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Sources: Deputy AG Rosenstein Discussed Secretly Recording President Trump, Invoking 25th Amendment; Rosenstein Calls Report That He Suggested Recording Trump, Discussed 25 Amendment "Inaccurate, Incorrect"; President Trump: There's a "Lingering Stench" At the FBI and "We're Going to Get rid of That"; New Statement From Rosenstein: "I Never Pursued Or Authorized Recording The President"; Pres. Trump: There's A "Lingering Stretch" At The FBI And "We're Going To Get Rid Of That"; The Whelan Affair; Kamau Bell Remembers Anthony Bourdain; Parts Unknown Premieres Sunday On CNN At 9PM ET. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 21, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

By any count, the news breaking tonight is extraordinary. By any measure, the impact could be profound. New reporting that Rod Rosenstein once discussed recruiting cabinet members in an effort to remove President Trump from office according to the 25th Amendment, even more importantly discussing wearing a wire in conversation with the president.

And the president is at a rally tonight in Springfield, Missouri. Will he say anything about it? Well, we'll be watching him for that. And more to the point, will he do something about it? Will he try to punish or fire Rod Rosenstein who as you know oversees the Russia investigation? And if he does, what else can come unglued?

The discussions between Rosenstein had -- were documented in memos authored by fired FBI Director Andrew McCabe seen here on the left. Now, sources familiar with these memos have been talking to CNN and other news outlets. The story first broke in "The New York Times."

"The Times" correspondent Adam Goldman joins me now by phone.

So, walk us through, Adam, your reporting about what you learned, what actually happened?

ADAM GOLDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER (via telephone): Well, let me just start by saying, you know, this story took months to report, OK? This wasn't a -- this wasn't a timed leak. We worked on this story for months, and we started gathering information and building up a picture of these chaotic days at the Justice Department and FBI shortly after James B. Comey was fired as FBI director on May 19th, 2017.

And so, what we learned was on May 16th of 2017, there was a meeting, and in that meeting, the acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, wrote in a memo that Rod had brought up the 25th Amendment. And he memorialized that in a memo. And then in a separate meeting, Rod had raised the idea of wearing a wire in the White House. Our understanding of the events in the room where Rod had raised the idea of wearing a wire or secret listening device in the White House to expose dysfunction.

So, the two core facts of this story are Rod talked about wearing a wire in the White House, and in Andrew McCabe's memo, he cites Rod bringing up the 25th Amendment.

COOPER: And in what context do you know the idea of a wire was brought up? Because there have been -- one of your sources describes the comments about secretly recording the president sarcastic in nature while others tell you he was completely serious?

GOLDMAN: Yes. There's certainly -- the White House -- the Department of Justice has their version of the context. Our version from our reliable sources indicates that this was not a flipping comment, it was not sarcasm.

And let me just reiterate something I said earlier on CNN, which was the reason it took me so long to get this story is the fear people had in me finding out this information. If it had simply Rod made a sarcastic joke, people wouldn't have been reluctant to tell me. People didn't want to tell me because the context surrounding the wire was deadly serious. At least they believed that.

COOPER: And they knew the potential impact this story might have.

GOLDMAN: Yes, they certainly did.

COOPER: I want to read the statement that Rosenstein put out in response to your reporting. He said, quote: "The New York Times" story is inaccurate and factually incorrect. I will not further comment on a story based on unanimous sources who are obviously biased against the department and advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.

I want to give you a chance to respond to that. And I also just want to point out when he says there is no basis, he's talking in the present tense. He's not saying, I never thought there was a basis.

GOLDMAN: Yes. I -- that was my read. I mean, I'm not going to parse Rod's statement. I think, myself and other news outlets have all now, including CNN, have recorded the basic facts that are not in dispute. Those two basic facts are Rod raised the idea of wearing a wire and in a second basic fact is, in an Andrew McCabe memo that he wrote, and the special counsel has, Rod raised the idea of the 25th Amendment.

COOPER: Adam Goldman, great reporting. As you said, you've been working on it a long time. I appreciate it.

Reaction now from Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: Congressman, if this true, if Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein did, in fact, talked about wearing a wire to record the president, is that appropriate?

[20:05:05] I mean, whether there's sarcasm involved or not?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, if it's sarcasm, if this was said in jest, then that's one thing. If this was said seriously, it's something completely different. But, look, I think probably at any given time during the course of the administration, a great many people have wondered whether this president was fit for the office and whether they had to contemplate the extraordinary step of invoking this article. Whether they came close to doing it, whether they were deliberating about it when the president was in one of his most erratic and dangerous moods, it's very hard to say.

COOPER: The idea of a discussion about the idea of a discussion about the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment, that is certainly a serious thing to bring up, especially for somebody in his position, has -- I mean, do you -- would you have concerns if he did actually have discussions about that, regardless of the wire?

