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President Donald Trump Is Fortifying His Attacks On Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings And Bashing His Seventh District Which Includes Baltimore; 2020 Candidates Are Setting Themselves Apart From One Another Is With Their Health Care Plans; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg Is Still Alive; Protests In Hong Kong Gets More Violent; One Of Two American Suspects Accused Of Killing A Police Officer In Italy Is Handcuffed And Blindfolded. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 28, 2019 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:21] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

President Trump is fortifying his attacks on Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings and bashing his seventh district which includes Baltimore. Despite massive backlash to the President Saturday rant Trump against the city and the Democratic lawmaker who chairs the House oversight committee, Trump is back at it again today tweeting in part, someone please explain to Nancy Pelosi who was recently called racist by those in her own party that there is nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his districts and the city of Baltimore. The Democrats always play the race card when in fact they have done so little for our nation's great African-American people. Elijah Cummings has failed badly. That from the President of the United States.

Thousands of people have spoken up to defend congressman Cummings. Twenty-three years of service including democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Jerry Nadler. They both addressed the President's apparent pattern of targeting lawmakers of color today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our job is to bring people together to improve life for all people, not to have a racist President who attacks people because they are African-Americans. That is disgrace, and that is why we are going to defeat this President.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: The President is as he usually is or often is disgusting and racist. He makes these charges with no base at all and they are designed to distract attention from the very serious allegations about his conduct that came from the Mueller -- from the committee hearings this week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And as more critics voice their condemnation, the President is spending the day at his Virginia golf course.

CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez following all had of the developments. So Boris, you know, Trump's acting chief of staff came out this

morning defending the President's actions.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Mick Mulvaney the acting chief of staff explaining President Trump often says things that offends people but his attacks on representative Cummings and the city of Baltimore are not about race. He says that critics are reading too deep into the President's comments.

He says that the President was simply upset about Elijah Cummings' descriptions of detention centers along the southern border and the President wanted to show Cummings was being dishonest. Listen to more from the acting chief of staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: The President is attacking Mr. Cummings for saying things that are not true about the border. I think it's right for the President to raise the issue. Look, I was in Congress for six years. If I had poverty in my district like they have in Baltimore, if I had crime in my district like they have in Chicago, if I have homelessness in my district like they have in San Francisco, I spend all of my time in Washington, D.C. chasing down this Mueller investigation, this bizarre impeachment crusade, I would get fired. And I think the President is right to raise that and it has absolutely zero to do with race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Now to be fair now, we have heard reports of squalid conditions at these detention facilities that fall in line with the descriptions that we have heard from congressman Cummings. And also if you look at the President's tweets at no point does he even refer to Cummings description of these migrant centers. He has repeatedly bashing the congressman about his own district and going further and essentially smearing the city of Baltimore. The White House yet again trying to polish what President Trump said in his tweets yesterday, Fred.

WHITFIELD: OK. And then, Boris, it's not just Cummings, you know, who the President is criticizing. He's also tweeting about house speaker Nancy Pelosi. Elaborate further on that and the White House response.

SANCHEZ: Yes. You just saw the tweets of the President withstanding about Nancy Pelosi there. He is effectively misrepresenting something that we heard from representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about Nancy Pelosi. He is suggesting that she said that she was a racist. The representative actually didn't say that in those previous tweets. And this one the President launches a similar attack on Pelosi that he did on Cummings attacking her district. He writes quote "speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what's

happened to Nancy Pelosi's district in San Francisco. It is not even recognizable lately. Something must be done before it's too late. The Dems should stop wasting time on a witch hunt hoax and start focusing on our country."

The President still upset Democrats are considering a potential impeachment, obviously, with Robert Mueller's testimony last week, that top of mind for the President. And we are seeing a bit of the preview the way that he is going to go after Democrats district by district potentially going into 2020, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

Joining me right now Democratic congresswoman Debbie Dingel of Michigan.

First, I want your response to the President's attack on your colleagues, congressman Cummings, you know. How concerning is it that the President may feel emboldened or that he believes this is politically advantageous for him.

