tv CNN Newsroom With Ana Cabrera CNN March 19, 2017 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
your live in the cnn newsroom. i'm ana cabrera in new york. up first tonight, counting down to a dramatic day on capitol hill, was there collusion between russia and the trump campaign during the 2016 election? and is there any evidence to support president trump's still unsubstantiated wiretap claims, just hours from now, fbi director james comey will testify before the house intelligence committee. and sources say a classified report from the justice department to house and senate investigators also does not confirm that claim, but the president refuses to back down. let's bring in cnn washington
correspondent ryan nobles and cnn crime and justice reporter. lawmakers are at odds right now over the extent of russia's meddling in the election, but they do seem to be on the same page on the wiretap allegations, don't they? >> that's true, ana, and if we're looking for a moment of clarity, it could be on that exact topic. fbi director james comey may be given the opportunity to say that there's no evidence to back up that wiretapping claim. listen to both republican and democratic lawmakers on the sunday talk shows addressing that very topic. >> was there a physical wiretap of trump tower? but, no, there never was? >> no evidence to support the president's claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor. >> we have not seen any evidence of the like that you just describe. >> have you seen any evidence to support that allegation? >> not that i'm aware of.
>> that's three republicans and one democrat in that segment that said that there's no evidence to back up the president's claim. the white house still has yet to back away from this. in fact they have made firm in their belief that eventually this evidence will come to light. ana, we'll have to see if the fbi director makes a declarative statement about it tomorrow if that perhaps changes the position of the donald trump administration. >> i know you're getting more information from your -- what can we expect to hear both by the wiretap claims and the russian investigation. >> i think first about the wiretap claims, i think we will in fact hear from the fbi director give a definitive answer on what the fbi was doing, on that answer of wiretapping and that answer is expected to be no. and on this surveillance issue, there's this sort of muddled theory behind the surveillance and was there something going on at trump tower and i think the
fbi director is prepared to answer that and we'll knock that down. will that be the final say? who knows? i these the other issue about russia meddling, influencing, i don't think we'll hear much about that part of the fbi's investigation tomorrow. that is still ongoing, it's in one of the most secretest part of the fbi, the counter terrorism division, so i don't think we'll give much rest to those theories tomorrow. >> it won't satisfy a lot of people who will be watching. ryan and shimon thank you both. we have analysts ready to talk about -- analyst to former presidents nixon and reagan.
all right, david, we're not even two months into trump's presidency, we're now waiting anxiously for the fbi director to testify on trump's wiretapping claim, communications between russia and trump campaign associates, if that is true. can you try to put some perspective on this for us, in historical context, has another president faced this kind of scrutiny so early in his presidency? >> i don't remember any president who's had this kind of beginning to a presidenciy or faced this much scrutiny, especially under oath. jerry ford when he pardoned richard nixon within the first three months of his presidency, he had to go up and he volunteered to go up and answer questions on the hill. but it wasn't this kind of did you mislead the country, did you tell us the truth, flat out with a tweet and director comey, the
fbi director has not publicly been under questioning. this will be the first time he's taken the stand. his assistants have said that he wanted the justice department to disavow these tweets, but the reason for this hearing and why there's so much drama to it, is that this is the first time we'll hear from the fbi director himself and he can settle it once and for all. and it's a very important question. and the auxiliary question, whether there was wiretapping or some other type of surveillance going on, he needs to answer the question on that. on the bigger, harder, longer term question about what the russian interference was, what we really want to know is do you have investigations ongoing, is there more than one? there have been reports of three, and how long are they likely to take? one of my sources on capitol hill says this whole investigation may go up until august of this year, so i think we'll be looking for answers but we will get fewer answers on the question of the russian enghajt.
