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CNN International: Britain's New Leader, Boris Johnson; Puerto Rican Governor Expected to Resign; Mueller to Testify Publicly on Russia Investigation; Russia Contradicts Earlier Regret in Airspace Violation between South Korea and Japan. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 24, 2019 - 05:00   ET




ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to CNN's special coverage as the U.K. gets ready to welcome a new prime minister. It is 10:00 am. I'm Isa Soares outside of the British Parliament as it prepares for a major change at the top of the U.K. government.


SOARES: The day after three years at the top, British prime minister Theresa May bowing out as she's replaced by Boris Johnson. It's a busy half day for Ms. May. First she's traveling to Parliament to face a final grilling by lawmakers and questions and then off to Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation to the queen.

Then she will move out of the 10 Downing Street, which is the prime minister's official residence. Then Boris Johnson moves in and takes over as he officially becomes prime minister just a day after winning the Conservative Party leadership contest.

He was voted into the top job by the Conservative membership yesterday, which is about 0.3 percent. Perhaps a sign of what his leadership will be like, he gave this bombastic speech after he won.


BORIS JOHNSON, INCOMING U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We know the mantra of the campaign that's just gone by. In case you've forgotten it, you probably have, it was going too, probably, it is deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.

I know it was pointed out deliver, unite and defeat, was not the perfect acronym for an election campaign since unfortunately it spells it DUD, but they forgot the final E, my friends. E for energize.

And I say, I say to all the judges, dude, we are going to energize the country, we're going to get the Brexit done on October 31st. And it will bring in a new spirit of can do.


SOARES: Joining us now is Anna Stewart, who is live at 10 Downing Street.

What is the reaction to the dude, what we heard from Boris Johnson?

Is he saying the right things at the moment?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think yesterday on a victory speech I think some people would give him allowance to have fun with his dude comments. It didn't seem to get that much of a laugh.

However, today when he finally does become prime minister, once he goes to the palace and goes through the tradition of kissing hands with the queen, we expect him to give a speech and a speech not just to his party, not just to his colleagues and the party members but to the whole nation, who are very divided over Brexit.

Plenty of people have many concerns about this prime minister. So we'll have to see how statesmanlike that speech will be.

SOARES: Anna, you said the country is divided, its party is divided.

When it comes to those around him and the positions he'll be announcing today, is he going to try to unite the party more or go for a Brexit heavy cabinet?

STEWART: We're expecting a very Brexit heavy cabinet, a real change of the guard. And that's because he really wants the E.U. to take it very seriously that he will bring the U.K. out of the E.U. with or without a deal, do or die as he said, on October 31st. That threat he hopes will bring the E.U. on board.

With this cabinet we expect to see a big Brexit contingent and a more diverse cabinet, more women, more ethnic minorities represented. We expect to see some ministers who resigned under the last prime minister all being brought into the fold.

SOARES: Of course, Theresa May is working half day today. This is her last day as prime minister.

What will she be remembered by, Anna?

What's been her legacy, would you say?

STEWART: Unfortunately for Theresa May, I'm not sure history will remember her particular kindly because her whole career really has come down to Brexit. She's had such a successful career up to this point. But she kept promising to deliver Brexit.

Some say she was dealt --


STEWART: -- a bad hand.

But did she play it well?

Did she try to unite the party? Did she fail to get the E.U. on board?

Could she have been a harder negotiator?

She leaves not having succeeded and because Brexit sucked the political oxygen out of Westminster, she failed to deliver any other major policies as well. s3o Brexit is her legacy. She will be departing here fairly shortly to go for Parliament for prime minister question time. She will be grilled there and return here to make one final speech.

Will it be an emotional one like when she announced she would be resigning or has she at this stage got used to the idea?

Perhaps she will have a spring in her step. Now it's somebody else's problem.

SOARES: Absolutely. It depends on what Boris Johnson does. History won't judge her too badly. Thank you very much, Anna.

Right now I'm joined by Carole Walker.

What would you say the three main challenges for Boris Johnson?

CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: You heard what he sees as the three main challenges when he accepted the Conservative Party leadership yesterday, to deliver Brexit, unite the party, to defeat Jeremy Corbyn and the E on the end is to energize the party.

But I don't think he will be able to escape some of those pressing global issues, a growing crisis in the Gulf over relations with Iran, exactly how he approaches that.

And I think that his team will also want to try to show that they have got a wider agenda, that they can deliver some changes for the country, that they won't simply be sucked into the Brexit.


