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CNN NEWSROOM

Blasey Ford Agrees to Testify but with Conditions; Will Next Week's Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Hearing Make a Difference on Confirmation; Bill Nelson's Campaign Only Returns Half the Donations from Al Franken's PAC after Pledging All; Sen. Bill Nelson Attends Rally Protesting Trump's Response to Hurricane Maria's Impact on Puerto Rico; Rosenstein Denies 25th Amendment, Wearing a Wire Allegations; Trump Hints Rosenstein Could be Short Timer at DOJ. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 22, 2018 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Christine Blasey Ford, she was given a deadline of this afternoon to definitively say yes or no. Her answer? Yes. But there are still some details to be worked out.

Read this statement with me. This is from her lawyer. The lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford write, "Dr. Ford's accepts the committee's request to provide her firsthand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct next week, although, many of the aspects of the proposal you provided via e-mail on September 21, 2018 at 2:33 p.m. are fundamentally inconsistent with the committee's promise of a fair and impartial investigation into her allegations. And we are disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement on details. Can we set up a time for later this afternoon to continue our negotiations?"

Our Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue, joins us now from Washington.

Ariane, we have been following this all very closely. Remind us what the options were that were offered to Christine Blasey Ford. And do you believe is this decision officially on the committee, is this what they were expecting?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, remember, Grassley said he wanted a response by 2:30 today or he was going to hold a vote. And lawyers for Ford have come back with this statement saying they accept the offer and they are going to come in to testify.

But there are some issues here. They said in their letter that they think that some of proposals they've been going back and forth with, with the committee, are "fundamentally inconsistent with the committee's promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations." They want to have a conference call later on this afternoon to talk about that. They're saying they've accepted it.

I did talk to some sources close to Professor Ford, and one of the things they're probably going to say in this call later on this afternoon is they think it should be on Thursday. They're going to stress, again, that they think that it should be the Senators who ask the questions. Remember, this committee, on the Republican side, is made up of all men. And the committee has reserved the right to bring in an outside counsel, maybe a woman to ask the questions. And sources close to Ford question that. And they also think there should be other witnesses to be subpoenaed. They're saying, for instance, Mark Judge, you remember he was one of the other men who was alleged to be in the room. So that's what they've said. We accept it, but we're still troubled by some aspects, we'd like to talk this afternoon.

So now this means that it goes -- the ball is back in Senator Grassley's court. Remember what he said. He said that he wanted to have hearings on Wednesday. He said that he absolutely was not going to subpoena other people. He reserved the right for an outside counsel.

And so there's still some sticking points, but it looks like she's accepted it, sometime next week, and there will be more conversations down later on this afternoon.

CABRERA: In terms of what the ground rules are, we just got, as you were speaking, Ariana, a statement in from a senior White House official who says, "This is not a yes. It's another delay after Judge Kavanaugh has agreed to testify for a week now."

So it doesn't sound like this is a done deal just yet.

We can only imagine what Christine Blasey Ford's state of mind is right now. She's been receiving death threats. Has been really having to move her family around. They've been trying to get settled from what we learned from her attorneys.

But her husband was quoted in a "Washington Post" article that just came out this morning. Quoting from the article, they write, "Her mind set was, I've got this terrible secret. What am I going to do with this secret?" Her husband recalled. "To many, Kavanaugh was a respected jurist. To her, he was the teenager who attacked her when they were in high school." And they're referencing some quotes from him describing what she was thinking and what she was saying after learning that Brett Kavanaugh's name was in the pool for potentially becoming the Supreme Court nominee. That was even more he made it to this point in the process.

Her husband went onto say that his wife told him that she cannot live in this country if Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court, saying she even considered looking at moving to New Zealand.

Could this revelation make a difference next week?

DE VOGUE: One thing that's interesting is it shows how difficult this is for her. And she had wanted to be -- she had wanted the FBI to do an investigation, and Senator Grassley said no.