SCHIFF: Well, I would, if -- concerns certainly if the president's conduct rose to the level where you have top people of the Justice Department or other cabinet officials who were openly discussing or ruminating or joking about whether they needed to pull the trigger on the 25th Amendment or whether they needed to start gathering evidence.

COOPER: Would the president be justified in firing Rod Rosenstein?

SCHIFF: Absolutely not. We can't dismiss the possibility, maybe the probability, that this is being teed up by the president's allies who want to get rid of Rod Rosenstein. And I think we have to look at this in the context of what's happened over the last week. And it begins with an about-face in Congress.

For months and months, the Democrats on the intelligence committee have been urging the release of the transcripts of the witnesses in the Russian investigation. And the Republicans refused. Mr. Nunes refused and Mr. Gowdy refused. Then, all of a sudden, the chairman goes on Fox and says, we want to release the transcripts.

Now, what precipitated this? Was it the Manafort guilty plea? Did the lawyers say we want access to this? Because the very next day, the president himself issues this injunction that he wants these classified documents released, a whole different set of classified documents. This looks like a coordinated effort.

COOPER: For those who believe in, you know, there's a deep state conspiracy against the president, doesn't this kind of fit into that idea?

SCHIFF: Well, it could fit into a completely different idea, and that is that the president is so unstable that lifetime career public servants who have worked in Democratic administrations and Republican administrations, many of whom are Republicans like Rod Rosenstein, have to contemplate whether the constitutional provision applies when the president is incapacitated. I mean, that is alarming. For those that are ready to believe, there

is a deep state, those kooky conspiracy theories, certainly, they will seize on this as they will seize on anything else, and they may very well be pushed out there by people who think that this is a useful way to defend the president.

COOPER: And if Rosenstein is fired, what then? What happens? What happens to Mueller investigation?

SCHIFF: Well, if Rosenstein were to be fired, this would be another clear demonstration of obstruction of justice by the president. In the immediate aftermath, we'd have to consider, you know, what does that mean in terms of our system of checks and balances? What is the response of congress? And probably most importantly, will there be any Republicans who are willing to defend the institutions of our government?

Sadly, they have been very few in number. I would hope if there's any effort to obstruct the investigation like the firing of Rod Rosenstein, that Congress would pass a bill in stating the independent counsel law that would protect Bob Mueller.

COOPER: Congressman Schiff, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: I want to continue this discussion, including how stunning just the fact of it all is, and where this might lead, serious implications. Some pundits even using the word constitutional crisis.

Joining us, CNN political analysts Gloria Borger, David Gergen, and Carl Bernstein, also CNN legal analyst John Dean.

Gloria, I know you've been talking to people. What are you hearing about Rod Rosenstein's job security tonight?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, you wouldn't bet on his security, but then, again, for almost a year, we've been talking about Rod Rosenstein's job security. The president has been tweeting about him. He stopped lately. He seems to be focused more on Jeff Sessions.

I know that Rosenstein is very important right now in the Mueller investigation. Don't forget, if the special counsel -- he's the special counsel's boss. If the special counsel says, you know, I want to subpoena the president, he's got go to Rod Rosenstein and get permission to do that.

I think the president's attorneys believe they have a decent relationship with Rod Rosenstein. I'm sure they would rather he not be fired and create this kind of crisis, particularly right now at the same time as you're going through the Kavanaugh hearings and the question about what happens with Judge Kavanaugh. [20:10:14] But nobody can predict what Donald Trump is going to do. He's going to read this story, and he's going to have to decide whether, A, he believes "The New York Times," which he doesn't normally believe, and, B, whether he believes a memo written by Andrew McCabe who has also been a focus of his ire, whom he doesn't believe.

And if he does believe those two things, then he's going to be really angry at Rod Rosenstein. He may ask him -- maybe Rosenstein will recuse himself from the investigation, maybe Sessions will fire him, or maybe the president will.

COOPER: David, it's interesting because, I mean, this is not the first time we've heard about officials talking about the 25th Amendment in that New York -- anonymous "New York Times" op-ed alleged by a senior official. The senior official said that there were whispers about that.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that the conversations about the 25th Amendment are not big and damaging story. I don't think that's the big story. The story really is was he serious about taking a wire in to wire in and to listen secretly and tape the president of the United States? That's unheard of.

There are those, of course, who argue, not "The New York Times," but by the people who have been trying to catch up with the story, that he was being sarcastic. It sounds like he was being sarcastic in many ways.

COOPER: How -- I mean, bringing in a wire to try to capture disarray seems like an odd thing. I mean, disarray seems to be more like an ongoing thing. It's not necessarily something I would think you could immediately capture on a point.

GERGEN: I think that's right. I sort of assumed the wire was not only to capture the disarray, but would apply to the 25th Amendment issue. Here's what he's like in real life behind the scenes.

But I must tell you, if the facts bear out, what Adam has been reporting, and he spent a whole month on it, that he was serious about wire -- going in with a wire, then I think it's probably one of the dumbest mistakes I've ever seen a public servant make, to get into conversations like that. It sends a sensitive point. It just invites attacks.

