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Jeff Sessions Firing: Top Republicans Warn Mueller Inquiry Must Continue; Gates: "You Need To Work With Every Government"; Sources: North Korea Called Off Meeting With U.S.; Reports: Dead Brothel Owner Wins Nevada State Assembly Seat; Woman Acquitted of Blasphemy Moved from Jail; Kidnapped Cameroon Children Released. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired November 8, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Another top Trump administration official says goodbye. Attorney general Jeff Sessions is out after the president fired him from the job.
That news comes as the Democratic Party takes back the House with some stunning firsts as a historic number of women win seats in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The sanctions are on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You still expect to be --
TRUMP: No, no, excuse me. Wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, sir.
TRUMP: The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: President Trump's relationship he says is fine even as the North cancels an upcoming meeting.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: There's a new leader at the U.S. Justice Department. That could mean big changes for the Russia investigation. President Trump fired attorney general Jeff Sessions on Wednesday; replacing him for now is Sessions' chief of staff, Matt Whitaker. According to the Justice Department, Whitaker will be in charge of all
matters under the purview of the Department of Justice. That means he will oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
Sessions left the Justice Department building late Wednesday, saying goodbye to his former employees and shaking hands with his replacement. Trump has wanted to replace Sessions ever since he recused himself from the Russia probe.
Over the past year, the president has repeatedly asked Sessions to regain control of the investigation. Earlier Wednesday, the president played coy when asked about Sessions' future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And can you give us clarity, sir, on your thinking currently now, after the midterms, about your attorney general and your deputy attorney general?
Do they have long-term job security?
TRUMP: I'd rather answer that at a little bit different time. We're looking at a lot of different things, including cabinet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: A Justice Department source told CNN that people close to Sessions are encouraging him to run for his old Senate seat in 2020. More on how he got here from CNN's Laura Jarrett.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): At President Trump's request, Jeff Sessions is out as attorney general, submitting his resignation letter to the president.
Quote, "I have been honored it serve as attorney general and have worked to implement the law enforcement agenda, based on the rule of law," wrote Sessions.
Trump has made no secret of his disdain for his attorney general.
TRUMP: I'm disappointed in the attorney general for numerous reasons. But we have an attorney general. I'm disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons. And you understand that.
JARRETT (voice-over): The long expected departure of one of President Trump's earliest supporters, attorney general Jeff Sessions, coming after months of blistering attacks.
TRUMP: I said on the Department of Justice, I would stay uninvolved. Now I may get involved at some point if it gets worse.
JARRETT (voice-over): At one low point, Trump even going so far as to declare, quote, "I don't have an attorney general." All because Sessions stepped aside from overseeing the Russia
investigation, something that overshadowed nearly all his 20 months at the Justice Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He took the job and then he said, I'm going to recuse myself.
I said, what kind of a man is this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JARRETT (voice-over): And despite all the tweets and withering critiques from his boss...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions. He never took control of the Justice Department and it's sort of an incredible thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JARRETT (voice-over): Sessions rarely pushed back...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS (R), FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president speaks his mind. He says what is on his mind at the time and he has been frustrated about my recusal and other matters. But we have been so pleased and honored to be given the responsibility to execute his agenda at the Department of Justice.
Part of that is just this kind of case. And so I am pleased and honored to have that responsibility and I will do so as long as it is appropriate for me to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JARRETT (voice-over): -- picking his moments carefully and vowing in August that the Justice Department will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.
Publicly, he advanced the president's most controversial immigration policies; privately, a source close to Sessions tells CNN he, too, has been frustrated that Mueller's investigation is not yet completed. And the attorney general hopes he will be remembered for never --
JARRETT (voice-over): -- undermining the integrity of the department.
With Sessions now gone, his chief of staff, Matt Whitaker, will take over the department in the interim. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney from Iowa and former CNN contributor, has served as Sessions' right- hand man since September 2017. But with Sessions now gone, the question is, who will replace him?
Republican senator Lindsey Graham has reportedly been asked about the job and has repeatedly said he's not interested. Others said to be in the running include former federal prosecutor and current Republican congressman John Ratcliffe, Boeing general counsel Michael Luttig and others potentially in the mix are federal appeals court judge Edith Jones, who sit on the 5th Circuit, and Janice Rogers Brown, who used to sit on the D.C. circuit, though a source close to Brown tells CNN, she is likely not interested -- Laura Jarrett, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: So let's get more on all of this with CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.
Good to have you with us.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: So clearly a lot to cover. There always is. But let's start with the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And that news came to us before most people had time to digest the results of the midterm elections.