But, Ana, we learned one more thing today. And that is that it looks like her legal team has added somebody else. That person is Michael Bromwitch. He's the former inspector general to the FBI. And he's also representing someone who is involved in the Russia investigation. The reason I think this is interesting is that she wanted an investigation with the FBI. The Democrats said, we really want the FBI to step in. The Republicans said, that's not a possibility, that the committee would handle this. But now she's bringing in this former FBI official who knows a lot about investigations, sort of, it looks like to fortify her side. So that's where we are now.

[15:05:18] CABRERA: Real quick, Ariane, this issue about who is going to be questioning Ford, should she testify, and the Republican idea to have an outside counsel, a woman be the one asking questions on their behalf, why is Ford's team against that?

DE VOGUE: It's interesting. Right? Everybody thinks back to Anita Hill and how that became sort of a media circus. And I think the Republicans on this committee recognize they're all men, and that could come up again. So they want somebody else, maybe a woman, to ask the questions. But Ford's people say, look, we want the same, his nomination hearings all the questions were asked for the Senators. Those Senators need to do it again. They need to be the ones asking the questions for consistency, because they see this as a part of the nomination process -- Ana?

CABRERA: All right. Ariane De Vogue, in Washington for us, thank you.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.

CABRERA: Ultimately, will next week's hearing make a difference on whether Kavanaugh is confirmed?

Joining us now to talk about the Kavanaugh confirmation situation, our all-star women panel, CNN political commentator and host of the podcast "Honestly Speaking with Tara," Tara Setmayer. And CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart. Also Symone Sanders, CNN political commentator and former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.

I'll start with you, Symone.

I want to get your reaction to the news that Ford will testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's actually a little disheartening for me, Ana. It feels as though Dr. Fold felt like she had no other resource but to take exactly what the committee was offering. I don't think she realizes she actually has the power in this situation. I know it's been overwhelming. But I frankly feel as though the committee has bullied her into doing it their way or the highway. And given the sensitive nature of the situation, I just think the Republicans on the committee could have taken more in their dealings with Dr. Ford and her attorneys, and they frankly have not. But I hope we do get to hear from her next week. I think it's important.

CABRERA: Tara, is this hearing about getting to the truth, or is it purely political? TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you can't take the

politics out of this. This is -- this whole thing has been driven by politics from the very beginning. The way the committee is handling it, even the way Feinstein handled it. I think it was political malpractice on the part of the Democrats to allow her name to be made public when she requested to be anonymous. She requested confidentiality. Now that her name is out there, she's been thrust into the middle of this political firestorm. The way now that the Republicans are handling it is really about politics. They're responding with politically -- based on political -- a political move by the Democrats. It's a serious allegation. You have a bunch of things going on and now this woman and her life is in turmoil, turned upside-down. This is very difficult. Anyone who has survived sexual trauma, an experience like this, knows how difficult it is to come forward, especially at this level. This is really consequential. We're talking about a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. So the deadlines the committee are setting aren't official. There's no constitutional reason to have this vote on Monday or Wednesday. They could move the hearing around and be as accommodating as possible to her and I think they need to be.

CABRERA: Alice, your thoughts?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think, first and foremost, we have to realize, if we really read the response that we just received, it's not an acceptance. It is an acceptance with considerations with further negotiations, and that's not an acceptance. They're basically responding to a 2:30 deadline. I think we're going to have a lot more changes before we get to what is a hearing.

Look, I'm extremely sympathetic to what Dr. Ford is going through, and I can't imagine the grief and anguish she's had the last few weeks, let alone the last three decades. But that being said, now that her name is out there, and her attorneys themselves said last week that she wants to tell her story and she wants a hearing, I think Republicans are doing everything they can to make that possible. I believe that Senator Grassley has been firm but also fair. He's delayed certain deadlines five different times to try and make this at her -- what's most comfortable to her. He's also offered to go to California and do it public or private. I quite frankly do not think we need to have a public spectacle like we did with Anita Hill. I think the Senators can do this in a private forum where they talk to her and get questions answered directly with her and the judge. But that --

(CROSSTALK)

[15:10:08] CABRERA: Do the American people deserve to know her story from her own mouth and her own words?

