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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Trump Will Meet With Rosenstein On Thursday Amid Reports Of Resignation Or Firing; Christine Ford Will Testify Before The Senate On Thursday; College-Educated Women Are Moving Away From The Republican Party; British PM Meets With Cabinet On Brexit Setback; U.K. Labour Undecided Over Second Brexit Vote; Speculation Over Fate Of U.S. Dep. Attorney General; Kavanaugh Defends Himself Against Sexual Misconduct Claims; North Korea On Agenda As Trump Meets With Moon. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 24, 2018 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Happy Monday. We are coming to you live from CNN London. I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, confusion reigns over the future of the U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. We're now hearing he'll meet with President Trump

Thursday amid a flurry of reports he expected to be fired. That is not the only thing on the President's plate. New allegation against the Supreme

Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is throwing his confirmation into chaos. All that as the President attends the UN General Assembly in New York. We are

expecting to see him this hour with the South Korean counterpart. We'll bring you that live.

Is he resigning? Is he getting fired? Is he standing his ground? We're following a very fluid and frankly confusing situation in Washington right

now and the stakes couldn't be higher for the investigation that has dogged Donald Trump's administration from the very start. The White House is now

saying that the -- this man, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will meet with President Trump on Thursday apparently putting his fate on hold.

Rosenstein attended meetings at the White House today after a flurry of conflicting reports about whether he's staying on the job or not.

Rosenstein oversees the investigation into the Trump's campaign's ties to Russia. Of course, as well as the appointed Special Counsel Robert

Mueller. This is why this matters so much. What happens to Rod Rosenstein? Now, in a stunning report "The New York Times" said Rosenstein

discussed one possible way to remove the President from office early last year, an allegation Rosenstein denies and after that that the reports

emerged that he was expecting to get fired. Let's get more from Sarah Westwood here in Washington. Clear the confusion a little bit. Rod

Rosenstein, what is happening to him and what is expected to happen when he meets with the President this week?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Hala, confusing is a great word to describe this situation. There were sources at the Justice

Department saying, sources close to Rosenstein saying he expected to be fired this morning summoned to the White House. Other White House sources

characterizing it as a possible resignation from Rosenstein but we have obviously learned in the intervening hours is that President Trump wants to

deal with this when he returns from the United Nations. We know that he was incredibly frustrated with Rosenstein after the publication of that

"The New York Times" story suggesting Rosenstein wanted to wear a wire to record conversations with the President and had discussed the prospect of

invoking the 25th amendment and removing Trump and that frustration putting his future in jeopardy.

If Rosenstein were to resign or get fired then Noel Francisco, the Solicitor General, at the Justice Department, would take over oversight of

the Mueller probe. Now, Noel Francisco's views on the special counsel, what kind of powers that person should be given if any, are different from

Rosenstein and it's a really big question mark of what affect different leadership would have on the future of that probe, Hala.

GORANI: Could the President decide to fire him on Thursday? Do we know why the President wants to meet with him on Thursday? Because, of course,

Thursday is when one of Brett Kavanaugh's accusers is testifying on Capitol Hill.

WESTWOOD: That's definitely a huge day in Washington on Thursday. We know that Trump has gotten advice not to fire Rosenstein in the middle of this

confirmation battle with Brett Kavanaugh and doing so could have implications for some of the senators considering whether to vote for

Kavanaugh and Trump shouldn't do anything to put Republicans in a position where they might have to reconsider confirming Brett Kavanaugh to take some

of the heat off from any kind of controversy that would emerge from tampering with the leadership of the Mueller probe. So, we don't know if

President Trump will decide to ignore that advice and remove Rosenstein, act on the frustrations or if this is just going to be a face to face

conversation about the denials that Rosenstein issued since that report came out.

[14:05:00] GORANI: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you very much in Washington. Rosenstein stood up to fierce pressure from Trump to shut down

that Russia investigation. However, if he leaves office all bets are off on what happens to the probe moving forward.

Let's bring in CNN Crime and Justice Reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. There's a difference if Rod Rosenstein resigns or if he's fired. There is a big

difference in terms of who and how his replacement will be determined.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. Certainly, that would be decided much differently. You know, we're all expecting that if

Rod Rosenstein is gone that Noel Francisco would be the person that would at the very least he's the solicitor general here, would at the very least

take over the Russia investigation.

That is, the special counsel will report to him, brief him on aspects of the investigation and also, he would have the final say on any activity,

anything that the special counsel wanted to do. Specifically speaking and what's out there really has not yet as far as we know been decided if the

President sits down with an interview for the special counsel.

That's the big, lingering question. If he chooses to not do that the person at the Department of Justice overseeing the investigation will have

to decide if a subpoena, if the special counsel has a right to subpoena the President in the investigation.

