tv Inside Politics CNN March 26, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
about this case in multiple directions, and right now the thing we can do is wait and find out what his camp is going to say and what the mayor is going to say. how are they going to explain what happened here? >> shan, you're a former federal prosecutor, you also have been a defense attorney as well. if you're working with jussie smollett, what's your recommendation of how he addresses this right now? >> i would come out with the statement they come out with. he's a victim, he's sticking with the victim anywhere tinarr then just sit back and wait what we hear from the police to get the next steps. >> i'm just getting more direction from the control room. we are watching the cook county courthouse right now, waiting for jussie smollett and his attorneys to come out after prosecutors have dropped all charges against the "empire" actor. what comes next? we will see as jussie smollett is about to come out and get handed over to my colleague in washington, nia malika henderson.
nia? >> welcome to "inside politics." i'm nia-malika henderson. we're in chicago where there has been another turning point in the jussie smollett case. all charges against him have now been dropped. the state attorney's office in cook county released a statement saying, quote, after reviewing all the facts and circumstances of the case, including smollett's volunteer service in the community and an agreement forfeit his bond to the city of chicago, we believe this outcome is a justice position and an appropriate resolution to this case. cnn's ryan young joins us now. ryan, you have been following this case for the last few weeks. months, in fact. how did we get here? >> reporter: that's the biggest question that we've ever had. right now, actually, i'm standing behind the camera because we're told within the next two minutes or is to, jussie smollett and his lawyers are expected to walk to the mike and give his first statement.
we were all shocked by this today. we got heads up to get to the court. we arrived at court and we were told that jussie smollett and his team have arrived here. we were even told by a spokesperson that they found out late last night this was going down. basically what we're saying right now is all these charges, all 16, were dropped. we're evening waiting at this point about an hour from now not only for the police superintendent but from the mayor about how all this came down. i don't know how much information they had this was going to happen because rumors started spread quickly. the cook county state attorney's office decided after a review of the evidence that they were going to drop the charges. so what you have to wonder here is did they find something out about the two men who were working with the police department, and that's why they decided to move forward with dropping these charges? we don't know, we don't have that information just yet. what we do know is jussie smollett went into court. it lasted about 10 minutes. we're told he has to sign some paperwork. after signing some paperwork, we
were told his lawyer and his team would go up to the mikes and give a brief statement about what's going on. we're at about a two-minute warning of that happening now. you see the woman going around the corner, that's the spokesperson right there. the blond walking around the corner. we're told he should come out and give a statement. it happened on a night in january. it was a cold night in chicago. jussie smollett said he was going to get something to eat. as he came back, two men attacked him. at that point he said the men had red hats. they appeared to be white-skinned but they were wearing masks. they started punching him. he fought back. when the police arrived some 45 minutes later, they tried to take him to the hospital. he did not want to go to the hospital. he even asked them to turn off their body cameras. you're talking 12 police officers who worked this case for several days, all the hours that were used, and eventually they found the oceandale
brothers who had just returned from nigeria. right when it became the 48th hour, we're told the two men started giving up information, so they weren't charged. it went to a grand jury. the state attorney's office decided to give him a 16-count indictment. all along we thought we would get to a point where this would go to court. jussie smollett always maintained that he was innocent. now we're here where all the charges have been dropped. we're not exactly sure how we arrived here, what happened with the state attorney's office, but what we do know now is that any moment now, apparently, he's going to walk out and give his side of the conversation. but so many twists and turns in the story, you have to figure out maybe something in the middle, but you just don't know because all sides aren't talking just yet and you have to think about how strong the police department was when they came out with all the evidence that they unveiled in that news conference. >> i want to bring in cnn legal analyst joey jackson. joey, why would prosecutors just suddenly drop charges? >> that's the open question.