>> and that's echoing what we just heard from shimon as well and what his contacts are telling him. i want you to take a listen to what house intelligence committee chairman nunes said this morning on the connections between russia and trump. >> have you seen any evidence of any collusion between what i'll call trump world, associates, campaign officials, trump world and the russians to swing the 2016 presidential election? >> i'll give you a very simple answer. >> no. >> no evidence of any collusion? >> no evidence. >> this is half talking, getting this information from the fbi. >> up to speed on everything i have up until this morning, no evidence of collusion. >> so he was very firm on all the evidence or paper, the classified briefings he's had, no evidence of collusion, chris. now the ranking member of that committee, congressman adam
schiff, a democrat disagreed said there's circumstantial evidence of collusion. how important is it that james comey or nsa director mike rogers who will be at that hearing tomorrow clears this up? >> i think in an idealed world it would be helpful if we got clari clarity. but i think you're much less likely to get satisfaction in terms of everything being tied up in a nice bow on russia than you are potentially on wiretapping. what's amazing, i think this is evidence of the self-inflicted wounds that donald trump regularly inflicts upon himself. if we didn't have this thing that he set off a month and a day ago with the tweet on wiretapping, potentially he would gets some good news tomorrow, maybe james comey would say we don't have evidence on collusion, and then you have the wiretapping coming in here, when you have nevernever--a
republican from texas saying trump should apologize, there's no evidence of this. so it's him being his own worst enemy on a day where he could get some clarity on an issue that might help him and help the country? instead you have this wiret wiretapping omen and cloud hanging over everything. >> which thens to make him look like a liar. >> j.d., throughout the campaign, it seemed like throughout his base, trump could do no wrong, is that still the case? >> i think he can certainly do wrong, the question is whether the things he does wrong actually hurt him politically. the funny thing is that the story that's going to dominate the headlines tomorrow, which of course is going to be the russia stuff and the wiretapping claim, may not be the issue that actually hurts him the most with his core voters or the rest of the american people, which is the impending vote on the american health care act on thursday. even though this story is sort of the dark cloud that hangs over the trump administration, so long as it keeps the focus
off of a bill that appears right now to be very unpopular, it may be in a sort of weird twist of fate something that may benefit him prettically. >> i hadibility thought about that, and while trump sometimes is distracting and while he had no control of this particular timing, i guess, of the hearing, it could work in his favor as you point out in that way. so david, how real is the democrats' here that this hearing may be happening too fast when we're talking about the timing here, that if comey does not confirm ties here between russia and the trump campaign, or because it's an on going situation, perhaps the situation is closed, nothing to see here, no fire? >> i think that's what we need to know. i think we're going to gets a much more definitive statement on the wiretapping, i think that's likely going to be the
headline out of it. very interesting point. the news cycle moves so swiftly here, this is going to be in the news cycle monday, tuesday, and wednesday, and on thursday we're going to be talking about health care again, i don't think it's going to resolve or keep the focus off health care. health care is going to be a big issue being talked about in the next new days. but james comey could signal there's ongoing investigation, and it would be inappropriate to tell you exactly where we are and he's got to leave some ambiguity or some uncertainty whether ultimately he may find collusion, because he may not have completed the task. on the other hand, if he comes in tomorrow and says we're basically wrapped up and there's nothing here folks, that's huge, the major issue hanging over all
of this is this peculiar relationship between donald trump and the russians, and it has all sorts of ramifications. the possible ties between the russians and the trump team. >> chris, let's remember too, fbi director james comey faced a lot of criticism from democrats from the public comments on clinton's email investigation during the campaign. do you think that issue will affect how he handles his testimony tomorrow? >> he would say no, but i don't know how it couldn't. by the end of the campaign, it seemed like there were three people running, donald trump, hillary clinton and james comey, the fact of when he said it, why he did he say it, should he have said it. if you talk to the hillary
clinton people, they'll say it clearly hurt us. they're none too happy about james comey. these people are human beings, they are affected just like everybody else by circumstance. he has had a searing last six months in the public eye, facing criticism from both sides. i'm interested to see how he handles it. i generally think when he speaks publicly, he's quite impressive. but david makes that point, we have not heard from him. we have heard from back channels that he was very unhappy with the wiretapping claim, that it was false, that the justice department should come out and say it was false. this is his chance, so he can make good on that, he can come out and say, from everything i know, this was in fact not true. that would put more and more pressure on donald trump. it doesn't mean donald trump's going to apologize, because he doesn't do that necessarily. but it would be a very public
rebuke from a very senior person. >> our colleague malika henderson wrote i have a take on this wiretapping claim and why trump may have done it. quote, as with birtherism, it's trump against almost everybody, a vantage point that allows him to constantly be embattled, pop list outsider even as he lives in the white house. >> one of the difficult things that republicans have learned of course in the past couple of months as speaker ryan himself said is it's much harder to be the governing party, than it is to the opposition party, if you're the of situation party, you can just lob bombs, you can be critical of everything everyone else is doing but you're never held accountable for -- it's obviously harder to be the change agent when you are the president of the united
states. i do think one thing this con stand controversy brings to the trump administration is this sense of conflict, and in that conflict, you can really make those oppositional arguments that maybe would be harder to make it you were just focused on governing and the media were commenting on whether you're successful or unsuccessful as a president. cnn is going to bring you a preview of fbi director james comey testifying on the hill by russia and the wiretapping claims, john berman anchors a special program tonight at 11:00 p.m. eastern. still ahead on our show, coming up it's been one year since then-president obama nominated marick garland to fill the ninth supreme court seat. and president trump ordered to serve all documents on russia.
