tv CNN Newsroom CNN March 4, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
you are live in the "cnn newsroom" on this saturday. i'm pamela brown in washington. great to have you along with us. we are following two big breaking news stories at this hour. cnn just learning president trump placing the updated travel ban order on monday and breaking today, the president stuns members of his own team accusing former president barack obama of wiretapping his phones without any evidence. president trump tweeting, terrible, obama had wiretapped in trump tower. nothing found. this is mccarthyism.
president obama said no white house official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the department of justice. as part of that practice, neither president obama nor any white house official ever ordered surveillance on any u.s. citizen. any suggestion otherwise is simply false. white house correspondent athena jones joins me now live near mar-a-lago. also with us, cnn crime and justice producer. athena jones, start with you here. a senior administration official told cnn that white house staff didn't learn of the president's tweets until after he sent them. what else are you learning from inside the trump team? >> we're still awaiting official statement from the white house, from the president's press team. we also asked for evidence, any evidence they can offer to back up the president's explosive allegations, but my colleague, senior white house correspondent did speak with the senior administration official who said
as you noted that they weren't surprised by the president's tweet storm this morning. that's not very surprising because often the president does take to twitter early in the morning. today, it was starting at 6:30, around 6:30 a.m. and it's not as though he often runs these tweets by his communications staff, but this official said that they don't believe the president is trying to get ahead of any particular story that's about to come out, but rather, he's angry about all of these stories about russia and the questions that are being raised about campaign aides and ties with contact officials and also pointed to a breitbart news story that has been circulating around the west wing which followed up on comments by the radio talk show host mark levin who claimed that president obama was working to undermine trump's presidential campaign and his administration including through these various investigations on russia and the possible ties to trump associates and i should tell you that trump's social
media director dan tweeted a link to exactly that breitbart story so it seems pretty clear that this is what is has influenced the president to put out the tweets this morning but it's a story that's getting a lot of attention. let's read one of the tweets the president put out. how allow has president obama gone to tap my phones during the sacred election process. this is nixon/watergate. bad or sick guy. the president has denied any involvement. called this categorically false. other former obama officials said the president doesn't order wiretap. congressmanshi ship put out a tt saying if there's something bad or sick, it's willingness of the president of the united states to make outlandish claims
without a scintilla of evidence. so a lot going on on twitter today and we are still awaiting more on an official level. >> certainly those tweets prompted a lot of reaction across the board, particularly among those who were in president obama's administration. you have been speaking with a former senior u.s. official. what is the reaction from the obama team on this wiretapping claim? >> well, that's right, pam. i've been talking to a former senior u.s. official with the direct knowledge of the investigation of what the fbi was looking at and the department of justice was looking at and basically, it's just a flat denial. i'll give you a quote exactly what this person told me, saying this didn't happen. it is made up. false. wrong. so just flat out denial from folks who are familiar with the investigation through the month of october, november, december.
