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Kim Jong-un Will Send His Sister to Represent North Korea at Olympics; Rob Porter Resigns Over Domestic Violence Allegations; Republicans Use New Tactics to Undermine Mueller Investigation. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired February 7, 2018 - 15:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR, CNN: North Korea's Kim Jong-un is sending a high-profile woman to help lead his nation's Olympic delegation in rival South Korea. This mystery woman, his sister, 30-year-old Kim Yo-jong, it will be the first time any member of the Kim Dynasty has actually set foot on South Korean soil.

So, let's talk it over with Gordon Chang. He is the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On The World," and I am just so entirely fascinated about this and have a gazillion questions for you. First and foremost, what do we even know about the sister?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR: Well, know that she's probably the youngest of Kim Jong-il's children. But we don't even really know that because we don't know the number.

BALDWIN: Of siblings? We don't even know?

CHANG: We don't know. But the one thing that most Korea watchers think she is the most capable of Kim Jong-il's children. Which means she would be the absolute ruler of North Korea right now if she weren't a woman because it's a very male-dominated society.

And so, therefore, that puts her out of the running. But because it puts her out of the running, it also means she's not competition for her brother, Kim Jong-un, who is actually in charge. And that means she's become extremely influential.

Even, for instance, the number two in the regime, (Chorong-hye) -- he is not that important because Kim Jong-un just tells him what to do. He doesn't do that to his sister. He actually listens to his sister.

BALDWIN: So, with the sister, as we said, the first time someone in the family has set foot on South Korean soil, are they worried about her interfacing with South Koreans? Would there be any danger? Would they want to keep her, I don't know, in a private home instead of staying in some big hotel?

CHANG: Yes, I think both the South Koreans and North Koreans think the same way. They want to control all interactions that she has. You know, she could be talking to people like Moon Jae-in, the President of South Korea, but this is going to be under some very, very defined circumstances and they certainly don't want her talking to ordinary South Koreans or to people who just go to the Olympics. So, this will be one of the most closely choreographed items at the Olympics.

BALDWIN: It's possible. I was asking you in commercial break and we know that Vice President Pence, right, will be over there and for the opening ceremony. You could have -- you know, we don't know the seating chart, but you could have this sister and the US Vice President sitting certainly under the same roof.

CHANG: Yes, well, you know, this is important because Mike Pence, the Vice President, said, "Look, we're not ruling out discussions with North Korea while he's at the Olympics." Now, he's not trying to set them up. But you know, Moon Jae-in, who does want to see a dialogue between North Korea and the US could very well try to arrange something, you know, make it look accidental.

You know, these -- all sorts of possibilities that can occur. You know, this is South Korea, after all. Anything can happen, especially at a very volatile time like this.

And if Pence does meet Kim Jong-il -- Kim-Jo-yong, it going to be one of the biggest stories on the Korean peninsula this year.

BALDWIN: And just when I was in South Korea a couple of months ago, I was so fascinated at the notion of South Koreans -- the actual -- even Korean language -- someone explained it to me, if she started talking to someone in South Korea, it's almost like someone like us talking to someone from the 1950s.

We speak the same language but there's a barrier.

CHANG: It's even more different than that because what's happened is you have two Koreas, of course they sit side by side, but they've had very different developments since 1948.

And so, people, the dialects are different. You know, the word usage is different. There are sort of very difficult communications problems and we're seeing this now with the woman's ice hockey team which is fielded by both North Korea and South Korea, it's a joint team.

First time the Koreas have fielded a joint team while they're having problems talking to each other. So, this is going to be -- you know, this is one of the most fascinating things.

Yes, they're all Koreans but they're two very different societies.

BALDWIN: So noteworthy. Gordon Chang, thank you so much. We're watch this Olympics very closely. Appreciate you.

CHANG: Thanks.

BALDWIN: We're going to get you back now to our Breaking News out of the White House. Senior aide to President Trump up and resigning after two ex-wives have gone public with accusations of domestic abuse.

He is denying this, by the way. But just in, was the White House aware of the allegations? A live report on that is next.

More breaking news out of the White House now on this Senior aide of President Trump who has just resigned. Rob Porter is his name. Trump's White House staff secretary. He has been accused of domestic abuse by two of his ex-wives. He has vehemently denied these allegations, but is choosing to step down nevertheless.

