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Erin Burnett Outfront
New Video Shows Intense Firefight Near Kyiv As Ukrainian Troops Battle To Regain Territory; Kremlin Says Putin Has Not Achieved His Goals In Ukraine; U.S. State Dept. Condemning Russia's "Sham Ruling" On Navalny; Top Putin Critic Sentenced Nine Years In Prison; Senate Hearing Underway For SCOTUS Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson; Senators Question Judge Jackson In Confirmation Hearing. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 22, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: President Putin wants to scare the world and keep the world on tenterhooks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Be sure to join me tomorrow for a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM." We'll be live from Brussels where we'll be covering the historic NATO summit this week. Thanks for Watching.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, the U.S. and NATO warning another country is about to join Russia's invasion even as Putin's top spokesman says the war is going as planned.
Plus Putin's nemesis and top critics sentence to another nine years in a maximum security penal prison. Alexey Navalny's close friend is OUTFRONT.
And the breaking news in Washington tonight, the historic confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. We're going to take you there live. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight two major breaking stories; intense fighting this hour in Ukraine. We have new video of a firefight with Russians on the outskirts of Ukrainian capital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allahu akbar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allahu akbar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allahu akbar (inaudible) ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allahu akbar. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allahu akbar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This is taking place about 18 miles from Kyiv. This video just coming in, obviously, it happened earlier. It is dark there now. But you hear that gunfire and a man firing a shoulder-fired missile launcher. According to the Ukrainian politician who published this video, the fighters are Chechen immigrants who are taking up arms to defend Ukraine.
Now, all of this as the war in Ukraine could be about to escalate and get bigger. U.S. and NATO officials tell CNN that Belarus may send soldiers into Ukraine to help Putin. The U.S. official telling CNN, "Putin needs support anything would help."
Well, our other top story this hour is also ongoing, a contentious Senate hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. That is underway and we're going bring that to you live later this hour.
First though, I want you to hear what the Kremlin spokesman said today, Dmitry Peskov. And he admitted the obvious saying Putin has not yet achieved his goals in Ukraine. And goodness, he could at least admit that. There was nothing to cover that up, but Peskov did insist, absurdly, that the war is going to plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: No one would think from the very beginning about a couple of days, it's a serious operation with serious purposes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: But according to the Pentagon, Putin is growing desperate with the lack of progress on the ground as Ukraine is making increased headway not just in holding, but in pushing back Russian troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We have seen indications that the Ukrainians are going a bit more on the offense now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Just today, the Kyiv regional police posted this video which is said to show Ukrainian forces once again in control the town of Makariv, which is about 40 miles away from Kyiv. CNN has confirmed that is where this video was taken. Ukraine's efforts to actually push back stalled Russian forces from Kyiv has caused that fierce fighting.
We just showed you that video that we just got also thick black smoke seen rising over the city amidst those now all too familiar air raid sirens. And the death toll that Russia is facing in its stalled at best efforts around Kyiv maybe incredibly high. Remember a Russian newspaper cited the Russian Ministry of Defense thanks 26,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured.
Now Russia denies those numbers. But there may be a way to figure out the toll of Putin's invasion and that is by looking at the hospitals in north along the Belarus border. Earlier I spoke to the opposition leader there Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SVIATLANA TSIKHANOUSKAYA, BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: We getting information from medics that this situation has place - that a lot of people - Russian military officers are in (inaudible) hospitals and where medics are like taking care of them. And these cars with the soldiers are coming in the night so nobody could see it and extra medics have been sent to hospitals at the borders. It means that they had a lot to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Cars with soldiers coming during the night, extra medics being sent to hospitals and no one allowed to go in those hospitals. That is the sign of what is happening there with Russian troops and the signs from Belarus itself on joining the invasion are ominous.
So as the U.S. says Belarus may send soldiers actually across the border to fight Ukraine, Tsikhanouskaya has a message for those Belarusian soldiers tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TSIKHANOUSKAYA: Our task now is to persuade to explain to our soldiers that they don't have to do this for the sake of one person. With this war, they are not defending our country. But they participate in the war of two dictators against our brother Ukrainians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Fred Pleitgen in his OUTFRONT on the ground in Kyiv tonight. And Fred, obviously, what you have been seeing and hearing a lot here in these past hours, more than in some recent days.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Erin. And we have to point out we're under a curfew that was on the entire day. It's unclear whether or not the Ukrainians use that curfew to move some troops around the Kyiv area to maybe launch some sort of counter offensive against the Russian forces.
But it was so interesting to see that video of that massive firefight that was taking place there on the ground, because for the better part of the day, we did hear gun battles not far from where we are at all. We did hear a lot of automatic rifle fire, a small arms fire and whether or not that was the same is really hard to tell.
But it was certainly something that was very distinct and certainly something that we have not heard, those gun battles over the past couple of days.