WALKER: During the course of his campaign to be party leader, we heard promises to increase funding on education, to introduce some form of insurance policy, to cover social care. We're hearing about measures to improve broadband around the country.

There have been a whole host of different policies that have been floated out, tax cuts; controversially at the beginning of the campaign he talked about tax cuts which might help those higher up the scale, then said it would be tax cuts at the lower end.

We're hearing about lot of predictions of a hit to the economy if there's a no deal Brexit. So there is a huge agenda. Overall I think he sees Brexit as the overriding priority. And I think he intends to show he's a different kind of leader. He's bringing in a new team with new energy and that he'll deliver not just on Brexit but on rest of the domestic agenda where Theresa May failed. SOARES: That speech around 4 o'clock will be important, that's the speech that everyone will be looking out for in terms of the detail. Yesterday he lacked a lot of detail, more hyperbole. Expecting more when it comes to not just Brexit but in fact, the plan, the big thinking when it comes to the country, the rest of the country.

WALKER: Yes. Yesterday felt like a bit of a stump speech, something that might have only been written about 10 minutes before.

SOARES: Perhaps it was.

WALKER: With classic jokes. Today as he enters Downing Street he'll need to show that he does appreciate the gravitas of the role he's adopting and the scale of the obstacles that confront him and he has some kind of vision and strategy to take the country through this, which isn't simply boundless optimism.

I think most people would agree that optimism and energy is a good thing in politics but may not be sufficient in themselves and I think people will be wanting to see how he thinks he'll deliver this.

The extraordinary contradiction in Boris Johnson is that although he's probably the most widely recognized politician in the country and probably the most widely recognized British politician around the world, he's still pretty much of an unknown quantity.

He certainly had checkered career in the foreign office but it is a huge leap for a man who is a former journalist who is about to take hold the reins of power.

SOARES: You and I touched on this earlier but didn't have time for it. We heard Donald Trump, President Trump comparing, you know, himself or Boris Johnson to him.

Is that a good thing?

WALKER: He talked about the Britain Trump, which, leaving aside the grammatical questions here --


WALKER: -- there are similarities. We have the hair, an unconventional politician, someone who is prepared to talk directly to people, who can reach out beyond a narrow band base.

But I think politically there are huge differences. Boris Johnson is somebody who is socially very liberal, who does want to see himself very much at the center of the Conservative Party. Nowhere near as right-wing or hardline as Donald Trump.

We know that he disagreed with Donald Trump, Trump, for example, pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal --


SOARES: We remember we heard him, calling him stupid. WALKER: -- absolutely -- pulling out of the global climate change agreements. When it comes to immigration, of course, Donald Trump's very hardline approach on immigration --


WALKER: -- although during the referendum campaign Boris Johnson did say it's important to control immigration. He's also talked about amnesty for immigrants who've been in the country for a while, for protecting the rights of E.U. citizens in the country.

So I think that, in policy terms, they have a pretty different approach and I think the difficulty for Boris Johnson is going to be how to forge that relationship, whether he may have some personal rapport.

I think you asked about the similarities. I think it is that readiness to be unconventional --


WALKER: -- to not allow themselves to be strapped in by the institutions and the traditions around them. But I think when it comes to policies, Boris Johnson will see things pretty differently from Donald Trump.

SOARES: For his cabinet, would they want to distance themselves from Trump, do you think, in term of the image, the comparisons?

That would hurt him here in the U.K., you think, Carole?

They need that deal, they want that trade deal. But putting that aside.

WALKER: Boris Johnson will want to forge a strong relationship with the president of the United States, to reinforce that special relationship and, yes, he would love to do a trade deal with the United States once the U.K. has left the E.U.

But he'll have to balance the need to have a cabinet that's going to be on board for some pretty rocky times, especially as we go through the Brexit negotiations.

Plus at the same time not seeming to simply promote hardline Brexiteers, because that will make it much harder for him to get votes through Parliament. He'll want to be seen to embrace those who voted remain in the E.U. referendum but now are behind the project of delivering Brexit.

SOARES: Carole Walker, fascinating. Thank you very much.

Now breaking news out of Puerto Rico. CNN has learned that governor Ricardo Rossello plans to announce his resignation following weeks of protests, according to a source familiar with the situation. On Sunday Rossello said he would not run for re-election but refused to step down and that really triggered new protests that continued throughout Monday.