STEWART: Certainly, by no fault other than the fact that the Senators will be discussing it and the way they vote, the American people will find out about it. The most important thing --

(CROSSTALK) CABRERA: But, you know, the American people don't necessarily believe everything that politicians say. We are at such a politically divided time right now. It's hard to take what a politician says at face value.

SETMAYER: That ship has sailed.

SANDERS: True.

SETMAYER: They had the opportunity to do it privately. If Senator Feinstein brought it up and they handled this months ago when it first came to light, they could have handled it that way. That ship has sailed. This is out there in the public sphere. And the American people at this point have a right to be able to judge the credibility of both parties. It has to be done publicly now. It's unfortunate for Dr. Ford that now her whole life has been in complete turmoil. She has death threats. She can't return to her home. She has two kids. This is awful. But this is where we are now, and it's got to be done in the public domain.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: -- Chuck Grassley's said. This was one of his latest tweets last night, as he posed the deadlines. He writes, "With all the extensions we give Dr. Ford to decide if she still wants to testify to the Senate, I feel like I'm playing second trombone in the judiciary orchestra, and Schumer is the conductor."

Symone, does he sound like a man genuinely concerned --

SANDERS: No.

CABRERA: -- about what she has to say?

SANDERS: Chuck Grassley sounds like a word I'm not going to use on cable television. Senator Grassley is not exhibiting the type of care and concern I think he would want exhibited to anyone he personally knows, if this were to be them. And it's sad that I even have to make that type of comparison. We shouldn't have to make it personal for folks to have empathy and sympathy and act with some type of level of moral clarity and character. Unfortunately, that's what it is.

Look, Senator Grassley had noted that he could have his senior counsel on the committee for the Republicans question Dr. Ford. That same person had tweets out just this past week that he had to delete saying that Brett Ford will be confirmed anyway. Tweets that were hostile -- pardon me -- Brett Kavanaugh could be confirmed anyway. Tweets that were hostile and critical of Dr. Ford. That does not seem like a fair shake.

So while I agree with Alice that what Dr. Ford's attorneys same back with was not a, yes, we will take these terms and go with it. It's like a we want to, but can we try to get here, get a little bit more. And I think these negotiations are because Dr. Ford and her attorneys do not feel as though she will be treated fairly by the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee unless she fights for her fairness. And it's sad at this point, despicable, and just unacceptable that she has to fight in this manner for fairness. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Dr. Ford has gotten less than Anita Hill got in 1990 --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: OK.

SANDERS: She got less than Anita Hill got.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: And Anita Hill did not get that much.

CABRERA: Symone, I know where you're coming from, so I understand that.

But is it fair for any time lines to be imposed in this case?

SANDERS: I think it's arbitrary. I think Republicans have a time line of their own they're working with, and they are the -- you know, they're in control. But I do think any time line is arbitrary at this point.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: The idea of whether it even matters, though, is --

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: -- I think, an important question to ask to push this conversation forward.

Let's listen to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: You've watched the fight. You've watched the tactics. But here's what I want to tell you. In the near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.

(CHEERING)

MCCONNELL: So my friends, keep the faith. Don't get rattled by all of this. We're going to plow right through it and do our job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Alice, I know you wanted to get in on this conversation. Senator McConnell is saying he doesn't believe for it or even if she's being truthful, it doesn't matter?

STEWART: He clearly is going to have an open mind and listen to what she has to say. But they've been questioning --

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: They have confidence that he will be confirmed.

And look, I understand the anguish that judge -- Dr. Ford is going through. Certainly, the security and safety threats that are going on with her family and the special considerations that they have. But while the Democrats talk about arbitrary deadlines by those on the right, I see arbitrary delays by those on the left, with regard to her own attorney says she wants to tell her story. Republicans are providing that forum. And in my view, the sooner she's able to tell her story, the sooner she's able to go back to life as she knew it, to some degree, before. And the further they delay that, the further it causes harm and puts her own family in jeopardy.

