his body language?

HEITKAMP: I saw somebody who was very angry, very nervous. And I saw a rage.

BASH: Cramer is appealing to voters who see all of this as victimization run amok.

HEITKAMP: Personal destruction, with this broad stroke. Being just accepted is offensive to a lot of the women in my family.

You should be so grateful that your mom has never been victimized and that your wife has never been victimized and your daughters haven't. But people in my life have. Including my mother. And, you know, to suggest she's not strong because she's a victim was like a trigger for me.

BASH: Heitkamp is trying to focus elsewhere.

HEITKAMP: This is high-tech.

BASH: Super high-tech.

HEITKAMP: And also, really expensive.

BASH: Hurting farmers like Tom Bersowski says China's soybean tariffs already cost him $100,000.

TOM BERSOWSKI, NORTH DAKOTA FARMER: How is it going to work out? I haven't heard a plan yet.

BASH: Cramer says he opposed Trump's new tariff plan against China at first, and lost.

CRAMER: Once the President sets a strategy, a global strategy, I think it's better if we get behind him, unify, and win a trade war fast, rather than undermine the entire process.

BASH: Six years ago, Heitkamp won by a single point. This year, shrinking middle needs more gridlock.

[15:55:00] HEITKAMP: If someone like me doesn't get reelected, what does that speak for other people who want to be moderate or does it just encourage people to go to their base. I think that's a real concern.

BASH: For now, Heitkamp is determined to be herself. When a band plays, she grabs the mic. You are my sunshine my only sunshine.


BALDWIN: In North Dakota, everyone who lives there is automatically registered to vote. But today, just a reminder, the registration deadline in 15 other states to be eligible to vote in the mid terms. So just a reminder for you for voting.

President Trump is speaking right this very moment about possible replacements for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley. So, we'll turn that around for you and you can hear from the President yourself. Also, ahead, we've got to talk about this hurricane. Hurricane Michael barreling toward the Florida Panhandle. It could be the strongest storm to hit that area in more than a decade. So, we'll show you when and where it is expected to make landfall.


BALDWIN: Where the state of Michigan and city of Flint have failed to get clean drinking water to flint schools, billionaire Elon Musk is stepping in. The CEO is donating nearly half a million dollars to install new water fountains with filtration systems in all flint schools. The school system tweeting, thank you, Elon Musk for investing in the health and future well-being of flint school students. In Detroit, schools have had their water shut off for the past month, as well, because of lead and copper contamination. The district announcing today it is getting more than $2 million in grants to set up hydration stations in all 106 schools. And just a reminder, we're waiting for that tape, the President making news on everything from Nikki Haley to Hope Hicks to Kanye West. Jake Tapper starts now.