tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN March 18, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT
go make some great memories today. >> there so much more ahead. we turn it over to our colleague, our friend, our professional friend, fredericka whitfield. >> you had a busy morning. wee got a busy afternoon. you all get out there and enjoy. good to see you. it's 11:00 eastern hour. i'm fredericka whitfield. newsroom starts right now. hello everyone, definitive proof. monday the fbi director will raise his right hand and tell if there is any evidence that trump tower was wire tapped by president obama. even as the department of justice and members of both intel committees are rebuking trump's claims, the president is not backing down, but he is shifting the blame for where he got that intel. >> that was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on fox.
and so you shouldn't be talking to me. you should be talking to fox. >> monday's hearing will kick off one of the most crucial weeks of the trump presidency. his supreme court nominee neil gorsuch begins a confirmation process that could be clouded by tough questions from democrats and trump's party's health care plan. very much in peril. going to a vote on thursday. the president says he is confident it will pass on the first try. >> i also want everyone to know that all of these nos or potential nos are all yeses. every single person sitting in this room. >> the president is in mar-a-lago where he will be working with his staff. the house intelligence hearing on monday will be a pretty significant deal for the trump presidency.
do we know what trump is focusing on this weekend while in mar-a-lago? >> reporter: we know right now he is at his golf course in south florida. his staff not saying whether or not he'll actually go out and golf. they say he may hit a few balls, but we know he's already tweeting about the response to that meeting with angela merkel. this is ahead of as you mentioned an enormous week for the trump administration. in addition to the vote on the health care bill in the house. you've also got the confirmation hearings for neil gorsuch and the house intelligence hearing on the alleged russian hack of the american election. trump is the one that added this wrinkle about the potential of the obama administration wire tapping trump tower, but his administration is increasingly on an island when it comes to this claim. more and more republicans are refuting the idea that this actually happened and in saying that it's going to be the white house that's going to have to come up with some form of
evidence. listen to these republican lawmakers pushing back on that claim. >> i would retract the words if i were in his shoes. i think you should retract those words. if it were me i would apologize. i think it would be appropriate to do so. >> it never hurts to say you're sorry. i think that goes for this situation. it goes for the situation with our british friends. our intelligence cooperation between the u.s. and the british is one of the strongest that we have and it never hurts to say sorry to your friends. >> unless you can produce some pretty compelling proof, then i think the president, you know, president obama is owed an apology in that regard. >> keep in mind all three of those lawmakers are republicans. so these are people who are in the same party as the president and they're not just asking for the president to deliver evidence of his claim. they're actually pointing out that there is no evidence and it's now the job of the president to stand up and say that he was sorry to the former
president. no sign of that happening anytime soon fredericka. >> thank you so much, ryan. let's talk more about this with lynn sweet. she is the washington bureau chief, cnn political commentator, david. good to see both of you. david, in your view, what is it going to take for donald trump to retreat and eventually apologize? especially as these hearings get under way this week and right now, you know, the reporting is there is no evidence. >> fredericka, i think it was two saturdays ago i think both lynn and i were here with you when this news was first breaking. the initial strategy of the white house in the week following the four tweet tweet storm was to say look, we're tossing this to congress. congress can investigate. that didn't work so well so last week the strategy was more of a misdirection. changing the meaning of quotes and meaning of air quotes around
the word wire tapping and then going back to some of these news reports from fox and other outlets that didn't add up to the allegation that the president was making about the former president. i think after we get past this hearing if there's not any significant new news that we hear from fbi director james comey or someone else, i don't anticipate that the president will quote/unquote back down or apologize. i think they'll try to find a way on to move on because that is his style. >> this might be different than to just move on. so far the doj hard copy report is classified. so as far as we know, with comey's testimony, how detailed can he get? >> well, if nothing happens, you don't have a lot of details, so this is interesting. you're trying to disprove something that did not happen. so you can go and say there's no paper trail. there's no audio trail.
there's no human intelligence trail. there's no witness you can bring in from the american side. but we have seen this time and time again where you have what to some people would be common sense conclusive proof not being accepted by donald trump and some of his staffers, so we have -- we're not in new uncharted waters. we remain in uncharted waters. one of the things that lawyers sometimes say to juries in trials is that you're allowed to take in part your common sense and sometimes there is a point where there is an abundance of evidence that nothing happened and when the president said something happened, i just want to keep remining peopding people has access to every tool in the box to reveal what he knows and how he knows it. but the bottom line, i do agree with david, i don't think you'll see any backing down.