What impact might Sessions firing have on the Mueller investigations specifically?
CALLAN: Well, I mean, for starters, of course, that was a classic Trumpian move of changing the subject of losing the congressional elections. And, boy, we're now focused on a really big issue and that is the resignation of Jeff Sessions, attorney general of the United States.
A lot of people thought that this was going to happen at some point but we just didn't know when. And certainly, the thought, I think among most lawyers is that this is really an attempt to impede, influence or maybe even terminate the Mueller investigation as it moves closer possibly to Don Jr. and other and the Trump businesses.
CHURCH: Right. And of course, Jeff Sessions will be temporarily replaced by acting attorney general Matt Whitaker, a vocal critic of the Mueller probe. He's previously suggested starving the Mueller investigation of funds so it "grinds to almost a halt," his words.
And this is what former Attorney General of the United States Sally Yates tweeted Wednesday.
"We should not lose sight of why POTUS fired the attorney general because he wants a crony to protect him from the investigation of his own campaign. The rule of law is disappearing before our eyes."
Is Sally Yates right there? CALLAN: Well, I think we won't know until we see what Mr. Whitaker
does in his new position. I certainly think the optics of this are terrible for the Trump administration. If you are going to put somebody in charge of the Mueller investigation and by the way, that's exactly what Whitaker will be in his new position.
He will be the person really who was in charge of the investigation. You really would think you'd have somebody who is less publicly committed to criticizing Mueller, someone who is little bit more neutral at the very least or even supportive of the investigation. Instead, the president has selected somebody who is an outspoken critic of Mueller.
And I think that's going to erode public confidence in Whitaker, regardless of what he does.
CHURCH: But Whitaker has to be confirmed, doesn't he, for the job?
So how likely is it that that would happen?
He's there temporarily for now but he has to be nominated and then confirmed, doesn't he?
How likely would it be that that he would the guy in the end?
CALLAN: It's hard to say whether he'll be the guy in the end. And I think whether he's the guy, it depends upon whether the president is happy about how he's dealing with the Mueller investigation. You know, he has said publicly as you began this interview by talking about cutting off Mueller's budget.
Now he, as acting attorney general would have the right to do that. That would be one way that he could close down the Mueller investigation. Mueller has to come to him if Mueller is going to issue a subpoena of the president of the United States. And as acting attorney general he could veto that and put a stop to it.
So he'll have enormous power in managing the Mueller investigation and he'll be on the one hand, try to keep himself from getting into trouble by the way of, you know, there will be claims against Whitaker that he is trying to obstruct justice if he is trying to close down the Mueller investigation to protect the president.
But of course, on the other hand, if he's not aggressive with Mueller, he has no chance of permanently getting the attorney general position because the president will be unhappy with him. So he's signed up for a really tough job.
CHURCH: And what happens in the meantime to previous acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein?
CALLAN: Well, that's a great question. Because a sort of the whole reason for his --
[02:10:00] CALLAN: -- existence in the Justice Department was because Jeff Sessions had a conflict and he had to bring somebody in from the outside who had good credentials to supervise the Mueller investigation.
And Rosenstein now really that job is going to Whitaker. So I would not be at all surprised to see Rosenstein resign from the Justice Department as well. But that remains to be seen. Maybe they'll find another role for him. He's a very well-respected deputy attorney general.
But on the other hand, it's humiliating to have this responsibility taken away from him in such a public way. So I really would be surprised if Rosenstein stays on.
CHURCH: And what will the Democrats do about this now that, of course, they're in control of the House?
CALLAN: Well, you know, Rosemary, they have subpoena power now. And they can hold hearings on this and they can cause the administration a great embarrassment.
There are also requirements in the special counsel law that whoever is supervising the Mueller investigation has to report when certain incidents occur to the Congress. And you report to the majority's representative on the judiciary committee.
So that would be a report to the Democrats. So they'll have an active role in this and they'll be aware of a lot of things that are going on in the investigation that they were not aware of before, the Democrats, of course.
CHURCH: We will be watching the story very closely. I know you shall.
And we'll see how long we'll be talking about this before another distraction happens, right?
CALLAN: Well, that's true, that's true. Thanks so much, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Thank you so much, Paul Callan, for being with us.
CHURCH: Jeff Sessions' abrupt firing coming just hours after the U.S. midterms spelled an end to one-party rule in Washington. Here's the new balance of power.
