tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN March 2, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
and they want to know if this was an oversight. he didn't remember. or whether this was something more fe -- nefarious, because when you vote to confirm someone in the president's cabinet you have to presume what they are telling you is true since you're under oath and this has been a large issue. so i think that's the first thing that needs to get resolved and then you can go on the larger issues that he's the chief law enforcement officer of the country and lying or misleading would be a real problem for him an for the administration. >> certainly. david chalian, gloria borger, thank you so much. now this. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> top of the hour. i want to restart our special live coverage. the attorney general under fire.
the president said jeff sessions should not recuse himself from any investigation of russian links to the trump campaign. this runs counter to a growing list of members of his own party. including top house democrat nancy pelosi are suggesting he resign, all of this revealing that sessions a former campaign official met with russian am bass tw -- ambassador twice during the campaign. he fail today disclose this twice. after several of the president elect's nominees where -- have russian ties have you been in contact with anyone in part of if russian government either before or after election day. no, he suspended.
also on camera sessions had this exchange. >> cnn just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about mr. trump. these documents also allegedly stated quote there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump surrogates and interimmedia interimmediate areas for the russian government. you know, but if it's true it's obviously extremely serious and if there is any evidence that any one affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with
the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate a time or two in the campaign and did not have communications with the russians. >> the meeting came on the sidelines of the republican convention and the second time perhaps more important was in september because this was in session's senate office. the attorney general today defending himself. >> well, i have not met with any russians at any time to discuss any political campaigns and those remarks are unbelievable to me and false and i don't have anything else to say about that, so thank you. >> what about -- to recuse yourself from -- >> well, i've said whenever it is appropriate i will recuse myself.
there's no doubt about that. >> joining me now, manu raju, he's been very busy covering that getting reaction all day from capitol hill. and you got response investigating the alleged trump ties and campaign in russia. >> that's right. after a closed door session, part of the inquiry into russia. just got briefed by james comey, and adam schiff came out expressing frustration that in his view was not forth wright and apparently they had a lot of questions about these issues and did not get answers to those issues. here is what he had to say. >> in order for us to do our investigation in the -- way, we need the fbi to tell us any bred
of intelligence their conducting at this point the director was not willing to do that. there were repeated questions about the scope of any investigation they may be doing, individual that is may be the subject of any kind of terrorism investigation and the director declined to answer those questions. it was unclear whether that decision was a decision he was making on his own or a decision that he is making in consultation with the department of justice. i would say at this point we know less than a fraction of what the fbi knows. >> that was a key point one of the latter points that he did not know who was actually telling him not to disclose more information in that classified briefing. i asked him what next and he said he believes it's time for a special prosecutor, a step that adam schiff has not taken at this point but suggesting that there should be a special
prosecutor to investigate what's happening. and hearing that from democrat after democrat on capitol hill and something that republicans are not yet endorsing at this point including the republican leadership, house speaker paul ryan i asked him he does not think it's time for a special prosecutor, and devin nunez, standing behind adam schiff and said do you agree with mr. schiff and he shook his head an said no, so you are seeing the dividing line on capitol hill even as more republicans are saying sessions should at least step aside, recuse himself, because of all these questions involving jeff sessions and those meetings he did not disclose. >> thank you. the house's top democrat nancy pelosi is making it clear she wants jeff sessions to resign immediately. the white house is pushing back against claims that the attorney general lied about meetings with russia. >> we've been calling for weeks
for him to recuse himself from investigation into the personal, political and financial connections between the trump operation and the russians. recusing himself because his connection to donald trump campaign. and now, we see that he himself needs an investigation for lying. it's against the law. and the top law enforcement officer should know that. >> there's nothing to recuse himself. he was 100% straight with the committee and i think people are choosing to play partisan politics and should be ashamed of themselves! with me now laura coats, pj crowley, and john walters, who wrote a letter in support of session's nomination for attorney general. john, you did support jeff sessions, what's your reaction
