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Kavanaugh Accuser Granted Extension in Testimony Standoff; Trump versus the Justice Department; Dam Break at Duke Plant Sparks Concerns; What Really Happened in the Aftermath of Hurricane Maria; Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz Face Off in Texas; U.S. Senators Targeted by Hackers; Trump Foreign Policy; No Brexit Deal Yet; Republican Women Weigh in on Kavanaugh. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired September 22, 2018 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The woman accusing President Trump's Supreme Court nominee with sexual assault has been given an extension after Republicans faced backlash for their deadline.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus U.S. deputy attorney general issuing Rod Rosenstein issuing two statements of denial following reports he wanted to use the Constitution to remove the U.S. president from office.

ALLEN (voice-over): And later, CNN follows the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

It's been one year.

HOWELL (voice-over): It has been one year, wow. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL (voice-over): At 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast, we start with the latest on the woman accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. There's a new deadline calling on her to testify. This according to "The New York Times."

The U.S. Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley says Christine Blasey Ford has until 2:30 Saturday afternoon to decide if she will testify before his committee. Republicans had given her until 10:00 pm Friday Washington time, saying if she didn't let them know by then whether she would testify on Wednesday, they would vote on Monday to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the high court.

ALLEN: Ford's attorney fired off a letter Friday night, calling that deadline arbitrary and asking for another day to decide. Shortly afterwards, committee chairman Chuck Grassley tweeted, "Judge Kavanaugh, I just granted another extension to Dr. Ford to decide if she wants to proceed with the statement she made last week to testify to the Senate.

"She should decide so we can move on. I want to hear her. I hope you understand. It's not my normal approach to be indecisive."

HOWELL: On a campaign rally in Missouri on Friday, President Trump made very clear where he stands on the subject. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Brett Kavanaugh, fantastic man. He was born for the U.S. Supreme Court. He was born for it. And it is going to happen. We have to fight for him. Not worry about the other side. And by the way, women are for that more than anybody would understand.


HOWELL: And that comes after the president made comments very clear about Kavanaugh's accuser. Kaitlan Collins has more on that.



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump unleashing today, breaking after days of restraint and lashing out at the woman who has accused his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault.

Trump tweeting that at the alleged attack was as bad as she says it was, Christine Blasey Ford would have filed charges. The president demanding to know the date, time and place.

Ford has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, allegations he has vigorously denied. White House officials were caught off guard by the president's initially measured response until he cast doubt on Ford's allegation today, asking, why didn't someone call the FBI 36 years ago?

In an interview with "The Washington Post" earlier this week, Ford recalled thinking, I'm not ever telling anyone this.

Moments before Trump attacked Ford, Kellyanne Conway told reporters --


K. COLLINS (voice-over): But earlier she said...

CONWAY: I hope this woman is not being used by the Democrats.

K. COLLINS: The president criticizing Democrats who have called for an FBI investigation into Ford's allegation, saying they don't want to know the answers, because facts don't matter to them.

Trump's remarks coming as Ford's attorneys continue negotiating with the Senate Judiciary Committee over her possible testimony, including her request from Ford that she never be in the room as Kavanaugh.

Trump, making his feelings known today, tweeting, "Let her testify or not and take the vote," as he continues to tout his nominee's credentials...

TRUMP: A great intellect, a great gentleman, an impeccable reputation. Went to Yale, top student. Went to Yale Law School, top student.

K. COLLINS: -- as Trump continues to sow doubt about the accusations.

TRUMP: Why didn't somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?

Now with that being said, let her have her say and let's see how it all works out.


K. COLLINS (voice-over): Senator Susan Collins, who will be a crucial vote for Kavanaugh, said she was appalled by the president's tweets.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We know that allegations of sexual assault are one of the most unreported crimes that exist. So I thought that the president's tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong.


K. COLLINS: Now President Trump addressed the Cavanaugh at the rally. That he's not worried about what Democrats are doing and that women are for that more than anyone would understand but he didn't mention the specific allegations made nor did he mention the name of his accuser, even though he repeatedly attacked her on Twitter earlier -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, traveling with the president in Missouri.


ALLEN: And now stunning allegations about the second in command at the U.S. Justice Department. Sources say memos of the former deputy director of the FBI showed that this man, Rod Rosenstein, discussed wearing a wire to record conversations with President Trump and recruiting cabinet members to remove him from office.

