tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN September 24, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PDT
a very good morning to you. i'm jim sciutto. >> i'm poppy harlow in new york. so glad you're with us. there's a lot of news. there's zero doubt where the president stands on his supreme court nominee, judge brett kavanaugh who is facing two allegations of sexual misconduct from decades ago. arriving at the united nations this morning for the general assembly, you see him there with nikki haley, u.s. ambassador to the u.n. the president declared, quote, i'm with judge kavanaugh. he also called the allegations against judge kavanaugh, quote, totally political. here's the president. >> he's a fine man.
with an unblemished past. and these are highly unsubstantiated statements from people represented by lawyers. you should look into the lawyers doing the representation. judge kavanaugh is an outstanding person. and i am with him all the way. we'll see how it goes with the senate, with the vote. i think it could be, there's a chance this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything, but i am with judge kavanaugh, and i look forward to a vote. and for people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mention it all of a sudden, it happens. in my opinion, it's totally political. totally political. >> well, the president also made big news, substantial news today on north korea.
a second summit between himself and kim jong-un not only happening but supposedly happening, according to the president, quite soon. >> moving very well. the relationships are very good with north korea. we have things in store. looks like we'll have a second summit quite soon. as you know, kim jong-un wrote a letter, beautiful letter, and asking for a second meeting, and we'll be doing that. secretary pompeo will work that out in the immediate future. >> wewill be doing that, says the president. we begin with the latest turmoil in the turbulent brett kavanaugh saga. abby phillip has that. we're three days out now from this follow-up meeting where we expect both kavanaugh and ford, one of his accusers, to appear and speak in public. after holding his tongue for a number of days on this, the president in recent days and again this morning showing he is giving kavanaugh his full backing. >> absolutely, jim. there has been a striking change
of tone from president trump on this issue. he started out a week ago saying we want to hear what this accuser had to say, speaking of christine blasey ford, who has accused kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school. now, president trump is clearly saying this is unjust. it's unfair to his nominee. and he's saying that kavanaugh is a good person who is basically being smeared by these allegations. what we've been told from sources is president trump over the weekend was briefed on a new set of allegations that was published in the new yorker last night. he still stands by his nominee, our sources have said. they are expecting kavanaugh to try to defend himself, and you have seen the ways in which kavanaugh and the white house are doing it, by saying this is a smear campaign against him. and president trump has repeatedly in the past had sympathy for the accuser -- the accused but not so much for the victim. so i think this is what we're seeing once again when it comes to kavanaugh, and both of these
accusations against him. >> let's talk, abby, about the news that broke last night, the new yorker piece on deborah ramirez, who alleges that kavanaugh when in college when they were students at yale, there was alleged sexual misconduct toward her. what can you tell us about her claims? >> right. just in the last 12 hours or so, these brand-new allegations back from when kavanaugh was a college student, a freshman in college, ramirez alleges there was a party in which a lot of students were drinking. she says kavanaugh exposed himself to her and caused her to touch his genitals when they were at this party. she relaid some of these memories from this moment, but the new yorker says that she was uncertain at first about kavanaugh's role in this, but they did speak with another classmate who went to school with them at the time who corroborated some of the key
details that ramirez brought up to the new yorker, independent of her. so there are some questions this morning being raised by the white house and by kavanaugh's allies about whether these allegations are corroborated, but here's what ronan farrow had to say about that issue. >> there is a strong evidentiary basis. her claim is corroborated to an extent that is not always possible by people who did not know her, have not interacted with her, but recounted the same fact pattern. i would point you to the piece. the other is the same rison she decided to speak, john, which is this is a story that is out there on the hill. it is being investigated. it is a matter of news, whether she tells her own version of this story or not. >> so it's clear that the issue of whether these allegations are corroborated is going to be a key point that's going to be debated by both sides this week. all of this leading up to a likely hearing on thursday morning with christine blasey ford, the first accuser.
