tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN February 9, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
the things we do every single day that puts ourselves in harm's way, and to have a partner that is so skilled at what they do is indispensable, and i couldn't ask for a better partner. join me on sunday for state of the union. my guests will be kellyanne conway and jeh johnson. conway and jeh johnson. that's it for "the lead." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com now for "the situation room." mr. trump defending rob porter but making no mention of the
victims. porter was one of dozens of white house workers handling sensitive information who still don't have a security clearance. what's the delay? and democrats document defending the fbi against charges of bias will be released soon. the deadline is looming. is the white house deliberately delaying the release? and subtle diplomacy. kim jong-un's sister sits just feet away from mike pence at the olympic opening ceremonies. with the eyes of the world on the will winter games, is north korea controlling the narrative? i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." the number three official at the justice department is stepping down. we'll have more on that in a
minute. also breaking, president trump's first public remarks on the resignation of key aide rob porter who stepped down after accusations of assault on his ex-wives and the president said, we wish him well. adding it was a very tough time for porter. the president made no mention of the alleged victims. we'll talk to former defense secretary leon panetta, also a former white house chief of staff. and our correspondents and specialists are also standing by. let's begin with justice correspondent evan perez. there's a new report out now that a senior very significant justice department official is stepping down. what do we know? >> that's right. rachel brand is the number three official at the justice department and she would be the person who would be next in line if rod rosenstein resigns or is
fired. there's been a lot of speculation about that. we know president trump has been very angry with rosenstein the handling of the mule investigation, the russia investigation. but now the york times reporting that rachel brand is planning to step down after only being on the job for nine months. why is she stepping down? we know she would be next in line. now if rod rosenstein were to step down or to be fired, the next person who would be in line would be noh francisco. there's been a lot of speculation about what would happen if the president goes through with his various threats and his anger at rod rosenstein who oversees the investigation. rachel brand has never really tried cases. she is a national security law expert. she has served in various capacities. in area. but these times of investigations is not really her forte. there's been a lot of
speculation about whether she would stay in the job and oversee the mueller investigation. we've talked to people at the justice department who said she was uncomfortable with that idea. and certainly if rod rosenstein was on the firing line, we didn't know whether or not she would stay at the justice department. now the idea that she is stepping down is very surprising. obviously, nine months in, people don't just resign that way. we have to hear from the justice department what they say, what the cause is for her decision to step down. >> katie, on the phone right now, has she given an explanation, rachel brand, why only nine months on the job, the number three at the justice department, she's decided to leave? >> reporter: no explanation. we know she is going for a job in the private sector to be
counsel in a private company. people close to her said it was an opportunity too close to her to pass up but it would be naive not to note that the justice department has been in a swirl of controversy as of late and there are a lot of questions around who was going to stay, who was going to go and it must be a very tense place to work. >> the assumption has always been, if rod rosenstein, the number two official at the fire department were forced out or resigned, she would be in overall charge of robert mueller's investigation. the immediate assumption i'm getting, and i wonder if you've heard this. she would probably feel pretty uncomfortable with that responsibility. have you heard that? >> reporter: i think anybody would feel that. the president may or may not want rosenstein fired. so if you're in that position, you might be asked to fire
mueller and that would be an historically tricky place to be. rachel brand has worked in the justice department over three administrations. she is a politically appointed by george w. bush and barack obama and donald trump. she is extremely politically savvy and she has an extraordinary career. having to do something like fire bob mueller -- >> she's only been on the job for nine months. when is she leaving? >> reporter: unsure when she is leaving but i am told that she has taken the new job. >> have you heard any indication who might replace her? >> reporter: so i believe, now let me look at my notes so that i can get this straight. i'm told for all the acting attorney general roles, francisco would take over bust in her current role as associate attorney general, that would fall to the current deputy and
that person would be acting aag. >> the last few days, the attorney general, jeff sessions, has gone out of his way to praise her. this is an extremely tenuous, awkward situation at the top level of the justice department, given the criticism they've heard from the president of the united states. >> reporter: absolutely. and i think we can say there is no doubt this was a big surprise to the top of the justice department. it is clear that they have been building her profile. she just led a day-long session on human trafficking with jeff sessions where she was highlighted as the person who spearhead that had effort. so indeed, the department has been trying to raise her profile and get her ready for bigger
things. >> hang on for a moment. evan perez, you're getting more information. >> one of the things katie was just talking about, one of the things we've been asking is whether rachel brand might have to recuse herself from the russia investigation if that were to pass because her husband works at a law firm now representing rick gates, one of the people charged by special counsel robert mueller. it is a question that's been asked, her husband' law partner only recently declared to the court that he is now involved in that case. >> these are the new lawyers. >> yes. and this is something that has only happened in the last few days. so the question we had in the last few days was whether rachel brand would have to recuse herself. we know she has recused herself on a number of matters because it had to do with her husband's law firm in washington.
another thing i wanted to mention, obviously, a lot of us know rachel brand. she consulted a lot of people before she took this job. this was not a natural fit, she thought at the beginning. she had to be persuaded to do this job, the number three job is a big job at the justice department. certainly she didn't think this would end up being such a hot seat, this level of dysfunction. >> what if anything, katie, are you healiring about rod rosenstein? how secure is he? >> reporter: i think everyone is asking that. within the white house, there has been constant back and forth debate between the president's legal team over what to do with the mueller investigation, what to do with rod, and whether or not they should step in and start thinking about removing people. that has been a constantly source of debate. i think the recusal question is
a really interesting one. i would love to see what people he start fiending onding out ab. >> i mentioned this, a week ago, he went out of his way to praise rachel brand, the number three official about to leave. >> rod has had 27 years in the department. rachel has had a number of people in the department so they both treatment leadership and quality that we want in the department. >> so you say, does this come as a surprise to top officials? i assume the attorney general is surprised as well. >> reporter: yes, i do believe that to be true. i started making calls on the story, i got a lot of people were very surprised. >> we know the attorney general was at the white house earlier today. so there's a lot going on.
any additional information you're getting? >> no. we're still waiting for official word from the justice department. we know that jeff sessions was at the white house earlier today. we don't know if he informed president of this information. now the next person in line is not going to be there much longer so we'll see what the justice department decides as far as making a replacement for rachel brand. >> i know you're working your sources and we'll be in touch with you. katie, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. right now there's new fallout for the departure of aide rob porter. the president's remarks are only fanning the flames of this
controversy. >> reporter: that's right. more turmoil at the white house. the white house has been trying to bat down reports that the chief of staff john kelly has offered to resign. i talked to the white house press secretary over here and he has said in the last hour or so that no, john kelly has not offered to resign. he has not expressed a willingness to resign so they're coming back and pushing back hard only story. in the meantime, the president did finally weigh in on the rob porter saga that this administration has been dealing with all week long. the president sounded at one point as if he was standing up for his former top aide while not mentioning his victims. >> reporter: president trump broke his silence about the resignation of staff secretary rob porter. >> we wish him well. he worked very hard. i found out about it recently
and i was surprised by it. we certainly wish him well. obviously a tough time for him. he did 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. but it was very sad when we heard about it certainly he is also very sad now. >> reporter: the president said nothing about the women who said porter abused them but he made a point of highlighting porter's denials. >> 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. so you'll have to talk to him about that bu. but we absolutely wish him well. >> reporter: that sounded eerily like the comments of roy moore. >> he denies it. look. he denials it. if you look at what is going on
and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. he said it didn't happen and you have to listen to him also. >> reporter: the white house is still dealing with the fallout. eventually there was a memo documented a different tone on white house aides writing, while we are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against a former white house staffer, domestic violence has no place in our society. it is not in line with the facts and sources tell cnn that kelly has flown about the allegations for months. kelly was still backing him. >> i can tell that you rod has been effective in his role as secretary and the president and chief of staff have had if you
will confidence and trust in his abilities and performance. >> reporter: they told don mcgahn about it a year ago. that's when the ex-wives began speaking to the fbi. the fbi provided a preliminary report to fbi officials. then in the fall, porter was interviewed by the fbi. it was in november that mcgahn, kelly and another deputy were told. one of the ex-girlfriends said she had concerns about his relationship with hope hicks. >> the reality is he's not a monster. he is a, an intelligent, kind, chivalrous, caring professional man and he is deeply troubled and angry and violent. i don't think those things mutually exclusive. >> reporter: democrats are
seizing on it saying the president and list team don't get it. >> just before i walked on stage, 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 that into everyday life. is there any other crime, it's a crime, where there would be an explanation that the reason we shouldn't pay attention to the transgression is because they're good at something. >> part of the conversation is how long kelly will last in his job. we've been pressing our sources all day long. one name keeps coming up in the conversation as a possible replacement is the budget direct or, nick mulvany. the conversations today said
that mull eventy remains very popular in the administration. he is not seen to have any enemies and is considered a favorite of the president. the question is how long kelly could last. we've been reporting on it all week long. i talked on a source here who has been in touch with officials with the fate of john kelly, white house chief of staff. what this source was told is that john kelly is the current white house chief of staff. >> that's true. we'll see if he'll be the future white house chief of staff. he know you're working your sources as well. we'll get back to you. in the meantime, let's get to more of these developments. leon panetta is joining us. he was also once chief of staff working for mr. clinton. thank you for joining us. >> nice to be with you, wolf. >> let me get your immediate
reaction to the breaking news we had at the top of the hour. number three official resigning after just nine months on the job. what do you think that could mean for the russia investigation? >> well, it's a loss for the justice department. she served under three administrations and has really had a reputation for being committed to her job and to the principles of really advancing justice for all. so she's good person to. lose somebody like that just te tells me that it's been rough duty when you're at the justice department. because you've had all kinds of innuendos thrown at the justice department by the white house. there are issues related to trust between the president and the justice department and the
fbi. it's not easy to be able to serve under those conditions. so hopefully they'll be able to find somebody who will be able to replace her. who will have the same kind of credibility and credentials. >> we you a know the president was very angry at jeff sessions for recusing herself from the investigation. the other day he was asked about rod rosenstein, the number two, and he gave a very, very, let's put it this way. no vote of confidence for the number two. he said you guys try to figure that out. this is an extraordinary situation. the president of the united states, he doesn't seem to have confidence in his leadership at the justice department. >> it's not a good situation for the country. frankly, we are a country that operates under the rule of law. that's what our constitution is
all about. that's what our democracy is all about. that we operate are pursuant to the rule of law. when there is a situation where there isn't trust between president and the primary law enforcement agency that we have, the justice department, and the fbi, if that trust breaks down, then it raises concerns about how committed we are. >> what would happen if the president fires robert mueller, the special counsel? >> we've seen there in past history with the saturday night massacre during the nixon administration, where he tried to basically fire the team that was involved in investigating what happened in watergate. in the end, what happened is that the truth was found out and
ultimately, president nixon faced the real possibility of impeachment as a result of that. i think individuals that try to somehow hope that an investigation can be detoured or that you can throw enough dust in the air to avoid what that investigation may or may not find, i usually find ultimately the truth comes out. that's the case here. regardless of what this president does, or tries to do, the truth will come out and we'll find out exactly what happened with regard to the russia investigation and with regard to any possible collusion or obstruction of justice. >> mr. secretary, let's turn to the president's comments today, praising rob porter, his former staff secretary, failing to offer any condemnation of domestic abuse, failing to say
anything about rob porter's two ex-wives or girlfriend, all of which have complained about abuse coming from him. what do you make of it? >> well, this president has not exactly been very sympathetic to victim of sexual assault or spousal abuse. he hasn't really spoken about that in any way. at a time when there's a tremendous amount of concern about sexual assault, sexual abuse, i think it is important for the president of the united states. somebody needs to tell president of the united states that he's got to be balanced here. he has to pay attention to what the victims are going through. obviously, we all want due process. we all want individuals to be assumed innocent until proven guilty. we understand that. but at the same time, it is
pretty clear that women have been the targets of abuse, and the president of the united states ought to at some point in time, make a comment about the situation that we're confronting in this country that needs to be dealt with for the sake of women and for the sake of men. >> you know john kelly. he was supposed to be a moderating influence on the white house. he was the so-called adult in the room. he frequently finds himself in the middle of a lot of controversy, including this latest scandal, as you know. what happened here? >> i think john himself said this is the toughest job he's ever had. and i'll bet it is. because it is not easy to work
in a situation where there is tremendous lack of discipline, uncertainty, you're not sure what the president will or will not say from day to day. i think there's no question that john has been taking fire on a number of fronts here. whether or not ultimately he can survive i think depends on the relationship between the president and the chief of staff. if there continues to be a relationship of trust, then john will stick around. if that trust breaks down, then i suspect the president will make a change. >> we've reported that kelly has known for months that these accusations against rob porter but he let him stay on the job even throw the fbi refused to give him a permanent security clearancest stayed there, stayed there, stayed there. is this the john kelly you know?
>> well, john kelly is first and foremost a marine. and he has been a great leader as a marine. but john himself will tell you that you know, he's not a politician. the problem is in the white house, when your chief of staff, you have to pay attention to anything that could undermine the president. anything that could appear on the front pages that could hurt the president. and sometimes when you try to protect people because of personal relationships and loyalties, all of which is understandable, frankly, you have to rise above that. you have to assume that if there is a problem envolving an individual, that will be made public. and it could damage the integrity of the white house. and for whatever reason, i think
john missed that. and he has paid a price for that. >> should he resign? >> i think that's between the president and john kelly. i suspect because as he marine, that john will stick to the job as long as the president wants him to be there. >> you were white house chief of staff during the bill clinton presidency. during the clinton administration. if you had had your staff secretary, a person with enormous responsibility, with that kind of back ground, the fbi had briefed you, your other aides, the white house legal counsel had briefed you, how would you have handled that situation? >> personnel issues are some of the toughest issues you deal with in that job. you have people working with the president. they develop loyalties. they work with you every day.
when you find something out that's negative, it really hurts and it hurts that relationship. but you cannot serve the president well if you allow those feelings to take charge. you have to recognize, and i had to do it as chief of staff. i had to make decisions with regard to staff members in the white house who made a mistake. but because of the mistake, you had to get rid of them. that's just one of the responsibilities you have to assume in that job. first and foremost, the job of chief of staff is not only to oversee the staff but it is to serve the president of the united states and make sure that nothing happens that undermines the president or creates a bad story that can hurt the president. that's the job of the chief of staff.
>> rob porter wasn't the only one in the white house with security clearance troubles. can this administration function properly while dozens of staff members serving in the west wing, serving the president of the united states right now, are denied permanent security clearances? they're working what they call minimum or temporary clearances. >> i think it is pretty obvious, this was a haphazard process involving in hiring people for this white house. it goes back to the very beginning of this administration. they hired people and didn't pay much attention to exactly what kind of baggage those individuals might or might not have had. now you have individuals that are under the fbi looking at whether or not they can get a security clearance, and there
are question marks. i think if you're dealing with somebody who has a questionable back ground that is interfering with the ability to get a security clearance, in the very least, that person ought to take a leave of absence until you resolve that issue. i don't think it makes a hell of a lot of sense to keep people working in their jobs while there is a question if they'll have a security clearance. >> we're getting breaking news. >> reporter: bits whether the white house will release the democratic memo on surveillance of former campaign officials as part of the russia investigation. that decision apparently has not come down yet. we heard from the deputy shaw on a statement to reporters here in
the last several minutes and it basically says the president met with the fbi director this afternoon, chris wray, another top justice department official as well as people from the white house counsel's office about this issue. according to this statement, the president is weighing his option. a couple things, we heard the president would potentially rereleasing the memo caused all the controversy a week ago and that it was possible there would happen. there is a delay in all this as the president weighs the ong options. also, the president met with the fbi director. it was last week will the fbi director was warning the president of the united states not to release the house republican memo surveillance of trump campaign that's the. so the president meeting with the fbi director is also
notable. but no decision just yet. >> they have a deadline by tomorrow. the five-day deadline to release it. thanks very much. mr. secretary, what is your reaction? >> i've been very concerned about the way this whole thing has been handled. it really undermines the house intelligence committee which was established to be a bipartisan committee that would be able to review lily classified he intelligence and they would operate on a buy bipartisan basis. when they used it for partisan reasons, i think it was a misuse
of the authority he has as chairman. more importantly, it undermines the bipartisanship that that committee is supposed to have. now the issue becomes, do you get the democratic memo which presents obviously other facts so the american people can make a decision. i think once the mistake was made to release the first memo, there really is no option but to release the second memo so that the american people can make a final decision here as to on where the truth lies. so one way or the other, that memo ought to be made public. >> the white house has said they wanted transparency. the president said the american public deserves to know. we'll see how transparent they are with the schiff memo, the rebuttal memo.
as usual, thank you for joining us. >> good to be with you, wolf. >> we'll have more on the breaking news coming up. president trump's controversial defense of a former aide accused of assaulting two ex-wives. >> he says he's innocent and i think you have to remember that. he said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent. so you'll have to talk to him about that. they think it's theirs. look at them, they have no idea! it's not theirs. it's mine. mine. mine. mine. the new lexus rx 350l with three rows for seven passengers. are you excited about your baby sister coming? experience space for the unexpected with the rx l, part of the rx family. experience amazing at your lexus dealer.
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she was only on the job for nine months. >> that's kind of alarming and it fits a pattern in the administration of them losing top officials one after the other at a fast clip. it is also alarming because it is friday night and people have been on the lookout for a sort of cascade of resignations potentially linked to the russia investigation. i think it is too early to know what this means. our reporting has had a private sector opportunity that she took. but the fact it is happening now, that she is the number three person at the justice department, someone who after rod rosenstein would be in charge of the mueller probe, is definitely notable and worth keeping an eye on. >> how do you see it? >> i'm going to see this from russia's eyes. i think this is a net been foyt russia. we know they've been launching a campaign to discredit our institutions including the fbi and the department of justice. every time a senior official
leaves, it sends a message that the department is not functioning as well as could it and i think that fits with this pattern. >> look at this graphic we have showing this shake-up going on at the justice department and the fbi fired, recused, resigned, resigned. there has been a significant shake-up. samantha makes good point. if this has undermined democratic institutions, that seems to be working. >> not only was it successful in 2016 but it is spilling over into 2018. and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. when you show that graphic, how scary is the fact several left because they felt that they had to give their personal allegiance to the president of the united states? not to the constitution as they swear to do so when they're sworn in but to the president of the united states. that's very, very scary.
>> do you want to weigh in on this, david? >> not to mention that while all of this is going on, the russians are persisting, and it is not clear that the president of the united states, the white house, the national security am r apparatus, are keyed in tom. when the number three person leaves, it is alarming because it does create a situation where someone can come in above mueller in another shake-up and stall this investigation. and that has been a concern. so this amid all the other appalling news today, this is going to be of great concern as we go into the weekend. >> and i want to play for you and our viewers, the president's comments today, defending rob
porter who was forced to resign because a word was disclosed in the media that he had allegedly abused two ex-wives. listen to the president's defense of porter. >> well, we wish him well. he worked very hard. i found out about it recently and i was surprised by it. we wish him well. it is a tough time for him. he did a very good job when he was at the white house. and we hope he has a wonderful career. hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him. but it was very sad when we heard about it. certainly he is also very sad now. 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. so you'll have to talk to him about that. but we wish him wellest did a very good job while he was at
the white house. >> you're shaking your head. clearly, you don't believe the president met the moment. in statement. >> well, i don't even think that's a question. you know the old expression, denial is not just a river in egypt. it clearly runs through the white house, through the oval office. inincredible that they called the white house press corps in to speak to this issue and the president of the united states spent the entire time -- i understand loyalty to a friend or a staffer but he spent the whole time buoying a man who was accused of sexual abuse and with compelling enough evidence that he couldn't get his white house clearance, and the president had not one word of solicitude to the victims. this is his pattern. this is what he has done throughout. roy moore or roger ailes or bill
o'reilly or charges against himself. it always comes to the same place. they say they're innocent. essentially blaming the victims. i saw the vice president. his modular morality unit was rolled out to say we're appalled and we have a zero tolerance. there's not a lot of evidence against that. >> the abuse against these two ex-wives who went to the fbi and told what happened. >> and one more reason why what the president said wasn't surprising, we reported yesterday that the president was irritated with his deputy press secretary who went out to the podium yesterday and said, we messed up. we could have handled this better. he didn't like there was a walkback to the approach to the issue. what you saw today was the double down.
it's something he's done not just on issues of abuse. he did it when michael flynn was fired. he fired michael flynn and then said he's a good guy why. were they even asking him questions. it doesn't matter if he lied to the fbi. this is a president who does not like to back down even when the accusations are as horrific as what we're seeing against rob porter. >> and right at the skrernlt white house chief of staff john kelly who knew for months about these accusations. >> the fact rob porter was allowed to stay on for a year was like hanging a sign to russia and china to come recruit him. he had secrets cle didn't want getting out. he had access to the most classified information in the country and influence over the president. you have to ask yourself as chief of staff, why did kelly want to keep a guy who was an ideal target?
>> you have to wonder if kelly felt comfortable going in where noted allies. i wonder if he saw something in rob porter he who felt akin to him. did the president not go after rob porter today because perhaps rob porter knows something the president doesn't want rob porter to talk about. we don't have any evidence that that is true but remember his job was to be at the president's side all the time. so you have to wonder what he knows. >> very quickly, is it time for kelly to know some. >> i would think so. this is a it's massive mismanagement and it comes top of other mishaps. >> stand by. more breaking news. i want to point pout david has a
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questions emerging about why vice president mike pence and top north korean officials, including kim jong-un's sister, didn't interact or even acknowledge the other's presence at ceremonies and receptions for today's opening of the winter olympics. brian todd is joining us. brian, there were some awkward moments today. >> awkward moments indeed, wolf. it raises a key question tonight. with the north koreans and south koreans engaging with each other at the games, with kim jong-un's sister even meeting with south korea's president this week end, which side's message is resonating more at these olympics? their eyes never meet, sitting just a few feet from each other, enemies whose countries have never been closer to nuclear war, the sister of kim jong-un shook hands warmly with the south korean president in the vip box at the olympic opening ceremonies but vice president mike pence by all accounts never turned around and even acknowledged kim yo jong. should mike pence have turned and smiled, nodded, acknowledged? >> i think that would have been
a more elegant way to handle the situation. nobody expects north korean negotiations to start on a whim but south koreans watch the choreography very, very closely. >> reporter: should the north koreans have smiled, nodded? >> we can't expect the north koreans to reach out like that. >> reporter: but white house officials and a former trump adviser tell cnn they don't think pence should have engaged at that moment, especially with someone so closely tied to kim jong-un's brutality. >> think what pence did was right, coming after the state of the union where the president highlighted north korean human rights abuses and pence played a role in elevating that issue, it was important for him and hiss party felt the same way not to be seen smiling and shaking hands with the representative on this are yregime. >> reporter: pence met with the father of otto warmbier, the young american who died after being released from north korean captivity last year. pence had an emotional high profile meeting with north korean defectors. >> we've been inspired by your bravery. >> reporter: at the same time,
the north koreans and south koreans have marched into the games under a unified flag, taking a selfie together, a powerful statement, and their top leaders had that symbolic hand shake. >> it's clear pence's message is being overshadowed in the region. he's saying some important things about human rights but at the same time it's clear we're being left behind on the diplomatic front. >> reporter: one veteran diplomat said the north koreans may have successfully manipulated their appearance at the games. >> north korea is trying to keep the subject of these winter olympics all about them and their participation in these olympics and having her there representing the royal family, so to speak, i think underscores that message. >> reporter: administration officials traveling with the vice president are pushing back on the notion that mike pence snubbed the north koreans in that vip booth or in a reception where he didn't interact with
them. those officials say it would be fair to cast the lack of interaction as a mutual decision on both sides. they say if kim yo jong or any north koreans would have approached pence with pleasantries, he would have responded in kind. wolf? >> the south koreans are coming into criticism for their handling of the event. >> that's right, christian whiten told us he thinks the trump team may be y south koreans if the way kim yo jong was placed. whiten also believes he believes the south koreans may be falling for the north koreans' propaganda at the olympics in their eagerness to improve relations. >> brian todd, thanks for that report. breaking news coming up. president trump defends the aide who resigned amid allegations he assaulted and abused his ex-wives. was it a derailed attempt at damage control? >> he says he's innocent and i think you have to remember that. he said very strongly yesterday
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stunning public defense of his former aide, appearing to buy rob porter's denials that he assaulted and abused his ex-wives, ignores the evidence and the women who say thirp er the rised -- they were terrorized. handling secrets. we have new information about dozens of administration officials, including jared kushner, who are working without full security clearances. why are they still allowed access to sensitive information? and icy reception, vice president pence gives the cold shoulder 20-to-kim jong-un's sister as the north koreans get a warm welcome from the south at the olympic games. is the kim regime winning the public relations war? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the situation room. >> announcer: thi