>> he has all the tools, but as we saw, he never utilized those tools that week see and when asked about it when he was standing alongside angela merkel he still made reference to fox news as being the source. so how politically damaged is this president not just on the domestic, the u.s. stage, but now in the world stage as well? >> so domestically i think it remains to be seen. he was down five points in approval rating from the previous month in that same poll, but in the gallop daily tracking poll it's kind of see sawed back and forth. it's gone from i think 44 to 45 to 39, then back up to 42. i think he's at 41 now. i think there's sort of a floor there in the high 30s or the low 40s for the president where his core supporters are sticking with him partly because in my view they like to see this sort of combative never say -- never quit, never back off style that the president has.
across the world, though, i think it's a little different. by throwing the british intelligence under the bus yesterday, by, you know, sort of going out with some of these news reports, unsubstantiated so far, that our allies may have contributed to what he accused president obama of. i think he's putting our relationships with key allies in a very precarious position. >> then you run the risk of all these definitions of tone deaf, weak leader or one said he's a compulsive liar. this is a formary ci achieve michael hayden who had this say. >> i suspect if there is any example of a u.s. identity being unmasked that has any relationship to the trump campaign or trump tower, and again, michael, very normal, very correct, very legal, at
that point the white house says a ha. i told you so. i think this is where it's going. >> so i understand, general hayden to be predicting that perhaps the next step of this is that the trump white house seeks to criminalize the incidental collection of u.s. intelligence? is that what you're saying? >> yes. mischaracterize and criminalize. and very tellingly, chair and ranking of the house intelligence committee within the last 36 hours, has actually asked the american intelligence community was there any incidental collection? were any identities unmasked? and who requested the unmasking? i do think we are going to that point, again, which i think at the end of the day will be mischaracterized and there will be an attempt to claim that that's some sort of violation. >> so david, you first. incidental collection is nothing new. but why would it be treated
potentially different this time? >> well, i think there's two things. if i heard general hayden right. one is that, you know, from the point of view of the trump team, if they're trying to defend themselves now and they're in a defensive posture about these allegations that president trump made, they may sort of latch on to any kind of collection of any kind of surveillance information as evidence or at least, you know, a suggestion that what president trump alleged about president obama was true even though there's a far cry from what general hayden was talking about and what president trump alleged in those four tweets two saturdays ago. but i think general hayden provided a valuable service there explaining to folks that look, whether you like it or not, whether americans like it or not, cl collecting surveilla data is fairly routine. the question is is it was kind that president trump suggested, that president obama ordered spying on him. >> lynn, you may have been with us two weeks ago when the tweets
first came out from the president. we talked about the incidental collections and the masking or unmasking of those who may be americans who fall in the sweep of foreigners who, you know, are being surveilled. do you see this white house as potentially kind of trying to change the equation here? changing -- turning the table on the idea of incidental collection? >> of course i do. because that's what they do. there is a track record of changing the subject. or answering a -- finding an answer to a question that hasn't been asked if they can't provide an answer to what they asked. and that is the four tweets that started all this two weeks ago stand for themselves. and i don't want to buy into the notion that we're not supposed to take them literally. i think we're all capable of taking things literally and symbolically and in a broader
context and in hey narrow context. i also think let's do one thing at a time. let's look at the four tweets, the two with quotes, the two without, and hold the trump white house accountable to say is that true. changing the subject is a tactic. i understand that. it's a strategy that you use when you can't win on front one. let's move the conversation to two. i want to be bit of maybe a hard-liner here. let's stick with conversation one and keep on that because i don't know how many times the trump white house needs to -- how many avenues they need to go down to show what that they alleged had not happened. >> i think most people are on to the strategy now, even if there is deflection, i think people are now able to keep an eye on all the balls, but then still focus, you know, on that singular issue. lynn sweet, david, see you again soon. thanks so much. appreciate it. as north korea readies for
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i won this 55 inch tv for less than $30 on dealdash.com. visit dealdash.com for great deals. and start bidding today! china is urging the trump administration to be cool headed in its approach to nuclear armed north korea amid rising tension. that message to delivered to secretary of state rex tillerson
