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Trump Attacks Kavanaugh Accuser at U.N.; GOP Leaders Predict Kavanaugh Will Be Confirmed; Outside Counsel to Question Ford in Hearing; House Calls for Rod Rosenstein to Testify. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 25, 2018 - 17:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.

[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Trump versus the accusers. The president aggressively attacks the second woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct, while Republican senators hire an outside lawyer to question the first accuser in Thursday's hearing and vowed to push through a confirmation vote.

Rosenstein's reprieve. White House officials say don't bet the ranch on the president firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week. But House conservatives want Rosenstein to testify. Are they trying to force him to quit?

Going to jail. Former TV star, Bill Cosby, is taken out of court in handcuffs after he's sentenced to prison for sexual assault. Dozens of women have accused him of similar crimes. We're going to get reaction.

And the world laughs. President Trump is greeted by laughter as he boasts about his accomplishments before world leaders at the United Nations. The president shrugs it off as a joke, but is he burning with anger on the inside?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news. President Trump is joining Senate Republicans in an aggressive defense of the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Judiciary Committee Republicans have hired a female outside counsel to question Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford.

The president is accusing Democrats of mounting, his words, "a con job." And even though he himself has been accused by numerous women of past sexual harassment, he has dropped all caution, this time directly attacking a second Kavanaugh accuser, saying she was drunk and has nothing.

Republican senators suggest they'll push for quick votes following Thursday's hearing.

I'll speak with Democratic Senator Ben Cardin. And our correspondents and specialists are standing by with full coverage.

President Trump takes the spotlight at the U.N. and uses it to attack one of the women accusing his Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct.

Let's begin with our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's with the president in New York.

Jim, what's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Trump offered his most jaw-dropping comments to date over the fight over Brett Kavanaugh. He raised doubts about the second woman accusing his Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct.

The president appearing to run out of patience when it comes to this fight over Brett Kavanaugh, accusing the accusers of being what he called a con game.


ACOSTA (voice-over): On the world stage at the U.N., President Trump injected himself into the court of public opinion on the fate of Brett Kavanaugh, all but dismissing allegations made by a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who told "The New Yorker" the Supreme Court nominee sexual abused her at Yale University.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The second accuser has nothing. The second accuser doesn't even know -- she thinks maybe it could have been him. Maybe not. She admits that she was drunk. She admits time lapses. There are time lapses.

ACOSTA: The president told reporters he, too, watched Kavanaugh's interview on FOX, offering the judge his full support.

TRUMP: You know, when he said that, really, what he was focused on was trying to be No. 1 in his class at Yale, to me that was so believable.

His wife is devastated. His children are devastated. I don't mean they're like, "Oh, gee, I'm a little unhappy." They're devastated.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's comments seem to run counter to press secretary Sarah Sanders' openness to hearing Ramirez testify next to Christine Blasey Ford at a hearing set for Thursday.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, we would be open to that, and that process could take place on Thursday.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I'm not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process. And, you know, we're looking for a fair process.

ACOSTA: The White House is firmly behind Kavanaugh, whose personal life has been exposed in full detail.

KAVANAUGH: I've never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends.

ACOSTA: The Kavanaugh saga has temporarily overshadowed the other White House melodrama: whether the president will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after he allegedly offered to secretly record Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: I'm meeting with Rod Rosenstein on Thursday. Today I'm doing other things, as you probably know.

ACOSTA: At the U.N., there was a clear signal of how some parts of the world view the Trump presidency. As the president bragged about his accomplishments foreign leaders couldn't help but laugh.

TRUMP: In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America's -- so true. Didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK.

ACOSTA: It was a reminder, there is a Trump tweet for everything. When Barack Obama was president, Mr. Trump tweeted, "We need a president who isn't a laughingstock to the entire world. We need a truly great leader."

During the president's U.N. speech, German officials could be seen chuckling when Mr. Trump accused them of being dependent on Russian energy.

TRUMP: Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

ACOSTA: The president later insisted he didn't mind the laughter.

TRUMP: That was meant to get some laughter. But it was great.


