tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN March 13, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PDT
theory and raise you a microwave. the house intelligence committee set a deadline today for the justice department to provide the facts for president trump's claim that he was wiretapped by president obama. john mccain says absent these facts, the president should retract his claim. and on the subject of fantasy, kellyanne conway went on tv, providing a rhetorical link to president obama's claims and new cia surveillance methods revealed by wikileaks. again again, she provided evidence. this morning on cnn she said that is not what she said or meant even though if you read the interview, it is what she said. white house correspondent joe johns is at the white house. >> reporter: good morning, john. as you said, presidential
counselor kellyanne conway essentially creating a firestorm in her comments where she essentially said there are a variety of different ways to conduct electronic surveillance. first let's listen to what she had to say to "the bergen county record" newspaper over the weekend. >> there are many ways to surveil each other, unfortunately. >> do you believe -- >> there was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their -- certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. so we know that that is just a fact of modern life. >> sure. >> reporter: and so this morning on "new day," in an interview with chris cuomo, ankle ankle made it clear she was speaking in general terms about electronic surveillance and not trying to link it to president trump's assertion that he was wiretapped by president obama. listen. >> i was answering a question
about surveillance techniques generally. i was reflecting what people saw in the news last week. i'm not inspector gadget. i don't believe people are using their microwaves to spy on the trump campaign. however i'm not in the job of having evidence. that's what investigations are for. >> reporter: okay. so the larger issue on the radar this morning, though, is whether or not the department of justice will turn over to the house intelligence committee any evidence that president trump was wiretapped. there is a lot of doubted here in dc that that's going to happen, john. >> joe johns, thanks so much. let's discuss. joining us, cnn political analyst ron brownstein. and david drucker, cnn political analyst, senior congressional correspondent for "the washington examiner." let's examine what kellyanne conway said, shall we? david, in this interview with "the bergen county record," she raised the fact that the cia can
spy through your iphone. she says she was responding to jess about general surveillance. that is not in fact what she was responding to. i will read you the question. one of the things that seems to be dogging him are these accusations about wiretaps. do you know whether the president was wiretapped? then she brought up these other things. why drop this implications bomb and what are the consequences or what should be the consequences or that? >> well, i don't think there will be any consequences. politically people are either on one side of this issue or not. this is part of what the trump administration and the president in particular likes to do, and that is to raise all sorts of doubts so that if nothing is true, anything can be true. and this helps the president maintain a connection to his base. and i think that's what this is all about. let's not forget, john, the president wants to know whether or not he's been wiretapped, he has the nation's highest security clearance. all he has to do is pick up the phone. we don't have to wait for a congressional investigation to get this done, which by the way,
in and of itself is also interesting, because the congressional intelligence committees in the house and the senate have already said they were going to take a look at this before trump's tweet storm. so it wasn't necessary to get them to do that in order to spur this on. so i mean, to me, this is just more of the same. and we'll kind of get all exercised about this and maybe kellyanne conway shouldn't have said this, but i think they know exactly what they're doing. >> is it more than kellyanne conway just shouldn't have said this, ron? seriously, she was doing an interview that was being recorded. she raised these spying techniques revealed in wikileaks, connecting this conspiracy, which upset a lot of people last week when wikileaks -- i say "conspiracy," the tactics that the cia uses that upset a lot of people, with the evidence-free claims from the president. now in one sentence, seeming to connect them. today she says she didn't do it but if you watch the interview, it's clear she did. >> i'm with david, i think the