He's come under heavy fire after offensive chat messages between him and his inner circle became public. Demonstrators have accused Rossello and his administration of corruption. We'll bring you more on this developing story as information becomes available.

We want to return now to our top story. When we come back, Boris Johnson inherits a Britain facing crisis on multiple fronts, among them this British flagged tanker seized by Iranian forces. We'll look at how Johnson's troubled history with Tehran may prove to be a stumbling block. Stay right here.





SOARES: You are watching CNN's continuing special coverage coming to you live from London. Boris Johnson is just hours away from becoming the next prime minister of the U.K. and this is a moment on Tuesday when he won his party's election to lead the governing Conservatives.

The leadership vote was triggered after Theresa May was forced into resigning after losing support of her cabinet, you'll remember. Many were fed up with her inability to secure a departure from the E.U.

Johnson said he'll leave the E.U. with or without a deal by October 31st deadline, do or die.

Iran has congratulated Boris Johnson on winning the race. He takes up the role at a time of increased tensions in the Gulf. CNN's Matthew Chance reports Mr. Johnson already has a checkered history when it comes to dealing with Iran.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the treacherous diplomatic waters into which Britain's new prime minister is set to plunge.

The escalating crisis with Iran and its seizure of a British flagged oil tanker to be one of Boris Johnson's most urgent (INAUDIBLE).

Already there's been a Twitter congratulations and a direct message from the inn foreign minister.

JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I think it is very important for Boris Johnson as he enters 10 Downing Street to understand that Iran does not seek confrontation. Iran wants to have normal relations based on mutual respect.

CHANCE (voice-over): But a sometimes clownish Boris Johnson has a checkered history for dealing with the Islamic Republic. In his gaffe-prone stint as British Foreign Secretary, he made damaging remarks about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British Iranian woman, sentenced to five years in an Iranian jail for spying.

She was trying to return home to London with her young daughter after visiting her family on holiday when she was arrested at Tehran Airport back in 2016.

Foreign minister Johnson mistakenly said she was in Iran teaching people journalism.


CHANCE (voice-over): He was then forced to apologize over concerns he could've caused her jail sentence to be prolonged.

JOHNSON: It was my mistake. I should have been clearer. I apologize for the distress. I apologize for the distress and anguish that has been caused to Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family.

CHANCE (voice-over): There are people at risk in the latest British crisis with Iran, too, namely the 23 crew members on board the Stena Impero detained under Iranian guard. Their fate, not just the tankers, may also be decided by how a prime minister Johnson deals with Iran when he takes office -- Matthew Chance, CNN, on the Gulf of Oman.


SOARES: For more I'm joined by Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House.

Let me get your thoughts, first of all, what you think how Boris Johnson will deal with the immediate crisis in the Gulf?

ROBIN NIBLETT, CHATHAM HOUSE: My sense it's not urgent-urgent in the sense if there were British citizens constantly being filmed as happened with some Navy personnel who were captured a couple of years ago, that would be a different question.

If it was British boat filled with -- one of the BP tankers almost taken a few weeks ago, it would be different. This is one that can afford to play out against Gibraltar.

SOARES: You would expect him to keep interest in the nuclear deal, the Iran nuclear deal, you think that's key, in line with Europe?

NIBLETT: I think the key thing for him is not --


NIBLETT: -- to find himself trapped by President Trump too early into making foreign policy beyond Brexit. He has no room for them, time of course. So in that President Trump may be using this movement for leverage, putting on pressure. But he also has to keep his party together. So it looks like he's flipping British foreign policy into one that is

pro-American and is much more existential but it will be very hard for him to keep his party together on priority one and two and three, which is Brexit.

SOARES: I've been asking my guests what they think the top three challenges for Boris Johnson when he takes over later on today around 4 o'clock or so as prime minister. What do you think his first priorities, his top three?

NIBLETT: His top three is the we know what he talks about, do or die.


SOARES: There's an E at the end, energize.


NIBLETT: -- energize, which is very Boris. Actually his big priority is picking the right cabinet. The signal he sends with whom he has chosen he can't afford to shift from him being the awkward squad to Theresa May to having his own awkward squad blocking his every move. Getting the right mix is essential.

SOARES: A mix of those who see Brexit, those who doesn't want Brexit or going full Brexit?

NIBLETT: There are the true Brexiteers. The more complicated element is appointments of people who have been more on the pragmatic side of the party, are in the main cabinet, who don't want to be tarnished with the no deal option.