ACOSTA: The other important take from today, Wolf, is that the U.S. is ramping up the rhetoric on Iran. National security adviser John Bolton earlier this afternoon warned Iran that they will have hell to pay if they cross the U.S. That came after Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, complained of world leaders specifically -- basically going after President Trump, saying that some world leaders have what he called a, quote, "Nazi disposition."

Wolf, we have seen this kind of super-heated rhetoric go back and forth before. Last year, it was between the U.S. and North Korea. And today the president was praising North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong- un, for having courage -- he called courage to engage in nuclear talks with the U.S.

Wolf, the president will have a chance to answer all of these questions, talk about all of these topics tomorrow when he has a news conference here in New York tomorrow evening -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Scheduled for 5 p.m. Eastern.

All right. Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

There are fast-moving developments in the confirmation fight over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Let's turn to our congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty.

Sunlen, what's the latest?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, top Republican leaders tonight are predicting that Brett Kavanaugh will, indeed, be confirmed, but they are saying this without truly knowing yet if they have the votes. And certainly, there are some signs of dissent among their ranks popping up at this hour tonight.

Look no further than what Senator Lisa Murkowski, a top Republican swing vote in this confirmation battle, what she said earlier today. Asked about the possibility of an FBI investigation, she said for the first time, "It would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn't it?" That is a statement that is at odds with what many members of her own party have been saying.

And Murkowski also going on to say that Deborah Ramirez, the second accuser, should also come forward and make her case publicly, like Christine Blasey Ford.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: If she has -- has serious allegations that she is willing to come forward on and request the opportunity to be heard, as Dr. Ford did, I think that there is a process for all of that. A process before the committee. I don't want to see further delay.


SERFATY: And other Republicans, of course, Republicans in the same party as Lisa Murkowski here, were critical of her call, potentially, for an FBI investigation. Here's how Senator Lindsey Graham responded today.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What I would say to Senator Murkowski is that this process has played out because of what they did. Not because of what I did. And you're going to have to decide. If you think an FBI investigation is now necessary, I respectfully disagree. I don't know what you would tell the FBI to do. They have told me, "We don't think we can help you here."


SERFATY: It's really hard to overstate going into Thursday's hearing, Wolf, of course, how much is riding on this one day, this one testimony from Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. And, of course, everyone going -- both sides, Democrats and Republicans -- pointing the finger at the other, saying neither side is going in with an open mind. That both sides have made up their minds.

BLITZER: Interesting. Sunlen, the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, they've hired now a female outside counsel to question Ford and Kavanaugh. This is something that Ford's legal team did not want. What's been the reaction?

SERFATY: Well, Ford's team is certainly not happy about this decision at all. They say that there is not a precedent to bring in outside counsel, and they think the responsibility's on the senators of that committee.

Of course, you also have Democrats really blasting the decision as well, today. And really drilling down specifically on the point that the identity of the outside counsel, this female attorney that's going to be brought in, is not yet known. They say this is something that they should know in advance, and using words like "secrecy" and "mystery" to describe this outside prosecutor.

Now, it's worth noting here that chairman of the committee Chuck Grassley has defended the move to keep her name quiet for the moment. He said it's due to safety concerns.

BLITZER: If the hearing, Sunlen, happens on Thursday, how long would it be before there are votes?

SERFATY: It could go very quick. Republicans have signaled that they want to move ahead quickly on all of this. There is word from the committee that, potentially, a vote could be held as early as Friday in the committee of this week. A lot to certainly be settled between now and then. But potentially a committee vote on Friday.

[17:10:16] And then Republican leaders today, after they huddled here on Capitol Hill, making it known that they potentially want to keep the Senate working this weekend. That really starts the time on the clock to consider this nomination in front of the full Senate. So potentially, we could see a vote as early as Tuesday.

BLITZER: And there's a 51-49 Republican majority. So it could be very close. If two Republicans bolt and no Democrats support, it's over for Kavanaugh. Sunlen, we'll watch it very, very closely. Thank you.

Joins us now, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. As you know, it seems like several Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have already made up their minds about voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. Do you think testimony from these two women is really going to change anyone's mind?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Wolf, these women deserve to be heard. These are very serious allegations. It takes a lot of courage to bring them forward. They're entitled to have a fair hearing before the Judiciary Committee.

