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Jeff Sessions Out, Matt Whitaker In; Democrats Plotting Plans Against Trump Administration; Asia Bibi's Freedom Still Shackled. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired November 8, 2018 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: U.S. President Donald Trump fires his attorney general and replaces him for now with someone who is not a fan of the Russia investigation.
Plus, a record number of women will soon serve in the U.S. Congress. We will look at all of the stunning firsts from the U.S. midterms.
And later, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges in Pakistan is now out of jail but her fate and safety remain a concern.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.
Well, just one day after his Republican Party lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Donald Trump is moving to change the narrative and perhaps take control of the Russia investigation.
In a move that surprised no one, the president fired his attorney general, Jeff Sessions on Wednesday. Mr. Trump has repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia probe.
Sessions' chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, a vocal critic of that investigation has been named acting attorney general. Reporters asked the president about the Russia probe at a White House news conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On the Russia investigation, are you concerned that you may have--
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not concerned about anything with the Russia investigation because it's a hoax.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you consider removing Mr. Mueller from his position.
TRUMP: I could have ended it any time I wanted, I didn't. There was no collusion, and there's no collusion. It was supposed to be on collusion. There's no collusion. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going back to the Russia investigation and
potential investigations from the now Democratically -- Democratic majority in Congress. Some say that you could stop all this by declassifying--
TRUMP: I could fire everybody right, but I don't want to stop it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You -- what about the--
TRUMP: Because politically I don't like stopping it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: It's a disgrace. It should have never been started because there was no crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, little did anybody know at that time the president had already fired Sessions.
Jessica Schneider has more now from Washington.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jeff Sessions' resignation unfolded in true Trump fashion. Despite having coined the phrase "you're fired" on his hit show "The Apprentice," President Trump actually had his chief of staff John Kelly do the dirty work.
So, it was just before the president's scheduled press conference around 11.30 a.m. on Wednesday when chief of staff John Kelly talked to Jeff Session and he told him the president wanted his resignation that day.
Well, Sessions ask to stay on until at least the end of the week but Kelly said a firm no. So really the president knew that this was all in the works when he avoided a reporter's question about Jeff Sessions fate around 12.20 p.m.
And then of course, less than two hours later, Sessions sent that letter and said, quote, "Mr. President, at your request, I am submitting my resignation."
So, later that evening, Jeff Sessions departed the Justice Department to widespread applause. And now Matthew Whitaker is the acting attorney general. But Whitaker is already facing backlash from Democrat set to take over the House. And really that's because Whitaker will now be overseeing the special counsel's Russia probe despite speaking out extensively against it before he became Jeff Sessions' chief of staff last October.
It was throughout 2017 that Whitaker made the media rounds including right here on CNN. And in those media rounds he denounced Mueller's probe, saying that Mueller was getting close to crossing a red line, and also that it could be considered a witch-hunt.
And we're told that in those media appearance Whitaker was actually encourage to speak forcefully to get the president's attention. And of course, he did. Whitaker will now be acting attorney general.
And if his past comments are any indication, he really could hamper Mueller's probe by cutting off the cash. Because Matthew Whitaker told Don Lemon in July 2017 that it was his guess that anyone who replace Jeff Sessions might reduce the special counsel's budget and make the investigation grind to a halt.
And of course, those are ominous words now that Whitaker is now in charge of the Russia probe as acting attorney general.
Jessica Schneider, 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.
[03:05:08] 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 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.
[03:09:55] 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? Paul Callan--
CALLAN: Well, that's true, that's true. Thanks so much, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Thank you so much, Paul Callan for being with us.
And Jeff Sessions' abrupt firing came just hours after the U.S. midterm elections spelled an end to one-party rule in Washington. For the first time in eight years, Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives, Republicans maintain majority control in the Senate.
CNN's Tom Foreman looks at what the new balance of power means for both parties and President Trump.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Democrats getting a majority in the House gives them the power to stop and start. What can they stop? The entire Republican legislative agenda. All plans for tough immigration reforms, tax cuts, trade deals, infrastructure could all come to a grinding halt if they don't include enough to make the Democrats happy.
And what can the Democrats start? Investigations into cabinet members over travel and spending unethical or allege unethical behavior. They could look into the Trump conflicts of interest or possible conflict of interest between their public jobs and their private businesses.
And when it comes the Russia investigation. The Democrats could now offer it some political cover. If the president tries to shut the investigation down, they would have a real threat of impeachment at hand to try to back him off.