And I do think we have to remember that he works at the pleasure of the president. That's the appointment. And if the president can no longer trust him, he's justified in asking that person to leave.

Now, I agree with Gloria. I don't think he'll do it quickly. I think, rather, we're still looking at after the midterms. They don't want to upset the Kavanaugh business obviously. But just as importantly, they don't want to have this in the middle of the campaign.

COOPER: Carl, is it appropriate to have him talking whether it was joke or not about surreptitiously recording the president of the United States?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, if it's a joke, I think it might be appropriate.

I think we've got to look at a number of factors here. One is we are in a constitutional crisis. And part of that crisis is, for instance, that there ought to be committees of Congress to which Mr. Rosenstein could explain what happened, what he said, and there be a bipartisan committee of Congress at which some facts could come out in an impartial way and we would learn the full story after "The New York Times" has broken this hugely important piece of reporting.

Unfortunately, there is no such committee because we're in a constitutional crisis where the Congress of the United States is totally dysfunctional.

On top of that, we have a president of the United States who's contemptuous of the rule of law, that one of the things that Mr. Rosenstein, we know has been concerned about for months and months, is that contempt for the rule of law, the president's lie, and now he joins a long list of people in this presidency who fear that the president of the United States is not fit to be the president, is a danger to the national security, does not understand what the proper use and function of the Justice Department is.

So, all of these things are converging, and they're converging at the time of a midterm election in which the president is going to throw all of this meat to his base and see what can be chewed up to somehow keep a majority in Congress. But meanwhile we have the spectacle of little confidence in the president of the United States by those around him, little confidence in the Congress of the United States by almost anyone, and the one element of the system that's working, the press, the First Amendment, the fake news of "The New York Times" as the president would have it has broken this story.

[20:15:03] CNN has confirmed elements of it. All of the critics, the press is doing its job. It's the one element that's working here.

COOPER: I want to get to John Dean, but I've got to take a quick break, first, John, but we'll come back to you directly.

Coming up next, the president has just weighed in on this, used a new word "stench" when describing the Justice Department. A live update on that next.

And later, a new Senate deadline for the woman who says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Details tonight.


COOPER: Well, there's more breaking news on the story of Rod Rosenstein, and discussions he reportedly had about using the 25th Amendment to remove the president and possibly wearing a wire. President Trump has just reacted.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now from the rally, where the president is speaking in Springfield, Missouri.

So, what did -- what did the president say?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it didn't take the president long to bring up the Justice Department. And he told the crowd, look what's being exposed, look what's happened over there. He didn't mention the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by name, but he said this instead.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you see what's happened at the FBI? They're all gone. They're all gone. They're all gone.

But there's a lingering stench, and we're going get rid of that too.


COLLINS: So, Anderson, no mention of Rosenstein by name there, but you have to believe that's a thinly veiled reference to that stunning "New York Times" story that has pretty much left one question on everyone's mind, will the president fire Rod Rosenstein because of this story? The president said that there, but there's still been no official formal response from the White House, and we'll wait to see if he says anything else why he's here in Springfield tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks.

Back with David Gergen, Gloria Borger, Carl Bernstein, and John Dean.

John, the president's talking about a lingering stench. I don't know if that means people left behind, lingering. What do you think it means for Rod Rosenstein? Do you see him being removed by the president?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, it's hard to tell. Well, his stench, I can't -- you know, he finds stenches in lots of places. But I think the thing with Rod Rosenstein and his leaked information about his behavior, I don't think it's a fireable offense.

I think he's going to -- you know, if you look at the sequence of when this happened, this was at the time of the Comey firing.

[20:20:00] And he had been -- they had done a job on him. They lure him into writing a memo and said that was -- that made for the pretext for firing Comey. He was under a lot of heat as a result of that, and he had a lot of reason to distrust the White House at that point.

I -- the other thing is apparently he was present when some people went over there for interviews to the FBI director, and he was appalled at the president's interview techniques. So, you know, who knows what really goes on inside that White House. That might be why he was suggesting it. I certainly don't find them outrageous. And I've got to tell you,

it's not unprecedented either. I was asked by prosecutors to wear a wire, and I refused to do it.

COOPER: Why did you refuse?

DEAN: Because I think it's an unfair situation, the same reason I didn't have the recording capability on my telephone, although, a lot of people in the Nixon White House did. I think it's a pretty shady act.

COOPER: Gloria, I think the question right now is anyone safe at the Justice Department? Sessions, clearly, I mean, has lost the president's confidence. I'm not sure he ever had it since he recused himself.

Now the scrutiny on Rosenstein, if the president wants to, he could clean house tonight or the day after the midterms.

BORGER: Right. And what about his new director for the FBI, Chris Wray? I mean, the president just came out and talked about the lingering stench over there. At some point, Chris Wray is going to have to come out and defend his people and defend his department. So I don't think anybody is safe over there.