There clearly should have been an FBI investigation. We need to know the facts before we go into the hearing from an objective third party. All of the relevant witnesses should have been there. Mr. Judge, the person who was supposedly there with Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. They all should have been present.

So they've already rushed this hearing without allowing the proper preliminary investigation and having all the witnesses ready to testify.

But let's not prejudge. Let's let this woman have an opportunity to present her case before the United States Senate. And it seems like a lot of people are probably going to prejudge this. And that's -- that's just not right. It's a very serious allegation. Very difficult for her to come forward. She shows a lot of courage.

BLITZER: Nearly every Democrat has already decided to vote against Kavanaugh. Do you worry that this hearing Thursday morning, if, in fact, it does take place, is going to turn into a show trial?

CARDIN: I certainly hope that's not the case. Because this is obviously a very sensitive issue. I think it will not only be the United States senators listening to this hearing, but the people of this nation. And they expect that this hearing will be held with the dignity and seriousness of the events. So we hope that will not, in fact, be the case.

There's a lot of other information out there. You know, my concern about Judge Kavanaugh is far beyond this particular episode. I'm concerned about whether he will represent your rights against the powerful, including the president of the United States; whether we'll have an independent Supreme Court to act as a check and balance on the power of the president. And also, by the way, the legislative branch of government.

So I think there's a lot more involved here. But for Thursday, it's Dr. Ford's opportunity, and I think it's important that this hearing be held with the greatest amount of respect and dignity. And I regret that the preliminary work was not done.

BLITZER: Dr. Ford says that she wants to face questioning directly from the senators, the members of the Judiciary Committee. Should Republicans be allowed to bring in a female outside counsel to conduct this hearing on their behalf?

CARDIN: Wolf, this is somewhat amazing. This person, whose name we don't know, was hired for this specific purpose. Clearly, the Republicans did not want to ask the questions themselves, probably because it's an all-male membership on the Republican side. That's no excuse. The questioning should be done by the members of the Senate. That's the tradition of the United States Senate in a confirmation hearing.

BLITZER: The president, as you know, this morning, he says this is all part of a Democratic con game. What's your response to that accusation from the president?

CARDIN: You know, the president amazes me every day by how he characterizes things. When he disagrees with what's going on, he chooses his words in the most inflammatory way.

That's absolutely false. The president knows that's false. We have a constitutional responsibility in the United States Senate to fully vet any lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States that will affect the next generation.

So the president is trying to compromise the Senate from carrying out its responsibility. Whether it's a Democrat or Republican, we have a responsibility to get to the facts.

BLITZER: Should Kavanaugh withdraw his nomination?

CARDIN: That's only something that he can decide. I think we need to know the facts surrounding Dr. Ford and the other individual who's come forward. We need to know those circumstances, and at this stage, we have not had that opportunity.

BLITZER: Is there anyone President Trump could nominate -- nominate for the Supreme Court that could earn your support?

CARDIN: Oh, absolutely. If he goes through the regular process of consulting with senators before he makes the nomination; if he opens up his list beyond just two groups that have designed agenda for the Supreme Court, the Federalist Society, that's a wrong way to do it.

[17:15:13] If the president has a truly open process, as every other process has used, goes through the normal vetting process in the Judiciary Committee so we know everything about it, then I think there is a much better chance that we could get a consensus nomination confirmed by the Senate.

That's exactly what president Obama did with Merrick Garland. He brought about a consensus candidate. He easily could have been confirmed. Problem was, that Mitch McConnell wouldn't bring it up for a vote.

BLITZER: Yes. There was never even a hearing. Senator Cardin, thank you very much for joining us.

CARDIN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, the president aggressively attacks the accusers of the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and accuses Democrats of playing a con game. So what happened to his earlier, more cautious approach?

And the president may not be so quick to fire the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. But House conservatives want him to testify. What's their plan?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:20:32] BLITZER: The fate of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein is still very much up in the air, along with the special counsel's Russia investigation that he oversees, pending Thursday's meeting with President Trump.

But White House officials are saying don't presume that Rosenstein will be fired, even as congressional conservatives push to have him testify.

