tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 6, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
. happening now. no question. the white house stand by president trump's unsubstantiated claim that he was wire tapped under the order of president obama. tonight breaking news on the fbi director's stunned reaction to what may be the most serious allegation ever made by one president to another. no good answer. mr. trump's aides come forward to defend him without offering a shred of proof. did he blindside his staff.
travel ban. the new executive order while the president stays behind closed doors to sign t. after the backlash offer the last travel ban. will this one pass muster in the courts? knives out, sources say the chief of staff may be vulnerable with the president fuming over the latest controversies. what we're learning about the conflict and backstabbing within mr. trump's inner circle. we want to welcome viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we're following breaking news on president trump's bombshell allegation that president obama ordered a wiretap of his phones at trump tower in new york city during the campaign. cnn has learned that the fbi director james comey has incredulous when he learned of
mr. trump's tweet because we're told comey knows the allegation is not true. but comey apparently hasn't shared that with the president. white house press secretary sean spicer says he's almost 100% certain that mr. trump has not spoken to comey about this nor has he spoken to president obama. even key republican lawmakers are casting doubt on mr. trump's wiretap claim saying they've seen no evidence to back it up. but tonight the homeland security secretary john kelly tells me the president must have some convincing evidence for him to make such a powerful allegation. also this hour, top law enforcement officers in multiple states say they're reviewing the president's new travel ban weighing possible legal challenges before it takes effect ten days from now. mr. trump refusing to allow reporters in the room as he signed this new executive order. after the first ban faced global outrage and court roadblocks
this one is more limited in scope. iraq was removed from the list of mostly muslim countries affected. valid visa and green card holders are exempt. and the new order makes clear that permanent u.s. residents are exempt as well. we're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests clueing a key democratic on the house armed services committee, john gar mendy. and he's standing by and our analysts covering the top stories including new breaking news on the house republican bill to repeal and replace obamacare. let's go to jessica snyder on more of the president's wiretap claims and the fbi response. jessica, tonight members of both parties are asking the white house where is the proof? >> yeah, wolf. that's right. it's bipartisan bewilderment. they haven't seen any evidence to back the wiretapping claim from the president. it's the fbi making the public
push for clarification. >> reporter: tonight fbi officials are demanding a flat-out denial from the justice department but not yet getting one, this after president trump went on a twitter tirade, tweeting just found out president obama tapped in i phones in trump tower. bad or sick guy. sources tell cnn the fbi asked the doj to refute the claim because as a matter of law, the president cannot unilaterally allow eavesdropping of a president's phone only the congress. >> the process to attempt a fisa process, involves operational and senior leadership review both within the requesting agency and the department of justice and ultimately the court. >> reporter: so far the justice department isn't commenting on trump's twitter accusations but
wondering why comey is refraining from issuing a statement, while he commented three times about the investigation into hillary clinton's e-mail verver. former president obama denying the charge saying neither president obama or the white house official ordered any surveillance on any u.s. citizen. any suggestion is false. james clapper also denying the allegation. >> for the part of the national security apparatus that i oversaw as dni there was no such wiretap activity mount against the president-elect at the time or as a candidate or his campaign. >> you can't confirm nor deny. >> i can deny. >> there is no fisa order. >> not to my knowledge. >> of any trump's. >> no. >> reporter: sean spicer speaking off camera defending
the tweet. there is enough evidence that something occurred, continuing by saying lawmakers have a lot to look into. there is obviously information that affects national security that has been leaked out. that concerns him. and late today homeland secretary kelly in an interview with wolf backed the president. >> the president of the united states said he's got his reasons to say it, he's got some convincing evidence that took place. >> but members of congress are calling for outside investigations. >> a special prosecutor is the best way to ensure that an investigation proceeds impartially for several reasons. >> reporter: in the ongoing house intelligence inquiry, republican and democratic leaders are setting an aggressive timetable, sending this letter, requesting the release of documents and in-person interviews by march 15, between russia and the people associated with the
political campaigns. the president also calls for investigation into leaks. but spicer still not offering up any proof from the president when it comes to the wiretapping claims. wolf. >> jessica, thanks very much. reporting. let's dig deeper on the news. the fbi comey's incredulous response to president trump's claim of wiretapping. pamela, tell us what you're learning. >> i'm told by a person familiar that the fbi director had a level of inkred lus when president trump alleged a wiretap of his phone. to the fbi director there was concern about the allegation and the magnitude of the allegation and the concern was that it was bad for the fbi's reputation and institutionally he felt like it was important to knock it down and so we've learned through sources over the weekend, staff
in the fbi reached out to career personnel within the department of justice asking for doj to publicly knock down this allegation that james comey knew not to be true, that then-candidate trump's phone was wire tapped during the campaign. of course, wolf, that has not happened and we're told through a person familiar that's been frustrating for the fbi director that doj has not come out to knock down the report and that is not good for the fbi in particularly if president trump's phone was wire tapped that would be something that the fbi would do and the fbi sources we've been speaking with deny that his phone was ever wire tapped and the notion that the president can order that is not true. that was part of the frustration that there is a level of disbelief among the fbi director in response to the tweets from the president over the weekends.