and into late january. saying that this never occurred. so basically, i think they were kind of surprised naturally by this allegation, by this accusation, but i don't know politically speaking if they were that surprised. it takes a lot to get this kind of a warrant to be able to wiretap someone's phone, especially a candidate for president. we were in october just weeks before the election. this would have required a lot of proof, a lot of evidence to bring before a judge to get this warrant. >> and as we've said, a president can't just order a wiretap on a u.s. citizen phone. thank you for breaking that down for us. athena, we've also learned the president will sign an updated travel ban executive order. what can you tell us about that? >> that's right. this is expected to happen at the department of homeland security on monday. of course, plans could change. they've already changed a couple of times. you'll remember it was several weeks ago that a new revised travel ban was promised the
following week and then that didn't happen that week. it's expected last week and didn't happen last week. one official telling cnn that after the president's well received address with the joint session of congress on tuesday night, they wanted to hold on to it and make sure that the travel ban, the new travel ban had its own moment and step on the positive news cycle from just after tuesday night and now the plan is for it to come out on monday with the department of homeland security and the new travel ban is met. the white house said it's being written with an eye of being able to better withstand legal challenges and we have to wait and see what changes they make in order to do so. pamela? >> clearly, they're taking a different approach this time around. thank you very much. we'll see you again later in the show and i want to bring you my panel now. cnn global affairs analyst and senior international correspondent for the daily beast, kimberly dozier and
reporter for the "washington post." thank you both for coming on. first to you. president trump did not offer any proof that his phone was wiretapped. as athena opponepointed out, prt obama wouldn't have been involved anyway. >> but for his supporters, it doesn't matter. what he's very effectively done with an early morning tweet storm is change the channel on the media discussion. we would have been talking today about the latest revelations, about contacts between the trump campaign and russia. we would have been talking about what is jeff sessions, the attorney general going to say in written answers. clarifying exactly what conversations he had with the russian ambassador and instead, we're discussing this. now, the other thing is truchmps referring to classified information, things he can declassify so we also don't have a way to knock it down. >> other than talking to
officials who are saying this is false with direct knowledge of the investigation. do you think this is just an attempt to distract from the headlines about russia and people in his cabinet that donald trump simply doesn't like? >> well, i think it is from trump's perspective, from the president's perspective, an attempt to hit back at his enemy. i don't think he can see his enemies now. from reporting, surrounded. who he believes are undermining his agenda and even people he knows, his own close aides not doing enough to advance his agenda. this is a way of hitting back at one enemy he can see, which is president obama. it's interesting. he had such a good day on tuesday with the teleprompter. instead of now, he wants to change the subject, instead of returning to what works, acts like a levelheaded president, returned to the sort of counterpunching and making wild accusations. >> what do you think about that, kimberly? because he was widely praised for acting more presidential
just a few days ago and now we have this twitter storm with baseless allegations that not only the president is wiretapping his phone but also talking about the apprentice and arnold schwarzenegger being fired. what do you make of all of this? >> i think it's going to undermine his legitimacy with not just the americans who didn't vote for him, but with foreign officials. some that i've already spoken to in the past week and past couple of weeks have said they are learning to do two things when they evaluate any u.s. policy. see what he said about it from the oval office, see what he's tweeted but then touch base with people like secretary of defense, the dhs secretary and what is mcmaster saying about it. two tiers of messages and the diplomats paying more attention to the cabinet than they are to
the cabinet in chief. >> here's what paul ryan had to say if he had concerns that president obama was surveilling trump during the election. >> are you concerned on the flip side that the obama administration may have been surveilling members of the trump campaign in a detailed investigation during the election? >> well, i don't think that's the case. >> so clearly, the speaker has his doubts, but david, do you see president trump doubling down on this? >> i could see him. the last few weeks since he's been president, there's times he's sort of thrown out a wild accusation to a moment of personal stress. him saying the 3 million people voted illegally or send the feds into chicago and try to imagine the consequences that will come if he will focus on that subject and then he just moves to something else. it's possible that will happen and talk about something else
tomorrow and the travel ban on monday. if he continues to focus on this, i think trump started this presidency with such a powerful weapon in his twitter account. he had the ability to change the agenda to do whatever he wanted and he's losing it on things like this that even he doesn't follow up on. >> how problematic do you think his use of twitter is? overall? >> for him, i think if he ever turned it to be a weapon, maybe weapon is the wrong word but tool to advance particular policy goals but his own attention and time behind, it could be powerful but not as much as if he had done that the whole time. with a particular health care outcome and use his twitter outcome, it could be powerful but throw out different things and then forget them, a different thing every day, it's not helpful for him and i think it just leaves the rest of the administration and congress in confusion. >> and kim, a baseless report by right wing radio host mark
levin. >> how many postpohone calls ha been recorded by the obama administration and the other transition officials involved in foreign policy and national security and defense policy. this, ladies and gentlemen, is the real scandal. >> so kimberly, if it does turn out that the president is taking his cues from a radio show spewing out baseless claims as we just heard there, how concerning is that? >> that's exactly what i meant in terms of his radio shows like that and they don't care what we're reporting here. this is one of the new mantras among those who are supporters of donald trump that the last administration was spying on him and if there's anything revealed in terms of perhaps russians who were in touch with members of the trump campaign were being spied upon, maybe that is what
donald trump is talking about. even that sliver of proof is going to be seized on by those who support him. >> in the tweets though, he really focused on the fact that claiming that the president obama was wiretapping his phone. more to discuss and embattled attorney general jeff sessions set to meet with president trump tonight at mar-a-lago. plus, a russian spy. washington or both? what we know about the russian ambassador and many, many meetings in washington. today, unlimited gets the network it deserves. verizon. (mic thuds) uh, sorry. it's unlimited without compromising reliability, on the largest, most advanced 4g lte network in america. (thud) uh... sorry, last thing. it's just $45 per line.
