Return to Transcripts main page
New Book Collects 25 Years Of Conversations With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Man Stabbed To Death In Fight Over Popeyes Chicken Sandwich; Sen. Angus King (I-ME) Discusses Efforts To Unmask Whistleblower. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired November 5, 2019 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER, AUTHOR, "CONVERSATIONS WITH RBG: RUTH BADER GINSBURG ON LIFE, LOVE, LIBERTY, AND LAW": And she was coming down from an exercise class called Jazzercise. This is the early 90s.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Now, hold on. Was she in her Jazzercise outfit because that's what I'm imagining right now?
ROSEN: You know, I have to say she actually was. She was in her Jazzercise outfit with leggings and a kind of hat.
ROSEN: No Lycra. This is 1992.
CAMEROTA: Got it.
ROSEN: But she's very a formidable person, as you know, and she's completely silent and I just had to break the ice.
I couldn't think of anything else to say so I said what operas have you seen recently? I didn't even know she was an opera fan but I am and it seemed like a safe topic. And, of course, she adores opera and that just opened the floodgate for a conversation about music that led to a correspondence and a friendship that has blessed my life for 25 years.
CAMEROTA: There are so many different topics in here that we could get to. But one of the things that I think is relevant and that she's talked about a lot is the gender discrimination that she has faced throughout her career, particularly in the early years. She was, I guess, rejected by every law firm though she was this stellar student.
And she also talked about, and you write about it in the book about how in 1993 when she was selected to the Supreme Court -- obviously, that was a huge moment -- but that for a while -- for many years after Sandra Day O'Connor left she felt isolated.
Here's what you write. "Ginsburg felt isolated as the only woman on an increasingly conservative court. She began to recast herself from the moderate minimalist to the notorious dissenter."
That tells you something about her personality.
ROSEN: It's remarkable. Her evolution from a judge's judge -- a minimalist who -- remarkably, some women's groups opposed at the time that she was nominated for being insufficiently liberal on Roe v. Wade -- became the Notorious RBG because she felt she had to. She thought once she became the senior associate justice she had to speak for all the liberals and persuade them to speak in one voice.
And it was in 2013 when Notorious RBG Tumblr went viral, she really conceived of herself as being a heroic voice for the principle of liberalism.
CAMEROTA: Do you call her RBG?
ROSEN: Well, in writing, because she -- that's what she signed herself when I first met her. I was a law clerk and she would say "With appreciation, RBG." She's so careful with her words. And I would not say it to her face but I would write to her as "Dear RBG."
And one of the most remarkable experiences of this book is that she copy edited every word. And I got an e-mail from her at the end of the Supreme Court term in June saying the edits are ready. And I was stunned. I said how did you have time for this in the midst of everything else you were doing? She said I promised you I would do it and I would.
And in her beautiful pencil, every page was marked up because she's so careful with her word choice. She's such an inspiration of self- discipline and attention to detail and focus on her job and serving others. She's my personal and constitutional hero.
CAMEROTA: I don't blame you, she's remarkable. She also is tireless. I mean, she's had a lot of physical challenges and somehow she just keeps showing up at the Supreme Court. You write about that, too -- about this past year for her and what it's been like.
She says, "This term was hard for me because from November when I cracked my ribs, to the beginning of May, lung cancer was a major impediment. During that time, the best thing for me was to sit down with an opinion draft, stop thinking about my discomforts, and just do work."
ROSEN: Just do the work. Isn't that the most extraordinary advice for all of us about how to live? Here is this woman with the burdens of the nation on her shoulders, having these health problems.
And I asked her, you know. I said your mother often told you to overcome unproductive emotions like jealousy and anger. Yes, she said. And that's the advice of the great wisdom traditions. Yes, she said.
I said but how do you actually do it? And she said because I realize if I don't do it, I will lose precious time for productive work. I mean, just the self-discipline is absolutely extraordinary and it
inspires me every day. When I'm surfing or wasting time, I think of the great RBG and I buckle down and start reading and writing and trying to make something of the day.
CAMEROTA: As we approach an impeachment vote for President Trump, do you know what RBG thinks of these fraught political times?
ROSEN: Well, I -- you know, her friends might have a sense of it but she would never share it in public. And, of course, she'd have no role at all in the impeachment, as the Supreme Court doesn't.
But I did ask her what to do in these fraught times and she emphasized the importance of education for kids and having them focus on something larger than themselves, like fighting gender discrimination or climate change -- really finding a purpose in life and doing the hard work.