The other thing Francisco is not part of the investigation, part of the Russia probe in any way, not briefed on any aspects of the investigation,

has not had any say in the investigations and would have to start from anew, that is that the special counsel to come in and brief him on the

different things they have been doing, the different actions that they still may want to take and it does appear that the investigation is kind of

coming to an end, some significant movement in the investigation, you know, could it perhaps, this move by the President delay the ending of this

investigation?

The other thing is if Rod Rosenstein is fired will Mueller, the special counsel here, view it as an act of obstruction and start investigating

that, whether the firing of Rod Rosenstein? As we know the former FBI director was fired by the President. That's under investigation by the

special counsel. So, with this firing, add additional ammunition to whether the President tried to obstruct the investigation?

GORANI: There are elected officials, senators, representatives, even in the Republican party, who say if Rosenstein is fired it would be

unacceptable. This would be the President removing the man overseeing an investigation into his campaign's alleged ties with Russia putting in

someone he appointed himself that this would be unacceptable even to some Republicans. How would that go down?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. I mean, you are right. It would be unacceptable and then probably hearings on the hill. There are a lot of people, as Sarah was

saying, urged them not to fire the Deputy Attorney General. They have had a good relationship, Rod Rosenstein and the President. But certainly, the

story from "The New York Times" on Friday which Rosenstein insisted, denied that he was serious about wiretapping the President set the President off

over the weekend and sort of unleashed a chain of events. You know, the big, the idea that Rod Rosenstein was summoned to the White House this

morning and then all the reports of whether or not he was going to be fired or whether he was resigning or asked to resign or whether he was

voluntarily resigning, something is going on and hopefully by Thursday we'll know. I think we'll hear more about this in the coming days because

these things don't just kind of go quiet. Looks like Thursday's a big day here in Washington, D.C.

GORANI: Right. Certainly, a big day, especially with the testimony as well of Christine Blasey Ford. Right. We will have a lot to cover. Thank

you so much.

We were talking about Thursday, new allegation against the pick for Supreme Court is throwing all of this, the whole nomination process in further

chaos and uncertainty. Brett Kavanaugh facing allegations he exposed himself to a woman in a party back in college. That's the second one.

Because it's an addition to a separate allegation of sexual assault for which a hearing is set for on this Thursday. That's the same day that the

President will be meeting with Rod Rosenstein. Anti-Kavanaugh protesters packing the halls of Capitol Hill and Democrats are calling for the process

to be delayed. Mr. Trump, however, despite all of this, the two women coming forward and the protests is standing by Kavanaugh. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[14:10:00] DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Judge Kavanaugh's an upstanding person, and I am with him all the way. We'll see how it goes with the

Senate. We'll see how it goes with the vote. I think it could be, a chance that 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 we'll see how it goes with the vote. I think it could be, a chance that 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 the people to come

out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mentioned it, all of a sudden it happens, in my opinion it's totally political.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: All right. The President there saying it's totally political that the women never mentioned it. That's not factually correct. They had

mentioned it to people close to them, especially coming to Christine Blasey Ford who spoke about the alleged allegation with a therapist and her

husband, as well. Sunlen Serfaty joins me now. How will the Christine Blasey Ford testimony unfold practically? How will it happen? Could you

describe the day for us?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, there are still certainly some logistics that need to be worked out and ironed out

between her camp and the committee staff on capitol hill. We do know that they're working towards having this Thursday morning hearing, it will

happen at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday.

We believe that Christine Blasey Ford will be the first one to testify. And then, Brett Kavanaugh will be the second to testify. We do not believe

that they'll be in the room at the same time. They'll be a certain amount of breaks, allowed. Of course, speaking to how emotionally charged likely

the hearings will be, about a break every 45 minutes. But some logistics still to be worked out such as who's potentially going to be doing the

questioning.

A lot of debate in the Republicans up here on Capitol Hill if it's wise for them to have the Republican senators on the panel who happen to all be male

be the ones questioning her so there likely more details ironed out. I should say and you briefly mentioned this at the top, the fact of the

second accuser that has come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, certainly shift in tone coming from Brett Kavanaugh and got the hands on a

new letter he sent to the Senate Judiciary speaking to those allegations. He again, Hala, strongly denies the new allegations and he said he'll not

be intimidated into withdrawing his name so that's a strong signal coming from this nominee. He's showing up on Thursday and he wants to clear his

name.

GORANI: Is there any talk of the second woman testifying? Any rumblings at all about that?

SERFATY: There's been rumblings but I think it would be highly unlikely. The chairman of the committee said he is looking into the new accusations

and allegations. But as of now it's still those two people who will be testifying. Of course, we have talked over the last week about the really

high wire act of negotiations to get to the point where the two of them testifying and I think it's very likely at least for now that those two are

the only witnesses.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much on Capitol Hill.