Now the president is not taking this easily. He has already tweeted "If the Democrats think they're going to waste taxpayer money investigating us at the House level, the we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of classified information and much else at the Senate level. Two can play at that game "
Will this back down the old guard of the Democrats? Not likely. Think about Nancy Pelosi who wants to be speaker of the house again. She's been at this for many years. She knows how to push legislation forward. She also knows how to kill it. She knows how to raised tons of money for her party and even if she does not get the nod, there are plenty of others in her party who understand the same tactics, how to take a little political advantage and turn it into a lot of influence.
CHURCH: Tom Foreman, many thanks. Well, earlier, I spoke with Scott Lucas, he teaches international politics at the University of Birmingham in England. And I began by asking him how much gridlock we can expect in the next two years.
SCOTT LUCAS, POLITICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: 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, 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 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.
[03:15:03] Now the question is he just a place holder or are they going to try to put a more heavyweight person and 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 went on Tuesday.
And so, he took it 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.
CHURCH: And we'll take a quick break here. But when we come back, A Pakistani Christian woman who had her death sentence overturned is finally free from prison. But now Asia Bibi is facing uncertain future and threats to her life.
Plus, a crucial meeting between North Korea and the United States. Suddenly called off without explanation. We will go live to Hong Kong to get some answers.
[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, 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 faces threats from hardline Islamist angered over her acquittal.
CNN's Sophia Saifi joins us now from Islamabad with more on this. So, Sophia, as we just reported, Asia Bibi she is being moved to an undisclosed location in Pakistan for her safety. What more do you know about that and of course where she might go next?
SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, we know that she's been offered asylum from many western countries. We also know there been quite a few Christian charities working into, you know, the Pakistani government to get Asia Bibi out of the country.
Now at the moment, what we can report is, like you just said that Asia was kept in a jail for the past eight years on death row and even after acquittal, she wasn't able to walk free out of that jail. That very jail where she'd been kept in solitary confinement for eight years was then converted into a safe house from which she is now free.
So, now the question is, which one of these many countries that have offered her asylum are the ones that Asia is going to be, you know, going on from Pakistan to. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Very important. So what impact has this case had so far on Pakistan. What more are protesters planning to do in response to her acquittal?
SAIFI: Well, you know, Rosemary, this entire case ever since it came forth back in 2009 has seen a lot of bloodshed, it seen a lot of rioting, it seen a lot of anger and rage. And it's really split the country in many, many different ways. Back in 2011, we saw the Punjab governor who was killed by his very bodyguard just for speaking out against Asia.
Now even before the acquittal came, the Thereek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a right-wing Islamist group had announced that they were going to create chaos in the country if she was acquitted which she then was. And what we saw was for three long days the country was at a standstill, mobile networks were shut down. There was, you know, really scarce reporting in a local media.
There was a lot of fear as to what's going to happen. Blasphemy laws are a problematic situation in this country, even if you criticize them, you are liable to be killed by somebody out there who is, you know, considers themselves a better Muslim than the rest.
So, keeping this in mind, keeping the fact that the Pakistani government made an agreement with the TLP that Asia, you know, that they will not prevent the TLP for putting in a petition putting Asia Bibi on the exit control list which is no fly list, banning Asia from leaving the country. She is not been placed on that list yet.
Legally she can leave. She might already have left. What we are being told by intelligence sources and by the foreign office is that she is still in the country. But there is still a lot of confusion as to where Asia is going and when she leaves what really is going to happen to this very country in response to her departure. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Yes. She would be eager to leave no doubt with her family. Sophia Saifi bringing us with the very latest on that story. Many thanks.
Well, 78 children kidnapped from the boarding school in Cameroon have been released. A military spokesman claims the hostage takers are anglophone separatist fighters calling for independence from Cameron's French-speaking majority government.
Now as you can imagine it was a harrowing ordeal for the children and their families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Worry (Inaudible) me. That word is not enough to define the fight that I went when I learned of that they are being kidnapped.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can imagine the stress that we have gone through for these past two days. It has been horrible. We have spent sleepless night. We thank the Almighty God that they were safe and sound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, other families are not so lucky, yet, two children are still being held hostage, along with the principal and the teacher. A school official says the children's parents are high ranking members of the government.
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 with President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But now it's been called off just days after Pyongyang threatened to restart its nuclear program. And sources tell CNN it was North Korea that backed down.