Rosenstein denies it all.

HOWELL: In the meantime, "The Washington Post" reports President Trump sought advice on whether or not to fire Rosenstein. He was urged not to make any decision right now. At a rally the president didn't publicly criticize Rosenstein or the report but he did have some harsh words for the Justice Department and the FBI.


TRUMP: Just look at what is now being exposed in our Department of Justice and the FBI. Look at what is going on. Look at what is going on. And I want to tell you, we have great people in the Department of Justice. Great people. I really believe, you take a poll, I got to be at 95 percent.

But you have some real bad ones. You've seen what has happened at the FBI. They are all gone. They are all gone. They are all gone. But there is a lingering stench and we'll get rid of that, too.


HOWELL: So over the next 24 hours, the question, what happens of the political firestorm around Rosenstein? We have this report ahead.


SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein floated the idea of wearing a wire to secretly record President Trump last year, according to "The New York Times."

The second most powerful person at the Justice Department also reportedly discussed with DOJ officials recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for being unfit in the days following FBI Director James Comey's firing.

Rosenstein vehemently denying the claims, saying in a statement: "'The New York Times' story is inaccurate and factually incorrect. I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda," adding, "Let me be clear about this: based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment."

One source who was in the room for the discussion tells CNN Rosenstein was being sarcastic when he discussed the wire comment. But others told "The New York Times" that Rosenstein was serious and even raised the idea of others wearing a wire.

"The Times"' report relies on memos written by former FBI Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe, whose memos have been handed over to special counsel's Robert Mueller's team, was fired earlier this year, following an onslaught of Twitter attacks from the president.

A justice official tells CNN they're skeptical of McCabe's description of events, suggesting McCabe has credibility issues and wanted to do what he could to lay the ground work for the appointment of a special counsel after Comey was fired.

But another source close to the situation believes McCabe had no incentive to lie while taking those contemporaneous notes. Today, through his attorney, McCabe denied any knowledge of how "The

Times" got its hands on the details of his memos, saying, "When he was interviewed by the special counsel more than a year ago, he gave all of his memos, classified and unclassified, to the special counsel's office. A set of those memos remained at the FBI at the time of his departure in late January 2018. He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos."

Rosenstein took charge of the Russia investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself. Just yesterday, he went to the White House to discuss declassifying certain documents and texts related to the Russia probe.

As for President Trump's call to declassify so many of those documents and text messages related to the Russia investigation, he now appears to be backing off from that. He put out a --


MURRAY: -- tweet on Friday where he said that he would leave it up to the Department of Justice's inspector general -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Rosenstein and Kavanaugh, much to discuss about what's going on in Washington, D.C., with Inderjeet Parmar. He's joining us, professor of international politics at City University.

Thank you for being with us, Inderjeet. Good morning to you.

Let's begin with Rod Rosenstein, Inderjeet. He said this report by the White House is false. However, "The New York Times" says they had investigated this for months.

If it's true, what does it say about President Trump?

And here we have already had an anonymous op-ed in "The New York Times," alleging someone on the inside tried to quietly stifle him. And now this.

What are your thoughts?

INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: As you say, this is unsubstantiated reports. It may well have been investigated over many months but we don't actually know what the sources are. So we have to bear that in mind.

But it creates a lot more kind of fuel for the fire which surrounds the White House and its entire style, its governing, the kind of chaos which runs within it and the kind of schisms which exist about the credibility of the president.

So, yes, it doesn't do President Trump very much good but at the moment we don't fully know what the sources are, either.

ALLEN: The question is, what will the fallout be?

We certainly know what the president thinks about Rod Rosenstein and the Justice Department. He's been at odds with them from the get-go and it all hooks back to the Mueller investigation.

You think he'll touch that?

PARMAR: Very difficult to answer. But it seems to me the political timing of this particular report is the most significant thing. I think it basically does a lot to -- as we head towards the midterm elections in November, it does a lot to further shake the credibility of this administration and therefore the likely prospects for the House in particular or possibly also the Senate as we go into November.

So it's very difficult to speculate on exactly how the minutiae of this is going to play out. But I think it creates an image and the image is, this is an administration which is unable really to be coherent, well governed, well organized and so on.

And I think to lead to this kind of position, it suggests there's a credibility problem for Trump within the party, party leadership. But I think it also plays into the Democratic Party's hands for the election as well.