jim and poppy. >> we should note that kavanaugh himself vehemently denies the second allegation. he calls it part of a smear campaign. thank you very much. >> let's go to manu raju live on capitol hill. so manu, you already had the uncomfortable situation of this hearing on thursday. now you have this second allegation. where do republican senators, particularly those swing votes, standard here? does this latest allegation change anything? >> we don't know that yet, jim, because it did break last night. the senators are traveling back into town today. so we plan to get a sense from some of those key senators, susan collins of maine, lisa murkowski of alaska, jeff flake of arizona, bob corker of tennessee. some who had raised significant concerns about the first allegation, how they feel about the second allegation. now, what we do know is that the republicans on the judiciary committee, led by chuck grassley, they do plan to look into this new allegation. they claim they had no prior
knowledge about this before it broke last night. but they do plan to reach out to that accuser, debbie ramirez, to see what story she has to tell, but there's no sense of whether or not she will come for the thursday hearing, which right now is slated to just have two witnesses. just have christine blasey ford in the first panel, brett kavanaugh in the second panel, responding to her accusation that he assaulted her back in the '80s when they were in high school, but nevertheless, very turbulent at the moment. republicans plan to push ahead. the leadership in particular is trying to make the case that this is all appearing to be a political effort to drag down brett kavanaugh with unsubstantiated claims. whether that works with their swing voters remains to be seen. a lot will be determined in the next couple days. >> before you go, can you clarify something for us? this new yorker piece talks about some congressional staff on the hill knowing of these claims and allegations by debbie
ramirez, that college student at yale with kavanaugh, before the new yorker story broke. democrats and republicans. what reporting do you have on that front? >> well, republicans are denying having any knowledge whatsoever, including chuck grassley's staff and senator dianne feinstein, the top democrat of the committee, her staff also said they did not know the details of the report before it was published. we do know that the colorado senator michael bennett who is not part of the committee but whose constituents is debbie ramirez, the woman making the allegation, his office had been in touch with her, put her in touch with an attorney in colorado after a staffer on the democratic side of the aisle on the judiciary committee referred her case to michael bennett's office. so that's where we get a sense of where things were. but there's no real sense there was a full-fledged investigation internally happening on the committee, but still, allegations that members were hearing about over the last several days here. >> okay. thank you, manu. let's talk about all this.
our legal analyst shan wu is here, alice stewart joins us and john avlon. shan, to you, let's listen to jane mare, who co-authored this "new yorker" piece on debbie ramirez with ronan farrow, talking on cbs this morning about the claims of political motivation here. listen to what she said. >> i also interviewed a woman who judge kavanaugh wanted us to talk to, as someone who would defend him. i asked her outright, she knows deborah ramirez. i said do you think politics was a motivation? she said to me, no, and she's kavanaugh's defender. nobody is really alleging politics was the motivation here. >> shan wu, aside from the president and the white house. shan, can you hear us? he can't hear. all right, just your take on what we heard. >> i think it's important to know that people are saying
there's a lack of corroboration. a lack of corroboration does not consist of finding people who know nothing of the allegation asking them about it and they say i don't know anything. that's not the right kind of corroboration you're seeking. they need to find people who know something about it, may have seen the people attending these different events before and after, and look at the evidence. each of the allegations needs to be scrutinized independently. i think the second allegation, we can't possibly sit here and know if it happened or didn't know, but what we do know is it's very serious and could be part of a pattern. if this was a criminal investigation, as a prosecutor, i would be looking for patterns in the judge's behavior. but for the purposes of the senate judiciary committee, they unquestionably need time to investigate. they need the fbi to investigate. and they need to look at both of these individually. they cannot do that by thursday. >> alice stewart, i want to read to you a quote from an editorial
in the "wall street journal." the title of which was "the presumption of guilt." the set of facts ms. ford currently provides would not even pass the preponderance of evidence that prevails today on college campuses. if this is the extent of her evidence and it's allowed to defeat a supreme court nominee, a charge of sexual assault will become a killer act. i want to ask you this question, because arguably, it can cut both ways. would not more time beyond this thursday deadline allow for the investigation of these allegations, not just to the satisfaction of the accusers and senators who have to make this decision, but also to the satisfaction of brett kavanaugh, who has been accused, to allow for him to clear his name, to allow for the possibility that an investigation by the fbi would clear his name? >> absolutely, jim. more time would allow a more
thorough investigation into these claims. but at the same time, this has been in the works for many, many months. we knew about dr. ford several months ago, and these new allegations i think certainly need to be fleshed out, but i think it would be most beneficial if we could stick to the timeline we have and get all the information out there. >> why is that most beneficial? >> we had the senator from hawaii on with our colleague jake tapper yesterday. she all but said he doesn't deserve the presumption of innocen innocence. i find that extremely troubling when he asked her that direct question. judge kavanaugh deserved the presumption of innocence, due process, the opportunity to present his side of the story, and in both of these cases and these allegations, he categorically denies the first instance -- >> that's why i'm asking, alice, that's why i read the quote about the presumption of guilty.