administration has a systematic pattern of trying to undermine the credibility of any institution they think might challenge them. so in this way, i think this is kind of a preemptive strike at the intelligence committee's concluding that there was not in fact a wiretap authorized against trump's campaign. much as we saw over the weekend on the congressional budget office where you saw the senior administration officials as well as paul ryan basically saying it doesn't matter if they come out today and say millions of people will lose their health care under the replacement for the affordable care act. that is an ongoing pattern that we see. whoever may raise a kind of a bump in the road, they move preemptively to say to their supporters in particular, don't listen to this, this is not a credible source of complaint or criticism. >> and david, john mccain, chairman of the armed services committee, was on cnn over the weekend and he said it's basically time to put up or shut up. listen to what he said. >> the president has one of two
choices. either retract or to provide the information that the american people deserve, because if his predecessor violated the law, president obama violated the law, we've got a serious issue here, to say the least. >> now look, senator john mccain is no long time fan of president trump. on the other hand, it seems to me that over the last week, there has been a shift from what republicans -- in what republicans are willing to say publicly about this. >> this is interesting. on the one hand, republicans, and i've talked to them about this last week, have gotten very used to trump's twitter tirades, they don't get concerned about it, they just focus on their daily work. they are however concerned about the credibility of the information in the tweets. they can live with him rifling off on twitter ad hoc and creating a firestorm. they want what he says to be true. as a matter of domestic politics it doesn't necessarily matter every day. for international politics it
matters a great deal, because when the president of the united states speaks, if other countries and some of our adversaries can say, look, even americans don't know if this guy is telling the truth, it can cause the administration problems in the future. i don't know if they've gotten their arms around that yet. >> congressman steve king from iowa, republican congressman who tweeted about gert bilders, a politician in the netherlands, he says, "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." that raised a ton of eyebrows. he went on "new day" this morning and basically said, yeah, that's what i said. listen to what he told chris cuomo. >> muslim-american, an italian-american, either those are all equal things, or they are not. what is your answer? >> they contribute differently
to our culture and civilization. there are moderate muslims that are equal -- >> i said a muslim-american. people who have lived here, who are assimilated. there are a lot of people teaching hate red in their families who are white, who are irish, who are muslim. a lot of people preach hate. there's hate in a lot of different groups. >> all right, ron brownstein, i do not see a lot of people jumping to congressman king's defense this morning. >> this is a case of the subtext becoming text. the debate over legal immigration as well as undocumented immigration is framed primarily in economic terms or in the case of undocumented immigration, in security terms. in fact there is a demographic component to it. there is an anxiety among certain elements of the republican coalition about the underlying democratic change happening in american society. the big story is, it's happening regardless. it is irreversible. a majority of our under 5
population is already non-white. 47% of our under-30 population is nonwhite. the older white population, three-quarters of americans under 45 are white, who are the core of the modern republican coalition who steve king believes he is speaking to, they need those kids to succeed, to pay the payroll taxes to support social security and medicare. 80% of today's seniors are white. there is more interdependence than our politics allows. what you see is the subtext becoming text, expressed in a naked and discomforting way for most americans, the idea that this kind of demographic change is remaking america into something that is different than what it has always the been. in fact the story is the same as it has always been. the generations that have come before need the generations after them to succeed, not only for their sake but for everyone's sake. >> ron brownstein, david drucker, great to have you with
us, guys, really appreciate it. busy morning. any moment now we could get the price tag of the republican health care overhaul from the congressional budget office. already republican leaders are saying that this important estimate should not be considered so important at all. listen to this. >> the one thing i'm certain will happen is cbo will say, gosh, not as many people will get coverage. you know why? because this isn't a government mandate. >> sometimes we ask them to do stuff they're not capable of doing. estimating the impact of a bill of this size probably isn't the best use of their time. >> estimating the impact of a bill of that size is exactly what the cbo does, whether or not you agree with it, that is their job. let's go to suzanne malveaux on capitol hill. >> reporter: john, definitely members of congress are trying to put doubt in people's minds before the cbo comes out with the score. there are a lot of house republicans, at least the leadership, trying very hard to push this through congress as quickly as possible.
