tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN September 21, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
many of them are not thinking education. they plan for the future. what you can see, you can aspire to. they need to be shown another life. >> for more, including how one 17-year-old girl is using technology to solve a problem in her community, just log on to cnnheroes.com. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. the deputy attorney general of the united states reportedly brought up wearing a wire in the oval office to prove that the president was unfit. this is real life. "the lead" starts right now. breaking news. a shocking report says rod rosenstein, the man in charge of the russia probe, discussed secretly recording president trump and potentially ousting him via the constitution, as washington, d.c., holds on tight for the president's response to this. also breaking just minutes ago, the deadline. republicans giving kavanaugh's accuser, christine blasey ford, the rest of this hour to respond
to their counteroffer for a hearing on wednesday, bringing us closer to a hearing that could decide the future of the supreme court. and you can go ahead and reset that clock on the president showing any restraint. today he unleashed on professor ford and on her parents. in a tone deaf tweet, asking why didn't she report this to the fbi when she was 15? this is cnn breaking news. welcome to "the lead" i'm jake tapper. we begin with breaking news. a stunning report out this afternoon, revealing just how concerned at least one top administration official was about the chaos of the trump presidency and the behavior of president trump. the "new york times" reporting the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, told fbi and justice department officials he was considering secretly recording president trump to try to document the dysfunction he was witnessing and even discuss trying to garner support from cabinet officials to potentially invoke the 25th amendment to the
u.s. constitution. this would remove president trump from office for being unfit to serve. this is according to several people to describe these events to the "new york times." rossen stein made the suggestion in the spring of 2017 days after he fired james comey. neither of the proposals went any further than talk. rosenstein, who oversees the russia investigation, is publicly denying this report, caulking it inaccurate. let's get to sara murray. rosenstein was reportedly so serious about removing president trump from office, he thought he could persuade attorney general jeff sessions and then homeland security secretary, john kelly, to potentially join him? >> that's right. according to the "new york times" report, ross rhoden stos was coming up with ways to get trump out of the white house, but today he's hitting back at the "new york times" story. >> he floated the idea of wearing a wire to secretly
record president trump last year, according to the "new york times." the second-most powerful person at the justice department also reportedly discussed with doj officials recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th amendment to remove trump from office for being unfit. in the days following fbi director james comey's firing. rosenstein vehemently denying the claims, saying in a statement,
the "new york times" story is inaccurate and factually incorrect. i will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. adding, let me be clear about this. based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th amendment. one source who was in the room for the discussion tells cnn, rosenstein was being sarcastic when he discussed the wire comment. but others told the "new york times" that rosenstein was serious, and even raised the idea of others wearing a wire. the "times" report relies on memos written by former fbi
director, andrew mccabe. mccabe, whose memos have been handed over to special counsel's robert mueller's team was fired earlier this year, following an onslaught of twitter attacks from the president. a justice official tells cnn, they're skeptical of mccabe's description of events, suggesting mccabe has credibility issues and wanted to do what he could to lay the ground work for the appointment of a special counsel after comey was fired. another close to the situation believes mccabe had no incentive to lie while taking those contemporaneous notes. today through his attorney, mccabe denied any knowledge of how the "times" got its hands on the details of his memos. saying when he was interviewed more than a year ago, he gave all of his memos, classified and unclassified, to the special counsel's office. a set remained at the fbi at the time of his departure in late january 2018. he has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos. >> so help you god. >> reporter: rosenstein took charge of the russia investigation after attorney
general, jeff sessions, recused himself. just yesterday, he went to the white house to discuss declassifying certain documents and texts related to the russia probe. now president trump is backing away today from that call to declassify documents, text messages, the application for the fisa warrant for carter page. he said he would leave it up to the inspector general to move forward with this. that will be a relief to some trump critics who viewed this as an effort to meddle in the russia investigation. >> thanks so much. let's talk about it with our experts. bill, start with you. rod rosenstein, thinking that potentially -- he denies the story, but that the president was unfit, and they should talk about the 25th amendment, maybe even wearing a wire? >> what deputy attorney general hasn't thought about wearing a wire into the oval office and invoking the 25th amendment? it happens in every administration. >> let the record reflect, bill is being sarcastic. for the aliens in 100 years who