[14:05:14] REP. DEBBIE DINGEL (D), MICHIGAN: You know what I want to say to the President? Mr. President, your job is to unite this country. And when you take shots as you did at Elijah Cummings in the city of Baltimore, when you take shots at my colleague, Rashida Tlaib, you are attacking the constituents of those districts. They take it very personally. Your job is to unite us, not to divide us. And I just think it's so unacceptable and it's not what the President of the United States is supposed to do.

WHITFIELD: And in fact your colleague Rashida Tlaib said earlier today, you know, that this President is, you know, sowing hate. He is not advancing any kind of policy but instead hate. Do you agree with her summation of his actions?

DINGEL: He is. I have to tell you that I actually represent most of the Arab-Americans in Michigan. Rashida does not. I have little school children that are grabbing my legs and telling me that they are afraid that somebody is going to come and pull them out of their houses in the middle of the night and take them away and they are never going to be seen again.

This is not Germany in the '30s and '40s. This is the United States of America. And I would plead with the President, be a President for everybody. Stop attacking cities that need help, need you to help them.

WHITFIELD: And I hate to deliver this, you know, but it is important for people to understand the totality of the words that come from the President and the reaction, too.

The "Baltimore Sun" in fact issuing an op-ed this morning blasting the President's comments. Just look at the headline. You know, better to have a few rats than to be one. Even calling the President quote "the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women's private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses and the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin."

I mean, this is quite extraordinary. What are your thoughts on, you know, the state of affairs in America? When you have words like this, you know, describing the President's language, behavior and his rants?

DINGEL: So, I'm going to tell you, I was somebody when he got sworn in as President I respect the office of the presidency. We all need to. But the office of the presidency and the President needs to respect the people that he represents. His job is -- you know, our pledge of allegiance says united we stand, divided we fall. His job isn't to divide us. People in this country need hope. They need somebody to care about them. There are a lot of problems out there. But you know what? Put your hand out and say how do I help you? Let me help you. Don't keep throwing kerosene on a fire. Bring us together. I am really angry, angrier than I have been in a year.

WHITFIELD: Are you worried that it's only going to worsen?

DINGEL: I am worried that it's going to worsen. I'm worried about this next election. You know, I just -- I'm out there. I hear people. I talk to people. It's not OK. It really isn't OK. And we need to remember the community is the strength of democracy. We have got to support our communities not tear them apart.

WHITFIELD: And now congresswoman, two days ahead of the next Democratic debate and, you know, health care, public option versus Medicare for all will likely take center stage. Senator Bernie Sanders, you know, made his case for the latter this morning on the "STATE OF THE UNION." Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: Let's talk about one of those issues specifically you and other 2020 Democrats are going to be debating on this stage from where we are right now. Your Medicare for all plan will be front and center no doubt. Senator Kamala Harris says she supports it and she will not raise taxes on middle class Americans to fund it. I want to you take listen to what former vice president Joe Biden had to say about that.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I find people say they're for Medicare for all but they are not going to tax the middle class because you don't need to d that. Come on. I mean, what is this? Is this a fantasy world here?

TAPPER: Do you agree with vice president Biden that senator Harris is in fantasy world?

SANDERS: Well, the first thing that we have to understand Medicare for all people are in the House, people are not going to pay any premiums, they are not going to pay any deductible, they are not going to pay co-payments. So if you call a premium a tax, we are getting rid of that.

But I do believe in a progressive way people will have to pay taxes. The wealthy will obviously pay the lion share of those taxes. But at the end of the day the vast majority of the American people will pay substantially less for the health care that they now receive because we are going to do away with hundreds of billions of dollars of administrative waste. We are going to do away with the incredible profiteering of the insurance companies and the drug cases. So people will be paying, in some cases, more in taxes. But overall, because they are not going to pay premiums, deductibles, co-payments, they will be paying less for their healthcare.

[14:10:00] TAPPER: So is vice president Biden correct? That anybody who says for all is going to happen but we are not going to raise taxes on anybody or the middle class? Is it a fantasy world?