Now, on top of that, what you saw here in Kyiv today and heard in Kyiv today was a massive battle that was going on, really, probably for six, seven, maybe eight hours. There were not only those air raid sirens, but the entire area around the city was covered in thick black smoke. There were plumes of smoke coming up on the horizon. I think we see some of it there.
It's actually a video that we shot earlier today with some of those impacts that were going on. And all of that is concentrating area, Erin, around the northern part of the city. The northwestern part, the north eastern part, exactly where those Russian forces are situated. Another thing that also happened, there was a massive bang, starting mid day, kind of today.
And the Ukrainians later told us that they actually shot down a Russian missile that was flying towards the Ukrainian capital and that the remnants of that missile then dropped in the river that runs through the capital city, Dnieper River.
But on the whole, it could be the case that Ukraine might be launching some sort of counter offensive, the noises that we're hearing, and what we're seeing seems to be coming from that area. Of course, it is very difficult to tell because no one's surprised the Ukrainians aren't saying very much about this.
But one of the things that they have said is that, of course, they took that very strategic town of Makariv. They showed some video of their forces inside that town now. That's a very key place. That's about 35 miles west of Kyiv and that essentially cuts off the Russians trying to encircle the city.
So the Ukrainians certainly saying they are making headway and also saying they want to launch counter offensives, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Fred.
And I want to go now to retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, after all of that detail in the reporting, he's also a former Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs. And Andrei Soldatov is back with me, a Russian investigative journalist, the Founder and Editor of Agentura.ru, which has been blocked in Russia, also a Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis.
So Gen. Kimmitt, you hear Fred reporting that during the day today at six to eight hours of ongoing fighting, massive plumes of smoke. And for the first time sort of ongoing small arms fire in very clear battles, what do you hear when you hear those details?
BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, it sounds like to me that we're starting to see an initial offensive into Kyiv. It may well be that those small units that we're seeing fighting, which look a lot like a fight in Afghanistan or Iraq maybe trying to hold back the Russian troops or, God willing, they're actually attacking the artillery and rocket positions behind the front lines. Unfortunately, I think those plumes of black smoke continue to be the
barrage of artillery rockets and missiles that the Russians are firing to the city, the way they have been doing it in Mariupol for the last few weeks.
BURNETT: But General, I just want to emphasize what you're saying is it's possible - a lot of the interpretation has been that maybe what we're seeing is because the Russians were stalled and entrenched that this is a Ukrainian counter offensive. You're saying that, in fact, it may not be, it may be a Russian increase in penetration?
KIMMITT: Well, I think it's a couple of things. It could well be that the noise that they're hearing was this opening salvo of trying to soften up the city. I wouldn't call this a counter offensive, what I'm hearing from these troops. It's more local counter attacks, which are important, but in the long run, they may not be significant in the greater scheme of things.
BURNETT: Oh, this is crucial context.
So Andrei, you heard the Belarusian opposition leader talking about these possible mass Russian casualties by what they're seeing on the Belarusian side of the border in the hospitals. And a senior U.S. defense officials said today that America seen indications that Russian soldiers are suffering frostbite, because they don't even have appropriate cold weather gear. These are Russian soldiers, just to emphasize that.
What do you make of all that, Andrei? I mean, just that small detail about not having the right hand gear, if you're a Russian soldier for cold weather is pretty stunning.
ANDREI SOLDATOV, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Yes, it is. And it looks like nobody actually was ready for such a long war. And the initial plan was to finish - we have five Ukrainian forces - maybe in a day or two. Now, obviously, everything is not going according to plan even if, say, Dmitry Peskov is saying something completely different.
And while they're struggling, we have this rumors and information about more and more casualties. And actually now I'm hearing from my friends and from my colleagues in very distant towns in Central Russia, that now they have had some people and families they know they got kids killed in Ukraine, so it's getting bigger and bigger.
BURNETT: So Andrei, just to emphasize that, you're hearing that families are now getting word in very different parts of Russia about the death of their children.
BURNETT: So Gen. Kimmitt, on that front we don't know how significant that will be in Russia. We don't know that. But we do know that that perhaps plays into why the U.S. and NATO believe Belarus could now join the war against Russia. Now, whether the military there would go along with that, this is a real question, but that's - the understanding here is that that might occur. What role would that play? What would Belarus joining do?
KIMMITT: Well, that indicates to me that there has been a lot of small unit battles inside of Ukraine. Some of these battalion tactical groups are probably destroyed by the Ukrainian fighters. It's important to note that the Belarusians use the same tactics and have the same equipment as the Russians do. So these could be effectively combat replacements to take over from what the units that have been lost in combat thus far to give them a little more strength, more air defense, more tanks because of the losses they've been experiencing on the battlefield.
BURNETT: So Andrei, the Kremlin refuses to confirm the number of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. The Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, "We don't have the authority to publicize them during the military operation. This is the exclusive prerogative of the Ministry of Defense."