I think it's a question of timing. It's very clear Sessions is going to be gone, probably after the election. And I think sort of the game right now inside the White House is to control the president and to try and say, look, don't do anything right now because we have this election coming up in 40 odd days and we want to get Kavanaugh passed. This is important to your base. So, just sit tight if you possibly, possibly can.

And we all know with Donald Trump that may last a couple of days, but we just -- we just can't predict. You know, he's going to Bedminster this weekend. The last time, if I recall, he was at Bedminster a while ago, that was when he wrote a letter saying he was going fire Jim Comey. So, who knows what will happen.

COOPER: I guess the other question, David, is what impact would Rod Rosenstein have?

GERGEN: Well, I think the president would then be in a position who take action against Mueller and I do think one of the things that Adam Schiff talks about is right, and that is he really puts pressure on the Democrats to try to get Republican votes to build a wall to protect the Mueller investigation.

You know, the Republicans have said we obviously don't need it. This suggests quite the opposite. The day is coming when you really do need it.

Let me just go back to one thing if I might. I want to clarify one thing I said. I think this thing we're talking about, is the president fit for office under the 25th Amendment? I think that's not a big deal. We talk about it all the time here. What is different is if you begin to say maybe I'll take a wire and

I'd like to go over and talk to General Kelly, chief of the White House, I'll talk to Sessions and maybe we can get a group to plot the downfall of the president of the United States, that's a big serious matter. I think that's why the story is big because the combination of wire and the idea of organizing a group.

COOPER: Carl, do you agree with that? That the involvement -- you know, the mention of Kelly and Sessions?

BERNSTEIN: Yes. Again, I think we need to know more about the context. "The Times" story is a big window onto something and now is the time for more information.

But you need to keep the bigger picture in mind of Mueller. This is all about the Mueller investigation and the absolute determination of the president of the United States to obstruct it, to demean it, to undermine it, and shut it down. That's what he has told everyone around him he means to do, and this is his response and it's part of it, and it is incumbent on the United States to make sure that that does not happen.

It is the other part of the system that is working. We have indictments. We have informations pleaded to. We know that the president's personal lawyer is now trying to tell things to the special counsel.

The president is in the crosshairs of an investigation and is acting like someone who is trying to obstruct justice and keep the facts from becoming known. That's what a lot of this is about.

COOPER: John Dean, do you see Congress at some point wanting to question Rosenstein about what he said or didn't say?

DEAN: I noticed just before we went on the air, a number of tweets, one from a member of the House Judiciary Committee asking that there be hearings where Rosenstein and everybody in the meeting as well as the documents be brought forward so they can be seen.

[20:25:08] Anderson, another thing on what would happen if he did fire Rosenstein to Mueller, the next person -- the last time I looked, the next person who has a confirmed post in the rankings -- in the seniority rankings of the leadership is the solicitor general, and that's who would take charge of the investigation at that point.

BORGER: So, here -- Anderson, here's the important thing about Rod Rosenstein to keep in mind also, which is, right now, there's negotiations going on about the president testifying, and if Bob Mueller decides that he wants to subpoena the president, he has to go to Rod Rosenstein and get permission to do that to subpoena the president. If Rod Rosenstein isn't there, say the solicitor general is there, is he more likely to get the permission or less likely to get permission?


BORGER: So, that all factors into this as well.

COOPER: Yes, Gloria, David Gergen, John Dean, Carl Bernstein, thanks very much.

We're going to dig deeper into political dimensions of this next with the leading conservative, rick Santorum, also Kirsten Powers and Jeff Toobin join us as well.


COOPER: Well, moments ago at a rally in Missouri, the president made an apparent veiled reference to the story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein talking about the Justice Department and the FBI. He said, quote, there's a lingering stench, and we're going to get rid of that too.

With me now is Kirsten Powers, Senator Rick Santorum and Jeffrey Toobin.

Senator Santorum, should the president get rid of Rod Rosenstein?


RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, look, if what is being reported is true, that he was actually trying to recruit people to -- or said he was going to recruit people to remove the president and that he offered to wear a wire, again, not in jest or otherwise but actually was serious about wearing a wire, those are pretty good grounds to remove anybody. I mean that's not something -- that's not a person that you want serving you at any level in government.

So, if that's the case -- but I have some real serious doubts about this story. This just doesn't -- this just doesn't sound right to me.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So your doubt is that it was sarcastic or didn't happen or that it --

SANTORUM: Yes, but either. I mean that -- that maybe part of it was sarcasm. Maybe part of it was that maybe is a faulty memory or a deliberate attempt potentially of someone to stir things up here right before the election and get the President -- look. I think the have people in this town who believe that they can prod and poke the President to do things and he is -- that he will react to things.

And so the idea that maybe someone would put some information out there, true or not true, to get the President -- to prod the President to act irrationally is not beyond the pale.