Let's talk about all of this. Paul Callan, Larry Sabato, UVA Center for Politics director and David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator And

"Washington Post" Assistant Editor. Paul, what's going to be brought up in this Christine Blasey Ford and then Brett Kavanaugh testimony? Because

presumably it's going to raise a lot of very sensitive topics. Alcohol, you know. What that I remember. Maybe having done on that night. What

line of questioning should they expect?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Who asks the questions has a really difficult job because they want to treat Dr. Ford with respect. She has

the right to tell her story but on the other hand the Republicans you can be sure are extremely skeptical about the viability and truth of the story

and I would expect her to be tested very, very carefully through questioning about why she doesn't remember where this took place.

Remember, she said she doesn't know where the house is.

She said she thinks it's 1982. But she's not sure about that. And I think you'll see her pressed on if this is such a traumatic event, why can't you

remember where it happened? Most people with trauma in their lives remember where it happened. I think that's sort of the way to start out

and then be more details about why it took her 20 years to tell the story for the first time which she did in a marital counseling session. That's

how the Republicans will press.

[14:15:00] I think the Democrats on the other hand will let her tell her story in her own words and I think try to e les sit sympathy for her in a

way that the Republicans may not.

GORANI: Well, I think one of the silver linings and, Larry, this one to you of this whole thing, is that at least women who have suffered sexual

assault have explained sometimes very eloquently why when you are a victim sometimes you don't say a word, sometimes you speak about it 20 years

later. That you're so filled with shame. By the way, this isn't 1991 and the Anita Hill testimony. This is the #me-too era where women are more

empowered to come forward. I wonder, Larry, how you think those two moments in history will compare. Anita Hill in '91 and Christine Blasey

Ford today.

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UVA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Well, Hala, that's a very good comparison because if the Republicans or the judiciary committee as a

whole treats Dr. Ford the way they treated Anita Hill in 1991 you can nearly guarantee a Democratic landslide on November 6th. Already the

reason Democrats are ahead in the race for the House is because women, especially white college educated women, have broken heavily in the

Democratic direction. Should Republicans ask obnoxious questions of Dr. Ford, showing no sympathy for what she may have been through or apparently

did go through, then I think they're asking for tremendous political trouble.

GORANI: David, how's this playing with Trump's base? Let's do Trump's base first and then concentric circles out to Republicans in general this

whole story.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. So, the hardest core Republican and Trump supporters I think have responded partly in a way that

says, look, you know, this is all about Democrats trying to undermine Judge Kavanaugh's nomination and they focused on that instead of focusing on

whether or not they actually believe the allegations or whether or not the confirmation process is going to be about getting to the truth of the

matter about Dr. Ford's allegations and now Deborah Ramirez's allegations reported yesterday by "The New Yorker." so I think that many of the

President's supporters have tried to frame it that way.

And the other problem, Hala, is Republicans have a situation here where as Larry just said they press forward in a way with Dr. Ford's testimony that

makes it appear that they're hostile to her or disrespectful to her, that may, you know bring out more of the Democratic base or Democratic leaning

voters in this election and at the same time if they don't press hard enough to knock down the story and preserve Kavanaugh's nomination you are

going to have some core Republican voter who is are deflated and say Republicans aren't fighting for what they want. It's really going to

unroll in a very interesting way over the course of this week.

GORANI: And to Paul, the second -- the reports of the second woman, coming from very credible reporters, obviously, including Ronan Farrow with work

on the #me-too movement and whose reporting brought down Harvey Weinstein with other reporters, as well, what impact will the second woman have if

any at all at this point?

CALLAN: It's hard to say but not a good impact for Kavanaugh. The timing for him is especially unfortunate because this is the week that Bill Cosby

is being sentenced in his sexual assault case. And as you recall in the Cosby case, nobody believed that Cosby could have done the things he was

accused of until many other women came forward and the weight of the accusations really did him in. So, this second allegation against

Kavanaugh, the timing is very, very bad for him. Although if this woman comes forward who made the second accusation, there are a lot of problems

with the story.

When she was first interviewed she said she didn't have a clear recollection of what happened. She didn't name Kavanaugh and only six days

later after meeting with attorneys that she firmly identified Kavanaugh. So, I don't think that her story would present the same level of difficulty

that Dr. Ford's testimony may tomorrow or rather on Thursday.

GORANI: Now, sure. David, of course, the Rosenstein story had everybody kind of running around the newsroom like headless chickens for a few hours

and then turns out he is staying in the job for now. The Deputy Attorney General. And that he'll meet with Trump on Thursday. There are some

reports out there that perhaps the President chose Thursday as the day to sort of deflect attention away from all this testimony. What are you

hearing?