i'm asking why the timeline, then? one could argue the timeline is as political as anything. if the goal here is to provide opportunity to accuser and the accused to either substantiate the allegation or clear their name, wouldn't both time and a full fbi investigation accomplish that for both parties involved here? >> it absolutely would. at the same time, jim, i think it's important for us to understand while the left accuses the right of an arb straer deadline, you have to look at those on the left with arbitrary delays. this is a situation where we have serious allegations, these women do need to be heard. but if we can expedite it in a process where they can be fully vetted, i have a lot of questions about this new yorker piece with regard to some of the allegations being made in it. they themselves say in the piece that in the tenth paragraph of a 14-paragraph story that the eyewitnesses have not been confirmed so there are a lot of questions that need to be asked.
i think expediting this process would be in the best interest of all involved. >> can you, john avlon, i want your take, and i also want you to weigh in on how thursday moves forward if it proceeds as it is planned for now. if thursday is simply, not simply, if thursday is only ford and kavanaugh telling their stories, we'll see if republicans bring in outside counsel to question both of them or not. how does that look if senators then vote on that without hearing from ramirez, without hearing from any other witnesses? can they? >> i don't think it's tenable politically given the accusations from ms. ramirez that came out after the deal was struck. now you have two accusers, and there needs to be a search for the truth to either clear kavanaugh's name or to corroborate these women's accounts. the problem is this is a political process. senator hirono on the left and lindsey graham on the right have said their minds are made up. that's why the swing senators will be so important in the selection of this swing justice.
politics -- >> what happens then, john? >> there should be a delay, a proper investigation. they should open it to other witnesses, particularly mark judge, who is one of the rare cases where you have a situation that occurred a long time ago, unprecedented in the date timeline, but there's a third party allegedly in the room. why would you not want to hear that person's point of view? that's in the interest of clearing kavanaugh's name or corroborating these women's accounts. behind it all is payback for merrick garland, the clinton standard that judge kavanaugh was involved in, where sexual indiscorrections were used to as a political weapon, and the term the politics of personal destruction was coined. you saw today, kellyanne conway on air cite a vast leftira conspiracy. >> shan wu, you have experience specific to sexual assault cases. who or what is best equipped to investigate these allegations to the satisfaction of both
parties? is it the fbi or is it congressional committees? >> certainly it's the fbi. and all this spin we hear that the fbi is not appropriate to do the investigation here, that's just completely nonsense. the fbi constantly investigates everything from background checks to criminal cases. and the spin we're hearing that, oh, they're not in the position to judge the truth, that's not what they do. they're professionals who gather the evidence, identify the right witnesses, get statements, and then present that evidence to someone who is going to make some decisions, such as the senate or prosecutor. and that's exactly what they're meant to do. that's the best people to do it. >> as we keep reminding people, there was precedent in the anita hill investigation. a republican president ordered the fbi to investigate those claims. >> and it was done in three days. >> shan, alice, john, thank you. president trump is teasing a second summit with kim jong-un, this as the president gets set for a week of big meetings at the united nations including
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dizziness or confusion. (man) i found my tresiba® reason. find yours. (vo) ask your health care provider about tresiba®. covered by most commercial health insurance and medicare part d plans. president trump making big news on north korea as he arrives at the u.n. this morning. >> he said a second face-to-face meeting with north korea's kim jong-un will happen soon, that they're working on it. that's a significant development. he also said, quote, tremendous progress has been made with north korea. we want to check the facts on all this. with us, joseph yun. >> good to be here.