SANDERS: Well, obviously, healthcare is not free. Right now we pay for it for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. (INAUDIBLE) through taxes. We will have to do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. So you are the cochair for the Medicare for all caucus. So is it a fantasy world or, you know, fantasy world versus, you know, a central change that everyone can afford?

DINGEL: So I am a very pragmatic person and you have to remember who you are talking to. You're talking to a person whose father-in-law was one of the authors of Social Security and one of the first people to introduce Medicare for all legislation in the early '40s. My husband introduced it every years since 1955. It took 20 years to get Medicare. Did we get children's health insurance program when we got the affordable care act.

Here is a reality and people have to -- you know, I really dug into this. I know this subject. People on the affordable care act, there are people that are paying more for the premiums, they are sky high. Their deductibles are high. When you ask people this question, do you believe we should still have private insurance? Medicare for all wouldn't take it away, but why do people think their private insurance is so safe? We are in Detroit. These debates are going to happen in Detroit.

WHITFIELD: Well, part of that argument is the quality of care that comes with private insurance versus Medicare versus anything else.

DINGEL: But the quality -- so in 2008 the OEMs, the automated manufacturers were health care providers that built cars on the side. If you are salaried employee at any of the auto, you lose your private insurance when you turn 65. Adios. You have got to go buy your own.

We will make sure the quality is there. And that is why all the stakeholders have to be at the table. It's not us versus them. It's how do you make sure every American has the right to quality affordable health care that can't afford their prescriptions, they can't afford to go to the doctor and there are too many people that's real for right now. We have got to fix it.

WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Debbie Dingel, thank you so much. Appreciate your time. DINGEL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, President Trump going back to his play book of division, doubling down his attacks on lawmakers of color. Is this his main political strategy for 2020? And how will Democrats fight back? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:15:59] WHITFIELD: Race, division, hate and President Trump's role is an unavoidable conversation right now. The President is playing up the strategy of division once again attacking congressman Elijah Cummings tweeting in part yesterday that Cummings' district is, I'm quoting now, "a disgusting rat rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore maybe he could help cleanup this very dangerous and disgusting place," end quote.

So if this sounds familiar, it's because the President has played this game before. In fact, it's become a tried and true part of his play book. You may remember back on July 14th the President launched a racist attack on four sitting Democratic congresswomen of color tweeting why don't they go back and fix a totally crime and broken crime infested places from which they came. Well, four out of the three were born in the U.S. and a fourth born abroad but very much an American sworn in congresswoman.

This congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan was one of those Trump targets. She was born in Detroit. And this morning she said this to CNN's Jake Tapper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: This hate agenda is not -- we are not going to get played here especially in the 13th congressional district. We can see it from far away that he is incompetent, that he hasn't been able to follow through on the promises he made and people are hurting more and more. From farmers to autoworkers to the mother that is trying to provide for their children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The President's pattern of insulting and trying to denigrate people of color with other references in his tweets like, you know, send her back, go back from where they came, inspired an op- ed in "the Washington Post" cosigned by 149 African-Americans who served in the Obama administration. And they address those attacks that they witnessed first-hand while Obama was in office. Those attacks including birtherism driven by then citizen Donald J. Trump. Former President Obama tweeting how proud he is of his former staff.

So all of this now very much part of the race for 2020. Let's talk about it. Bloomberg political reporter Sahil Kapur and Reuters White House correspond Jeff Mason. Good to see you both.

All right. So Sahil, you know, you first. So how does the President see this as politically advantageous for this sitting President to use these words to behave in this manner to insult and denigrate so many?

SAHIL KAPUR, POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: It's the core of his play book. I mean, President Trump has always used a kind of raw form of nativism and racial appeals to try to turn out his base of voters. And it's very clear he is leaning more and more heavily into trying to mobilize that group of voters to show up and vote. And it's his answer, it's his answer to those people as to what their problems are. You know, it's kind of a tribalist, fundamental, prime, call it what you want and approach to getting, you know, people to think people who don't think like you or look like you may be part of the problem and maybe reason for your economic troubles. And it's not a play book I think will expand his reach of support to people who already agree with him. But he believes he can win reelection by turning out those people and super charging that vote.