[14:20:00] SWERDLICK: So, you can imagine a situation where the White House having reacted initially on -- this past Friday to "The New York

Times" story about Rosenstein's comments or his alleged comments took the weekend to think about it and perhaps thought, look, get the President

passed his remarks at the UN his meetings with other world leaders at the UN in the next couple of days and then comes back to Washington to deal

with Rosenstein.

Rosenstein, of course, this morning meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly but the fact to speculate about whether he might have been fired

or resigned this morning or something like that will happen on Thursday or even any time between now and the election just shows how we're all sort of

waiting on tinder hooks to see when and if the President decides that he's had enough with the general forward trajectory of the special counsel's

investigation and whether or not he thinks he can between now and the election just shows how we're all sort of waiting on tinder hooks to see

when and if the President decides that he's had enough with the general forward trajectory of the special counsel's investigation and whether or

not he thinks he can shake that up by dismissing the Deputy Attorney General. Just to remind your viewers, Hala, Special Counsel Mueller

ultimately when he has a report on his findings will present those findings to whomever is in the Deputy Attorney General role, whether that's Rod

Rosenstein or someone else.

GORANI: So, Larry, historically speaking, I mean, when you look at kind of -- try to take a few steps back at what's happening with the Trump

administration and even talk that the President is considering firing Rod Rosenstein who's overseeing essentially, the man to get that report into

the investigation -- of the investigation into whether or not Donald Trump's campaign colluded with the Russians in 2016, how will we look back

at what's going on now?

SABATO: I wish I knew is the correct answer but I would say, Hala, there's really only one historical comparison and that, of course, is Richard Nixon

and Watergate. Every time I hear that President Trump might be firing or might be considering firing key officials in this investigation, whether

it's Rod Rosenstein or the special counsel bob Mueller, my mind goes back to that incredible night that those of us who lived through it will never

forget, the Saturday night massacre in October 1973 when President Nixon fired Archibald Cox and a series of other officials refused to enforce his

orders and resigned. That was the beginning of the end. Nixon's fate was sealed from that moment on. And that's what some of Trump's advisers have

been trying to tell Trump. Precipitous action here against a special counsel could have unforeseen and very damaging consequences for President

Trump.

GORANI: All right. Larry, Paul, David, thanks so much to all three of you.

A lot more to come this evening. U.S. President Donald Trump said he expects to meet with Kim Jong-un again. And it could happen soon. We're

live in New York to discuss day one of his visit to the United Nations General Assembly. Coming up.

[14:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: The U.S. President Donald Trump is at the United Nations this week to promote his policies, namely America first. It won't be the first time

he addresses world leaders with that particular message. He scheduled one on one meetings with several key allies. This hour Trump is meeting with

South Korean President Moon Jae-in talking about North Korea's nuclear program as well as the stalled negotiations there. When he arrived

morning, Mr. Trump said a second summit with Kim Jong-un could happen, quote, quite soon. Nic Robertson is there in New York where the UN general

assembly is taking place and joins me now. Hi, Nic. So, what are we expecting? We expect the U.S. President and the South Korean President to

meet this hour. Correct?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. And I think everyone had been looking to see how President Trump would address that

question of the offer from Kim Jong-un for another summit, a second summit of the pair of them but President Trump has preempted that in a way by what

he said this morning in the immediate future is the type of language he used this morning and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking of his

movements saying lord willing he thought that he would be making a preparatory trip to Pyongyang before the end of the year.

That seemed to be a bit of an abstract date and give it is impression of the White House whatever detail President Trump is going to hear from

President Moon today in this meeting -- in this formal setting and already in his mind decided to press ahead. We got an insight into the thinking

there from Secretary of State Pompeo who said, you know, as soon as we're talking, that's OK. We don't have to have a defined set of standards

because the White House doesn't have that right now, Hala.

GORANI: What about the America first speech? Because this won't be his first time giving that speech. His allies and the U.S.'s enemies have

heard it all before.

ROBERTSON: They have. And they -- you know, I think for a lot of countries, a lot of leaders around the world, they'd begun to form

conclusions about what sort of a President Trump would be. Would he be one to match the words with action? Before the speech at the UN general

assembly last year. They understand if there were in doubt last year that he does tend to carry through what he says and he arrives at the UN GA in

an isolated position.

We heard again from his team supporting him here in New York at the UN GA last week, ambassador Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, Bolton, national security

adviser, all saying that, you know, Trump's mission here, part of it, at the UN to call out Iran's meddling, terrorism in the world. The United

States says Iran is responsible for. But, of course, in the environment where President Trump has lost some of the credibility that he has with his

audience, an American first position, that gives him less leverage so to a requesting some of what he'll say, everyone will listen and some of it

falling on not so much deaf ears but those not willing to, you know, follow through with what he's requesting.

GORANI: Nic Robertson, thank you very much. Live in New York.