Now, the Ministry of Defense a Russian tabloid says that there are 26,000 Russian forces killed or injured which is about 20 percent of the total who had originally been deployed in that horseshoe around Ukraine. So the newspaper that reported this then removed all the numbers and said that they had been hacked, so, poof, they disappeared into nowhere. What do you think is going on here, Andrei?
SOLDATOV: Yes, it's a very good question. Yes, Komsomolskaya Pravda now is saying that the hacked, but the interesting thing that the best way to counter propaganda of the enemy is to give some real numbers of how many people were killed. And the last time we had the Russian Ministry of Defense, providing any numbers was during the first week of the war, and it was a strange number of 498 people.
For more than two weeks we've heard nothing from the Ministry of Defense. What we are hearing more and more stories about heroic deeds of the Russian military and usually it is a way for the Russian military to cover that the casualties are quite big.
BURNETT: So Andrei, I know that tabloid though has traditionally - sometimes you hear the word tabloid and it would imply not accurate, but your perspective on this is crucial, because I believe it has been and has often been an important source for these sorts of things.
SOLDATOV: Absolutely. Komsomolskaya Pravda has been traditionally extremely close to the Russian military. They were a main propaganda outlet of the Russian military during the war in Georgia in 2008 and during the operation in Syria. So they are close to the military, they know what they are talking about.
BURNETT: Yeah. And I think that context is very crucial. Thank you both so very much.
And next, Russia going even further tonight to punish the top Putin critic out there, Alexey Navalny, the opposition leader, sentenced to nine more years in maximum security penal colony prison. Navalny's close friend is OUTFRONT.
Plus, breaking news in Washington, the historic confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson are going on and we are going to take you there live this hour.
KIMMITT: The State Department calling for an immediate and unconditional release of Russian opposition leader and Putin nemesis Alexey Navalny, slamming the Russian government's latest 'sham ruling' against Putin's top critic. It comes after Navalny was sentenced today to nine more years in a maximum security penal colony, according to Russian state media.
Navalny appeared in court earlier. You can see him there on the far left looking frail. He was arrested and imprisoned 13 months ago on a different charge. Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Tender moments as Alexey Navalny is sentenced to nine years for fraud in a maximum security penal colony. The emaciated Kremlin critic comforted by his wife, Yulia. This trial like so many he has faced already on charges human rights organizations say a trumped up to silence him.
But despite the obvious toll on his well-being, Navalny refusing to be silenced, vowing to appeal and defiantly tweeting, "You only do two days in jail." The day you go in and the day you come out. A quote from his favorite TV series, The Wire.
Navalny's reality, however, is far harsher, poisoned and almost killed with a deadly Kremlin nerve agent Novichok while on a political campaign in August 2020.
He survived by being flown unconscious to Germany for treatment. Months later, preparing to return to Russia under no illusion about the danger he faced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXEY NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: I understand how system work in Russia. I understand that Putin hates me and I understand that these people who are sitting in the Kremlin they are ready to kill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
In January last year, his last moments of freedom recorded as he and his wife rode the Moscow airport shuttle bus to the terminal and arrest. By now, Navalny not just President Putin's most popular living critic, but an icon of international hopes Putin may yet be challenged.
Navalny's political party, the Anti-Corruption Foundation FBK gained him even more notoriety, publicizing what he said was Putin's massive Black Sea mansion. CNN could not independently verify Navalny's claim, but the video further raised his profile and Kremlin anger.
In February, he was sentenced to two and a half years in jail, sent to a penal colony outside Moscow, where he claims guards kept him awake at night. He went on hunger strike. The Kremlin designated him as a terrorist. His health deteriorated, but his criticism of Putin remained as fiery as ever.
On the eve of Russia's invasion, tweeting this criticism of Putin's combative National Security Council meeting, Putin demanding loyalty from his security chiefs. And Navalny likens it to the Soviet leadership, ordering the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Navalny's skill is knowing and exploiting Putin's political vulnerabilities. And today, the price for his success just went up.
ROBERTSON (on camera): And the valley too seems to want to put up the price for Putin vowing to take his campaign global, saying that he's very grateful for all the kind words and support and sympathy, but that's not what he needs, he says, action, any action to bring down President Putin, saying the toad on the oil pipeline won't overthrow itself. Erin?
BURNETT: Thank you very much, Nic.
And I want to bring in now Vladimir Ashurkov, a close friend of Navalny's who was taken over as anti-corruption organization. So Vladimir,. you saw your friend there. I just wanted to give you a chance, first of all, just to react to what you saw. He certainly seems very frail and very emaciated, that was the word Nic used and it seems fair. That has to be very hard to see for you.