WHITFIELD: And Jeff, it is very unusual for a former president, you know, to weigh in on a sitting President. We have seen a few occasions with, you know, with George W. Bush, and even Obama and other occasions have done so with this President, but why do you suppose Obama did so in this manner on this occasion especially after his former staff felt like they reached the breaking point, they had to say something in op-ed form?

JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: No, you are right, Fred. It is unusual. And President Obama in particular I think over the last couple of years has really tried to stay out of the conversation, largely respecting the precedent of the fact presidents when they leave office try to let their successors just do their thing. And I think in this case and in a couple of other cases in the last couple of years where President Obama has weighed in, he just kind of got to his limit of what he could sit out. And in this case doing it somewhat subtly and by tweeting the op-ed written by his former staff and saying that he was very proud of them. But not so subtly endorsing clearly the message they were giving in that op-ed which is very condemning of President Trump and what the President -- the current President has said and done.

[14:20:14] WHITFIELD: This current climate, you know, both where the President's tweets and statements, you know, we could go and you know, the ones we are seeing now and spurred 2020 candidates to speak up as well. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our generation saw this country elect its first black President and then turn around and elect a racist to the White House. And we ought to call that what it is.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again. Well, what does again mean? Back before the civil rights act? Back before the voting rights act? Back before Roe v. Wade? Back before the fair housing act? Because we are not going back.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: To be attacked by a President, issuing racist tweets is beyond insulting. It is disgusting. This President brings shame to himself and to the office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Sahil, Democrats, you know, confronting this head on, those on the campaign trail, you know. As a result you see Dems taking on the incumbent more and each other less especially on the debate stage this Tuesday and Wednesday.

KAPUR: Yes, I mean, the more President Trump tweets, the more against the Democratic contenders to respond to that. And that's a very comfortable thing for them. Their base overwhelmingly opposes the President. And you are seeing more and more Democrats, you know, being comfortable on the Presidential stage with calling the President a racist. And I think the party does have somewhat of a question as to how heavily to lean into this. I think if the nominee is someone like a Kamala Harris you will hear a much more aggressive posture in talking about this and going after this whereas if it's someone like Elizabeth Warren she tends to be more comfortable about talking about economics and policy issues.

So there are the tactical divide as to how aggressively to pursue that conversation. But Democrats agree I think it's a nonnegotiable position to be, you know, openly inclusive about diversity and to fight racism.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And Jeff, who can forget that, you know, race, policy, a consciousness were very much at the forefront when Kamala Harris took on Joe Biden in one of the last debates. Take a listen just for those who may have forgotten.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then? Do you agree?

BIDEN: I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed was busing ordered by the department of education. That's what I opposed. I did not oppose --

HARRIS: Well, the failure of states to integrate public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California, public schools almost two decades after Brawn v. Board of education.

BIDEN: Because the city council made that decision. It was a local decision.

HARRIS: So that's where the federal government must step in. That's why we have the voting rights act and the civil rights act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So Jeff, do you see that the tone that took on, you know, has had its course or do you see there will be some revisiting of that kind of going after the frontrunner or Cory Booker, you know, had signposted that, you know, a reflection of 25 years in office, what did you do with it? I mean, is that like signposting of what's to come or will it be a different tone?

MASON: Well, it's a good question, Fred. I mean, I think the reality of a Democratic primary or a primary on either side is that the candidates who are running have to distinguish themselves and have to attack the person who is at the top. And right now that's Joe Biden. So I think it's pretty likely we'll see attacks like that again. But there are risks for sure when it's this topic of race of Democrats sort of bringing themselves down or hurting each other. One of them is going to be the nominee. And doing that at the same time when perhaps other Democrats who aren't running for President would like --

WHITFIELD: And I wonder right on that point, have the risks been heightened especially as a result of the President's vernacular even most recently within the last 48 hours?

MASON: Sure. I mean, I think that's a very fair question. And I suspect that, you know, if we were flies on the wall of some of some advisers of these candidates going into that debate that they would be talking about that. Because there's certainly an argument I would think for Democrats to come out and say, look, we want to come across as a unified slate, as a unified party at these debates. Obviously we have to distinguish ourselves and we have to point out differences but maybe race is not the one.