SOARES: But who has the same vision.

NIBLETT: -- the U.K. leaving, they're not looking for a second referendum, they're not those people drifting over, some folks who might accept a second referendum. He has to get that balance just right.

SOARES: Who he picks is a lot about the mission, his vision for what he'll do.

NIBLETT: His vision but also the discipline of the party. If he looks like he's a polarizing factor within the Conservative Party, then people will think maybe he won't get Brexit done and B, unite the party and therefore deliver on defeating Jeremy Corbyn.

SOARES: That's number one. What do you think is number two?

NIBLETT: He's got to start negotiating today, tomorrow, right now. Very importantly, with this small window he's got with the existing commission --


NIBLETT: -- most importantly is the existing commission. It was easier for them to compromise and to throw things away, to say we'll sort out the mess and then when you take over, at least we'll have a relatively clean sheet.

There's a double interest for him and for the commission that's on its way out to use this magical two months to come up with --


SOARES: -- not very magical. You're quite more optimistic than I thought.

NIBLETT: You asked me what his priority.



SOARES: Number three, what would you say?

NIBLETT: Number three is to make sure that if he does have to go for an election which I personally think is most likely --

SOARES: How soon do you think?


NIBLETT: -- right before Christmas. I think he can survive until May if he hasn't delivered Brexit. If he hasn't delivered Brexit by October 31st, he'll be pushed to a general election. So the most important element there is the economy must not have backwards. So it may become the element of making sure he can inject some money into the British economy to see it through this turbulent period.

There can't afford to be a drop-off where he's -- where am I gone, a Boris Johnson prime ministership is going to be chaos for the future.

So he's got to keep the economy stable. That's a very dangerous word to use, stable.


NIBLETT: -- no crisis on that front. Yes, so I think keeping the economy steady is a priority.

SOARES: Fantastic. Robin, thanks very much. We'll see what he says.


SOARES: Thank you very much.

I want to return to breaking news for you out of Puerto Rico. CNN has learned that embattled governor Ricardo Rossello plans to announce his resignation today following weeks of protests. CNN's Leyla Santiago joining us from San Juan.

What are you hearing? How soon will this resignation come, do you think?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. So we have confirmed with a source that's familiar with the situation that he's expected to resign today. Now if you look at the local reports, he is expected to resign by midday today.

So we're looking at noon. They are also reporting he's already filmed some sort of message for the people for his departure.

Now when we asked the governor's office if that was the case, we were told, no, he has not filmed anything. But still a little bit of conflicting reports on that end. But let me set the scene for you in San Juan right now. There are still people --


SANTIAGO: -- in front of the governor's mansion.

Right now it has changed a little bit in tone. For days we've seen as mostly peaceful, sometimes violent protests have come together in front of the governor's mansion demanding his resignation. Now there's a little bit of a change in terms it's now it's a little more celebratory. They are cheering in hearing this news.

The question will be what happens next?

Because, remember, just about everybody around him has sort of dropped, they've all resigned, that includes the secretary of state who resigned and was also involved in those chats that were leaked last week. Those chats were the governor and his inner circle and they were, in many exchanges, insulting the people of Puerto Rico.

So the secretary of state has resigned. He is next in line if the governor resigns. But because he's not there, now it will fall on the secretary of justice. There will be an interesting dynamic if she becomes governor because there's a -- very publicly known that she does not necessarily get along with her party leadership.

So that will be an interesting dynamic if that's how that plays out. The thing about this is things are changing almost by the minute. So this is what we're hearing. That could change at any minute.

In the meantime, protesters are now celebrating and really they are celebrating with a lot of young people. I think it's interesting to note that a lot of young people have come to that front line, where guards are protecting the mansion.

And they've said, look, we're tired of the economic crisis, we're tired of the mismanagement of funds after Hurricane Maria and we're certainly tired of having a governor who must resign.

So for the protesters, the resignation, should that move forward, is a big win.

But the big question will be, what now? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go, guys.

SOARES: Yes, a big win for the protesters who have been out there for days on end as we are looking at these images. Of course, not just these offensive chats that put him in a situation but also accusations that Rossello's administration is corrupt. Leyla Santiago there with that breaking news.

Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello expected to resign later on today. We'll keep an eye on that breaking news new for you as soon as we get more developments.

Meanwhile we are drawing ever closer to welcome a new British prime minister. My colleague, Richard Quest, takes over next as we keep a close eye on the transition happening at 10 Downing Street. Don't go anywhere.





RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: Good day to you. This is CNN's special coverage. Britain awaits for its new prime minister Boris Johnson to take over.

I'm Richard Quest. I'm outside the Houses of Parliament. We'll have more on the transition of power that's taking place in Britain in just a moment.

We have breaking news that we're following from Puerto Rico, where CNN has learned that the governor, Ricardo Rossello, plans to announce his resignation today. It follows weeks of protests, according to a source familiar with a situation. On Sunday he said he would not run for re-election next year but refused to step down.

That triggered fresh protests, which continued on Monday, including his chief of staff resigning. Now the governor has come under heavy criticism after offensive chat messages between him and his inner circle became public. Demonstrators have accused his administration of corruption.

As this story develops and as more information becomes available, we'll give it to you.

So there are so many big stories. The one we're focusing on here is Boris Johnson, who officially today becomes the prime minister of the U.K. in probably less than two to three hours from now.

He was chosen as the Conservative Party leader yesterday by the membership of the Tories. By the way, that's around 0.3 percent of the British electorate. The first course of action is to pick his cabinet and that, of course

-- before that happens, the day moves in a particular way. The outgoing prime minister, Theresa May, goes to Parliament, where she will take her final session of PMQs as we call it, prime minister's questions.

Then she goes back to Downing Street, where she makes a statement outside of Downing Street. Then she goes to the palace, where she resigns as prime minister. The queen will invite Boris Johnson to take over.

Iain Dale is with me, author and publisher of "Total Politics" magazine.

Good to see you.

IAIN DALE, LBC RADIO PRESENTER: About 10 years out of date, Richard.


DALE: I'm no longer publisher of "Total Politics." But never mind.

QUEST: We shall recover swiftly and smoothly.

DALE: Can I just say something?

Theresa May goes the palace to resign. That's absolutely true. Boris Johnson, we automatically think he'll be invited. But Theresa May has to recommend to the queen that he should be invited. There's a little vague 5 percent possibility that she might say to the queen, actually, he can't command the majority of the Houses of Parliament.

QUEST: You're being a troublemaker.

DALE: I am. You like that.

QUEST: I do. But bearing in mind Theresa May has already tweeted that he'll be a great prime minister and will enjoy her total support --


DALE: OK, 15-0. You got me on that one.


QUEST: And it was satisfying.

But the point is, you are right, though. The queen will invite Boris, if he'll accept, kissing hands it's known as.

DALE: Indeed.

QUEST: I don't know if they actually do any kissing hands.

DALE: This is a debate that's gone on for a long time. I'm told not but you kind of like to think they would.

QUEST: At least make the gesture --


DALE: -- and rather than actually physically but it's the hand.

QUEST: But the point is that his majority, it's just about theoretical.

DALE: Yes, it really is. That's a problem on Brexit, not so much on other domestic issues. But there's an by-election next week. The Tories will lose to the Liberal Democrats.

QUEST: Why will they lose?


QUEST: Is it not possible that Boris factor comes into play here and they hold it?

DALE: Well, anything is possible in our politics nowadays. He used to be a Liberal Democrat way back when and the Conservative MP is being convicted of defrauding the taxpayer with his expenses.

That's not the most serious of offenses he's committed.


DALE: He's been found guilty or pleaded guilty and they reselected him as their candidate. So it's a bit of a death wish. I don't see any way they can win it. But it could be the case that they do.

QUEST: Then the cabinet. Priti Patel is the home secretary or --

DALE: I was the first to predict Priti Patel on Saturday evening. I got a tip that was likely the case. I find it difficult to believe because she had to resign as international aid secretary back in 2017 when she was found to be conducting her own foreign policy with Israeli politicians. It would be quite a comeback for her.

QUEST: Has never voted for the prime minister.

DALE: No. She's ideologically pure on that basis. It's thought that the current home secretary could be moved to chancellor, which is a key appointment. That would be quite something; in the top three jobs, foreign secretary, home secretary and chancellor, to have two British Asians in those positions. That's never happened before. Of course, some of his opponents call Boris Johnson a racist.

Well, if you're an out and out racist, you don't appoint two nonwhite people to two of your top three positions.

QUEST: His supporters say he's absolutely colorblind.

DALE: I think he is, too. He's been mayor of London for eight years. He got re-elected. But they try to portray him as an extremist alt- right populist.

QUEST: As an upper class toff.