in beijing. it comes one day after tillerson warned north korea that no option was off the table including military action if provoked. this morning he appears to be softening his tone after talks with his chinese counter part. >> we share a common view in a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now. and that things have reached a rather dangerous level. and we've committed ourselves to do everything we can to prevent any type of conflict from breaking out. >> joining me right now from beijing, cnn international correspondent matt rivers. matt, why is it so important to get china involved in a north korea solution? >> well, simply put booze china is the only major ally that north korea has on the world stage. china is responsible for a vast majority of north korea's food and fuel. it is the only way north korea
makes hard krecurrency to allow to continue this weapons program. that is something the trump administration is very well aware of and part of the reason why the message that the secretary of state took with him to china is that china should be doing more. they should be using that leverage to get pyongyang to rein in his nuclear development program. th china say the united states need to negotiate directly. china would play the middleman role to get both sides together at the table. the third option if you're the person who believes sanctions from tunited nations that could force the kim jong-un regime to stop what they're doing. you'll need china there too. they have veto power on the security council. so no matter which option you think is the right option, in order to try and stem the
tension or ease the tension in north korea right now, you're going to need china no matter which option you choose. >> matt rivers in beijing. thank you so much. let's talk more about the rising tension over north korea. i want to bring in belina. former special adviser on christopher hill. when the secretary of state tillerson was in south korea, he said, quote, the policy of strategic patience end quote with north korea was over. so what's the message received when translated? >> well, the policy of strategic patience, the obama administration has consistently said that was actually not their official policy. of course, that is essentially the outcome. i think it's actually very good that secretary tillerson was setting a very clear tone and message about what this administration is thinking and what future policy is going to bring.
unfortunately, it was a little bit misleading because the idea that use of force is not off the table or it's on the table, that has always been the case. in fact, u.s. policy towards north korea has been remarkably consistent ever since 1953 with the armistice. i fear that unfortunately in south korea, which is undergoing political turbulence right now, that perhaps this might send the wrong message of anxiety in south korean public about u.s. intentions. >> so china, you know, let's talk about its potential influence meaning it accounts for some 70% of north korea's trade. they're the main conduit for north korea's currency. is that how china can flex its muscle with north korea? >> well, secretary tillerson was right about one thing. the last 20 years of u.s. policy has not worked. but i think we should also
remember part of that opolicy - actually 25 years -- was to out source this problem to china. i think the last two decades have made very clear that china is not willing and will not ultimately cut off everything that is needed to pressure north korea. it simply will not do so. so i think it's time that we stop relying on china. the road to pyongyang does not go through beijing. in fact, what we should focus on is stopping -- first of all north korea's proliferation of these dangerous technology, but north korea's acquisition. north korea's intention to purr see these weapons will not end. we have to cut off its supply and access to all the materials and technology that is required. and china is one of the conduits. >> but you said all roads do not necessarily go through beijing, so what are the other countries you're talking about in which the u.s. to be intervening or leveraging in order to cut off or somehow impact that supply?
>> well, here's the point. nothing will ultimately get north korea to stop its ambitions and its programs of weapons of mass destruction. i don't think outside pressure is ultimate patly going to work. the only thing that will work is regime change. i am want condoning that. i am not saying that's what we should pursue that is ultimately is the oem solution. it depending on what our goals are. do we want stability? do we want to reduce the threat of north korea or do we want to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction? >> what could happen if tillerson does raise the prospect of financial penalties to chinese companies that may do business with north korea? >> i think that is a very smart policy and i think that we should have been doing this much sooner. the consequences will be on
these chinese companies and chinese actors. u ultimately this may cause them to change some of their policies towards north korea. >> thanks so much. good to see you. >> thank you. coming up, live pictures from capitol hill where the nation's top intelligence officials are getting set to testify on monday. all eyes will be on fbi director james comey. what lawmakers hope he may reveal next.