Democrats needed a net gain of 23 seats to win back control of the House for the first time in eight years. They topped that, gaining 28 seats, giving them 223 in total. Republicans have 199 confirmed seats. On the Senate side, the Republicans have at least 51 seats, assuring
them of a majority. Democrats have 46 seats, three other seats are still up in the air now. At a news conference Wednesday, President Trump touted the Republican victories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'll be honest, I thought it was -- I thought it was a very close -- close to complete victory. We saw the candidates that -- that I supported achieve tremendous success. Others decided let's stay away. They did poorly. I'm not sure that I should be happy or sad. I feel fine about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: As we've discussed, with Democrats in control of the House, they will have subpoena power as the majority Democrats will not control the chairmanships of House committees so they can limit Trump's legislative plans.
We could see the Russia probe ramped up and a possible investigation into the president's tax returns. House Democrats could also vote to impeach the president but it is highly unlikely a Republican controlled Senate would convict him at trial.
CHURCH: So let's get into all of this with Scott Lucas. He teaches international politics at the University of Birmingham in England.
Thank you very much for being with us.
SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Thank you.
CHURCH: So how much gridlock can we expect over the next two years with the Democrats in control of the House and the Republicans controlling the Senate?
And what could this mean for President Trump's legislative plans, future investigation and the possibility of impeachment?
LUCAS: Rosemary, gridlock is a place for normal times. And of course, we will see, for example, a battle probably early next year when the Trump administration makes its budget proposal.
We know that the administration which has only had one major bill passed in two years. The tax cuts bill will struggle to get any further legislation.
But these aren't normal times. I mean, Donald Trump doesn't rule by working through Congress the way that we expect, he rules by executive order.
So expect, for example, if we have further anti-immigration moves, executive order, further tariffs, executive order, further environmental protection being pushed away, executive order. But we've already seen that showdown. Because if Trump wants to rule by executive order, he faces the immediate challenge. The immediate challenge of the Democrats controlling the House committees, which could, for example, put pressure on him over his financial affairs.
But immediately it raises the Russia investigation because Republicans or leading Republicans have been accused of blocking access to the Mueller team of records that could contribute to the investigation. They have been accused of slowing down this investigation --
LUCAS: -- well, going all the way back to early 2017. Now that barrier is gone.
And what you saw yesterday was that Donald Trump wasn't worried as much about gridlock as much as he was worried about the fact that the Russia investigation may take over now and that you and I will not be talking about the economy, we will not be talking about foreign policy, but we'll be talking about how close Robert Mueller is getting to the president over the next few weeks and months.
CHURCH: Right. And of course, so while the nation was trying to assess the impact of the midterm elections. We got distracted by news of the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
What impact do you expect this to have on the Mueller inquiry, with Matt Whitaker now the new acting attorney general?
LUCAS: Well, first of all, Rosemary, I don't think it's a distraction, I actually think it is a logical reaction to what happened. Sessions is going to be fired anyway. That was an undated letter which he had written at the White House command. I think they did move more quickly than we expected.
And I think the reason links to two things: because the returns were not what they wanted, especially for the House. I think Trump and his inner circle decided they've got to take the offensive now. I think they're moving in two stages through the replacement for Jeff Sessions. I think the first is that they will try to contain Mueller.
And the key thing that I picked up from your interview earlier is subpoena power. We know Mueller wants to subpoena Trump to pull everything together in terms of the evidence he has, but the new acting attorney general can block that and I would expect that to happen.
Now the question, is he just a placeholder or are they going to try to put a more heavyweight person in as attorney general?
There has been the name of Janice Rogers Brown, an appeals court judge, floated as a replacement this morning.
If she is brought in, do they make the ultimate move, which is to fire Mueller and dismiss him?
We know if they do, that's it. We're in a constitutional crisis. We know they can't walk that back.
So even though, I think, Donald Trump is impulsive, even though I think he is acting erratically, I think the firing of Sessions is just an intermediate step. And we've got to wait probably for the next few months, for weeks and even months before we see if it were ultimate decision of whether Trump stays or whether he goes.
CHURCH: All right. We'll watch to see what happens there. And of course, in the meantime, President Trump was lashing out at the media in an explosive news conference after the midterm election results.
What was that all about?
Anger with the results or simply offering up a new distraction?
LUCAS: Whenever you're with Trump, start with Trump personally. And despite what you heard him saying, this is a near complete victory, he knows it wasn't. He knows that the loss of the House is big. He knows probably that most of the candidates he campaigned for did not actually win on Tuesday.
And so he took it out on CNN's Jim Acosta because Jim Acosta is a target of the president and of leading conservatives. We know that.
Was it a distraction?