>> what do you make of the president saying this morning summit number two is happening? >> well, i think it's been in the works for a while. i mean, there is no doubt that we all know president trump wants to see kim jong-un again, and kim jong-un has been sending very nice letters, very praiseworthy, and really thanking president trump. now, poppy, to me, the question is, is all members of the senior staff in the administration on the same script? is john bolton with president trump in welcoming these overtures. it's also important, secretary of state pompeo also on the same wave length. because it seems to me there is a bit of a disconnect between the president and his senior staff. >> joseph, let me ask you this very simple question. what concrete concession or move has north korea made on
denuclearization since their first summit? >> well, jim, you know, the situation -- i mean, you know, compare the situation a year ago. so there has been a lot of differences. if you were to tell us, you know, a year later, say last year, we would have no nuclear tests, no missile tests, three american prisoners returned. i think that's a good deal. you know, we would have grabbed at it. remember, a year ago, we were talking about bloody nose. a year ago at this same forum in the united nations, president trump was saying we will totally destroy you, little rocket man. so it is very different. the big question, though, jim, is does it mean anything on the fundamental issue of denuclearization. >> and that's the thing. listen, no question, i was outside the u.n. this time last year as the president delivered his rocket man speech. there was genuine alarm at this,
what would be the end result? would missiles be firing in both directions? but the fact is this administration has defined success by complete irreversible and verifiable steps on denuclearization. typically, those sessions happen before a summit. you had the first summit, no concessions before or after that are hard, and now you have a second summit. i'm curious, what is the process or the strategy here if you're not getting those concessions and the two leaders are meeting face-to-face? >> jim, you're right. we have reached an impasse. that's because of the fundamental difference in understanding what took place in singapore. we are saying, the american side is saying you go first. you denuclearize first everything, by the way, and we will go second. we'll give you what you want. but that's what's not happening. there is no trust. and so if anything is going to happen, they're going to have to meet again, i believe. >> well, so, also today, you
have president trump meeting with his south korean counterpart, moon jae-in. and you know, after the hugs that we saw between president moon and kim jong-un last week, what does president trump need to find out from or get on the same page with south korea on at this point? >> at this point, president moon, for his own reason, is very eager to move forward. he would be bringing back, you mentioned the hugs. they met for three days, and he'll be bringing back the message that he's serious about denuclearization, but president trump, you have to give something in return. you have to give it now. and i think if you give it now, maybe there is still a path ahead. so president moon is playing a very, very important role in brokering between moon and trump. sorry, trump and kim. >> okay. joseph yun, always good to have your expertise. thank you.
>> thank you very much. >> also, really significant this morning, china is now accusing the u.s. of being a trade bully. chinese state media saying instead of respectful relationships, the u.s. is using protectionism, false accusations, and intimidation to get its way. >> those words coming as new tariffs are kicking in this very morning. a 10% tax on $200 billion worth of chinese goods. that's roughly half the amount of everything that china sells to the u.s. china striking back with tariffs of its own on $60 billion worth of u.s. products such as meat, clothing, auto parts, the biggest round of tariffs yet for these two economic superpowers. joining us from the new york stock exchange, cnn business anchor julia chatterley. one amazing constant through this escalating trade war is that the market has been sort of brushing it off. is that still the case? >> it's such a great point, jim. we are seeing a bit of pressure in the session, but you know, as you pointed out, last week, i was talking about record highs
for some of these markets, so in light of what we have seen and the escalation that we have seen, u.s. investors are still pretty sanguine here, i would say. as you pointed out, u.s. hitting china with the tax, the formalization of the announcements that we got last week. the big question, guys, here, is whether or not the president, the u.s. administration, looks at this and says as promised, we're now going to hit china with a further $267 billion, and then it's not half of all china's imports here into the united states. it's the whole lot. and that means all products effectively get more expensive, and the question is, at what point then do we see that hit consumers' purses because products are basically costing more. china also taking out a full-page spread in the des moines daily. they're being strategic, guys, about the impact on u.s. consumers here. saying sorry, we got them to go somewhere else because of these tariffs. >> that's fascinating.
