tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and John Berman CNN February 14, 2017 6:00am-7:01am PST
i am poppy harlow. >> i am john berman. a stunning and confusing morning at the white house. this morning we know that michael flynn is out as national security adviser. we know he talked about sanctions with the russian ambassador and then lied about it or misled or forgot to tell mike pence, and all of that is big news 25 days into the administration, and what is bigger news may be what we do
not know. e we don't know if the president knew about the conversations with russia when they happened and we don't know if or why the white house ignored an explicit warning that russia could blackmail his aadviser. let's begin with dana bash who is in washington, and there's so much. good morning to you. there's so much to walk through this morning. let's begin with all of the reporting you have on exactly how this all unravelled in the late hours last night. >> well, the headline from senior administration officials who i am talking to is that they just realized and the president finally realized the situation was untenable, and they situation they describe as untenable is the idea that either now the former national security adviser did not
remember what he said in a ka r conversation with the russian ambassador or misled the vice president on purpose, and that either answer was not sustainable or okay for the president's national security adviser, and so that is why they said that it was time for michael flynn to go. but to give more context with an explanation, it's probably better for our viewers because there's a lot to unpack, so go back in time. obama administration announced sanctions for meddling in the election, and on december 30th, surprisingly vladimir putin said there would be no response, which was very odd to most people who focus on russia and how they react to things. in late december, intelligence officials turned up communications between michael
flynn and the russian ambassador. then fast-forward to january 15th, this was the key when i was talking about the vice president being misinformed or misled. the vice president went on television and said, per his discussions with michael flynn that flynn did not discuss anything having to do with the dip phr diplomats or imposed sanctions, and then fast-forward to about two weeks ago, the justice department, then the acting attorney general, sally yates, warned the white house that flynn could be blackmailed by russia based on the conversation that they had, and then in february 8th, flynn denied discussing sanctions with the russian ambassador in a
"washington post" interview, and then if you fast-forward even more, a flynn aide told cnn he could not rule out if sanctions were discussed and he started to backtrack on his discussions. then the issue was starting this past weekend, guys. the president of the united states being asked about a "washington post" report, which blew this whole thing open, saying flynn did discuss sanctions and he probably did, knowing or not, mislead the president, and that's when we ended with the very late at night resignation last night by michael flynn. >> we are looking at a timeline, though, and it's like watergate, there's an eight-minute gap in the tape, and then there was a conversation, that was at least two weeks ago. has the white house given any
explanation about what has gone on since those two weeks? >> no, the answer is no. we don't know if the white house counsel who may have gotten that information kept it from people, if he kept it intentionally from the president so he would have deniability, or if the president did know and decided it wasn't enough of a problem to take mike flynn off of key and sensitive national security issues. i mean, he was in meetings with the national security council. he was in meetings on national security issues. he, of course, was involved in foreign visits and so forth, and not to mention phone calls that the president has made to foreign leaders. so that is a very important -- one of many important unknowns here with regard to what the white house knew about flynn's actions and when they knew it. >> dana, don't go anywhere.