COOPER: Jeff, what do you think?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know what would be an unbelievable story about Donald Trump, that he stays up nights reading briefing books. That would be a real shock. This story is just consistent with everything else about him. I mean, you know, yes, it's an amazing story, but it's consistent with other people who talked about the 25th Amendment with other people who think this President is psychologically unfit to be president.

So, you know, again, my hat's off to the "New York Times" for yet another great scoop, but it's not like this is some bolt from the blue that's uncharacteristic of this President. This is what a lot of people who deal with him think.

COOPER: Although the, you know, number two, idea of the FBI wearing a wire to tape the President, I mean that's --

TOOBIN: It's Justice Department.

COOPER: Justice Department, I'm sorry.

TOOBIN: But it is -- it is amazing. I think it's worth noting he did not wear a wire, I mean so that suggests, perhaps, it was said in frustration, in hyperbole. But the general idea, especially in May of last year when the firing of James Comey was like a thunderbolt. I mean this was something that has never been done in American history since, you know, the laws changed to have a controversial firing of an FBI director who has a tenured term to precisely insulate himself from this sort of political pressure, it was a shock. And so the fact that Rosenstein thought that extreme measures might be justified seems, you know, reasonable to me.

COOPER: Kirsten, Senator Santorum was talking about, you know, this could be people wanted to prod the President to act irrationally. There's a number of people on Fox News already tweeting and saying that the President should fire Rod Rosenstein right away.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. All obvious, we've also have been saying this for a long time. So I think that they've been looking for, you know, something that they could use to some sort of a smoking gun for a reason to do it. And so I think unfortunately, you know, if this story is true, it does give Donald Trump, I think a rationale that would seem reasonable to most people if he decided to

go ahead and get rid of him, even though this -- I think it would just be a rationale that they've been looking for, for a long time.

You know, and so -- there is a real, again we don't know 100% that this happened. But I agree with Jeffrey is saying is, is very consistent with other stories that we have heard in recent days, whether is Bob Woodward -- or recent weeks, whether it's Bob Woodward's book or the anonymous ties that it was in the "New York Times" talking about how people feel about the President. And so, it's even more newsworthy that it's attached to a name and it's attach to such a senior person at the Department of Justice. And -- but at the same time, I think any president if they heard that their -- you know, deputy attorney general was behaving this way probably would want to fire them.

COOPER: Rod Rosenstein and actually just put it out a news statement, because a lot of people were kind of commenting about the nature of his former statement, it says, I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false. That's the second statement. This one, I guess, clearing up -- Jeff? TOOBIN: You know, I just -- you know, this what you learned in law school is how to obfuscate and write in impenetrable but technically true ways. You know --

COOPER: Because in the initial statement, he said that there is no reason to invoke the 25th Amendment.

TOOBIN: Which he does not -- and -- yes as you pointed out.

COOPER: It's the present tense.

TOOBIN: It's the present tense. And that revision does not address the present tense issue. The fact that he may have thought at one point that there was reason to invoke the 25th Amendment. And that new statement, you know, suggests he never advocated for the removal of the President from office, but the mere fact that deputy attorney general might have discuss it, gee, is the President out of his mind? You know, that I think is in and of itself pretty remarkable even if he didn't advocate for it.

[20:35:12] COOPER: If Jeff -- I mean if you were Donald Trump, would you want Rod Rosenstein working there?

TOOBIN: No. And I think he's gone. I mean -- I think the day after the election if not the hour after the polls close both Sessions and Rosenstein are gone and we will have an extraordinary fight over who the replacement is and whether that person can be confirmed because that person or those people will be the people deciding Robert Mueller's fate.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, if you were still in Congress, would you want to get to the bottom of this, you know, your party has control, they could some are -- summon Rosensten to the Hill right away.

SANTORUM: No. I mean I don't think it's really necessary for the Congress to get involved in this. It's a matter between the President and his number two man at justice, and listening to that second statement, I thought the first was weak. I'm not too sure the second was a whole lot of improvement, you know. And hearing those denials, not really on point as far as I can see is not -- is not encouraging me as someone who has real serious concerns about the way this investigation has been handled. It's not encouraging to me that he actually didn't contemplate that. He didn't say he didn't contemplate it. He didn't say that he -- he may have said something about a wire. He just said he never did anything.

And that to me, as Jeffrey said, is running a bulletproof statement that doesn't really get to the underlying question.

COOPER: Kirsten, when you hear the President tonight talk getting rid of a lingering stench, do you have any doubt that he's going to rid of Rosenstein whether its sooner or later.

POWERS: It would be surprising that he didn't both. It's pretty interesting if you think about the facts that he's going to rely on a report by the "New York Times" which of course everything else they report is a complete made up lie. So if this goes back to the point, I mean according to him, this goes back to the point that he'll do it because he's been looking for a reason to do it and this could be what gives him, you know, I think a good cover for doing something like this.

COOPER: Kirsten Powers, Rick Santorum, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.

Coming up next, how one Kavanaugh support his attempt though point suspicion to a Kavanaugh look-a-like blew up in his face and the question was he actually acting alone.


[20:41:11] COOPER: Well, there's more breaking news tonight. A new deadline for Professor Christine Blasey Ford to agree the terms of her testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley says if there's no agreement by 10:00 p.m. eastern tonight, which is an hour and 20 minutes away, there will be a vote on the nomination on Monday. This is unfolding.

Another part of the story has been unraveling. And it's important, because keep them honest, it could be all about a group of powerful but accountable people trying to spin you. The story concerns an alternative theory of sexual assault. Featuring an alternative suspect. It was floated by an attorney name Ed Whelan, his conservative connections in Washington legal and political world run deep.

His is according to the "Washington Post," part of the effort to secure Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation. Why he did what he did, how he did (INAUDIBLE) are now key questions which (INAUDIBLE) next week. There's new reporting tonight in Politico that he did not do what he did on his own. Now, the story erupted last night after Whelan sent out a series of tweets which he since taken down.

In them he said that Professor Ford may have mistaken Brett Kavanaugh for a different classmate. Now what's more and this is one reason we're staying far away from those tweets, Whelan actually named that classmate whom he suggest may have sexually assaulted Professor Ford who was 15 at the time, the man is known middle school teacher, we're obviously not compounding any damage by giving out his name.

Whoever the "Washington Post" contacted Professor Ford. She said, yes, she remembered that person, but, no, he is not the one. She even recalled being friendly enough with that person, that she once visited him in the hospital. By this morning Whelan was apologizing for making a, quote, "An appalling and inexcusable mistake."

Since then questions have grown about whether this was all part of a coordinated campaign when to obviously take the spotlight off Judge Kavanaugh and put it on someone else. That's because of -- of how this all scene to come together in the pro-Kavanaugh bias -- biosphere.

Watch what Judiciary Committee member Orrin Hatch said on Monday. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: He wasn't at the party, so, you know, there's clearly somebody's mixed up. I think she's mistaken. And I think she's mistaken something, and but I don't know. I mean I don't know her.


COOPER: So there he is saying someone's mixed up, I think she's mistaken something. Now, the comments got some attention but at the time there was no massive significance to them. Lot of lawmakers were talking about the allegations.

Fast forward to Wednesday when Ed Whelan the lawyer and others begin dropping more hints that more along the lines what Senator Hatch said was coming. Whelan tweeted, "A horrific incident similar to the one the accuser alleges may well have occurred. But if so, she's got the wrong guy. Kavanaugh wasn't present, as this -- and much more will confirm. That wedlock a staffer for Orrin Hatch also tweeted and he run up to this to quote, "keep an eye on Ed's tweets in the next few days". Then yesterday Whelan let loose laying out his doppleganger theory and this morning right on cue "Fox & Friends" rolled it out to their audience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He looked at what Christine Ford told the "Washington Post" and figured out, OK, these people were name, these four people, where did they lived? And looked at what she had said and figured out what house it may have happened at because it was the house closest to the golf course.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then realized whose house it was and looked at the picture of the young man who lived there at the time who was a classmate of Mr. Kavanaugh's. Put up side by side images, they looked a lot alike.


COOPER: Now again today, Whelan took down the tweets apologized. Then late today another twist, "Politico" citing three sources, reported that an outfit called CRC public relations advised him on how to hype the theory. "Politico" also reporting that judge Kavanaugh was not aware of what his friend Ed was doing on his own behalf.

Let's clear though and any of the reporting is whether or Mr. Whelan coordinated with the White house or judiciary committee, according to the "Washington Post", Kavanaugh and his allies, unspecified allies have privately discussed mounting a defense along the lines of Whelan's tweets, namely one that would not question whether an incident involving Ford happened but instead would raised doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh. Separately, today, the President's relative restrain about going after the accuser, seem to disappear. He tweeted, quote, "I have no doubt that if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have immediately been filed with local enforcement authorities, by either her or her loving parents. I asked that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place.

These were -- short (ph) reaction by member of the Judiciary Committee a Republican member.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I was appalled by the President's tweet. First of all, we know that allegations of sexual assault -- I'm not saying that's what happened in this case, but we know that allegations of sexual assault are one of the most unreported crimes that exist. So I thought that the President's tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong.


COOPER: Well, that after a remarkable week and day is where things stand tonight. Joining us, a CNN global affairs analyst and Washington Post columnist Max Boot, he's just reading about this for the "Post". With us as well is Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, which supports Judge Kavanaugh.

Carrie, as I said earlier, Whelan was reportedly working with a PR firm on this theory. I understand you're also represented by the same PR firm just for the record, have they advised you on this story at all? Have they given you any talking points or guidance on how to frame this?

CARRIE SEVERINO, CHIEF COUNSEL, JUDICIARY CRISIS NETWORK: Yes, I saw this the same time as everyone else did. I saw it in Ed's Twitter feed and was as surprised as anyone on this. But, you know, I think the key thing is here isn't what Ed Whelan tweeted it -- what is going on with this story because we've seen obviously these allegations coming out published by the "Washington Post" and by everyone else that, frankly, are very thin facts to support them. It would be very helpful for everyone to have the opportunity to hear D. Ford.

And right now we're in this back and forth negotiation between the Senate Judiciary committee and her, and coming up on a 10:00 p.m. deadline to found out if she willing to take their counteroffer, granting several of her requests in order to testify before the committee. I think that would help really clear a lot of this up.

COOPER: Right. I just -- I don't think you exactly answered, I just want to give you the opportunity to answer. Just for the record, that PR firm that Whelan is working with, that you apparently have some connection to -- have they given you any advice on talking points or this idea?

SEVERINO: Well, that's my PR firm, so when you guys said we're talking about Ed Whelan and I said, I haven't seen this. So does that sound like the right thing to say? Sure. I mean that -- this is -- this is the question is really are we going to have this hearing and that -- is this going to go forward, not some conspiracy theory that I know you're interested on this --

COOPER: I'm sorry. Go ahead -- I just I don't understand what you said. I have a PR person, I know how PR works. I'm not clear. Did the PR firm give you the same talking points they gave to Ed Whelan?


COOPER: Is this is something that was coordinated?

SEVERINO: No they -- look. You know how this works. I'm coming on your panel. They say here's the opportunity to talk but I said great. OK, I know about this, I know about this, and here's what we talked about before, here's what I'm saying in this and that's --

COOPER: So they didn't say, you know, there's this alternate theory, here's evidence of it?

SEVERINO: No, not at all.


SEVERINO: No, no. I mean that's -- you know, that's Ed Whelan's theory.


SEVERINO: That's not my game here.

COOPER: All right.

SEVERINO: I'm more concerned about this -- the Judiciary Committee and are we going to get to it where we can actually get some closure on this or at least get to hear some more of the information. And they have, as I have said, acceded to as many of her requests as they couldn't they offered to delay the hearing now to a Wednesday. They said she could have a single camera in the room only et cetera. So a lot of --

COOPER: They did agree to an investigation though, which is probably one of her biggest requests.

SEVERINO: They have been in fact performing investigation. The Senate Judiciary Committee has investigative powers as well. So they've taken testimony from Judge Kavanaugh, from Mark Judge, from another man who was allegedly at the party, and they've reached out to several of the people who were alleged to be at the party trying -- including Dr. Ford.

And that's under penalty of felony. So, this is -- the Democrats ought to be participating in that. It something that suppose to be a bipartisan investigatory process. And that the Democrats instead of actually participating in this investigation -- COOPER: OK.

SEVERINO: -- that chosen to try to pretend it. Somehow depending how the FBI is going to get a lot more accomplish, it's not --


SEVERINO: -- they have the opportunity, they should be taking it.

COOPER: Max, should the -- I mean what Ford wanted with us the FBI.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Of course, the FBI should be in involved in this, Anderson, as they were with the Clarence Thomas case. An older case. But its striking to me how Carrie doesn't want to talk about it -- what Whelan did.

[20:50:05] Now, I have to seat here and tell you, I am ashamed -- I am ashamed to call myself a conservative when I have seen the (INAUDIBLE) mere tactics, the kind of McCarthy-ism, that Ed Whelan engage him. This is -- I have seen a lot of crazy and callous things in Washington Anderson. This is the most crazy and callous I've ever seen, in order to get his friend Brett Kavanaugh confirmed onto the Supreme Court, he named another person as a sexual criminal person.

COOPER: A middle school teacher.

BOOT: An innocent person. Put his name out there, put his picture out there. This is despicable. This is disgusting. Why hasn't Brett Kavanaugh disavowed this? Why hasn't he denounced this? Why don't people like Carrie disavow and denounce this. This is nauseating. This is to me part.

And I say this is a life long conservative. This is part of this dissent into madness for the conservative movement which led by conspiracy theorists and Donald Trump. And they have adopted his win at all cost ethos. They don't care what norms they break. They don't care what rules they violate. They don't care what lives they destroy, all they care about is getting political wins, by getting Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court.

One other point Anderson, we need to find out if Brett Kavanaugh was involved in this, because Ed Whelan is not just some random guy off the street. This is not Alex Jones, he is a pillar at the Washington legal establishment. He is a friend of Brett Kavanaugh. He is involved in trying to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed. So Brett Kavanaugh needs to go under oath and answer questions, did he know about this smear attack? And if he did, if he did know it, he needs to withdraw immediately, that would be disqualifying in and off itself.

COOPER: Carrie, is it appropriate what Ed Whelan did, putting out the name of somebody else?

SEVERINO: Look, I -- he's already apologized for that and I absolutely agree, he should not have put the name and picture out as he did. And for the same reasons that I'm frustrated that the Democrats leaked Dr. Ford's allegations.

BOOT: No, you are engaging a lot about --


BOOT: This is disgusting what they're doing.


SEVERINO: Because I'm saying he was also wrong.

BOOT: There is no comparison between this. The Democrats did not leak Dr. Ford's name. She came out herself on Sunday and gave an interview at the "Washington Post".

SEVERINO: Somebody leaked it and, and a Democrat senator and a Democrat congressman and their staff --


BOOT: They did not leak her name. You're not telling the truth here. She came out on Sunday, OK.

SEVERINO: They leak the -- someone, it was only the Democrats and her that --


BOOT: There was in fact a report in the "Washington Post" right, that Ed Whelan knew her name before it was made public. And so that something that needs to be investigated by the House Judiciary Committee -- by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

COOPER: Well, we're going to leave it there. Carrie Severino, Max Boot --

SEVERINO: Thank you.

COOPER: -- appreciate it.

Coming up, Kamau Bell and Anthony Bourdain, took a trip to Kenya together for the final episodes of "Parts Unknown". Kamau, joins me to talk about his memories of that trip and of course Tony, next.


[20:56:49] COOPER: Well to say that the final episodes of Anthony Bourdain's Part Unknown will bitter sweet is obviously an understatement. They being this Sunday starting with a trip to Kenya with Kamau Bell host of CNN's "United Shades of America". And Kamau joins me tonight.

What was it like working with Tony on this?

KAMAU BELL, HOST, UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA: You know it was really and I'm not saying this -- I'm not saying it was a dream come true, because I've been watching him just before his own CNN, with his travel channel food network and sitting on my wife then girlfriend's (INAUDIBLE), how'd he do that? You know?

So, when I got the job here, I though I got -- I was already for some sort of a bonus round. And then when we met at the Emmy, he was like do you want to do something together? So I just -- it was I felt like I won a contest.

COOPER: The thing that always struck me about, I never got to travel with him, but he still go eat with him and he would force me to eat.

BELL: Yes, we talked about that. I thought enjoying you -- enjoying force you to eat this.

COOPER: But the thing I always took away from watching his shows is that they were real journeys, that it wasn't just like something being shot for television and you fell like it's an immersive journey.

BELL: Yes, yes. He talked a lot about what I would say is the art of making TV. Like he wasn't approaching like we're making a TV show. He actually showed me a clip of the West Virginia show, he showed -- they aired last year. And about how he was working on this segment really -- he really was like trying to get the music to work. And so he really approached it like this was his life's work, he wasn't just the host of the show.

COOPER: Right, yes. This is the first time I understand you had actually been to Africa?

BELL: Yes, it was my first time when he said, at one point where do you want to go? And Kamau is a Kenya name is kokuyu. And Kenyans who -- when they meet me I was -- you have to go Kenya, I was like I've never been to Kenya either and he was like I've never been to Kenya either.

COOPER: He hadn't been to Kenya?

BELL: I know. That was reaction I have. I thought hadn't you been everywhere like nine times?

COOPER: Yes, yes.

BELL: So, he -- and so had been also never to Africa. So he really took care sort of like -- and also talking about how he was watching me react cool.

COOPER: What did you think of being (INAUDIBLE)?

BELL: I mean for me it was there sort of -- there was two things happening one, was like I've read a lot about African-Americans going to Africa and sort of expecting this sort of I'm home.

COOPER: Right.

BELL: And how that hasn't work out. So I really was very tentative about sort of acting like that. But then the more I was over there, the more Kenyans would be like, woah we know from here, welcome home. You know, so -- but then the other thing just like, Nairobi is an incredible city.


BELL: I mean it's a mix of urban and rural. And, you know, you'll be standing like basically like this modern coffee shop. And then somebody will walk by with a herd of goats, you know, what I mean.

COOPER: Yes, yes.

BELL: So -- and we went on safari at this like conservancy and it just everything shifted, you know, it was something quieter, and there something like there's like -- without a safari and lions are walking around this, and so it was a lot.

COOPER: It's going to be, I mean I know bittersweet is a cliche, but I mean to -- to see this and with Tony being gone, it's going be going to be hard to watch.

BELL: Yes, I mean it is hard to watch. But I am so aware that is nowhere near as hard for me as it is for people who had him as a part of their intimate lives for a long time. So I mean even someone like you, he talked about you. You know, what I mean, like there's people I sort of came into this late and so I feel like I'm at the tip of this, and we were sort of beginning of friendship. But, you know, like I seen (INAUDIBLE) who directed the episode and basically Tony raised on the show to be this like incredible producer. And he's still editing the show, so for me I feel this is -- I have the easiest job in this.

[21:00:02] COOPER: Yes, we all miss him.

BELL: Yes.

COOPER: I look forward it to. I'm glad you did it.

BELL: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, I hope you tune in for the premier of the final season "Anthony Bourdain Part's Unknown" Sunday 9:00 p.m.

The new continues now. I want to hand over to Chris Cuomo "PRIME TIME" --