just pause on that for a moment. the fact tat the chinese government is taking out an ad in the des moines newspaper to send their message. >> to farmers. >> and we know how soybean farmers feel about the tariffs. before we go, you interview these ceos all the time. it seems to me like these companies have priced in t this like jack ma. they have priced in this trade war may be prolonged here, and yet, that's why we're seeing the market continue to do well, because this was expected. >> yeah, it's interesting. to a certain extent, some of these corporates have been hit. investors have looked and said they're going to suffer, going to have to raise prices. consumers are going to be concerned, but by and large, i don't think it's hitting the numbers yet. we had a lot of noise. apple complaining, ibm, walmart, but until we see concrete impact on these numbers, investors at this stage are kind of thinking that, you know, we can carry on
regardless. the u.s. is the safe haven here and everyone else is suffering. >> thank you. good to have you. >> julia chatterley at the stock exchange, we have live pictures now. these are protesters on capitol hill. it appears to be anti-kavanaugh protesters outside the office of one of those key swing votes here, republican senator susan collins.
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these are live pictures. this is outside the office of senator susan collins. a gop senator, she's a key swing vote on the nomination of brett kavanaugh to the supreme court. these protesters protesting against his nomination, a group of women there. we heard them earlier calling for his accusers to be heard. we will continue to follow this story here. a number of senators under pressure here to reconsider their vote, as we get ready for testimony on thursday with ford coming before the senate. christine blasey ford, and other stories coming out of possible allegations as well. we'll continue to monitor that story. >> meanwhile, other news. disgraced comedian bill cosby could be labeled a sexually violent predator by the end of the day. a sentencing hearing for the 81-year-old under way as we speak. he is facing up to -- this is a maximum of 30 years in prison.
this after being convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting andrea constand in 2004. cnn legal analyst areva martin joins us now. as you look at this case here, our understanding is 30 years would be really the outer end of what a sentence might be, right? that the judge on these three counts might have him serve concurrently. what's a realistic expectation for his sentencing? >> when you look at the data in terms of how judges in this particular county and this state sentence people who are in similar situations as bill cosby, meaning individual s convicted of the kinds of felonies he's been convicted of with no prior record, the data suggests the sentencing looks like from 22 months up to three years. i think that's a more realistic range when we think about what bill cosby is facing today. we know that he's 81 years old. his defense team is arguing that he's failing in his health. and they're going to use those factors to try to argue for a
much lighter sentence and possibly even home confinement or probation. >> so a few questions. and i'm glad you're with us to go through all this. outside of the sentencing, the judge is going to have to determine whether or not bill cosby will be labeled a violent sexual predator. i'm wondering what would determine that, right? and then also, will we hear from bill cosby? he did not testify in his own defense, but he may speak today and how important could any sort of morsel of remorse from him or an apology, which we also have not heard, how could that factor into his sentencing? >> good questions. as to the first question, bill cosby has already been examined by a state medical examiner. and that medical examiner has already determined that he has violent tendencies and he should be designated as a sexually violent predator. we know his team is going to push back on that designation because it carries with it public shaming, community
alerts, as well as that's a legal determination if the judge does indeed make that determination today in that legal determination could be used against cosby in the various civil defamation actions that are pending throughout the country. we know in massachusetts, for example, there are seven plaintiffs that cosby, that have accused cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them. and now they're suing him for defamation. so a determination by the judge today that he's a sexually violent predator could be used in those civil cases. two, as to you point about remorse, that's a really big issue. that's what we expect to see in most sentencing hearings, is for the defendant to take the stand and to express remorse, to apologize to the victims. and to talk about how sorry he or she is in terms of how their conduct has impacted this victim. now, what we have seen from bill cosby to date is something totally opposite of that. he hasn't expressed any remorse, and in fact, his wife just
recently filed a complaint against this judge, claiming that he's been unfair, that he's been biased in his handling of this entire trial. so far from expressing remorse, we have seen this attack of the judge by cosby and his wife. >> thank you very much. we have to jump because we have breaking news to get to on capitol hill. we'll watch the cosby hearing. look at what is happening live. this is on capitol hill. protesters protesting the nomination of judge kavanaugh outside of senator susan collins' office. listen in. >> okay, we have our capitol hill reporter sunlen serfaty on the phone with us. what do we know about this group, what they're saying, et cetera this morning?