to all this? >> jeff sessions is one of the most honest and man of greatest integrity i've ever worked with in washington, and to suggest he's lying, i mean look at the beginning of the obama administration -- >> what do you think happened then, what do you think happened when he testified? and also in writing? >> there's a his staster iia -- >> you have shown the transcript. the transcript said there's been reports by cnn that some to have campaign staff have been in touch with the russians, sessions answered -- i'm paraphrasing, i don't know anything about that, the context was obviously about the campaign, one of these report of a subsequent meeting was a reception a room full of people and the russian ambassador was
there and something has been described as something in terms of his responsibilities as a senator. there's a theory that trump is selling us out to the russians just as on the right that obama was selling us out to the russians, it's kind to have lunatic fringe that has become populated by people who should know better. >> pj what do you think? >> i think there's a large issue and a smaller issue, the larger issue is we still need to understand what russia tried to do during the 2016 campaign. there's little doubt about the relationship between russian intelligence and julian assange. we need to get to the bottom of that and in the process we need to understand what contacts might have been made between the trump campaign and russian officials, might be benign, might not be benign. again we have to get to the bottom of it. certainly jeff sessions has not done himself any favors at a minimum giving a misleading aps
it's up to the attorney general to clarify why he would as a member of the armed services committee he would need to talk to the russian ambassador, if it's on ukraine, that's something, if it's regarding the campaign, then it obviously is an issue and would lead you as lindsey graham an others suggested that he needs to be prepared to recuse himself as we understand more about what actually happened. >> john i see you shaking your ahead and lawyer i have a question for you. >> i don't understand what your guess there, does he not know senators meet with diplomats from other governments all the time. this is phony ignorance about what really goes on. in all fairness, there's nothing phony about it. on two occasion it is senator was asked did you meet with any officials. on two occasions he said no.
now i understand why that meeting would have taken place and might be perfectly understandable, the context is that sessions on two occasions said no, now we understand that answer was not as forthcoming as it should have been. >> he was asked a question in context. again what's the underlying issue? it has to be that somebody is subverting the u.s. government. that's ludicrous. >> actually it's not about the lunatic fringe you're talking about i'm neither a lunatic nor his tar hysterical, it's the word perjury and as much as you want to talk about a sub version or attempt to have russian contacts, it is whether or not you were forthcoming and honest in a sworn testimony or on paper and in both cases it looks like jeff session was not. now what are you going to do about it as leader of the department of justice. you know as well as i do, the
figure head, which is the attorney general in some instances is the person should be setting the example that if there's even a hint of inappropriate that this would not be an objective investigation that will honor lady liberty or justice then i have to recuse myself and allow the attorneys to do their work, you know loretta lynch did a that when there was a hint about inappropriate about that conversation on the tarmac that day. the issue is whether or not you were urnder oath, he was, and whether or not you made a misstatement that's a kin to perjury, that's investigation that needs the happen now. >> doesn't it require intent? it's hard to prove right? >> yes, and that's the lifeline that jeff sessions will hold on
to. this is why everyone hates lawyers, we parse words and battle over semantics. it's very hard to figure out whether somebody was intentionally nefarious in with holding the statement or whether it's an issue of amnesia, but it's not about the greater issue of russian interference, at this time the issue is whether or not the leader of the department of justice was honest under oath, a requirement we have for every defendant and witness in every courtroom and in every hearing. >> can i say one thing? i believe i'm the only one here who was actually in the hearing room when senator franken asked the question and senator sessions answered it. even knowing what we know now i will tell you there's no question in my mind that senator sessions answered truthfully and in the context of the question, there's no question of perjury, no question of a lifeline and this is made up. >> why does he -- john -- i hear
what you're saying and certainly it sounds -- >> i was there. >> but the case that his office is making and obviously this is how former senator sessions feels, is that he was sort of thinking just with his campaign surrogate hat on and as a campaign surrogate he had not felt he had done anything wrong and clearly the russian ambassador would have wanted to meet with him because of his ties to donald trump. it's difficult to believe that wasn't part of the meeting! well, look, you can make up possibilities here but he was in a reception with a bunch of other ambassadors and people. >> no, i'm talking about he met with the russian ambassador in his office while the sieptieber attacks were in full throttle. >> i run a think tank.