Still to come, is he going or staying? That is the question shaking up Washington about a key official in the Russia collusion probe. More on our

top story, Rod Rosenstein's precarious position, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:30] GORANI: Let's talk Brexit. The political tug of war over the U.K.'s divorce of the European Union is getting rougher. The British Prime

Minister, Theresa may is under increasing pressure from all sides. Her party included. She met with her cabinet for the first time since the

E.U.'s humiliating rejection of her plan last week. A hardline pro-Brexit MP is pushing an alternative proposal and he had strong words for those

wanting a do-over on the Brexit vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB REES-MOGG, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: We had three national votes on leaving the European Union and I'm afraid the remainers who want another

referendum hold democracy in contempt. They lost and they should grow up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: That was the conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. He was among several high profile hardline Brexit deals that are backing a rival plan.

They held a news conference today to unveil what's being called a plan a- plus for Brexit. It calls for a new free trade pact with countries like the U.S., China, and India.

Now, what about the opposition Labour Party? Now, you would expect it to be completely in opposition with the conservatives over Brexit but it's not

really there. Sure, it's not taking anything off the table when it comes to Brexit, but its leadership isn't yet backing a second referendum with an

option for the U.K. to stay in the E.U.

The party is in the middle of its annual conference in Liverpool. The Labour MP Hilary Benn is the chair of the Commons Brexit Select Committee.

And I asked him why labor is not supporting a re-run of the 2066 Brexit vote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILARY BENN, CHAIRMAN, U.K. COMMONS BREXIT SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, we've got quite a way to go in the Brexit process although time is very short. I

hope that there is an agreement reached. The problem at the moment is that the prime minister has painted herself into a corner. Her Chequers

proposal has been rejected. The central part of it by the European Union. And the choice appears to be between Canada on the one hand, which doesn't

work because it wouldn't give you an open border in Northern Ireland.

And on the other hand, it wouldn't give you friction free trade with our biggest, nearest, and most important trading partner. And on the other

hand, the option of Norway with the customs union which is what I would support. And in effect, it's what the Labour Party is arguing for. Now,

if we get that before parliament, then I think parliament could reach an agreement. Whether we get to a referendum depends, I think --

GORANI: But those are two --

BENN: -- whether parliament would be deadlocked over any withdrawal agreement.

GORANI: Those are two Brexit options. All your European partners, in fact, much of the world looks at the U.K. and wonders why is the party in

opposition today not counter programming and not really firmly offering as an alternative, a promise to hold a referendum that would give the country

an option to stay in the E.U.? Why not?

BENN: I think the reason for that is we have had a referendum. And those of us like me and many others who campaigned passionately for remain, we

lost. And therefore, the approach that I have taken, I voted for the article 50 legislation because I think we have a Democratic responsibility

to accept the outcome of the referendum. But what that referendum meant was that is leaving the institutions of the European Union in March of next

year.

What it did not do is to decide the future of our economic and political relationship with our nearest friends and neighbors, the other 27 countries

of the European Union. And that is where the political argument in British politics is now being held. I want the closest possible relationship the

United Kingdom as we leave the institutions and that is what we should be seeking to achieve.

GORANI: If you were in the government and you were to negotiate a deal with the United States and the Trump administration in particular, what

would you make of how the Trump administration is now negotiating trade deals and imposing tariffs on some of its closest partners?

BENN: Well, I'm in favor of the U.K. remaining in a customs union with the European Union which would mean that the European Union would continue to

negotiate on behalf of all of the member states and the U.K. which would also be in a customs union, because we have, what? Thirty or so trade

deals which the E.U. is negotiated. We're going to have to try and roll those forward if we come out of a customs union. That's the first point.

The second point is that President Trump has demonstrated some protectionist tendencies. He's already put tariffs on steel and aluminum.

And the point about trade deals is they take quite a while to agree even for the United States of America which is a very powerful trade negotiator

on average in the last 20 years, it's taken them about four years to do trade deals. Some very quickly and some have taken a lot more time.

And therefore, the argument that somehow there are all these wonderful trade deals waiting to be offered to the United Kingdom when we leave the

customs union is I think to misunderstand the nature of the modern trading world. There are some people who are now protectionist with the case in

the past and I think the best thing for us is to be part of a bloc, a large bloc as we have been for the last 45 year that is in a much better

position, but we need to have some way of influencing what they'd look like.

GORANI: I know you're saying this is -- you can still Brexit and remain part of a customs bloc and have the E.U. negotiate your trade deals. But

it sounds a lot like remaining in the E.U. You know, Brexiting in name only. I guess as some people would say. But if you don't stay in a

customs union, you would have to negotiate bilaterally with the United States and with potentially the Trump administration for another six years.

How do you approach that if you're in power?

BENN: I don't think we should. And if labor were in power, we would be seeking to remain in a customs union with the European Union and therefore

we would not be negotiating bilaterally with President Trump and the USA.