[03:24:59] CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now from Hong Kong. So, Alex, what might this cancellation of a meeting between Mike Pompeo and a senior Kim Jong-un aide signal and where does it lead efforts to denuclearize the country?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does give us a little bit of a read on the feeling in Pyongyang right now. That's according to sources who are familiar with these talks and it's also made clear by the recent ratcheting up of rhetoric that you've seen from North Korea just recently threatening that they could build up their nuclear forces if the U.S. does not begin to ease sanctions.
Sanctions that's what you're hearing North Korea talking a lot about right now, and that's their goal, that's their objective to get the U.S. to begin to lift some of those sanctions. At the same time, we're learning from sources that they are becoming increasingly angry about the pace of talks with the United States about deadlock, specifically over who will make concessions first when it comes to these ongoing talks about denuclearization.
This is a meeting, one of many that was set to happen, but it seems, according to sources who have spoken to CNN that the North Koreans did decide at the last minute to go ahead and call it off because they felt that at this point this meeting at this level would not net any progress any movement forward, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And Alex, talking about moving forward, I mean, what is the likely next step? Who will blink first here, the U.S. or North Korea?
FIELD: Well, the State Department is presenting all of this very different lead. They are saying it was a scheduling conflict that led to the cancellation of the meeting. And they are actually saying it's really a postponement that this is something that will happen down the line.
We should all come to expect this in this process. And frankly, we have seen it before. There was a trip that Secretary Pompeo was supposed to meet to Pyongyang in august. That was scrapped at the last minute when President Trump said that not enough progress and talks on denuclearization had been made.
He ultimately traveled Pyongyang in October. That was billed as a productive trip. The point of that trip was to start to plan this second summit that's supposed to take place between Kim Jong-un and President Trump.
So, the question now is, you know, whether that summit will happen. Certainly, both sides have indicated that they want it to happen. There's nothing to suggest that it won't happen. It's just a question now of how you get there. President Trump now saying it could happen early next year, perhaps at the beginning of the year.
But certainly, from a political perspective, Rosemary, the White House is going to want to know that they have some concrete action that these leaders can announce, something that they can sign when that summit happens. So that's really the only way to justify a second summit. So, a lot of work still to get to that point. And we are seeing stops and starts on the road to that certainly. CHURCH: Indeed. All right. Alexandra Field bringing us up-to-date on
that story from Hong Kong. Many thanks.
And we'll take a very short break. Still to come, defiant, defensive and downright angry. A combative President Trump faces off against the White House press corps just hours after his party suffered big losses in the U.S. midterm elections.
Plus, the U.S. midterms were a huge success for women across the political spectrum. When we return. we will ask a Democratic strategist to weigh in on all the big wins. We're back in just a moment.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: And we are following this breaking news. There are reports of a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks California just outside of Los Angeles. The authorities say there are multiple injuries at this time. They are treating this as an active shooting situation and urging people to avoid that area. We don't have a lot of information. But really just to get the information out to people. There's an active shooting situation there at Thousand Oaks in California. This is just outside of Los Angeles. We did hear word that it is possibly a nightclub. We don't really know any more than that. You could see there that people had actually been brought out of the building. There are ambulances on the scene. Police are there. Affiliates are there covering this story. But there's very little to report at this time except to let people know to stay away from this area, in Thousand Oaks California while the police get this situation under control.
All right. Let's turn now to developments in Washington and just hours after Donald Trump's Party lost control of the U.S. House of Representative in the midterms, the President faced reporters at the White House. He mocked defeated Republicans, warned House Democrats about investigating him or his family and lashed out at the press corps. Here's CNN's Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A news conference that was expected to be a victory lap for President Trump instead descended into chaos. While the president played coy and didn't tip his hand on his decision to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
TRUMP: We're looking at different people for different positions. You know it is very common after the midterms.
ACOSTA: He was sounding off in nearly every other direction. Ask about Democrats running the midterms into power in the House or Representatives, Mr. Trump bristled that demotion, he will be under slued investigation. Warning, he will retaliate.
TRUMP: We can play that game but we can play it better, because we have the thing called the United States Senate. A lot of very questionable things were done, between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place and all you got to do is end up in back and forth.
ACOSTA: The President tried to sidestep what could be the biggest worry for the White House. That Democrats will demand to see his tax returns.