we have ambassadors from the foreign diplomatic corp., they're interested in the same issues, it doesn't have knob anything nefarious or outside the context to have question he was asked in the hearing and the context of his work in the senate. we want our representatives to have a wider understanding of the interest of other nations to carry out their business for america. i really do think this is -- this is not a question of perjury, this is kind of nasty politics that's now gotten to such ex-treatment craziness, the only serious thing underneath is this is there subversion of the u.s. government and that's nuts. >> pj what do you think? >> i think that's the issue, to understand what happened during the 2016 campaign, it's not a made up issue, the question is
is jeff sessions as attorney general in a position either based on reality, based on perception to be the one who guides this investigation, that is a legitimate question to ask in light of the revelation of the last 24-48 hours. thank you so much to all of you. next new information in involving the high profile military raid in yemen that claimed the life of a navy s.e.a.l. the leads they are actively pursuing. we will take you live to the pentagon next.
now to a development in that controversial raid in yemen that led to the death of a navy s.e.a.l. in the u.s. will be located and monitoring hundreds of al qaeda contacts found as part of that military operation. i want to bring in cnn correspondent barbara starr and bob bear, a retired cia operative. i want to let our viewers know that jeff sessions is going to be holding a press conference at 4:00 p.m. we are at 3:21 eastern time, he's going to be holding a conference in 40 minutes. we will bring it live to you on cnn. stay tuned for that. back to this raid. this is coming as the administration has been defending this raid. they said even though they lost a navy s.e.a.l. even though
civilians were killed that a lot of recoverable vital intelligence has been benefitting them. >> they have said that briana. they have been very specific with their wording here. they are calling it vital intelligence, valuable intelligence, so the debate comes up if it's something called actionable, can the u.s. intelligence community take this intelligence and somehow act upon it. we saw some raids, airstrikes in yemen overnight not tied to sbre intelligence here, but actions are being taken, not necessarily dropping bombs, but they found a lot of laptop, cell phones, computer data, they're starting to go through all of it and one of things they found say say are hundreds of contacts that al qaeda and yemen had abroad. some in the middle east, some in europe, and now they are taking
action to go through all of that and try to monitor and locate these contacts because the concern is pretty obvious that maybe these people are sympathizers abroad, maybe they're going to be contacted again by al qaeda and try and plot additional attacks, al qaeda in yemen always the group that's been looking for years now to put bombs on u.s. airplanes so they found intelligence about al qaeda safe havens, training and recruiting so the officials we are talking about is that they got plenty of intelligence and acting on it. >> what's your reaction to be to that hundreds of names? >> i think that's plausible. barbara is absolutely right, looking for support networks, it's unusual for these people to put their plans on computers and hard drives but once you have
been on been the raids and the cell phones, not prepaid, computer e-mail addresses and on and on and once the analysts get hold of this it's very easy to unstitch networks and prevent a terrorist attack, so the only way to do this is like these raids, a s.e.a.l. died, which is unfortunate. >> and soon, the attorney general embattled right now saying he did not talk to russian officials when actually he did over the summer, he's going to be holding a news conference at 4:00 p.m. the first we will hear from him at length. bob, this raid has been hailed a success by donald trump despite the fact that the life of this
navy s.e.a.l. was killed. when you hear what is being -- has been recovered, do you say that's a success? >> i think it's a success. i think what we have to look at is the positive side. it's a tragedy, one life lost, but the military, the s.e.a.l.s. delta force is getting better and better at the raids, when aircraft went into yemen, it used to be impossible, and they're getting better at it and unfortunately as the war on terrorism goes on, there are going to be -- like this and i think it's a mistake to lay this a lot of of life at the doorstep to have president. definitely. >> thank you. next, a closer look at the role that attorney general jeff sessions played in the trump
wait for it. [ cat screech ] [ laughter ] ♪ [ screaming ] [ laughter ] make everyday awesome with the power of xfinity x1... hi grandma! and the fastest internet. [ girl screaming ] [ laughter ] mr. president do you still have confidence this the attorney general? >> total. >> mr. president, should sessions recuse himself from investigation into the -- campaign and russia? >> i don't think so at all. i don't think so at all. >>. [ inaudible ] >> when were you aware that he spoke to the russian ambassador? >> i wasn't aware at all. >>. [ inaudible ] >> he probably did. >> that was president trump on
the aircraft carrier, the uss gerald ford defending his attorney general jeff sessions for not disclosing his meeting with russian ambassadors. he's going to hold news conference a short time from now. he was the first senator to endorse him for president. but this was even before trump launched his bid sessions had ties to those who would become his brain trust. -- has written about the relationship and how together they create add nationalist vision before even having a candidate in mind. rosie, give us a sense of when jeff sessions really became a confidant of president trump?