Take another example, India. When the prime minister went to India to talk about a trade deal post-Brexit, the first the Indian government said to her

was, before we talk about trade, we want more visas for our citizens, which runs complete a contrary to Theresa May's net migration target which the

government, by the way, has failed to achieve in the way to serve years since they put it in place.

So trade deals are complex and difficult. And I think the best thing for the future of the British economy is to remain in a customs union. That is

Labour's policy and that's what we are campaigning for.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Hilary Benn is a top member of the opposition Labour Party. And Bianca Nobilo is here. So you have as many Brexit ideas practically as you

have politicians. Yes, and here you have Hilary Benn who's the chairman of the Brexit Select Committee who says, I would like the U.K. to remain in

the customs union. Therefore, meaning, free movement of people. I would like it to be frictionless free trade. All of that but at the same time

Brexit. That's not Brexiting, is it, really?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the issue. You mentioned a phrase in that interview, "Brexit in name only" and that's what people who

voted for Brexit, especially those who would favor a hard Brexit are most concerned about. But this issue of having so many different ideas on the

table is really problematizing this debate.

I mean, the prime minister is still sticking to her Chequers plan, but she's got pressure from the hard Brexiteers, you release a rival Brexit

strategy today which wants a hard Brexit, basically a Canada style deal. And you've got the Labour Party, we just heard from Hilary Benn, but as we

know there were other members in the Labour Party who strongly advocating for a people's vote, a second referendum on the entire Brexit process.

And then you have the E.U. saying, well, we reject key parts of your Chequers deal. There are so many different forces acting on a very

precarious government with quite an unstable strategy.

GORANI: But and also we're running out of time, because in March of next year the U.K. leaves the European Union. Even if there's a transition

period, it's leaving the European Union.

NOBILO: Exhausting. So 27 months into the process since the referendum. Six months to go, 186 days and this is where we are. And I think sometimes

it's easy to forget that the issues of Northern Ireland, citizens' rights and these other things that we often discuss are just simply the divorce

deal.

There is the future relationship to consider and that's why people are increasingly concerned about a so-called blind Brexit, because there

doesn't seem to be any way that in six months, when the first part, the divorce deal isn't even close to being done right now. What is the future

framework going to look like? Surely it can only be exceptionally vague given that incredibly short amount of time.

GORANI: I don't know two human beings who would sign up for a blind divorce. So a country signing up for or accepting in any way a blind deal

with the E.U. I'm not sure even hard Brexiteers signed up for that.

NOBILO: And also that would entail paying over the 39 billion pounds or pledging to without knowing exactly what you're going to get from that. So

certainly not hard Brexiteers would be firmly against that in favor of reverting to WTO rules.

Bianca, thanks very much as always. We'll continue following that story and the Conservative Party conference is in a few days. That should be

interesting.

Back to our breaking story out of Washington. Speculation that the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein may be on his way out. Or not. Rosenstein

is overseeing the special counsel's Russia collusion probe. There were reports just hours ago that he was about to resign or be fired. The White

House says he'll be meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump Thursday instead, so confusion basically.

[14:40:11] Recent new story said Rosenstein discussed removing President Trump from power, that was the New York Times article on Friday. His

departure on whatever terms will have serious impact on the Russia investigation. Lots of angles to cover. I want to bring in CNN Political

Analyst, John Avlon in New York. He's joining me now live.

So, John, first of all, what do we expect will happen on Thursday? Because we were all, of course, trying to figure out what was going on with

Rosenstein and the White House today. Will he resigned? Will he be fired? So what happens Thursday do you think?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look. I mean, rumors rocketing around Washington at an even higher rate than normal earlier today but

really chaos. Rumors that Rosenstein was going to resign. He would be fired. He was meeting with White House chief of staff, the president, of

course, at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. That Thursday meeting, you need a crystal ball to protect and when you looked deeper to the

crystal ball, you usually end up eating glass with this administration.

That said, the blood is bad. And that Rosenstein is on record as saying -- suggesting, jokingly or not, the president -- he should wear a wire to

catch the president on tape and suggesting perhaps the 25th Amendment which gives a constitutional way to remove presidents for reasons of incapacity

might be invoked.

This is a tough one to come back from. Why does it matter whether someone has resigned or fired? That is a big deal when it comes to the Russia

investigation. If Rod Rosenstein were to resign, the president would have basically free rein to fill him. If he is fired he has to ultimately go

through Congress. And that becomes a very sticky, thorny political process, especially with the prospect of midterms coming up and if the

Democrats get control of Congress that becomes even more chaos and obviously would also open the door to firing potentially firing Mueller

before the investigation is complete.

GORANI: But there are Republicans even on the record saying if the president fires Rosenstein it is a crisis. That they would not support

this. That this would be the president trying to put a stop to an investigation into his own campaign in 2016. So what happens if he does

it?