WHITFIELD: Sahil, this is going to be do or die for so many candidates on that debate stage, right?

KAPUR: I think it absolutely will. I mean, this is -- the second Democratic debate after this debate thresholds for qualifying go up and up. And we saw in the first debate a number of candidates had moments. Julian Castro had, you know, a strong moment where he went after his rivals. Cory Booker was one of the most candidates on Google trans during that debate, but none of them saw much of a meaningful bounce. So it seems like Democratic voters are already whittling the fields in their mind. And what can some of the candidates outside the top four or five do to potentially break in there? I'm not sure there is a good answer to that but I think we are going to see them try.

[14:25:11] WHITFIELD: All right. Sahil Kapur, Jeff Mason, good to see you both. Thank you so much.

MASON: Thank you.

KAPUR: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: See you again soon.

The CNN Democratic Presidential debates, well it's almost here, just two days away. Two big nights, ten candidates on each night. The first is on Tuesday, July 30th with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren in the center and then on Wednesday, July 31st, see the rematch potentially between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. So perhaps it will be an all new game altogether. The Democratic Presidential debates live from Detroit only on CNN. All right. Health care will likely be a key point of contention at it

debate so what will each of the candidates plans mean for you? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:29:36] WHITFIELD: All right, just two days until the first of two CNN Democratic Presidential debates this week. And one way the 2020 candidates are setting themselves apart from one another is with their health care plans. That topic scored big wins for Democrats in the Midterm elections and has played a major role in deciding the last five Presidential elections.

Our chief Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how some of the front runners are hoping their plans will connect with voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[14:30:05] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): They have different ideas on how to get there, but the same central message.

SANDERS: Health care is a human right.

HARRIS: Access to health care should be a right.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for this country to make quality affordable health care a right and not a privilege.

GUPTA: Better, cheaper, health care, it's a challenge no matter where you are on the political spectrum.

ERIN FUSE BROWN, LAW PROFESSOR: I think people are really frustrated with their current health care system.

GUPTA: Erin Fuse Brown, a health law expert at Georgia state says the system has fundamental flaws.

BROWN: It's really the worst consumer experience.

GUPTA: And we pay a lot for it. The United States has some of the most expensive health care in the worlds, around $3.5 trillion a year.

SANDERS: People should not be forced into financial ruin into bankruptcy for what reason? Because someone in the family became ill.

GUPTA: In 2016 his was a lone voice, but many Democrats are now getting in line behind Bernie Sanders who has long called for a single payer system.

WARREN: I'm with Bernie on Medicare for all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So then how does this plan differ from what senator Sanders is proposing?

HARRIS: I think that they are very similar.

BROWN: In a single payer system everyone would be automatically enrolled in a government run program like Medicare.

GUPTA: It would cover hospital visits, hospitalization but also hearing aides, dental and vision, these candidates say. There would be some copays for brand name prescription drugs. But a sort of litmus test is starting to take shape. The question is will a single payer system also eliminate private insurance as we know it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government ran plan?

GUPTA: At the Democratic debates in June only senator Sanders and Harris along with Warren and New York city mayor Bill de Blasio raised their hands. Harris later said she had misinterpreted the question.

BIDEN: Anyone who has their employer based insurance can keep it if they want.

GUPTA: The former vice president Joe Biden doesn't envision a system without private insurance. And he is leading a charge on the public option. Perhaps no surprise Biden wants to expand Obamacare.

BROWN: In a public option everyone would have to option to buy a Medicare type plan for themselves but they wouldn't be automatically enrolled.

BIDEN: We can protect and make sure at least 97 percent to 100 percent of the American people have coverage.

GUPTA: Biden's plan caps premiums and offers subsidies to buy insurance regardless of your income. Biden says his proposal would cost $750 billion over ten years, money he would raise primarily through taxes and cutting costs. Sanders plan calls for tax increases as well, money that he believes will be more than offset by lower premiums.

SANDERS: My guess is that people in the middle class will be paying somewhat more in taxes but they are going to be paying significantly less overall in health care.

GUPTA: Harris says she believes her plan could be achieved without a middle class tax increase.

