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Confirmation Hearings for Kavanaugh; Bull Market Rolls into September; FaceBook's Ex-Security Chief Speaks about Hacking; Senate Judiciary Dems Speak Out. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired September 4, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: But the problem I think with the U.S. Supreme Court is that many Americans -- and I'm not blaming them, I understand why they've drawn this conclusion, it's like a little Congress. They're like unelected politicians who just vote on issues. And that's not the way the Supreme Court is supposed to work.


KENNEDY: That's my point.

BERMAN: Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, we always appreciate you coming on and sharing your views with us. Please come back soon.

KENNEDY: Thanks, man.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: He said we're all political but some of us are more political than others.

BERMAN: Well, basically, yes, except I don't want us to get political. All right, no, I mean Senator Kennedy came to share his views here, answered all the questions.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. No, we love having him on and certainly love the way he turns a phrase, as you pointed out.


CAMEROTA: All right, next, why FaceBook's former security chief says we are just as vulnerable to election hacking today as we were in 2016.


ALEX STAMOS, FORMER CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, FACEBOOK: Two years on from the election and people are still arguing whether we were even attacked.



BERMAN: Investors are coming back from the long holiday. Will the bull market keep charging higher?

[08:35:00] Christine Romans joins us now with "CNN Money Now."



BERMAN: Bulls, bears, bulls.

ROMANS: Yes, yes, right?

Investors return from this long weekend to a new trading month with stocks really close to records highs. The bull market is now the longest ever after the strong summer, but September, John, is historically challenging for investors. Since 1950, the S&P 500 has dropped a half a percent on average in September. That's the biggest average decline of any month. But, look, that's just an average. Last year the S&P gained in September.

Still, there are some challenges ahead here. Trade disputes still a major issue. Will Canada join the new NAFTA deal? Officials from the U.S. and Canada will meet again tomorrow. It's critical here. Both sides claimed progress last week, but then failed to reach a deal to join this preliminary agreement, this framework with Mexico, amid the leak of a comment from a "Bloomberg" interview where President Trump where he said the U.S. was not giving up any concessions at all to Canada. The president this weekend again threatened to leave Canada out of the new deal, but the Trump administration has notified Congress that it plans to act in 90 days, which leaves the door open for Canada joining if the two sides can agree to terms.


BERMAN: All right, Christine Romans, thanks very much.

We're waiting to hear from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They're holding a news conference in just minutes. This in advance of the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. We'll take you to that news concerns very shortly. Stay with us.


[08:40:25] CAMEROTA: A major warning from FaceBook's former security chief, the hacking threat has not improved since 2016. In fact, he says, efforts have intensified.

CNN's Laurie Segall is here to explain.

Laurie, you got that great sit down with him and this sounds troubling.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, Alex Stamos is a fascinating guy. He was -- he's an important person because he was in the trenches at FaceBook. He was -- it was him and his team who discovered Russian influence.

And just days after he left, he sat down with me and he had a dire warning. Take a listen.


ALEX STAMOS, FORMER CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, FACEBOOK: The political polarization on election hacking is a horrible, horrible problem for our country. It is the reason why we are in not much better shape in 2018 than we were in 2016. If you don't have everybody accepting that this happened, how can you move on and fix the fundamental problems?

You know, two years after Pearl Harbor, the United States had quadrupled the size of our Navy. Two years on from the election, and people are still arguing whether we were even attacked. And I find that amazing.

SEGALL: So, you were in the room. What do you say to them?

STAMOS: The first, there was a concerted campaign by the government of the Russian Federation to influence the 2016 election. That campaign to drive wedges into American society has not stopped. If anything it has intensified. We have the risk of turning our elections into the world cup of information warfare where everybody wants to have a piece in it because we have not demonstrated that we will punish countries that do this to us and we have not addressed the fundamental issues that caused us to get here in the first place.

In the spring of 2017, at this point we had a reasonably good understanding of the classes of issues we're dealing with. We went and proactively talked to the House and Senate Intel Committees.

SEGALL: What were those conversations like?

STAMOS: Considering how much things blew up later in the year, there was a lot less interest from Congress than I would have expected in the spring.

SEGALL: Really?