>> i think it's important to look at the immigration bill of 2013 and that's when the relationship between jeff sessions and steve bannon was cemented. when i wrote a profile for the atlantic, he was telling me how they had long planning meetings, talking about their vision for immigration and their plan for o owesi -- opposing the bill. >> so they had this idea i guess a common philosophy, right? and then donald trump sort of comes along and fits that for them? >> yeah, there's a way in which you could look at jeff sessions as a prototrump on issues of immigration and trump came along and dovetailed what sessions had been talking about for a long time. >> you write about the breitbart
wing, and bannon and miller being a part of this, do you consider this breitbart versus the washington wing, sessions obviously very much a washington player. >> now he's the attorney general, but he was always sort-of a political outsider because his beliefs did not track with established republicans, and he -- i would describe him as part of this breitbart wing of the administration, he certainly people in his office literally had very close relationships with breitbart writers and with bannon himself. >> he's someone who has in a way that steve bannon has -- do they in your estimation share this idea of the changing demographics and immigration into the u.s. not being something they find positive? because it seems like sessions
has this background of opposing immigration, not just illegal immigration. >> i would definitely say sessions and bannon share this sort of protectionalist vision for the u.s. i don't know whether their views certainly dovetail with each other but certainly a lot of resonance how they view the immigration issue. >> thank you so much. your piece is fascinating and definitely wort the read in the atlantic. thank you much. >> thank you. >> we are awaiting the news conference, the attorney general jeff sessions is going to be speaking in moments. first though documents that just went public show president trump's transition team cancelled plans to have thousands of their staff get ethics training, how the white house is responding.
we are waiting for attorney general jeff sessions to speak amid calls he should resign, others saying he should recuse himself from the investigation. we will bring it to you live, but first we are learning days before trump took office, the administration turned down ethics training, they had ordered that for incoming staff to their administrations. dan, tell us what this training -- i think a lot of people don't even know this is something administrations have access to. so tell us what the training is and why the trump transition
decided they didn't want this. >> this is pretty basic training about everything how an administration works with congress and works within the bounds of executive orders, how to deal with media scrutiny and getting a nominee approved and they decided before they came in they didn't need that training and they cancelled the contract bid despite the fact that some had submitted a contract for doing that exactly for the trump administration, so that means is the white house took on that role and a white house spokesman tells us they could have done it for less than what it would cost. >> they were trying to be fiscally conservative but i'm sure there are a number of people saying this could have
been been fesneficial for them. >> as we have seen in the last six weeks the trump administration has dealt with na number of irssues, not dealing n the process of labor secretary, who had to withdraw his nomination, not passing background checks and leaving the white house before they started the job, the spokesperson tells us they did provide ethics training, but there are a lot of republicans and ethics advisors who say you maybe should have done this program and you wouldn't be having the problems you are having right now. >> thank you so much. and as we await that news conference from the attorney general jeff sessions i will be joined live by a democratic senator who served and the judiciary committee along side the former senator now attorney general, and this lawmaker is now calling for a special
did now know during the campaign? >> when were you aware he spoke to the russian ambassador? >> i wasn't aware at all. >>. [ inaudible ] >> i think he probably did. >> we are waiting for attorney jeff sessions to speak. he just announced he is going to have a press conference here shortly. this is of course about accusations that he misled congress about his meetings with
russian's ambassador to washington, we will be bringing that to you live, but in the meantime, you heard president trump saying he has total confidence in his attorney general and joining me now is someone calling for the former senator, colleague of his, jeff sessions to resign, richard blumenthal, joining me now, thank you, sir, and the argument we have been hearing from people supporting the attorney general is he was talking about discussing really campaign stuff with russian officials doing so as a campaign surrogate that he felt it was his role on the armed services committee. what do you say to that? >> i say whatever explanation, you ought to be giving it before the judiciary committee where he omitted or denied critical facts falsely and should be brought back to provide a credible
explanation. if he fails to provide a credible explanation there, he will have to resign. it's really that simple and unquestionably there should be a special prosecutor, independent counsel so that the investigation will be bipartisan, objective, independent and uncover all the facts about the russian attacks on our -- and complicity between the trump campaign and russian attacks on our democratic institutions. >> i want to play this moment before the committee where jeff sessions is asked a question because i think is important to have the question and the answer. here it is. >> cnn just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote, russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about mr. trump,