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president trump. a source telling cnn's laura jarrett here, the deputy attorney general, long enough fire from the president, that coming to a tee in the last several days when it was reported, including by c dmrxnn discussed wearing a wire. even invoking the 25th amendment to remove him. laura is joining us. what are you hearing? >> so far, all we know is the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, is expected to be fired today. this comes on the heels of that explosive report about the deputy attorney general musing about wearing a wire on the president and musing about invoking the 25th amendment. lots of officials at the justice department, current and former, pushed back on that reporting, saying he was just being sarcastic, but clearly, this is a fast moving situation. we wait to see exactly how all this will play out. we haven't seen a statement from either him or the white house yet, jim, but i'm told from a source familiar, if in fact this
all comes to completion today, that there is a plan in place as for what happens to the russia investigation. of course, that would be the big thing on everybody's mind because rosenstein oversees the mueller probe, because sessions, the attorney general, has recused himself. so if in fact this all comes to fruition, then the solicitor general, the number three ov over here at the justice department, would become the acting attorney general for purposes only of overseeing the mueller investigation. he would still remain solicitor general and then matt whittaker, sessions' current chief of staff, would become the acting deputy attorney general for purposes of everything else. i know that's a mouthful, a lot to process here, but i wanted to get you the current plan as we understand it. there will be someone overseeing mueller. >> this is very significant for a number of reasons, namely of interest to so many is the mueller probe and the independence of that and the ability for it to move forward. laura, you have the fact that
sessions resigned in terms of recused himself from the russia probe. so rosenstein has been overseeing it. the solicitor general would step in temporarily to oversee that part, but there's something very important here, and that is the federal vacancies act. that would then, if this all goes through, if the president does fire rosenstein, this would allow the president to pick anyone he wants, anyone who has a senate confirmed position, to be deputy attorney general. right? >> that's exactly right. so it isn't the case that the president just has to accept whatever the justice department has all worked out here in a neat solution. we may not see that come to fruition either. but as we know right now, i haven't checked my phone in the last few seconds, but at least as we understand right now, the current plan. the president could blow up all that and decide he wants someone else entirely. we saw this with mick mulvaney, with shulkin. there are a lot of different moves and the president has quite a bit of power to put in
whomever he wants if the person is already senate confirmed. >> this would be the second senior law enforcement official fired by this president, although it appears rod rosenstein may have walked out on his own before, expecting to be fired. fired by this president with the russia probe, at least as part of the justification, certainly in recent days with this news of rod rosenstein considering the 25th amendment, et cetera, that adds another dimension, but for months and months, the president has attacked rod rosenstein and this president. shimon prokupecz, if i could bring you in, and shan wu, we have you standing by. you talk of a saturday night massacre playing out over time, right? in the nixon administration, that might have taken place on a saturday, but over the course of months, you have a president removing people overseeing an investigation that he, one, is a party to, but two, strongly
disapproves of. >> you know, jim, you're exactly right. this would be a momentous move in this investigation. certainly everything changes now, because this could likely become part of the investigation. if in fact what rod rosenstein, people close to him, and people at the department of justice have said, that the idea that he wanted to wire tap someone to record the president or record the president in some secret way was just a joke, if in fact that does come out to be the case and the president is just using this as an excuse to finally fire him, to finally remove him from this investigation, because we know, as you said, that the president has attacked rod rosenstein in tweets, privately has attacked rod rosenstein, and perhaps has been looking for this excuse to finally take some kind of action in this investigation against someone who is investigating his actions, the russians, his campaign. this could finally sort of
perhaps may have given him that excuse to go ahead and do so, but if in fact it is shown that this was all a joke and not as has been reported, that could potentially be a problem as well for the president. this is significant. certainly, something that we had all heard the president wanted to do. his aides, people close to him, have talked about sort of telling him not to do it, listening, and all of a sudden today, this morning, we have this massive huge development in this investigation and something that the department of justice has been concerned about and has been trying to protect rod rosenstein from happening. so we'll see. we'll see where this goes the rest of the day. and then we'll see what happens in terms of this investigation and how this investigation moves forward. >> all right, let's go to kaitlan collins, our white house reporter with more on this breaking news. i believe you have new reporting on this. the breaking news is that the