STAMOS: Yes. So, most of the Republicans were not interested in revisiting what happened in 2016. And because we were not directly talking about activity by the Trump campaign, it was of less interest to the Democratic side. I was honestly a little bit disappointed that there wasn't more interest at the time.

SEGALL: Because for you it felt like this is a pretty big deal.

STAMOS: It felt like a massive deal. And it -- also one of the conversations we wanted to start was the fact that collectively we had kind of all fallen down. To say we need some more help here, right? We get help on terrorism issues. We get help on, you know, traditional hacking from the North Koreans or the Iranians. We're not getting help on this. And, as a result, we were completely on our own in trying to find it and understand it.

When you get Iran involved, when the Chinese are involved, when the North Koreans get involved, there is not going to be any political party or any candidate who is safe from these kinds of attacks. And we're going to have to demonstrate that collectively the tech companies, law enforcement on the parts of the government are going to be open about what is going on so people can make intelligent decisions before they vote.

SEGALL: Those things you say are very powerful, but how do you actually do it?

STAMOS: It is hard. It's -- if you look at what's happened to FaceBook for the last couple of years, it's reasonable to think that transparency is actually a bad idea, right? No company has come out and talked more about these issues and no company has therefore gotten more criticism.

Any concept decision we make, any step we take to try to do something that sounds not controversial, like protect an election, will be portrayed by somebody else as being a partisan decision. But I think we're just now getting to the point where the transparency is going to start to pay off.


SEGALL: Alex Stamos. It was very interesting that he's always been someone who's spoken his mind. Now, this is coming ahead of the hearings on Capitol Hill tomorrow. We will be hearing from FaceBook's Sheryl Sandberg, Twitter's Jack Dorsey. We'll hear from Google all about election interference and how these tech companies are trying to keep us safe ahead of the midterms.

CAMEROTA: Look, we appreciate them speaking out and him saying that they're trying transparency because that feels delayed.

SEGALL: Yes, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: All right, we'll be watching tomorrow.

Thanks so much, Laurie, for sharing all of that with us.

SEGALL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So, we're also waiting right now because Senate Democrats are coming out to speak. This is ahead of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. They say that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are trying to hide something by releasing -- having documents released so late. So we'll hear what they have to say in moments.


[08:47:45] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: All right, we do have some breaking news now.

This is the press conference that we've been waiting for. You can see the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee assembling. They are about to speak and share their beef with how this process is happening.

You see --

BERMAN: Dianne Feinstein, who is the ranking member there.

CAMEROTA: Dianne Feinstein waiting there.

BERMAN: Dick Durbin, who is the number two among Democrats in the Senate and also a member of the Judiciary Committee is there.

I'll point out, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris also there. People are looking at both of them because they could be presidential contenders, to see how they handle their questioning in today's hearings.

CAMEROTA: I'll see Senator Chris Coons, who we just had on our program earlier, who shared with us what he plans to ask Brett Kavanaugh and what he's very worried about.

One of the things that they've concerned about is that there were these 42,000 pages of documents that were released last night I think at 8:30 p.m. And so they say that they haven't had time to read these critical and relevant documents relating to Brett Kavanaugh's history because it's been only 12 hours. So they are trying to, it sounds like, slow this down.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Senator Klobuchar is a couple minutes away, so we will begin. I know it's hot for all of you in the sun and I see one particular sufferer over here. So we'd like to begin now.

This morning the Senate is going to hold hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. He's being nominated to a seat that's pivotal, that will be the deciding vote on some of the most important issues of our day. So the Democratic Caucus has gathered here today to essentially state a silent protest. We will attend the meetings, we will question assiduously, but we want to express our concerns.

I've had nine Supreme Court hearings. Pat Leahy has had more than I. But I've never had a hearing like this where documents are so difficult to get.

When Justice Scalia died, Republicans refused to even meet with President Obama's nominee, and they held the seat open for the entire year. Now, with a Republicans in the White House, they've changed their position. The majority rushed into this hearing and is refusing to even look at the nominee's full record.

[08:50:18] Ninety-three percent of the records from Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House, as counsel and staff secretary, have not been provided to the Senate. And 96 percent are hidden to the public. And now, for the first time ever, we've been told the White House is withholding over 100,000 pages from Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House Counsel's Office with no explanation of what the topics are and no formal claim of executive privilege. And last night, 42,000 documents were sent over. Obviously, no one has been able to look at them yet. Judiciary Democrats are sending a letter to White House Counsel

demanding these documents be immediately turned over to the Senate. A copy of that letter is available to you and also a copy of a six page letter from Mr. Burke (ph), which was the pivotal point in pressing us to move.