DALE: Well, he is an upper class toff. But they want to portray him as a British Trump because Trump's comments yesterday play into that because he described him as a British Trump.

QUEST: Let's talk about that.

At what point does association cause damage to him?

Theresa May got absolutely lambasted for that first visit to Donald Trump and then all the hand holding and Donald Trump really did her over later on.

DALE: And he's done it several times.

QUEST: Including the last month. But Boris Johnson must be aware that Trump could be an Achilles heel.

DALE: I think with Boris, people factor in Trump. They know Boris Johnson has got to get a trade deal. They think that Trump actually might do a better deal with Boris than he might have done with Theresa May, may do it more quickly if we come out with a no deal Brexit. So I don't think there will much damage domestically.

QUEST: It's going to be -- Boris Johnson will be the queen's 14th prime minister.

DALE: Quite something.

QUEST: It really is when you think from Churchill right through Thatcher, Blair and May.

At this early stage, where will he fit in, in terms of the greats?

Will he be an Alex Mayhew (ph), who has been forgotten, or a Thatcher who stands out as sort of one of the strong ones?

DALE: I've taken the view he'll either be a brilliant prime minister or a terrible prime minister. He could be the shortest serving prime minister. He has got to last until November 19th.

If he doesn't take us out of the E.U. after October 31st, the Tory Party will turn on him because they are vicious when they think somebody has failed.

QUEST: Before we get to the rathers, tell me why he has got to last until November.

DALE: Because the previous shortest serving prime minister was George Canning.


QUEST: Good to see you. DALE: Good to see you.

QUEST: Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us from Number 10 Downing Street, the locus of the action today.

It's going to be exciting. Let's not get involved in the politics and the minutiae for the moment. It is going to be one of those moments of drama where you have outgoing tears, incoming jubilation.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, when Theresa May gave her resignation speech here, she got emotional towards the end of it. She allowed that herself. She was panned in the newspapers and the media here for that. So I think she will be a little more stoic when she leaves. She's had time to prepare. She's not going to want that as her epitaph when she leaves.

Yes, there will be consternation, concern, wonderment and Boris Johnson will arrive with all that --


ROBERTSON: -- energy, that pizzazz, that inspiration that's going to cost him and his own sort of energy reserves a huge amount because when you have to energize a huge number of people and some who may not be disposed to receiving your energy and wisdom, that's going to be draining.

But he will arrive here full of that verve that we saw him with yesterday. So the emotion when he arrives here will be less tears. We're not expecting much entertainment, dialing back on the dude speech yesterday, getting more serious. That's the expectation here.

But when he comes in, for so many people in the media, looking for that ideal picture that tells us Boris Johnson has arrived, but it's the atmosphere that changes around Downing Street. That's what everyone tells us, the atmosphere, the change that he brings there.

Perhaps fewer quiet days here on Downing Street and more days with journalists camped outside of 10 Downing Street to find out what Boris Johnson has done and to find out the consequences.

QUEST: So Nic, it sounds very noisy in Downing Street, helicopters and like, and there must be, obviously, a very large presence there.

When you look at it, do you feel the weight of sort of history?

You look at the black door, the Number 10 door. You think of all of those who have gone in before, those who have entered in glory and left in defeat.

ROBERTSON: You know, when I talk to people who are actually involved behind the doors in this change, they are just in full gear, full preparation mode. They are working really hard. They are trying to make the transition smooth. There's a huge amount of moving parts.

I think if you're actually grassroots involved in the process itself, you're just hugely focused on making sure the process goes ahead without hiccup. When you're standing outside here, absolutely there's a sense of a moment.

But we've sort of known this moment was coming. There's an inevitability in a way of Boris Johnson arriving here, we know it's been in the air for some time. It's become clear. We've all been talking about it.

Now in a way we're waiting to see it happen. So I think there's that air of expectation.

But I think the bigger air of expectation is what happens on day one, tomorrow?

Day two, day three, day four?

Because that's the greater moment. No one really knows the real Boris Johnson, the real policies. We know the rhetoric, know the way he likes to lift people. But we don't know how he'll direct people. He's known as good at delegating. This is a massive task of delegation.

QUEST: Nic, I'm holding up a copy of "The Sun" newspaper. It's a picture of Boris yesterday doing a salute and a, "Hey, Dude," that sort of thing, sort of Captain Mainwaring, "Dad's Army," jokey look.