[15:15:24] CABRERA: All right. Got to leave it there.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: It's not in Dr. Ford's best interest of these deadlines that Republicans are imposing. This is not to protect her. And it is crazy that anyone is suggesting otherwise.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: A couple days isn't going to matter here. She's asking for a couple of days. I don't think that's unreasonable. What's not good, as a Republican conservative woman, watching these Republican men be so flippant about sexual assault allegations. What Mitch McConnell did there was he was playing to a crowd and basically saying don't worry, we're going to get through this nonsense. You can't tell me that approach is an open mind. We're going to blow this through no matter what. He's acting politically. That's dangerous optics for Republicans going into the midterms. Kind of attitude. It's not only him. It's been a bunch of male Senators that have been very dismissive about this.

Also you have Kevin Cramer out there in the Senate race with Heidi Heitkamp, which is an opportunity for Republicans to flip a Senate seat, saying, "They were teenagers, he was drunk, it didn't go anywhere." That's the exact opposite reaction Republican men should have having in situations like this. That's what turns women off. That's why the "Me Too" movement was born, not just Republicans, but men in general. But I'm talking about Republicans, because we're talking about the political fallout if it's not handled well. And don't think the Republican leadership doesn't know the longer this goes on the more opportunity there is for people to say these kinds of things or for more information to come out.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: All right. Tara Setmayer, Symone Sanders --

SETMAYER: That's what this is about and Republicans should know better.

CABRERA: -- and Alice Stewart, thank you all. I appreciate it. We'll continue to follow this breaking news. Christine Blasey Ford announcing she will testify next week about the alleged sexual assaults by Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

We'll talk about this next with a Senator who will ultimately be voting on whether to approve Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land. That's coming up after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:21:22] CABRERA: Back to our breaking news. We just find out Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in California, will testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Joining us now is one of the Senators that will vote on whether Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson joins us from Florida, where he's attending a rally in protest of President Trump's response to Hurricane Maria's impact on Puerto Rico.

Senator, let's start there. I want to ask you about Kavanaugh in just a moment. But first, what are you hoping to do for Puerto Rico today in your appearance?

SEN. BILL NELSON, (D), FLORIDA: Ana, there's so much noise here, I couldn't hear your question. But I heard Kavanaugh, and what I'm -- I have requested five times to see him, and I'm going to request one more time for this coming week. And if I can see him, I'll announce it. If I -- they don't let me see him, I'll announce my decision later this week.

CABRERA: OK. I am hoping you can hear me now.

Let's continue our conversation about Kavanaugh, and then we'll come back to the event that's taking place behind you.

We've just learned Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Do you think she'll get a fair hearing?

NELSON: In as much as you can. But if you want to do it very thoroughly, it should be done with the other person that was in the room testifying as well. It's a standard operating procedure to go back and have the FBI go back and do the further background check, because the background check that I'm going to read that the committee has only goes back to age 18. So they need to clearly check this incident out. And -- but it seems like they're not doing that. Well, come on. Let's make this as thorough as possible. Obviously, we're selecting somebody for a lifetime appointment.

CABRERA: Vice President Mike Pence and Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, both say Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court. Any reason to believe otherwise?

NELSON: Well, I think it depends on two Republican Senators. It depends on Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. If they decide to vote no, then I suspect you will see all of the Democrats under those circumstances join with those two women. But if they decide to vote yes, then as far as the majority vote, it's already a done deal.

CABRERA: Could anything happen at the hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, assuming it happens next week, that could change the calculus of people voting on this nomination?

NELSON: Of course, it could. There are a lot of surprises that come out of hearings, so just stay tuned.

CABRERA: What will you be watching for specifically?

NELSON: Well, I've already been watching for a number of things. I've received a brief from the Judiciary staff. I'm going to read the FBI report. I want to talk to him personally. I want to find out about some of his decisions. I want to know if he's already made up his mind on such very important topics as a woman's right to choose., also on the Affordable Care Act. I think these are things -- and then I want to know about his writings that says that the president cannot be investigated. That is a substantial departure from what is usually considered the normal legal things that you could not investigate a sitting president no matter what he did. That's kind of out of bounds, it seems to me. I want to find out about that. I want him to tell me about that.

[15:25:54] CABRERA: It sounds to me like what happens in this hearing with Christine Blasey Ford is not the top priority to you.