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sergey kisylsylakisylak. who is this man who met with sessions and other campaign associates? that depends on who you ask. current and former u.s. intelligence officials say he's a top spy and recruiter of spies. dismissed the spy label saying ambassador kisylak is simply good at his job. one thing we know for sure, he's no stranger to the washington establishment. in fact, kisylak has been russia's top diplomat for nine years, an unusually long time for that position and seen mingling on the dc social circuit and my panel back with me, kim dozier and darren holt. you said kisylak is straight out of central. what do you mean by that? >> the movie about the cold war and soviet official. he's an imposing figure.
he has perfect english with the heavy russian accent and in reception s around town, he's almost a permanent fixture. it's hard for the media to get a hold of him or at least i haven't gotten him to sit down for an interview, but he is known as being a student of the united states and a man who's gifted at building up his rolodex. from my own daily beast reporting, i've had people tell me, senior intelligence officialles who worked for him in the past that he's not an employee of the intelligence agency but works closely with them. for russia, that's sort of a difference that doesn't really matter who you're employed by. he gathers intelligence, he gathers contacts, and he shares them with any russian agency that can use it. >> exactly. and that's what we've been told by sources, at the same time, he is a diplomat, an ambassador.
this is what ambassadors do but when you look at the number of meetings he's had between members of trump's inner circle and russian ambassador, it's striking, david. they include jeff sessions, jared kushner, michael flynn, the campaign's national security representative, jd gordon, carter page and campaign advisor. it appears there's smoke, but is there fire? david. >> i think we don't know that yet. the main sign that the trump administration has something to hide here is that it has been hiding something. so many of these contacts including contacts between mike flynn, the former national security advisor and kisylak as well as a number of other officials, were not notified about those or told about those. jeff sessions was basically volunteered the a senate committee he hadn't talked to the russians. so these contacts, part of a normal interaction with senators or presidential transition team or foreign countries, i guess is
question is why they have been so unwilling to talk about them unless revealed by the press. >> we've got to put it into context here because democrats have denied meeting with russian ambassador but take a listen to the house minority leader nancy pelosi on that note. >> you've been in congress a little bit. and you're in leadership. have you ever met with the russian ambassador? >> not with this russian ambassador, no. >> we know. that's simply not true because the president tweeted a picture of pelosi with the ambassador, as you see right here. pelosi spokesman never met one on one with the ambassador and also, trump tweeted, chuck schumer with russian president vladimir putin. does that hurt democrats' argument here? >> it does. if they're going to try to hold sessions to the letter of exactly what he said, then they
have to hold themselves to the same standard, but you also have to step back and look at the relationship that the trump administration has been trying to establish or had hoped to establish with moscow, resetting it from the past. we know that former national security advisor mike flynn always saw the cia's assessment of russia as a little bit too bleak. he had a different point of view and had been advising trump for a couple of years and that opinion spread throughout members of trump's team so they just see this in a different way. >> and david, we talked about some of the democrats who have met with the russian ambassador and went through the list of those in the trump campaign who had met with hill. what about in hillary clinton's campaign, just to get perspective on this, what this means, do you know? >> it wouldn't prisurprise me i
there been conflicts with other countries but the difrnference here, a, russia was intervening in this election to help trump and b, the trump administration officials had been so not forthcoming about their contacts. >> can the cover of an influential german newspaper feature this image? let's look right here. russian leader with trump's eyebrows and hair, clearly, the cover also asked, how much putin is in trump. is that an accurate portrayal of how this is being perceived around the world? >> well, i can certainly say that from obama administration officials that i spoke to, as they were leaving office, they were all very, very concerned about the connections between the trump campaign and moscow and they worried that trump himself had been the expression is, case officered, but russian officials that he had too warm
an opinion of them and with this came a high cost which is ultimately, russia always wants to undermine the united states. >> kimberly doi shzier, dave an faron holt. thank you. lindsey graham tells the crowded town hall of what he thinks of the wiretapping allegation. >> i don't know if it's true or not, but if it is true, illegal ly, it would be the biggest political scandal since waterga watergate.