Is today a day on Downing Street, is it a day for gravitas, for seriousness, for looking and behaving like the prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

ROBERTSON: Look, there's an inherent Borisness in Boris. He is spontaneous. When I looked at that picture, it was hugely powerful. I talked to the photographer earlier today and they are looking for another snap like that.

That picture told me two things. Here's a man who doesn't quite know what he's doing, giving the thumbs up and saluting at the same time. You're trying to do two things at the same time here. This man is in a hurry. He's doing two things at the same time.

That's what he's used to doing. Listen to the pace of his speech yesterday. It was all speed, speed, speed. He wants to do a lot. He wants to do it in a hurry. He knows the clock is ticking. He knows that is how he'll be judged.

But yes, we're told to expect seriousness, the serious issues he'll talk about here, you know, the issues of what it would actually to take him to get reelected, health care, education. Those are expected to be the substance. But do expect him to be in a hurry. Do expect the cadence and the speed and to be told to dial it back a little bit. But this really is a man in a hurry.

So when I looked at that picture in "The Sun" I chose not to see confusion, trying to two things at the same time but a man trying to get two things done at the same time. I think that's what he wants to deliver. Let's see if the confusion takes over. QUEST: Nic, thank you. We'll be back with you because you're at the scene of the crime, so to speak, 10 Downing Street.


QUEST: The former special counsel Robert Mueller is to be questioned about the Russian investigation by Congress. How the Republicans are bracing for the impact when we come back.




QUEST: Welcome back, outside the U.K. house of Parliament counting down the hours until Boris Johnson takes power as the U.K.'s prime minister. He says he's ready to hit the ground running.

He's already put out a statement. He's promised diversity in his new cabinet. He's calling it a cabinet for modern Britain. It will include a record number of ethnic minority politicians and more women as full cabinet members. The transition of power in the U.K. continues.

There are numerous events and we will be following them in the hours ahead.

There's more news we must bring to your attention, the breaking news from Puerto Rico where CNN learned that the governor Ricardo Rossello plans to announce his resignation today. It's been weeks of protests over the leaked messages and, according to a source familiar with the situation, said he's off.

On Sunday, Rossello said he would not run for re-election but refused to step down. His chief of staff stepped down. All in all, it's triggered new protests that continued throughout Monday.

Rossello is under fire when offensive chat messages between him and his inner circle became public. The demonstrators have also accused him of corruption. We'll follow the story as more information becomes available.

And the transition of power in the United Kingdom, another huge story we're following. The special counsel, Robert Mueller will be on Capitol Hill in just a few hours. It's going to be quite simply one of the most anticipated hearings in decades.

He's appearing before the U.S. House Judiciary and the Intelligence Committees. He's doing so pretty much against his will. He didn't want to. He made it clear he didn't. But they subpoenaed him.

So they've come to some sort of deal. It's about his findings from the Russian investigation. Controversy is brewing. Mueller has requested his deputy be sworn in as well to serve as an adviser. Whether someone sits with him or not, it's a make-or-break moment for

the Democrats. They need this to be the moment. Some are hoping that the hearings can convince skeptics to impeach President Trump. Others believe nothing he says makes a difference.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): It won't reshape my dynamic. I heard all I need to hear from Mueller. I read the report. I accept the findings. I don't think it will change public opinion. Having been involved in the Clinton hearings, if the public's not with you, you'll pay a price. And I don't think anything Mueller can say will --


GRAHAM: -- change anybody's mind.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Why didn't you want to bring him in before your committee to ask the questions?

GRAHAM: I heard all I need to hear.


QUEST: While Congress and Robert Mueller prepare for these hearings, President Trump is ramping up his own attacks on four Democratic congresswomen. Kaitlan Collins reports from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eve of Robert Mueller's Capitol Hill testimony...

TRUMP: How about this whole witch hunt?

COLLINS (voice-over): -- the White House is bracing for impact.

TRUMP: First of all, it is very bad for our country.

COLLINS (voice-over): Tonight, sources telling CNN, President Trump has spent the last several days discussing Mueller's upcoming appearance and he seems more irritated than anxious than he is to watch the man who has loomed over his presidency take center stage.

TRUMP: I saw Mueller is to testify tomorrow. Yes. How many times? Two and a half years --

COLLINS (voice-over): Trump has been quizzing people about what to expect while complaining that Democrats will never let the investigation go.

TRUMP: They think this is helping them.

COLLINS (voice-over): His Republican allies are assuring him, it won't change a thing.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I've heard all I need to hear from Mueller.

