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Trump Apologizes to Kavanaugh for "Pain & Suffering"; Poll: 54 Percent Will Voting Democrat in Midterms; Hillary Clinton: Kavanaugh Swear-In "Undermined Integrity of Court"; New Details in New York Limo Crash that Killed 20. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 9, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:55] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: After weeks of debate and defense and controversy, newly confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh has his first day of work today. But not before witnessing an extremely rare moment from the president of the United States. Just a reminder here, President Trump has said it himself, he doesn't like to apologize, ever, even when called upon to do so.

Let's make a quick trip down memory lane. Here a couple of those standout moments. During the presidential campaign, Trump refused to apologize for mocking a disabled reporter, for saying John McCain was not a war hero, for insulting a Gold Star family. As has he's been in the White House, he's been criticized for not backing his own Intelligence Community as he stood near Vladimir Putin, and minimizing the nearly 3,000 people killed during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

But for Brett Kavanaugh, the president made an exception.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure.

I must say that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent.


BALDWIN: While the Trump administration is celebrating Kavanaugh as a major victory, could remarks like this energize Democrats more? With four weeks before midterm elections, a new CNN poll reveals 54 percent will be voting for Democrats in their congressional elections.

With me now, two CNN political commentators, Mary Katharine Hamm, a senior writer for "The Federalist," and Matt Lewis, a senior columnist for the "Daily Beast."

It's good to have both of you on.

Mary Katharine, I want to go into more poll data. Yes, Republicans got a huge win in Kavanaugh, but we see poll numbers today showing this huge gender gap for the Republican Party. In in that same CNN poll, 63 percent of women say they will be voting for Democrats. So Republicans have a woman problem. This is not news. It just seems though it gotten worse. How do they fix it by November 6th?

MARY KATHARINE HAMM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is the most potent potential problem Trump has brought to the midterms is that --


BALDWIN: Whose potential problems?

HAMM: That's right. He's taken a group of swing/slightly right- leaning, white, college educated, urban women and moms and shifted them to more fully swing voters or even folks who will lean left in the future. That is a problem particularly in these vulnerable House seats. I will say also, though, this Kavanaugh fight, people are potentially underestimating how much it did energize Republicans on the other side, including Republican women. The issue for Democrats is their enthusiasm was already way up here. And the Republican Party's job is to bring parity. I think they actually do have a chance to gain a bit and it will matter more in Senate races than it does in these vulnerable House races, where those women really matter, the ones switching left.


Do you think, Matt, that Trump's strategy, the Republican strategy of weaponizing Brett Kavanaugh, you know, if they just do this for the next four weeks, do you think that's a winning strategy?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I definitely think it's a winning strategy for the midterms. We could look back and say it was one moment on our way of Democrats having a demographic problem. But in terms of the midterms, Democrats are already motivated. Nothing that happened, you know, last week, that's going to matter to the person who is already upset about all the other things Donald Trump has done. Democrats were motivated, passionate, angry. They are either going to turn out or they're not. Republicans, they're the team that needed the excitement, the passion, the energy. They didn't have it. In midterms, that's what's matters for turnout and now I think they do. I believe it's the overreaction of the left. When you see people like Ted Cruz getting chased out of restaurants by a mob --


[14:35:12] BALDWIN: Oh, you're not going to use the mob word here.

LEWIS: It's totally a mob. It is without a doubt --



LEWIS: There's no other word for it.


(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: Matt, a mob? Stop, stop, stop. A mob --


BALDWIN: A mob is what we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia two Augusts ago.


BALDWIN: A mob is not what we saw chasing --


BALDWIN: I'm not saying what they did was right.

LEWIS: What about the people who were at the Supreme Court banging on the walls? What do you call that? Civil protest or is that a mob? I think it's easily a mob.

HAMM: And if we were Tea Partiers, we'd call it a mob for sure. Let's be serious.