It becomes a distraction if the media lets it become a distraction.
Despite the fact that I think this is an attack on press freedom. I think if we get back to talking about Sessions firing today, if we get back to talking about how Trump is going to deal with the new Congress, well, we'll see if we can get Jim Acosta back into the White House.
But, meanwhile, look, Donald Trump is on the defensive right now. And we've got to start from that position when we assess everything that's happening in this confusion around Washington.
CHURCH: Yes. We will stay on topic for sure. Scott Lucas, many thanks to you for your analysis and perspective. I appreciate it.
LUCAS: Thank you.
CHURCH: A Pakistani Christian woman who had her death sentence overturned is finally free from prison but now Asia Bibi is facing a uncertain future and threats to her life.
Plus relief in Cameroon, as 78 kidnapped children are released. But two youngsters are still in danger. The details when we return.
CHURCH: A Christian woman in Pakistan is now free from jail a week after her death sentence was overturned. But her safety is still far from certain.
Intelligence sources say Asia Bibi has been moved to an undisclosed location. She spent eight years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy. She won her appeal last week but was kept in prison because she faced threats from hardline Islamists angered over her acquittal.
CNN's Sophia Saifi joins us from Islamabad with more on all of this.
Sophia, as we just reported, Asia Bibi has been moved to this undisclosed location in Pakistan for her safety.
What more do you know about that?
And where might she go next, which country perhaps?
SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Rosemary, what is happening at the moment is there's lots of conflicting reports here in local media as to Asia Bibi's location. I think that's something that the state actually wants. They do want the state of confusion regarding Asia's location, considering the number of threats against her.
We learned late last night that the safe house, which is actually the jail where she spent eight years on death row and had been kept in the safe house last week, all of last week, ever since the acquittal came out. Legally she was allowed to walk free. But the court papers took some time to get to her and she was finally moved out of the location to now another undisclosed location in another city in Pakistan.
The next step one expects is for Asia to be flown out of the country. There have been many countries, many Western countries, that have stepped up and offered her asylum. We can't report which ones as of right now because of security reasons around Asia's movements.
Keeping that in mind, there's also lots of Christian charities that have provided assistance to the people around Asia who've been also threatened by extreme rightwing Islamist groups, like the TLP, for example, which shut down the country for three long days.
Asia's lawyer is in the Netherlands, where he is making press conferences, claiming that he was fearing for his life and was bundled out of the country out of fear for his life. Asia's family is also undercover. Asia's husband has made pleas to the governments of the U.K., to the United States and to Canada and to Italy begging for asylum so that he could come out.
The way the country is as of right now, there's still the kind of fear among the people of Pakistan, that people could come out in the streets regarding this acquittal. Even if Asia is flown out of the country, there could be repercussion to different ministries in the country.
This is a case that has seen people actually die. The former Punjab governor, back in 2011, was shot dead by his very own bodyguard for defending Asia. So it's a very, very sensitive matter. Whatever happens next will have very grave repercussions here in Pakistan.
CHURCH: Understood. Sophia Saifi, thank you so much for your live report. Appreciate it.
Well, 78 children kidnapped from a boarding school in Cameroon have been released. A military spokesperson claims the hostage takers are Anglophone separatist fighters, calling for independence from Cameroon's French speaking majority government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEMOH DAMIANUS, MOTHER OF KIDNAPPED CHILD: The word is (INAUDIBLE). That word is not enough to define the fright that I went through when I learned of they are being kidnapped.
SIMEYA PRISCALINE, AUNT OF KIDNAPPED CHILD: You can imagine the stress that we have gone through for these past two days. It has been horrible. We have spent sleepless nights.
PRISCALINE: We thank the almighty God that they were safe and sound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Two children are still being held hostage, along with the principal and a teacher. A school official says the children's parents are high-ranking members of the government.
The U.S. midterms were a huge success for women across the political spectrum. When we return, we'll ask a Democratic strategist to weigh in on all the big wins.
Plus, she helped the Democrats win sweeping victories in the House. Now Nancy Pelosi is poised to become even more powerful after the midterms. We'll explain when we come back.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. Want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour.
CHURCH: Whitaker made a name for himself as a vocal critic of special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. CNN's Jessica Schneider has the details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Matthew Whitaker been on the president's succession list since at least late September. The president spoke directly with Whitaker when it was Rod Rosenstein whose future was in question.
At the time, multiple sources told CNN that the president talked with Whitaker about being acting deputy attorney general after revelations that Rosenstein suggested officials wear wires to record the president as a way of ousting him from office.