VLADIMIR ASHURKOV, CLOSE FRIEND TO ALEXEY NAVALNY: Indeed, it is. And the dramatic sentencing of today was not unexpected, we understood that Alexey will be in prison until Putin is in power the day that he was incarcerated a little bit over a year ago. He is indeed frail, but he sends his powerful message from behind the bars and from the court bench and it's an inspiration for our team and for all Russian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Vladimir, he was sentenced to nine more years in maximum security prison, penal colony, for they say stealing from the organization that you actually now run. So Putin spokesman tells CNN that no one is afraid of him, I'm quoting Peskov talking about Navalny, "No one is afraid of him. If a person is a criminal, he should be in prison." Again, they're saying he stole from the organization you now run. That
is why he is now going to a penal colony prison maximum security for nine years. What do you say to that?
ASHURKOV: Anti-Corruption Foundation, the Russian NGO that was the center of our political activity was accepting donations from Russian citizens. And at no point Alexey was receiving ether salary or any other payouts from the visitation. The trial was really a sham trial and the charges were trumped up and this is not the first example of political persecution of Alexey Navalny using the law enforcement.
His brother served three and a half years in Russian prison and his sentencing before that once he got the sentence was also based on falsified accusation of corruption. And corruption, ironically, was something that Navalny focused on as something that Russian system of government is based on.
BURNETT: He's done incredible work on his research on Putin's lifestyle and where he lives and all of that has been simply incredible investigative work.
Vladimir, I spoke yesterday with the Russian actress, Masha Mashkova. She is the daughter of, obviously, the very popular Russian actor Vladimir Mashkov who has appeared in many blockbuster movies, including along with Tom Cruise. Mashkov spoke last week at Putin's propaganda rally, I know you're well aware of that. And his daughter has chosen to speak out even though she loves her father to say he is wrong and that the war is wrong. And so she did this and she told me her father, she talked to her father about it and here's what he said to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MASHA MASHKOVA, RUSSIAN ACTRESS SPEAKING OUT IN SUPPORT OF UKRAINE: He asked me to come back to Russia immediately to take my daughters with me and to be a good Russian, to ask for forgiveness from betrayal and to be with Russian people with my people to help fight Ukrainian Nazis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Vladimir, it is incredible what Russians who speak out, Masha, you, others, Alexey, the incredible risk that you take just by doing that.
ASHURKOV: Indeed, the divisions between people who support this oppressive regime and are really pillars of propaganda, like the actor, Mashkov, and these divisions runs from families as we see in the case of his daughter and himself. And his daughter, Maria, is very brave of speaking against this regime, the aggression and her father.
BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, as she said he calls his own daughter whom he loves betrayal - betraying her country. Vladimir, you and I have talked to over the past year about your friend, Alexey Navalny. Obviously, Masha speaks from Los Angeles in that case and she does so still at personal risk. But Alexey Navalny chose to go back in and he chose to do that and he knew he would be arrested the first time. He thought that was the right thing to do. Do you wish that he hadn't?
ASHURKOV: When he was first recovering after the poisoning in Germany, I thought it was my duty as his friend and ally to tell him that he doesn't have to go back to Russia. There are different options, at least, to explain to him that that's not the one way street. But when I talked to him after he started his recovery and after we exchanged ideas, I thought it was really a moot point.
The work of his life is in Russia, millions of supporters are there. He has done nothing wrong. It would be really against his character and everything that he's done not to go back to Russia. So it was incredibly brave thing, but it was the only logical thing for him to do and it's an inspiration for us all.
BURNETT: Vladimir, thank you very much.
And more now on the other breaking story we're covering this hour. Senators questioning President Biden's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Here is Sen. Cory Booker speaking now.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): But ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... easy there, New Jersey.
BOOKER: Mr. Chairman, I would request that my colleagues in the Democratic Party would stop interrupting me, but he talked about your speech and when I read your speech, there's a couple things that jumped out. First of all, he acknowledged it was a very powerful speech, very moving speech about extraordinary black women.
I have a criticism, your mother was not in it, but I will leave that alone. But there's some things he honed in on, almost as if they were seem to be accusations which don't hold merit to me. We have a saying in New Jersey, I felt it was all hat and no cattle. And so here we - he said that you called the woman who wrote The 1619 Project that you called her provocative, that's not a compliment, necessarily, if you call someone provocative, is it?
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: No.
BOOKER: No. I mean, I think Ted Cruz is very provocative and that doesn't mean I agree with what he's saying, his philosophy, it doesn't mean I agree with his statements. But he pointed out you also called the author acclaimed. She won a Pulitzer Prize, correct?
JACKSON: She did.
BOOKER: In journalism. So she is acclaimed.
JACKSON: She is.
BOOKER: But in nowhere you're heralding her as this is reflective of your philosophy. That's true, right? JACKSON: Correct.
BOOKER: Yes. So I don't understand that at all. Part of his chart also was a lot of ellipses, skipping out things, but you mentioned critical race theory when you're talking about policies in general.
I actually went back to that talk too and I saw you threw everything in there. You were talking about psychology, economics all different types of disciplines as touching upon the law. I think there was everything in there, I'd seen to be, except for astrology, but you -- you understand that that's -- you were just listing a thing of things that people could say touched the law. They weren't your philosophies at all.