good afternoon to you. that's one we're going to hear shortly, but you have to wonder if it was really an overstep by the police department. look, you had the superintendent going on "good morning america," blasting him essentially, talking about him essentially shaming the community by using a noose, et cetera. if you look at the actual statement itself, nia, it speaks to they considered his volunteer service in the community and his agreement forfeit his bond. to me, even though it's not at all being couched as a plea deal, in the event charges are being dismissed -- >> there's jussie smollett walking to the microphone there. we're going to go right to him. his lawyer is there. we're awaiting his statement now. >> good afternoon. today as you have figured out,
the state made a motion to drop the charges against jussie smollett and to seal the record in this case. we believe that it was the correct result in this case. we're very happy for this result. and we are very anxious for jussie to get on with his career and his life and to move forward. i'll take any questions. [ inaudible question ] >> there is no deferred prosecution. the motion was to nolle pros, which is a legal technical term, to dismiss the charges. [ inaudible question ] >> jussie voluntarily agreed to the bond forfeiture. there is no deal. the state dismissed the charges. >> what do you have to say to the police department? >> we have nothing to say to the
police department except to investigate charges and not try their cases in the press but to allow matters to be investigated, allow the state to investigate, and to bring charges and not to jump ahead and utilize the press to convict people before they are tried in a court of law. [ inaudible question ] >> do you think the city put a lot of attention on mr. smoll t smollett -- [ inaudible question ] >> i have no idea what occurred in this case and why it occurred. i can just say things seemed to spiral somewhat out of control. we've gotten to a result that is the right result in this case
and we're happy for that. >> how did you arrive here? [ inaudible question ] >> i have no idea. [ inaudible question ] >> plenty of people forfeit their bond in situations like this. jussie is, if you were in the courtroom, heard the prosecutors say, and we made sure the prosecution knew, he is someone who has dedicated his life to public service since he was 15 years old. he has taken the city of chicago as his home. he has volunteered in a variety of ways. he is a good, solid citizen of the city of chicago. that was the comment made by the prosecutor today. [ inaudible question ] >> and the darrell brothers said
more than once that the $3500 check that they received was for exactly what jussie said. it was for nutrition and training. they were his trainers. that statement was not true. [ inaudible question ] >> i don't know where the superintendent got that information. i was not privy to it and, quite frankly, have not seen that footage so i have no idea where that came from. which is why you should allow investigation and allow the state to investigate a charge bfore you go to the press. >> they'rere are obviously stil going to be a lot of questions about this -- [ inaudible question ] >> i have no idea. i don't have information that the state would have as to why they brought these charges. i don't know. you would have to ask the state. [ inaudible question ] >> the two men who attacked him have indicated that they attacked him, so we already know who attacked him. those brothers have -- well,
that's up to the state. >> do you want to speak? jussie, do you want to say anything? >> no. >> so why did they do that? >> the two brothers said they have attacked him. we don't want try them in the press any more than he wanted to be tried in the press. [ inaudible question ] >> that decision was made so that he could go on with his life and get this over with and not have to fight. and not have to continue with all of the disruption to his career. he is a very sweet individual who has, for a lifetime, dedicated himself to his career, to the public, to children, to the movement in the lgbtqa community. this was a disruption to that. he wants to get back to it.
i will allow for you to hear from him briefly and then we're gone. >> hey, everybody. i just made a couple notes. first of all, i want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me, who have shown me so much love. no one will ever know how much that has meant to me, and i will forever be grateful. i want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. i've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. i would not be my mother's son if i was capable of one drop of what i've been accused of. this has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life, but i am a man of faith and i'm a man that has knowledge of my history, and i would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. i just wouldn't. so i want to thank my legal counsel from the bottom of my