Let's bring in our justice correspondent, Evan Perez. What are you learning about the strategy behind calling Rosenstein to testify in the coming days?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, now you have the president's allies in Congress, Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows, are now saying they want to bring Rosenstein to testify. Perhaps as soon as this week about this -- this story in "The New York Times" about his comments, allegedly made, invoking the 25th Amendment and about wiretapping the president.

They think that bringing him to Capitol Hill and making him testify under oath will do a couple of things. It will certainly make Rosenstein have to answer those tough questions.

And people behind the scenes are advising the president not to fire Rosenstein, instead to let this happen. Because they believe that Rod Rosenstein will be damaged as a result of that hearing. He'll either have to resign or certainly they believe will make the politics a little bit better for him to be pushed out by the president. So that's what the president is hearing behind the scenes in anticipation of this Thursday meeting.

BLITZER: If the special counsel, Robert Mueller, thinks that Rosenstein will either be fired or will resign, is there anything that Mueller can do to safeguard the overall Russia investigation?

PEREZ: Well, that's a great question. I mean, I think one of the things -- we don't know a lot about what Robert Mueller is doing behind the scenes.

But we do know, at least based on the signs, that he does still have a few more things to come before the end of this investigation, including Roger Stone, who says based on everything he sees, he believes that he is going to be indicted. We certainly see a lot of activity in court surrounding that.

What could happen, obviously, is to drop more indictments, because it's through those indictments that Robert Mueller is speaking. He's making his case. So even if perhaps somebody decides they're not going to send his report to Congress or somehow that gets changed, this is one way Robert Mueller is making his case known to the public about what he's finding in the investigation behind the scenes.

BLITZER: Lots at stake right now. All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much. Let's get to some other news that we're following right now. The

president of the United States aggressively -- aggressively -- defending his Supreme Court nominee, attacking a woman who's accused him of sexual misconduct, and claiming Democrats are running a, quote, "con game."

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


[17:27:49] BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the confirmation fight over the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. The Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans have now hired a female attorney to ask questions when Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testify Thursday morning. They aren't saying who the attorney is, citing security concerns.

Let's get some insight from our legal and political experts. And Dana Bash, at the U.N. earlier today, the president went on the attack against Brett Kavanaugh's accusers. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I think it's horrible what the Democrats have done. It's a con game they're playing. They're con -- they're really con artists. They don't believe it themselves, OK? They know he's a high-quality person. They don't believe it.

Thirty-six years ago? Nobody ever knew about it? Nobody ever heard about it? And now a new charge comes up, and she said, "Well, it might not be him. And there were gaps." And she said she was totally inebriated, and she was all messed up. And she doesn't know if it was him, but it might have been him. Oh, gee, let's not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that?


BLITZER: All right. So clearly, those are his harshest words against the accusers to date. Why has he abandoned his earlier, much more cautious approach?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, it's kind of been a slow roll towards that abandonment. It really took hold last Friday.

The reason is the same reason we're seeing the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, be much more aggressive and was so on the Senate floor yesterday. And in a pretty remarkable way. And that is, they are hearing, from the White House to Capitol Hill, from conservative groups, from conservative constituencies, that they feel that -- that Brett Kavanaugh is not getting a fair shake; that the Republicans are letting the Democrats and Brett Kavanaugh's accusers take over the committee. This is -- this is what they have been told. And so they've decided that the best way to deal with this is so fight back.

The other calculation, political calculation, that I'm told that they are making here is that those critical voters in the election six weeks from today, independent voters, that it's not as clear and not as cut and dry how they are going to come down on this. Particularly women, suburban women.

I found that when I was out in Colorado last week. It wasn't as cut and dry. They weren't as gung ho to get all the answers about something that happened 36 years ago. And so that is what they're banking on.

And also the clock, Wolf. I mean, the calendar. Six weeks before the election. If it's not going to be Brett Kavanaugh, Democrats could take over the Senate, and they're going to be in a very, very different and difficult political situation.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. You know, Kaitlan Collins, it was only the other day, last week, when the president said it would be wonderful -- his word, "wonderful" -- to hear from Professor Ford.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what he was saying publicly, because that's what his aides were encouraging him to say publicly. And that he was getting praise for that. And he liked getting that praise. So they thought he was going to continue doing that. And then he didn't.