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fbi director james comey, former director of national intelligence james clapper and nsa director will all testify before the committee. director comb director comey will likely take the most heat. they want to know if they are conducting any investigations into trump aides. ties to the kremlin through meetings with the rauussian. >> david, and assistant editor to "the washington post," lynn sweet, and tom fuentes. that's a mouthful. welcome to all of you. nick, to you first. russia back in the spotlight as if it has never really left. what's the reaction coming out of moscow about what's
anticipated come monday? >> as always, a bit of distance to play down the scope of this inquiry. remember this is probably the first time that james com me the fbi director is going to sit down and face demanding for real concrete details to back up the broader claims of collusion. the russian spokes person very clear they won't even be watching. this they consider the constant allegations against them interfering in that 2016 vote to put donald trump in the white house that is basically a broken record, quote, with oh but there is a light problem here for ms. cow. he they are in the spotlight. fine. perhaps vladimir putin nostalgic for the soviet era relishes that sense of being the grand puppet mast master although he'll deny interfering in the election. donald trump was reticent to
criticize russia during the campaign and after wanting a gad relationship with vladimir putin. his back's really against the wall now. perhaps you might say any bit he did have to sing off the same sheet as russia over complicated policy issues like fighting isis, other things too, that's not complicated because the massive controversy. you saw that flow chart. the link between his team and russians generally. that controversy makes it very hard perhaps for a softer approach toward moscow to maeeme from the trump white house. >> i want to ask you look at this flow chart. jared cu jared kushner. we know that comey among other intelligence heads will be called to testify, are scheduled to testify. do you see somewhere down the line any number of those aides or societies, those within the orbit of trump would also be called to testify and have to say more? >> i think sooner than later sure, it's possible. the democrats have every
incentive to want to bring in these other figures. one of the things that has happened historically is it's difficult to get white house aides in to testify before a congressional committee. what will make this difference is president trump has invited house and senate to look into the allegations he raised so it would be look interesting if his own staffers would refuse to testify. >> you're right. white house inviting congressional review and now it would be very strange if the white house would say no, our participant cannot be involved. david, if that were the case, how damaging to the white house and its allegations? how much more damaging would this be? >> fred, i think a couple things. one, lynn just made a great point. if the administration doesn't go along with cooperating with or sort of at least accepting the results of this investigation it will look bad because president
trump called for it. to your point, yeah, if director comey comes in on monday and doesn't have some bomb shell or some major new piece of information that puts the puzzle pieces here together, then president trump as we were talking about earlier is really left with allegations that he made about his immediate predecessor that have not, you know, been borne out with any kind of visible evidence. he is the person as we've all been saying for two weeks now who is in the best position to get and if he wants declassify any information that would back up his claim. so i think once we get past monday, it's going to be maybe not a fatal point or an inflection point for president trump, but it's going to be a marker in the first 100 days that sets the tone for what comes next as we go through this year. >> so tom, about james comey's testimony now, do you expect that there could potentially be
this bomb shell to hospital support the allegations or if so much has been reported to indicate that there's nothing there that he would simply under score there's nothing there. >> i think the latter. i don't see this as being the setting where a bomb shell would be revealed. normally for the fbi director to testify about anything that might or might not be occurring in terms of being an active investigation now for the results of it if there were positive results, he would ask for a closed session. he would not be doing this in public. so in the past these type of hearings when held publicly are more theater than substance. >> and then what about, tom, the fact that doj report is classified? if there's that and that james comey is going to be, you know, pi publicly testifying, could there be a conflict in the kind of information revealed? >> well, possibly. don't forget you also have information from clapper from