ALLEN: Let's talk about the other pressing issue, Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court bid. Republicans want him on the court and they want it for the midterm elections, which you were just referencing.

If they don't appear to take the allegation by this professor, this female Professor Ford seriously enough -- and we heard McConnell say we're going to plow right through it. That doesn't sound like sensitivity.

Will this hurt them or will this confirmation, if they plow right through it, embolden Republicans regardless?

PARMAR: This is a very risky strategy, probably, that the president and his team has now embarked upon. I think it's reignited, if you like, the #MeToo movement and who kind of politics around predatory -- sexual predators. And it's made the big debate ahead of the election with sexual predators versus decency in the Democratic Party.

Again, it seems politically timed for these particular elections and it seems timed to strengthen the flow of white women voters from the Republican Party and Donald Trump toward the Democrats for November.

So if Kavanaugh is to be confirmed before the midterms -- and, remember, this is an allegation and not a proven fact -- it is going to possibly damage the midterms. But in the longer run, having an ultraconservative on the Supreme Court is a massive victory and that's going to live for many decades.

So this is going to be a powerful political shift for many decades to come, even if it hurts them in the midterm elections. ALLEN: Democrats keep emphasizing that, in this back and forth with Kavanaugh and his accuser about this is for life and this will change this court for many, many years to come.

Do you think we'll hear anything more from Kavanaugh here?

He's been at the White House every day working on this, hunkering down with them there. He's not asking for an investigation.

And why not clear his name so, if he gets on the court, the he wouldn't be like Clarence Thomas and tainted with what Thomas went through?

PARMAR: It's a very delicate situation and what I read recently is Mr. Kavanaugh has appointed a female attorney.


PARMAR: He doesn't want to come over someone, a strong man attacking somebody quite vulnerable who's making accusations.

I think he's trying to handle it as delicately as possible and get his conformation through. But in the end, I think, both Rosenstein and this issue, I think, are connected. They're both politically timed for the midterm elections.

That also says something else about the culture of politics of the United States. And I always go back to 2016. I think 2016 was a very unusual year. It exposed a large number of major rifts or divides in American politics along class and economic lines.

I think with the Rosenstein and the Kavanaugh issue now, we're kind of back to a sort of politics of the normal that is palace intrigue, internal politics, identity politics; whereas 2016 had come to the fore with economic inequality and so on.

And I think this is a politics which is suppressing some of the really deep divisions in the society and I think those divisions are probably going to carry on. The minutiae of the politics will work its way through. But I think this is a kind of major shift to the right in American politics.

ALLEN: Right, divisions for sure. Inderjeet Parmar, always appreciate your insight. Thank you.

PARMAR: Thank you very much.

HOWELL: Hurricane Florence causing trouble for the Carolinas.

ALLEN: As the state deals with increased flooding, officials warn of possible environmental issues as well. We'll have that plus...


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Within seconds, a woman came out of nowhere and just hugged me. She had no idea who I was. But I was the first outsider she had seen in days.


HOWELL: One year after one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history, Puerto Rico. Stay with us.




HOWELL: Have a look here in North Carolina. People facing new concerns after the wrath of Hurricane Florence. Officials now are worried about contamination from floodwaters that breached a Duke Energy dam, possibly causing coal ash to flow into the nearby Cape Fear River.

ALLEN: Duke Energy has shut down the natural gas plant and is making repairs and monitoring that situation. But the entire state of North Carolina is still swamped with water one week after the storm made landfall. And officials warn more flooding could be on the way.


ROY COOPER, NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: Flooding continues in parts of our state --


COOPER: -- and 12 of our river gauges are measuring at major flood stage. Some locations won't see rivers crest until late in the weekend and flooding will continue well into next week.

This means that lives are still at risk and people need to stay alert for local evacuation orders.


ALLEN: Pretty much the same in South Carolina, too. The flooding has turned streets into rivers, freeways into waterway.

HOWELL: Authorities say 23 out of the state's 46 counties could be impacted by flooding. All of this as the death toll from Hurricane Florence continues to rise, at least 44 people have now died. And Nick Valencia has been following the aftermath of the hurricane and has more from Conway.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The water here in Conway is slowly seeping back into the very same communities that were already hard hit after Hurricane Florence made landfall. In fact, the same community that President Trump visited earlier in the week here in Conway, well, it is under water again. On Friday, when we spoke to officials, they said, at its height, at

its peak, the water was rising at about 3 inches per hour. They said in one area they measured the water had gone up more than a foot.