But what this boils down to, is this is what the president has been saying privately all along. That he doesn't believe these allegations. He's always been suspicious of the #MeToo movement, complaining that the mere allegations can ruin people's lives. Something he's pointed out time and time again, as we've seen people fall from pretty high positions because of allegations like the ones that Brett Kavanaugh is now facing.

So President Trump is simply saying what he's been thinking this whole time. He doesn't believe these accusations. He made that quite clear last night in his tweet when he said there were false accusations, and now we're just seeing him say that publicly today and really go on the attack, especially against this second woman.

But of course, Dana raises a great point. How are people going to react to the president saying things that people say you are not supposed to say when someone accuses someone of sexual assault? "She was drunk. She was inebriated. She doesn't remember." Those are the things that are going to cause headaches for this White House and has White House aides screaming into pillows.

BLITZER: Really going after her, Sabrina Siddiqui. Are you surprised he's taking such an aggressive stance?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Not at all. I think it was only a matter of time, in part because this is a president who can't control his impulses.

But this is also someone who has a history of making comments about women that are objectively derogatory and misogynistic. The president has, in the past, likened women to pigs and dogs. He said his own accusers -- he was accused by as many as 17 women of sexual assault -- that they were liars. He attacked their physical appearance.

He once said of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that she got down on her knees to beg him for money. I mean, the list goes on and on and on.

So I think that what this does, though, is it hurts Brett Kavanaugh, because if there were any other Republican president, he probably would have had a lot more credibility when coming to Kavanaugh's defense. But this president is doing everything, as Kaitlan pointed out, that you're not supposed to do. And not just attacking and trying to discredit the accuser, but engaging in victim-blaming, that it was her fault. And I think that's only going to make life more complicated for Kavanaugh and his defenders.

BLITZER: Yes, he really, Jeffrey Toobin, went after this second accuser, Deborah Ramirez. He says she was totally inebriated; she's all messed up. He really tried to destroy her credibility.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think it really comes down to the frog and the scorpion. It's his nature. I mean, this is what he does. You know, and the one thing about Donald Trump is that, you know, he never departs from who he is.

I think Dana makes an interesting point. That you never know exactly how this is going to play out. You know, I didn't prosecute sex crimes myself. But I knew a lot of sex crimes prosecutors. And they said women jurors were often very tough on women complainants. Women jurors would often say, "Well, why did she go to the hotel room?" Or, you know, "Why did she drink too much?" Stuff that men were actually, in certain circumstances, reluctant to say.

Now, I don't pretend to know that that's how this will play out politically. But I think the simple calculus of, you know, women taking the accuser's side, it may not be that simple.

BLITZER: You know, it's going to be a really close vote, Dana. There's 51 Republicans, 49 Democrats. If two Republicans vote against Kavanaugh, two, and no Democrats vote for him, it's all over.

BASH: That's right. That's why all eyes are on four Republicans for -- who could be potentially those two who vote "no." Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Bob Corker of Texas; and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

The really important one, I think, of those four is going to be Susan Collins. She knows how much pressure she's under. She knows every word that she utters is really -- is really -- is really critical here.

In fact, she helped to shape the debate at the beginning, which now seems like, you know, eons ago, because the debate has obviously gone into this partisan, frankly, debacle that it is right now. But she helped to shape it and say we should hear from this woman, from Professor Ford.

She is under -- talk about pressure. So much pressure from both sides. She's getting hammered by television ads in Maine, talking about the fact that she's got to support women. Never mind on this issue, but then back to the original question that was before her, which is Roe v. Wade and what she thinks Brett Kavanaugh would or could do as a swing vote on the Supreme Court.

[17:35:10] Someone like Lisa Murkowski is also somebody to watch, and she has been much more open, even today, in the halls of Congress, saying we should hear from the second accuser. She has other pressures back home in Alaska. People who don't think that she should vote for Brett Kavanaugh, because of rulings having to do with Native Americans, which are a big, important block for her.

So there's so many other factors besides this big one that's going to be before us on Thursday.

BLITZER: And both Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski support abortion rights for women, too. That's a significant issue, I suspect, that they're trying to weigh at the same time.

Everybody stand by. I want to ask all of our panelists about the push by the president's allies on Capitol Hill to question the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, about reports he wanted to secretly record President Trump.