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judge neil gorsuch is all set to testify before the senate judiciary committee tomorrow for his first day of confirmation hearings, and if confirmed, gorsuch would become the first supreme court court clerk to take the bench while one of his former bosses, justice anthony kennedy is actually still sitting on the high court. but with trump's travel ban possibly headed to the supreme court, his confirmation could become a political football.
richard blumenthal has not ruled out a possible filibuster based on a litmus test. here's what he said this morning. >> not only filibuster, but use every tool that we have if he is in fact out of the main stream in that way. remember, we're talking about a well established long established precedent, roe v. wade certainly fits that description, and that kind of out of the main stream thinking will cause media filibuster and every tool i have at my discretion to use. >> thanks so much, david for sticking around, you just heard senator blumenthal, for so many years, the senate refused to hold confirmation hearings for obama's supreme court pick. >> their anger is justified, it
was unprecedented essentially to block the garland appointment for such a long time. that said, i must tell you, ana, that president trump has chosen a man in gorsuch who by all -- by the assessment of most people who have talked to him and studied his record is within the conservative main stream, he's not way out in the fringes, and he's well qualified for the post. he seems to be a humble man. and i think his rollout, it's probably one of the best day president trump has had was the rollout of the gorsuch nomination. so i think that unless there's some blockbuster information that hasn't yet come to light, judge gorsuch is going to become the next member of the supreme court. what we don't know is if it's going to require a filibuster. i think it's a hard choice for
the democrats about whether they want to go all out on the gorsuch nomination or recognize that this is so main stream that you're not going to able to block it. >> given your expertise and just your history in the white house, are there any parallels between gorsuch and the robert bourque situation? >> no, i don't think -- robert bourque had much more explosive views, he was much more of a dissenter. he was much more way out of the main stream, his views eventually carried a lot of weight within republican circles. but that was a much more controversial nomination, this one is relatively uncontroversial. and to be honest with you, there's been so many others that have gone on in the trump administration, like this whole, all the issues we have been just
talking about with the russians, that's given judge gorsuch a free pass, there has been much more focus on the juicier issues. here's the problem that the democrats face, they can't block gorsuch, are they better giving for such a pass -- and do this without a filibuster, so in effect they say, the republicans say, democrats say, we don't oppose everybody the president puts up, but we're going to oppose the next one if he's out of the main stream. this one is in the main stream. they may gain some leverage with the public and with the next choice, when it comes to somebody in the main stream, they're not going to block it. >> our supreme court reporter,
when you look behind the curtain of who is neil gorsuch, our supreme court reporter says that justice kennedy was judge gorsuch's mentor. so what does that tell you about how he might impact this court? >> well, i don't think -- i don't think there's any question that he's going to give weight to the conservative side and you're going to expect him to be on the conservative side rather regularly, i think democrats would like to see if he has an independent mind, if he's willing to stand up to the president. and in particular, on questions revolving around immigration, if the president really were to put a ban on the muslim entry, if a current travel case comes up, how will he come out on that? and in addition, i think there's legitimate concern on the part of many democrats that you add a republican and many more soon,
that roe v. wade could be under direct threat. that's the consequence of an election for better or force worse. republicans have been fighting for this. this election was a real gift to the republicans in terms of building a long-term change in our judicial branch. if president obama changed it one way, president trump is very likely going to change it to a more conservative court. >> those i talked to when we were covering the election said that that is the very reason they were voting for trump was because of the supreme court seat. >> you're absolutely right. >> thank you very much for joining us, always good to hear your expertise. coming up, health care holdouts meet with president trump at mar-a-lago. for the 7th time in a row by rootmetrics.