JACKSON: Correct, Senator, and that speech was not related to what I do as a judge. That was talking about sentencing policy and all of the different academic disciplines that might relate to it.
BOOKER: And finally, we're entering an age that is surprising to me in American society where lots of books are being banned and lots of talks about books being read. You're on the board of a private school, and you have no supervision or authority over what books the children read in a private school, correct?
BOOKER: I really do appreciate that. Jumping really quickly to a lot of talk today about the -- these child exploitation cases, and Senator Durbin, I think actually Josh Hawley used the word attacked when describing his own so I don't understand what that point of sensitivity was. I -- individual cases and we've now heard about two, you presided over as a judge more than 10, 15 cases?
JACKSON: I've presided over 14 cases that involved child sex crime, but over my career as a trial judge I've presided over more than a hundred.
And cases are heavily fact-specific, right?
JACKSON: That is true.
BOOKER: Do you remember all of the facts of the case that Senator Hawley was --
JACKSON: I did not.
BOOKER: You did not. Right.
And the facts matter, right?
JACKSON: They do. BOOKER: As a judge, you're looking at all of the facts of the case
and not just what might be talked about later and what people are honing in. You have to take everything into account and make a decision, correct?
JACKSON: Yes. That's what Congress has required judges to do.
BOOKER: Just to clarify the Congress thing because again, you went to this elite law school. I went to a gritty inner city law school, Yale. So you know this better than me, but it was actually 1984 that the sentencing laws -- the sentencing standards were passed down, correct?
JACKSON: I believe so, yes.
BOOKER: Yeah, it was 1984 and later in 2002 and 2003 things were updated and it was before the Internet completely. I want to clarify the Booker decision.
BOOKER: Can you clarify to the decision because my mom might be watching, no relation to me whatsoever?
JACKSON: So the Booker decision which earlier I mentioned they thought Justice Scalia wrote it.
BOOKER: It's not.
JACKSON: In fact, it was Justice Stephens, but Justice Scalia concurred so he had a separate opinion, and he had written a previous decision that was very similar.
JACKSON: The Booker decision made the guidelines -- the sentencing guidelines advisory.
BOOKER: Why? Why would the Supreme Court joined by some of the most conservative members, why would they do that?
JACKSON: Well, they determined that, in essence, the Booker -- that if the guidelines were mandatory that it would violate the right to a jury trial to have jurors decide every aspect of your sentencing.
BOOKER: It's sort of the separation of power, sixth amendment and this is really important.
BOOKER: And so that gave judges latitude.
BOOKER: If you were falling out of the norm and this is where I've now read conservative periodicals looking at this line of attack -- that's not a negative pejorative again. My colleagues can still use it. But this line of attack on you.
I've seen conservative papers, liberal papers, and main street papers all say this doesn't hold water and the reason is and again, I, unlike the White House and Cruz, I don't have a chart. I'm uncharted, but I would like to hold this up for you.
You are well within the norm nationally for going below the sentencing guidelines because of this problem where you have this incongruency that judges on both sides of the -- that have been appointed by people on both sides of the aisle have seen.
I just want to make this very clear. You are well within the norm of the United States of America. I love -- I'm a former mayor and one of my favorite mayor friends used to say, in God we trust, but everybody else bring me data.
And so the data kind of shows that you're not some outlier and forgive me because this is -- you're not allowed to do this, but I kind of sat here and I was a little insulted about the accusation that somehow this mother of two, confirmed three times by the United States Senate who has victim advocacy groups writing letters for you, who has child victims advocacy groups supporting you, who has presided over fact- specific cases of the most heinous crimes, that somehow the implication that you are somehow out of the norm of other federal judges that we have confirmed, where these issues have never come up who again, we held up this chart, but the majority of the decisions and a percentage of sentences below guideline range in nonproduction child pornography cases.
In D.C., 80 percent of them are under the guidelines and Missouri is 77 percent and Iowa is 62 percent and North Carolina, 77 percent, and Nebraska, 81 percent, and so and so on and so forth, down to Utah, alphabetically order, 71 percent.
And so, this implication that you're thoughtfulness on these very dense, fact-specific cases is somehow out of the norm, to me does not hold up, doesn't have water, and you add that to the endorsements that you've gotten from folks that deal with victim advocacy groups, it is to me just a line of attack that does not hold, in no way for me. I'm sorry. And the totality of your career, what you've accomplished and what you've done, I just think it's unfortunate that unlike the sort of fair arbiters of this on both sides of the aisle who dismissed it, I appreciate the way you stood there -- sat there and addressed all of that stuff.
And that really brings me to the larger implication. You talked a lot about your uncles. One of them served in Baltimore, is that right, as a police officer?
JACKSON: My brother was a police officer in Baltimore.
BOOKER: The gentleman over there? JACKSON: Yes.
BOOKER: Who volunteered to serve in the United States military?