we have a lot more to discuss. let's bring in a cnn political analysts, and there's a lot to discuss, and let's break it down piece by piece. one key question is the conversation that general flynn had with the russian ambassador. did then president-elect trump know about it? one of the reasons we ask, look on twitter on december 30th, president-elect trump said after russia did not answer to the -- respond. >> i always thought it was unbelievable, in a literal sense, i did not believe the president couldn't know about these things, when he said i am looking into it, and this is the
best-informed person in the world, and this is the person that gets the intelligence briefings every day -- >> from flynn. >> yeah, and that raises some hollywood type of questions, but sally yates, there are independent reporting lines through the department of justice, and there are reporting lines through the central intelligence agency and there are people that can tell the president at a minimum, this is a problem, and there are advisers to tell the president to do exactly that, tell him what is floating around and bring it to his attention, and if he is uninformed, that could be more devastating, but this is a president that has left things fuzzy, and the tweet shows he was aware of the issue whether or not russia was going to respond to the sanctions, and clearly that is of immediate relevance to figure out who knew what when? >> let's listen to what the president said just on friday. he was asked about this by
reporters on air force one. here's his answer. >> i don't know about it. i have not seen it. what report is that? >> reporter: the washington post reporting that he talked to ambassador of russia -- >> i have not seen that and i will look the that. >> probably the biggest issue going on in the white house at the time, and then nobody asked him about the situation, shockingly yesterday, some friendly media was called on. dana went through the timeline for us. jackie, to you, is it plausible in your mind it never made it to the desk of the president? kellyanne conway said multiple times this morning she could not answer the question and that's not why i am here. >> i don't know if i could answer that question. perhaps they were trying to shield him from this. we just don't know. you know where you are going to
hear about this the most in the next 24 to 48 hours is capitol hill. republicans are going to have to answer for this and democrats are going to be crying for vest tkpwaeugs a investigations, and this is going to fuel complaints this was not properly looked into, and this is going to be chief questions that lawmakers will have to dig into in the future. >> the white house council sits on it for two weeks, and if he didn't -- >> isn't that a problem, too? a huge problem? >> so then there's the russia problem, right? >> for democrats this is clearly a political opportunity and they can bring up the question about were there contacts between the trump campaign and russia, and there are an active investigation into three people who was a russian adviser, and stone, a supporter of flynn, and
manafort, the former campaign manager. there's no proof of this. let's be fair, but this is what the democrats are going to be bringing up. >> and ben rhodes put this on twitter, and want to get your opinion on if this is fair or not. david, is that just politics or is there something there? >> i think there are politics. but there are active investigations going on by these three people by the fbi, and john mccain raised this issue, he will not let this issue die, and all american intelligence agencies agreed the russians intervened in the election to undermine it and favored donald trump. >> based on your reporting, what is going on right now in the white house this morning? we have seen kellyanne conway out there today saying she has
no explanation, or doesn't have an answer for what happened from two weeks ago. >> yesterday she said the president has complete confidence -- >> there's that, too. >> like, 12 hours ago. >> it's unclear. that's the honest answer, it's unclear. it seems to me the first thing they want to do, which is the first thing that they should do is get a new national security adviser and hope that that helps to change the narrative, and helps to change the discussion into will this white house and will the very important national security council find somebody that will give leadership, and not just to part of the white house but to the president's foreign policy in general. but, you know, you have to imagine that they are understanding that these questions are going to come up. i have been asking them and have not gotten any answers yet, the
key one, and did the white house council tell anybody or tell everybody, and if so what happened with that information? those are key questions that you can bet they are trying to figure out how to answer, and it's possible that because of the -- frankly, because of the chaos within the white house that people who should know the answers to these questions don't. >> let's just take a walk back in history a little further than you took us, dana, and let's have a listen to what michael flynn said at the rnc. a huge supporter and very loyal to trump throughout. this is what he said about hillary clinton and national security issues calling her careless. >> she put our nation's security at extremely high risks with her careless use of a private e-mail server.