She said -- I said what's your advice to my 13-year-old kids? And she said with enough hard work and self-discipline anything is possible.
CAMEROTA: She is the living personification of that.
Jeffrey, what a great book. It's called "Conversations with RBG." You just have so much in here and her role model nature comes through in everything. So thanks so much for sharing it with us.
ROSEN: Thanks for sharing with me.
CAMEROTA: John --
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A great discussion, I have to say, and it only scratched the surface on Jazzercise.
Some tragic news here. The fried chicken frenzy at Popeyes turning violent. Details on what prompted a fight that ended in murder.
CAMEROTA: Breaking news overnight. A Maryland man was stabbed to death in a fight over the popular Popeyes chicken sandwich. Police say a suspect is still at large.
CNN's Jean Casarez is here with details. Really, Jean?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is really tragic. The facts are still coming in but here is what we know at this point.
Police are saying it was about 7:00 last night. It was Prince George County, Maryland.
And the Popeyes was packed -- you can imagine. People were standing in line -- they were waiting. They were wanting the brand-new Popeyes chicken sandwich. And police are saying that in that line, two men started to get into an argument. The argument escalated. It -- preliminarily, it is believed it was over that chicken sandwich. And so they went outside and that is when one of the two of them took out a knife. The other was stabbed.
People called paramedics. They arrived immediately. They did lifesaving maneuvers to this man and transported him to the hospital, but 51 minutes later he was pronounced dead.
Here's what police have to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER DONELAN, DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: This is related to the release of the sandwich. For you to get that angry over anything -- for that type of anger to develop into this type of violence, again, is a very sad and tragic day. And that person needs to turn themselves in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CASAREZ: And they are asking for anyone that was in the restaurant last night -- if you saw who that perpetrator was please go to police.
The victim was 28 years old.
Popeyes has released a statement saying that they are not sure if it's over their sandwich, but they say it is tragic that someone lost their life on a Monday night in the parking lot outside of a Popeyes -- John, Alisyn.
BERMAN: What a shame. How completely senseless.
CAMEROTA: That's horrible, Jean. Thank you very much.
BERMAN: So, Republicans wanted it, but be careful what you wish for. The transcripts of some of the impeachment testimony -- they are out this morning.
And now, the president is left with a defense that could be summed up in one word by one man. That man is John Avlon and this is your reality check.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Appreciate that, John.
So look, Trump's impeachment strategy can be summed up in one word -- denial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was perfect -- it was perfect. It was a perfect phone call. You can't impeach a president who did nothing wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: Despite all of the evidence -- the damning testimony from White House and State Department staffers, President Trump is still in deep denial that there was anything wrong with his Ukrainian conversation. Faced with an avalanche of bad facts, his default was to essentially deny their existence and then do a little patented deflect and project in the belief that his supporters won't know or care.
And so last night, we saw human props wearing the president's latest catchphrase, "Read the Transcript." But almost anyone who has actually read the transcript or paid attention to the testimony knows that multiple people inside the Trump administration flagged the call as being counter to America's interests.
Of course, the White House is all in with a denial strategy. The press secretary saying, "The president has done nothing wrong and Democrats know it." Even son-in-law Jared Kushner is advising staff that the facts are in the White House's favor. The denial is strong in these ones.
But the administration is also denying Congress' power to subpoena them, refusing to comply at least 13 times. This includes four members of the White House staff called on Monday, including John Eisenberg, who hid the Ukrainian conversation on a highly-classified server.
Now, keep in mind, the last president who just decided to ignore a boatload of congressional subpoenas in an impeachment inquiry was Richard Nixon, and that led into a third article of impeachment for contempt of Congress.
But, hey, denial is a helluva drug. It lets you ignore inconvenient facts, democratic norms, and historic precedence and instead, just live in a self-serving fantasyland -- in this case, temporarily protected by executive power.
But now Republicans have a choice. They can either back the president's denial strategy or opt for at least a variation on the theme, something like yeah, the call was bad. The president shouldn't withhold military aid to force foreign powers to investigate political rivals but it doesn't rise to the level of impeachment. That's for things like lying about affairs with interns.
But just when that approach seemed to be gaining traction, the president fired off a tweet that undercut their argument.
But amid all this circus let's not forget that impeachment is serious stuff. It's only been pursued four times in our history. We've seen presidents fight for their political lives but we've never seen a president insist on an alternate reality, repeating fact-free nonsense over and over, betting his supporters will buy it.
And after all, though, one of the Trump's lawyers just literally argued in court that Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not face any immediate legal consequences.