BOOKER: And you have talked about that police work, right?
BOOKER: I live in Newark. I love my city. If you cut me I'd bleed bricks and the nickname of our city is Brick City.
Your brother and I probably understand something, the majority of murder victims in the United States of America, do you know who the majority of murder victims are?
JACKSON: I don't.
BOOKER: They're black men.
I imagine in your conversations with your brother and two uncles, you who patrolled some of these street, I imagine you feel in a different way about the anguish of what many communities of color struggle with when it comes to crime. Am I -- am I right there?
JACKSON: You are right, Senator. It is very anguishing and it is something that I know all too well.
BOOKER: And you are a person that has the same fear that many mothers have for their daughters who do go out in this world. My mom used to say when you have a child it's like your heart going around outside of your body all of a sudden.
And I just find it hard to believe, given your law enforcement back ground, you're a mom that you take any of this urgency to keep America safe and then I see that folks I know well -- I've worked with the FOP. I began negotiating with them. I have to say that I thought Jim Pascoe, before I knew him, the whole thing, it's like Bren Brown (ph), bring people closer, at first I thought he was an ogre (ph), biggest police union and I have some tough negotiations with my police union.
He and I sat down and shared our stories and I think we realized we were coming from the same place when we were working on police reform.
FOP endorsed you, and they wrote a powerful letter. I won't read it again. The IACP, they represent the largest -- that's the rank and file, the FOP. The IACP represents the bosses, the managers. They endorse you.
There's another group that maybe my -- my colleagues don't know as well as I do, it's called NOBLE. Do you know them?
JACKSON: I do.
BOOKER: They're the black law enforcement organization, people like your brother.
BOOKER: Who love their communities.
BOOKER: Who have seen like I have, too many young men lying with bullet holes bleeding into our pavements. These are folks who come from communities like your brother knows, where you too often see sidewalk shrines to murdered youth.
I've talked to the women and men of NOBLE, so many times. Anybody ever accuse them of being soft on crime, but they understand the complicated pack complicated factors of crime in our country and what they have to say about you, I won't read it, is just beautiful.
Law enforcement family, mother of two, law enforcement organization after law enforcement organization, victims advocacy organizations after victims advocacy organizations, Republican-appointed judges and Democrat-appointed judges, that's who is in your corner.
We're politicians and we are sworn to an oath right now. I just watched you with dignity and grace field what I could only imagine as behind those questions is this doubt that's being sown. I just want America to know that when it comes to my family's safety and when it comes to Newark, New Jersey, or my state, God, I trust you. I trust you.
Now, I brought in your mother and I have to go back there. My mom has a saying that is awfully embarrassing when she talks about me. She says -- she'll introduce me, and she'll say, behind every successful child is an astonished parent, but there's something about your mother, looking at her is that she doesn't seem all too astonished.
She seems like almost just very slyly, she knew that a day like this might come and so I just want to share with you that I have done a lot of hiring. Before I was in the legislative body, I ran New Jersey's largest city, and I can write a book about all of the management mistakes I made in my first year and how it made me a good manager and the first mistake I made was I was just looking for the most talented, credentialed, skillful, smart people to help me run things, and I soon learned it wasn't enough and I made some mistakes in hiring.
And I began to see that those skills which you have a tremendous amount of, it's been said so many times, stacking you up against other Supreme Court justices and you have more qualifications and more credentials than many of them, and but I learned that you should hire first necessary credential, but not sufficient. That you should hire for character.
That's what made me hire a great team in Newark eventually and we operated so well, and so I believe I've gotten to know your character over these weeks, but I want America to know more about your character right now.
And so I know my values. Booker T. Washington said it -- excuse me, James Baldwin said it, children are never good at listening to their elders, but they never fail to imitate them. If I want to know your character, your haven't let me do this yet, but I want to hang out with your parents a little bit.
And so, let's draw them into this conversation, we won't swear them under oath, but just could you share with me what are their bedrock values that are most a part of your values now that you hope and pray are your grandchildren's -- unborn grandchildren's values. What are those most important values that you inherited from those two folk over there?
JACKSON: Thank you, Senator. I inherited a number of bedrock values, as you say from my extraordinary parents. As I mentioned, my parents grew up in a time in this country in which black children and white children were not allowed to go to school together. They persevered.
They were the first in their families to go to college, to have that chance. They each went to historically black universities and they taught me hard work. They taught me perseverance. They taught me that anything is possible in this great country, and I think it came, as I said in my introduction from the sea change that we had in this country from the 1960s when Congress passed two Civil Rights Acts, and African-Americans finally had the chance to become a part of the dream, become a part of the fabric of this wonderful nation.
My parents moved to Washington, D.C. because this is where it all started for them in terms of having new freedoms.
And I was born here on that hope and dream. I was born here with an African name that my parents gave me to -- to demonstrate their pride, and their pride in who they were and their pride and hope in what I could be.