breaking news on cnn. president trump on twitter accusing former president barack obama of, quote, tapping my phones in the weeks before election day last year. missing from that very serious charge, any evidence to back it up. strong reaction this morning from the senate republican lindsey graham who said he's worried about the accusation saying if it can be proven, it would be a monumental day in american history. >> i don't know if it's true or not, but if it is true, illegally, it would be the biggest political scandal since watergate, so it's my job as the united states senator to get to the bottom of this. >> cnn's polo sandoval on this.
he's skeptical. >> nonetheless, as you just heard a few moments ago from the senator from south carolina, he's saying he would still like to investigate or at least look into these claims that the obama administration calls, quote, simply false. and not just on that issue as well, while he addressed some of the attendees there at a town hall in his home state and alleged russian ties to the trump campaign in november. the senator from south carolina making it clear to the crowd it was listening that he'd like to see the fbi investigate. >> as for trump russia campaign ties, i have no evidence personally that there are any, but i will insist that the fbi begin a full opportunity to look into this without political interference. >> you heard towards the tail end there, the crowd ags gnpass.
plenty of supporters and opponents as well. they were not shy about speaking out during that town hall today, pamela, in which they touched on not just these allegations regarding russia but the economy. veterans issues as well and much more. >> and polo, senator graham explained his problem with obamacare and caught heat from the crowd on that. what did he say and how did the crowd respond? >> when it comes to that, the the senator there from south carolina saying he was worried about this exchange. one health care company that was initially involved there in south carolina. there was several people in the crowd that did begin to express their discontent with lindsey graham as well but the whole time, he was able to at least gain control of that situation and we've seen some of the town halls get very, where emotions begin to flare and we saw that today but eventually, things come to a quiet end on the
and while it's okay to nibble in public, a lady only dines in private. try the name your price tool from progressive. it gives you options based on your budget. uh-oh. discussing finances is a big no-no. what, i'm helping her save money! shh! men are talking. that's it, i'm out. taking the meatballs. president trump spending another weekend at the winter white house in palm beach, florida. if you're keeping score, that's mar-a-lago, visits camp david zero. the president shown he prefers the glamour over the traditional wood si presidential retreat in maryland but at what cost? cnn's suzanne melbow reports. >> reporter: taking off for florida this weekend, first a visit at an orlando school and then mar-a-lago result. >> not rest at the southern
white house. it's all work. >> reporter: his fancy florida estate, go-to for getting business done outside and hosting world leaders like japan's prime minister, but president trump's weekends at mar-a-lago are costing u.s. taxpayers big money. from firing up air force one to fly to florida with traveling staff to securing the beach front property with coast guard patrols. "the washington post" estimates the trip cost up to $10 million in just five weeks. and at the same time, taxpayers are also footing the bill to operate camp david, the secluded presidential retreat less than 70 miles from the white house for presidential down time and diplomacy, even dormant, costs estimated $80 million a year to run. trump expressed little interest in using the cheaper alternative, describing the retreat to reporters as very rustic, saying it's nice. you like it, you know how long?
for about 30 minutes. >> it doesn't fit everybody. president obama, a city guy. this is a remote location. i don't think initially, president clinton was crazy about it either but then came to really love it. >> remember, jimmy carter thought about getting rid of it and thankfully, he didn't. >> famously, carter brokered the historic 1978 peace accord with egypt and israel at camp david. anita mcbride at both bush white houses said for them, it was a sanctuary. >> george w. and laura bush had an exceptional sort of relationship with camp david, still, the only presidential family that spent 12 christmases at camp david. and bush revealed what he discovered after hosting british prime minister tony blair. >> colgate tooth paste.