HARRIS: Well, part of it is going to have to be about wall street paying more, about looking at how we and what we tax.

GUPTA: But Medicare for all may not be an easy sell politically. A recently released NPR/pbs national poll found 78 percent favor Medicare for all for those who want it. But just four in 10 say it's a good idea if there's no longer private insurance. And 54 percent are even more blunt saying it's a bad idea.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And just in case you were wondering U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has a message for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBERG, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I am very much alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Next, RBG sounds off about her critics in a new interview and comes to the defense of controversial new justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:37:45] WHITFIELD: All right, I'm quoting now, I am very much alive. That from the U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The 86-year-old justice not holding back in a recent NPR interview in which she says she has no plans to retire and will go full steam ahead as long as she can.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINSBERG: There was a senator, I think it was (INAUDIBLE), who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months. That senator whose name I have forgotten is now himself dead. And I am very much alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Ginsberg or RBG as some affectionally call her is a three times cancer survivor. And while she refuses to compromise with her fellow conservatives on the bench, she recently came to the defense of her two newest colleagues justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, calling them very smart and very decent.

Joining me right now is CNN Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic.

Good to see you, Joan. So she is spicy and has always been. I mean, that woman has moxie. So, you know, why do you feel she though it was so important right now to let people hear her voice, see her and speak on her health and even on her colleagues?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure. It was the senator (INAUDIBLE) of Kentucky who said that about her, and she's exactly right, he has passed away and she's still here.

You know, she is probably the most watched justice of these nine. It is because, you know, first of all it's her age, 86 and the fact she is the senior liberal. She is very influential on her side of the bench. But also think what would happen if she decided to retire while Donald Trump was still in office. It would give him an opportunity to name a third justice to the Supreme Court and not just a conservative for a conservative this time as he essentially did the first two appointments. It would be a conservative appointee succeeding this liberal icon. It would tilt the bench mump more heavily to the right and affect everything from, you know, women's reproductive rights to the power of federal regulators here in Washington.

[14:40:01] WHITFIELD: Did she elaborate on how mindful she may be of those elements in particular that offer her fuel to keep going?

BISKUPIC: Well, you know, she does keep going. She did talk about how partisan the process is getting and how when she was nominated and approved in 1993 her count, I think it was 96-3 and she said that would never happen again. And she reminded people she had been a women's rights advocate associated with the ACLU. But yet she got through nearly unanimously. And that just doesn't happen anymore. And she's mindful of how polarizing things have gotten.

WHITFIELD: And you recently met with her yourself last week and you wrote about, you know, how she is laying the groundwork for what may be next, you know. But what was the context of your conversation, the breadth of it?

BISKUPIC: I just saw her at one of the events she had sponsored at a Washington, D.C. law firm here by Duke University. That's when she defended two of her colleagues because the professor who was on stage with her said, you know, things have gotten so polarized can we expect any appointee to be independent or decent. And she jumped right on that saying, you know, even though she doesn't like how the process has gone, she wanted to sort of close ranks.

But, you know, in terms of her liberal colleagues, Fred, she has been handing off more opinions to Elena Kagen, Steven Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor who are essentially her lieutenants going forward and she is less willing to compromise with conservatives. She is dissenting alone writing concurrences, right. She wants her voice to be heard very loudly even in dissent and even when writing alone.

WHITFIELD: It seems we are hearing it all the time.

BISKUPIC: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Notorious RBG indeed.

All right. Joan Biskupic, thank you so much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, a CNN reporter caught in the middle of protests in Hong Kong gets tear gassed as demonstrations get more violent and we are there next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:46:11] WHITFIELD: In Hong Kong what began as a sanctioned demonstration in a downtown park soon became an illegal march that turned violent.

CNN reporter Anna Coren was there as police unleashed their tear gas.

(VIDEOCLIP PLAYING)

WHITFIELD: This is the eighth week in a row of demonstrations. It began with protesters demanding the withdrawal of a bill that would allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China. That bill has been put on the back burner but protesters say they want it gone for good. And now protesters also want charges filed against police and gangsters involved in earlier violence against demonstrators. They are also demanding free elections where the candidates are not chosen by government officials.

