tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN February 9, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
certain death. >> i am a soldier of the people's army. >> the radical story of patty hearst. premiers sunday at 9:00 p.m. >> that's it for me. stay here. "the lead" with jake tapper starts now. thanks, brooke. an accused domestic abuser in the white house and the president just wished him well. president trump breaking his silence on now former chief aide rob port he as if porter had been accused of stealing stationary instead of punching or choking or emotionally crippling two exwise and abusing an ex-girlfriend. a man close to the president knew he had two ex-wives and a history of domestic violence and yet there was a scram many to defend him. why?
and the sister of kim jong-un sits a few feet from vice president mike pence. is the propaganda machine going to win the gold? welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. president trump bid a fond farewell to a senior aide accused of abusing two ex-wives and a girlfriend. >> it was very sad when we heard about it. certainly he is also very sad. he also, as you probably know, he says he's innocent and i think you have to remember that. he said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent. >> it has been a rocky week for the white house. on tuesday night, the daily mail published allegations by two ex-wives about white house secretary rob portporter, both saying porter abused they will. soon after that, a photograph of
one of the ex-wives, colbie holderness, with a black eye. and a police protective order filed by the other ex-wife, jennifer willoughby in 2010. she talked about why she took out that protective order. >> he came to the apartment where i was staying and refused to leave. and after he did ultimately leave and i closed the door and locked it behind him, he returned a moment later and punched in the glass. >> cnn has learned in recent weeks a third woman reached out to the white house with more allegations of abuse by porter and a warning that porter might harm the woman he's now dating, white house director hope hicks. when the news broke tuesday, the white house defended porter strongly. john kelly called him, quote, a man of true integrity and honor. after seeing the black eye photograph and the ensuing scandal, kelly then said he was
shocked by the allegations. allegations it turned out he first heard about last november. do not mcgahn has known about problems with porter and his exwise longer than that, for more than a year. to be clear, senior white house officials but this these accusations and they protected porter and promoted porter. but the media coverage this week proved too much and he resigned, over the objections of many in the white house, including kelly, we were told. the way the white house has dwelt this scandal has made even some of the strongest supporters, even white house aides. this was president trump's response of the. >> we wish him well. he worked very hard. found out about it recently and i was surprised by it but we certainly wish him well. obviously a tough time for him. did he a very good job when he
was in the white house. and we hope he has a wonderful career and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him. >> it's a tough time for rob porter, the president said. we home he has a great career ahead of him. so the president expressed sympathy for port he, wished him well, said it was a tough time for him and reminded everyone that porter denies the charges. that's what the president said. that's what we all heard. here's what we didn't hear. any expression for porter's ex-wife, colbie holderness, or his other ex-wife, jennifer willoughby. perhaps we should not be surprised given the white house position when it comes to claims of he said about men in and around the white house have behaved an the hornly, president trump or steve bannon or rob porter, the position has been
historically been to stand by the plenty and in many cases, call the women liars. pamela, does the white house realize at all that an expression of sympathy for any of these three women might have been appropriate? >> reporter: some white house officials i've spoken to have certainly expressed dismay, even a sense of exasperation that the president came out today making those comments. making no mention of the domestic violence allegations, or the women in this case, after the white house has been trying to clean up its response to all of this. its handling of all of this over the last 24 hours plus. there comes as the fallout continues in the west wing over the abuse allegations, and the questions remain with why more wasn't done soon where top white house aides knew about these allegations, even last fall. president trump publicly
responding for the first time to abuse allegations against former white house staff secretary rob port he who resigned wednesday. >> we wish him well of he worked very hard. i found out about it recently and i was surprised. >> reporter: the president making no mention of the women who accused porter of verbal and physical abuse. >> it was very sad when we heard about it. certainly he is also very sad. he also, as you probably know, he says he's innocent. and i think you have to remember that. he said very strongly that he's innocent. >> reporter: the president's focus of the claim of innocence clashes with the explanation at yesterday's white house briefing that things changed after these things surfaced. >> what was so different? >> it was shocking with the images. >> reporter: meanwhile, there is growing unise over how john kelly handled the abuse claims.