>> let's set aside the irony of that statement for a moment and talk about whether or not there's a national security risk that could have spanned at least those three weeks when russia would have known that it had leverage over michael flynn. >> the definition of a risk is exactly that, when information goes missing, when clearly there is somebody that could be compromised and there's an obvious need to close ranks and figure out what is going on and come clean with the administration and the public, and none of those things seemed to have happened. why when he is going to tweet about nordstroms or the hollywood stars or the media or anything else, how is it that this president never managed to criticize russia or its leader? it makes the whole thing very fraught and you start to wonder what is going on and who is driving the ship and for what reason? >> michael flynn was incredibly close to president trump, and it's hard to know where his
foreign policy ends and where trump's begins, and he was criticized for not taking the daily briefings in the transition, his excuse was michael flynn is briefing me every day, so not much space between these two men. >> that's true, but loyalty only goes so far, and the fact that he did lie or misstate the facts at a minimum to vice president mike pence was his undoing, and mike pence went out and defended him, and he is reportedly very upset about this, and you can't undermine the president like that, especially when you are so critical to the administration. >> we appreciate it. coming up for us, a ranking member of the house intelligence committee not mincing words on twitter, tweeting here's what is bothering me flynn's lie did not
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general michael flynn has resigned as national security adviser. does that mean the controversy is over? no way says a congressman on the intelligence committee. he wrote this. exposure of lie did, and white house new weeks ago and did nothing. why? >> congressman, as john said, ranking member of the intelligence committee. given the fact you sit on the intel committee, and is there any indication the president knew -- first off that the president knew before he took office that michael flynn was having these conversations about sanctions with the russian
ambassador? >> i can't go into the contents of the investigation, but i don't think we have anywhere near the answers to those kinds of questions yet. our investigation is really just getting under way, but these are the questions, and how long did this relationship between flynn and the other russian ambassador or others affiliated with the kremlin go on, and how much was con doantkoe condoned by the president? the white house knew about the fact that flynn lied and knew the vice president repeated the falsehood to the american people, and for kellyanne conway to say he is stepping down because he misled the president, and no, they misled the country, and it's troubling to me that
they would keep that information to himself, and it's also very implausible that those others in the administration, if they were having discussions about removing flynn, would not have discussed this with the president. >> what the congressman is talking about here, two weeks ago, sally yates, who was acting attorney general then told the white house council two weeks ago, and then on friday, congressman, president trump was asked about all of this, and this is how he responded on air force one. let's listen briefly. >> i haven't seen it. what report is that? >> the washington post is reporting that he talked to you about the ambassador -- >> what the president said was,
i haven't heard about that and i will look into it. that was friday, more than two weeks after his white house council was informed of it. do you think the president was being straight with the american people right there? >> i think that's so unlikely. the fact is this is a consumer of the news, as much as he bad mouths it, he knew what the controversy was that was swirling around, and how much did he know of what sally yates communicated to the white house council. if he didn't, that says something about if important national security information is being kept from the president. but given this fondness for putin it begs the question if flynn was doing what the president wanted, whether he was doing it with the president's approval, and it's plausible they could have discussed it
after they learned president trump was going to impose sanctions, and felt they were being boxed in and they were going to reach out to the russians immediately saying don't react, we will take care of this. there are tons of questions here. we need a thorough investigation. i would like to see in addition to what we are doing in the intelligence committee, because we have limited resources, an independent commission look at all of the questions because they are of such great significance to the whole country. >> let's remember, the day after flynn had that conversation with the russian ambassador, the president then tweeted this right before taking office, great move on delay by v. putin, meaning reacting to the shock of the counter punch. you said something to wolf blitzer on this network yesterday that we want to learn more about, and you said you have seen reports that general flynn may have used encrypted