it is very likely that that cbo report, the assessment, is going to slow it down if not halt it here because it is going to come out with those figures, talking about how much this is going to cost and potentially how many americans will not be getting covered under this new plan. it is estimated that it could be at least 15 million people over the course of ten years that would not get health insurance under this new republican plan. we heard from speaker paul ryan, saying don't worry about the cbo score, this is not necessarily something that is going to make a difference. but we're also hearing from those who are pushing back and pushing back very hard on the senate side as well as the house side, rand paul being one of them, saying look, there is room for negotiation here, they believe that the president can be a part of that negotiation, and here's what he said going into the week. >> what we're hearing is, it's a binary choice, the ryan plan or the status quo.
what he's rammed through the committee is his. if we get what we got from ryan, obamacare-lite, he will not have the votes. we have to get to that point before true negotiations begin. there's a charm offensive going on, everybody's being nice to everybody, but we're not going to vote for it. >> reporter: of course, john, part of the charm offensive is the president himself. trump tweeted, "obama is imploding, it's a disaster, 2017 will be the worst year yet by far, republicans will come to gather and save the day." as you mentioned, he's conducting a listening session with what the white house is calling victims of obamacare. we know tomorrow, house republicans will come back in session and the president is going to sit down with at least 40 of them or so, more conservative members, to talk about ways that they can compromise on this legislation. and one of the things that he wants to do is take a look at rolling back, this is the medicaid expansion, doing that
faster than later, that is something that conservatives would definitely like to see and that is something that some of them are currently talking about. tomorrow as well there will be a pizza party he's having at the white house for those conservatives to try to woo them to make sure they come up with some sort of compromise, john. >> suzanne malveaux for us on capitol hill, appreciate it. the house intelligence committee wants to know what evidence there is to back up the president's claims that he was wiretapped by president obama. coming up, i'm going to speak to a member of that committee and find out what he intends to do if the department of justice doesn't provide the evidence. ( ♪ ) i moved upstate because i was interested in building a career. i came to ibm to manage global clients
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that's the message of the house intelligence committee to the department of justice over president trump's claims that he was wiretapped by president obama. the justice department has been given a deadline of today to turn over the evidence. joining me, democratic congressman eric swallwell. do you have that evidence from the department of justice? >> we do not. it's a claim made by this president to distract and to deceive. the picture has become clearer and clearer as to what has been going on with russia. dots continue to connect. and this president and his aide kellyanne conway continue to throw smoke bombs into the room to just distract us so that we have a much more difficult time in our search for the truth. >> so you don't have that evidence. you brought up kellyanne conway. i imagine you're referring to her comments over the weekend when she was asked about the wiretaps and then she responded about the wikileaks report from last week about spy techniques
that the cia used about cameras and microwaves and the like. your response to kellyanne conway? >> well, first, to even connect wikileaks and the allegations there to the investigation into russia is, again, an effort to try to take away from the dots that connect here, which is that donald trump and his team had significant ties to russia, and right now what we want to know is, were any u.s. persons working with russia during this interference campaign. it's an only a distraction. >> you said a lot right there, actually, with not so many words, you said the dots that connect. you've actually launched a website that says "connecting the trump/russia dots." in that website you have a lot of information that you say links the trump campaign to russia. yes, there are a lot of dots. what there are not, if you listen to the former dni, james clapper, if you listen to speaker of the house paul ryan who has seen some of the evidence, if you listen to people who have seen the evidence and ask them the direct
question, have you seen any evidence of collusion between the trump campaign and russia, the answer they give is no. so there may be dots but these dots aren't connected, are they? >> well, i would first say this investigation, i hope, is continuing to develop. all we are asking of the fbi, and i believe they are doing this, is to just follow the evidence. what we are seeing, though, is evidence that roger stone, a trump adviser, was speaking to guusi guciffer 2.0 as documents were leaking out. carter page was a senior policy adviser for candidate trump. in june it was revealed that russia was attacking our election. in july, carter page travels from the united states to russia. these are questions we need to get to the bottom. of why was carter page with the permission of the campaign in russia while they were attacking us? >> these are a lot of things you bring up, a lot of dots, as we say.