But with Sessions' resignation at the request of the president, Trump named Whitaker acting attorney general via tweet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[02:30:00] MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Ultimately, the president is going to start doing -- he's putting pressure on Rod Rosenstein.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Whitaker has long backed President Trump's tough take on the Mueller probe. In an opinion piece for CNN.com in August 2017, Whitaker wrote that it was time for Rosenstein who oversees the special counsel to order Mueller to limit the scope of his investigation to the four corners of the order appointing him special counsel and he warn that by investigating the president's personal and business finances, Mueller has come up to a red line that he is dangerously close to crossing.
And he said if Mueller didn't limit his probe, it would raise serious concerns that the special counsel's investigation was a mere witch hunt. Whitaker also appeared on CNN in July 2017 suggesting any replacement attorney general would likely slow down the special counsel by pinching the peer strengths.
UNIDENTIFIED WHITAKER: And that attorney general doesn't fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces a budget so low that his investigation grinds to almost --
SCHNEIDER: And before Whitaker begun working at the Justice Department and as Sessions' Chief of Staff in October 2017, he was quite vocal about two main focal points of the Mueller investigation. Any possible obstruction of justice by the president --
UNIDENTIFIED WHITAKER: There is no criminal obstruction of justice charge to be had here. There's just the evidence is we --
SCHNEIDER: And that Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 where Donald Trump Jr. and others meet with a Russian lawyer.
WHITAKER: To suggest that there's a conspiracy here, I mean you would always take that meeting --
SCHNEIDER: Whitaker was by Sessions' side today as he left the Justice Department as he has been for the past year.
JEFF SESSIONS, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: My Chief of Staff, Matt Whitaker, isn't he great.
SCHNEIDER: And he has a long political history of his own. The former college football player at the University of Iowa ran as the Republican candidate for State Treasurer there but lose and was later appointed by President George W. Bush as U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Iowa.
WHITAKER: I'm not sure what we are passing on to the next generation.
SCHNEIDER: In 2013, Whitaker ran in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate but came in fourth and one year later he was named chairman of Sam Clovis' unsuccessful bid for Iowa State Treasurer. Clovis was a top Trump campaign aide and has reportedly testified before Mueller's grand jury.
SCHNEIDER: And despite Whitaker's past comments speaking out against the special counsel, he will be assuming oversight of the Russia probe taking over that duty from Rod Rosenstein. Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, they've called for Whitaker to recuse himself. But remember, it was Jeff Sessions' recusal from overseeing the Russia probe that sparked President Trump's fury and lead to his firing today. Jessica Schneider, CNN Washington.
CHURCH: Well, 2018 appears to have set a modern day record for turnout in U.S. midterm elections. According to the Center for Voting and Democracy, only about 40 percent of illegible U.S. voters typically do so during the midterms. This time around (INAUDIBLE) estimates that turnout was significantly better than average with approximately 49 percent of eligible voters going to the polls.
This figure is an estimate whereas about 91 percent of the votes counted. In presidential election years, the Center for Voting and Democracy says that about 60 percent of those eligible to vote actually cast their ballots. Well, the midterms also proved to be a triumphant election for women across the political spectrum. The combination of the Me Too movement and other big factors like anti- Trump sentiment inspired many women to run for office for the first time.
And our Kyung Lah shows us how the political landscape is changing and setting new records.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The cheers we heard for Iowa Democrat Abby Finkenauer begun as laughter.
REP. ABBY FINKENAUER (D), IOWA: Yes. There were people who laugh me at rooms because they thought, OK, she's 28 years old, paying off student loans, you know, come through a working class family, no (INAUDIBLE)
LAH: No one is laughing anymore at Congresswoman-elect Finkenauer part of the record wave of women elected to Congress. Americans voted in more than 100 women to the House of Representatives. A red to blue flipped powered mostly by Democratic women. It's a political clinging of power that rose out of the populist women's march in response to the Trump presidency. Marching became running for office.
First time candidates like Mikie Sherrill campaigned with her powerful personal story as a Navy veteran. Does that open the door?
REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D), NEW JERSEY: I think it does if you're a veteran and you've always put this country first. I think that gives people the sense that you'll continue to do so.
LAH: Sherrill now the congresswoman-elect from New Jersey's 11th district.
SHERRILL: When I was a little elementary school kid, we lived here.
LAH: Elissa Slotkin who worked for the State Department never considered running for office until the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
[02:35:07] REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D), MICHIGAN: You can't expect those people to reorient and become better leaders. You have to replace them with people who are willing to fight or willing to actually like give a crap. You may want to get tested --
LAH: She replaces her congressman elected to represent Michigan's eight congressional district.