communications with the russians, and are you talking about media reports or intelligence reports? >> i have not seen intelligence about this, and i want to be very clear. there have been comments about this in the media, and i think this is an allegation that ought to be pursued, and we ought to find out just what kind of communications flynn had with the russian ambassador. we know from sean spicer that he was texting the russian ambassador, and was this using open communications or encrypted communications. if they were, in fact, encrypted, you have to ask who was he trying to conceal these conversations from? he was not trying to conceal them from the russians and that may show consciousness of wrong doing here. >> let's cross the ts here, so what if the general did have encrypted conversations during the campaign and what if the president did know after the white house council was informed about these conversations, what then? >> of course the most serious allegation is that there was a form of collusion between the
trump campaign and the kremlin while the kremlin was engaged in illegal operations in the united states to influence our ae ree n election. >> have you seen any evidence? that's a serious allegation. >> i can't go into the investigation yet, but the investigation is still at a very early stage, and we are in the process of gathering documents from the intelligence community that under lay the intelligence community's assessment, and we receive the more classified version, and so we are in the very early stages. we do have to look at the whole range of russian active measures. we cannot wall-off any potential source of investigation or inquiry, and to the chairman of the intelligence commune, to his commit, is willing to pursue the facts where they may lead, and
that's what we need to do. i would like to see us do that jointly with the senate and doesn't make sense to do this independently of each other, and more than anything i think we would benefit from an independent commission. these allegations have to be looked into, and as well as the more allegations if there's more material to blackmail the president. >> we should note cnn has not been able to corroborate any of those allegations in that dossier you are talking about, and let's be clear about that. >> thank you so much for being with us. appreciate it. >> thank you. moments away now from the hoping bell, and wall street no doubt watching this and much more. we have seen many days of record highs. will there be another? >> the futures down a little bit right now, and overall a big run for stocks. i wanted to show you the last three months of the stock market and show you how well you
performed here. you have the nasdaq up, and the dow up strongly. and with the dow you can see where the enthusiasm is, in the banks because of cutting regulations and slashing the protections after the financial crisis, and apple shares on fire here. it's a combination of what they hope the trump administration will do. cutting regulations and taxes, and then you hear how strong the economy is. >> is it a trump rally still -- a lot of people giving it to the fed, but that's not as sexy, i suppose? >> there's an idea that economists are arguing about whether or not the economy is actually stronger than the gdp is showing, and maybe we have something we under appreciated here, and a lot of corporate executives are upbeat and a
trump presidency is a good thing, and there's turmoil over the travel ban and turmoil over michael flynn and all of this, you know, what is happening behind closed doors at the white house and why its spilling out into the public, and they are concerned about that, but tax cuts and regulation cuts, those are things they think are going to happen and they like that. >> thank you. >> you are welcome. still for us, who will fill the place of michael flynn of the president's national security adviser. there are three names in the running and one seems to be in the lead. we will look at the military officers on that list. and then the push for labor secretary, running into trouble. four republicans on the fence.
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good business morning. i am john berman. >> i am poppy harlow. bottom of the hour, retired general michael flynn is out and now three leading candidates are in to potentially become the national security adviser. >> the guy in the middle, david petraeus, he is perhaps the most well known and will visit the white house today. barbara starr with a look at the possible replacements. there's one that i understand is very much in the lead. >> that appears to be what is shaping up, john and poppy. all three men very well known in military circles. all three are required senior
military officers. the leading contender at the moment may be retired navy vice admiral robert harwood. he is very close to james mattis, and they served together and harward worked for him many times. he did serve to the national security council a few years back and he also led operations in afghanistan, and said to be somebody very sharp, very smart, and somebody that mattis trusts. i have interviewed him before. this is a guy that knows his business. does he have the broad experience, management experience, for nec, perhaps that remains to be seen but he's somebody mattis trusts and don't discount that. the other contenders, retired keith kellogg, a decent guy but served some years back and doesn't have a lot of current
experience. very well known, respected, a vietnam veteran, and again somebody that is not in recent years dealt with isis and the current threats. the leaves retired general, david petraeus, and he served as the cia director. he's the one that may have had the broad geopolitical experience given the current threats like north korea and isis, and petraeus comes with the baggage, the federal conviction from mishandling classified information. he is scheduled to meet with the president today. we will see how president trumps reacts to all of this and what he's really looking for in a new national security adviser, and does he want another retired military officer. >> he's -- the president's been so complimentary throughout, and