But we shouldn't give in to this normalization because in a republic, facts matter -- not simply fear of a dear leader or fear of an agitated base. Facts matters because our republic depends on our ability to reason together.
And the question for the country or, more specifically, congressional Republicans is whether they will insist on a fact-based impeachment inquiry or simply fall into line behind an emperor who is clearly wearing no clothes while saying something that sounds a lot like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: And that's your reality check.
CAMEROTA: Thank goodness someone is here to bring a little reality to this whole process.
BERMAN: Look, and not to preview something going on tomorrow, you have some insight, though, into how it's all working, yes?
CAMEROTA: Yes. I'll have a voter panel from -- of swing state voters. These are swing voters. They voted for Republicans and Democrats in the past. And I just can't wait to share with you how they're feeling about the impeachment and the election.
BERMAN: All right, it's time for "CNN Business Now."
Optimism is rising on the U.S.-China trade front. The "Financial Times" is reporting that the Trump administration is considering dropping some tariffs to secure a partial deal that would pause at least parts of the trade war.
CNN chief business correspondent and star of "EARLY START," Christine Romans here with the details -- Romans.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Good morning, you guys.
Well, the president has called himself "Tariff Man" and tariffs have been his favorite tool against China, so dropping them would be a huge change in strategy for this White House.
So what is the state of play?
The U.S. and China are trying to finalize this so-called phase one mini trade deal. China is pressing Washington to remove all tariffs as soon as possible. Numerous media reports this morning that U.S. and Chinese officials are considering rolling back more tariffs.
Now, officials tell CNN no decisions have been made yet beyond canceling a round of tariffs in October. That already happened.
The "Financial Times" says the White House is considering taking off the tariffs that went into effect in September on clothing, appliances, and flat-screen monitors.
President Trump and the Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross appeared optimistic about the progress of talks over the weekend and the president even teased a signing with President Xi, maybe in Iowa. Now, both sides appear to want to avoid new tariffs scheduled for December 15th.
But investors, you guys, have been fooled by progress before. What's on the table today is not the course correction the president sought, but a mini deal to keep the parties talking with the hopes of a broader deal later.
And, guys, the stock market really likes it. I think you can expect record highs in the stock market again today. The idea of a pause in hostility between these two big trading partners is something Wall Street wants to see -- John.
BERMAN: Christine Romans, thank you very much. And we're glad you survived the candy fiasco at your home this week. Halloween-gate at the Romans'.
ROMANS: No more candy holidays for me -- no more.
CAMEROTA: We'll see about that.
BERMAN: President Trump and his allies stepping up efforts to unmask the whistleblower. We're going to speak with one senator who calls it illegal and dangerous, and that might be an understatement. That's next.
BERMAN: Overnight, we saw something truly remarkable and stunning, and to many people, upsetting as the president and his allies are trying to out the whistleblower -- reveal the identity of the person who initially raised concerns about the president's phone call with Ukraine and asking to investigate domestic political opponents.
Joining me now is Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine. Senator, thank you very much for being with us.
I want to play for you and for our audience, once again, what Sen. Rand Paul said last night on stage side-by-side with the president because I think there's something at many levels here that is of concern. Yes, the president and his allies have been trying to get the identity of the whistleblower out there, but I want you to listen to the way Rand Paul is doing it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): The whistleblower needs to come before Congress as a material witness because he worked for Joe Biden at the same time Hunter Biden was getting money from corrupt oligarchs. I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, first of all, there's no evidence for what Rand Paul is saying there on the facts of the arguments he's making. But calling on others to release the identity of the whistleblower -- he knows that releasing the identity is against the law and dangerous.
What did you see there?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): Well, it's deeply troubling and really disappointing.
Number one, the whistleblower's identity and what they have to say at this point is totally irrelevant to this investigation.
It's like a person walking by seeing smoke coming out of the upstairs windows of a house and they call the fire department. The fire department comes and fights the fire. Who called the fire department doesn't matter if there's a real fire.
And this whistleblower -- I went back and read the complaint last night. Virtually everything in that complaint has now been verified in public -- in public testimony -- particularly the transcript of the -- the partial transcript. We don't even know if it's a real transcript, but the partial transcript of the call confirms exactly what the whistleblower said.
So, who it is -- I don't care if it's Tom Brady. It doesn't matter because the investigation is what happened.
This is a distraction, John. This is an effort -- and if their name comes out, they're going to spend a week finding that his grandmother voted Democratic for Franklin Roosevelt or something. It has nothing to do with the facts and it's simply a distraction.