presumably the intelligence community has known about this for a long time. roger stone admitted long ago to having a back channel with wikileaks and he posted his conversations, screen grabs of his conversation with guccifer 2.0 when he says were innocuous. these are things dni clapper knew but he still says there is no evidence he's seen of collusion between trump and russia. >> collusion is a very technical term. what we want to know is, were they working with russia. you know, it's okay to have business ties with russians. i think it shows bad judgment, they're not our friend, but what we want to know is where they working hand in hand with russia, where they providing information to russia. >> have you seen any evidence of that yourself yet? >> what i have called for is an independent commission to take this out of congress. i think it's too partisan right now. we need to declassify as much as possible. we need to debunk the myths that the president has put out there. the only way to do that is to
have an independent commission is to also have a special counsel, independent prosecutor, because i don't think the justice department can be impartial on this. >> congress one eric swalwell on the intelligence committee. if you get that information from the department of justice today, call us. >> john, let me also say, tonight cnn is airing t"the mos powerful man in the world." up until tonight, that was the president of the united states. i think it goes to the concerns that the person talked about tonight is putin. a strong statement by the secretary of health and human services. tom price says nobody will be worse off financially if the republican health care plan becomes law. but the website runs by the president's chief strategist says that could be the lie of the year. we'll explain. and the security just like the marines did. the process through usaa is so effortless, that you feel like you're a part of the family.
this just into cnn, sources tell us in about an hour the attorney general from washington state will file an amended complaint with a federal judge, asking him to block president trump's new travel ban. this move comes after that same judge friday he needed more formal briefings. additionally washington and minnesota will have hearings tomorrow. that travel ban expected to go into effect on thursday. a very business day, today is the deadline for the justice department, the house intelligence committee asked the doj to provide facts behind president trump's claim of being wiretapped by president obama. as of now, the intelligence committee, we just spoke to a member, they have not seen said facts from the doj. we will let you know if and when that happens. also today, your first chance to get a look at the possible price tag for the republican plan to repeal and replace obamacare. that will come from the congressional budget office. as that's going on, secretary of
health and human services tom price, the man who is really the architect from the white house side of this plan, he made a pretty interesting promise. >> i firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through, understanding that they'll have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not the government forces them to buy. >> no one will be worse off financially. that is what the secretary of hhs said. but breitbart, this is the site once run by steve bannon who is now the president's chief strategist, he says this claim could be the contender for the lie of the year. joining me now, former congressional budget office director doug ellendorf, he was at the cbo when obamacare was passed. doug, thank you so much for being with us. promises like "no one will be worse off financially," those end up being pretty hard to keep. >> yes. secretary price's claim is
absurd. this legislation will cut subsidies substantially. millions of people will lose health insurance. we don't know how many yet. cbo will make an estimate shortly. but certainly people will be worse off. >> there will be people who are worse off under what the cbo is likely to say, is what you're saying, if in fact they lose insurance. now, house speaker paul ryan, who is a key backer of this plan, maybe the most prominent backer and architect of this plan, he says this is not the way we should even be looking at this at all. listen to what the speaker says. >> the one thing i'm certain will happen is cbo will say, gosh, not as many people will get coverage. you know why? because this isn't a government mandate. this is not the government makes you buy what we say you should buy and therefore the government thinks you're all going to buy it. there's no way we can compete on paper with government mandate of coverage. what we are trying to achieve here is bringing down the cost of care, bringing down the cost of insurance, not through government mandates and monopolies, but by having more
choice and competition. >> you know, it is an interesting discussion, and the speaker is clearly trying to shift it in the direction of, this should be a discussion about quality of care not number of those covered. >> well, first of all, those of us who have health insurance should be careful about saying to those who don't, oh, don't worry, it's fine for you not to have health insurance. for lots and lots of people, having health insurance is very important. i think we should take any decline in the number of people with health insurance very seriously. the main reason you'll see a decline under this legislation is the withdrawal of subsidies for some people. it's the shift in the subsidy schedule that's the big problem. that's not people who are better off. that's people who are not getting the support and won't be able to go buy health insurance or aren't getting the support and will have to put more out of their own pockets to buy health insurance. those folks will be worse off. there's nothing else in the legislation that particularly improves the quality of care or brings down the price of care
very much. you may end up with health insurance that covers less with larger deductibles and co-payments. so the price of insurance can be reduced by that sort of change in insurance policy. but the total cost of going to get health care, which is not just insurance premium but also any deductibles or co-payments, isn't going to be down substantially under this legislation. >> it certainly isn't for some people, some people will lose out. there are others in some situations or geographical locations could stand to gain, but it does vary. and to go back to what the secretary of hhs says, there will be people who lose insurance. the unemployment number, good jobs numbers came out, full stop. the jobs numbers were good, 235,000 jobs created, the unemployment rate down to 4.7%.
budget director mick mulvaney said something interest. >> we thought for a long time that the obama administration was manipulating the numbers in terms of the number of people in the workforce to make that percentage rate look smaller than it was. we used to tell people at home, the only thing you should look at is number of jobs created. as long as that number is above 250,000, the economy is going extraordinarily well. that's the number we hit last week. >> he's nactually making the cae that the obama administration manipulated the numbers somehow to make the unemployment rate look better. did you see any evidence of that when you were running the cbo? >> no. that is a shocking accusation by an omb director or by any public leader. there is no evidence for that whatsoever. the omb director has offered no evidence for that whatsoever.
i think he should retract that comment. that assertion of dishonest on the part of civil servants who are working very hard to produce accurate information every month is damaging to our country. >> the unemployment rate comes from the bureau of labor statistics, correct? >> yes, exactly. it's calculated according to a set of formulas, a process for collecting data that has been in place for years. and the production of those numbers is not affected by who is in political power. it's done by the best judgment of the civil servants doing that work. and to attack that work or to claim it's been affected by political pressure is really an unreasonable comment, again, for which there has been no evidence provided whatsoever. >> doug ellendorf, thank you, we appreciate it. cnn has an exclusive health care town hall with health and human services secretary tom price, airing wednesday at 9:00
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this morning russia says it was impossible for that country to interfere with the u.s. election. this is what putin's long-time aid told cnn's fareed zakaria. >> the answer is very simple. no. the answer is very simple. no. the fact that russia is being demonized in that sense is very strange to us. and we are really sorry about that. the whole situation takes us
from -- takes us away from the perspective of getting our relationship to a better condition. >> 16 u.s. intelligence agencies say the opposite. we want to discuss this with fareed zakaria, who has a special on this coming up in a little bit. fareed, how do you think russia and vladimir putin are viewing the trump administration? >> i think that there is a change, actually. the russians began very favorable. when trump was elected, they literally popped champagne in the russian parliament. they had people raising toasts in russia, it was wall to wall coverage on russia tv, which is state-dominated. now people who watch russian television and observe media closely say they've gone quiet on trump, because they're now worried that the fact that
russia so obviously had a favorite is redounding against them, it's hemming trump in. they don't want to create the impression that they're so happy about it because they see that as perhaps boxing donald trump in. so they may have gotten more than they bargained for. >> that's interesting, that's a change happening right now for people who follow russian media. one russian official who has been in the news an awful lot is russian ambassador to the united states, sergey kislyak, who had a lot of meetings with a lot of americans pretty closely associated with donald trump including now attorney general jeff sessions, including mike flynn, conversations that got mike flynn fired ultimately. you asked this russian official about kislyak. this is what he said. >> what was it that the russian ambassador, sergey kislyak, was talking to so many of donald trump's associates about?
>> this is his job. he was talking about bilateral relations. he was talking about what is going on in the united states so we have a better understanding in moscow. this is what is being performed by every ambassador of russia abroad, every ambassador of the united states abroad, including in moscow, because the more the ambassador talks to people in his country of residence, the better he does. >> did he have similar meetings with clinton campaign officials? because i don't know of any. >> if you look at some people connected with hillary clinton during her campaign, you would probably see that he had lots of meetings of that kind. but there were no meetings about
electoral process. there was -- in no way should it be seen as interference in the electoral process. >> so this guy is saying there were meetings with people connected to hillary clinton. what meetings, how significant? was he willing to show evidence? >> no. and as you can tell, he was a little caught off-guard there. i've tried to do a little work, i'm still doing some. as you pointed out, kislyak met with jeff sessions, who was essentially the senior-most surrogate, the senior senator who supported trump. and this is for a while, the only senator. >> and mike flynn, his national security adviser. these are the two most important people in the campaign. those two people in the clinton campaign would be, i don't know, john podesta and jake sullivan. i'm trying to confirm, but i haven't seen that. if kislyak talked to some democrats who supported hillary clinton, that would be the whole
democratic party, so maybe. but it certainly doesn't seem there was a pattern of contacts with these very high level trump officials that the russians had. >> more to come, as we look into that. fareed, the very title of your special, is in t special, "the most powerful man in the world," congressman eric swalwell said it's notable that it's about vladimir putin and not donald trump. >> i meant it in the sense that the most powerful man in the world is a leader of a country that is powerful, of course america is more powerful than russia, but how much power the leader has to exercise the power of his country in a totally unconstrained, unchecked manner. and if you think about it, as donald trump is discovering, the american president faces lots of checks and balances, lots of constraints on his power. putin, 17 years in power, has
built what he calls a vertical of power, which is utterly unimpeded authority to do what he wants, including interfere in other countries' electoral processes. that's why i would argue he's the most powerful man in the world. and by the way, "forbes" just came out with the ranking and donald trump is number two. the chinese president is number three. vladimir putin is number one on their list as za zakaria, "the powerful man in the world" airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on cnn. there's a blizzard coming, folks. 95 million americans in its path. you will want to hear this forecast, coming up. ( ♪ ) upstate new york is a good place to pursue your dreams. at vicarious visions, i get to be creative, work with awesome people, and we get to make great games. ( ♪ )
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take a good look at this, because it's coming for you. 95 million of you. a blizzard headed to the northeast. it could dump more than a foot of snow, big enough, bad enough that it blew chad myers all the way up here to our set. chad, what are we expecting? >> i just looked at the brand-new model, john. it's been out 30 minutes. and it has 23 inches for new york city, for manhattan. and maybe even a little bit more for like morristown and places out west. now, boston, you got out of the storm a little bit in the last run. you're going to get nine inches of snow. then it's going to rain on top of that. that's not helpful if you have a weak roof because that's going to get nice and heavy and then try to push things down. so yes, the model has changed just a touch. dc, it starts to snow tonight.
by tomorrow morning it starts to sleet and change to a rain mix, maybe washes some of that snow away, but it's not going to a picnic. certainly no picnic in philadelphia. the snow is coming in there. by tomorrow this time in new york city, probably eight inches. philadelphia, possibly as much as 12. boston just starting. you see how it progresses up the coast. it takes its time getting there. then finally pushes away for thursday. behind all of this, though, will be winds 40 to 50 miles per hour. and that's why there are blizzard warnings out. new york city, the minimum you're going to get is 11. the maximum you're going to get, according to the national weather service, could be 23. now that looks even more likely than it did just an hour ago. farther to the northeast, boston, you're going to get nine. i think that's the number you get until it starts to pack down with the sleet and the freezing rain and then finally all rain, then back over to some snow, then it stops. but it's still a mess no matter what you take, no matter what you think, wilmington,
philadelphia, six or seven is our min, but it could be significantly colder thatten that on the back side. i don't see you getting 20 inches of snow in philadelphia, but you could certainly see a foot. the maps here, all the purple, at least a foot of snow. this is the big one. williamsport, batavia, rochester, all the way back into parts of central pennsylvania and upstate new york. this isn't going to go away for a while. it's going to be cold for a while, then windy. that's why there are blizzard warnings in effect. john, on thursday, all of my friends in michigan got their power knocked out because of an 80-mile-per-hour wind gust. that was bad. if you're in rochester and think, well, maybe i'll take the snow, because that's what happened to lake ontario when 82-mile-per-hour gusts blew the water off the lake and onto this house. i think they'll chisel out of this sometime in september. because that's a mess. and that's the kind of wind
we'll see in new york city as well. >> worried about power being knocked out to millions of people up here. chad myers, great to have you with us. we'll talk to you a lot tomorrow. thank you, sir. >> you're welcome. isis devastated mosul's museum. or did it? why they might not have done as much damage as they wanted to. a live report ahead. let me talk to you about retirement. a 401(k) is the most sound way to go. let's talk asset allocation. -sure. you seem knowledgeable, professional. would you trust me as your financial advisor? -i would. -i would indeed. well, let's be clear, here. i'm actually a deejay. ♪ [ laughing ] no way! i have no financial experience at all. that really is you? if they're not a cfp pro, you just don't know. find a certified financial planner professional who's thoroughly vetted at letsmakeaplan.org. cfp. work with the highest standard. and her new mobile wedding business.tte at first, getting paid was tough... until she got quickbooks. now she sends invoices, sees when they've been viewed and-ta-dah-paid twice as fast for free.
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iraqi forces now claim they've taken back more than half of western mosul from isis. about 800,000 civilians are caught in the middle of this battle. meantime, isis is also targeting some of the city's most priceless artifacts. you can see these fighters going on this rampage through mosul's museum. cnn's ben wedeman had a chance
to walk through that museum yesterday in mosul. he joins us now to give us a sense of what he saw. ben? >> reporter: john, we were there yesterday. it's still very close to the front lines. we heard a lot of incoming mortar rounds while we were there. but yes, it's now firmly in iraqi government hands. now, what is interesting is that isis put out this video in february 2015 with their members smashing those statues with sledge hammers. but many of those statues were cheap copyies. that museum was set for renovation, so many items in the collection were moved to baghdad. and so they did manage of course to break up some of the bigger
statues. but most of the collection was saved from their madness, john. >> we're talking about thousands of years of history in and around mosul. that museum is so important to the entire world. ben, you and your producers had a chance to go inside western mosul beyond just the museum and capture some images of your own. what did you see? >> reporter: well, we saw some people who actually were able to stay in their homes while the battle raged around them. we spoke to one mother who she and her family huddled in their basement for 16 days. all they were able to eat was cold porridge made out of flour and water. she gave her children sleeping pills to make them sleep through the ordeal. but they are staying in their homes. so there are people who have managed to stick it out despite -- i mean, right in front of her house, in fact, there was a massive crater where it appears coalition air strikes
hit some isis cars. they miraculously survived and are staying in their homes. in other areas, we spoke to people who had gotten out of the city, much-relieved to be in safe territory. we spoke to one elderly woman who was enjoying cigarette after cigarette, chain smoking. she told us that under isis, that one cigarette was a dollar apiece. they says they're complete hypocrites. she says they drink in private, they take drugs in private, but then she said that they come to you and say, god said this and mohammed said that. she described them as utter scum of the earth and complete hypocrites. she was one lady who despite living under 2 1/2 years of isis, still had a lot of spunk in her, john. >> all right, ben wedeman for us inside iraq, having just returned from mosul. the battle continues to rage there with so many people still
caught in the crossfire. ben, thanks to you. thank you all so much for joining me today. i'm john berman. "at this hour with kate bolduan" starts right now. john berman, thank you so much. hello, everybody, i'm kate bolduan. put up or shut up. that's john mccain's message to donald trump and the department of justice, to show proof of claims that president obama wiretapped his phones. the house intelligence committee is demanding to see the evidence by today. so far, no evidence, nada, from the white house or the justice department on this, add to go the confusion this morning. counselor to the president kellyanne conway is suggesting the president could have been subject to wider surveillance than even he claims. but now conway is blaming the reporter for taking her out of