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the white house and republican leaders on capitol hill are hard at work to make sure there's enough gop support to pass their bill to repeal and replace obamacare, there are a lot of conversations going on to try to win over more votes, the president speaking to reporters aboard air force one say things are going well. >> we had meetings over at the southern white house, we had a great weekend. >> how are talks on the health care bill? >> it's going well. several meetings on that. >> reporter: there was a meeting yesterday at mar-a-lago with three republican conservatives who have been pretty vocal on the bill led by senator paul ryan. senator ted cruz came down to mar-a-lago for a three-hour meeting with white house staffers including steve bannon and reince priebus to discuss their concerns and to offer some proposals of their own. it's not clear whether any of their proposals will be part of
the package of amendments being discussed to try to win over more support. the challenge here of course is any changes made to win over more conservative republicans risk alienating more moderate republicans and as of right now, cnn's ongoing whip count shows that there are 26 house republicans who are either leaning no on the bill or have already said flat out they plan to vote no. that's five more than house republicans can afford to lose and get this bill to pass. ana? coming up, as the health care battle heats up, is trump's chief strategist using breitbart to stir things up? didn't recognize our grandson. (woman 2 vo) that's when moderate alzheimer's made me a caregiver. (avo) if their alzheimer's is getting worse, ask about once-a-day namzaric. namzaric is approved for moderate to severe alzheimer's disease
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ultraconservative website breitbart release the audio now? possibly because it could help drive a wedge between president trump and establishment republicans. who are jointly pushing a plan to repeal and replace obamacare. >> i want to thank paul ryan and everybody. >> reporter: it's a plan they like, but many on the far right despise. >> i these they're basically taking the obamacare frame work and call it a republican piece of legislation. >> that is not what we told the american people we were going to do. >> so when the secretary of health and human services said on trump care. >> breitbart shot back fast saying that might be the lie of the year. and this is primarily paul ryan's plan anyway. that is just one way the hard right is hammering the republican establishment for not
being radical enough in its departure from politics as usual. and the president's plan calls for significant cuts from many departments, starting with what the president's own adviser steve bannon has called -- >> deconstruction of the administration state. >> reporter: but that may be hard to come by as long as establishment republicans still hold sway, so it appears the right is hoping to reignite the rancor of the campaign, when trump called ryan weak and ineffective. after all, this was just one year ago. >> how do you like paul ryan? how do you like him? >> boo! >> you don't? >> thanks so much to tom foreman and i'm joined once again by senior media correspondent brian stelter, host of "reliable sources." so what do you make of the timing of these breitbart hits against ryan. >> breitbart said they had this
tape of ryan saying i'm going to defend trump, but they've had it for six months. this was right around the access hollywood video tape. there were rumors about this tape, we had heard this paul ryan had said this, but never actually heard him recorded saying this, until this pivotal moment in these health care negotiations. i think the most obvious theory was breitbart was trying to time this to put pressure on paul ryan, breitbart has been relentless about obamacare-lite or ryan care. and rand paul's concerns about the bill, so the site is trying to hold, i suppose trump and ryan accountable from the right on this health care issue. >> it looks like it's also going trying to distance trump from
the -- even though he says don't call it trump care. >> people are pointing out he said every american will be covered, there will be health care for everyone, access for everyone. president trump is on the record in all sorts of ways. in the public, and in the media, and on the breitbart site. >> do you think steve bannon really is disconnected from breitbart? >> that is a mystery in washington. whether bannon is ever talking with editors a breitbart, whether he's ever feeding information. there's been stories at various times bannon's been angry about the coverage on breitbart, some are saying clearly there's some connection here, we don't know for sure if there's a relationship or not. the deconstruction of the administrative state, i think that's the overlying or the
underlying story. whether it's president trump's budget or this health care fight, it's what conservatism means, for those who are relying on trump to provide better health care. >> bannon being named the enemy and heard paul ryan say this about bannon. >> we're serving a purpose which is to get this agenda passed. so i see a person who i have a common cause and purpose with. >> so it's kind of interesting, what do you make of their relationship and how they have worked to present it to the media? >> you've got bannon, ryan and trump, the "new york times" said marriage of convenience. probably the best way to summarize this. but paul ryan said on thursday, we have a president in the oval office who likes doing deals, who likes making deals, you
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years. the senate intelligence committee has now asked roger stone to preserve any records that might be related to the investigation of the russian meddling in the 2016 election. here's cnn's brian todd. >> >>. >> reporter: he's a long time trump confidant who got his start with richard nixon. tonight key members of congress want to hear from roger stone about his own admitted communications with hackers who tried to disrupt the u.s. election. >> i think he and others need to be questioned. >> reporter: the top senator on the intelligence committee says that he wants to question. gucifer 2.0 is -- it's very likely stone will be called to
testify when the senate intelligence committee holds hearings on russian hacking operations. house leaders aren't saying whether they'll call on stone to testify, but ranking committee member schiff is eager to talk to stone. >> someone affiliated with the campaign having conversations with two of the outlets during the campaign. >> stone left the campaign in august 2015, but twice in 2016, during the campaign, stone claimed to have back channel communications with julian assange, founder of wikileaks. stone said this to show-time. >> you writer stone have said on multiple occasions publicly that you have back channels to assange. >> phone has since explained he got his explanation from a
friend who spoke with sassange but it was not a communication. when john poed december thatpod think it does beg a lot of questions that i would certainly like answered. >> reporter: stone told cnn's gloria borger that prediction was based on his own communications with podesta, not with any communications with wick i can leak. when he exchanged private messages with russia's online personification for hacking. stone told cnn any suggestion otherwise is a quote, fabrication. now stone sees conspiracy in a hit and run accident bends in pompano beach, florida. he told a cnn affiliate that a car that hit the car he was riding in had tinted windows, hit the car and drove off.