AVLON: That's right. Well, I think that's why the question of whether he jumps or is pushed, whether he resigns or his fired becomes so high stakes.

If he is fired by the president, you do have that you say, a lot of Republican senators on the record saying, we would not stand for this.

Now, that is far from saying that, for example, the president would be subject to impeachment proceedings. But if you were to fire Rosenstein and

get rid of the Mueller probe that in a funny way would add to the accusations of obstruction of justice that could be an impeachable offense.

So he wants to avoid that at all costs.

GORANI: But why would the deputy attorney general resign? Why would -- why would he decide to do that?

AVLON: There is no good answer to that which is why those initial rumors were so head smacking. Because Rosenstein has protected the integrity of

the Mueller investigation and to resign would be to undercut all that effort. And all the political capital he has spent on behalf of the

constitution and the investigative process and its integrity over a period of months.

So it's very unclear why he would resign given the implications of that.

GORANI: A quick last one. The president is meeting with him on Thursday. That's when Christine Blasey Ford who accused Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme

Court justice nominee, of sexual assault, will be testifying. Is it a coincidence that these things are happening on the same day?

AVLON: Well, if there's one thing the president fully understands it's how to create and surf a news cycle. This is an alternate news cycle which

will compete with that incredibly high stakes testimony. If it goes forward, you're going to have a split screen. The president is fond of

trying to play the split screen, but it will not diminish the importance of either meeting. They're that big of a deal in the context of American

politics and the fate of this administration.

GORANI: John Avlon, as always, thanks so much. Great talking to you.

Still to come tonight, North Korea on the agenda as the U.S. and South Korean leader hold talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. We

will be taking you live to New York. Trump and Moon Jae-in meeting. We'll be right back.

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[14:45:25] GORANI: Well, if you have been watching this hour, well you've figured it out that we've had a lot of news out of Washington today. As

usual, a lot of it related to the Trump administration.

First, will he, won't he? Rod Rosenstein, will he resign? Will he be fired? Well, apparently, it seems like he's keeping his job for now.

He'll be meeting with Trump on Thursday. And then there's, of course, over the weekend that report that a second woman has come forward accusing Brett

Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, Trump's Supreme Court nominee, of sexual misconduct. Not assault. But of having behaved in an unseemly way

during their time together at Yale University.

Let's bring in Stephen Collison. He's in Washington. So Christine Blasey Ford, her testimony on Thursday. It seems from many of the elected

officials from the Republican Party who have spoken in the last few days and some top ranking ones, as well, that it doesn't really matter what

she'll say, that they've decided to back Kavanaugh. Is it fair to say that?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's fair to say for most Republicans who are under, Hala, of course, great pressure from their

grassroots to get Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and cement this generational conservative majority.

One Republican senator, Lindsey Graham from South Carolina basically has said, what am I supposed to do, ruin a guy's life over one un --

insubstantiated allegation? But there are several Republican senators who haven't yet tipped their hand and they can be crucial in the confirmation

hopes of Kavanaugh. Remember that the Republicans can lose one senator and if all the Democrats stick together and still get him confirmed. So we're

looking at people like Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and even the outgoing Arizona senator, Jeff Flake, all of those senators have

expressed about the allegations and awaiting to hear what happens on Thursday before coming out and making up their mind.

GORANI: But oftentimes you hear from these middle of the road Republicans including Flake and others raising concerns but then voting in line with

Trump supporting elected officials. Right? Is that the expectation this time around?

COLLINSON: Yes. And we've seen that on the tax bill. We saw it with the efforts to repeal ObamaCare, which we ended up being frustrated by the late

Senator John McCain. It's difficult to know whether this time is different. Susan Collins, for example, is under intense political pressure

in her own state which is often more moderate in some cases than some of these Deep South conservative Republican states. So I think it's very

difficult to see how they will come down.

And we're also talking about the change politics of the Me Too era when the way these issues is being handled is much different than in the past and

there's been much more credibility given to women coming, you know, forward with allegations. So with all of that in the mix, I think it's really,

really difficult to see how this is going to go down.

I think what we can say is that the fact that Kavanaugh now has to come out to a hearing, the fact that there are new allegations, you can only say

that his confirmation hopes were not as strong as they were a week ago even if we can't say right now that he's in trouble.

GORANI: Stephen Collison, thanks very much. It certainly seemed like a slam dunk before all these allegations and now it's been thrown into

certainly uncertainty. Thank you.

[14:50:04] Now, as I was telling you at the top of the hour, we're expecting the U.S. president to meet with his South Korean counterpart,

Moon Jae-in. This is happening on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. There will be live coverage in New York if it happens in

our hour and we will take you to that live.

Paula Hancocks is joining me now live from -- are you in Seoul, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am, yes, Hala.