What they are very concerned about here is the Waccamaw River, which has already broken a record set during Hurricane Matthew about two years ago at 17'9". The biggest concern here, according to the mayor, is a coal ash pond.

They brought in an inflatable dam to shore up that ash pond to make sure that none of the contaminants get into the water but they are expecting a very messy weekend here in Conway and in the coming days -- Nick Valencia, CNN, Conway, South Carolina.


HOWELL: So many people affected by this.


ALLEN: One year ago this week Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, becoming one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

HOWELL: It was a monster storm that devastated the island and plunging its more than 3 million residents into a now year-long nightmare. The estimated deaths from the storm, 2,975. CNN has been there on the ground reporting over the last year.

ALLEN: Our Leyla Santiago and Bill Weir give us an in-depth look at Maria's tragic aftermath and the government's response to it in CNN's special report, "Storm of Controversy: What Really Happened in Puerto Rico." Here's a preview.


SANTIAGO: As soon as I got off the chopper, a gentleman came toward me and he said, "Hey, who are you?"

I said, "I'm CNN. I'm asking if this is --


BILL WEIR, CNN HOST (voice-over): My colleague, Leyla Santiago, has been providing relentless award winning coverage since day one.

SANTIAGO: And he was so angry. I mean he was mad.

WEIR: Because you weren't FEMA.

SANTIAGO: Because I didn't have any help with me. I had questions. And so he was angry. He walked away and within seconds, a woman came out of nowhere and just hugged me. She had no idea who I was, but I was the first outsider she had seen in days.

WEIR: Couldn't you use National Guards men in two-week rotations to come in? Are you begging your bosses for more men?


WEIR: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we have 4,500 National Guard coming in.

WEIR: I met Puerto Rico's number two in command in Puerto Rico one month after the storm. He told me he had 17,000 people working on the island.

But just as a point of comparison, two weeks after the Haiti quake, the U.S. had 22,000 troops on the ground in a foreign country.

This is such a massive disaster, so much humanitarian need, shouldn't it be all hands on deck?

That is what I'm hearing from the locals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have all hands on deck at this time.

WEIR: An internal FEMA report would later reveal more than half of those 17,000 were untrained, unqualified or didn't speak Spanish.

If you could go back in time the week before the storm, the month before the storm, what would you do differently?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would actually look at the plans. If I had a month until the hurricane season, I would come in and talk to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and revise the plans.


HOWELL: This is a CNN special report you won't want to miss.

ALLEN: "Storm of Controversy" is what it is called.

The U.S. secretary of state has a stark warning for Iran.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We will not let Iran get away with using a proxy force to attack an American interest. Iran will be held accountable for those incidents.


HOWELL (voice-over): And Iran's leaders respond to the threat. That story ahead as NEWSROOM pushes on.



[05:30:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

To our viewers around the world and in the United States, welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM live in Atlanta.


ALLEN: Former president Barack Obama campaigning in the state of Pennsylvania Friday, he said this November's midterm election is one of the most consequential in years. Here he is.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you're here right now, folks taking credit for this economic miracle, it's like, hold up. Hold up. Hold up. They act like it just started. Please.


HOWELL: Mr. Obama carried that state twice, Donald Trump won there in 2016 and Democrats see the state as a possible bellwether as they try to regain support from blue-collar voters.

ALLEN: Some Pennsylvania political watchers believe the Democrats may indeed have the winds at their backs.

HOWELL: Believe it or not, just six weeks now until the midterm elections here in the United States. Political races are heating up and especially in Texas. This Republican stronghold, the Senate race has become surprisingly competitive with the incumbent senator, Ted Cruz, against the Democratic congressman, Beto O'Rourke.

ALLEN: The two faced off in a contentious debate Friday. They highlighted their differences on several topics, including immigration, guns, standing for the national anthem and, of course, U.S. president Donald Trump.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I've got a responsibility which is to fight for every person here and every person in this state. And so I have worked hand in hand with the president on substance. And we have delivered remarkable victories.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: If the president attacks you personally, your wife, your father, how you respond is your business. But when the president attacks our institutions, this country allows a foreign power to invade our democracy, that is our business.

We need a U.S. senator who will stand up to this president.


ALLEN: No matter who wins that Texas race, they'll need to guard their emails. Google says the Gmail accounts of an unspecified number of U.S. senators has been targeted by foreign government hackers.