White Hour reporter, Kaitlan Collins is up with me now and so you have new details, Kaitlin about when the White House learned of these ex- wife allegations.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, that's right, Brooke. These allegations have only come out in the media in the last 24 to 48 hours or so. But I am told by someone inside the White House that staffers inside and officials were generally aware of these allegations, the nature of these allegations made against Rob Porter for months now, but they did not know, quote, "All the gory details," this person tells me that have surfaced in these recent media reports.

Now, that would be of interest to people in the White House, of course, because not only of the nature of these allegations, but also in regards to Porter's security clearance because in his role as Staff Secretary, it's certainly not a role that is well known to most people outside of the White House and this complex, but that was a role that required Porter to be in touch with a lot of the documents that are coming in and out of the Oval Office, not only the Executive Orders, but once John Kelly became Chief of Staff, Porter's role really grew larger and began to encompass more things, not only briefing clips and whatnot that were brought to the President, but someone with a security clearance that would have to deal with the nature of those things, the security of those things here, Brooke.

But right now, we're told that staffers inside the White House were generally aware about these allegations that had been made against Porter.

BALDWIN: All right, Kaitlan, thank you. Again, he is denying it, but he is resigning.

More news on the Russia investigation. The top Democrat and the House Intelligence Committee is saying that they -- they may have to enforce subpoenas to be able to talk to former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and the White House former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. We'll explain what happens next.

More breaking news we're following today. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says it is time to subpoena former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski and to enforce the subpoena of the former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

I am talking about Congressman Adam Schiff, he wants to compel both of these men to testify in this House Intel investigation into Russian election meddling. Lewandowski reportedly informing Schiff that he will not voluntarily

return to appear before his Committee. So, lets it all over with CNN legal analyst, Page Pate. He is also a criminal defense and constitutional 2attorney. Page Pate, nice to see you.

PAGE PATE, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Good to see you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So, just your reaction to Bannon trying to save what he has to say for Mueller and Schiff basically saying, "You know, not so fast." What happens if Bannon and Lewandowski resist?

PATE: Well, that's a great question because we're now seeing the Congressional investigations play out in many ways, the way we've seen some of the Special Counsel's investigation play out because subpoenas will now be served and presumably enforced on these witnesses if they do not come to terms and voluntarily appear in front of these committees and produce whatever documents are being requested.

Now, once the subpoena is served, the lawyers for Bannon, they can file an objection to that and it would eventually go to court for a resolution, as to whether or not they actually have to appear and provide whatever documents are being requested.

BALDWIN: Okay. That's those two guys. Let's talk about the President because the latest, you know, sort of strand on the story of will he, won't he talk to, you know, Bob Mueller or Mueller's team, the Special Counsel when they ask, they haven't yet. You know, his lawyers are trying to avoid that potentially.

But to me, what's being overlooked here is the rationale to why Trump wants to talk to him from our reporting, Page, it's because the President thinks he is a master at these sorts of things, because of his experience with lawsuits and the fact that he has been in so many depositions.

PATE: Brooke, I have represented many people, high-level executives, political figures, never the President, but many people who were targets of a criminal investigation or a subject of a criminal investigation and they think if they just had the chance, they could go in there and explain it all to the investigators.

They could talk themselves out of being charged. That makes absolutely no sense especially in a case like this. This is not the beginning of the investigation where the Special Counsel's office is simply trying to gather facts. They already have a lot of facts.

The purpose for interviewing the President is to confront him with those facts. The missing link here in an obstruction investigation is the intent of the President and the only way the Special Counsel's office really gets to that intent is to interview the President.

So, there's absolutely no legal reason for doing it. Any lawyer worth his salt or her salt would never let the President go into an interview like that.

BALDWDIN: So, you talked about all your different kinds of clients who thought that they could go in and talk themselves out of it, and in this case we're talking about the President and what do you think it is? Is it hubris?

PATE: I think it is. Absolutely. Because what are you going to do? Convince the Special Counsel's office that they're wrong about whatever conclusions they've made? We don't know what conclusions they've made but they have absolutely reviewed a lot of evidence. They know things the President presumably does not know about what other witnesses like Michael Flynn may have said during his cooperation with the Special Counsel.