kelly is that top white house aides knew for months but never started an internal investigation. sources say kelly told white house staffers, he took immediate and direct action when he learned of the allegations. on wednesday, sarah sanders said port her resigned and would temporarily stay on board the ensure a smooth transition. then yesterday, the deputy press secretary said porter was terminated and defended kelly. >> there have been reports about the chief of staff. he became fully aware of these allegations yesterday. >> reporter: kelly sending a memo thursday night to staffers addressing the accusations, saying i want you fong we all take matters of domestic violence seriously. today there are increasing questions about don mcgahn's role. in early 2017, porter said his ex-wives may present potentially damaging information during back ground check. one of the ex-wives telling
cnn -- >> they were asking me to describe his character, asking me to describe anything i thought might be problem at knick his position. they did ask what was the nature of our relationship and they did ask if i felt he would be different professionally versus privately. and i was very candid and frank and detailed with them about my marriage. >> reporter: the fbi sent its preliminary report last spring including the details provided by the wives to the white house. in the fall, porter was interviewed by the fbi for a second title of after domestic issues were brought up, he informed mcgahn about the interview. he said there were domestic issues in porter's back ground. kelly was also made aware of the issues then. in november, porter's ex-girlfriend contacted him again, expressing concern about the relationship with white house director hope hicks.
>> a source telling my colleague that the president has also grown increasingly frustrated with hicks after she i know what other white house aides helped draft the initial white house statement. the white house said she later recused herself from any matters related to porter. according to those close to the president, that they believe she put her own priorities over his. >> let me start with you. pamela was using some of the reporting. do you think that hope hicks' job or chief of staff john kelly's job rot bubble? are they at risk of being fired? >> reporter: it's not clear that it will happen tonight. their positions in the west wing. they're two of the most high profiled people in the west wing. hope especially because she is such a trusted comfort dante of the president. this is the first time we're seeing them split on something.
you see the president express sadness for rob porter, for his future career. i know the president was very upset with the way it has been handled in the white house, mainly focused on the way hope hicks has handled. this not only did she not consult the president when she drafted this initial statement, defending porter, but the president feels she's really allowed her relationship with him to cloud her judgment, which anyone can see why. so it is not clear that john kelly is that hope hicks will not be in the white house on monday, sitting at their desks, about it definitely shows a downward slide for both of them. john kelly has been on one in recent weeks, and hope hicks, this is first time we've seen this happen to her. >> this wasn't a trump scandal per se until today. he's mad at hope hicks for letting her judgment be clouded.
why did trump give the statement he gave today in which he is not saying anything sympathetic toward the women, not taking the charges of domestic abuse seriously at all. >> and saying he hopes has he great career. you'd think i'd be done being surprise bd about reactions. these women, they're contemporaneous reports, they're police reports, and they're telling the fbi. i've sat for these clearances before. you don't take it lightly talking to the fbi. you want to be careful about what you're saying. this is not a low stakes thing they're bringing to the table. the trump orbit values loyalty and they value fighting. then you get a bunch of bullies, frankly, and among them, a stunningly, deeply insecure man
who needs to push around a lady? you might end one that and you might end up with people who don't interrogatory red flags. >> it is astounding that you have three women, including women that have gone, at least one woman who went to the white house. the other two have talked to the fbi. and president trump doesn't even acknowledge that they exist. much less express sympathy for them. >> i think what we should focus is what words the president has said and what it means. not just for the scandal but for women around the country who are facing a situation like this. you're facing a spouse that's abuse go them or a boyfriend that's abusing them. some of them are young and they their president of the united states say the guy is great. doesn't listen to them, doesn't hear anything from them. we've heard all this spin with john kelly is in hot water and the president is upset. he doesn't look upset at all.