>> still no public statement from the fbi or the justice department. >> still no public statement. we heard from sean spicer of the white house. he sort of danced around the question whether the president still has confidence and fbi director james comey. he said he didn't believe that the two had spoken. i asked the person familiar whether the fbi director is worried at all about his job, given the fact that he seems to be at odds with the president and we're told, no, that he's not concerned. that he knows there is a possibility he could be fired. he has no intentions of resigning. but clearly he wanted this allegation to be -- to be proven wrong publicly by doj and that has not happened. >> in contrast, john kelly told me the last hour that he does have confidence in his friend comey. they work together in a lot of areas. >> pamela brown, good reporting as usual. let's get to the president's
wiretap allegation that's raising new allegations about his relationship with james comey. let me bring in correspondent sara murray. you had a chance to speak with the white house press secretary sean spicer. >> as pam noted, he was wishy-washy with reporters when he was speaking off camera about the situation with james comey. and you've had time to go over pam's excellent reporting, i asked sean spicer what the nature of their relationship was if the president still has full confidence in fbi director james comey. this is what he said. what's the president's view of james comey, does he have the full faith to stay on as the fbi director? >> we've only heard unsubstantiated anonymous sources make those claims. i don't think the director has commented on anything that he has allegedly said.
so i'm not going to comment on what people said he may have said. i think the director is more than capable to speak for himself. the president has asked the house and senate committees to use their resources and processes to look into actions that occurred during the 2016. >> what about the presidents of the fbi director? >> i asked him that. obviously he's focused today first and foremost on this effort to keep the country safe. >> so you see there, wolf. i asked him twice whether the president has full confidence. he would not say and he was changing the subject. it is worth noting. i asked him whether the president has any regrets about sending those tweets? he said of course not. >> very different than john kelly. sara murray over at the white house. let's get more on this with congressman of california, a member of the house services
committee. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> sure. the -- >> good to be with you. >> thank you. the president called it in his words, a fact, he used the words fact, that president obama was tapping his phones. john kelly just told me president trump has got his reasons to say it. he's got some convincing evidence that took place. he's got to believe that. i want you to react to that. do you believe that the president has some convincing evidence to make such a shocking allegation against president obama? >> he does not. but he lives in an alternate fact world. consider that he spent four years going after the birther thing, and then there are 3 million votes out there that were illegal, another alternate fact. ted cruz's father somehow involved in the assassination of jfk. this man has more alternate facts about what's going on in the world than any other person i've ever heard of. and it is extremely dangerous
because the world cannot count on him or count on what he might do next. it is very, very troublesome, particularly in the complex very dangerous world we have. you've got a crazy guy in north korea. how is this -- how is the president going to respond at 3:00 in the morning, what's he going to do? tweet out or do something more serious. i'm very, very concerned about what this guy, what the president, is all about. >> you heard our justice don't pamela brown just report that the fbi james comey was incredulous, incredulous, after the president tweeted those comments those assertions about president obama early saturday morning. what do you make of the fact from everything that we've heard the president, president trump, has not even spoken to the fbi director james comey about this? >> well, it's -- it is another very serious concern that i have and i suspect many other people have about the way that he operates as president.