BALDWIN: Let me move past the "M" word. I do feel like that is part of the weaponization of what's happening now on the right. At the same time, I think you do make an interesting point in a piece of read of yours today that while this whole issue with Kavanaugh and Ford has been incredibly divisive in this country, it was unifying among Republicans. Republicans had a Republican problem. You have the Trumpers and Never Trumpers. You said this is what caused Republicans to be one big fuzzy family again.

LEWIS: Yes. The Brett Kavanaugh case -- now, there are Never Trumpers, prominent Never Trumpers, journalists and intellectuals, that this was very divisive. It split the Never Trump movement. You had half of them, the Erick Eriksons of the world, who hated Donald Trump but now feel pushed into Donald Trump's camp. I think it's a backlash against the left. Then you had the Max Boots and Jennifer Rubins of the world pushed the other way. In terms of the rank-and- file average Republican voter, a lot of people around the country don't really like Donald Trump but saw Brett Kavanaugh as a regular kind of conservative that Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush would have picked or George W. Bush. So the attack on him, which they view as an attack on them. A lot of people who don't like Donald Trump, who wouldn't bother to turn out in the midterms now may. But the big question is can they keep this going for a month. We have a month to go and that's a long time in politics.


Mary Katharine, finish my sentence.


BALDWIN: Kanye West is going to the White House this Thursday and --

HAMM: Becoming the U.N. ambassador, obviously. (LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: I hear laughter through the metal door and through the hallways.

HAMM: Enjoy, everyone.

BALDWIN: That's your gift to everyone else.

Mary Katharine, Matt Lewis, thank you so much for being with me.

LEWIS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: I do appreciate your prospective.

Coming up here, Hillary Clinton is sounding off in a new exclusive interview with CNN, talking everything from the Republican Party and the Kavanaugh nomination process to how to restore civility in Washington. You will hear from her in Christiane Amanpour's interview, next.


[14:42:22] BALDWIN: After Brett Kavanaugh was sworn into the Supreme Court, Hillary Clinton says President Trump staged such a spectacle, it undermined the courts integrity

She spoke exclusively with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court. And that troubles me greatly. It saddens me. Because our judicial system has been viewed as one of main pillars of our constitutional government. So I don't know how people are going to react to it. I think, given our divides, it will pretty much fall predictably between those who are for and those who are against.

But the president has been true to form. He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign, for many years leading up to the campaign, and he's continued to do that inside the White House.


BALDWIN: Mary Katharine Hamm is still with us. Joining us, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

Chris Cillizza, she called what happened last night a political rally. We know Trump is pretty effective when it comes to rallies. What is Hillary Clinton up to here?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, I mean, I think in her mind she's filling a space that no one else can fill between now and whenever Democrats choose who their nominee is going to be in 2020, which is sort of the face of the Trump resistance. I don't think this is some long con that she's going to run for president again. I think she's done with that. But I do think she believes that there need to be voices that speak up and say this is not normal, this is the sort of thing that we have to call out and she believes herself to be in a position still to do that. You know, I don't know how much she helps the cause. I think she herself is so divisive. She says people are going to line up in their camps one way or another as it relates to the Trump/Kavanaugh thing Monday night. Well, Hillary Clinton's comments about the Trump/Kavanaugh thing, people are going to line up in their camps, too.

BALDWIN: Is she the person, M.K., to be --

HAMM: She's welcome to be who she wants. She's been out there for years. She's been in politics a long time. It's a reflect to be in the political arena. Do I think it's strategically super helpful or she's a vibrant new face for the Democratic Party or resistance? I do not. And there are others who speak out plenty who serve that role probably better.

BALDWIN: Let me play one other clip. Hillary Clinton weighed in on the confirmation process just on the whole.


[14:45:10] CLINTON: You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. Until then, the only thing the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength. And you heard how the Republican members, led by Mitch McConnell, the president, really demeaned the confirmation process, insulted and attacked not only Dr. Ford but women who were speaking out.