heart, and i would also like to thank the state of illinois for attempting to do what's right. now i'd like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life. but make no mistake, i will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. again, thank you for all the support, thank you for faith and thank you for god. bless you all. thank you very much. >> we heard there from jussie smollett after the police in chicago have dropped all those charges against him. he said that he has been truthful and consistent from day one. this has been one of the worst episodes of his entire life. he called himself a man of faith and said he wanted to get on with his life. i want to bring in now cnn legal analyst joey jackson. your thoughts about what we just heard. >> number one, the first thought, of course, is that in the eyes of the law, he is now
free and clear. he has no more issues, the case is dismissed. it is sealed and he goes on with his life. he forfeits his bond. that amounts to, i believe, $10,000. it was set at $100,000. it looks like the district attorney, county attorney, considered his community service, considered the person he was. that's number one. we need to make that clear. no more in terms of jussie smollett moving forward in any criminal protcess, in any syste. that's done. number two, i was looking at whether there would be statements related to the police department and their overstepping here and the sergeant going on tv and essentially blasting jussie smollett. there was not. it looked like there was more c conciliation that they wanted to end this. i still wonder why they had to forfeit his bond, why they didn't give him community service. we'll never know, nia,
specifically what was the evidence they looked at and evaluated. was it the fact the two brothers were damaged goods? was it anything relating to their prior record or history? was it related to the nature of their story? for a case to go from the district attorney's office here to the state's attorney looking at 16 counts and an indictment. $100,000 bond, $10,000 you put up to make that bond. a thousand man hours, the sergeant saying, we got the goods, we even have more than i'm suggesting. and then never mind, it's dismissed, we're moving on. you wonder if they overplayed their hand, that they went after him so relentlessly on everything else that it poisoned the jury pool. why does the mind need to prevail? enough is enough as it relates to lying from the police. or allegedly lying as he did not
as a result of this finding so everybody moves on. >> brian stelter is going to join us now. you've been talking to jussie smollett's attorneys. what did they tell you, brian? >> i was asking, is there going to be a civil case? is smollett going to try to pursue a case against the authorities? no comment from the lawyers about that. but the view from smollett's camp here is that he was treated so terribly by the illinois authorities -- >> here's jussie smollett again. jussie smollett outside the courthouse here. >> are you pleased with the work that they've done, too? >> jussie, can you let us know what's going on? >> how do you plan to spend the rest of your day, jussie?
this is a moment for the community there in chicago who, just like us, have seen all the twists and turns of this case over the last many months. >> reporter: yeah, you couldn't write a reality tv show better than the one that's played out since january 29th. i honestly feel like when we see the superintendent and the mayor later on and they have their news conference, i wonder if they're going to punch back at some of the things that were said here today. i'm told not a lot of people knew about this deal. in fact, when this sort of happened and the charges were going to be dropped, people were surprised. they were shocked. there was a buzz in this courtroom that people were anticipating this. they felt so strongly about the information that had been given to everybody about this investigation, they just thought this was headed for a plea deal, not for charges being dropped completely. then when you hear that and you see everything that's happening and then he stands in front of the mike, one thing i will say, he was restrained.
earlier he was very vocal and was very into it. he obviously read from a statement and he was very prepared for this. the woman he had as an attorney, pat holmes, who is someone people know in this state very well. you could tell the way she talked into that mike, she had an understanding for what's going on here that many of us don't know. she said something that a lot of people didn't pick up on, i don't think. parts of this is going to be sealed, so i wonder if we'll ever get a chance to see all the evidence involved in this case. as a reporter, i would love to go through this and see how the police arrived at the location they did. what was it that was said to them that made them go out so strongly on this? will the police department look at the state attorney's office and say, hey, you guys left us out to dry on this one. will the mayor come forth? mayor rahm emanuel, will he say how he feels about this case?