COLLINS (voice-over): But even if Mueller reveals nothing new, sources say Trump wants to expose the investigation as the hoax he believes it is.

TRUMP: Actually, it started practically from the time I came down on the escalator.

COLLINS (voice-over): Trump tweeting that Republicans should turn the tables by asking why were all of Clinton's people given immunity and why were the text messages of Peter S. and his lover, Lisa Page, deleted or destroyed right after they left Mueller and after we requested them?

TRUMP: I'm not going to be watching -- probably -- maybe I'll see a little bit of it.

COLLINS (voice-over): And while Mueller will be front and center in front of the cameras, Trump's schedule is currently wide open.

The focus on Mueller in Washington may help a budget deal that's facing blowback from fiscal conservatives, pass through Congress and win the president's signature. Congressional leaders and White House officials are working overtime to sell the deal that raises spending levels by $320 billion over the next two years.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: It is a pretty good deal under the circumstances. That is the way I would put it.

COLLINS (voice-over): And with an eye on 2020, the president is ramping up his attacks on four Democratic freshman congresswomen.

TRUMP: This Tlaib, Tlaib -- from Michigan, right? That is a great state. We won Michigan.

COLLINS (voice-over): Telling a group of young conservatives Tuesday, Rashida Tlaib is a lunatic after a video of her shouting at a Trump event in 2016 resurfaces.

TRUMP: She's vicious. She's like a crazed lunatic. She's screaming.

COLLINS (voice-over): But Trump making clear the attacks are part of a bigger political strategy.

TRUMP: Socialism is not as easy to beat as you think.

COLLINS: Now the president is tweeting about those last-minute changes from Robert Mueller's team, wanting his deputy to be sworn in at this hearing.

The president said that he believes that would be allowing a never Trumper attorney to help Robert Mueller with his testimony, which he calls as a disgrace to the system and said that it's something that's never been heard of before and should not be allowed, giving a little bit more insight into just how frustrated the president is ahead of that upcoming testimony -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House. (END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: South Korea says Russia is now contradicting an earlier apology for a mid-air confrontation off the South Korean coast. According to the Blue House, Russia sent an official letter denying it violated South Korean airspace. That letter contradicted an earlier in person apology from a Russian military official in Seoul. It said Moscow is insisting South Korean pilots disrupted the flight path of the Russian military aircraft.

CNN's Steven Jiang joins me now from Beijing.

Why it is proving so difficult just to establish a simple fact, were these planes in South Korea or Japanese airspace?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Well, Richard, this is an incredibly complicated saga because it involves so many different parties. As you were saying, the latest twist is that letter South Koreans have received from the Russians.

And basically the Russians reiterated what they said publicly on Tuesday, denying they had intruded on South Korean airspace and instead blaming the South Koreans for, you know, acting unprofessionally by maneuvering mid-air, interrupting the Russian aircraft's flight path and firing these warning shots.

But just hours earlier South Korean officials claimed a Russian military attache in Seoul acknowledged a Russian A-50 command and control aircraft may indeed have entered South Korean airspace but unintentionally because of a mechanical problem.

So this back and forth doesn't clarify the situation, not to mention the parties involved, such as China, but a lot of historical baggage as well as geopolitical disputes involved in --


JIANG: -- this incident so we're probably not seeing the end of it just yet.

QUEST: All right. So this is going to continue and rumble on.

JIANG: That's right.

Earlier today I asked the Chinese defense ministry spokesman about this incident and they, for the first time, acknowledged that Russia and Chinese air forces conducted a joint air patrol for the first time in this region.

But he said none of the four aircraft involved in their operation intruded on anyone's airspace and emphasized their operation was part of a long planned routine exercise and didn't target any third parties.

So he was trying to allay fears that the ever closer Chinese-Russian military cooperation would test the other countries in the region, including the United States, which, of course, South Korea and Japan are allies with.

So really it involves not just four countries but five and the U.S., of course, has said they --


JIANG: -- are further complicating the picture.

QUEST: Thank you very much, Steven.

This is CNN. More coverage in just a moment.




QUEST: We're now getting into the busy part of the day, Number 10 Downing Street. We're expecting the prime minister, Theresa May, the car is already there. We're expecting her to leave shortly, when she will go off to the Houses of Parliament, then she leaves, resigns and gone.

New prime minister Boris Johnson arrives. It's all happening over the next few hours. Make sure you stay with us because the news never stops. Neither do we. This is CNN.