TRUMP: I am on a very continuous order, because there's so many companies. And it is a big company. Far bigger than you would even understand, but it is a great company, but it is big. And it is complex. And it is probably feet high. It is a very complex instrument. And I think that -- I think that people wouldn't understand it.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump was clearly taking the election returns personally slapping at House Republicans who decided to steer clear of the president and lost.
TRUMP: Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia. And Barbara Comstock, she was another one. I mean, I think she could win the race, but she didn't have any embrace.
ACOSTA: Then Mr. Trump started taking swipes at journalists, over questions about his false claims during the campaign that a migrant invasion was underway on the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are hundreds of miles away though. They are hundreds and hundreds of miles away, that is not an invasion.
TRUMP: Honestly, I think you should let me run the country and you run CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
TRUMP: And if you did it well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I may answer the question. Mr. President. One question.
TRUMP: That is enough. That is enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other folks.
TRUMP: That is enough. Pardon me.
TRUMP: That is enough.
ACOSTA: Despite the pipe bombs and to CNN and other Democratic politician, the President returned to his favorite insults for the media.
TRUMP: Sit down please. When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.
ACOSTA: the president also lashed out on reporter who simply asked, why he considers himself a nationalist.
TRUMP: Do I have among the highest poll numbers with African- Americans? I mean, why do I have my highest poll numbers? That is a racist question. Honestly, I mean, I know you have it written down and you are going to tell me. Let me tell you, it is a racist question.
ACOSTA: And whether Mr. Trump is in fact a racist.
TRUMP: I don't use racist remarks. And you know what, if I did, you people -- you would have known about it. I had been hearing there's tapes for years and years there are tapes. Number one I never worry about it, because I never did, I never used racist remarks. I have never use racist remarks.
[03:35:00] CHURCH: Jim Acosta with that report.
Well, the U.S. midterms have made history with a record number of firsts in the country. At least 100 women will be serving in the house next year, breaking the previous record of 85. 98 women were elected Tuesday across the political spectrum. 33 new members and 65 returning members. Jessica Dean breaks down the winds in the house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My god.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Tuesday brought celebrations across the U.S. to the record-breaking number of women who made history of their victories. They ran and won in unprecedented numbers adding over 30 seats in the House. Many are Democrats inspired to run in response to President Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We sent a message that we want a better nation. That we demand a better nation.
DEAN: Former navy commander Elaine Luria, turned Virginia's second Congressional district blue. Like many of the women elected, she is a first time candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had spent two years waiting for someone to stand up to the partisanship and the division in Washington.
DEAN: 29 year-old New York, Democrat and self-described socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, DEMOCRATS SOCIALIST: All of our actions no matter how small or how large are powerful, worthwhile and capable of lasting change.
DEAN: Diversity extended beyond their gender.
2018 also saw the first Muslim women elected to serve in the House. Democrats Rashida Talev and Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
ILHAN OMAR, (D) MINNESOTA: The first -- the first women (inaudible) to represent.
DEAN: Democrat Sharice Davis from Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico earned their place in history becoming the first native- American women in Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think representation is important, I think diversity is important. Every voice deserves a seat at the table.
DEAN: Democrats made it a priority to get more women to that table in 2018, but Republican women made their mark Tuesday night too. Republican Congress woman Marsha Blackburn supports President Trump who returns the favor stumping for her multiple times. And Blackburn will become the first female Senator from Tennessee.
MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R) TENNESSEE CONGRESSWOMAN: Now, you don't have to worry if you are going to call me Congressman or congresswoman -- now Senator, will do good.
DEAN: Republican congresswoman (inaudible) will now answer to governor, becoming the first woman in South Dakota to (inaudible).
It wasn't all good news for woman. Incumbent Democratic Senator Clair McCaskill and Heidi Heitcamp lost their seats in high profile races, but Tuesday marked a turning point as the congressional representation of women got a little closer matching the percentage of women in America. Jessica Dean, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: And we just heard from Deb Haaland who will be one of the first native-American women in congress. She spoke to us earlier about what is in store for women in U.S. politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEB HAALAND, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATS ELECT: I think that more and more women will run now that they see themselves in this body of our -- of our government. I think more women will run, more women will win. As the first native-American woman in congress, I intend to keep the ladder down so that I can encourage other native women to climb up. I think many women who ran this time around were inspired by the women's March. They were inspired by a number of things.
You know, their children suffering from gun violence and you know, their communities being disenfranchised from voting. There's a lot of reasons why the women of color are running for office. There's several reasons why they're winning. Namely because they're all working extremely hard and know what is at stake in this era, in this political era. So, I join -- I felt that our voice needed to be heard and that is why I ran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: So, let us get more on all of 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's elections for women with wins for Muslim and native-American women for young and older women, both in uniform and those not. What do you think it was that moved voters to elect more women this time than ever before?