>> i think somebody doesn't want me to testify at those hearings. >> it just goes along with stone's flamboyant political style. it's not whether or not the accident happened, it's the >> that was brian todd reporting. thanks to brian. coming up, intense ceremonies. animal sacrifices and spiritual possessions. do i have your attention yet? the host of believer reza aslan joins us with a preview of tonight's brand new episode the mystifying vodou next. (vo) this is not a video game.
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together, we're building a better california. welcome back on tonight's brand new episode of the cnn series "believer" reza aslan visits haiti and takes part in a traditional voodoo ritual. here's a preview. >> this is a voodoo priestess. she will act as my guide. >> first we'll call on the spirits so we could offer them the sacrifice. so, the family is waiting for you. >> the first action in any voudo
ceremony is the drawing. each corresponds. they act as a kind of spiritual beacon inviting the spirit to enter the lacu. >> this is the place for the spirit. make sure that they participate. >> the hope is once a spirit finally descends, it'll take hold of one of us. nobody really knows who in the room will be mounted. >> now we're charging. >> once the bebe's are charged with alcohol, the gate to the spirit world can be unlocked and the call to the spirits can begin. >> reza aslan is joining me. the word vodou, a lot of us think of kind of something dark. is that the reality? >> there is a dark aspect to
vodou. of course it's all about a connection to your world and the spirit world. and not all the spirits are friendly spirits. i encounter unfriendly spirits in this episode. and the kbrd that vodou is about darkness or about demon possession, i think that's of course not true. and what you're really going to see in this episode is i think an exploration of vodou that will show you what a incredible and beautiful faith this actually is. >> huh. i know that you explore vodou, is that widely practiced in haiti? >> it is. there is an old saying that every haitian knows. it's 70% catholic, 30% protestant, and 100% vodou. it gave birth to what we now know as modern haiti. because it is part of the very revolution that actually allowed the haitian slaves to free
themselves of the shackles of the french and create the very first black independent republic in the world, in the americas certainly. >> fascinating. it's an interesting juxtaposition we have on air tonight. moments from now, the brand new episode of "finding jesus." and you wrote about the conflict between christianity and vodou that you found, explain. >> since the earthquake in 2010, that devastated the country, left nearly 300,000 dead. a lot of sort of this christian missionaries have flooded in to the country. many of them were there to do good. many of them were there to feed the poor and to clothe them and to rebuild that country, but a small group of them are there specifically eradicate vodou. they were it's a demonic presence. they think that all of haiti's problems are a result of vodou, including the earthquake. the only way to save the nation
is to just rid of it vodou. and they have done a pretty good job. and what we see is a real clash between these two religions and vodou. in haiti, fighting back trying to take control over this important heritage for their country and for their children. >> interesting. i know some religion scholars that read your piece, suggested that this theology spiritual mapping that the type of christianity we're speaking of is intolerant, racist, what is the reception by those there in haiti who don't share the christian beliefs? >> well, first of all, i think a lot of christians in haiti don't like spiritual mapping. this notion that the entire world is in the grip of a battle between good and evil, angels and demons, and the job of the christian is to go into these demonic places, like haiti, they would say, and to pray out the spirits, to convert the population to christianity. my brother-in-law is an evangelical missionary in haiti. and he doesn't believe any of that stuff, but, a lot of very
wealthy, very powerful evangelical groups do believe it. and they're there not so much to help haitians, they're there to liberate the island in the name of christ. and it has created an enormous amount of conflict and resentment among very poor haitians who practice vodou who feel as though unless they give up their religion, then they can't, you know, get the food or get the help that a lot of these missionaries who practice spiritual mapping are offering them. so, it's a very interesting clash. and we explore it tonight. this is by far my favorite episode, you don't to want miss this one. i'm telling you, this is a good one. >> i find it fascinating and i look forward to watching. thank you for joining us. old religion, new tensions, tune in for "believer" tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern right here at c cnn. coming up next, it's a brand new episode of "finding jesus." sat ga continues with a look at
the childhood home. we have a special program tonight. reviewing tomorrow's hearing with fbi director james comey testifying on russia. my colleague john vernon anchors. great to have your company this weekend. have a great week. nazareth, 2015, one of the greatest discoveries of the century is revealed to the world. could this be the remains of the childhood home of jesus? >> that is entirely possible. >> were these ancient artifacts, the personal belongings of his mother, mary? >> we do know