deputy attorney general rod rosenstein believes he is about to be fired at any moment. what are you hearing from your sources? >> that's what we're hearing from the justice side. i have confirmed with a senior justice official that he did resign to the chief of staff, john kelly. it's unclear when, but it is confirmed he did tell john kelly he is going to resign. of course, that is with that expectations, as laura jarrett was reporting and shimon there, he expected to be fired after the bombshell "new york times" story broke, that he had considered wearing a wire to go speak with the president, having other people wear a wire to go speak with the president, and in an attempt to encourage some people to invoke the 25th amendment to forcibly remove the president from office. we know that is something that rod rosenstein has denied emphatically. we saw two statements come out last week. the first statement to "the new york times" where he said he wouldn't be commenting further on this matter based on anonymous sources, but we reported later on, after discussions with the white house, they made it clear he needed to put out a firmer
denial for president trump, which we did see later tuesday night. of course, however, that relationship didn't seem to have any hope left, and now we do know that rod rosenstein has submitted his resignation to the white house with this expectation he was going to be fired after that story broke. now, it's interesting, jim and poppy, because after the last few days, we have seen the president has had so many other things on his mind, not just with all the drama surrounding his supreme court nominee, that rod rosenstein really judging by people i have spoken with who have spoken to the president, wasn't always at the top of his list. it wasn't at the top of his mind when he was discussing all this, but it certainly was something. clearly, rod rosenstein, someone who had a tense relationship with the president at times, with the president tweeting about him, but things had seemed to improve in recent months. clearly, did not think he could stay on in this job any longer. that's why he has resigned to the chief of staff, john kelly. >> of course, the question is whether the article in "the new
york times" that we learned about the 25th amendment, et cetera, is the proximate cause or if the president's criticism of the russian investigation. shan, just in terms of rod rosenstein's replacement when he or she is named, the immediate replacement, the solicitor general, nole francisco, but as pauby no y poppy noted, the prt can choose anyone who is senate confirmed. how much power does that new person in that position have over the mueller investigation? including can that new person end the mueller investigation? >> they would have enormous power over the mueller investigation. and it really is going to be determined by what kind of person is appointed and whether they're willing to wield that power responsibly or not. a responsible person is going to come in and they're going to take their time. they're going to talk to the career people, they'll talk to
mueller, and they'll want to do a professional job to make sure that they oversee the investigation but not do something reckless or something overtly political. but on paper, they will be in charge of it for purposes of that investigation, they will be the attorney general. and if they're so inclined, they could end it at that point or direct it to be resolved in a way that may be more politically expedient for the president. they'll be able to do that. the question is what kind of person does the president put in there. >> laura jarrett, i believe we have laura with us. we don't have laura. shimon, back to you. are you getting any reporting on the president's state of mind at this point, and also, who he may have in mind to name? because again, the solicitor general would oversee this probe for now, but then you would assume the president would take up the opening he has legally under the federal vacancies act to name the person he sees best fit here. >> right. no, we don't have any idea who he's thinking about in terms of
replacing. it could happen, but certainly people that we have talked to, we have not heard any names. even as of this morning, folks here at cnn, some of our reporters here, had heard that people close to the president were urging him not to do this. not to fire the deputy attorney general, but clearly, something changed this morning. you know, we know that folks at the department of justice had been huddled this morning. we thought something was going on because the folks there were not really communicating with our laura jarrett. things were kind of quiet, so we had suspicions that something was going to happen. certainly, we did not expect this, the fact that the deputy attorney general would be fired by the president of the united states. especially in the middle, still continuing this investigation, this russia investigation that rosenstein is overseeing. and what does this mean now for
the new person that will come in and oversee this investigation? that person has to probably be briefed on anything. and also, keep in mind, poppy and jim, as you know this, we're kind of in the middle of what we believe perhaps may be the end of getting close to the end of this russia investigation. certainly, as it relates to the president. there are all these ongoing discussions whether or not the president is going to sit down for an interview with the mueller team, whether or not the mueller team is going to subpoena the president, if he continues to refuse to meet with them. you know, and rosenstein was a big part of those decisions. everything that mueller was doing, he would have to go to rod rosenstein and seek permission to do that. >> we should add our latest reporting that rod rosenstein is apparently on his way, physically now, to the white house. we also had a confirmation just a short time ago, a few moments ago, that he has, and this coming from the white house, he has submitted his resignation, but it was our reporting, laura jarrett's reporting, this was in