listening to breitbart news and then assuming that's a factual rendition of what's going on and not bothering to talk to his intelligence agencies, his fbi, before he starts a huge controversy, that really only embroiled him. doesn't embroil anybody else. it is a very, very serious problem. we've got a serious situation around the world that requires a serious president focusing on the serious issues that confront us here in the united states and around the world. >> would you like to see the fbi director comment on this? >> well, of course. and i think he probably will. particularly if the justice department, mr. sessions, continues to basically block the information that comey believes is factual, that there was no fbi involvement in any wiretapping at all. and i suspect that comey will not stand quietly and have his
view of what the fbi has done and the entire dignity of the fbi called into question if sessions continues to block the appropriate information. >> as you know, the president of the united states can fire an fbi director. do you think he could go that far and actually fire comey? >> well, we've seen this play before, haven't we? this is exactly what happened during nixon water gate period, we went through three fbi director before we found someone that would cow tou to president nixon. sure he could. we have some important things to deal with, we've got russia and putin out there. not just the issue of who was involved in the campaign, who was talking to who, but we do know that russia has put in extraordinary pressure on the baltic states, obviously on ukraine, taken over crimea, and china is out there and north
korea. these are fundamental national security issues to say nothing of what's going on in the middle east. here we are spending four, five days, maybe longer about one ever the president's early morning, 3:00 in the morning tweets where he's on a rant about something that nobody has put forward as factual. >> it was 3:00 a.m. california, 6:30 to be precise here on the east coast, that first of several tweets saturday morning. president trump has asked congress now the house and senate intelligence committees to investigate his baseless claim that the former president, president obama, tapped his phone. he hasn't specifically that these committees investigate russian president vladimir putin, yet there is plenty of evidence that russia did in fact, launch cyber attacks, meddled in the u.s. elections. does this concern you he wants an investigation of president obama but not necessarily of
president putin? >> well, this is once again his standard procedure of trying to change the story, change the narrative to something quite different. it is absolutely from 17 different intelligence agencies that russia was engaged, not only in hacking and then disseminating that information there wikileaks, but also trying to influence the american presidential election. that is extremely serious. that is a direct blow to our democracy and to the very nature of our country. that has to be investigated. and frankly, i don't think it can be done by the congress. it needs to be an independent commission, perhaps an independent prosecutor, but this has got to get away from politics because we're talking about the have a nature of our democracy here. now, those are facts and those are things that absolutely have to be investigated and the facts will take it whenever we need to go. and maybe it will come awfully close to the president.
we don't know. but it has to be out there, the public has to have confidence in our election and we clearly have to know what putin is up to because he is a very dangerous person, he is known to have killed his opponent in that country. he is now actively engaged in trying to direct the spring elections in europe and france and other places. this is very serious. now, if the president wants to get engaged, engage in that and put aside this foolishness of this early morning rant that apparently he was on. there are things that we have to pay attention, not the least of which his effort to take 20 million americans and remove the security that they have for health insurance. >> there is a lot more to discuss. i want you to stand by, congressman. after months of waiting we're learning of the house republican bill to replace and repeal obamacare.