>> franklin roosevelt. doctor believed it helped roosevelt sinuses. president reagan visited a record 150 plus times, often to ride his horse. president clinton famously failed to get a peace deal after sequestering the israeli leaders there for two weeks. and president obama hosted african and g8 leaders early in the presidency but rarely returned spending most weekends at the white house. whether trump continues to use mar-a-lago as his so-called winter white house, camp david remains open because not only is it a retreat, it's a military installation. doubling as a bunker to assure continuity of government in times of crisis, as was the case on 9/11. suzanne malveaux, cnn, washington. >> jeanne moos on alec baldwin and the story behind that first
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and host of reliable sources. so is brian, you've been doing digging on this. >> there's a popular conservative media theory out there for a while and suggesting that former president obama was undermining president trump and perhaps continuing to do so. there have been stories of course in "the new york times" and "washington post" and elsewhere providing real reporting on this issue suggesting that obama aides were concerned about russia enough to make sure evidence was available for investigators after january 20th but this suggestion for president trump is so many steps beyond what has been reported. you can see it partly came from a conservative radio talk show host, mark levin. you can see what he said earlier in the hour. he said this entire case for the idea that obama and obama aides were trying to undermine trump in a variety of ways. and then we can show the breitbart headline that came as a result of that.
a far right web site, of course, run by steve bannon until recently, bannon now trump's chief strategist and the breitbart story tried to elaborate and take it a few steps further. that breitbart article was passed around, circulated in the west wing on friday. apparently, trump was infuriated and perhaps the tweet storm today as a result. >> clear, brian, those claims have not been substantiated, right? >> and far from it. there have been reports and i think we should be clear about this, there have been reports from other news outlets that there were attempts to tap to listen in on the phone calls of certain trump aides or people close to president trump. you might call them associates. that was attempted in the summer and the tal befofall before the election. there's those reports circulated and not independent lly confirm those reports to the best of my
knowledge but isn't is it possible they were listening in the course of the investigation but that's not what the president said on twitter. >> yeah, he said that president obama ordered the wiretap of his personal phone. >> made it sound personal. >> exactly. i want to move on to something else that the president tweeted this morning. he reacted to the news that arnold schwarzenegger is leaving his old show, the apprentice and tweeted this. arnold schwarzenegger isn't voluntarily leaving the t apprentice. it was fired by his bad, pathetic ratings. sad end to a great show. but we heard a different reason from schwarzenegger. right? >> we did. i think this is incredible. you know, the president wakes up this morning, he tweets about this, what he calls a watergate style conspiracy and then tweets about arnold schwarzenegger and the apprentice. something so dissonant about these stories. announced he was leaving the new
"celebrity apprentice." he said i loved every second of working with nbc and mark burnett, from the celebrities to the crew to the marketing department was a straight 10 and work on a show that doesn't have this baggage. he could have meant the connection to trump, critiques, perhaps relatively low ratings of the show. the ratings were lower than they were back when now president trump was hosting years ago. so schwarzenegger did have lower numbers, and unclear whether they would review it or not but extraordinary to see him about his tv hosting rival. what president trump said four days ago. >> the time for small thinking is over. the time for trivial fights is behind us. we just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts, the bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.