Let me pivot. Your former colleague, Al Franken, resigned over sexual harassment allegations, and FEC records --

(CROSSTALK)

NELSON: Ana, of course, it is. Ana, of course, it's important. We're talking about an attempted rape. Or did that -- or did it not happen. Of course, that's important. You asked me what other things would I be considering.

CABRERA: I believe I asked you what you'll be watching for at the hearing specifically. But I know it's very loud there, and perhaps there was some lost in translation because of the background noise.

But let me pivot to another question, because we learned recently that FEC records show your campaign only donated half of the money you received from Senator Al Franken's PAC. Again, Al Franken resigning in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. I know you had pledged, your team had pledged to return all of the donations that came from his camp. Why did you only return or donate half of them?

NELSON: Well, I did. I requested that they return all of it, and they did, and in the last election. However, there was some donated in the previous election. That election was closed, so I told them to go back and contribute that to charity as well. And as you all brought it to light, that's what I've said, and that's what's being done today. CABRERA: OK. So that's being done today.

Senator, let's now try to talk about what you're doing there in -- to support Puerto Rico. What are you hoping to accomplish with your appearance at this rally today?

NELSON: Well, Puerto Rico has been treated, the citizens, as second- class citizens. They're our fellow U.S. citizens. You just don't treat fellow U.S. citizens that over 10 months they don't get electricity restored. I've been to the mountains, places totally cut off. It took two weeks to even open up some roads. I went to another town in the mountains, eight months after the hurricane, a third of that city still did not have electricity. Food rotted on the docks. There was no transportation distribution system. There were not supplies prepositioned. Gasoline was not prepositioned. Now, Ana, can you imagine if that happened to one of the 48 mainland states? People wouldn't put up with it. And yet, that's what has happened to our fellow U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. And then, the insult to injury, lord have mercy, when the president says that almost 3,000 people did not die. That's beyond the pale. And the FEMA director, who ought to know better, backed him up. That's inexcusable.

CABRERA: All right. Senator Bill Nelson, thank you for your time today.

NELSON: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Our other big political story of the day, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein denying reports that he plotted to remove President Trump from office and talked about secretly recording his conversations with him. More on that and the president's reaction to this, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:34:16] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Silence from the White House more than 24 hours after bombshell reporting about the man overseeing the Russia probe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Sources tell CNN that in the days after former FBI Director James Comey was fired, Rosenstein talked of wearing a wire the record the president, having others do so, or even trying to build support for using the 25th Amendment to force Trump from office. The "New York Times" broke the story. CNN has match much of it.

The extraordinary comments are captured in memos written by Andrew McCabe, who briefly led the FBI after Comey was fired. Sources say the memos are in the hands of Robert Mueller's team.

Rosenstein has issued two statements of denial. Last night, he insisted, quote, "I never pursued or authorized recording the president. And any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the president is absolutely false."

Laura Jarrett is working this story for us.

Laura, there's some chatter this weekend about whether Rosenstein was allegedly joking when he made the comments. Was this sarcasm?

[15:35:23] LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Depends on who you talk to, Ana. I've talked to at least one person in the room who said to me, look, I've known him for a long time. It was clearly sarcasm. He clearly had no intention on actually wearing a wire to tape the president. And that kind of thing would have required follow-up and I would have known about it, that didn't happen. But there are other sources who are adamant that this was quite serious and that this was not a laughing matter.

And I think part of the divergence you're seeing come out, playing here is the fact that McCabe and Rosenstein do not know each other very well when a lot of these conversations are taking place. It's may of 2017. It's chaos after James Comey is fired. There's an eight-day stretch between when Comey is fired and the special counsel is appointed. There's a lot going on in this time that might have been easily misunderstood -- Ana?

CABRERA: The comments come in these meetings between Rosenstein and Andrew McCabe. As you point out, they don't know each other really well. There's a lot of tumultuous tension in Washington.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: What was that relationship like between the two? What were they like?