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we're back request democratic congressman john garamendi. we're getting new information about the house republican bill to repeal and replays obamacare. it's just been made public. let's go to our congressional don't phil mattingly. >> it's the 57 legislative pages of republicans have been promising for more than seven years, now it's officially out. and the republicans will be acting as soon as wednesday to start moving this wednesday. the details. it will repeal the individual
and employer mandates. it does work to keep individuals on their parents' plans until age 26, just like obamacare. it will work to maintain the ban on coverage -- changing coverage for people are preexisting conditions. it's the details in terms of funding how this works is the problem. right now obamacare works on subsidied. they will be repealed in the three-year period and will be replaced with refundable tax credits. here is how republicans tried to address of some those concerns. they will start to phase out based on income level starting 59 -- $75,000, 150,000 for joint filers. it would change based on age. for those in their 20s it will be $2,000. people in the 60s will get $6,000. medicaid in obamacare was
something that a number of governors started to act on including republicans. according to the republican draft that we now have medicaid expansion will be allowed to continue until january 1st of 2020. at that point it would freeze, everybody that was using m medicaid extension will be grand faurd in. just a few hours ago, a letter was sent to mitch mcconnell, if the medicaid extension wasn't met and they would be forced to appose the bill altogether. obviously there are 52 republicans in the u.s. senate. they need 51 to be able to pass the bill when it gets over to their chamber. the details coming out. the first legislative action starts on wednesday and starts this whole process. house republican leaders say they want this bill on the house
floor in the next couple of weeks but they have to first address republican concerns that still exist inside their congress. >> they term do. phil mattingly reporting. to the president's travel ban. the american civil liberties union arguing it's still a quote, muslim ban, despite the administration trying to make it more limited and more acceptable to the federal courts. michelle, the president signed this executive order behind closed doors. he sent top cabinet member out to defend it. >> the way it was present was a kinder gentler travel ban. it's still a travel ban based on national origin and that in itself is still controversial. there are going to be remain serious questions whether this is urgent at all or even necessary. >> reporter: the trump administration's travel ban do over. today presented by the attorney general, department of homeland secretary and secretary of
state. >> to our allies and partners around the world, please understand this is part of our ongoing effort to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical islam i can terrorists will take advantage of. >> reporter: only an official photo released quite the difference from the botched travel ban in january. this new ban includes six mostly muslim countries, iraq is off the list. the u.s.'s crucial partner, iraq. the u.s. government is working with iraq to implement new security measures, and nothing has changed in procedure just better communication of what measures are in place. among tweaks to the original travel ban it now spells clearly that if you have a green card or visa you can travel to the u.s.,
officials can allow people too on a case by case. refugees from syria no longer banned. the refugee program will still be on hold for 120 days and the total number of refugees for the fiscal year is capped at 50,000, instead of the 110,000 obama administration raised it to. >> this order responsibly creates a pause so we can scrutinize the people coming into the country of concern. >> reporter: this time the administration making an attempt to back up the order saying 300 refugees are currently under investigation of the fbi. officials refused to say what countries those refugees are from or even if any are from the six named in the recent
homeland security, most were radicalized in the u.s. and years after it arrived. >> this new executive order suffers from the same problem as the previous one, which is there is no real evidence that there is a security threat from people from these countries who have entered the u.s. >> reporter: another question, the urgency. after the first travel ban, president-elect donald tru president trump tried to explain why so quickly without a buffer period. >> general kelly, now secretary sell said if you do that all these people will come in in a month, the bad ones. i said how about in a week? and they said no good. the problem is we would have wasted a lot of time and a lot of lives because a lot of bad people would have come in. >> reporter: tweeting if the ban was announced between a notice, the bad will rush into our country, a lot of bad dudes out there. the new ban rolled out within
ten-day notice and weeks after the first one was halted in court. even before this executive order, if you're a refugee wanting to come into america from any country in the world, it takes an average of two and a half to three years. it's unclear what could be done to make it more stringent. plenty of reaction. many democrats and refugee groups calling it immoral, mean spirited un-american, unconstitutional and dangerous, wolf. >> michelle kosinski at the white house. let's bring back john garamendi. do you support this new changes, the green card holders, iraq, do you still see any issues with the new revived order? >> i'm sure there is going to be new legal issues that are going
to be raised. certainly these issues were from the previous one. they apparently have been removed. but wolf, my head just spins. i cannot understand. the vetting under this travel ban or any of these visas from any country requires the work of the state department and just this last week, the trump administration put out a 37% decrease in the state department funding. so i don't get it. on the one hand you want severe vetting and you want to deal with all of these potential problems and on the other hand the people who are supposed to deal with it, you've cut their budget by a third. it's nonsense and part of the chaos coming out of this administration. as to the legality of this, i'm not a lawyer, the reality is that there are terrorist organizations from many, many countries around the world and we need a solid state department and homeland security looking at these issues.
we need to have clear communications with all of the countries, not only these six, and it's difficult in cases of some of these six, certainly yemen and soemalia, there isn't really a government. but the european countries the sharing of the information is critical. those 300 people, we have no idea who they are, where they came from. but hopefully we're watching them and that's a good thing. >> congressman, thank you for joining us. >> happy to do so. just ahead more on the white house defense of the wiretap claim by president obama. will there be political fall-out from president trump's most serious allegation he's put forward without any proof. and we'll tell you what we're learning about kim jong-un's in north korea missile test. are his provocations growing even more dangerous?