>> i don't know, pamela. seems to me the president is in a trivial fight with the new replacement on the apprentice and arnold weighed in today and responded on twitter saying, you need to hire a new joke writer and a new tafact checker. >> it's interesting. because you went to his state of the union address. he was really after that praise by a lot of people that he was more presidential and then fast forward to days later to this morning and then tweeting about the watergate level scandal and arnold schwarzenegger and the apprentice. what's going on in your view here, brian? do you think it may be an attempt to deflect from the russia headlines involving people in his cabinet like jeff sessions that he's not happy wi with? >> i think we have to view president trump in two ways. teleprompter trump, whether
speaking with the aid of a teleprompter, mostly sticking to the script. but then the other version of president trump, the one we all became so aware of during the campaign, is twitter trump. the unscripted president trump. frankly the version we saw on "the apprentice" years ago, running for office, running for president. twitter trump almost always seems to win out over teleprompter trump. yes, on those big nights, joint address nights, he does stick to the scripts. he was widely praised for that. all the talking heads on television seem to be impressed by that most of that was for the style, not the substance. on a news day like today, president trump weighing in on twitter, over whatever slights or things he's angry at. that's more the version of the president we're more used to. we end up seeing more often. >> his supporters like that version. i want to end on a lighter note. a special gift to the white
house press corps. the gift of caffeine. after tom hanks just bought them a new espresso machine. he added a note. to the white house press corps, keep up the good fight for truth, justice and the american way. >> back in 2004 hanks sent over the first version of the espresso machine. he kept it updated since then. this is a big update for the press corps, a few weeks into the trump administration. >> brian stelter, thanks so much for that. be sure to catch brian on his show, "reliable sources" tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. eastern. (vo) maybe it was here,
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you can help make your hero a cnn hero. and shine some light on their amazing work. >> well saturday night live is back with a brand-new episode tonight. and comedy fans will be watching to see if alec baldwin returns as president donald trump. the actor says when he was first approached for the part, he didn't hate trump, he just wasn't interested. how did it all come together? here's jeannie moos. >> it's the impression -- >> i deeply apologize. >> that's left an impression on the american psyche. if you think alec baldwin practiced for months -- >> wrong, wrong, wrong. >> bald wip told jimmy kimmel at his first "snl" dress rehearsal -- >> i had no idea what i was going to do. i tried to stick my face out, my mouth out. i was in the makeup room. they were putting my wig on and i literally, it was like a scene from a mental hospital.
>> five months after that first skit -- >> i think it's her snips. >> there's the whiff of money. baldwin is co-authoring a book entitled "you can't spell america without me" described as a so-called parody in trump's voice. >> so-called, so-called judges. >> impersonators may also be judged. after the real trump tweeted he will not be attending the white house correspondents association dinner. impersonators started lobbying to play trump at the event. >> you are not one of those people. >> i would not say i'm not lobbying. >> respected impersonators like anthony tamanick are urging their fans to lobby the correspondents association. the hashtag #makeanthonytrumpagain sprouted. one fan created a presidential directive, encouraging the whca
to invite tony. the agent for another well-known impersonator likewise lobbied the white house correspondents association. he recently won a competition on "the view." >> i cherish women, i must, i married three of them. >> if the correspondents association decides to replace the real president with a pretend one -- may the best trump win. >> are you kidding? >> according to china -- >> it's pronounced jina! >> jeannie moos, cnn, new york. and you're live in the cnn newsroom, i'm pamela brown in washington. breaking news, allegations from president trump that shocked even his own top aides, he accuses former president obama of wire-tapping his phones at trump tower while offering zero evidence. the president took to twit they are morning, writing how low has president obama gone to tap my
phones during the very secret election process? this is nixon/watergate bad. or sick guy! a spokesman for the obama administration is flatly denying those claims. we're at mar-a-lago with athena jones with more. what are you hearing from the white house regarding these allegations? >> hi, pamela. a couple of things, i with my colleagues have been asking white house officials in florida and also in washington since early this morning to provide some evidence to back up this, these unsubstantiated allegations that the president made. there's no official comment or statement from the white house. my colleague, jeff zeleny, the senior white house correspondent did speak with a senior white house administration official who said that the colleagues only learned about the president's tweet storm after he began tweeting this morning. he often does that, he wakes up and begins tet