he doesn't look angry. he sounds angry that this guy had to leave. he doesn't sound upset that he hired somebody for a secure position that basically abuses women regularly. >> for those keeping track at home. there have now been three men in the administration including the nominee, rob porter, steve bannon, and labor secretary andrew puzder. the president has will accused other people including bill o'reilly, mike tyson, and bill clinton. the knee jerk response is, i don't believe the woman. i believe the man. >> the president has a pattern of doing. this as you saw, he defended the job that rob porter did when he was in the west wing, a stellar job, which nobody is disputing but being good at your job is no
excuse for beating your wife. we have seen the president do this with roger ailes, roy moore, but he gives weight more to them than the women's allegations and the photos. he said we have to keep in mind rob porter denies this and says he's innocent. >> why the slow response from senior white house aides who told them months ago? we'll talk about this next. why wait months for your next vacation when you can squeeze one in between friday and monday at hilton? there's a vacation at the end of every week. whatever type of weekender you are,
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former white house staff secretary rob porter. >> before i walked on stage, a statement from the president saying he wishes him luck. he has so much talent. that's like saying, that axe murderer out there, he's a great painter. think. translate this into everyday terms. is there any other crime, and it's a crime, where there would be an explanation that the reason why we shouldn't pay attention to the transgression is because they're good at something? >> the vice president does seem to be getting at something which is that the white house staff but this these allegations a long time ago. don mcgahn knew about it a long
time ago. they all liked rob porter, they thought guests at his job so they just sat on it. amaze go if you think about it. >> they prioritize being did at your job. we know how chaotic this white house is. rob porter was one person who did not contribute tofully of the chaos there. he was someone who people saw as being a professional, being experienced, more a washington time. they liked him and they clearly prioritize that had over the very legitimate concerns coming from the fbi that the white house lawyer don mcgahn was aware of, and nls knew of as early as last fall. not only did they keep him around. his status was elevated when john kelly came into the mix. we're seeing this campaign to cover up the cover-up. john kelly not only sending the
memo last night saying domestic abuse is a problem and he does not take it lightly and if you're having any problems, call 1-800 whatever. and then he held that meeting with senior staffers to go over the time line of the porter resignation, what role he played in that. and one thing want to point out, he told senior staff within 40 minutes of him seeing the photos of one of rob porter's ex-wives, he took tookss get the resignation. those photos were tweeted at 12:00 in the morning. then praising and defending rob porter. i find it hard to believe the chief of staff in the white house did not see photos of black eyes for 12 hours. >> here's the other point. what if there hadn't been a photograph? a lot of women suffer abuse and there are no marks or they don't take pictures of it. >> this is so ridiculous. a bunch of men made a decision that beating up women is not
that important. these are women who went to the fbi. not the women themselves, the fbi tells the white house, look, we've investigated this. this is the problem, why he cannot -- the fbi is making a decision he cannot get the classification because they have these accusations. the white house, a bunch of people, not one person, multiple people make a decision. we don't care enough with domestic violence against these women to say, to hold up this guy's job. were it any other white house, as soon as would you hear that, you would get rid of the person. you would say, you cannot be in this job. i think most white houses would be so disgusted. it would be a moral stain on the white house. any of these. >> last night on anderson cooper's show, he introduced one of the ex-wives, jennifer willoughby, this is something going on between two ex-wives and the ex-girlfriend.
concern about hope hicks who is dating rob porter. let's listen. >> rob porter is now in a relationship with the press secretary hope hicks. do you think he's changed? >> i don't think he's changed. >> does that worry you? >> it worries me for a lot of reasons. i mean, it definitely worries me, if i'm being frank with you, if he hasn't already been abusive with hope, he will. and particularly now that he's under a lot of stress and scrutiny. that's when the behaviors come out. if he hasn't already, he will. >> that's pretty chilling. yeah. it's scary and i don't think generally when someone has done this several times, unless they're getting very serious help, you're not sure that's going to end. i'm not saying it to belittle the allegations, but we elected
a den of reality show villains to be in the white house, and that is the show that we're getting here. and by the way, we saw this on the campaign trail on a much smaller scale when corey lewandowski manhandled a reporter. i thought surely he'll be reprimanded or fired. and no, a couple days later, maybe the next day, trump got on stage and singled him out for praise. if the collateral damage happens to be some ladies you know, apparently that's not so bad. >> we still have a lot more to talk about. how much classified information crossed the desk of rob porter?
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breaking news, the white house is denying on a different network, alleging that chief of staff john kelly is willing to resign over this rob porter scandal which has plagued the white house this week. he has said on the record that he has not offered to resign. joining me, john podesta. he served in the clinton white house and was a counsellor to president obama and served on the hillary clinton 2016 campaign. thank you for being here. as someone who dealt with a fair amount of scandal in the clinton white house, staff secretary and chief of staff, how do you think the trump white house has dealt with the rob porter allegations? >> well, you're supposed to cauterize the wound and i think they've made it worse almost every day. first by giving a solid endorsement to them with they
knew he had this problem in his back ground, saying that he still had the confidence of the chief of staff at the white house, that he would remain in the position and then reversing course. then the chief of staff telling his staff that he immediately acted when they knew that wasn't true. and now of course this morning with the president doubling down by saying that how much they appreciated mr. porter's service in the white house, without having any comment about the fact, of concern for his two ex-wives. >> take us inside the white house wolf a chief of staff be aware of these allegations, especially if the two ex-wives had told them to the fbi and as we've reported, the reason he didn't have a permanent security clearance? >> i think mr. mcgahn raised
that. the secretary has a very important job that no one has ever heard of in the white house. i was offered the job by president-elect clinton in 1993. i had to call a friend to find out what the job was. it is a very important and relevant job that manages all the paper that is going to and from the president, including paper from the nsc, tssei, sensitive compartmentalized information, code worded information going through to the white house. so it doesn't surprise me at all that the security office would bring there to mr. mcgahn's attention, that mr. mcgahn would bring it to the chief of staff's attention. notwithstanding, that they would leave the security clearance issue open when they knew that he was unlikely to have a permanent security clearance.
that's surprising. they should have taken the action earlier. >> why wouldn't they grant him a permanent security clearance because he had these allegations of domestic abuse? because that makes him susceptible to blackmail? >> first, you don't want people in the white house as a first matter that are, that have carried on that sort of conduct. and i think you want to draw a sharp line. general kelly had to be aware of that, given his tenure as head of southern command during the rise of concern about sexual abuse and abuse in general in the military. so the fact that the underlying allegations themselves, i think, meant that he had a problem and he is not the person you want to continue in service. but on the security clearance matter. yes, you could be subject to
blackmail, to disclosure, to what in the end of the day happened to him, which is being exposed for having this course of conduct had a temporary restraining order was issued against him for threatening his second ex-wife. and then these photos which have been provided. by the photos of the first wife's incident where he evidently punched her in the eye. >> do you think mcgahn or kelly should be fired or lose their jobs in any way, resign? >> i thought mcgahn should lose his job after sally yates went to him and said the national security adviser at the beginning of the administration has been compromised by the russians. and he did nothing with that information. in fact, he challenged why the
justice department even cared whether general flynn had been compromised by the russians. >> let's talk about this scandal for a second. >> it is a conduct that they just don't care that much about security there. and mcgahn has the role of enforcing the norms in the white house. and i think, you know, i thought he should have resigned back then. i think he should resign now. >> with regard to kelly? >> i think he is on thin ice. it is hard to lose a chief of staff. particularly one who is thought to have brought some level of discipline to the white house, which was, you know, highly chaotic under the previous chief of staff. but i think at this stage, particularly given the last couple days where he is changing his story. i think he is on very, very thin ice. >> i want to ask but the steele
dossier. you have said that you did not know the clinton campaign and the dnc had asked to fund steele dossier through fusion gps. do you know who authorized it? >> the contract was between perkins -- >> the lawyer? >> the lawyer. first of all, fusion came to our lawyer, mark, who is a partner, and was the general down of the campaign and said we've been doing this work on behalf of republican-funded enterprise during the course of it. we think we have found things and we would like to continue. mr. elias had authority to do subcontracts and we knew that he was going to do back ground research. particularly on mr. trump's business relationships. we didn't know about fusion.
we didn't know that fusion had contracted with steele. >> and did you know it was used at least in part to justify a fisa warrant against carter page and all the rest? >> i think what is important, is the underlying information true? i think the republican effort is largely a smoke screen to distract from the fact the contacts, the investigation began with, because of the activity that's mr. papadopoulos that occurred before chris steele showed up on the screen. so i think they should be more concerned about whether the underlying allegations are true, rather than trying to besmirch mr. steele who had a history of providing valuable intelligence, obviously when he was a member of the british intelligence and mi 6. >> thank you so much. i appreciate you being here.
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in a photograph that everyone is talking about, vice president pence is sitting just feet away from kim jong-un's sister. no interactions whatsoever. what might this mean? >> reporter: well, clearly this is an attempt by the united states and the vice president not to give any more legitimacy to the north korean regime than sitting close together already did. so the vice president switched seats to sit farther away from kim yo-jong. there was no handshaking whatsoever when the unified
korean delegation came in march. vice president pence notably stayed sitting. he did not stand up. he did not cheer. and again, this is certainly a propaganda win, nonetheless, for north korea to have these images, showing two top level officials. >> we also saw a hand shake between south korea president moon jain and jong. is there anything more on the lunch tomorrow? >> we know it will be happening in the blue house in seoul. the fact it is lunch is significant. it gives more power to have a discussion than at the higher level talks. she can pass a message on and several sources are saying that she possibly, there is a very good chance she could extend an invitation to president moon to
visit north korea sometime this year. that would be significant because north korea wants to continue this semblance or this image of diplomacy even as the united states is calling on south korea to discontinue after the olympics. they're saying don't fall for the charm offensive. that all of this is just for show. >> all right. thank you so much. i want to bring in the former u.n. security council staffer jamie, what was your response? did you think it was awkward? >> it was certainly awkward for the united states. it was a massive propaganda win for the north koreans. they have made huge advances in developing nuclear weapons and testing and all sorts of aggressive behavior. now with the united states has pushed for more aggressive responses, north korea has shifted and embraced south korea. and as north korea and south korea move toward closer relations with each other, the united states is in many ways on
the outside. so the u.s.-south korea alliance is at flakes way it hasn't been in years. >> take a listen to vice president pence this morning. >> we will ensure every opportunity to ensure north korea does not use the powerful imagery and back drop of the olympics to paper over an appalling record of human rights and a pattern of developing nuclear weapons. >> is that the right note to sound? >> reporter: it is certainly correct that north korea has an appalling, atrocious human rights record. it is also true that north korea is developing nuclear weapons that threaten not just sowing but japan, china, the united states, and others. it is a very, very big deal. and it is certainly right to be concerned about north korea's behavior and then letting this charm offensive paper over everything that has happened. what is missing is a coherent
american strategy for rallying international pressure to limit north korea's worst abuses. because the united states hasn't done that, because we've let ourselves be outmaneuvered by the north koreans, pence is in the position of being the party pooper at this party. so it is absolutely right that north korea is a rogue regime that you they've outplayed us. >> what do you mean by that? because they've reached out a hand to south korea? that they sent this delegate, kim jong-un's sister to the olympics? is that outmaneuvering? >> they've developed nuclear wom weapons, a credible deterrent. because president trump hasn't been able to put out a coherent strategy, we've created an opportunity for the north to both establish its nuclear deterrent and to reach out to
position itself as the good guy and to get some leaders of the south korean government, including president moon, to talk about how to improve relations going forward. so after the olympics, while the u.s. will pressure for stouk disengage from the north, there will be a lot of pressure for the south to engage with the north and that will likely happen. so the united states isn't at all advancing its denuclear agenda and the united states is be being weakened. >> now the pressure in the white house who knew of the domestic issues in rob porter's past. next definitely they have a responsibility to raise a red flag? stay with us. beating this. my main focus was to find a team of doctors. it's not just picking a surgeon, it's picking the care team and feeling secure in where you are. visit cancercenter.com/breast
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"the new york times" is reporting that rachel brand who is the number three at the justice department, under deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, is stepping down. we have much more with jeffrey toobin. what is the significance of the number three at the justice department, the woman right under rod rosenstein, stepping down? >> that's the significance. as we have all been following moment to moment, the president has certainly made statements privately and virtually, publicly, about how angry he is at rod rosenstein. how much he disapproves of the job the he has done as deputy
attorney general. if he fires rosenstein, his responsibilities for the mueller investigation would go from deputy attorney general, which is what he is, to the associate attorney general, which is what rachel brand is. so she's the next person in line to assusupervise the mueller investigation. if she's gone and mueller is fired, then it gets confusing about who is the supervisor of the mueller office. there would have to be new people nominated. i would have to check the statute about how far down in the justice department hierarchy it would go to who controls rod rosenstein. everyone had assumed that she would stay in the administration for longer than barely a year. >> she's only been on the job nine months. quite curious.
white house counsel don mcgahn was told four times of domestic issues in porter's back ground. by porter himself a year ago, though it is not clear how detailed he was. then after the fbi interview, the two ex-wives saying he domestically abused them. then an ex-girlfriend told don mcgahn. as a lawyer, does he has an obligation to tell? >> not just as a lawyer but with classified information. this is classic blackmail material. a history of domestic violence that was secret at the time. an interim security clearance is not supposed to be indefinite. these people have been in office more than a year. they should have had a security
clearance or they should have been thrown out of office. the fact mcgahn just kicked the can down the road here, it illustrates how the whole process was governed more by the old boys network, taking care of the guy they like, rather than taking seriously the fact this guy was a serial wife abuser. and a woman abuser. not just the women he was married to. and it was a threat to national security. so he had an absolute obligation to bring this to a head. he had an obligation. >> i want to ask you about the new cnn original series on patty hearst. you're the executive producer. she now lives in the suburbs raising show dogs. do you get the sense she wants to hide her turn toward terrorism from her modern life? >> she certainly doesn't want to
relive this experience and i can't say i blame her. the story is even more incredible for those had a have a recollection. 1974 was the kidnapping. the fact, think about this. there were 1,000 political bombing as year in the united states during the early and mid 70s. think about what that must have been like. how different it is from today. and that crazy environment was what led to the kidnapping of patty hearst and what made it so compelling and what makes our documentary so terrific. you see the mystery at the heart of it. which is did she really join with the earl or was she coerced for the year and a half she was on the run with them? sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern. we're looking forward to it. mu. i'm your phone, stuck down here between your seat and your console,
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