from the time this case unfolded, you have new bits of evidence that just boggles your mind as to what's next. they said, do you want to see the two men that allegedly attacked you? there was a pause. you can't have something happen and a crime being reported, and nothing happens from there? it's just all going to go away? there is a credibility factor in all this. there is credibility on the line. not just jussie smollett's credibility, but you have to think about the police department, the state attorney's office. all of this has been swirling around. you think about northwestern hospital where they had to fire more than a dozen workers who apparently went in and looked at his medical files against their h hipaa rules and they were all
fired. in every step of this, you see another drop. and this was not captured on video because of the fact the camera was pointed in another direction, so we don't even have that. we do know detectives were able to drive him in with rideshare. why was the conversation of white skin even part of this conversation? we had been led to believe that two white men maybe attacked jussie smollett. that wasn't the case. this here today, they're saying he paid them for personal training. why or how did they tell the police it was something different. >> sometimes i need to talk to my -- the brothers' attorneys as well. >> and he was told do not talk in public. we remember that from the superintendent who was indignant
about what he called a hoax perpetrated by jussie smollett. >> i think the one thing that stood out to me, no matter where you went in parts of the city, and you think about some of the sketches that have been done on line, i can think about one of the trevor brothers sketches that was funny. people were behind and said, i can't believe this would happen in the city of chicago. then things shifted and he became public enemy number one. how do you trust either side of the story, because until someone lays out all the facts for us. that's the part we ever to figure out next, and that's why that conversation in the navy pier with the superintendent, that's something we'll have to watch as well. what are they going to say after this conversation? i don't think they were expecting today that the
recruits they had, he almost doesn't know what to make of it. you had fans outside who wanted to say something to jussie. there is a big split here, not even getting into the hollywood factor here. >> the team from the show of "empire" is a pretty popular team from fox. >> the network that make the show aren't saying anything. you have to remember, right after jussie smollett said he was a victim of a hate crime that night, the casting crew all had his back and supported him strongly. it became a mystery about what had happened and whether he had nad up it. right now there is no new comment from fox, but this is a key part of the story here. i do think he just wants to get back to work. he wants to act. he wants to get back to work. he had actually been taken off
two episodes of "empire." his future as a hollywood actor has been in limbo the past couple weeks. his lawyers have been trying to get to this point so he can return to work. so far no comment from the network. but i think we will see smollett go back to work. the narrative has changed from victim to villain,ing, and we may never know what happened on that street in chicago. but for his fans, his friends, this is a triumphant moment and he can get back to what he wants to do, which is work. >> i want to get to our analyst joey jackson here. one of the things you heard from his attorney there, she was defiant. in terms of some sort of plea deal, she kept saying, no, this wasn't any sort of deal, but he forfeited his bond voluntarily. >> the attorney has two roles,
right? the first role is to protect them eagerly ld. >> when you seal a case, you seal it. it's done, it's otherwise buried. with the case being sealed, there is no basis or way for reporters or anybody else to know what the contents of that file are. the only conceivable way we may know what happened is, remember, there could be a federal component here. look, this is a big day for him. it's significant. i think there was a feeling in chicago that enough was enough. my view is that it was an overstep by the police department to come out. how does he ever get a fair trial when you have the superintendent going on "good morning america," blasting him, talking about he's from the community, why would he ever do this to the community? there's much more evidence so i think that played into it big time. the other component of, how do
we know, i may have gotten this for the police. will the feds pur stusue anythi? with the case being sealed, it's done, it's over. i would look to the attorneys to see if they blast the police department. they didn't. time to move forward, time to heal chicago. >> what a fascinating end to this story. we'll keep you posted and update it as we get more information on jussie smollett and the charges dropped against him. coming up, signs of mueller fatigue on capitol hill and at the white house. are lawmakers and the president ready to move on? with my annuity, i know there is a guarantee. it's for my family, its for my self, its for my future. annuities can provide protected income for life. learn more at retire your risk dot org.
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but i found bladder leak underwear that's actually pretty. always discreet boutique. hidden inside is a super absorbent core that quickly turns liquid to gel. so i feel protected and pretty. always discreet boutique. welcome back. we're continuing to follow developments in the jussie smollett case here, and we're expecting to hear from chicago's