There are all kinds -- I can go on and on about how wrong this is in terms of people -- you want people to come forward, you want to respect the law. And it's really -- disappointing is too mild a word. It's terrible and it's terrible for the country.
BERMAN: What are the consequences, perhaps, for the safety of the whistleblower?
KING: Well, number one, they have to worry about their job. This is a person that took an enormous risk to come forward.
And by the way, again, if you read the complaint -- which you can go online and find -- they were very careful to cite the law -- to do everything right to submit the complaint to the -- to the inspector general, the Intelligence Community, and then it went on to Congress. They followed all the rules.
So, there's professional retribution. But in this atmosphere that we're in now, there is danger. I think there's really serious danger to this person's life.
Apparently, the FBI is already investigating death threats to this person even though we don't know who it is. This is -- this is bad stuff. If something happened -- if this name comes out by virtue of the pressure of members of Congress or the president or the White House and then something terrible happens to them, it's on their heads. This is -- this is bad stuff, John.
BERMAN: And there was something I felt a little bit underhanded and small -- more than a little bit with what Sen. Paul did there because he's saying media, you do it.
BERMAN: Someone else should go do this.
BERMAN: He's not going to do it himself, it seemed to me, because he knows there are legal implications, but he wants someone else to carry his water for him.
KING: Yes, he didn't want to break the law directly on national television so he requested that you do it. And it's -- I just -- as you can tell, I'm a pretty mild-mannered guy but this one, it just is infuriating.
And again, to go back to the beginning, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter who this person is. All they did was report what they were hearing and now we've heard from the very people that can confirm those charges and more and more evidence is coming out to confirm it. That's what's relevant to this investigation, not who this person is.
I saw this crop up the first few days and I think it's just terribly wrong and harmful to the country. Nobody -- who's going to come forward the next time?
BERMAN: Senator, I want to ask you about the John Durham investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. Now, Durham, when he was appointed, was widely seen by members of both parties as someone who's a straight shooter with a long record of investigating.
But the attorney general's role in this is now being called into question as he travels the globe pressuring other countries to get involved with this investigation.
What do you make of that?
KING: Well, I want to -- I want to answer your question but I also just want to say one other word.
The president keeps saying read the transcript. That's what I say. I would recommend anyone to read the transcript of that phone call and see if you think it was perfect because it was all about investigating the DNC and investigating the Bidens.
Now, as far as the Durham investigation, I frankly don't really understand it. I've worked on this issue on the Intelligence Committee with unclassified and classified material for almost three years.
There is no doubt that the Russians interfered with our election. And the information that the FBI had in the summer of 2016, if they had not followed up it would have been prosecutorial malpractice. They had to follow up because they had information that raised very serious counterespionage concerns about another country trying to influence our election and having contacts with members of the Trump campaign. That's something you have to follow up.
So I don't know what they're chasing and the idea that now there's going to be a possible criminal investigation -- I haven't seen anything in my work that suggests anything that would be remotely criminal.
By the way, also, John, there was a lengthy -- I think it was more than 100 pages -- inspector general report on the activities of the FBI, specifically, and Mr. Comey that basically said there were some lapses of judgment but nothing illegal. And so, here we are going over the same ground again -- I think, again, as a distraction.
BERMAN: Sen. Angus King of Maine, always a pleasure to have you on, sir.
KING: Yes, sir. Thanks, John.
BERMAN: Thanks so much -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Max Foster is next.
For our U.S. viewers, breaking news. Nine Americans, mothers and children, killed in an ambush attack in Mexico. "NEW DAY" continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A significant day on Capitol Hill as we saw the release of the first transcripts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marie Yovanovitch, a career diplomat, saying behind closed doors she was warned to "watch my back" because of Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ambassador McKinley expressed his concern about Pompeo not having the backs of Foreign Service officers.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The officers at the State Department have had to testify without counsel. I regret that.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi are the states to watch.
TRUMP: You will vote to reelect Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a way to rally troops for these candidates but it's also his way to get his message out there -- read the transcript.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, November fifth, 8:00 now in the East.
And we have reached the public phase of the impeachment inquiry with some fascinating transcripts now released from the closed-door interviews with diplomats like Marie Yovanovitch.
Today, we could see more firsthand accounts of the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine, this time from the ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, and former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker. Transcripts of their testimony are expected to be released at any moment. We would, of course, bring those to you.
Text messages establish that both men, along with Rudy Giuliani.