SLOTKIN: Tonight, we made history.
LAH: The 116th Congress will not just be more female but more diverse. New Mexico's Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids of Kansas make history as the first Native American women in Congress and elected as the first Muslim women in Congress, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Women voters broke for Democrats by 19 points over Republicans. One of the nights biggest surprises, Kendra Horn's victory in deep red Oklahoma.
REP. KENDRA HORN (D), OKLAHOMA: Representation matters. Oklahoma is 49th in the nation for women serving an elected office and we need a different voices at the table to enact good policy.
LAH: Republican women made gains in some offices while losing numbers overall in Congress. Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn moves from the House to the Senate. While South Dakota's Kristi Noem shatters the ceiling of her state as the first woman governor. A win and a wave of women she predicted last winter as she farmed on her ranch. You prefer a tractor doing airplane? GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I do. You have control over your
LAH: Progress, but women still only make up about one in four members of Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a notable increased. But I don't think it's the tsunami that was talked about throughout the whole campaign. I think we have to do more work to get to that point where we're talking about women who are closer to gender parity in government.
CHURCH: Let's get more on all this with Democratic strategist Robin Swanson. Thank you so much for joining us.
ROBIN SWANSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you for having me tonight.
CHURCH: Now, of course, these were historic midterm elections for women with wins for Muslim and Native American women, for young and older women, those in uniform, those not, what do you think it was that moved voters to elect more women this time than ever before?
SWANSON: Well, and did we ever need this? I think women voters realized -- woke up and realized that if we didn't do something, we were going to be stuck with more of the same and the same status quo wasn't working for women. I think a lot of us were devastated two years ago waking up the day after the election and finally we have a little hope. We have women in office now who looked a lot more like our neighbors who looked and sound a lot more like America and I think the priorities of women are the priorities of Americans.
And frankly, working families and I think we're going to see a lot more of what real people are thinking and meeting and wanting right now and I think just really exciting and it's nice to have a little bit hope.
CHURCH: And how bigger popped do you think the Me Too movement played in this vote for women across the country?
SWANSON: I think it plays a big part. I think Me Too gave women a voice. Me Too made women feel like they matter and that they could actually make a difference. And so, I think it played a big part in a lot of women saying, you know, Me Too, I'm going to run for office. Me Too, I want to make a change. Me Too, it's time for me to step up and so I think that it's (INAUDIBLE) and expended and hopefully turning into something very positive for women in our country and around the world.
CHURCH: And what about the anti-Trump sentiment, what role did that played do you think in more women running for office and getting elected than ever before?
SWANSON: You know, as a mom myself, I think a lot of women we think about how Trump's words and actions impact our children and, you know, that's the role that we want our children to grow (INAUDIBLE) and I think women resoundingly said, no. I think you're seeing college educated women (INAUDIBLE) and we do recall that unfortunately 53 percent of white women did vote for Trump and I think some maybe regretting that moving forward.
So I think we're seeing a seat change. I think you're seeing an awakening and I think it's an exciting time for women. I think the last time we've seen something like this is 1992, the year of the women, and it's been a long time coming.
CHURCH: That has been a long time. And we're also seeing more diversity in the choice of women getting elected and yet it comes in the midst of an anti-immigrant (INAUDIBLE) drummed up by the president himself, what does that signaled do you think?
SWANSON: I love that. I think it's an absolute repudiation and rejection of the president anti-immigrant policy and I think it's an interesting to see where the most interesting people are coming from.
[02:40:06] So, you know, a state like Minnesota, Michigan. I mean, you know, across the Midwest. It's just California breaking them all. These are six from all over the country that are breaking them all with Muslim women and Native American women and just, you know, from all over the world and it just looked a lot more like the melting pot that America is.
CHURCH: Let's turn to Georgia and of course the fight there between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. It was fairly close and Stacey Abrams would have been the first black woman to be Governor of Georgia. It didn't happen. What do you think it didn't happen?
SWANSON: I mean I think it's remarkable progress and I think we can't give up. We can't, you know, when you make progress like that, you got to keep going. You got to keep going toward a different finish line and, you know, maybe in a couple of years, we will have another chance. I think, you know, (INAUDIBLE) like that happening is really remarkable and that I hope more change like that happened.
CHURCH: It was very close, wasn't it? And when you look at Georgia as a state, it's very much Republican state, were you surprise how close it was in essence and do you see this as a step forward where this nation and a state like Georgia is willing to accept not only a woman but a black woman?