BOOKER: It seems to me as a guy whose parents came here and you and I were both born here months apart, I would hear my parents' tough stories at the dinner table about facing bigotry. Here in the city my father told me stories about his early jobs, but I never but I never noticed a hint of bitterness and never generated hate with him, and he just loved people. All people.
JACKSON: That is correct, Senator, and I would say that my wonderful parents went on to become extraordinary public servants. They had new opportunity. They could have done other things, but even of them decided to give back to the community.
My mother was in the public school system. She was a teacher and then became an administrator and became the principal of a magnet school for the arts in Miami, a new school that had started up and became the sort of beloved principal of new world school of the arts, and so many of her students continue to see me, meet me and they know me for my mother, which is fantastic. BOOKER: And she had diverse students.
JACKSON: She had extraordinarily --
BOOKER: And she loved on all those children.
BOOKER: Black, white, Asian.
BOOKER: Well, let me ask you this, because I'm going to push you a little harder, because, again, I have some people I really respect on the other side of the aisle and they do -- my friends and I talk about religion sometimes. Faith is important.
I was teasing Lindsey -- Senator Graham earlier, but I don't want to ask you anything specific about your faith except for this because you brought it up in your opening statement, and I have to tell you, I don't think black women have any providence over struggle. People from all backgrounds in America struggle, but I do know often as the trailblazing black women, they have often faced many challenges being the first or being a trailblazer or breaking glass ceilings.
But I know in your journey to this moment right now, you have faced very tough moments, probably you've been knocked down by life. I always say if America hasn't broken your heart, you don't love her enough. You've been heart broken by some circumstance.
You've been like Zora Neale Hurston who says I've been through sorrow's kitchen and I licked all of the pots. You've been like Langston Hughes, who, that poem "Mother to Son", like for me has been no crystal stair.
Can you talk about one moment or what you do when you get knocked down like that, where do you get the grit and the guts to get back up and keep on going?
JACKSON: Well, Senator, I think that, too, is something that I learned from my grandparents who, as I said didn't have it easy. My grandparents who didn't have a lot of formal education, but who were the hardest working people I've ever known and who just got up every day and put one foot after the other and provided for their families and made sure that their children went to college even though they never had those opportunities.
I reflect on them in the context of this historic moment. I stand on the shoulders of people from that generation, and I -- and I focus at times on my faith when I'm going through hard times. Those are the kinds of things that I learned from my grandmother who used to have those family dinners and bring us all together.
And I think that's a common experience of Americans that when you go through difficult times, you lean into family and you turn to faith, and that's part of my experience as well. BOOKER: I think the experience of my colleagues and I on both sides of the aisle, leaning on that faith and that family.
I want to give you, there's one thing about your opening statement. I have to say, I haven't actually shaken your husband's hand, but yesterday, I was mad at him because when he started tearing up about your remarks about him, it triggered -- I don't really have it but it triggered a sympathetic cry in me as well.
So I'm a little upset at him, but I will deal with him individually.
But you said something that I found provocative, to use that word one more time. And I felt afterwards, I reflected and I even talked to my staff about it. That statement, it didn't seem congruent to me, and it was, I don't know if it was a profession of humility or overly critical of yourself, but I want to end in my last five minutes giving you space to explain yourself to me because much to my mom's chagrin, I am not a parent yet.
And I want -- I'm looking at somebody that I admire. But you said something that struck me because look, my mom was a working mom. And God, it was tough. I -- my colleagues will not believe this, but there was a time I was very melodramatic, and I was in a bathtub of oatmeal bathtub and my mom was ready to go on a business trip, and I look at her with sad eyes and I say, mom, if you leave me, I'll die.
She looked at me knowing you don't die from the chickenpox, and I remember her going to the phone, having a long conversation, taking off her business suit and changing into sweat pants. She would tell me that wasn't a sign of love. She loved me, but a lot of women who love their kids can't stay home because we don't have paid family leave in this country.
So, you said in your opening remarks that you haven't been as good of a parent, I think if I'm paraphrasing right, as good of a mom as you would like to be. And I looked at your two girls. And I look at you. And I don't understand that statement.
Could you maybe explain for me what you meant and maybe take one more beat and explain to me what it means to you to be a mom of two young women growing up in America today?
JACKSON: Thank you, Senator.
What I said in my statement was that I had struggled, like so many working moms, to juggle motherhood and career. And it takes a lot of hard work to become a judge, to do the work of a judge, which I have done now for almost ten years. You have a lot of cases. You don't have all that many resources comparatively speaking. And it's a lot of early mornings and late nights.
And what that means is there will be hearings during your daughter's recitals. There will be emergencies on birthdays that you have to -- that you have to handle. And I know so many young women in this country, especially who have small kids who have these momentous events and have to make a choice, you talked about your mom making the choice to make sure that she cared for you in that moment. And there are times when obviously you have to care for your family members.