And later, why the president may be more bothered than he's letting on about getting laughed at by world leaders during today's speech at the U.N. General Assembly.


[17:40:41] BLITZER: We're back with our political and legal specialists. And Jeffrey Toobin, what's the motive, right now? Why are these House conservatives, Freedom Caucus members, among others, pushing to get the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to testify about the accuracy, the veracity of that "New York Times" bombshell the other day about invoking the 25th Amendment, a wiretap and all of that kind of stuff? Why are they pushing for him to testify in the next few days?

TOOBIN: Because this is part of the consistent theme of the House Republicans, which is to investigate the investigators; to try to discredit anyone who is involved in trying to determine what went on with Russia, what went on potentially with obstruction of justice.

The House conservatives have been -- you know, determined to do that from day one. And they do it in different ways with the FBI and the Department of Justice. Here, they think they can discredit the larger investigation by showing that Rod Rosenstein was a member of the deep state out to get Donald Trump from day one. I don't think they can. But that's what they want to do.

BLITZER: Well, what do you think, Dana? Do you think he could emerge from a hearing like this so damaged he might have no choice but to step down?

BASH: That's certainly the hope, I think, among those very House Republicans that you're asking about. We were -- I reported yesterday that part of the dynamic that went

into the -- sort of the chaos in the morning with Rosenstein, as Kaitlan was reporting, saying that he was going to offer his resignation, had offered his resignation. Part of what went into that, I was told, was the fact that he got word that House Republicans wanted him to come and testify under oath about exactly what he said in that 2017 meeting about the president taping him, the 25th Amendment, all of the things that -- that made this uproar happen.

And so right now those same House Republicans are pressuring the president not to fire Rosenstein until Rosenstein goes and does that testimony, in order to make that clear, to make it clear what he said, and perhaps to try to unearth other things that they say prove their point about the way this investigation is going. Exactly to what Jeffrey was saying.

TOOBIN: It's also worth pointing out that the House Republicans who are engaged in this enterprise are generally incompetent. And they don't really do a good job at asking questions. And every time they're going to hold a big hearing, the witness winds up looking better than they do. But they have this fantasy that they are going to bring people down, and that's what they're going to try to do with Rod Rosenstein.

BLITZER: They're going one step further, Sabrina. They not only want him to come testify, but some are already talking about impeaching him if he stays on the job.

SIDDIQUI: Yes. What House conservatives want is for Rod Rosenstein to testify this week. And if he does not appear before the House Judiciary Committee, then they are going to try to force a vote to impeach him.

Now Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, it's my understanding that he has not actually scheduled a hearing; and there certainly have not been invitations on the FBI's part.

But what this ultimately comes down to is the president and his allies on Capitol Hill having, for some time now, been looking for some kind of ammunition that they can use as grounds to remove Rosenstein. And they believe that they found it in this "New York Times" report, where he allegedly had suggested recording Trump in secret. He says that was a comment, of course, Rosenstein, that was made sarcastically. But ultimately, they want to replace him with someone who can exert more influence over the Mueller investigation.

BLITZER: So where does the president fit into all of this? Because we're all anxious to see what happens on Thursday.

COLLINS: Well, that's a great question. But we know that President Trump doesn't like conflict one-on-one. He doesn't fire people, typically, one-on-one. All the people he's fired throughout his administration, he has not done in person.

So the question is, will he actually come to the point where he fires him? And that really doesn't seem to be where we are headed. Because President Trump, since that story has dropped, though people thought he was going to be furious over it, he actually wasn't as angry as people thought.

Now his relationship with Rosenstein is no, like, model image. But it doesn't seem to the point where he wants to fire him. That's what Rosenstein was thinking. That's why he was willing to submit his resignation to the chief of staff, John Kelly.

But also, he did not want to be hauled up to Capitol Hill to testify, because he feared that exactly, having to testify about his conversations about recording the president, invoking the 25th Amendment. Also keep in mind, those House conservatives want to talk to him about signing off on those FISA warrants for Carter Page, the former Trump campaign aide. They've got a lot of questions that span just beyond that New York Times story that dropped on Friday, but...

BASH: But the Times is the hook.