isn't petraeus still under probation or something akin to that until april? >> indeed he is, for that federal conviction. he is on federal probation until april. there will be the issue of whether he can get a security clearance. that is up to the national security community. by all accounts, it is our understanding if he were to take this job before his probation is up in april he would have to notify his probation officer. >> barbara starr, great reporting at the pentagon. thank you so much. the president just out with a tweet a moment ago. the real story here, he tweets, is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of washington, and will these leaks -- >> the leaks are not illegal, and that's not the issue at all. this is a white house in disarray trying to control messaging, sending kellyanne conway on the shows to not
answer the crux of the question which is what did the white house know and when did they know it? >> i think that's right. you can see kellyanne conway giving us a sense of what we might see in this briefing. sean spicer's briefing will be later this afternoon. they are clearly trying to contain the damage to mike flynn and essentially say this was about mike flynn being an unreliable narrater and possibly a dishonest narrater as well, and let's move on. you saw some republican congress folks, chris collins on with chris cuomo this morning, using that very phrase. it's time to move on. what was also interesting in listening to kellyanne conway was that she described the justice department's warning to this white house about mike flynn possibly being the subject of blackmail. she described that as a justice department opinion, not as an assessment or warning, which is
an interesting phrase, right, this idea that it was sort of their opinion that it was not a warning. we will see what spicer says. i don't think they can continue to essentially say what kellyanne conway said this morning over and over again, that she was not aware of this, that she doesn't know -- she didn't have enough information in terms of the president or these were sensitive conversations that she couldn't divul divulge. i think this gets back to why the leaks are happening, and when you have a president on friday that says he doesn't know anything about the whole flynn situation, that's why you have people leaking. let's be honest, and some of these leaks are coming from his own white house, not necessarily the stories around flynn and what happened on those calls with the russian ambassador, but the portrait of chaos that we have been reading about and reporting on our air, that is coming from people who work in that white house. >> lets remember, donald trump as a candidate was somebody that
used to read from wikileaks during the campaign, and said things like i love wikileaks during the campaign, and this is not about the leaks, but this is about that flynn lied to mike pence, and whether it was an opinion or not, they were told about this more than two weeks ago and we still do not know what was done with it in that time. great to have you with us. thank you so much. >> thank you. we have some new problems for one of president trump's nominees. we're talking about the nominee for labor secretary. now four republicans are on the fence. more than enough to derail this nomination. that's next.
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you think. let's bring in our senior capitol hill reporter for more details on this. david nunez, what does he want to investigate? >> reporter: he told reporters he is concerned about the leaks that have been sir rouurroundin calls between michael flynn and the russian ambassador, and he concerned about the leaks. i had a chance to ask him what about the discussions between president-elect trump at the time, and flynn and russia, and did the president-elect at the time instruct flynn to discuss anything with the russian ambassador, and mr. nunez said that is something that could be covered by executive privilege, not something that congress could be able to look into. there's a lot of questions about what exactly the president of the united states knew, and whether or not he told his
national security adviser, incoming national security adviser to discuss the issue of russian sanctions as they were come into power, and that's not something the house intelligence committee that is looking into russian meddling in the elections plans to look into. i did speak to another member of the committee, peter king of new york, the congressman, the republican congressman says he think donald trump should detail to the public exactly what he said to michael flynn at that time, and i said do you think if he does not there should be an investigation into this by congress? he did not go that far, but he said he does think the president should detail that conversation. this all comes as democrats are coming for a full independent investigation about what happened, but republicans in congress believe it can be done through the existing committees to look into the issue of russia hacking, but, of course there's disagreement about the scope of
the investigation, mr. nunez suggesting they would not look into the discussions between president-elect trump and flynn. >> it echos what the president tweeted, it's about leaks. >> it's notable, by the way, the republican chairman of the house comes within the same 10-minute period that donald trump tweeted. we don't know if they are coordinated messages but they are coincidental to say the least. and then the labor pick, somebody controversial from the moment he was chosen by the president, and he is a former ceo of a big fast-food chain, under fire now but from four republican senators who said we are going to wait until we support him and wait for what he has to say at the hearings. >> we will see if they vote no.