HOWELL: The threat is so real and this isn't the first time. Our Brian Todd has more now on this cyber alert coming from Washington, D.C.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Members of the U.S. Senate are on alert that their personal e-mail accounts have been targeted by foreign government hackers. Google has confirmed to CNN; the company warns specific senators and their staffers that their personal Gmail accounts were target. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, whose aides tell CNN his account was not targeted, is sounding the alarm with Senate leadership.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: For dangerous foreign hackers, this is just a no-brainer. These personal accounts are low-hanging fruit. The fact is, if you look at 2016, what you saw is the personal accounts -- particularly of people like John Podesta and Colin Powell -- were the ones that they went after first because this is how you find out where people go, who they talk to.

TODD: CNN learned the targeting of senators' e-mails occurred in recent months. Neither Senate aides nor Google would tell CNN which senators were targeted.


TODD (voice-over): But sources say, attempts were made at both Democratic and Republican staffs. Google and Senate sources are also not saying whether any of the attempted hacks have been successful.

TODD: Could they have been successful?

How vulnerable are senators' personal Gmail accounts?

MICAH SHERR, CYBERSECURITY EXPERT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: They could be successful. Certainly, it depends on the individual member of Congress and their staff and whether they've done things like used two-factor authentication and done their best security practices.

TODD (voice-over): Which foreign government is trying to hack senators?

A Senate source tells CNN, multiple nations are targeting people associated with political leaders and their staffs. A group of Russian hackers, nicknamed Fancy Bear, commanded by Russia's military intelligence agency, targeted the Democrat Party in 2016 and then leaked embarrassing information.

This fake e-mail from Russian intelligence officers, prosecutors say, tricked Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta into clicking on their fake link and entering his Gmail password. Analysts say there could be a treasure trove of valuable information for foreign spies on a given senator's personal Gmail account. SHERR: One thing that you could do easily is come up with a social network, someone's social network, who their friends, who their contacts are, certainly documents that you shouldn't have in your personal e-mail account. We know that some people have done this in the past.

TODD: How would some of America's enemies use that information?

SHERR: One thing that they could certainly do is find information that could be used for blackmail.

TODD: The Russian, Chinese and North Korean governments have always vehemently denied trying to hack America's political leaders. But just last month, there was a separate episode.

Microsoft announced it had thwarted part of a Russian military intelligence operation targeting the Senate and some Washington think tanks -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: The U.S. president never minces words about Iran. So far he has with withdrawn the U.S. from the Obama-ear deal to curb Iran's nuclear capabilities and has reimposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

On Friday, Mr. Trump told the cheering crowd in Missouri those policies are working.


TRUMP: You know, when I took over and before I took over, everybody said Iran will take over the entire Middle East. Now Iran wants to survive. OK?

But you know what, frankly with the respect that we deserve.


ALLEN: Well, this all may come to a head next week during the U.N. General Assembly. President Trump is set to chair the U.N. Security Council briefing on Iran. He is expected to criticize the country for sowing instability throughout the Middle East. Meantime, Iran's president Hassan Rouhani says Mr. Trump will fail in the economic and psychological war -- his words -- the U.S. is waging on Iran.

HOWELL: CNN's Elise Labott spoke with the U.S. secretary of state about the instability going on.


POMPEO: We have told the Islamic Republic of Iran that using a proxy force to attack American interests will not prevent us from responding against the prime actor.

LABOTT (voice-over): A direct threat from the secretary of state against Iran, after a pair of rocket attacks hit U.S. facilities in Iraq, allegedly by Iranian-backed militias.

POMPEO: We will not let Iran get away with using a proxy force to attack an American interest. Iran will be held accountable for those incidents.

LABOTT (on camera): Even militarily?

POMPEO: They're going to be held accountable. If they're responsible for the arming and training of these militias, we are going to the source.

LABOTT (voice-over): Pompeo double-downed on his attacks against former Secretary of State John Kerry for meeting with Iranian officials and counseling them on a strategy after President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran.

(on camera): Can you tell me, how is this jeopardizing your efforts right now?

POMPEO: No American and in particular, no former secretary of state, should be actively seeking to undermine the foreign policy of the United States of America. You know, frankly, this was Secretary Kerry's problem. He always refused to treat our enemies like enemies.