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our breaking news. a source says fbi director james comey is incredulous over president trump's unfounded claim that he was wire tapped by president obama. let's bring in our experts and phil mudd, let me start with you. you spent some time at the cia but the fbi as well. if, in fact, what the president trump is saying is true, it would have involved the fbi in some sort of massive conspiracy.
what is your thoughts on all of this and how are fbi agents going to react to this really serious accusation? >> you know, wolf, there are mixed views from my friends across government. most of the people i speak with are transitioning to seeing this man as the president of the united states to a circumstans . he's alleging that the fbi conspired with another branch of government, the judiciary, the fisa court would have to approve this in a huge conspiracy. if that's not correct, he's alleging that the former president conducted a felonious vie liegs that exceeds that we sue in watergate. the conversation has to transition to what we understand what the president of the united states says to understanding these are circus clown remarks.
we have an iran nuclear deal that he said he would tear up. we don't talk about. not for what happened in 2016 but what happened in 2020. north korea launched a tip missile. what does the president do? he launches a spoke screen because he's afraid to talk about russian intervention in the election process and the smoke screen says there is a massive collusion between the fbi and the fisa court and the other members. the man is delusional. how do we understand the acts of a man who doesn't understand the difference between protecting his brand and the brand of the country. i've never seen anything like this. >> jeffrey, strong words from phil mudd, but the white house
says they want the house and senate intelligence committees to investigate and clarify what happened. but the president has the authority. he can clarify it. he can declassify whatever sensitive information he wants and release the evidence if there is evidence, backing up his assertion. >> well, he certainly could. one of the clear federal laws is that the president of the united states has the immediate authority to declassify anything at any time. but i have to say that this idea that you throw out what appears to be a false statement and then say well, there should be an investigation, i mean, you know why should there be an investigation if there is no basis for the underlying assertion? >> but if he has the evidence as he says he does, why doesn't he release it. >> that's a separate issue. of course, he should do that. but to make a statement and say, well, the congress some investigate this statement.
i mean that gives the president too much credit. i think congress should only investigate things that have actually bases, not just stuff that comes from scrolling the internet at 6:00 in the morning. >> 6:30 to be precise. let's talk, gloria, about sean spicer today at his briefing. he said, there is no question something happened with the wiretapping. it's an extraordinary claim, but at some point they've got to back it up with some facts. are they pinging them seven dolla -- themselves in a corner? >> perhaps the russian -- this is going to backfire on donald trump and i'll tell you why. it's going to backfire on him because it adds more fuel to the fire of people saying okay, let's appoint an independent counsel, let's make sure that all of this gets investigated. i understand what jeffrey is
saying that, if nothing happened, why investigate it? perhaps the president himself is letting people who say, okay we need something more than just a congressional investigation because if the president's claims are true, then there really is something rotten in denmark and perhaps that needs to be investigated. if you take the president at his word that he knows more than we do, yes, he can to disclose it, as you point out, but he's choosing not to for whatever reason. i think this investigation needs to broaden and people who say that might have reason to say that. >> david swerdlick, said that the president has not spoken with the fbi director comey on this. don't you think he makes a serious allegations like this against president obama he should have consulted with the head department that would have
done this? >> of course. this goes to what gloria and phil were saying. he's the president of the united states. it's within his power to ask questions and to get answers. two points. the president in these tweets on saturday morning didn't do his typical i'm hearing what people are saying. these tweets were stated as facts so now he's got to back it up. and the second thing, he's tweeting as if he's this agriefed party with no power. he's the president of the united states and he has the ability to declassify this if he wanted to. >> doesn't donald trump have the terrific upper hand. we give up on this. he said 3 million people voted illegally and we were all outraged and, you know, the circus moved on and we stopped looking at it. something will happen and we'll stop paying attention to this
statement by donald trump. he perhaps understands the media better than we do. >> we are at the bottom of the food chain in a lot of ways because we don't have the information, it's not readily available to us. we don't have subpoena power. but you have people like john mccain and lindsey graham saying, look, this needs to be investigated because if what he's saying is true is dangerous and if there is no proof, it's also dangerous. >> the president said it's a fact that president obama was tapping my phones in october. that was one of his several tweets. more breaking news coming into the "the situation room." everybody stand by. we have seen the glory come, go, and come again. but a cadillac is no trophy. what you see is our future