JARRETT: Well, after talking to a variety of different sources, what you see here is partially the fact that the FBI leadership at the time is really devoted to Comey, and so when he is fired without any -- with great surprise and drama by the president in early May, McCabe is angry about that. And he's also pressing the deputy attorney general to recuse himself from the investigation because of Rosenstein's role in the firing of Comey. We all remember he wrote this interesting sort of memo laying out the case for why Comey had flouted DOJ protocols in the handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. That get used as the initial pretext for why Comey has to go. That later falls apart when the president mentions Russia. In the initial days, Rosenstein was held up as the reason that Comey had to go. I think you see this picture emerging of McCabe being distrustful of the deputy attorney general. So when he makes certain comments, McCabe writes them down -- Ana?

CABRERA: All right. Laura Jarret, in Washington for us. Thank you for your reporting.

President Trump says there's a lingering stench at the DOJ and FBI. What does that mean for Rosenstein's future? We'll talk about it ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Plus, join Anthony Bourdain for one last trip around the world. The final season of "PARTS UNKNOWN" airs tomorrow at 9:00 here on CNN.

Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN" (voice-over): Who gets to tell the stories? This is a question asked often. The answer in this case, for better or for worse, is I do. At least this time out.

(SINGING)

BOURDAIN (on camera): First time on this continent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(SINGING)

BOURDAIN: It's unbelievable.

(SINGING)

(SHOUTING)

BOURDAIN: Astonishing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always wanted to do it.

BOURDAIN: Try that in New York.

New York in your mind is where the writer's life was?

(CROSSTALK)

BOURDAIN: Here we go.

(SINGING)

(SHOUTING)

(SINGING)

ANNOUNCER: Anthony Bourdain, "PARTS UNKNOWN": THE FINAL EPISODES," starts tomorrow at 9:00 on CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:43:37] CABRERA: While there's still no official White House response to the Rosenstein story, President Trump hinted the deputy attorney general could be a short timer after reports he talked about using the 25th Amendment.

Here's the president at a rally in Missouri.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have great people in the Department of Justice. We have great people -- these are people, I really believe, you take a poll, I got to be at 95 percent. But you have some real bad ones. And you're seeing what's happened at the FBI. They're all gone. They're all gone. They're all gone.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: But there's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Let's bring in FBI veteran, James Gagliano, and Michael Zeldin, who worked for Robert Mueller back when Mueller was assistant attorney general.

Michael, I'll start with you.

Is there cause now for Trump to fire Rosenstein?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if you credit the stories, maybe. I don't credit the story. I don't believe for a moment that Rod Rosenstein, a 30-year veteran of the Justice Department, would ever seriously consider wiretapping the president or trying to engineer a 25th Amendment takeover of the presidency by the cabinet and the vice president. I don't credit it. I think that there's something going on here. The sources are anonymous. They're second- hand sources in the "New York Times" story. They're coming out a year after McCabe wrote the memos and was interviewed by the special counsel's office. I'd like to know who, what, and why the memos are coming out now because I smell politics behind this.

[15:45:23] CABRERA: My --

ZELDIN: I don't think this is serious from a legal standpoint.

CABRERA: My understanding also is that the memos haven't necessarily been read by any reporters' eyes. It's all based on reports from sources believed to be credible who have seen the memos themselves and are reporting out what the memos say.

But, James, if what the reporting is out there is true, that this is what was written in the memos, and we have every reason to believe that the reporting itself is true, does this give the president a way to fire Rosenstein without looking like he's an instructing justice?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The deputy attorney general serves at the pleasure of the president, just like other political appointees do. The answer is yes. Would that cause explosive fireworks, would that cause folks in Washington, D.C., to seek other remedies like impeachment? Absolutely. He serves at the pleasure of the president. We can stipulate that Trump has had a very contentious relationship with his attorney general and his, de facto, attorney general. Because Rod Rosenstein is acting as an de facto attorney general.

CABRERA: At least in the Russia investigation.

GAGLIANO: In the Russia investigation, specifically, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

GAGLIANO: But I think what really, really -- and I believe as Michael does, this might be an effort, these leaks, to goad the president into doing something, to goad him into potentially firing the deputy attorney general. But I think it says something much worse about the FBI and DOJ in a sense that everything is leaking now. Everything leaks in D.C. We get that. But it shouldn't out of the Department of Justice and it shouldn't out of the career professionals at the FBI. Somehow, someway, this memo that articulated this conversation that took place in a senior-level meeting leaks out to the press, and I think it's harmful to the process.