SWANSON: We need this. I think women voters realize that if we didn't do something, we were going to be stuck with of the same.
[03:40:05] The status quo wasn't working for women. I think a lot of us are devastated two years ago, waking up the day after the election. And finally we had new hope. We had women in office, now, who look a lot more like our neighbors, who look and sound a lot more like America. They think the priorities of women are the priorities of Americans and working families. I think we're going to see a lot more of what real people are thinking and needing and wanting right now. I think it is really exciting and it is nice to have a little bit of hope.
CHURCH: And how big a part do you think the "metoo" movement played in this vote for women across the country?
SWANSON: I think it played a big part. I think "metoo" gave women a voice. "Metoo made women felt that they mattered and they could actually make a difference. And so, I think it is a big part in a lot of women saying, you know, metoo run for office. "Metoo" I want to make a change. "Metoo", it is time for me to step up. And so I think it has broadened and expanded and hopefully turning into something very positive for women in our country and around the world.
CHURCH: What about the anti-Trump sentiment? What role did that play 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 is the world we want our children to grow up in. I think women resoundingly said no. I think you're seeing college educated women. More on the left, and we do recall unfortunately, 53 percent of white women did voted for Trump. And I think some may regret that moving forward. And so, I think you're seeing a change and you are seeing an awakening. And I think the last time we've seen something like this was 1992, the year of the woman and it has been a long time coming.
CHURCH: It has been a long time. And we're also seeing more diversity in the choice of women getting elected. And yet it comes in midst of anti-immigrant climate, drummed up by the president himself. What does that signal do you think?
SWANSON: I love that. I think it is an absolute repudiation and rejection of the President's anti-immigrant policies. I think it is interesting to see where the most interesting people are coming from. So, you know states like, Minnesota, Michigan, you know, across the Midwest. It is not just California breaking the mold. These are states from all over the country that are breaking the mold with Muslim women and Indian American women and you know, from all over the world. And it just looks a lot more like (inaudible) part of America is.
CHURCH: Let's turn to Georgia and of course, the fight there between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. It was fairly close. Stacey Abrams would have been the first black woman to be governor of Georgia. It didn't happen. Why do you think it didn't happen?
SWANSON: I mean, I think it is remarkable progress. I think we can't give up. We can't -- 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'll have another chance. I think, you know, south of the Mason-Dixon line is something like that happening is really remarkable. And I hope more change like that happens.
CHURCH: It was very close wasn't it? And when you look at Georgia as a state, it is very much Republican state. Are you surprise how close it was in essence 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 is a huge step forward. I think that -- you know, here in California we have United States Senators Kamala Harris. And more we see African-American members ascending to positions of power. That more progress that we are going to make and more acceptance that 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 could aspire to break that highest target glass ceiling that Hillary Clinton wasn't able to do in the last election. Maybe next is an African-American woman. Here's hoping.
CHURCH: Absolutely. We will watch history in the making. Robin Swanson, thank you so much for joining us.
CHURCH: Bill Gates says he is ready to work with anyone who is in charge once all the midterm election votes are counted. The philanthropist 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 gets foundation is ready to work with anyone to help the world's poorest. Kristie ask him, now he stays -- how he stays so optimistic when so many of the rest of us see so much fear and anger.
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BILL GATES, PHILANTHROPIST AND MICROSOFT FOUNDER: You wouldn't want to go backwards whether its literacy or childhood survival or how we treat people that are gay. The key issues we continue to make progress. In fact even in equity the poor countries have been growing faster than the richer countries. And so globally we're down to less than 9 percent. The people living in extreme poverty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: You could hear more on what he has to say about changes in the tech world and how toilet technology can improve the world. That is coming up later on new stream that starts Thursday at 1:00 p.m. in London, 5:00 p.m. Abu Dhabi and 9 p.m. in Hong Kong right here on CNN.
And we are following breaking news out of southern California where there has reportedly been a shooting at a bar in the town of Thousand Oaks. Multiple injuries have been reported. We will have the latest details for you in just a moment.