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agrief. back to our panel and our experts. jeffrey toobin, jeff sessions provided a supplemental letter to the senate regarding his testimony where he claimed he never met with russian officials during the campaign. we know he did have two meetings with the russian ambassador. in the letter he writes, i do not recall any discussions with the russian ambassador or any other representatives of the russian government regarding the political campaign or other occasions. he doesn't deny political campaign acquisitions. using the world i do not recall. >> it's interesting and important to hear his point of view. this calls for an investigation. there are ways to do this. you have to find out were any other people present at that
meeting, were there any e-mails about that what's said at the meeting, did anyone take notes at this meeting. this is why we have a department of justice to do investigations like that. of course, you know, this is a possible response. but the appropriate way to handle this is . >> to appoint real investigators and start doing an investigation to see whether attorney general's sessions' statement which was clearly misleading at best whether it was false. i don't know whether it was actively false, a lie, but it certainly merits an investigation and not just a letter, you know, with the subject saying he didn't do anything wrong. >> you're doing some reporting on reince priebus some of the kroeshss swirling inside that inner circle. what are you learning. >> well, he is the chief of
staff and when there's incoming from the president i think he absorbs tlt most. and a bunch of us at cnn reported bay meeting last friday in which the president voiced his displeasure at the way the staff had conducted itself since the great reviews he got of his joint session of congress. i believe he did not want sessions to rekoouz cues himself, did he not believe there was any reason for him to do so and he didn't like being taken off track with all the stories with russia and sessions recusal when he wanted to continue to bask in the chlorof his address to the point session and policy. he would liked to have seen more wins. this is a president that said i want to rack up the wins and so far he signed a lot of executive orders but he hasn't gotten on track on capitol hill which is why they're rushing to do healthcare so quickly.
>> very quickly, phil, you've been around d.c., the krai, tfi >> the people that have to deal with real problems, secretary of state, secretary of of defense, they have to execute policy. meanwhile, you have hammerhead eyedy ole gifts, reince priebus in the oval office trying to project an image for the president, what you're going to see is those ideal lists, those people in the white house whispering in the president's ear are going to come tomorrow to toe with secretary of state and secretary of defense. and i believe the realists at defense state, et cetera, will win and i predict within two years steve bannon's gone. >> everybody stand by we've got a lot more to discuss including
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the apparent response to u.s./south korea military exercises they say he personally supervised the launch toward japan calling it a drill for striking u.s. bases in japan. there's opinion a sharp response from the trump administration. let's go to our pentagon correspondent, barb rab starr. what's likely to happen next. >> universal condemnation for this missile launch and now they're watching it even more closely. watching the underground nuclear test site because on the surface our sources are telling us they do see activity at theunder ground test site, dirt, rock moving around, other eemtd moving around. potentially a pattern of activity of that would come yet another nuclear test by kim jong-un but they cannot be sure what he is up to. they are also watching a missile
launch area. they see activity there, missile enagain testing, preparations indicating more missile launches. kim jong-un very much committed to his missile program, to his nuclear program, tonight no sign he's backing off, no sign he's giving up. wolf. >> those joint kper sizes the u.s./south korea joint exercises, those are continuing, right. >> reporter: those are continuing. there's a theory out there in the intelligence community that all of this activity from north korea is their typical response when these exercises happen. they feel they have to respond, but really the underlying message here is the u.s. intelligence community, the u.s. military simply cannot be sure what kim may do next. it may be a huge national security challenge for president trump. wolf. >> it may be the biggest national security challenge that he faces based on all the information we're getting. all right, barbara, thanks very
much. barbara starr reporting from the pentagon. that's it for me, thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. erin burnett out front starts right now. breaking news the fbi director quote incredulous accusing obama of wiretapping his phones and tonight the white house won't say whether they have confidence in the fbi director james comey. republicans unveiling their bill to parts of obamacare, what does it leave in place and the meeting filled with exkplatives. we have new details behind trump's rage. let's go out front. good evening i'm erin burnett we begin with the breaking news. a source telling cnn that's fbi's james comey's reaction. we're also learning that comey had fbi officials reach out to staff at the