mayor and police sergeant soon. we'll bring you that live when we have it. meanwhile, nancy pelosi is urging democrats to stay on message today. sources told cnn pelosi spoke to them this morning who are anxious to move on to their agenda, like health care. publicly, however, they are also still demanding to see the full report from robert mueller, even setting a deadline for next week to receive all the underlying evidence and documents. the speaker said we can't trust the attorney general to tell us what's going on. >> we need an interpretation by the attorney general who is appointed for a particular job to make sure the president is above the law. we need to see the report. so that's my message to our members. >> is impeachment off the table at this point? >> impeachment is not on the table until it is on the table, so it's not a question of that. this is not about that. this is about us doing our work. >> consider that last comment a direct message for a handful of
freshman democrats who keep straying off the party line to call for impeachment. meanwhile, at the white house, the administration might also have some mueller fatigue. the talking points say they are ready to move forward and pass legislation, specifically about trade infrastructure and drug prices. cnn's manu raju joins me live on capitol hill. manu, tell us what you're hearing from lawmakers today. >> the democrats in their morning meeting said they want to move on from the mueller report, all the mess from that, and focus on health care and other issues. that's the message from the democratic leadership as well. even adam schiff, the committee chairman, said the biggest news of the day was the affordable care act. the decision by the administration to try to strike down the affordable care act. he said that's far more important than the mueller report today. nevertheless, democrats are still planning their own
investigation. they plan to have an investigation of the trump campaign and trump himself. they also have questions whether they still believe there was collusion. in the aftermath that william barr found was no evidence in the trump campaign. i asked earlier about that apparent mueller finding. >> the letter says that mueller found no conspiracy. do you accept that there is no conspiracy? >> i'm glad that mueller was able to finish his work product. and i think i want to see that work product published. >> do you buy that there is no collusion? >> i spent a lot of time on this stuff. what i want to do is see that in
writing before i make any further determination. >> reporter: so he wouldn't say whether or not he still believes there could be collusion between the trump campaign and russians. he's staying on the democratic message with his demand of the release of the full report. that's also what pelosi said privately at this meeting today. she said to her members, be calm, take a breath, don't become like them. we have to handle this professionally, officially, patriotically and strategically. that's the message she's delivering to members, nia. >> we'll see what those members said. thank you for that report. here to share their insights, julia pace with the associated press, amy walter with the political report and jackie kosinich with "the daily
beast." the fact that donald trump can move on seems a little far-fetched considering how infat waited he wuated that he mueller probe the last few years. >> that's right, he's taking this exoneration by mueller to say to the democrats and even mueller, i have been vindicated, and all those people have been been attacking me about russia, now it's time for vindication. senator lindsey graham is going to use his perch on the judiciary committee to look into how this investigation started, look into how there was sort of bad actors at the fbi and the doj and look at the president and target him. he has allies in the republican party and the republican side of the congress to sort of support him in going after the top levels of the justice department and going after sort of the
origins of this russia investigation at which the president has called a witch hunt and they're trying to build the narrative that this actually was a witch hunt. i think he'll have lots of support from members of congress to do that. >> we heard donald trump jr. echo what his father said over the last two years. hear what he had to say. >> this was the greatest farce ever perpetrated on our democracy. it's a disgrace and it's a stain on our constitution. we have to fix that. then what i'd like, i'd like us all to get together. let's start working. how about we pass some bills for infrastructure? >> that seems like a bit of a pivot on our constitution and now infrastructure. >> you're going to hear, i think, this set of dual messages from this administration. on the one hand, people like donald trump jr., the president, they are furious that this has lasted for two years and really cast a shadow over trump's presidency. i do think it is worth noting,
of course, that the investigations into russian interference in the election started before trump was president, and the reason that bob mueller was appointed is because trump fired the fbi director who was overseeing those investigations. that aside, there is another way that trump could go here. he could say, hey, this is behind us now. let's get together on infrastructure and let's do prescription drug costs. there are some issues that we actually could agree on. he has done very little, though, over the last two years to build the kind of relationships with the democrats, and even within his own party to do anything meaningful on these issues. >> the well has been poisoned now pretty well, and the idea that you can now pivot from all of this, it seems almost impossible to do. and the other piece is that the president has not proven to be a very reliable negotiator. if you're on the democratic side right now, you think, wait a minute, why am i going to even try to walk down this path