CABRERA: There's a lot to be asked about why is it out there, what is the motivation of whoever put that out there.

Michael, should McCabe's memos be taken at face value if he and Rosenstein were already butting heads at that time. According to our Laura Jarrett, that is what was going on. Is McCabe potentially misreading what at least one source has claimed was sarcasm?

ZELDIN: I think that's right. I think Laura has nailed it in her reporting, which is to say that McCabe and Rosenstein did not know each other. McCabe appears to have been upset with Rosenstein as the trigger for the firing of Comey, and that McCabe is pushing, according to the "Washington Post," is pushing Rosenstein to investigate the president over this firing. And in this context, the "Washington Post" reports that Rosenstein has said to him, "Andy, what do you want me to do, wear a wire," which is filled with sarcasm. I think you have to be very careful about McCabe's interpretation of events.

I would add Lisa Page, counsel to the FBI, was present in the meetings, too. She was there as the lawyer. And her memos do not reflect any of these things. And so you'd think the lawyer would be scrupulous about making sure she wrote down everything that was serious in the discussions, and it doesn't appear to be in her memos, which gives me some pause about the credibility of the McCabe memos.

CABRERA: I have to double check, Michael, but I do believe she confirmed some of the reporting in her memos as well.

ZELDIN: I think "The Post" said otherwise, but I'll always trust you.

CABRERA: I believe CNN has reported that she confirms some of what McCabe also wrote. There's still a lot to be discussed about interpretation of what comments were made.

Thank you very much, Michael Zeldin, James Gagliano. Always good to have both of you with us.

ZELDIN: Thank you.

CABRERA: We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turn around. There you go. We want this side. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burro racing is -- wow, a fantastic spectacle. He's going to wear me out for the race. Getting ready.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Colorado, a one-of-a-kind race has been climbing the Rocky Mountain trails for the past 70 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pack burro racing started in 1949 between Leadville and Fairplace. They needed revenue because the mining was dying. The towns got together and they decided to have a burro race.

GUPTA: This year, 89 teams started the race in Fairplace, a world record, according to the Western Pack Burro Association.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burro racing does require training because you have to have a relationship with your ass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Learning how to motivate an ass is unique.

GUPTA: All puns aside, this is a physically challenging 29-mile ultra-marathon through the Rockies, featuring elevations over 13,000 feet. But the course might be the easiest part of the competition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burro racing is brokering a deal between you and an animal that's known not so much for cooperation.

[15:50:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could get the guy who won the Boston Marathon out here running with a donkey and he could get last place. It's about how well you cooperate as a team. Maybe even more so than how fast you and your donkey are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the negotiation you have to deal with this guy, the terrain, the trails are brutal. But they're so sure footed. These critters, they just have a good work ethic. These burros can run a four-minute-mile if you can hang on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is their race. I love to run their race with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're humble beasts. They'll change your life if you own one.

GUPTA: This year's winner, Kirk Kercamp (ph), finished in just over six hours, but completing the race can present one last challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burros are color blind. There's a white line on the street, they don't know what that is yet. Your burro sees this finish line going from end to end, there's no way, and the donkey stops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you cross that finish line with the burro, I don't care if you're last ass, it's an accelerating to know you got your partner across the finish line or they got you across the finish line.

(END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:55:32] CABRERA: Lagos is known as Nigeria's Silicon Valley. Both Facebook and Google have both built offices there within the last year. Men dominate. But a successful computer programmer is helping the most-disadvantaged girls. She is this week's "CNN Hero."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: When I came to Lagos, Nigeria, I was surprised to see the conditions. Most girls are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Many of them are not thinking education, a plan for the future. I believe girls should be given an opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can we teach --

UNIDENTIFID CNN HERO: What you can see, you can't aspire to. They need to be shown another life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: To see how this one 17-year-old girl is using technology to help her community, go to CNNheroes.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)