these documents also allegedly stated quote, there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government. now again, i'm telling you this is as it is coming out, so you know -- but if it's true, it's obviously extremely serious, and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i've been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and i did not have communications with the russians. >> do you -- what do you
attribute this to? i think we should preface this that he is a former colleague of yours and you travel today the middle east, and you had time to really get to know him, but when you see that, do you feel misled? do you feel like he could be mistaken? do you feel like he should have -- should it have occurred to him to correct that record? >> i feel personally misled. we both know that words matter under oath. and feel by those apparent concealments and misstatements i feel very strongly that he ohs the committee a credible explanation. if he fails to provide it then
his resignation will be necessary, but very strongly equally, so i feel that a special prosecutor is absolutely vital here for the credibility and trust in the department of justice. and the fairness and objectivity of the fairness of this investigation into this cyberattack on our nation, an act by russia and the seriousness of that attack is staggering and we need to deter it by uncovering the truth. if there is a coverup here it will be as bad as the act of aggression by the russians itself. >> is that in line with the man you know? >> i believe that jeff sessions is a man of his word and i believed that he was a man of integrity, and he owes us.
>> we have heard something similar before that the fbi is refusing to answer questions on the russia probe. it seems like he's casting doubts as to whether the fbi is an honest broker in this situation. do you trust the fbi to be forthcoming about its investigation? >> the fbi must be forthcoming at some point especially if there are prosecutions, the american people deserve the truth. and apoint has to provide an
explanation to the american people. >> senator blumenthal, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> and just minutes from now, the attorney general jeff sessions will hold a news conference at the justice department. cnn's special live coverage continues in just a moment. if you have medicare parts a and b and want more coverage, guess what? you could apply for a medicare supplement insurance plan whenever you want. no enrollment window.
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i'm all-business when i, travel... even when i travel... for leisure. so i go national, where i can choose any available upgrade in the aisle - without starting any conversations- -or paying any upcharges. what can i say? control suits me. go national. go like a pro. this is cnn breaking news. good afternoon welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we're beginning the show a little bit early because we have some break news in the politics lead. the attorney general of the united states jeff sessions will
be holding a news conference at any moment. we'll bring it to you live. obviously this comes after president trump this afternoon expressed total confidence in sessions, and sessions is under fire. it turns out he did at least twice have discussions with the russian ambassador sergey kislyak even after telling the u.s. senate during his confirmation hearing this. >> if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and i did not have communications with the russians. and i'm unable to comment on it. >> but last night the washington post broke the story and cnn has confirmed that sessions had contacts with ambassador kislyak. now, sessions has said that his conversations with kislyak had
nothing to do with the 2016 campaign and were in his sole capacity as a senator and member of the armed services committee and that's what he thought the questions that senator franken and others were asking him about. but democrats have expressed outrage, most importantly, however, the tell that this story was serious came when this morning and last night congressional republicans almost immediately suggested that sessions should recuse himself from anything having to do with the investigation into contacts between trump advisors and russians known to u.s. intelligence. kislyak, we should point out, is not your average diplomat. his career spans the soviet era into the russian federation. we'll have more on that coming up. not only does this matter because of proven russian meddling in the u.s. election and contact with russia has caused nike flynn his job, lawmakers are asking whether both parties law enforcement official misled or misspoke or flat out committed perjury in front of the senate committee
during his confirmation hearing. we have with us now cnn justice correspondent pamela brown. and as of right now, pamela, president trump says he has total confidence in his attorney general and he does not think that sessions even needs to recuse himself. >> and of course what the president is saying comes amid growing calls on capitol hill, jake, for poll politicians on both sides of the aisle calling for the attorney general jeff sessions to recuse himself after news broke from the washington post last night that he had met with the -- with russia's ambassador twice during the campaign, even though he denied having any contacts with russians during that hearing that jake just pointed to and the department of justice was swift to react to this news, releasing a statement. jeff sessions releasing the statement late last night saying he never met with any russian officials to discuss politics and he echoed that same statement when the today show caught up with him this morning. >> i have not met with any russians at any time to discuss any