read the transcript. >> where does one begin? i don't know. maybe he saw things that were legitimately extremely worrisome. i'm sure he did see some things. he also may have been extremely rattled when comey was fired. i will say, honestly, since then, whether he was being sarcastic or humor-like in some of the comments, he's been, i think, looking from the outside, a very responsible deputy attorney general. and he and sessions preserve the mueller investigation under rule of law. at the department of justice. we saw that just now. and they're not going ahead with declassifying things recklessly and irresponsibly, even though the president said they should. so whatever the truth -- the particular account, i think we should keep that in mind, as well. >> kristen, this isn't the first time we've heard the 25th amendment being discussed. it was mentioned in the "new york times" op-ed, saying there had been whispers about it earlier in the administration. whether or not you believe her, and i understand a lot of people don't, omarosa manigault newman
says people in the white house staff used to do #tfa, the 25th amendment, whenever president trump did anything crazy. this isn't the first time our viewers have heard the term, 25th amendment. they knee what it means. >> it does seem to be a little irresponsible for someone who is the deputy attorney general, who may be in a position where you've got to be investigating the president's actions to be saying something like this, which is why i'm skeptical of the account. by all accounts, rod rosenstein has been a professional, responsible person in the very difficult role that he's been in. i mean, the real question now is, in his statement to the media, rod rosenstein affirms, i don't think we should be using the 25th amendment to remove the president. will the president hear that message? think about the competing voices we've got in this discussion. on one hand, the voices from department of justice, which the president has no problem criticizing. on the other hand is the "new york times," andrew mccabe, notes from lisa page, i believe, are involved. it's like a laundry list of
people. so who will the president agree with and who has got the right story on this issue. >> and here's another group of people. laura ingram, the conservative pundit on fox news, and who president trump i think respects a lot, tweeted in response, quote, rod rosenstein must be fired today. so there are a lot of people on -- a lot of trumpy folks who don't like rosenstein, because they think he's let the russia probe run wild, et cetera, who are looking at this as an excuse for the president to fire him. >> yeah. and that's what to me is really scary about this. is that it could be used for that. the president now in his imaginary world has all the evidence he would need. i think he thought he had that long ago. but this is another proof point. and i also am concerned that the reporting, we just don't know, how accurate is it really? it makes sense to me that maybe he could have made a crack about this. really proposed that, it just -- i don't even know how you do that. you go to a judge and get a warrant.
so the worst possible scenario in my mind is that it's an exaggerated report. either because somebody gave an exaggerated information or, you know, misrepresented something, or for some other reason. and then that becomes the premise for the president to fire. >> the "new york times" reporters are excellent reporters. goldman and schmidt. and the other thing is, you know, mccabe, who wrote this in a memo, is denying he wrote it in a memo. he's just saying he didn't give it to them. >> well, exactly. they're getting this from somewhere. what i would say about the drumbeat of the president's -- the folks on the outside the president listens to, they've also said that about sessions. so i'm not making any predictions -- >> said what about sessions? >> called for sessions to be fired. exactly. so i wonder if this is something -- and i'm not going to make any predictions, because lord knows it could have been tweeted right now while i'm talking. >> no, they'll let me know. >> oh, good. thank goodness. but i wonder if this just increases the likelihood that a lot changes after the midterm
elections. >> yeah. >> or even after kavanaugh gets confirmed or doesn't get confirmed. i do think one piece of leverage for responsible people in the white house have had against the president acting against sessions, rosenstein, et cetera, is, hey, you've got to keep things calm because you care about the supreme court and brett kavanaugh has a pretty good chance of getting confirmed. once kavanaugh is resolved, mcgahn leaves, all bets are off, i think. >> one other person in a group reacting to this, donald trump jr., perhaps his number one surrogate on the campaign trail, shocked, absolutely shocked. now, who is he attacking, the "new york times"? no. rosenstein. oh, who are we kidding at this point. no one is shocked these guys would do anything in their power to undermine real donald trump. followed by the quote, we likely have a winner in the search for anonymous. donald trump jr. tweeting that. >> sure. that doesn't surprise me at all, in fact. like i mentioned, we're going to have the strange bedfellows effect, where suddenly anonymous sources of the "new york times" are the greatest ever, because they're confirming a narrative
some people already had and want to see further. it doesn't surprise me at all the for examplks are jumping on story that proof he is exactly the monster they said he was. count me as still pretty skeptical. >> the irony on this to me is, let's say this actually did happen. and, again, it seems a little -- bizarre. it's the president's behavior. >> nothing bizarre has happened. >> but what's been extraordinarily and consistently bizarre is the president's own behavior. that's what's at the core of this. doubting whether this man can actually do his job. you've got an investigation going on into whether there was collusion with russia, whether his entire business is based on fraud, money laundering, so on and so forth. so, i mean, it's just one of these remarkable things nowadays, that we're sorting through all these details. but when you pull back, what's really at question here is the president's own fitness for office. that is a legitimate question. >> woodward in his book does not have the 25th amendment section, but he does have chief of staff john kelly calling it crazytown.