COLLINS: ...that doesn't mean President Trump - exactly. That doesn't mean President Trump will do anything when he does sit down with him on Thursday. According to what he said, they had a long - good long conversation yesterday when he was at the U.N., Rod Rosenstein is back at the White House.

So, things could actually be rosier than we thought even though they looked pretty bleak for Rod Rosenstein. And maybe he'll wait to fire him until something bigger happens and he can blame and let him be the scapegoat for something related to the Russia investigation.

BLIZTER: Yes. Let's see what happens to the attorney general as well, Jeff Sessions, no great love there either. All right guys, stand by. There's more news. The President of the United States drawing laughter from his audience during his big speech over at the United Nations General Assembly today and that may be a problem.



BLITZER: In a rather remarkable moment, President Trump's speech at the United Nations, today, drew laughter and it caught the president by surprise. CNN's Brian Todd has been checking with Trump biographers. Brian, this isn't, necessarily, the kind of reaction the President would appreciate.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not exactly, Wolf. The President tried to make light of that moment and he smiled through it. But his biographers tell us there's really nothing more that Donald Trump hates, and is more anxious about, than the notion of being laughed at. The President's swagger was expected, the laughter in response to it wasn't.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so terrific.


I didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK.


MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, TRUMP REVEALED: One of the phrases to watch for when you're looking at Donald Trump is that's OK. When he says that's OK, he's burning up inside.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP: You can assume that under this effort to get along with folks and be a good sport, he is already setting down in his mind an agenda for revenge. This is a man who never forgets a slight (ph).

TODD: Those who've chronicled his life say Trump is obsessed with the idea of being laughed at, a line he often repeats.

TRUMP: The world is laughing at us. The world is laughing at the stupidity of what we have done within immigration. We're the laughing stock of the world. The world is laughing at us.

TODD: At some moment today, in the U.N. General Assembly, the world was laughing, or at least, smirking, at President Trump as these German diplomats did. Biographers say for Donald Trump, being laughed at strikes at certain insecurities which go back a long way.

D'ANTONIO: For his entire life, Donald Trump has been worried about being humiliated, himself. He's a person who's motivated by the desire to escape being shamed. He's always worried that people are laughing at him.

TODD: Never was that more stark than on April 30, 2011, at the White House Correspondent's dinner, President Obama was relentless in roasting Trump.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald.


And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing. What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?

TODD: The audience roared, Trump seethed.

D'ANTONIO: For Trump, this was a decisive moment. This was the exact moment when, I think, he decided, I'm going to run for president and I'm going to beat that guy.

TODD: In the ensuing years, Trump would invoke the laughing stock strategy when slamming Obama in tweets. And it's since become a political rallying cry for the President... TRUMP: The world is laughing at us.

TODD: ...because it plays to his most loyal supporters.

FISHER: From the very beginning of his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump had a - a keen visceral understanding that the people he was appealing to felt ridiculed, felt that they were being looked down upon, condescended to by the elites in America. And so, he latched on to that theme which happened to jive with things he'd been saying all of his life about being laughed at.

TODD: Now, the President was asked, later today, about how he felt about the laughter in the U.N. General Assembly, he said, quote, it was great. That was meant to get some laughter. Of course, at that moment though, the President said he didn't expect that reaction.

And those who have studied the man say he very likely was seething at that whole moment there, Wolf. He, you know, he was burning up inside as one of his biographers said.


BLITZER: Yes, as you say, they weren't laughing with him, they were laughing at him. And that, obviously, makes him very - very angry. Brian Todd, thank you very much. Coming up, the President aggressively attacks, the second woman to accuse the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual misconduct while Republican senators hire an outside female lawyer to question the first accuser.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, accusations and denials two days before a potentially explosive hearing, President Trump unleashes new attacks and insults of Brett Kavanaugh's accusers, as Senate Republicans promise the embattled Supreme Court nominee will be confirmed very soon. Tonight, one key Republican woman in the senate is pushing back.

Sparing the record. White House officials say the president may not fire the deputy attorney general when they meet on Thursday, but Mr. Trump's allies in Congress appear to have a different sort of punishment planned for the man overseeing the Russia investigation.

The Cosby sentence. The disgraced TV icon is ordered to prison, and is officially declared a sexually violent predator.