expectation of being fired. kaitlan collins, if i could bring you back, if you're still there. >> yeah. >> remember with james comey, james comey, when he was fired a little more than a year ago, there was this grand show of putting out this report by rod rosenstein, imagine that, claiming that the reason for the firing was because of his handling of the hillary clinton e-mail investigation. and then within days, the president blew that up by saying he fired him because of the russia investigation. the circumstances here, we had this story in the last several days saying rod rosenstein considered invoking the 25th amendment to remove the president, wearing a wire, et cetera. certainly, it appears to be a proximate cause for this, but from your reporting, is it the russia investigation? or -- and was it just a matter of time in light of the president's criticism of the russia investigation and rosenstein's leadership of that or this latest story or some combination. >> i think this story did seem to be the final straw. as we said earlier, things between president trump and rod
rosenstein had improved in recent months. the president stopped tweeting about him, stopped attacking him on twitter. he's at the white house frequently, briefing the president on one thing or consulting with him on another, especially with regards to the requests with the declassified documents which president trump backed up on last week and said he was no longer going to have them do that. so the thing is, this is all when it took place last year, right around the firing of james comey. that was when apparently rod rosenstein was having these conversations about wearing a wire to meet the president or invoking the 25th amendment. that was one of the most chaotic times surrounding the trump administration and that contributed a lot to the bad relationship and the bad blood between trump and rosenstein at that time. not on the same level as it was between him and the actual attorney general, jeff sessions, but it was jeff sessions who recommended the president pick rod rosenstein as his deputy. just a lot of drama there with that relationship, but things had improved. of course, this relationship, how do you move forward with an attorney general who there are
reports that he did, you know, want you to wear a wire and what not. but of course, there was a lot of doubt among the president's allies. they thought the story was a set-up, that people were setting the president up to fire rod rosenstein. you have to take into account that the president heard a lot of that information, but he did want to address this. you heard him address it at the rally friday night there in springfield, missouri. i was there. the president said there was this lingering stench at the justice department and they were going to get rid of it pretty soon. that seemed like a thinly veiled threat. >> let's take a step back, outside of the reason for the firing and resignation to why this matters to the american people. not only did he oversee the mueller probe, but rosenstein is also the one with the authority to decide how broad the mueller probe can be. it is he who tells mueller, yes, you can look into these circumstances with paul manafort outside of his time on the campaign. right? this is significant in terms of what he does in that job in
overseeing the mueller probe and what he allows? >> he was a pretty crucial defender of the mueller probe as well. he has a lot of power. you're right, to decide if the mueller investigation should continue or if it's been too widespread, and he's always been defending the mueller probe for the last several months, as the president has increasingly ramped up his attacks on it. rod rosenstein has been what was seen as the voice of reason, saying that the mueller probe wasn't too expansive, he hasn't seen anything like that and he hasn't seen a reason why they shouldn't continue with this investigation. the question going forward here is, of course, yes, it will be what is the reason for this firing, what is the reason for this resignation from him, but of course, what happens to the mueller probe going forward? does this give the president more room to increase his attacks on it more, to say there are people in the top ranking positions at the department of justice that are out to get him and undermine him. i think that rosenstein story threw a lot of problems into that. >> okay, kaitlan collins, we appreciate the reporting. laura jarrett breaking the news
along with kaitlan collins. shimon, the analysis, shan, the breaking news. >> are we watching a saturday night massacre in slow motion here? i'm jim sciutto. thanks for watching us today. at this hour with kate bolduan starts right now. this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. we're going to continue with the breaking news, really an amazing development this morning on the fate of deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, the man who appointed robert mueller, who kick started the special counsel's russia investigation. a source tells cnn that rosenstein has submitted his resignation. this comes after a bombshell report in "the new york times" friday, reporting that rosenstein discussed secretly recording conversations with president trump and also discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove trump from office last year in the