knowing that at any moment -- we'll go all the way here and i'll find out in a tweet you changed your mind or somebody said something on television and you're upset about that and this all falls apart. it's just groundhog day. both sides are going to be doing this -- >> prescription drugs, there was some reporting today on a staff level trump and pelosi had been talking about it. this was before the doj announced they would support the case in texas that would eliminate obamacare. if you're a democrat, how do you try to broker a deal on prescription drugs and they're trying to eliminate your signature health care bill. it just makes it very hard to build relationships and to get things done whuen you have all these things going on. >> it was always the case there was never any agreement on these things. >> just on principle that we all can agree. >> it was just that something needed to happen. next, the battle heats up again over the affordable care
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the trump administration now says the affordable care act should be struck down. it goes against what the president and other republicans campaigned on in 2018. president trump repeatedly promised to protect people with preexisting conditions, as did other republicans. but the department of justice now says that the entire law is unconstitutional and can't be defended. 2020 dems are already trying to capitalize. here's senator kamala harris this morning. >> the affordable care act brought health care to tens of millions of people who otherwise didn't have it. i feel very strongly that supposed leaders should stop playing politics with people's had you been health. people want to know that preexisting conditions will not be a barrier to them receiving the health care that they need, and i think this is a critical matter and we shouldn't be playing games with it. >> senators bernie sanders and amy klobuchar also shared their concerns this morning on twitter, with sanders saying the
trump administration just made it clear they have no intention to protect the 130 million americans with preexisting conditions. we will fight back. klobuchar framed it this way. the affordable care act means that people can't get kicked off their insurance for preexisting conditions. with a stroke of a pen, this court filing by the administration would take that away. i will fight this. and beto o'rourke tweeted this just last hour. we will defend the aca. amy, i can't help but think the gop caught by surprise by this, as well as being in a tricky spot now. they, of course, campaigned on keeping those preexisting conditions. this is a whole new ball game. >> and they had put the democrats on defense, they thought, on the issue of medicare for all. it was very much dividing the democratic -- at least at the 2020 field, certainly on capitol hill, this idea that they were going to move so far on the left on this issue it was going to give republicans an opening they've already taken to call this socialism.
it's going to destroy private health insurance, et cetera. now democrats get to go back on the offense. if you're a republican and ran a serious race in 2018, the reality is, though, you're not on capitol hill because you lost. and the reason you lost is because of health care. now, the president's low approval ratings in your district were also probably the more salient factor, but the reality is the democrats found these conditions that transcended the bipartisan boxes, and the president himself at one point -- i think what made him so strong in 2016 was what he was telling people is, i'm going to get rid of obamacare, i'm going to get rid of all the things you hate, but don't worry, you'll have awesome health care instead. republicans on the hill now say, we've got to come up with a solution. >> this is why it remains so tricky for republicans and why they eventually backed off the idea of a full repeal, because they don't know the solution.
they don't have a plan to put in place here. now they're going to be put on the spot again. one, to have to state publicly in some cases that they don't actually support this full repeal because the political situations are palatable for every one of them and they don't have a plan to move forward on this. >> we see obviously in 2018 this was a big issue democrats campaigned on. we also see 2020 they're campaigning on health care. >> it's time for this country to make quality affordable health care a right and not a privilege. we must pass medicare for all! >> health care is a basic human right. we fight for basic human rights. >> the republicans are trying to take that away from millions of americans. >> the community says everybody
having health care is wrong and not a right. health care is a right. >> this is bad timing for so many. pelosi planned to unveil this afternoon legislation around health care. >> what the administration just did was freshen up all those comments. democrats campaigning for president could point back to what happened in congress prooefr brooe previously, and now it just happened. if you're a democrat and you want to talk about the attorney general's four-page letter about the mueller report, you have a perfect pivot point now, saying, you know what, i'm concerned about health care. it's a legitimate pivot point because many of these democrats who are not the most liberal, this is exactly, as amy said, why they won. >> and where does this leave the president? as amy alluded to, he was pretty bold in 2016 saying essentially
they would get something better, something cheaper, and even saying in 2016 he is for protecting positions. >> if you get rid of obamacare, then democrats will come back to the table and they'll be able to put together a great bipartisan health care plan. we haven't seen evidence that's the case. we've seen the president struggle to come up with a plan or something congress will vote on, but he agrees that getting rid of obamacare will allow republicans and democrats to join in and put together a plan. you don't hear a lot of support for that, even republicans on the hill. they're looking for democrats to join them at the table. they think if they got rid of the affordable care act, that would poison the waters and it would be difficult to come together for a plan. you heard them say even if this court case moves forward, republicans and democrats would be able to make sure people were covered that had preexisting conditions, make sure they have their health care until 2026.