SWANSON: I think it's a huge step forward and I think, you know, here in California, we have, you know, (INAUDIBLE) the more we see African- American women ascending to positions of power the more progress we're all going to make and the more acceptance our country is going to have for these things. So again, I think we all stand on the shoulders of each other. So the progress that was made in Georgia will be made in California and will be made in other states.
And hopefully, you know, we can aspire to break that (INAUDIBLE) that Hillary Clinton wasn't able to do in the last election. Maybe in the next one it will be an African-American woman here someday.
CHURCH: Absolutely. We were watching history in the making. Robin Swanson, thank you so much for joining us. Take care.
CHURCH: And Nancy Pelosi is the Democratic Party's highest ranking member of the House. She helped usher her party to sweeping victories in the midterms and she could be about to return to a very powerful position she's held before. More now from CNN's Manu Raju.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been years for Democrats in the House minority. Now, they're preparing elevate the women who helped lead them to victory, Nancy Pelosi.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The House will come to order.
RAJU: Pelosi who became the first female House Speaker in 2007 before being swept out of power in the 2010 midterms was a fundraising juggernaut this cycle. Internal numbers obtained by CNN shows she raised more than a hundred and thirteen million dollars for the Democrats in campaign committee through this fall more than twice her next closest colleague.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I give her a lot of credit. She works very hard.
RAJU: Today, she made this pitch when asked why she should be elected speaker.
PELOSI: I think I'm the best person to go forward to unify, to negotiate, and I'm a good negotiator as anyone can see in terms of how we have won every negotiation so far. I'm not going to answer any more questions on that subject.
RAJU: Yet, there are Democrats who have more questions about how long she plans to stay. A small but vocal contingent of Democrats have opposed her for the job including 15 incumbents and another 10 incumbent freshmen. But Democrats may ultimately change their minds given that she has no viable opponent and how many defections she can afford may not be known for days as votes are still being counted in a handful of races. Are you confident that the caucus will elevate her to speaker?
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC), HOUSE ASSISTANT DEMOCRATIC LEADER: I feel relatively confident that that's going to happen.
RAJU: Still Democrats are already preparing for their newly some power mainly by mounting investigations into the president including whether he violated the constitution by receiving foreign payments to his businesses. The administration's policies on separating immigrant children from their parents and any areas left unexplored by the Mueller investigation. Plus, the president's tax returns. How far will go to try to get those tax returns?
PELOSI: When we go down any of these paths, we know what we're doing and we'll do it right.
RAJU: But Trump's offenders gearing up for battle with Pelosi.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: You stand up for the truth. You stand up and defend the White House and the president.
[02:44:53] CHURCH: Well, Bill Gates says he is ready to work with anyone who's in charge once all the midterm election votes are counted. The philanthropies and founder of Microsoft spoke with our Kristie Lu Stout from the reinvented toilet expo in Beijing. He was there to pitch the idea of tomorrow's toilets not needing water or even sewers. He says the Gates Foundation is ready to work with anyone to help the world's poorest. Kristie asked him how he stays so optimistic when so many of the rest of us see so much fear and anger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL GATES, FOUNDER, MICROSOFT CORPORATION: You wouldn't want to go backwards whether it's literacy, or childhood survival, or how we treat people who are gay. You know, the key issues we continue to make progress, in fact, even in inequity that poor countries have been growing faster than the richer countries.
And so, globally, you know we're down to less than nine percent to people living in extreme poverty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Here more on what he has to say about changes in the tech world, and how toilet technology can improve the world. Coming up later on "NEWS STREAM" that starts Thursday at 1:00 p.m. in London, 5:00 p.m. in Abu Dhabi, 9:00 p.m. in Hong Kong, right here on CNN.
And coming up after the short break, a crucial meeting between North Korea and the United States suddenly called off without any explanation. We'll go live to Hong Kong to get some insight.
Plus, voters disagreed on a lot of things in the midterm elections. But here in Georgia, one issue brought people together. Raise a glass to the Brunch Bill. That's next.
CHURCH: Well, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was supposed to be in New York on Thursday to meet with the senior North Korean negotiator. It was an important meeting to help set up a second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But it was suddenly called off. The State Department said it was a scheduling conflict.
Well now, sources tell CNN, it was North Korea that pulled out without explanation. Well, CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now from Hong Kong with more on this. Good to see you, Alex. So, what might this cancellation of a meeting between Mike Pompeo and a senior Kim Jong-un aide signal? And where does it leave efforts to denuclearize the North?