LABOTT (voice-over): Pompeo said he will begin negotiations on a nuclear deal with North Korea this week, but conceded the fate of any agreement hinges on the bond between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

(on camera): Is the president allowing Kim Jong-un to set the pace and scope, knowing that he made these commitments and trust that he will make that decision ultimately?


POMPEO: We knew the pace would be uneven, but the progress each and every day was important. We think we're getting that.

Remember, the sanctions remain in place -- the world's sanctions, not America's sanctions. The U.N. Security Council resolutions demand that Chairman Kim make this decision to denuclearize and those sanctions and enforcement of the sanctions will continue until such time as that occurs.

LABOTT (voice-over): In his explosive book "Fear," Bob Woodward --


LABOTT (voice-over): -- details measures the president's closest aides have taken to curb what they viewed as Trump's dangerous impulses on foreign policy.

LABOTT: The Woodward book describes a president who doesn't understand national security, a cabinet that is moving things around to save the country from the president's national security.

Have you seen that? Do you do that?

POMPEO: I find it absolutely ludicrous that there is -- I'll be careful. There are not many members of the president's cabinet who have spent as much time with him as I have. I briefed him almost every day as CIA director. I see and talk to him every day now.

This is a president who is fully informed, well-briefed, listens and asks hard questions and is leading his foreign policy team towards solving so many problems that plague this world. I wish the previous administration had acted with such diligence and power, but it was left to us. We'll get it right.

LABOTT: And Iran will be a major focus next week at the United Nations with speeches by Secretary Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton on the threat posed by Iran.

And Pompeo will also meet with members of the Iranian opposition, August part of an administration wide effort to rally the world to counter Iran -- Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: And the British prime minister facing another Brexit setback.

ALLEN: We'll have the latest on Theresa May and a live report from London about it right after this.




HOWELL: Welcome back. The E.U. is offering an olive branch after a testy summit on Brexit with the British prime minister Theresa May. The president of the European Council Donald Tusk says compromise is still possible.

ALLEN: This after European leaders rejected Ms. May's latest Brexit proposal in --


ALLEN: -- Austria. Ms. May is warning talks are at an impasse and says if the E.U. keeps refusing her ideas it needs to come up with some of its own.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As I told E.U. leaders, neither side should demand the unacceptable of the other. We cannot accept anything that threatens the integrity of our union, just as they cannot accept anything that threatens the integrity of theirs.

We cannot accept anything that does not respect the result of the referendum, just as they cannot accept anything that is not in the interests of their citizens. Throughout this process, I have treated the E.U. with nothing but respect. The U.K. expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.


HOWELL: And now live from London, our Anna Stewart is on this story.

Anna, great to have you with us. The British prime minister speaking there at Number 10 following a tough time there in Austria. Some say she showed backbone, she saved face domestically.

But given this impasse also with the E.U. given so much leverage, where do things go at this point?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a very good question and I guess it's who is going to compromise first?

In the last few hours, we've had some comments from the U.K. foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has come out and supported Theresa May and said the E.U.'s position is inherently unreasonable.

He also criticized that Instagram post from Donald Tusk, the E.U. Council president yesterday, who posted a photo of himself offering cake to Theresa May with a caption, "Sorry, no cherries," a very unsubtle hint that the U.K. has been trying to cherry-pick its Brexit deal.

So she got support this morning from the foreign secretary. The big question is, will she have the support from the rest of her cabinet?

And "The Telegraph" newspaper today reports that a meeting on Monday is set to be something of a showdown potentially with some ministers resigning unless Theresa May can come up with an alternative to her Chequers deal.

Of course before the summit she said it was her deal, this Chequers deal, or no deal. And yesterday she lobbed that ball back into E.U. court. So to climb down from that will be quite tricky at this stage -- George.

HOWELL: Haven't seen that Instagram post. Clearly a little shade thrown there. Theresa May has made it clear there's no reconsidering Brexit, at least under her watch, under her leadership.

But given how there is the vision on this issue of Brexit, is there a sense there could be leadership change, even reconsideration about the issue of Brexit, especially as the deadline next year approaches?

STEWART: You know, it's all anyone ever talked about. Every dinner I ever have, people want to know about Brexit, as if I've got an inside track. Honestly, who knows; there is more and more speculation that there would be a leadership challenge for Theresa May herself.

That was actually quashed somewhat before the summit; it was more positive noises that an E.U. deal would be reached. But I would say that if this showdown ends on Monday, ends with any more ministers resigning, speculation will rise once again.