>> and this law very much entrenched in the health care system. the average federal exchange premium out subsidies is $612 a month. it's much more popular now and certainly among independents and democrats. >> and it's these exact provisions we've been talking about. people under the age of 26. all of that has become broadly popular, and what we have sort of seen here is this idea of a full repeal doesn't really hold much water anymore, even for the president, despite what his own administration has just done. >> it's amazing. deja vu all over again and talking about what we did in 2010. up next, the supreme court
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. any minute now, president trump will make the short drive from capitol hill for a power lun luncheon with lawmakers. he wants to talk about, with the mueller investigation now finished. we have phil mattingly. phil, do senate republicans have a message for the president? >> if history is any guide, it won't matter that they do. the president pretty much just uses these events as his own opportunity to rip for almost an hour.
i was talking with republican aides earlier, walking through some of the past conference luncheons the president has attended, they said they tend to be epic frontliners for whatever he thinks the republican party can do to push his agenda forward. it will be interesting to watch the senators who come in and out of the room. it was just 12 weeks ago when senators flipped from the central theme of his candidacy of the national declaration on the border wall. that seems about two years ago at this point, but that was between that conference in the white house. we'll see if that's dissipated at all, particularly in just about an hour, a little more than an hour, the house is going to fail to override the veto for that. the other thing -- i think this is really important. it's health care. i talked to a couple republican senators this morning who were surprised by the department of justice filing last night to agree to invalidate the entire law. a couple who are concerned, like
susan collins, saying she was very disappointed in that. there is not usually a ton of time for q and a after the president is done with this, but lunches with whoever the visitors are give the president a chance for a question and answer period. you guys were discussing this, everybody supports repeal, but everybody else wants something to be on the table for replace. at this point in time, there is no clear path forward for any type of replacement, no clear pa path forward for any white house person to address that. >> we'll await your reporting on that. thanks. turning to two critical arguments before the supreme court today, the pair of legal challengers asked the high court to look at the electoral map and decided this jigsaw was a map to
help them win. they think it tips too heavily toward one political party. the author of the new book "the chief, the life and turbulent times of chief justice john roberts." go out and buy did. it's on sale today. let's turn to the gerrymandering. two cases brought by democrats. critics say, listen, judges shouldn't have a role in this process determining what should be political or is too political given that it's sort of a political process, anyway. >> that's right. rather than running over to the bookstore i ran over to the court and ran right back so i could give you what's happened in the last hour. they heard the north carolina case first. there was a lot of spirited
debate, but mainly from justices skeptical that they should get into this. new justice brett kavanaugh who replaced anthony kennedy asked about a lot of action in the states with commissions trying to take over these kinds of redistricting maps. shouldn't we let states do their business. why should judges be involved? neil gorsuch asked questions along the same lines. he does not think the courts should be in this. it would hurt the image of the court to do something so political. and north carolina's lawyer, paul clemente said don't fall into this, it could tarnish things down the road. >> let's get to your book about what you've learned. >> what i discovered behind the scenes is that he switched his vote in that major case of 2012
not once, but twice, and ended up working with two of the liberal justices to craft this compromise that ended up holding the insurance mandate but cracked down on medicaid. i was able to get into the behind the scenes maneuvering which seemed very salient today when the trump administration is saying get rid of it all, and the case that's now pending is certainly destined for the supreme court. >> now folks are kind of looking to john roberts to be the swing justice on the court. is that something people should actually expect? >> not in the mode of anthony kennedy who, for a long time, was our key swing justice. before him sandra day o'connor. john roberts is a different kind of justice. he has much more conservative roots that i lay out in the book, but he also is so concerned about the institutional reputation of the supreme court. remember in november when he rebuked president trump by
saying, there are no such thing as obama grudges or trump injustices. indeed there are, but he's trying to cut that republic ptar that view, but he is a man in the middle, so he'll be inching to the left. thanks so much for that, joan. thank you for joining us on "inside politics." brianna keilar starts right now. i'm brianna keilar live from c cnn's washington headquarters. underway right now we start in a stunning twist of the case of "empire" actor jussie smollett. prosecutors announced just moments ago they are dropping all charges against smollett. he was accused of staging a hate crime and filing a police report. but smollett spoke to reporters, still fiercely maintaining his innocence. >> i've been truthful and consistent on