the past administration. president obama ordered the investigation into whether there was russian involvement in our election. he wanted the results to be delivered before the january 20th inauguration and former director of national intelligence clapper did clidelr those results and gsaid there ws no involvement they had found. i would be just as curious about their testimony now as former members of the intelligence team of what did they in fact discover to repeat that claim. if that was true in january, is it still their belief today that nothing was found and that it was no involvement? that's a very important element that it's almost as if they didn't say it. >> and then nick, you know, former nfa michael flynn paid over $30,000 by russian tv according to top democrats on the house oversight committee, so if there is that, in your view, how much does that help
corroborate or indicate that russia did play great influence in any -- in those who were in the circle of a donald trump? there's even that photograph showing michael flynn sitting right alongside, you know, vladimir putin right there. >> you could possibly back when he made that appearance and that speech not really have directly predicted that michael flynn would have gone on to become the national security adviser of the united states. so you have to possibly give the kremlin a little bit more foresight than is credible to think they may have been able to see that far in the future. the question around that appearance, which was pretty public, there was no real sket made about it and michael flynn talked about it at the time. i think the question has been the level of clearance or declaration he made around receiving that money. there are broader optics too. we're talking about many leading
figures in washington perceiving moscow as the key adversary of the united states and michael flynn did take a large amount of money, some money he didn't actually declare in terms of the amount, that raises the broader suspicions of the suspicion between these aides and riussia officials. is that just of the course of doing business or is that point to a broader sense of collusion perhaps particularly given this broader notion that somehow the campaign russia was behind the scenes trying to intervene in donald trump's favor. >> david, just looking at that graphic in the association so many people on the trump team in different phases and these potential connections to russia or indeed connections to russia, does the white house, regardless of how this investigation goes, does the white house not owe the american people some sort of explanation?
because this can't, you know, just be a coincidence even though the white house and many different fashions have said other straeadministrations have contact with the russian ambassador. but does this white house feel more compelled to explain better what's going on here? >> i think the way you phrased are the american people owed an explanation? i think yes. >> will we get it? will the american public get it? i'm not sure. because i think that's been the whole problem all along throughout the transition and throughout the first now 60 some days of the administration that the administration has not been able to get out from under this cloud or maybe not wanted to get out from under it about ties between various members of their -- president trump's inner circle and russia. take general flynn for for example. i think it's completely right that analysis that it would be hard to imput that level of foresight that president poouti
or russians in general that donald trump would win the election and flynn would wind up as the national security adviser. even at that time the photo was taken, general flynn was the former head of the defense intelligence agency, that he was just seated right next to him at that bank kwquet and then we la learn he was paid for that experience to speak and he had that relationship that our intelligence sources say is a russian propaganda network. the administration has never been able to square the circle with the public on why they think that wasn't an issue going into the transition and into when president trump installed general flynn as his national security adviser. >> it's going to be a pretty powerful week. thank you for being with us this weekend. appreciate it. next we take you to paris. major scare at one of the cities airports. police killing a man who tried to see if a soldier's gun.
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or visit my24info.com. new this morning a shooting at the second busiest airport in france has now triggered a terror investigation. a man over powered a soldier at paris airport and tried to take her gun. security forces shot and killed the attacker. authorities say he was involved in another shooting at a traffic stop just hours earlier. cnn international correspondent melissa bell joins me now from outside the airport there. so where does this investigation go? >> reporter: for now we're waiting to hear from the paris
prosecutor. he's going to speak in a couple of hours. we should learn a lot more. he really has become the voice of reason in these times, these terror times where we've become all too used to these sorts of events in france. what do we know happened this morning? the man's rampage began when he was stopped in a car at a police check. he fired at the policeman wounding one of them before fleeing the scene in the car, dumping it later, car jacking another, and making his way hire to the airport. that was when about an hour and a half after that he tried to take this weapon from this female soldier by being -- before being shot by two of her colleagues. at paris airports which you see regularly are these sorts of patrols. paris, all of france remains in a state of high alert as a result of the terrorist threat that continues to remain extremely high. that's what the french president
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with angela merkel. in friday's joint press event with merkel -- trump was asked by a german reporter about his claim that president obama used a british intelligence agency to surveil trump tower. trump pinned the claim on fox news analyst judge andrew napolitano. >> we said nothing. all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. i didn't make an opinion on it. that was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on fox. and so you shouldn't be talking to me. you should be talking to fox. >> all right. i want to bring in our senior media correspondent host of "reliable sources" brian stelter. brian, fox rather quickly respond and separated itself with its analyst's comments. so very interesting given what has been a rather cozy
relationship lately between fox and trump. >> that's right. the president's favorite network but it's not often you hear any president say go talk to that cable channel. this is their issue, not mine. here's the deal, fred. the network's top judicial and lisa apparently heard this information from unidentified source ez has. he went on the air a few more times during the week and talked about it as if it was fact. apparently he stands by the story but fox does not. the news room at fox says it cannot krosh great it. here's what shepard smith said on the air on fox. >> fox news cannot confirm judge napolitano's commentary. knox news knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the united states was surveilled at anytime in any way full stop. >> full stop. can't get any more clear than that. did you notice how he referred to commentary? he was saying the judge was just talking about his own opinion or his own analysis.
wasn't actually reporting. the thing is, fred, the judge shared this information on both fox talk shows and freight up newscasts and presented it as if fox news, the news room had gotten this information from really powerful anonymous sources. he said it repeatedly monday and tuesday. and then the white house repeated it on thursday and that's what caused this international incident. >> right. and then you know, this morning with his tweet calling it fake news but clearly he does watch something other than fox because he doesn't equate fake news with fox but he knows that there has been reporting globally especially on the dynamics between he and angela merkel yesterday, whether it be examining the body language, whether it be his response to these comments. or these questions coming from german reporters. can you also help kind of set the stage why there are some viewers who don't understand how it is that the german reporters went for the jugular on the wiretapping questions and not the u.s. reporters who are
usually picked by you know the president and their camp on whose questions will be enter and ied in that kind of setting? >> you're right about that. it was the two german reporters who asked tougher questions in this press conference with merkel and trump. american reporters asked about health care. important topics but i think the wiretapping issue is what made the most news in the press conference and those questions where is asked by german reporters. i think what this ultimately comes down to is that president trump, you know in some ways is a fox news presidency. he watches pop of a lot. he tweets about fox. he gives most interviews to fox. he hires former fox staffers. he peddles information from fox. so he's in this feedback loop with one particular outlet. he's especially getting information from the opinion programs on the network which clearly skew to the right. they skew conservative. you know, i think it's the same advice we would share with anybody. the same advice we would share with viewers. if you hear something and you're
inclined to believe it because it sounds true and backs up your point of view, that's when you want to double or triple check and find out if it's actually true. in this case, the white house was promoting something from the judge that it sort of wanted it to be true because it boosted the president's position maybe he was wiretapped and in fact, napolitano was quoting intel sources presumably the kind of intel sources that now work for president trump. this all comes back to the question you asked two weeks ago. why hasn't the president tried to declassify these reports that try to prove him right? he hasn't because there doesn't seem to be any evidence he's right. here we are still wondering why he tweeted those things about former president obama and why there's no evidence to back it up. >> why he wants to come across as not having access 0 information abinstead relying selective reports. >> selective, that's the right word. he's choosing. picking and choosing. by the way, i want the
politicians here to be watching cable news. this channel, fox, all of them. but president trump has access to the best intel in the world. that's not going dob on television. it's going to be secret private information only he has access to. >> all right. brian stelter, thank you so much. we'll be watching more of you, brian, tomorrow on cnn's "reliable sources" at 11:00 a.m. eastern time. coming up, president trump is confident his health care bill will pass. why even his allies in congress are having their doubts. that's straight ahead healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before me leading wherever i choose. the east and the west are mine. the north and the south are mine. all seems beautiful to me. to take advantage of this offer on a volvo s90, visit your local dealer.
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