You know, look, I remember Republican operatives shutting down the voting in Florida in 2000. I remember the swiftboating of John Kerry. I remember the thing that even the Republican Party did to John McCain in 2000. I remember what they did to me for 25 years, the falsehoods, the lies, which unfortunately people believe because the Republicans have put a lot of time, money and effort in promoting them.

So when you're dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding, you can be civil but you can't overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections.


BALDWIN: Chris, we watched this really spectacle volatility unfold during this whole process. It was ugly no matter what. But does running on an anger platform remedy it?

CILLIZZA: Hillary Clinton, whether purposely or not, is running the case for Michael Avenatti 2020. Both parties are driven by ideology. That's why they're parties. They are cohered by a set of ideology and values. It's a little oversimplified. I do, however, think, there will be a real debate as Democrats look to who they want and there's going to be a million -- 30-plus candidates. There will be a debate do we want to get back to politics pre-Trump, where it was more genteel and civil or do we need for lack of a better word, an Avenatti? Donald Trump changed it and we need to fight fire with fire.

BALDWIN: Can we go back, Mary Katharine, into a pre-Trump era to a "pre-genteel" era of politics or do you need a Trump to out-trump Trump?

HAMM: I think some of that is looking through rose-colored glasses. Trump was a response to what many felt was cultural bullying during the Obama years. They felt like they needed a bully to stand up to that. Hillary Clinton's comments here are sort of a tell that the civility gambit is nonsense. It's not about civility. It's about you shut up until we win. That's not actually civility.

And with respect, I am old enough to remember how the Clinton company treated his accusers and paramours over the years. It wasn't civil. It was part of my political coming of age at 18 or 19 to see how that played out. So to hear it from her is somewhat hollow for me.

In this process, activists have been abetted by -- ran with the Avenatti outlandish accusations that did not have corroborations. So that wasn't exactly civil or part of the normal process. I'm not endorsing the ratchet but this is a ratchet situation here.

BALDWIN: Mary Katharine Hamm, Chris Cillizza, thank you both very much.

HAMM: Thank you.

[14:49:36] BALDWIN: As a small community in New York is in mourning after a horrific limo crash that killed 20, we now have details about the owner of the company who owned the limo and new reports of text messages sent by the victims in moments before the crash. What they had to say about the condition of the limo as they were in it. That's next.


BALDWIN: New details are emerging today about the limo company involved in the crash that killed those 20 people in New York, including signs of problems before their death.

CNN correspondent, Polo Sandoval, is in Amsterdam on what's new in the investigation.

Polo, it's my understanding some of the victims were sending text messages. They were concerned about the condition of the limo before it crashed.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's all critical information, Brooke, that investigators are looking over critical investigation. The text message from Erin McGowan, that was being driven in the limousine, that it was making a loud noise. The other information has been coming from an attorney hired by

victims saying the limousine was purchased by that company about three years ago, that it had already been stretched. That the current owner had replaced the entire brake system.

[14:55:15] And a bit of information that is contradicting what we heard from Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday. The attorney saying they had checked out the driver's record and said that he did have the appropriate licensing.

And then, finally, the other point that's contradicting what we heard from Andrew Cuomo was the vehicle was allowed to be on the road. The attorney says the infractions were minor and they'd been fixed.


UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY FOR VICTIMS: The State Department of Transportation has its own inspection process. Period cliff DOT would woman out and inspect fleet vehicles like this. Last week there were minor instructions, windshield wipers or a latch on a window was broken. They were told last week that the vehicle was road worthy and they could drive it.


SANDOVAL: Authorities are going through conflicting information to find out what has happened. This is taking place, Brooke, as the identities are all 20 people are released today.

BALDWIN: Polo Sandoval, thank you.

Meantime, a category two hurricane is taking aim at the Florida panhandle. We'll have a live report, next.