As you know, executive privilege has never before been invoked to block the release of presidential records to the Senate during a Supreme Court nomination. In fact, when Elena Kagan was nominated, President Obama announced he would not invoke executive privilege over any of her White House records.

When John Roberts was nominated, President Bush announced he would not invoke executive privilege over any of his White House records. And when Justice Rehnquist was nominated, the committee refused to go forward with hearings until the White House produced records over which it initially indicated it might claim privilege.

By contrast, the Trump White House is withholding thousands of pages of Brett Kavanaugh's record from Congress and admits it's doing so without actually asserting a legal privilege.

CAMEROTA: OK, you're listening there to Senator Dianne Feinstein. She's standing along with her Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee of all of the issues that they say they're having as they try to prepare for Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings.

So joining us now are NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, she is inside the hearing room awaiting the start time, and CNN's political director David Chalian.

So, Nina, this is interesting. I mean basically what they're saying is that they got these 42,000 documents last night. They haven't been able to look at any of them. And that this whole thing is being too fast tracked to be fair. Your thoughts?

NINA TOTENBERG, LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Well, they're also saying that the president, President Trump, not President Bush, has sort of invoked executive privilege without formally doing it. And that they don't even know what the explanation is for why they're withholding these documents.

You know, the Democrats have complaints. Some of them are valid complaints. The fact is they're -- they have a one vote -- they are a one vote minority in the Senate and they don't have the votes to do almost anything. Even if they were to stay unified.

Now, if they were to talk -- you know, some people have said, oh, well, you should walk out of this hearing. Well, that really doesn't make much sense because then they would leave the hearing to the Republicans. The only rule that I know of that they may invoke is that you have to have a quorum to have a committee vote. And it's conceive to me that they won't give them the quorum the first time.

BERMAN: The first time. But it would be hard to imagine them holding out for a very long time on that. TOTENBERG: No.

BERMAN: David Chalian, I thought it was very telling, the first words out of Dianne Feinstein's mouth there, she was saying, we're staging a silent protest, yet we're going to attend and vigorously question Kavanaugh at this hearing. To me what that did was illustrated how little power Democrats really have.


As Nina just said, this is what you do when you don't have the votes. So you -- when you don't have the votes, you're left to stage protests, hold press conferences, make process arguments. And some may be valid arguments to make. I'm not suggesting that. But this is their limited ability to be able to impact the process. Obviously they'll have the ability to question Kavanaugh.

But, remember, this all comes down to votes. And so what are the Democrats doing in this scenario where they are trying to make an appeal perhaps to a Susan Collins or a Lisa Murkowski because if the -- if the Republicans are in lockstep here, it is a fait accompli. And, in fact, John, you've heard Democrats -- Democratic operatives who are working on the anti-Kavanaugh sort of machinery of outside groups complaining that Democrats have not put up a big enough fight here to try and stop Kavanaugh's confirmation.

[08:55:14] CAMEROTA: Nina, one of the things that they always go back to -- and it's understandable -- they are obviously still scorched about the Merrick Garland process. He was denied a process, obviously. He was denied a hearing. And they say that so that one was denied and now this one they feel is being rushed through and they just keep, you know, drawing that point of comparison.

TOTENBERG: They their -- you know, they face a political base that is angry at Trump. Angry at what was done about Garland, wants a big fight, but there's limit to the fight they can put up. They don't have the votes.

BERMAN: All right, David Chalian, Nina Totenberg, we are going to watch this hearing very closely today. 9:30 it kicks off. Opening statements from the senators and from Judge Brett Kavanaugh as well. This is going to be something you're all going to want to watch.

So, Nina and David, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: I mean Nina makes the point, what, at the end of the day, "The Bottom Line," which is what that segment was, is that they don't have the votes, unless their outrage can change some Republican votes.

BERMAN: But I would say even without the votes, it is worth watching to see how Democrats handle this and what points, different points, not just game points, but what points they try to make and where they try to score them.

All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after a quick break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:14] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm