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Trump: Senator Tester Should Resign for Smearing Dr. Jackson; Russia Investigation; Plans for U.S.-North Korea Summit; Judge Delays Stormy Daniels' Lawsuit for 90 Days. Aired 11a-12n ET

Aired April 28, 2018 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:16] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and thank you for joining me. I'm Ryan Nobles, filling in today for Fredricka Whitfield.

And as the President prepares for a reelection rally tonight in Michigan, he is fiercely defending his failed Veterans Affairs secretary pick, Dr. Ronny Jackson and calling on the Democratic senator who released the allegations against Jackson to resign. Some staffers say the White House medical unit under Dr. Jackson was a grab-and-go clinic where they could pick up prescriptions drugs without being examined by a doctor.

And a memo released by Democrats is an uncorroborated laundry list of other allegations against Jackson including drinking on the job and crashing a government vehicle after a party and overseeing a hostile work environment.

Now, the White House says it has documents exonerating Jackson from some allegations. And the President weighed in this morning on Twitter saying, quote, "Allegations made by Senator Jon Tester against Admiral Dr. Ron Jackson are proving false. The Secret Service is unable to confirm, in fact they deny, any of the phony Democrat charges which have absolutely devastated the wonderful Jackson family. Tester should resign. The great people of Montana will not stand for this kind of slander when talking of a great human being. Admiral Jackson is the kind of man that those in Montana would respect and admire. And now, for no reason whatsoever, his reputation has been shattered. Not fair, Tester."

CNN's Abby Phillip joins us now. She's live at the White House. Abby -- give us some background on these new White House documents that the President is referring to.


There's a lot here. The President has been really going after Jon Tester for a few days now because he believes that Ronny Jackson has been unfairly vilified in some of these incidents.

And we should emphasize here that these are allegations, but allegations that have been brought forward by current and former colleagues of Jackson's here at the White House medical unit, who spoke not only to CNN, but also to other media outlets and also to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

And in some of these allegations, Jackson is accused of, in one case, being intoxicated and banging so loudly on the door of a female employee during a foreign trip under President Obama that, according to a source who spoke to CNN, the Secret Service had to intervene.

But the Secret Service is denying that they intervened in that particular incident and that's one of the incidents that President Trump was referring to in that tweet.

In another incident, there is -- there's an allegation in Senator Tester's document that he released this week that Ronny Jackson had crashed a government vehicle while intoxicated as well. And again, the White House yesterday released some documents showing that between 2013 and 2014, there were no records that Jackson had crashed a government vehicle while intoxicated.

There were three incidents that seemed to be traffic incidents involving Jackson. None of them appeared to involve alcohol.

And finally, there's the question of prescription drugs and how he handled them while here as the White House doctor. These allegations, according to his current and former colleagues, they were just too freely distributed, pain medications, sleeping medications.

There are some records at the White House medical unit in the last two-and-a-half years were audited for their proper storage of prescription drugs and they found no problems. But there's no information that we have so far about whether or not these medications were properly prescribed.

So, it's a bit of a mixed bag here. But, again, one of the big problems for Senate Republicans and Democrats about Ronny Jackson was that the White House didn't appear to have investigated any of these things before putting his nomination forward.

And now the White House officials say that Jackson is back here in the medical unit, but he is not, at the moment, serving as the President's personal physician. It's unclear how long that's going to continue, or whether that change is permanent -- Ryan.

NOBLES: Ok. Abby Phillip, live at the White House. And we're wondering now if this is about defending Ronny Jackson or attacking Jon Tester ahead of the 2018 midterms. All right. Thank you -- Abby.

Meanwhile the President is also talking about the findings from the House Intel Committee's investigation into Russia election meddling. The President tweeting out quote, "House Intelligence Committee rules there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as I've been saying all along. It is all a big hoax by the Democrats based on payments (ph) and lies. There should never have been a special counsel appointed. Witch hunt," one of his favorite terms.

He goes on to say Democrats on the committee have put out a dissenting report, accusing Republicans of not conducting a real investigation. And at the same time that that was happening, we learned that the Russian lawyer, who was a key player at the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower was much more than that.


[11:05:10] NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN LAWYER (Speaking in Russian)


NOBLES: All right. I want to bring in our political panel now to discuss this. Michael Zeldin is a CNN legal analyst, a former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the Justice Department; Shan Wu is a former lawyer for Rick Gates and a CNN legal analyst; and Jeremy Herb is a CNN politics reporter.

Michael -- let's start with you. And I want to ask you about this Russian lawyer. How does her revelation and this e-mail exchange, you know -- what does this state in general about the investigation?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it says that she had close ties to Yury Chaika, the prosecutor general of Russia. And that when she came to the June 9th Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr., Manafort and Kushner she was essentially bringing information that was official government-related information.

If you look back at the e-mail chain between Ron Goldstone and Don Jr. on June 3rd before the June 9th meeting was set up, he writes him and says the prosecutor general has important information, derogatory of Hillary Clinton and helpful to the Trump campaign and we would like to meet about it.

So he says that -- we don't have evidence of that. Now we seem to have corroboration of that e-mail, that this June 9th meeting was an orchestrated meeting between Russian officials or officials acting at the behest of Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

So, that's something that Mueller has to look at to see whether there was coordination in an illegal way, in violation of campaign finance laws or U.S. conspiracy laws.

NOBLES: Right. And Sean -- you know, does this move the Mueller investigation forward at all? And what if nothing was revealed in these meetings, the fact that there was intent there, is that the problem?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYSTI: That is the problem. And of course, the question is, what did the Trump folks know about the meeting? It certainly does open up a new area that Mueller absolutely has to follow up on in this instance.

NOBLES: All right. So, Jeremy -- let's talk about it from the House Intelligence perspective. Now, the report says there were inappropriate meetings but nothing came of them. So, it's all about efforts here to create a back channel of communication between the Trump campaign -- perhaps officials that are in some way, shape or form connected to the Russian government.

I mean what are Democrats trying to zero in on in terms of their investigation, and are they running into road blocks with their Republican counterparts?

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes. I think what we saw yesterday was that, you know, Democrats and Republicans are taking these same set of facts, this Trump Tower meeting happened. There were meetings -- like Eric Prince in the Seychelles.

And Republican say, you know, this was not the smartest thing to do, but it's not collusion. Now Democrats say, of course this is collusion and we have to figure out now if there's criminality.

The Republican report yesterday -- that is the conclusion of their effort on the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats say they're going to keep investigating. They brought in Cambridge Analytica whistleblower this week and Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee says he's going to continue to bring in witnesses.

The challenge is going to be -- they don't have subpoena power --

NOBLES: Right.

HERB: -- and so it's going to be -- the only people they're going to be able to talk to are people who want to come in to them. And so that obviously changes if the House flips next year but until November, it's only going to be kind of friendly witnesses.

NOBLES: And does it also open the door for Republicans to cast aspersions on any of these interviews that take place if they're not willing parties to it?

HERB: Yes, and Republicans aren't participating as far as saw. Wylie -- the whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica -- he met with Judiciary Democrats and with Intelligence Democrats. Republicans said we're not taking any part of this.

They're standing by the report. They say they thoroughly investigated this a year -- for more than a year -- and they say, you know, that they didn't find conclusion -- collusion, excuse me.

But what we're going to have to see now is what, you know, Mueller does; what the Senate Intelligence Committee does -- if those conclusions actually stand up to the test of time.

NOBLES: Right. And Michael -- that is a big point here, right? There's the investigations that are going on, on the Hill. They're almost completely separate to what Robert Mueller is doing, right?

ZELDIN: Exactly. They are a political activity and his is a law enforcement activity. And there's a big difference in terms of what you need to prove in one forum versus another forum and what evidence you want to acquire to make that level of proof.

And what's interesting here is that in the Republican report, as you point out properly, they said these were inappropriate meetings but not illegal meetings. Of course, that report is written before we get the revelations about the Russian attorney meeting with the Trump Tower folks and the emissary of the Russian government. NOBLES: Right.

ZELDIN: That might tilt from being inappropriate to illegal. But they've already completed their report. So they're not going to receive this new evidence and figure out how that factors in to the conclusion.

[11:09:56] It's an ironic thing that they found inappropriate that Comey said about Hillary Clinton, that her activity was inappropriate but not illegal. But here they are, mimicking the exact same language.

NOBLES: Exactly.

WU: If I may on that --


WU: -- such a rush to judgment sort of on the Russia issue for them because as someone who has been in that probe, I can't talk about confidential issues but I can tell you that it takes a long time to digest all that information.

NOBLES: Right.

WU: And it's just really quite phenomenal, the speed at which they have reached this conclusion.

NOBLES: Yes. And Shan -- I also want to follow up on that because tor a long time the Trump team has said that that Trump Tower meeting took place. Nothing happened after that. Nothing was revealed. We didn't learn anything.

But now we've learned at least two of the players in that meeting attempted to contact the campaign afterwards and even after the President was elected. Could that be a damning piece of information for the Trump team?

WU: I think it can be. And again the problem is for some reason their insistence that those sorts of contacts weren't taking place. First of all it's terribly naive on their part to have had that kind of contact without disclosing it and it really defies comprehension that they would cover it up later.

NOBLES: And Jeremy -- just one quick point before we wrap up here. I mean is there any hope that the House Intelligence Committee, in particular, can release some sort of conclusion that both sides would agree upon that won't be beneath the shadow of politics?

HERB: It doesn't look like it. You know, we've seen over the past year this committee has just really devolved into a partisan brawl over this report, over the witnesses that are coming in and over, don't forget the memos, where we had the Republicans alleging there were FISA abuses.

The committee right now is really struggling to kind of bring it back up because traditionally, this committee has been one of the bipartisan committees in Congress that works together, that does things together. Right now there's no sense of that's about to come back.

NOBLES: And you alluded to the fact that perhaps Democrats could take back the House in the fall. How difficult will that make it? Could it make even more rancorous especially if Republicans hold on to the Senate?

HERB: Absolutely. I think, you know, Congressman Schiff has made it clear that they're going to want to restart this investigation, you know, because they're not even ending it. And so I think we're going to see the same partisan fighting with the shoe just on the other foot where Republicans say that the Democrats are trying to extend this out and calling all these people that aren't relevant. And I think also we're going to see a whole lot of subpoenas from the House Democrats if that does happen.

NOBLES: Right. It seems like we've got a long way to go guys, on every front.

All right. Michael Zeldin, Shan Wu and Jeremy Herb -- thank you all for being here.

A historic show of unity as North and South Korea agree to end a decades' long war. Is there a chance of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and how much credit does President Trump deserve?


NOBLES: And just a day after the historic summit between North and South Korea, President Trump is weighing in on plans for his own talks with North Korea's leader, tweeting quote, "Just had a long and very good talk with President Moon of South Korea. Things are going very well. Time and location of meeting with North Korea is being set. Also spoke to Prime Minister Abe of Japan to inform him of the ongoing negotiations."

I want to bring in CNN's Will Ripley. He is live from Seoul. Will -- how much did the meeting between North and South Korea move things forward?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely moved things forward because President Moon Jae-in raced back here to Seoul where he had that very important phone call with President Trump -- Ryan. And we know that he's going to be flying to Washington for an in-face briefing with the President to try to prepare him, what President Trump can expect when he walks into the room with Kim Jong-un.

You know, we've seen Kim Jong-un for six years in power, this image from afar -- you know, militaristic, defiant, bellicose rhetoric and yet the image that we saw at the demilitarized zone here in South Korea yesterday was extraordinarily different.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RIPLEY: A charm offensive for the history books. Kim Jong-un, the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South going off script, urging South Korean President Moon Jae-in to cross the military demilitarization line onto his turf. Kim writing his own rules with a bold message in the Peace House guest book, "A new history begins now."

Each carefully choreographed photo-op designed to project a budding bromance, a surreal first date between two leaders that seemed to go so well you could almost forget just 12 months ago, North Korea threatened to turn Seoul into a sea of fire.

Rolling away in a black Mercedes, flanked by his elite security detail, North Korea's strong man made an abrupt rhetorical u-turn, even cracking jokes about his country's lack of infrastructure.

"Our roads are uncomfortable," Kim said. "I know it because I just came down here." A self-deprecating dig on the struggling North Korean economy -- a situation made worse by the biting sanctions led by President Donald Trump. South Korea and Trump himself giving credit to his maximum pressure campaign.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They said there were two alternatives -- let them have what they have or go to war. And now we have a much better alternative than anybody thought even possible.

RIPLEY: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after his own meeting in Pyongyang, says he believes Kim is serious in his efforts. By day's end, Kim and Moon signed a stunning but vague statement, pledging to end the Korean War and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula without specifying what denuclearization actually means.

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: One question is simply how far does it go? And then the other bigger question to me is what would North Korea ask in exchange?

[11:19:55] RIPLEY: Kim Jong-un, projecting confidence and swagger, giving an unprecedented press conference before the international media, serving up a side of himself the world has never seen at a lavish banquet featuring Pyongyang's now-famous cold noodles and a champagne toast to peace.

Now the question many are asking, what happens when the buzz wears off?


RIPLEY: And if you thought the visuals at the inter-Korean summit were extraordinary, just wait until you see this planned summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. The White House, at least administration officials familiar with the discussions indicating that the White House prefers Singapore as a neutral location for those talks.

You know, a lot of people are talking about whether President Trump deserves credit for this. And the South Korean government certainly says yes. They say that President Trump's maximum pressure campaign, which included sanctions and threats of military action did help push North Korea to the table.

But Ryan, I would also say that I've been to North Korea over the last several years and I spoke with officials there who have always said that they wanted to grow their nuclear arsenal to a certain point that they felt that they would be coming to the negotiating table from a position of strength, not weakness.

And then in fact, this might be a long-term plan by Kim Jong-un, going exactly as he has always seen. But the question in these talks with President Trump, could it all go horribly wrong or will Kim Jong-un get what he wants in the end which would probably will be recognition as a nuclear weapons state even if it's not officially recognized, at least tolerated, allowing him to keep some of his arsenal and also get some economic concessions as well.

NOBLES: All right. Will Ripley -- thank you for that update, live from Seoul, South Korea. Thanks -- Will.

A brief reprieve for President Trump's personal fixer, Michael Cohen -- why a judge has put the brakes on Stormy Daniels' lawsuit against Trump's attorney at least for now.


NOBLES: Ninety days -- that's how long a federal judge in California has halted Stormy Daniels' lawsuit against President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen; this, while the criminal investigation of Cohen moves forward in New York. Daniels claims she had sex with Trump back in 2006 and that Cohen paid her to keep quiet just ahead of the 2016 election.

CNN Sara Sidner has more details about the judge's decision.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is certainly a win for Michael Cohen and his attorneys in this civil case against him and the President of the United States by Stephanie Clifford or Stormy Daniels, as we all know her.

Basically the judge has said look, there is going to be a 90-day stay, which means that the case is put on hold for 90 days. That means that Michael Avenatti will not be able, for example, to depose the President. He will not be able to depose Michael Cohen or anyone else involved in the case at this point because the judge has put a hold on it.

Why did the judge do it? Well, the judge gave examples and reasons for why he did it. First of all, he said look, there's a lack of significant prejudice to the plaintiff. So basically it's not going to hurt Stormy Daniels if he holds off on this case for 90 days.

But one of the really big reasons why this is happening and why Michael Cohen's attorneys asked for this is because of the potential significant impact to the investigation, the criminal investigation against Michael Cohen right now, realizing that his properties had been raided by the FBI. They were looking for information that had something to do, according to our sources, with the $130,000 that he paid to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet just before the presidential election.

And also mentioned in the judge's reasoning -- it says Mr. Cohen's significant interest in the preservation of his Fifth Amendment rights -- that is the right against self-incrimination. That's playing a big role in this.

One more thing to mention that we should point out, the judge also said in his ruling that judging from what has happened in the criminal investigation, that court believes that there will be an indictment, considering that this is no ordinary investigation because it involves the personal attorney for the President of the United States.

Sara Sidner, CNN -- Los Angeles.


NOBLES: Ok. Sara -- thank you. Let's talk about it now. I'm joined by Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief of the "Chicago-Sun Times" and CNN political commentator David Swerdlick.

Lynn -- let's start with you. I mean just put it out there. Is this a win for the President?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": No, it's not because a stay is really meaningless. It could be, if you want to say, a sugar high. It maybe puts something bad or not great off for a while but, no, this is meaning really that the judge is saying everything can go ahead. I'm not ruling anything against what you want. I'm just holding off. And 90 days in a civil lawsuit is not a lot of time.

NOBLES: But Stormy Daniels' legal team is not very happy about it. Listen to what Michael Avenatti had to say about this.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: We don't know that it's only going to be 90 days. I think if we knew that it was only going to be 90 days that would be different. But we don't have a whole lot of comfort that the stay is not going to be renewed after 90 days; that Michael Cohen and Mr. Trump are not going to try to further delay this case.


NOBLES: So Avenatti is concerned that it's going to -- the delays are going to continue. He also is aching to get the opportunity to depose President Trump which this is a part of their legal claim. David -- how messy could things get? DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they can get messy.

I agree with Lynn. From the President's point of view this is just pushing things down the road, in fact, three months closer to the 2018 midterms.

[11:29:49] It makes sense that Michael Avenatti and Stormy Daniels want to get this in court and get going quicker so he can depose the President. He can keep his client front and center in all of this controversy and possibly free her up, win a case or get some kind of preliminary ruling that lets her speak more about what she says went on between her and the President.

But if you take all of the -- our interest as journalists out of it, the public's interest, and the fact that the president of the United States is involved in it, you really do see that this, as Lynn just said, you know, is logical from the point of view from a normal legal proceeding. Let's not prejudice a criminal proceeding by what happens earlier in a civil suit.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Right. And the fact that they're not going to talk about that civil suit is couched against the fact that there's a criminal investigation against Michael Cohen that it's being put on hold.


NOBLES: Now Lynn, the president talks about everything. Not afraid to talk about any topic, but he rarely talks about Stormy Daniels. He talked about it this week. Listen to how his tone has changed from early April until now. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much of your legal work was handled by Michael Cohen?

PRESIDENT TRUMP (via telephone): Well, as a percentage of my overall legal work, a tiny, tiny little fraction, but Michael would represent me, and represent me on some things. He represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me, and, you know, from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong.


NOBLES: So, consistently the Trump team has said he knew nothing about this payment, the president himself said he knew nothing about this payment, that Michael Cohen was acting on his own. Then he told "Fox & Friends" this week that Michael Cohen was representing me in this Stormy Daniels deal. Does this damage his response to this?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": Absolutely in a court of law, maybe not in the court of public opinion, and there is a difference, I get it. That maybe the president thought he was trying to talk to his base or something.

But judges will see this differently, damaging because he also went on to say that when he cleared himself, as he often does in his -- he tries to put out what he thought was exculpatory information.

NOBLES: Right.

SWEET: He said there were no payments from the campaign. That's the whole point. One of the criminal issues or more serious issues would be if Cohen made a payment that is not allowed under federal campaign laws, that wasn't reported, isn't permissible to help the campaign by hushing up Stormy Daniels.

So, he put a whole heap of trouble out there in that one sentence. It doesn't matter whether or not Cohen in this case did it, what did he say, tiny fraction? It's what he did do that counts, not what he didn't do.

NOBLES: All right. And of course, that may be one of the reasons that we seldom see the president do interviews even to friendly outlets. I do want to change topics just quickly and talk about the president's reaction to Ronny Jackson being forced to withdraw as VA secretary, mounting a vigorous defense of him this morning on Twitter, something you don't really do while Jackson was going through the confirmation process.

But I want to read to you a statement that I received from Johnny Isakson's spokesperson, who talked about Jon Tester's role in all of this. Johnny Isakson, of course, being the chair of the Veterans Committee.

Amanda (inaudible) telling me that "Senator Isakson has a great relationship with Senator Tester. He doesn't have a problem with how things were handled," and she also said that I don't know for sure, but highly doubt he has seen the president's tweets this is morning.

I followed up with Amanda a little bit later on and said Senator Isakson has definitely not seen the president's tweets. So, he's not responding to that directly, but, David, the fact that Senator Isakson, a Republican, would defend Senator Tester, who the president is calling for his resignation this morning, that's significant, isn't it?

SWERDLICK: It is significant. If you have senators on both sides of the aisle saying this committee process has to play out, regardless of the president's annoyance over the fact that the president's nominee got caught in hot water, that suggests there's impatience around the way these hearings have gone in the past. Republicans on the Hill want to support the president, want to support his nominees, but it suggests to me there's a little reluctance to defend a situation where clearly their candidate, Admiral Jackson was put forward out of full vetting.

NOBLES: Thank you both for being here. We appreciate it.

Meanwhile, Senate hopeful, Mitt Romney has a tough primary fight ahead after losing the battle to run unopposed as the GOP candidate. I'll talk to his Republican challenger when we come back.



NOBLES: In a bit of a surprise, Utah GOP Senate hopeful, Mitt Romney, has a battle on his hands. This after he failed to reach the 60 percent threshold needed to secure a place on the November ballot unopposed.

State Representative Mike Kennedy emerged as a leader in the state's GOP convention with 50.88 percent of the delegates votes. Romney was just behind him with 49.12 percent. Now, the two will compete in a June primary to see who makes the cut.

Joining me now is the man who edged out Romney at that convention, Utah Senate candidate, Mike Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy, thank you so much for being here.

MIKE KENNEDY (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR UTAH: Thanks for having me, Ryan. How are you today?

NOBLES: I'm well, thank you. What do you think the difference was? Were you surprised you were able to edge out Governor Romney? And what about your message, do you think, propelled you to the top in that convention?

KENNEDY: Not surprised at all. Thank you, Ryan, for the question. The reality, this has been a personal campaign. We worked really hard to reach out individually to our delegates.

[11:40:09] They're outstanding intelligent people, very capable, disturbed -- distinguishing between one candidate and the other. I think it's really relevant that as a doctor, as an attorney and as a state representative that the delegates recognize I'm a viable candidate, and they ultimately made the right choice, I believe.

NOBLES: Obviously, President Trump will be a big issue in this race. President Trump's already endorsed Governor Romney in this race, despite the tumultuous relationship the two have shared. You can see his tweet there. Where do you stand with President Trump? What is your feelings about his job so far?

KENNEDY: Thanks. I've been really impressed with the president's performance, what's happened in North and South Korea, another good reflection of this president knows how to get things done and I'm happy to support the president in his conservative agenda. I've been really impressed with what he has done, and we would love to support him as he pushes forward and does the important things we need to do for this country.

NOBLES: So, as a supporter of President Trump, the president not quite as popular in Utah as he is in some other red states. When you get into a general election, if you're able to defeat Governor Romney, are you worried that your support of the president could be problematic for you?

KENNEDY: Not at all. Actually, that's one of the interesting things as I walked around the state and talked to literally hundreds of people. We found a lot of support for the president in this state. I believe the people in the state of Utah have -- they understand what President Trump is about and are willing to support him and moving the conservative agenda forward. We feel he needs to move forward.

NOBLES: Let me take you to task then on one of the issues that the president is front and center on right now and that is the attempted confirmation of the White House physician, Ronny Jackson. The president, of course, was tweeting this morning about the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, Jon Tester, from nearby Wyoming.

He is suggesting that Senator Tester should resign from his post for the way that he conducted the vetting process of senator -- or Dr. Jackson that led to him stepping down. Do you think that Senator Tester should resign from his position? Do you agree with the president on this point?

KENNEDY: When it comes to the president and his interactions with others, I'll leave that between him and them. I'm not going to render an opinion about two adults who can certainly make decisions for themselves.

NOBLES: Are you concerned at all about the level of vetting that went on into Ronny Jackson's pick? And not just Ronny Jackson but some other of the cabinet secretaries that the president has appointed throughout his administration?

KENNEDY: Not being privy to how those vetting processes work, I'm just a consumer of the media like many people, I'm not going to be able to render an opinion about that either but thank you for asking that question.

NOBLES: But you will be a senator at some point, if you win this election. That will be part of your job, to confirm some of these cabinet secretaries. Would you like to see the White House be a little bit more careful with their vetting process before one of these nominees comes before you, to cast a vote for their confirmation?

KENNEDY: Good data drives good decisions. One of the things as a senator is I would have access to a lot more information than I currently have. So, the reality is that I presume the process is moving forward, as it should. As a senator, I would insist on that process moving forward as it should. Good process makes good policy. And I'm invested in making sure that those that vet these candidates have access to all the information that they need and if I'm lacking information as a U.S. senator, I'll demand it, because we need good information. Good information drives good decisions.

NOBLES: So, to that point, there have been several of your Republican colleagues who have been less than willing to press the president on some of these issues, even in areas where they disagree. I know you support the president, but will you be willing to stand up and challenge him when there are times you disagree with the decision that he makes?

KENNEDY: Absolutely. There are times when we can disagree, respectfully, and we should work together as people who want to make things work for the American people. And disagreement invariably comes up, especially in politics.

There's a lot of disagreement all through politics. The reality is that there's a way to do that in a productive fashion. As a doctor, as an attorney, as a state legislator, I've spent my adult life in trying to work with people with solving problems and not denigrate individuals and not destroy relationships for personal gain.

And so, I'm investing to making sure the government works for the United States people and make sure especially that it represents the people of Utah and their needs as well.

NOBLES: OK, Mike Kennedy, state representative, challenging Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Mr. Kennedy, thank you so much for joining us.

KENNEDY: Thank you, Ryan. It was a pleasure to be here.

NOBLES: All right. And there is much more ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, this week's CNN HERO. According to the CDC, homicide is the number one cause of death for black men between the ages of 15 and 34. It is a staggering statistic that pushed one doctor to take action in and out of the hospital.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like pronouncing people dead. It's probably the worst thing that I've ever had to do. I want to preserve life.

[11:45:06] When I see patients that are coming in with violent injuries, when somebody looks like you, from your neighborhood, a lot of this stuff really hits home. You realize, I don't want this to happen anymore. What do we do about it?


NOBLES: To find out how Dr. Rob Gore is working to end violence in his community go to While you're there, nominate someone you think should be a CNN HERO. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: Former NBC News anchor and renowned journalist, Tom Brokaw, is railing against accusations of sexual harassment.

[11:50:06] Linda Vester (ph), a former NBC News correspondent, has accused the former "Nightly News" anchor of groping her and trying to forcibly kiss her on two separate occasions in the early 1990s.

Brokaw vehemently denies the allegations, calling Vester a character assassin with a grudge against NBC News.

CNN Hadas Gold has the details. Hadas, Vester detailed what happened to her and the reason that she is speaking out. Why is she talking now?

HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, I mean, you can't deny that a lot of this has to do with this whole "Me Too" Movement of women coming forward now about their experiences. She's saying she's coming out in part because she doesn't think NBC has done enough to investigate these allegations.

She gave a statement where she said to "The Washington Post," "I'm speaking out now because NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division."

She's gone beyond just giving out statements. She's actually also done an on-camera interview with "Variety" where she details some of these allegations including, in a way, acting them out. Let's take a look at what she told "Variety."


LINDA VESTER, FORMER NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I had felt like this man could destroy my career. So, if he said he's coming over, I have to let him come over. He's the most important man at NBC News. I was terrified. It was in no way ever consensual, but I didn't say anything because he could ruin my career. I was deeply traumatized by being groped and assaulted by Tom Brokaw.


GOLD: And this is, again, a situation we're seeing where a woman is claiming that she was in a subordinate position to a well-known person that she felt she was forced into this situation. This situation, though, is a little bit different than what we've seen from Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer.

That's partly because Tom Brokaw is no longer sitting in the anchor chair every single day. That's partly because this might be what we've heard from some people, this might be that gray area. They're not quite sure what to make of this and now we're seeing a lot of people come to his defense.

NOBLES: And of course, Brokaw himself is vehemently denying these claims, right?

GOLD: Yes, he is very much denying these allegations. He actually not only has given out statements, he also wrote a letter to some of his colleagues. What he said is he's not a perfect person.

"I've made mistakes personally and professionally, but did I write this on dawn on the morning after a drive-by shooting by Vester, "The Washington Post" and "variety," I am stunned by the free ride given a woman with a grudge against NBC News, no distinctive credentials or issue passions while at Fox."

So, clearly, he is not taking this standing down at all. He is automatically going and airing what he says are inappropriate allegations that he says are just not true.

NOBLES: And he is getting some -- defense from his former colleagues. He works at NBC so many are his current colleagues, 60 women have signed a letter in support. Some big names on this. Mika Brzezinski, Rachel Maddow is another one. What can this tell us about the support he is getting, should we take credence in what they're doing to defend him?

GOLD: It's definitely notable that some of these women are so willing so quickly to put their names down. I've been speaking to people at NBC News over past few days. A lot of them are saying what these women said in this letter.

That they never, ever experienced anything untoward with Tom Brokaw. They never heard anything in that whisper network that we all know about. As we've seen in previous instances, a man or anybody can be wonderful colleague with one person and have different experiences with a different person.

Now the question is, what does NBC do, how do they investigate this, how do they handle this because they clearly went through something similar that was huge for them. Losing Matt Lauer not too long ago. This is still a very fresh issue on everybody's mind.

NOBLES: It seems in almost every one of these cases, there have been women willing to say this man never did anything to me. But then there's evidence that shows that they did act inappropriately in other cases. We'll have to see if this plays out in the same direction. All right. Hadas Gold, thank you for your reporting. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, our top story, President Trump calling for a sitting U.S. senator to resign. Why Donald Trump blames Democrat Jon Tester for ruining his pick to lead the VA?



NOBLES: Hello. I'm Ryan Nobles in Washington, D.C. filling in today for Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you so much for joining me.

As President Trump golfs at his club in Virginia ahead of his re- election rally tonight in Michigan, it's clear what's on his mind. The allegations swirling around White House Dr. Ronny Jackson who withdrew this week as Trump's nominee to head the VA.

Now the president is calling on Democratic Senator Jon Tester to resign from his role in a Democratic laundry list of uncorroborated allegations against Jackson from current and former colleagues including improperly dispensing drugs, drinking on the job and crashing a government vehicle after a party and overseeing a hostile work environment.