They probably already have a fault within the party, only 48 members are needed to trigger a vote of confidence in Theresa May. The big question remains whether they would get the 158 votes that would be needed to actually remove her as leader.

HOWELL: September 22nd, 2018; the question, will we be talking about this the same time next year?

STEWART: I hope not, George.



HOWELL: -- conversation go on. Thank you so much, Anna.

ALLEN: Pope Francis is in Lithuania, the first stop on his four-day tour of the Baltics. He just arrived last hour. He's set to visit the World War II Jewish ghetto in the capital and a former KGB building where Catholic priests were interrogated, tortured and killed during the Soviet era.

HOWELL: Pope Francis will also visit Latvia and Estonia. It is the first papal visit to the Baltic nation since 1993

ALLEN: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has his detractors and his supporters. After this break, you'll hear what some Republican women think of the sexual assault accusations against him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This guy's an altar boy, you know, a scout. You know, because one woman made an allegation, sorry, I don't buy it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But in the grand scheme of things, my goodness, you -- there was no intercourse. There was maybe a touch. Can we -- really? 36 years later? She's still stuck on that? Had it happened?







HOWELL: The sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh is dividing people across the United States.

ALLEN: CNN's Randi Kaye went to Miami to talk with the Republican women to hear what their thoughts on the topic. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): A show of hands. How many of you believe Judge Kavanaugh when he says this didn't happen?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe him too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe him.


LOURDES CASTILLO DE LA PENA, REPUBLICAN VOTER: How can we believe the word of a woman from something that happened 36 years ago? This guy has an impeccable reputation. Nobody, nobody that has spoken ill will about him. Everyone that speaks about him. This guy's an altar boy, you know, a scout. You know, because one woman made an allegation, sorry, I don't buy it.

IRINA VILLARINO, REPUBLICAN VOTER: But in the grand scheme of things, my goodness, you -- there was no intercourse. There was maybe a touch. Can we -- really? 36 years later? She's still stuck on that? Had it happened?

GINA SOSA, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I mean, we're talking about a 15-year- old girl, which I respect. You know, I'm a woman. I respect. But we're talking about a 17-year-old boy in high school with testosterone running high. Tell me what boy hasn't done this in high school. Please, I would like to know.

KAYE (on-camera): Why would she come forward if this wasn't true? Because it has basically destroyed her family. She's had to move, she's gone undercover. She's gotten death threats. So if she's lying, why come forward?

VILLARINO: She's also destroying his life, his wife's lives, his children's lives, his law career. I mean, why didn't she come out sooner if she's telling the truth?

ANGIE VAZQUEZ, REPUBLICAN VOTER: Why didn't she come out when he was going into the Bush White House? When didn't she come out -- he's been a federal judge for over --


VAZQUEZ: -- a decade.

KAYE (on-camera): Why not have a thorough investigation instead of just the two of them he said/she said?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't matter. It does not matter what everyone else has to say.

KAYE (on-camera): This is what happened, though, with Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. The FBI investigated. It took three days. Done. Why not now?

DE LA PENA: This is not the same. This is a high school kid. I mean there's no Anita Hill story.

KAYE (on-camera): Does something that allegedly happened some 30-plus years ago matter today?

DE LA PENA: You can't judge the character of a man based on what he did at 17.

VAZQUEZ: And I would hate to think that 30, 40 years later somebody's going to destroy your life because someone at some party you -- it's not right. But maybe you touched somebody the way you're not supposed to --

SOSA: And who brought the alcohol for these kids?

KAYE (on-camera): And as women, though, do you have some sympathy for her for what she's going through?

DE LA PENA: No, I have no sympathy. And perhaps maybe she at that moment she liked him and maybe he didn't pay attention to her afterwards and he went out with another girl and she got bitter or whatever the situation is. They're kids.

KAYE (on-camera): It if it is true, would it be OK with you if he became a justice on the Supreme Court?

DE LA PENA: As long as that's an isolated incident, yes.

SOSA: He was 17. He was not even an adult. And we all make mistakes at 17. I believe in a second chance.

VILLARINO: I'd be more than OK with him being Supreme Court judge.

DE LA PENA: If the person made a mistake and they move on and they have been a good human being, you know, who are we to judge?


ALLEN: Depends on whom you ask.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell. "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, I'll be back with you. Stay with us.