So, you don't go into an interview and think you can have a man to man showdown when you don't know what the other side has. There's just a no-win scenario here for the President by going into a meeting like that.

BALDWIN: Okay, let me play one piece of sound. This is from Congressman Trey Gowdy. He is blaming the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for what he sees as Bob Mueller's overreach.


HAROLD WATSON "TREY" GOWDY III, US REPRESENTATIVE FOR SOUTH CAROLINA, REPUBLICAN: I fear that jurisdiction may wander a bit. I think it already has. It has already wandered a little bit, but I would not blame Bob Mueller. I would blame whoever drafted the jurisdiction and the Charter that empowered him.

And if you look at it, it says, "Matters that may arise from the investigation." What in the heck does that mean? I mean, is that a bank robbery in Topeka, Kansas?

MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: And that language came from Rod Rosenstein?

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am.


BALDWIN: So, what's the root of the message there, Page. Is that just again another example of trying to get out ahead and weaken the Mueller investigation?

PATE: I think so, Brooke. Because now, if there is an obstruction charge or a money laundering charge or something that arises out of the investigation, but is not directly related to the Russia part of the investigation, then you may have Trump and some of his supporters in the White House and in Congress saying, "Wait a minute. This was something the Special Counsel was not even supposed to look at," and because his direction was so poorly drafted and vague, he was able to, as Representative Gowdy said, "Wander into these areas."

But, Brooke, that's necessary for an investigation like this. We don't know what evidence the Special Counsel is going to uncover during the investigation until the investigation is over. So, you have to give the Special Counsel some leeway to pursue those leads and there's always a check, always a check by Deputy Attorney General who can say, "No. Don't go there."

BALDWIN: Page Pate, thank you so much.

PATE: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, a sex scandal that has now turned into an ethics investigation. Have you heard about this Nashville mayor's story? She is accused of using her power to get her lover's daughter a job with the city. We have that scoop for you coming up.

A special committee is being organized to investigate the mayor of Nashville, Tennessee. This is happening about a week after Mayor Megan Barry admitted to having an affair with the head of her security detail. Their relationship has raised all kinds of ethics questions over whether she used taxpayer money for their travel expenses or for food.

Also, under scrutiny here, whether the mayor used her power to get her lover's daughter a job in the city's legal department. Ryan Nobles is on this one for us today. Ryan? Tell me more.

RYAN NOBLES, CORRESPONDENT, CINN: Yes, well, Brooke, at this point, Mayor Megan Barry has promised her constituents, she said, she isn't going anywhere. She plans to remain in her post despite the increasing pressure being put on her in the wake of that admission that she had an extra-marital affair with the head of her security detail.

Now, part of that pressure comes from that new special committee that you talked about. That was established by the Nashville's metro council last night. Now, the resolution to form the committee passed overwhelmingly.

The committee is going to be made up of Council members that will investigate over whether Mayor Barry misused taxpayer funds while engaging in this affair and you've talked about some of those accusations. There have been questions about various trips that the mayor took while the man she was having an affair with, Sergeant Rob Forrest, was also on the trip.

Now, Barry's spokesperson released a lengthy statement last night outlining each trip in question and then detailing what was paid for by taxpayers and what was paid for personally by the mayor.

Now, in addition to her travel schedule, the hiring of Sergeant Forrest's daughter to a job in the city's legal department is also raising some questions. Now, Barry does admit that she personally recommended Macy Amos for the job, but the head of the National Department of Law, John Cooper said in a statement that several other people recommended her as well.

He also said that it is his decision to make and that she was qualified and the department is completely independent from the mayor's office.

Now, in addition to this Special Committee, the Attorney General's office is looking into this, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations are all looking into the mayor's conduct, but there are some signs, Brooke, literally that she still has support in Nashville.

Two billboards popped up on busy national highways this week that said simply, "We love our mayor." And as if the scandal wasn't enough, the mayor and her family are still recovering from the tragic death of her 22-year-old son, Max of an apparent drug overdose. She's used this as a reason to push for funding for opioid research and dealing with that problem across the country, Brooke.

She has also said she hopes to repair her marriage. So, a lot on Mayor Barry's plate right now.

BALDWIN: Ryan Nobles, thank you very much. And thank you for being with me. I am Brooke Baldwin. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts now.