GORANI: Oh, yes, you are. I wasn't sure if maybe you were in New York. I wasn't sure.

All right. So, what does the South Korean president want from Donald Trump today? And in fact, we are seeing images of them now on our screen. Are

these live, Nile? They're live. OK. Let's listen in and then we'll get back to you, Paula.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First day office and you're doing a terrific job. And I think we're doing a terrific job together.

We've had terrific talks on trade. And we'll be signing in a little while a very important trade agreement with South Korea and the United States.

And I think it's a very exciting event. It was a long time in coming and it's a basic redoing of the agreement that was done before, and which was a

very unfair agreement for the United States.

And I think that President Moon and myself were very happy. Great for South Korea. It's great for the United States. It's great for both. And

we also talk, obviously about North Korea where we're making tremendous progress. Chairman Kim has been really very open and terrific, frankly. I

think he wants to see something happen.

So we have done, I think -- mutually, we've done very well with respect to North Korea and we'll be discussing that during the next couple of days.

We'll be certainly discussing it now. But I just want to say it's a great honor to have President Moon with us and thank you very much, Mr.

President, for coming. Thank you.

GORANI: All right. There I believe this is the translation of what the U.S. President said to the South Korean president. And the U.S. President

said they will be signing an important trade agreement with South Korea that they are making some tremendous progress. The U.S. President said

when it comes to a deal with North Korea and in fact, the American president called Kim -- the chairman Kim of North Korea terrific. Quote,

"terrific."

So, Paula, back to you. What does South Korea hope to achieve here?

HANCOCKS: Well, Hala, effectively what the South Korean president is doing at this point is putting the ball back in the U.S. court. He's been to

North Korea for three days. He has met with Kim Jong-un for three days and he's coming with a message. The main message being that he wants this

second summit. That Kim Jong-un wants a second summit with the U.S. President.

Now, we've heard that the U.S. president is more than open to that. Something we already knew. But there is going to be some resistance within

his own administration as well as within Washington that not enough progress has been made before giving a second summit.

Now, there's also the issue of what exactly does Kim Jong-un want in order to potentially give up the Yongbyon nuclear facility. This is what he said

during that summit in North Korea, that he would shut down this nuclear facility if there were corresponding measures. Now, Moon Jae-in did

actually speak to reporters once he got back to Seoul and I asked him, what are those corresponding measures? And he effectively said an end to

hostilities which means Kim Jong-un wants a declaration to end the Korean War.

So these are the sorts of things that President Moon is going to be asking Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump's made him the chief negotiator between the U.S. and

North Korea until they have a more active dialogue. So it's a tricky balancing act, but certainly he's coming with, what he think is positive

news and judging from those comments just there what the U.S. president believes to be positive news, as well. Hala?

GORANI: Sure. And the U.S. president is saying he's open to the idea of another summit with Kim Jong-un. This is something that before Trump was

unthinkable with other American presidents. They wouldn't sit down bilaterally with what they called the North Korean dictator essentially

that starved and mistreated his own people. Yet this U.S. President is open to another meeting.

[14:55:01] HANCOCKS: Well, that's right. And the U.S. president's quite often said that he's managed to achieve what other U.S. presidents have not

achieved by meeting with the North Korean leader.

But as you say, other U.S. presidents did not want to reward who they called the Korean dictator unless they saw tangible results.

Now, remember that U.S. intelligence agencies still believe that North Korea is continuing with its nuclear program secretly. They believe that

there are other facilities that Pyongyang has not declared.

Now, what they want, as well, as well, what the Trump administration wants is for North Korea to write down a list of exactly what they have when it

comes to their nuclear and missile program. That wasn't even mentioned as far as we know at the Pyongyang summit. At least it wasn't mentioned

publicly.

Now, of course, there could be a lot more details that Kim Kong-un gave to President Moon to pass on to President Trump. But effectively all we heard

was he was willing to shut down a key missile test site which he had already promised President Trump he would shut down back in June.

The extra part was he would allow international experts for that. So critics would say there's not an awful lot that is new in the message

that's going to President Trump. But as you can hear, it's falling on positive ears.

GORANI: Thank you, Paula Hancocks, live in Seoul.

Just to recap for our viewers, you're seeing live images coming to us from New York of President Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president. And the

United States president, Donald trump who called Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea terrific. He says he's been terrific. That he's hoping that

there will be a deal soon, that they're making tremendous progress.

But as Paula Hancocks was saying here, there was the promise to shut down one facility. That promise had been made before, dismantling the core of

the North Korean nuclear program. That is not something that has started or that is being made verifiable. So critics are saying lots of meetings,

summits, handshakes but nothing that we should be celebrating quiet yet.

All right. We're going to leave it here for HALA GORANI TONIGHT. And just a few minutes, it'll be "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" on CNN. Stay with us.

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