There are other times when there are events that you wish you could be a part of, but here's the emergency case that you have to deal with. And so I said in my opening that girls, you know, you have had to deal with me juggling motherhood and job responsibilities, and I didn't always get the balance right.
And so I would hope for them, seeing me hopefully you all will confirm me, seeing me moved to the Supreme Court, that they can know that you don't have to be perfect in your career trajectory and you can still end up doing what you want to do, that you just have to understand that there are lots of responsibilities in the world and that you don't have to be a perfect mom, but if you do your best, and you love your children, that things will turn out okay.
BOOKER: Well, I'm sure your mom probably feels she wasn't perfect. But things have turned out okay.
And I will tell you this. I'm sure they have said it, and if they haven't, I'm sure they will. The older I get, the more I appreciate my parents.
I know they're proud of you, but as a guy who does have faith, and I sit at home in a room of my ancestors where I have generations of my ancestors' pictures up, and they're black folk and white folk. I have a very interesting family tree. I sit there to feel my ancestors sometimes and think about them.
I hope right now in this questions and blistering that you know at that desk, there are a whole lot of spirits around you with their hands on you, not only your children and your parents proud, but so are your ancestors.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.
DURBIN: Thank you very much, Senator Booker.
And Judge Jackson, a lot of politicians on this committee, 22 of them, there's only one Cory Booker, and when he does his cross-examination on the human side, I always wait to see, can the witness get through this without a little emotion. There was a little there, as there should have been as he talked about your family and your parents and your children.
Cory, you're one of a kind. We love you.
We have three more to ask questions tonight, Senator Kennedy, Senator Padilla, Senator Blackburn. We're going to break for 20 minutes, grab a bite to eat, freshen up. Come back for the last round.
JACKSON: Thank you. DURBIN: Senate stands in recess.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, as they stand in recess for that dinner break, I want have to a chance to talk about what we just saw. What you have been watching today.
OUTFRONT now is Elliot Williams, deputy assistant attorney general under President Obama and the former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
So, Elliot, what did you make of that line of questioning? Obviously, you know, a supporter. But yet very different than what we have seen thus far. And what many would expect in this sort of forum?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, look, Erin, over the course of a day and a hearing like this, there's a lot of noise. We spent probably an hour today talking about critical race theory and hearing about that. That really has nothing to do with the nominee's fitness to serve.
Having prepped a lot of witnesses for confirmation hearings back when I was with the Senate and thereafter, you have sort of a couple basic goals. Number one, come across on substance and make the nominee see substantive. And number two, humanize the nominee.
And she spoke about profoundly complex bodies of law in a relatable manner. And that last bit about parenting, if there is anybody in the country who is not watching that and relating with it, you're just not watching closely enough.
And frankly, I'm not a mom. I'm a parent to two small children, but that resonated very profoundly with me. And the whole idea of not being perfect, it was a humanizing moment, and very powerful for the nominee.
BURNETT: Okay, so what is -- what is your main sort of conclusion at this point about where this stands? As you point out, obviously, you had this very important humanizing moment that we all just watched, but also, incredible amount of time spent on critical race theory and Senator Booker did bring up the issue of child pedophilia, child porn, which had come up extensively with his own analysis, but these are things they did spend quite a bit of time on today.
WILLIAMS: Right, frankly, which they should. You should always question a nominee's record, but much of that discussion on child pornography was misleading because it sort of misstated what the point of federal sentencing guidelines are. They exist as sort of boundaries for judges to follow, and she did, in most of her cases, well in line with how judges across the country sentence.
And frankly, if Senator Hawley or any other senator wished to put in place a minimum sentence, then grab 59 of your colleagues, pass a law, but don't pin that on a nominee whose behavior with respect to sentencing has been perfectly in line with judges across the country. More importantly, and Cory Booker touched on this at the end as well. She is supported by police organizations and Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police. They support the nomination and it's misleading to say she's anything other than a responsible judge.
BURNETT: Right, and Senator Booker did, in that humanizing, that was his focus, but he did bring up statistics about other judges in Missouri and other jurisdictions who have also come in at the low end of the sentencing guidelines to point out it is not outside the norm in any way, shape, or form. And obviously, the child pornography did not add up.
Also the point, though, in terms of your bottom line here, Elliot, when do you think -- where does this go from here?
WILLIAMS: So there's another round of questioning tomorrow. You know, look, it's pretty clear, and she was quite consistent in laying out what her approach to the law is.
She started off this morning, she got a question about -- well, you don't have a philosophy. What's your philosophy?
She said quite effectively, here it is, number one, stay neutral. Number two, take the inputs, what the parties put to me. Number three, analyze the law.
If you didn't -- if you were listening closely, you would think this was a conservative judge. So this is an eminently qualified nominee who is likely to pass through the committee and then get confirmation, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes, it certainly seems like it's going in that direction.
All right. Thank you so much, Elliot. I appreciate your time.
And thanks to all of you.
"AC360" starts now.