and in this account in the "new york times," rosenstein is talking about potentially getting kelly, who at the time was at the department of homeland security, to join him, along with sessions in possibly talking about the 25th amendment to remove the president from office. >> and that's one of the interesting things about this piece, is it does continue a thread, maybe not the 25th amendment piece, but does continue a thread. the woodward book was about a bunch of people who are senior officials trying to undermine the president. and that's the narrative throughout the book. and we just see that through that op-ed, and now through this story, that this is a continuing narrative. that isn't going away any time soon. and maybe some of the events aren't exactly how they're presented. but it sure seems like a lot of this stuff happened. >> do you think there's a legitimate 25th amendment case against president trump? to play devil's advocate here, the economy is chugging along fine. you agree with a lot of things the president is doing in terms of taxes, in terms of brett kavanaugh, at least until a week ago. in terms of foreign policy, even
-- obviously, his behavior is erratic, and unusual. do you think from is a case to be made he's unfit? >> he could be unfit in a general sense. i don't think there's a 25th amendment case. the reason the anonymous op-ed has some resonance, it's claimed to be someone who is an insider who claims other insiders have seen issues that would raise 25th amendment concerns. presumably those of us who see him on tv and twitter, wouldn't see. no, i don't think at this point there's any reason to think there is a legitimate 25th amendment case. i think the degree to which -- the woodward book shows people undermining him, it shows officials restraining him. >> the country -- >> for me, the big story -- >> sorry, i need to take the line of the trump administration. >> typical trump spokeswoman here on my left. but for me, the big story again is the degree to which those constraints are gradually
being -- going away, being undercut. the guard rails being chipped away at. mcgahn is leaving, mattis could leave. he wants desperately to fire sessions. maybe he'll add rosenstein after election day. it could be -- >> picture of the red wedding. we have more to talk about. was rod rosenstein serious when he talked about wearing a wire? we'll talk to one of the reporters who broke this bombshell "new york times" report. and the restraints are off after making it four days, congratulations, without going after the woman accusing brett kavanaugh of sexual assault. president trump is on the attack against her, even ridiculing her parents. stay with us. david. what's going on? oh hey! ♪ that's it? yeah. that's it?
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saw significant symptom relief and many achieved remission in as little as 4 weeks. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have flu-like symptoms or sores. don't start humira if you have an infection. be there for you, and them. ask your gastroenterologist about humira. with humira, remission is possible. back with breaking news. cnn learned the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein suggested the justice department and fbi officials he secretly record president trump at the white house. he suggested recruiting cabinet officials to invoke the 25th amendment to remove president trump from office. this is according to sources
authored by former fbi deputy director andrew mccabe and was first down reported by the "new york times." joining me on the phone is adam goldman, one of the two reporters who broke the story, along with michael schmidt. adam, congratulations on the scoop. you report when rosenstein talks about wearing a wire, one person describes him saying it sarcastically, but others thought he meant it. is it clear to you, ultimately, how he meant it when he made the remarks about the -- when he talked about wearing a wire? >> yeah, you know, my understanding of what happened is that this wasn't a flippant remark. and he was, in fact, very serious. and the circumstances in which it was described to me are different now than what's being put out i guess by the government. but, you know, it's important that your listeners understand something. that as i was pursuing this story for a very long time, people were reluctant to talk about it, because of the gravity
of the story. there was concern that if it got out, that, you know, rosenstein had wanted to actually, you know, wear a wire, and suggested andy mccabe, the acting director at the time wear a wire, that rob might get fired. people were sincerely concerned about this. not because he made a flip remark. because of the seriousness surrounding the remark. >> yeah. and adam, i have to say, senator schumer, the democratic leader of the senate, is out there saying this can't be used as pretext to fire rod rosenstein. you have supporters of the presidents like laura ingram at fox news, saying rod rosenstein must be fired. this has entered the political sphere. i know that isn't why you wrote it. you wrote it because it's a big scoop, it's interesting, and it's factual. but when you write a story like this, that's got to weigh on you to a degree, that how is this going to impact history? >> you know, agreed. in this moment, we realize when
we write these stories they can become politically toxic, but i felt my job as a reporter and the way i've always conducted myself is i just follow the facts. and when i reach a certain comfort level, i publish the story. you know, i think my main concern in this story was just trying to be fair to all of the parties involved. >> yeah, absolutely. there have been other mentions of the 25th amendment, of course, being talked about in the administration. the anonymous op-ed author for your newspaper's editorial pages. omarosa manigault pneumonnewman about how white house staffers used to have a hash tag when they found the president doing something wanting, #tfa. do you have a sense whether this was really being seriously considered among administration officials? this is something they actually are going to do? they're going to go to other members of the cabinet and try to get the number that they -- the requisite number to actually invoke the amendment? >> well, as i wrote in my story, i think there was concern that
how would you do a straw poll? because if it got back to trump and he found out, he would fire everybody. but, you know, i wasn't able to level the -- measure the seriousness of what mr. mccabe was told by rod. but, you know, what was interesting when i learned about that, it was post -- it was -- only learned about it after the op-ed. and which -- which raised this idea, at least in my mind, that, you know, more people talking about the 25th out there than we really know. >> interesting. adam goldman with the "new york times," thanks for joining us. as president trump changes his tone and questions how serious the attack could have been against her, judge brett kavanaugh's accuser, professor christine blasey ford, is slowing coming to terms with senators. the possible new date for this momentous hearing, coming up next. stay with us.
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breaking news in our politics lead. we now have a 5:00 deadline for professor christine blasey ford. she is the woman accusing judge kavanaugh of sexual assault. 5:00, she needs to respond to republicans' latest offer for a hearing. that's just in 33 minutes. the conditions coming from republicans on the senate judiciary committee, the hearing would be wednesday. blasey ford would testify first,
before kavanaugh. and an outside counsel would be used to ask the questions. this new deadline comes hours after president trump unleashed an attack against professor ford and her credibility after five days of following the advice of his aides and saying professor ford should be heard. the president is now questioning whether her allegations are true. cnn's kaitlan collins is live in springfield, missouri, where president trump is holding a rally this evening. kaitlan, you reported yesterday the president's aides were stunned at his relative restraint. what's the reaction today to him attacking a woman who claims she was sexual assaulted? >> reporter: well, jake, they didn't think it was long, because it's pretty uncharacteristic of the president to be so measured in his responses, as he had been for several days. but then today we saw what the president has been saying privately. he said it publicly today, which is that he questions the allegations that christine blasey ford has leveled against his supreme court nominee and he made clear today whether she testifies or not, he thinks brett kavanaugh should become
justice brett kavanaugh. >> brett kavanaugh -- >> reporter: president trump unleashing today, breaking after days of restraint and lashing out at the woman who has accused his supreme court nominee of sexual assault. trump tweeting that at the alleged attack was as bad as she says it was, christine blasey ford would have filed charges. the president demanding to know the date, time and place. ford has accused brett kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, allegations he has vigorously denied. white house officials were caught off guard by the president's initially measured response until he cast doubt on ford's allegation today. asking, why didn't someone call the fbi 36 years ago? in an interview with the "washington post" earlier this week, ford recalled thinking, i'm not ever telling anyone this. moments before trump attacked ford, kellyanne conway told reporters -- >> there's no reason to attack. >> reporter: but earlier she said -- >> i hope this woman is not
being used by the democrats. >> reporter: the president criticizing democrats who have called for an fbi investigation into ford's allegation. saying they don't want to know the answers, because facts don't matter to them. trump's remarks coming as ford's attorneys continue negotiating with the senate judiciary committee over her possible testimony. including her request from ford she never be in the same room as kavanaugh. trump, making his feelings known today, tweeting, let her testify or not and take the vote. as he continues to tout his nominee's credentials. >> a great intellect. a great gentleman. an impeccable reputation. went to yale, top student. went to yale law school. top student. >> reporter: so jake, clearly, president trump feeling very confident. so is the senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell. but senator susan collins, who is going to be a crucial vote
for kavanaugh, if she does vote for him to get him confirmed, today said she was appalled by president trump's tweet about christine blasey ford, noting that sexual assaults are typically one of the most underreported crimes. she said she thought his tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong. but, of course, when the president is on this stage behind me tonight, there is a chance we could hear more of what the president tweeted today from him in person. jake? >> kaitlan collins with the president in missouri. in fact, let me play some of this sound from susan collins, and just keep in mind, the idea that sexual assault victims don't report the assault, that's the norm, according to advocates using justice department figures. they say two out of three sexual assaults go unreported. so it's not unusual. that's not evidence of anything. here is republican senator, susan collins, reacting to president trump's tweet. >> i was appalled by the
president's tweet. 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. >> what changed? the president had been showing relative restraint. now he is attacking dr. blasey ford and her parents for not having reported this crime. he clearly -- this alleged crime. he clearly thinks it didn't happen. >> he somewhere got a green light to start doing this. whether it was, you know, talking to people on the outside, or -- because clearly, he's no longer listening to his advisers, because what happened right there with senator collins is exactly what they were trying to avoid. alienating two women, in particular, susan collins and lisa murkowski, who are going to be critical votes. especially if they lose a lot of
9 red state democrats, because of what's happening right now. also, the image of the president of the united states bullying this woman, who is deciding whether or not to come forward, reminds women who might be looking at the mid terms why they don't like him. >> i mean, obviously, politically, it's not smart. but what -- why would the president do this? kellyanne conway from the very beginning had been saying she shouldn't be attacked, she should be heard. she was doing what she should to undermine her credibility, but in a much more subtle way. why would he do this? >> because that's how he thinks. i don't know. and he could only restrain himself for so long. there's no rational, technical reason to do it. so -- >> but it should be said, and forgive me, but -- the president has a long history. >> in fact -- >> let me interrupt you. because in the same tweetstorm, the president called brett kavanaugh, a quote, fine man with an impeccable reputation. he has a history, the president,
of defending the men accused of horrific behavior with women. take a listen. >> this is a obviously tough time for him. he says he's innocent. >> he says it didn't happen. and, i know, you have to listen to him also. he's a good person. i don't think bill would do anything wrong. it's very sad. because he's a very good person. now all of a sudden they're saying these horrible things about him. >> and doesn't trump say at the end of the tweet, they also attacked me like this. >> right. >> the worst possible thing you could do to make the case for brett kavanaugh, is for the president to associate kavanaugh with himself and with all these other characters. rob porter, roy moore, bill o'reilly and roger ailes, all of whom president trump was there defending. and basically expressing sympathy for them. >> yeah, he's not the best character witness. we can put it that way. and i think i'm with jackie on the point that this is the worst possible thing you could do, if your goal is to try to keep this
from being a complete political circus. so susan collins, prior to today's tweets, had actually been pretty clear. look, we need to get the show on the road. we need to hear from both sides. we need to have a vote. let's stop having this get drawn out and made into a political circus. and it seemed to me that that was the right position to take. let's move on, let's hear from both sides. let's take a vote instead of drawing this out. this takes it up to a level of political circus that is -- before unseen. that now you are adding the trump factor to what was previously already a very difficult and sort of divided situation. >> and lest we forget, president trump has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual harassment or assault. and at one time, i think during the campaign, he actually suggested that one of his accusers was not attractive enough tofor him to have sexual assaulted. >> she would not be my first choice. that i can tell you. man, you don't know. that would not be my first
choice. >> i don't know how to respond to that, honestly. i also have to say, what i think is most depressing about all of this, is i don't think the truth is relevant, honestly. i think that the republicans are running a process. the president is certainly running a process to get this guy through. the senate is not looking into the facts and trying to figure out what's true and what's false, whether he's ready for a lifetime appointment. they're just trying to railroad this through. >> it could be said, the democrats are not interested in the truth, either. they are just doing everything they can to defeat brett kavanaugh. >> i think there are politics on both sides of this. >> yeah, i was going to say. the good senator from california had a lot of information about the story that was sat on until the most politically expedient moment, completely kind of under -- if this had been something that had come out early on, you already had brett kavanaugh under oath. you could have asked him questions about.
this is for sure the sort of search for truth. i actually have been pleasantly surprised by seeing the way senate republicans in the judiciary committee have said, okay, here's our offer. what are you not comfortable with pieces of this offer for how you can testify? okay. let's talk about it. instead of monday, let's talk wednesday. they've been doing a pretty good job so far. >> i think in terms of focusing on a victim and her rights, there are two things here. first of all, she has said that she was -- that senator feinstein handled this the way she wanted. and i think she -- what she wants and her views on this matter. and the second piece of this is, the republicans at every point have done a worse job than was done for anita hill. >> how do you figure? >> first of all, there were other witnesses allowed to testify. >> right. the democrats controlled the judiciary committee. >> the opposite party, right? and second of all, the fbi was allowed to investigate. and i just -- >> the white house called for the fbi to investigate. >> the republicans -- >> the bush white house. >> right, the republicans who -- who nominated him. so i just think -- we shouldn't
pretend like there's a search for the truth here. there's a search to get this guy confirmed. >> everyone stick around. we've got more to talk about. red wave or rose-colored glasses. why republican leaders are seeing a much different picture of the midterm elections than president trump is. stay with us. ♪ flintstones! meet the flintstones. ♪ ♪ they're the modern stone age family. ♪ ♪ from the town of bedrock. ♪ meet george jetson. ♪ ♪ his boy elroy. with instant acceleration, electric cars are more fun to drive and more affordable than ever. electric cars are here. plug into the present.
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politics now. the "new york times" reporting that mitch mcconnell and paul ryan privately told aides that president trump needs to sound the alarm about a potential huge blue democratic wave hitting capitol hill. as cnn's joe johns reports, republicans are hoping the president will get the message, because the mid terms, they say, could get messy.
♪ >> reporter: the message from mitch mcconnell today. >> keep the faith. don't get rattled by all of this. >> reporter: his bottom line, forget the supreme court controversy and vote republican. >> we can hold on to the senate majority for two more years. we're going to transform the federal judiciary. >> reporter: the president, who has predicted a red wave in november, modifying his message on the stump thursday night in las vegas, where he was joined by endangered gop senator, dean heller. >> promise me, you've got to get out for the mid -- don't be complacent. you've got to get out for the mid terms. >> reporter: though democrats hold a narrow path to the senate majority, the president is not holding back, calling out heller's opponent, jackie rosen, by name. sort of. >> a vote for wacky jackie, is a vote for the extreme agenda of those people. >> reporter: next, president trump heads to missouri, as part of his ramped up campaign schedule, ahead of the election. >> it's like this -- it's like this. if somebody has a cold, we don't
have a majority that day. it's like we have to have more republicans in office. >> reporter: also tonight, the first lone star state debate between republican senator ted cruz and democratic challenger, congressman betto o'rourke. cruz got a boost from ivanka trump, with the pair touring the space center. the president is expected to hold a rally for cruz next month as senate democrats need a gain of just two seats to claim the majority. with such a slim margin, top conservatives are sounding the alarm. >> we have a very tiny majority. >> the political map for the mid terms this year still tends to favor republicans retaining control of the senate, but they are looking over their shoulders, because democrats have been able to create more competitive races in states that president trump won. and the party in power tends to lose seats on capitol hill in the mid terms anyway.
so it's the tug of war between what the map says and the political environment that's got republicans worried. jake? >> joe johns, thanks so much. guys, take a look at cnn's key races map for the senate. tennessee, arizona, florida, indiana, missouri and nevada. cnn rating them all tossups right now. trump is making two campaign stops in just 24 hours. nevada last night and missouri tonight. do republicans actually have a reason to fear losing the senate? i understand the house is seriously in play. but the senate, the map is so friendly. it's so many strong republican states where senators are up for re-election. >> as a republican, i feel better about the senate than i do the house. but what's odd about the senate is that while you have so many potential pickup opportunities in places like a north dakota, where you have a democratic senator representing a quite red state, you have a situation like tennessee, which is a pretty red state that might actually elect a democratic senator, because
that particular candidate just has a positive brand image in the state. >> the former governor. >> it's less about the political environment or distaste about trump in that, it's just about the candidates involved. and i think you've got a couple of other races, as well, like take the florida race, for instance. you've got a senator in bill nelson, fellow gator. i'm not supposed to speak ill of a fellow gator, but who i think has been asleep at the wheel and hasn't been campaigning in that state, which even in a tough environment for republicans, in a state that's a pretty big swing state, where democrats may well pick up the governor's mansion. at the same time, you could have a republican in rick scott, winning that senate seat. so sometimes it comes down to candidate equality and how much are they willing to work. >> and how much do you think president trump is a drag on republicans? obviously, in some places like nevada, dean heller, who used to be a sometime trump critic, is relying on president trump to help get out the vote. >> yeah. republicans are squeezed here. if they try to run away from president trump, their base is going to be deflated. and i frankly think it is really hard to make the case to any of
these voters that -- at this point in the cycle that republicans are standing up to him credibly. and i think it's too late for dean heller to do that. and for republicans as a brand. but trump also matters for democrats. and what you're seeing here is republicans are worried that we're going to have this massive turnout turnout imbalance. i remember i was working at the campaign committee in 2010, and this just happens. your base is deflated when you're in power. you're governing. people get disappointed about this or that thing and the other side is charged up. this feels a lot like the opposite of 2010 or like 2006. you can just feel the momentum going. and more races coming online. and i'm starting to see polling races tied in districts we wouldn't have even -- >> i think the senate is coming into play, partly just because that's what happens when you get one of these big waves and naturally red states. guess what, the democratic incumbents hang on and then they lose one or two they don't expect to lose and it could be
51-49 the other way. also i think the last week, the kavanaugh stuff, has really reminded voters that, fine, if you want to flip the house, that's a check on president trump. but actually, if you want to check president trump on other things you might care about, maybe you want to flip the senate too. so i think it's funny, all that checking president trump rhetoric that, was entirely house focused. up until about a week ago. and i do wonder whether some -- this is, of course, not a huge number, but 1 or 2% of the swing voters are thinking, maybe on my senate vote i need to be worried about checking president trump. maybe he voted for him, maybe i voted for republicans in the past. but do i really want a rubber stamp for president trump's appointments in the senate? so i actually think the senate is in play. >> jackie, it's really interesting. nevada, the race there, you have an incumbent republican senator, dean heller. but that's a state that hillary clinton won. and president trump was just there. singing the praises of dean heller, but acknowledging there was some bad blood. take a listen. >> we started out. we weren't friends. i didn't like him, he didn't
like me. and as we fought and fought and fought, believe it or not, we started to respect each other. then we started to like each other. then we started to love each other. >> well, isn't that nice? no, i think dean heller realized that he needed president trump. and president trump likes to remind people that they need him. one of the things, though, that dean heller did, talking about kavanaugh, he made an offhanded remark, calling what's going on right now with kavanaugh and the accusations as a hiccup. he happens to be running against a woman who is a sitting member of congress, and you can't make mistakes like that in this election environment. so he also made it harder for himself, both by saying -- by that gaffe, and by cozying up to president trump. >> we're just hours away from a debate between texas republican senator, ted cruz, and his
democratic opponent, congressman o'rourke. this race just labeled a tossup. i've been hearing since republicans took texas that it's going to go back to blue any day now. i'm very skeptical of it. do you think ted cruz is actually in trouble here? >> i'm -- call me more skeptical of the tossup rating. i think this is a race that ted cruz is likely to win. but it does go back again to candidate favorability. ted cruz has had problems with his favorables, even for folks that are republicans, they pulled the lever for republicans all of the time. he fought and fought and fought with president trump, as you may remember, during the republican convention in 2016, made a few enemies then. so it's one of those things where you have a candidate whose got a lot of energy on the democratic side, progressives really like o'rourke. they think he's their chance to finally, you know, get that -- get texas to flip blue. but i think -- call me skeptical that he will be enough to sort of tip that state. >> thanks one and all. appreciate it.
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president trump has been sounding the alarm, warning that democratic victories in november will mean the spread of violent gangs. he often invokes one of the deadliest street gangs in america, ms-13. in cnn's original series, "this is life," lisa ling goes into inside how they are tearing apart immigrant communities. >> coercion and threats, ms-13 has had no shortage of potential
recruits. over 100,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived in the united states since 2014, and most are vulnerable to recruitment. under the cover of night, i met one such target. a young teen, recently reunited with his mother after a decade apart. how old were you the first time you saw someone get killed? >> 9. >> reporter: you were 9 years old? did a lot of your friends join ms-13 in el salvador? >> yes. ten of my friends joined ms opinion 13. >> reporter: what happened to their lives? >> two of them are dead already. >> and the host of "this is live," lisa ling, joins me now. congratulations on this series. thanks for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> president trump talks quite a bit about ms-13, obviously trying to scare audiences and they are a dangerous gang. how serious of a threat to the
united states is ms-13 right now? >> well, context is really important. and ms-13 is a very complicated issue as a whole. and i really hope people will watch this episode and read the piece i wrote on cnn.com. but is our national security at threat by ms-13? no. the fbi estimates that there are over 1 million gangs in the united states and ms-13 accounts for less than 1%. they are, however, a very serious threat to central american communities throughout the east coast and even los angeles, and the level of savagery that they perpetrate, mostly on fellow teenagers, is really disturbing. most of those teenagers in the last couple of years are unaccompanied minors, they have come to this country traumatized. they don't really have relationships with their family members who have been in the united states. they are desperate to find places to belong. and ms-13, they're experts at
these seduction tactics or also experts at using force. >> how much of the ms-13 problem could be taken care of if the border was secured? if the flood of -- or the flow, rather, of undocumented immigrants into this country was at least slowed, if not stopped? >> well, the president suggests that by closing the border, gangs will not be able to come across any more. and since 2014, over 100,000 undocumented children arrived on the border, unaccompanied minors, and they estimate that .02% of them had any gang ties. so the gang is already here. this ms-13 gang has been here since the 1980s. it's a gang that evolved in part because of the u.s. government, and what the community really needs right now is they need community outreach. certainly increased law enforcement to combat the gang.
but social services, helping these kids deal with trauma. and we interviewed one person in the episode who actually was able to leave the gang alive, because he had a religious conversion. they say when you join ms-13, you will eventually end up in a hospital, a prison or in a coffin. the only way to leave the gang alive is to become a christian. and they will test you. they will watch you. if it's not an authentic conversion, they will kill you. >> and so when you talk to the people in the community, law enforcement, social workers, church leaders, what else can be done to try to stop the damage ms-13 is inflicting? we only have a little time. >> i think maintaining community relations is the most important thing. being sensitive to the needs of this undocumented, unaccompanied minor population. and trying to ensure people, they're not going to be deported if they report information about ms-13 to authorities. >> lisa ling, thank you so much. the new season of "this is life"
premiers this sunday only on cnn. be sure to tune in sunday morning. my guest will be u.s. ambassador nikki haley. we'll have democratic senator, mazy hirono of hawaii. it starts at noon eastern on sunday. our coverage continues right now. i'll see you sunday morning. happening now, breaking news. down to a wire. stunning new details of chaos following president trump's firing of fbi director, james comey. cnn has learned that the move prompted the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, to discuss wearing a wire to secretly record the president. invoking the 25th amendment. sources tell cnn that rosenstein also wanted to recruit cabinet members to use the constitutional provision for removing an unfit president from office. deal deadline. cnn has