CHURCH: Hello everyone I am Rosemary Church. Following this breaking news, coming out of California, there are reports of a shooting in a bar in Thousand Oaks just outside of Los Angeles. Authorities say there are multiple injuries. Now they're treating it as active shooter situation. This is not over yet, they're urging people to avoid that area. And we are hearing from people checking on their friends in that bar. We'll just bring that sound up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gunman started shooting at the front desk and from there I am not sure -- since there are friends that I have in there reported that, they are hiding in the attics and bathrooms and stuff like that. Thomas here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Same thing from friends I have heard, it is just a matter of kind of getting themselves out of chaos and just kind of getting themselves secluded from what is going on. Waiting back to hear. You know, we're out here waiting for them and open to them and taking them back to campus. So, it is just a matter of make sure everything is safe and everything is good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the bar you've been to a lot before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I haven't been personally. I know it is a pretty popular bar with dancing and especially on Wednesdays. It is student night so, you know obviously a lot of people are in there at this time. It is important that we figure out what is going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[03:50:00] CHURCH: Just listening there to two gentlemen who have friends that are still inside that nightclub. We understand that it was a college night. Steve Moore is on the phone now. CNN's law enforcement contributor. Steve, this is so unnerving. We report too many times about shootings like this. We understand this situation. It is an active shooter situation. It is in the under control at this point. What have you been able to pull together so far?
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I have not come up with any further information on this. I can tell you that -- that I am about a mile from the place right now. It is a place I am familiar with, a place that my daughter has gone to on student night. It is a very popular area, location in the area. Thousand Oaks is a suburb of Los Angeles and it is kind of an upscale suburb and you are going to find a lot of people there tonight, because not a lot of places are open that late anywhere around here.
CHURCH: Yes. You were speaking to us, Steve, we're looking at these pictures and aerial shots of the situation. We have seen a number of ambulances there on the scene. We know police are clearly there at the ready. They're trying to control the situation, again just repeating for those viewers that may have joined us, we're following this active shooter situation at a bar. It is a nightclub there in Thousand Oaks in California. It is a college night apparently so there are a number of people there inside the building looking again at those aerial shots. Steve, just bring you back in. Talk to us again about this area, because authorities are saying they want people to stay clear of this area and the way they do that is they know where this is. And where exactly is this located?
MOORE: Well, are you talking specifically within the town or as it relates to Los Angeles?
CHURCH: Just -- for any of that, we are being seen across the United States right now as well across the globe. We got some witness sound. If you could standby Steve. Let's bring this up, sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People doing --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your thoughts on this, now that it came to this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not think it should be politicalized and people should help their friends get home, and be safe and you know try to make sure that this never happens again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political purposes, just whatever is on your heart?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely. I know it gets politicalized every single time it happens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: thank you sir. I appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) in the area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Support. Have you ever tried (inaudible)? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me ask. Let me ask this gentleman. It is not like you have a business reason to be here? Are you a driver?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm an Uber driver.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So somebody called to pick them up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: yes, I was over there, and somebody I would pick up. I saw people running everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you made pickups here before maybe this evening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Just like in my rivalry here. It was a lot of people running all over and that was it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Thank you for your time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. All right thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Steve Moore, just bring you back in there. We were listening to some people talking there with the affiliates that are trying to get some information and trying to get answers. There isn't a lot to go by. But Steve, let's talk again about where this is exactly. So that anyone watching can stay away from that area. This nightclub, we understand, we are not going to name it at this point. It is a bar where there's young people that were celebrating and college night there in Thousand Oaks in California suburb of Los Angeles. Talk to us about what you know about this area.
MOORE: Well, a lot of -- Thousand Oaks is a -- is an upscale suburb of Los Angeles. It is about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. And it is you know, a nice. It is a residential community, very quiet, very conservative.
[03:55:00] The location of this bar is very popular in town. They have -- it is country western themed usually. There will be line dancing and things like that going on. It is probably the one that -- one of the largest venues that would be open this time of night in Thousand Oaks. Literally this town is as I say kind of a bedroom community. That is where most of the people in Thousand Oaks are right now. We say right now, 99 percent of Thousand Oaks is not aware. Simply because it is a workweek that anything has gone on.
CHURCH: Yes. And of course, for those that -- those people joining us from around the world and the East Coast, it is 1:00 in the morning there at Thousand Oaks in California. We look at this aerial shot of police trying to bring the situation under control. Our understanding it is still an active shooter situation. We were talking there with CNN law enforcement contributor Steve Moore. He joined us on the line there explaining the environment there, it is a suburb of L.A. We are going to have more news at the top of the hour. Do stay with us.