Ana Coren has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Frederica, it's been another ugly and violent night here on the streets of Hong Kong. The police have gone home. The protesters have gone home, but for more than five hours protesters and police clashed, tear gas was dispersed over and over and over again.

We got caught up in one of the early clashes, tear gas going off very close to where we were doing a live report. And sucking in that gas, it was absolutely horrific. Even though we were wearing gas masks it was burning our lungs, burning our skin. And to think that the protesters who are not wearing the sort of equipment that we are were putting up with it, returning to the front line fighting the police, it truly was incredible. They staged these running battles with police through the streets of Hong Kong.

Police fired the tear gas as I mentioned. They fired rubber bullets. There were reports that they were hitting some of the protesters with their batons. But at the end of the day police really cracked down. It was a change of tempo. They upped the ante. For the last eight consecutive weekends police have allowed these protests to take place here in Hong Kong.

This weekend they were unlawful assemblies. The protesters weren't able to get permits so these protests were effectively illegal. And we did see police behaving much more aggressively, much more forcefully. And the tear gas that was used was also a lot stronger.

Now there are reports that the number of people were taken to hospitals suffering injuries. We Are also hearing there were several arrests that have been made. But there is no end in sight for these protests that have paralyzed this city every single weekend for almost two months now. And from the protesters that we have spoken to, they say they are going to continue taking to the streets in the weeks and months ahead to fight for the freedom and the future of Hong Kong. Back to you.

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WHITFIELD: Anna Coren, thank you so much in Hong Kong.

All right. Still ahead, one of two American suspects accused of killing a police officer in Italy is handcuffed and blindfolded. Now authorities are trying to figure how this picture hot leak.

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[14:53:10] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Authorities in Italy say they are investigating a shocking photo that was leaked of a blindfolded and handcuffed American teenager accused of murdering an Italian police officer. Police say two American teens confessed to assaulting an officer who had come to retrieve a backpack the two allegedly stole, and they say Finnegan Elder, the teen in that photo we just showed who was blindfolded confessed to stabbing the officer two death.

Barbie Nadeau has the latest from Rome.

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BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Frederica, the investigation has taken a turn. Photos leaked to the Italian press show sort of a disturbing situation at the time of the interrogation. One of the young American men is shown blindfolded. The police have confirmed to CNN that they have opened up a two prong investigation into themselves.

One of the questions they are trying to answer is who blindfolded that young suspect and why. The other part of the investigation is who leaked the photo.

Meanwhile in Rome hundreds of people gathered to pay their last respects to this 35-year-old (INAUDIBLE) police officer during a public wake. We saw officers from various contingents of the Italian security forces. We saw people from the catholic church, nuns and priests and we saw every day citizens laying flowers, paying their respects and praying in front of the casket of this young 35-year-old police officer who was a newly wed who had just returned to the force after his honeymoon.

Meanwhile, though, in the United States the friends and family of these suspects in this horrific crime are telling kind of a different story about the people that they knew. Let's listen to what one of the neighbors had to say.

[14:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My vision of him and I don't see him doing that.

NADEAU: Here in Italy, though, of course, the mood is very different. And the focus right now is mourning this lost police officer. On the Monday, the funeral will be held in a small town New Naples in the same church where he was married in early June -- Fredricka?

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WHITFIELD: All right. Barbie Nadeau, thank you so much. All right. Next, Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand

slams the men challenging her in 2020. Why she says they really don't believe in women's rights.

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[14:59:12] WHITFIELD: From "Star Wars" to "the Godfather" to "Close Encounters," our new original series "the Movies" continues Sunday night with the '70s. Here's a preview.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert had an unbelievable run in the '70s. He had Mash, California Split, he had the Long Goodbye, he had Nashville, in McCabe and Mrs. Miller. In every movie he wants to capture a sense of spontaneity and simultaneity, the sense of really being there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you first see "McCabe and Mrs. Miller," you can smell that film. It's just the steam and the piss and the cooking and all the different things that were going on in this town. It's such a beautiful film. And the absolute heart break in all of it --

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