that's the big question. right now they are saying they want to hear some of his opinions on key herissues, and o messy issues involving his divorce from three decades ago and allegations that he faced time of domestic abuse, and something his wife at the time has since withdrawn, and now back in the discusses because she showed up in a disguise on oprah winfrey. we expect senators to ask him about that at this hearing on thursday, but republicans, the leadership, big business groups are pushing hard for his confirmation, and they think it could be among the hardest if not the hardest of president
trump's nominees to get confirmed and they need to limit their defections to no more than two senators, but if it's three or more he will not get the job. >> and paul ryan, the house leadership will be facing questions about trump and issues no doubt surrounding the resignation of michael flynn. any sense of how the speaker will address this? >> it remains to be seen. i think he will probably support what the president has done so far. he will probably say it's up to the president to choose his own national security team. you are not hearing a lot of criticism from the house speaker towards the president of the united states since donald trump won the election, and i don't think you will hear much of that today. you hear disagreement about the issue of russia but it's done in a way not to provoke something between the white house and the
committee. chris christie picked a heck of a day to go to washington to have lunch with the president, and he will be at the white house in a little bit. i wonder what they will talk about today? mr. president, what is new in your life? i talked to my doctor and found a missing piece in my asthma treatment with breo. once-daily breo prevents asthma symptoms. breo is for adults with asthma not well controlled on a long-term asthma control medicine, like an inhaled corticosteroid. breo won't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden breathing problems. breo is specifically designed to open up airways to improve breathing for a full 24 hours. breo contains a type of medicine that increases the risk of death from asthma problems and may increase the risk of hospitalization in children and adolescents. breo is not for people whose asthma is well controlled on a long-term asthma control medicine, like an inhaled corticosteroid. once your asthma is well controlled, your doctor will decide if you can stop breo and prescribe a different asthma control medicine,
my name is jamir dixon and i'm a locafor pg&e.rk fieldman most people in the community recognize the blue trucks as pg&e. my truck is something new... it's an 811 truck. when you call 811, i come out to your house and i mark out our gas lines and our electric lines to make sure that you don't hit them when you're digging. 811 is a free service. i'm passionate about it because every time i go on the street i think about my own kids. they're the reason that i want to protect our community and our environment, and if me driving a that truck means that somebody gets to go home safer, then i'll drive it every day of the week. together, we're building a better california. in the midst of everything happening in washington today at the white house with the resignation of michael flynn, the president is going to have a lunch guest. new jersey governor chris christie headed to a white house meet with the president. >> this sit-down comes on what a day. what do you think they're going to talk about?
>> no idea. >> amid speculation that president trump is not just a little unhappy but pretty unhappy with folks leaking from the white house as he just divulged on this tweet. let's go to joe johns at the white house. chris christie sitting down with the president today. what do we know? >> well, we know it's very interesting. i mean, think about it. he was passed over for vice president. passed over for attorney general. he was demoted during the transition. and now he and his wife have been invited to the white house to have lunch with the president. chris christie says he has no idea why he's been invited. he also doesn't expect to be offered a job. listen to what he had to say in the state of the union. >> i have absolutely no intention nor any understanding that i'll be asked to be in the administration in the years to come. my view is i've got a job to do as governor and my intention is to go off to the private sector and to help support my family.
>> so what else do we know? this administration has been through a very tumultuous period, these first few weeks of the trump administration, and they've had some problems from the roll-out of the travel ban which created pandemonium and ended up in a court battle to just last night the resing iination of the national security adviser after less than a month on the job. so the question is, what would the president ask of chris christie? not sure at all. we do know chris christie has been a reliable surrogate, if you will, for the president, even after he was elected. but as far as what he's doing here, anybody's guess. >> it is notable. chris christie was pushed out as joe said leading the transition and the problems with michael flynn and those conversations happened after that during the transition under different management at the time. joe johns, great to have you with us at the white house. the fx hour of "newsroom"
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♪ good tuesday morning to you. i'm poppy harlow. >> i'm john berman. the breaking news this morning, any moment now we'll hear from house speaker paul ryan. this is the first time we'll hear from him since the resignation of michael flynn as national security adviser. these are live pictures from capitol hill where speaker ryan will speak with other republican leaders there. we're waiting to see how they will address the unanswered question swirling around flynn's departure and his conversations with the russian ambassador. >> among those still unanswered questions from the white house this morning, did the president know about flynn's conversations with russia's ambassador while they were happening? and also, we don't know if or why the white house ignored an