[02:50:00] ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, there are certainly conflicting storylines coming out here. The President himself painting a rather positive portrait saying that he's happy with the state of relations essentially with North Korea right now. Basically saying that things are going well. And again, pointing to what he sees as the success.
The fact that there have not been recent missile tests or nuclear tests. The fact that the remains of soldiers have started to return to the United States. So, he is essentially painting this very positive portrait but what we're learning about what's happening behind the scenes is a very different picture in North Korea, in Pyongyang.
We're learning that they're becoming increasingly irritated by the pace of the talks and that the two sides are essentially deadlocked in terms of who will make concessions first. North Korean becoming increasingly angry according to sources that sanctions have not been lifted.
Certainly, the U.S. administration has made it clear repeatedly that they do not plan to ease those sanctions while they do this engagement with North Korea. But that's been a source of frustration, ultimately. North Korean officials according to these sources who have spoken to CNN, feeling that the meeting that was scheduled for this week simply would not lead to progress. Therefore, going ahead and canceling the whole thing. Rosemary?
CHURCH: So Alex, what's the likely next step? Who will blink first, the U.S. or North Korea?
FIELD: Well, the State Department, for now, is really -- again, saying that this was a scheduling conflict not at all pointing to North Korea's increasingly tough or tense rhetoric. Saying that this is a meeting that has simply been postponed. So, they're projecting the idea that the talks will continue. We have seen these stops and starts before.
You might remember that Secretary Pompeo was scheduled to travel to Pyongyang back in August. At that time, President Trump felt that the talks were not proceeding, that they weren't netting any progress, he scrapped that trip at the last moment only to have Secretary Pompeo actually go ahead and make that trip back in October.
So, certainly, you've seen this before, the president also talking about the idea again of having a second summit with Kim Jong-un. Now, saying that, that could happen at the start of next year or early into next year.
So, all indications, at least, from the U.S. side that they certainly plan to keep off the engagement, keep up the talking. But really, Rosemary, you can't expect these two sides to sit down at a summit between the two leaders without some progress that they'll be ready to announce at that summit.
Politically, it's just a risk that it doesn't seem that the White House would want to take.
CHURCH: Absolutely. Alexandra Field, keeping a very close eye on that story. Many thanks. Well in China, we are following a disturbing report about employees at a company being whipped, forced to drink urine, and eat insects for failing to meet their sales targets.
CNN has not independently confirmed the story or what's shown in these images, but the official newspaper of the Communist Party, The People's Daily, reports employees at this renovation company were subject to the humiliating punishments. Three managers have reportedly been jailed after this video was widely shared on Chinese social media.
Well, still to come, why one political race in Nevada proves you don't have to be alive to win? Back in a moment.
CHURCH: Well this year's U.S. midterm, election had a few unusual and surprising results like a dead man winning in Nevada. Our Lynda Kinkade, reports.
[02:54:55] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Tuesday's midterm elections in the U.S. were full of surprises. One race proving you don't even have to be alive to win. Dennis Hof, a Nevada brothel owner and reality T.V. star who died last month won Nevada's 36 Assembly District. Hof who ran as a Republican beat Democratic challenger Lesia Romanov by more than 7,000 votes.
Felony indictments were also not a hurdle for two Republican congressmen. Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California both winning. With Democrats taking the House and Republicans holding the Senate, it can be hard to figure out where America's head is.
Sometimes you have to look at the state in local level to learn about America's priorities. Like a few quirky amendments also on the ballot. In the state of Colorado, a referendum was passed to remove language from the state constitution that allowed forced prison labor without pay.
Believe it or not, more than a dozen states technically still allow involuntary servitude as a form of criminal punishment. In Georgia, the so-called Brunch Bill or Mimosa Mandate pass. Restaurants will now be allowed to start serving alcohol on Sundays' from11:00 a.m., rather than the current time at 12:30 p.m.
Pink was the color of the day in Nevada. The majority there voted to strike down the pink tax on feminine hygiene products. They'll be exempt from sales tax through the 2028.
And baked into the ballot in Michigan was a measure allowing recreational marijuana use for people over 21. But during light up just yet, marijuana won't be commercially available there for sale until 2020.
And one of the weirdest ballot initiatives was in Florida. Voters there passed a referendum banning offshore drilling and vaping in one amendment. The state put together two completely unrelated issues. One, prohibiting offshore oil and gas drilling, and the other banning the use of e-cigarettes in indoor workplaces both approved.
From ballot bundling to brunches, and even the election of a dead brothel owner, 2018 is now one for the history books. Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
CHURCH: And thanks for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @rosemaryCNN. And I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN.