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French President: "Make Our Planet Great Again"; Conflicting Stories on Kushner Meeting with Russian Banker; California Bakery Offers New Twist on Croissant; Deputy A.G. Rosenstein to Testify Amid Comey Firestorm: Marchers In U.S. Cities Demands Trump-Russia Answers. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired June 3, 2017 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- Senator Joni Ernst, but the turmoil in Washington surrounding Russia, climate change, and James Comey's Senate testimony scheduled for next week are putting some Iowa conservatives on edge. Pence's appearance in fact aims to solidify the base there and ease some concerns.

Remember, it was President Trump who was supposed to hold a rally in Iowa this past week, but then postponed the event citing an unforeseen change in the schedule following his trip overseas.

CNN correspondent, Ryan Nobles is in Boone, Iowa following this event. Ryan, set the scene for us. What's taking place?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, you mentioned that there is a lot of controversy surrounding President Donald Trump in Washington, but when you get out here to a state like Iowa you don't hear all that much about it especially when you talk to Republicans.

And evidenced by the fact that there is a long line of cars here waiting to get into this event for Joni Ernst Roast and Ride hours before it starts where the headliner is Vice President Mike Pence demonstrates Republicans are still backing the president.

I talked to the host of the event, Senator Joni Ernst, who has tried to stake her own claim in Washington, not necessarily someone in opposition of Donald Trump, but she's not always arm and arm with him and I asked her about Donald Trump's move back to America first this week and this is how Senator Ernst responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Well, I think he is a very different president than what we've seen in the past and he is his own person and so we just move forward and know that he will bring a different dynamic into the president's office.

However, in Congress, we just stay focused on the issues at hand that would be health care, tax reform, infrastructure package. I'm going to be working on the farm bill coming up very soon. Those are all very important things. We'll stay focused on what we need to do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: And Fred, you could even see in that answer that Senator Ernst gave me about how she tried to separate the work that she's doing in Congress from the president, she's not at all critical of Donald Trump at this point, but she wants to make it clear that she's working on her own projects for her constituents and no matter what happens with Donald Trump, she's going to remain focused on that.

That being said, she's going to be here arm and arm with Vice President Mike Pence in a couple hours. He's expected to bring out a big crowd and the crowd here expected to enthusiastically endorse the president or the vice president I should say when he arrives -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. That's very interesting. So then Ryan, we're also learning that the Democrats are organizing an event to counter this Roast and Ride. To what degree?

NOBLES: Yes. That's right. Democrats to a certain extent are a bit lost here in Iowa. They no longer have any statewide elected officials, at least in Washington, for a long time they had Senator Tom Harken. Democrats in the past have won this state in presidential elections and they lost it in this last go-round.

So Democrats are trying to find their footing here. They feel as though they do have some sort of an advantage because when you poll on the individual issues that voters care about they tend to side with the Democratic perspective but yet they still support those Republican politicians.

So they will be holding a protest just outside of where we are here. They're calling it a friendly protest, calling it a picnic with the people, where they're going to voice their displeasure with some of the policies of the Trump administration -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles in Boone, Iowa, thanks so much. Keep us posted.

All right, meantime, it is radio silence from the White House today days before fired FBI Director James Comey is set to tell his story to the Senate Intelligence Committee. We may get insight into their interactions which a source tells CNN disturbed Comey, that was Comey's word reportedly.

The source also adding that Comey thought the president needed to be in his words trained on how to interact with the FBI. CNN White House correspondent, Athena Jones, joining us from the White House.

So Athena, how likely is it that President Trump would try to invoke this executive privilege to prevent or block Comey from testifying?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. That is the big question of the moment. There is some reporting both in "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" indicating quoting officials as saying that president is not going to invoke executive privilege, but there's always the caveat that he could change his mind. And the White House hasn't yet said definitively on the record what the president plans to do. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about this yesterday in yesterday's briefing and he said, the hearing had only just been announced and that it had to be reviewed.

He also said that he hadn't yet spoken with White House counsel and didn't know how the administration was going to proceed. But there is some big questions attached to this whole debate over whether the president will or should or could successfully exert executive privilege.

One is that if you do -- if he does so it runs the risk of sending the message that White House has something to hide regarding these conversations.

[12:05:02]And then the other big question, of course, is whether the president would be successful in asserting executive privilege, considering the fact that he himself has already spoken about and tweeted about some of his conversations with the former FBI director.

He even went as far on Twitter you'll remember to suggest that there could be recordings of those conversations and so legal experts say look, the president can't use executive privilege as a sword in one context and a shield in another.

And so the real question is what the White House does going forward. All indications are that the president is not going to try to block this testimony and let it play out, but we haven't had a definitive answer -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: So Athena, so far seems like a relatively placid day, meaning no words coming from the White House. However, one has to wonder where is President Trump right now?

JONES: He is at his golf club in Virginia at this moment. He left not very long ago, haven't seen a recent pool report, being the small group of reporters who are set to travel with the president wherever he goes. But they have arrived not long ago in Sterling, Virginia, at the Trump National Golf Club. So not a lot coming out of the White House today. We hope to get more some definitive answers on this including whether they will use executive privilege soon -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Perhaps in one way preparing for what could be a pretty interesting week to say the very least. Athena Jones, thank you so much.

All right, let's talk more about this. With me right now, CNN politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson, and CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer, a historian and professor at Princeton University.

All right, Stephen, you first, so how will the White House try to justify a need for executive privilege?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: That's the big question. It looks like it's not going to be very easy for them to make that case, since the president spoke about his conversations with James Comey. He mentioned them three times in that letter that he wrote to Comey when he fired him, and he's talked about this on Twitter.

So it seems like the legal case for this is not that great, considering the president appears to have waived the executive privilege on this conversation himself. And there, of course, is the political issue now.

If the White House goes ahead and tries to block Comey, it makes it look like they're trying to hide something and their case in this Russia issue has been there's nothing here, we're not trying to hide something.

So a decision to go ahead and try to invoke executive privilege could end up doing the president more political harm than just waiting to see what Comey says and then trying to deal with it to discredit what he says, try to discredit Comey.

So those are the questions the White House is wrestling with right now, but you know, we know this White House is so unpredictable, they might decide to go down this road anyway.

WHITFIELD: Right. So Julian, you're with me, a few things there. It's trying to weigh whether the White House can afford, you know, to invoke executive privilege and whether it really, you know, has the justification for it.

So that the White House or at least the message from the White House is that it's reviewing it, perhaps that's what the president is doing, you know, at the golf course today, reviewing it. What are all of the things that it needs to take into consideration beyond what, you know, Stephen just said?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's very hard to justify legally, certainly if the president is already sharing the information, it's hard to say that that information can't be shared. We're also talking now about a private citizen, rather than someone who is working for the government.

So that also would be unprecedented in the kind of action a president would take to block testimony. And finally, you know, politically people keep saying if there's nothing to hide why keep hiding things.

So to do this after he himself has tweeted about the conversation, just doesn't make a lot of political sense. That said, President Trump often likes to surprise people and do what doesn't seem politically logical for different effect.

WHITFIELD: So with this potentially a consequential week not just because of James Comey's testimony but also the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein is also to testify, and clearly the questions will be asked, you know, was this the president's idea to fire James Comey or was it your idea based on the letter that was written? COLLINSON: Right. What's so difficult -- what's so difficult for the White House is they don't know what these answers are going to be. It's difficult to prepare for it. We know Donald Trump creates this kind of governing chaos around everything he does. We saw that with the run up to the Paris announcement. Nobody knew what he wanted to do.

But at least on that occasion he was controlling the sense of chaos that's enveloping Washington. This week will be such a difficult week and potentially a bad week for the White House because they can't control the message.

[12:10:08]We've seen their communication shop has enough trouble sort of trying to communicate what the president is doing and thinking in normal circumstances. This is why it's going to be very difficult.

You have to say they have four days to potentially game out, you know, exactly what Comey could say. There ought to be some kind of, you know, decent and thought out response about what he says.

WHITFIELD: I wonder if the White House might feel like it can at least try to control the message for Rosenstein now.

COLLINSON: Possibly. Yes.

WHITFIELD: Because he is a current employee.

COLLINSON: It looks like he will be much less expansive than perhaps Comey who has an incentive to defend himself since the White House has spent the last few weeks since he was fired basically saying he wasn't up to his job.

WHITFIELD: But then, Julian, where his loyalties it's been said that, you know, Rosenstein's loyalties are with the law, not necessarily with the White House.

ZELIZER: They are. And I think we -- if anyone is potentially capable of going against the president from within, he is that person. And he was also put in a very difficult spot because of that memo, a spot many colleagues seem to think made him uncomfortable.

So he has-to speak if he's willing to, you know, risk his own career potentially, but I think there's a lot -- look there's a lot of bad feeling in the intelligence community, in certain parts of the Justice Department about how all of this has been handled, about President Trump's kind of war on this entire community.

And so people seem to be willing to speak and that's what puts the president in a precarious situation. We're not talking about Democrats. We're talking about officials within the White House and from the intelligence world.

WHITFIELD: So Stephen, you know, how candid might Comey be? I mean, barring the words of Donald Trump, you know, what does he have to lose? COLLINSON: We understand that he's very keen to talk about these private conversations he had with the president because he's not been able to get his side of the story across, although it has been advanced through friends of Comey talking to journalists. Where you might see him actually sort of keep details of the conversation private is if he's asked in that hearing about the progress of the Russia inquiry --

WHITFIELD: The Special Counsel Mueller may have said stay away from this.

COLLINSON: Up to the time that he was fired, we saw in his previous testimony that he wasn't willing to give a lot of detail other than the fact that there was an investigation going on about that. So I would expect him to talk about what impacts him and the issue of the conversations with the president since the president has talked about them anyway, but the Russia inquiry probably he will be a lot less willing to speak about that.

PAUL: Countdown to a potentially fascinating week. All right, Stephen Collinson and Julian Zelizer, thanks so much. Stay with us. We will talk more.

Meantime, don't miss a minute of James Comey's testimony this Thursday. Watch our special coverage beginning at 9:00 a.m. right here on CNN.

All right. Also straight ahead, protesters marching right now in New York, Washington, and dozens of other cities around the country with one goal, get to the bottom of Russia's interference in the election.

Plus the president of France quickly attacking President Trump for his decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord and the newly elected leader is not stopping there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:17:31]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The White House is facing backlash for president Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, from Americans who say it takes the U.S. in the wrong direction on the environment.

So will Republican lawmakers stand by the president? In fact, Congressman Darrell Issa was just confronted with that very question at a town hall that he's hosting in Southern California at this hour. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to know if you believe that President Trump is making the right decision pulling out of the Paris accords, given the fact that our governor, many mayors across the country, Michael Bloomberg, a lot of people are saying they're not going to go along with anything he says. I would like your opinion on that? REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: It's a very, very fair question and let me answer it quickly in two stages. We put out a statement essentially saying we were disappointed with the tactic that the president is using, although he said he's going to engage and he wants to negotiate a new, better deal, I appreciate that.

I would have preferred since we America are leading in that reduction of carbon we're down 7 percent in 12 years, and yes, it's a big deal. And I would have preferred that he negotiate from that position of strength to say that we need to have if we're going to continue to be in.

We need to have China and India who did not pledge to reduce but get to have signing. North Korea did not pledge to reduce but sign it. I have problems with the agreement because to sign on saying I'm going to do nothing, isn't really signing on.

On the other hand, I would have preferred he stayed at the table because we do have a position of strength when it comes to --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, Darrell Issa there during that townhall. So meanwhile, there is no shortage of opinions on the government's Russia investigation and you'll find a lot of them at demonstrations happening right now in dozens of cities across the country. They are dubbed the "March for Truth." Activists are demanding the release of all information related to the Russia probe along with Donald Trump's tax returns.

Dan Lieberman is at a march in New York. So Dan, what more are you hearing from people? All right. Sounds like Dan's not hearing us or our audio is not hearing where he is. We'll try and check back with him.

[11:20:08]But there are marches across the country. New York has been a sizable one when we checked with Dan the last hour. A lot of people who are marching in the street on their way to Wall Street. We'll try to re-establish that connection.

All right. Macron versus Trump, it's a political battle that began with that white knuckle handshake and intensified from there. The latest confrontation between the two presidents next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. There's growing frustration over President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. World leaders are also voicing their concerns including French President Emmanuel Macron, who isn't afraid at all to be confrontational to get his point across to President Trump.

[12:25:01]His administration taunting the president of the United States by editing a White House video on climate change, to change its meaning. Take a look. CNN international correspondent, Melissa Bell, joining us now with more on this. Melissa, how has macron responded to the president beyond like that video messaging right there?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, ever since he's been elected really, Fredricka, he's positioned himself as someone who represents almost everything that Donald Trump does not.

And, of course, with this announcement from the Rose Garden just a couple of days ago, which reminded the world of the United States new sort of approach to international relations and of Donald Trump's sort of insular nationalism more particularly. All of this has really allowed France's young president over the course of the last few weeks to shine.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BELL (voice-over): It's hard to believe that it was less than a month ago, on May 7th, Emmanuel Macron became the youngest man ever to be elected to France's presidency.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Let me say a few words to our American friends.

BELL: Also the first ever to make speeches in English publicly, which was to come in handy very quickly.

MACRON: Wherever we live, wherever we are, we all share the same responsibility. Make our planet great again.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So we're getting out.

BELL: It was a stinging rebuke to what Donald Trump had just announced in the Rose Garden.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

BELL: Within hours Macron's call was the most widely shared tweet ever from a French account, leading the French press to ask whether the French president was now the new leader of the free world. For newly elected 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron's first steps on the world stage were remarkably sure.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Congratulations. Great job.

BELL: As was his handshake with the American president. A handshake that was, said Macron later, far from innocent. He wanted to show his strength. Days later, Emmanuel Macron welcomed to (inaudible) another leader with whom he shares little in terms of outlook, Vladimir Putin also got a firm handshake and a challenge that few had had the courage to deliver so directly before.

MACRON (through translator): I precisely indicated to President Putin the intentions of France concerning LBGT people in Chechnya. We came to the agreement to follow this matter closely together. President Putin indicating he will be taking measures to investigate the actions of local authorities in Chechnya on this issue. And I will be staying on top of this and following up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BELL: It isn't simply, Fredricka, that Emmanuel Macron doesn't believe in the same world vision as Donald Trump, that is the case for many world leaders that the American president has been meeting since his inauguration.

It is perhaps Emmanuel Macron is more loudly and more determined in a more confrontational way choosing to bring his very different vision of the world directly up against leaders like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

As though he wanted, perhaps, consciously to make himself the champion of that other vision of the world, the one that is based on the idea of common values, rather than individual and national interests -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Melissa Bell, thank you so much, in a windy Paris, thank you.

All right, let's bring in CNN politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson and David Ambelman, editor emeritus of "The World Policy Journal, who is also a cnn.com contributor. Good to see both of you.

All right. So Stephen, let me begin you with. We have seen President Macron not shying away in any way. Confrontational was an interesting word that Melissa used there. He has used his English in speeches, just around the time that he was elected and then again with that messaging and then there is that kind of white knuckle handshake. So what you the positioning that Macron is taking here?

COLLINSON: It's a risky position. We've seen the leaders that got most out of Donald Trump, for example, Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have treated him with almost exaggerated respect. They've shown him a great --

WHITFIELD: Deference.

COLLINSON: -- deference as a world leader, we saw the Saudis when the president was abroad a couple of weeks ago, treated him, they gave him the red carpet. They gave him all the pomp that a president could expect. And they've done rather well out of that. The Chinese, for example, made it so that they weren't branded a currency manipulator. A promise Donald Trump made during the campaign.

WHITFIELD: Was it this climate change issue that turned the tables?

COLLINSON: I just think it's a risky position for Macron to take because of that. We know that president didn't like the fact that he was pressured by European leaders last week at the G7 Summit not to pull out of Paris. You can imagine, you know, he's someone that is very conscious of his image. He doesn't like being publicly humiliated. You can only imagine what he thinks of this new fresh face French leader who is 30 years younger than him --

WHITFIELD: So perhaps it --

COLLINSON: -- lectured him in English on television.

WHITFIELD: So perhaps it would -- might make President Trump dig his heels any further?

COLINSON: That's very possibly and you have to question whether that might be a price to pay down the road for President Macron and the French or whether we will see once this dies down an effort to stress the wider interest that France and the U.S. have together. For example, on terrorism, trade, and other issues.

WHITFIELD: So David, what is this telling us about, you know, France's new leader and whether he is emerging as Europe's new leader?

DAVID ANDELMAN, EDITOR-EMERITUS, WORLD POLICY JOURNAL: Well, Europe's and the world's in many respects were quite right Fredricka when he first talked about this. (Inaudible) Paris accord on pollution. Cut 21 was based on a moral imperative. It was the only time that the entire planet ever came together and the French see themselves as kind of the godparents if you will of that amazing agreement.

This agreement that was actually negotiated at the (inaudible) which is now a conference facility. It's the same field where 90 years ago last week Charles Lindbergh landed (inaudible) in the first transatlantic airplane crossing. So it's really as historical (inaudible), it's historic event and it is this moral sense and Macron and the French have this moral sense of what this treaty should be liken and is like that they need to carry it into the future. And I think they feel like they can win the world over, Europe over and perhaps eventually the American people if not the Trump administration over.

I think that's what's at stake. That's what they see is at stake here right now in this agreement.

WHITFIELD: So gentlemen, it would appear though there's some real strategy here because Macron as I mentioned, you know, he addressed American voters and French voters, the world voters, you know, by talking in English after the Paris decision to allow him to become president and he was talking about patriotism. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE: I wish to tell the United States, France believes in you. The world believes in you. I know that you are a great nation. We will see that.

Because we are fully committed. Because wherever we live, wherever we are, we all share the same responsibility. Make our planet great again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So he was talking about that, you know, Paris accord and using President Trump's campaign slogan. So Stephen, this is more than confrontational, this is in your face.

COLINSON: Right, it was cheeky certainly. I mean, I think what we have to also realize is they're not just talking to the Americans and Trump. Macron is talking to his own people too. He's using this as a way to establish himself as a global leader.

We saw that too in the way he talked about Russian election interference in a press conference this week standing side by side with President Vladimir Putin. So he's sending a message he's not to be trifled with.

All these European leaders have to deal with the fact that President Trump is deeply unpopular in their own conference so that gives them a political choice. So you saw after the NATO Summit, Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany came out and criticized Donald trump that's because she's running for a fourth term in September. People who are against her, her political opponents, are vociferous in their criticism of Donald Trump. So Angela Merkel who is a cautious leader, who doesn't like to get into these public confrontations, criticized Trump, you know, for his behavior at the NATO Summit where he berated those European leaders for not doing more to spend on defense.

So he's giving these European leaders a very difficult political choice. And, you know, what we know from politicians is the first thing they think about is, you know, their own political fortunes before they consider the wider issue of, is it really a good idea to be having a huge transatlantic spat with the president of the united states, who after all, is the guarantor of European security.

WHITFIELD: And then quickly David, you know, Macron taking on both Putin and Trump separately. I mean, is there any symbolism here?

ANDELMAN: Well, not only a symbolism but it's also very important for him politically. Remember in two tweaks from tomorrow there is a major French national legislative elections where they're going to elect their (inaudible) parliament. And this will decide going forward whether Macron really does have the legislative clout to make his entire legislative agenda. His agenda in general, realizable over the next five years of his presidency. So this is a critical political time for him as well and I think he is seizing that moment very effectively.

[12:35:03] WHITFIELD: All right, David Andelman, stick around. Stephen Colinson, thanks to you. Thanks gentleman, simultaneously.

So it's the meeting that everyone is looking at but no one is agreeing about why it happened exactly. And now CNN tracks down the Russian bank CEO who actually sat down with Trump adviser Jared Kushner.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: Questions continue to mount over a secret meeting between Jared Kushner, President Trump's top adviser and son-in-law, and a powerful Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov. Gorkov isn't just any banker, he also has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has been trained by the FSB, Russia's spy agency. The White House and the Russian bank are also providing conflicting explanations about why the meeting happened in the first place.

[12:45:02] CNN's Senior International Correspondent Matthew chance is in Moscow for us. So Matthew, is Gorkov offering his own version of events?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the bank Fredricka, is saying what they think happened. Basically this meeting that took place between Jared Kushner and Sergey Gorkov is really at the center at the moment in the United States of those allegations of collusion. Of what was discussed between these two figures when they met in December before the inauguration at Trump Tower in New York.

The bank says that this was a business meeting. It was an opportunity to sit down with Jared Kushner as the head of Kushner Companies, his family's sprawling property empire. But the White House says something (inaudible) it was diplomacy and he was there as part of his position on the Trump transition team. Anyway, I managed to track down Sergey Gorkov and he's not easy man to find and try to get some answers from him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE (on camera) Mr. Gorkov, quick question. What did you really speak to Jared Kushner about in New York when you met him in December?

SERGEY GORKOV, RUSSIAN BANKER: No comment.

CHANCE (voice-over): Did you talk about sanctions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me.

GORKOV: No comments.

CHANCE (on camera): What was discussed? The White House says it was a diplomatic meeting, that Kushner met you as part of the transition team. Your bank says it was a business meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much. Sorry.

CHANCE (voice-over): Were you a conduit? Were you a conduit to the Kremlin Mr. Gorkov?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: Well, Mr. Gorkov there being confronted in that way. He wasn't particularly happy but nevertheless these are important questions and we still have not got answers to them. And so, you know, that's obviously very important, very interesting when you continue to pursue it.

WHITFIELD: And just to be clear, he speaks English so he could understand your questions, right?

CHANCE: Absolutely. I mean, this is a man who is the head of one of Russia's biggest banks, theVnesheconombank, he's trained by the FSB, the Russian security services, and he was appointed by Vladimir Putin who's also an old KGB hand as well. And so this is very educated, intelligent man, he speaks perfect English, he had those meetings in New York. And he won't tell us what was discussed nor will Kushner, in fact.

WHITFIELD: All right. Matthew Chance, I know you speak Russian but I know you also took that approach for real clarity for viewers around the world. Thank you so much, Matthew Chance.

All right. All eyes will be on former FBI Director James Comey this week. Now, the man whose memo was cited by the White House as the reason for Comey's ouster will also meet with lawmakers. But first, this week's start small, think big.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AARON CADDEL, OWNER, MR. HOLMES BAKEHOUSE: Hi, I'm Aaron Caddel. This is Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is a craft bakery, 80 percent of our product is croissant-based.

The store opened in 2014 and there is still a line out the door every single day. We don't want to perfect the croissant. We can't to make it completely differently. Put something on the table that hopefully you've never tried before.

Girls, thank you.

The cruffin, it's one of those mashups. It's our croissant dough that we've put in the form of a muffin. It's phenomenal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we waited 45 minutes. Worth every minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the cruffin, we really make as many as we possibly can. We go until we sell out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can get two per person in line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we're waiting in line about a half hour. We saw it on Instagram the sign that said "I Got Baked in San Francisco.

CADDEL: I never want to advertise ever. Probably what modern marketing looks like today and it's more than a part of the consumer with social media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chocolate chips.

CADDEL: We're just doing like we what (inaudible). If we think something is funny and clever, we'll probably going to make a neon sign out of it and put it on the wall. If we come up with an idea for a pastry that, you know, it's going to change our concept of what pastry is supposed to be, we're going to throw it on the menu. We're going to continue doing that as long as people are lining up outside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:48:21] WHITEFIELD: All eyes on Capitol Hill, the countdown to Thursday as we await, fired FBI Director James Comey's testimony on the Russia investigation and his conversations with President Donald Trump. And now we're learning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be on the Hill as well, testifying in an open Senate Intelligence hearing just one day before Comey's scheduled hearing.

Well, the Wednesday hearing is on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But the Russia investigation is expected to also come up. Rosenstein was thrust into the limelight after writing the memo initially cited as the basis for the president's firing of Comey.

Robert Mueller's special council investigation could now expand to -- of that very firing. So, in an interview with the "Associated Press", Rosenstein said, he would recuse himself if he becomes the subject of an investigation saying, "I've talked with Director Mueller about this. He's going to make the appropriate decisions, and if anything that I did winds up being relevant to his investigation, then as Director Mueller and I discussed, if there's a need from me to recuse I will."

All right, back with me now, David Andelman and Julian Zelizer. Welcome back gentlemen.

All right, so right after Comey's firing, many in the White House made it very clear that the president acted on Rosenstein's recommendation. So, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He is taking the recommendation of his deputy attorney general and the attorney general of the United States.

[12:50:02] MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump made the right decision at the right time. And to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to ask for the termination, the support of the termination, of the director of the FBI.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president accepted the recommendation of his deputy attorney general to remove James Comey from his position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. So, this is getting very complicated, isn't it, Julian? So, how might the conditions of the firing, the memo also now potentially play into or conflict with the ongoing investigation that Mueller is tasked with as it pertains to Russia's interference with the U.S. elections?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is about the obstruction of justice accusation that's out there. And there's been contradictory evidence to what we just heard. Rosenstein said that he already knew that the president was going to fire Comey before he wrote that memo. The president himself has tweeted out that the firing wasn't about this, but was more about the Russia thing.

So, there's so many contradictions in the public record that there are many questions legislators want to know from him in terms of what the role was of his memo in the firing. Although I don't think many people really believe that was the reason Comey left.

WHITFIELD: And it didn't -- of course, a lot of people particularly didn't believe it, once they heard from the president himself, who in an interview said, you know, it was the Russia thing.

So Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he has recused himself from the investigations as it relates to Russia, particularly because while Trump was campaigning, Sessions met with the Russian ambassador. And now, you've got the deputy attorney general saying that he would recuse himself if Special Counsel Mueller asked him to do so.

So then, David, just looking at the Department of Justice now, you've got the two top dogs who would no longer be involved in this investigation. So, what does that mean?

ANDELMAN: Well, the big question of what it means is who is going to be running the Justice Department? And I think that's quite extraordinary. And even broader, who's running the government? And I think this is something that the world is also looking at as well as the United States, who is running this government right now? And above all, who will be running the Justice Department as these negotiations go forward?

And I think that's very important because the FBI needs a master of some kind. It needs someone to report to. The attorney general needs to report to someone and report up to and turn to the entire Justice Department. And it really it first throws the entire bureaucracy of the government out of whack. And this is important, not only in the United States but globally as well, who is the United States talking to? Who should the world be talking to within the United States?

And remember, the United States and Justice Department had representatives, legal attaches in virtually every major country. They also have their counterparts over there with involving major investigations, including drugs, terrorism and so on. All of that really remains up in the air as long as there are no leaders in the FBI and in the justice department that the world can count on.

WHITIFIELD: And Julian?

ZELIZER: Yeah, I mean look, this is there -- there's a story of dysfunctional government that is pervasive in the Trump administration. The Department of Justice is one example and it's one of the major effects that we have seen of this scandal investigation that people aren't talking about. Not simply the investigation and the story, but how does the Department of Justice work when it handles such important issues from criminal justice to even counterterrorism and there's no one in charge.

And now, we see yet another official who might not be handling this responsibility and there's other stories at the State Department and science advisers again and again. This is one of the major concerns beyond whether you like or don't like President Trump, but is the executive branch functioning right now?

Julian Zelizer, David Andelman, thank you so much gentlemen, always good to see you.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:58:31] WHITFIELD: All right. Now, for a look at this week's CNN Hero, Doniece Sandoval. Several years ago, he started a nonprofit that brings mobile hygiene centers to San Francisco's homeless. It's called Lava Mae, a play on the Spanish translation for "wash me."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONIECE SANDOVAL, FOUNDER, LAVA MAE: These are people who get turned away often, who get treated poorly, and our idea is just to open our arms.

And I think Josh (ph) has got you all setup.

Hygiene connects you to your sense of dignity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, I feel better.

SANDOVAL: We learn their names. We learn their stories. We provide all of this extra support. It's like creating community around them and we call that "radical hospitality."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Well, if you know someone who is a hero, just like this or visit our website, cnn.com/heroes, and nominate the person today.

All right, there's no shortage of opinions on the government's Russia investigation. And you'll find a lot of them at demonstrations happening right now in dozens of cities across the country. It's all being dubbed "the march for truth."

Dan Lieberman is in New York and we're going to try this again. Dan, what's happening there?

DAN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Fredricka, hopefully you can hear me now. We had some technical difficulties before. But here in New York, the march has ended. We marched with protesters down Broadway ending up at Wall Street and they had a lot to say.

Protest organizers are calling for many things. They're calling for an independent commission to investigate the ties, possible ties between President Trump and Russia. And they're calling to beef up the current investigations going on right now in Congress, which they say are understaffed and under-resource.

And right now, protests just are ending in Washington D.C. and we have seen protests all day around the country, and some, around the --