tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN March 22, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. cnn has learned the fbi has information that indicates associates of donald trump communicated with people known as russian operatives to coordinate release s information about the hillary clinton campaign. and new questions about former campaign manager paul manafort. the white house is scrambling to change the subject. but what happens if americans lose faith in their president? and could there be a deal on the gop bill to repeal and replace obamacare? new details on the fbi investigation in individuals and deals with russian government. pamela, what are you learning? >> we learned the fbi has
information, intelligence that indicates associates of president donald trump communicated with suspected russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to hillary clinton's campaign, according to u.s. officials we've spoken with. as you recall, fbi director james comey made bombshell announcement monday before congress that the fbi is investigating the trump campaign's tying to russia. so fbi is reviewing the information. including human intelligence, travel, business and phone records, accounts of in-person meeting. information raised suspicions of fbi counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place but officials caution this information is not conclusive and investigation is ongoing. fbi would not comment nor who the white house but trump officials denied evidence of collusion. >> gives us more insight into
what comey knew when he spoke on monday at those hearings. >> exactly right. if you recall in addition to comey saying the investigations include looking at connections to trump associates, he also explained what it means that the investigation is being done. take a listen. >> don't you need some action or some information besides just attending a meeting, having been paid to attend a conference, that a picture was taken or you traveled to country before you're open to investigation for counterintelligence by the fbi? >> the standard is, there's a couple different at play. credible alley gation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe that an american may be acting as agent of a foreign power. >> and one law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests quote people connected to the campaign were in contact and appear they were given the thumbs up to release
information when it was ready. end quote. but other u.s. officials who spoke to cnn say it's premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it's largely circumstantial. the fbi can't prove collusion took place but information suggests collusion is large focus of the investigation, these officials told us. >> what sord of coordination is under investigation here? >> mostly the fbi is focused on the stolen published e-mails starting last july by wikileaks, including the dnc and clinton campaign's john podesta, his e-mails released through wikileaks. said the information not drawn from the leaked dossier of unverified information compiled by former british intelligence official compiled for trump's political opponents but it al
suggested coordination. >> do we know who is being investigated? >> sources would not say who connected to the trump campaign was being investigated but do know the fbi has been investigating four former trump associates. michael flynn, paul manafort, roger stone and carter page. done a lot of reporting on these individuals. some of the scrutiny now is for their contacts with russians known to u.s. intelligence. all four denied improper contacts. one of the obstacles the fbi faces on finding conclusive intelligence is communications between trump associates and russians have ceased in recent months given the public focus on ties to the campaign and reporting that different outlets are doing. hard for the fbi to follow
communications because now changed it. not communicating through the same methods as before. >> thank you shimon and pamela. bring in john fredericks. radio host and former spokesman for the trump campaign. and executor editor of -- and author of "trump nation: being the donald" bakari serlz and -- lot to unpack. michael first. tonight the fbi has information indicating that associates of the president communicated with suspected russian operatives and may have been to coordinate the release of information to damage hillary clinton. what is your reaction in light of everything else we've learned and director comey's testimony on monday? >> on the one hand it's clearly
serious, ramped up to extreme levels here, think primarily because of director comey's testimony which stunned everybody that there's active investigation of this and going back to since last july, well before the election. but on the other hand, it is exceedingly frustrating, listen to the report that pamela just did. we don't know which associates we're talking about. we don't know what the nature of this communication -- these communications were. we don't know with whom they were communicating. so there are so many unanswered questions here that, you know, it is very hard to draw firm conclusions from a report like this. and i think the real danger here is as we continue to report on matters such as this without hard answers, hard evidence, you
know, there's a danger that the public at some point may throw up its hands and say we don't know what to make of this. >> right. >> one quick point to add. mentioned stone, manafort, page, michael flynn. all of them, now, given comey's testimony, have grounds to take the fifth amendment when they're called to testify before congress so we may not hear from any of them. without an actual witness to testify about what happened it's going to make it very hard to reach a resolution. >> juliet, heard you say many times there's often a lot of circumstantial evidence and no smoking gun and no conclusion should be drawn from that. down that? >> right and may just be the nature how long that's cases take. don't work on cable news time.
patience is warranted here. series of coincidences -- no longer coincidences. can't say with straight face all different pieces can be explained away by leaks and mean people who don't like donald trump. two points quickly. what he said about the four witnesses potentially pleading fifth, i think it's likely one won't. if one happened to lie to fbi, story changed, information about them, there will be a deal that the fbi will offer. that's often how these cases unfold. may be flynn, manafort, page. less likely page but should be looking out for that. that's what i suspect is the next shoe to drop. another key point that is relevant to the manafort story. comey offered voluntarily unprompted this note, intelligence community and fbi do not recognize a distinction
between government and nongovernment agents in russia. in other words they view the oligarchs all supported by putin and rich because of him as essentially agents of the state. may not be ties to the government but ties through the oligarchy system they're looking at. >> hear from a trump supporter. john you're a staunch defender, are you concerned about unexplained ties? do you want more answers? >> i think this investigation has gone on nine months. like having a baby. they have no information, not one scintilla of proof on anything. james clapper already says there's no collusion but bottom line on people like paul manafort. when campaign started, manafort didn't know donald trump, and vice-versa. if paul manafort got into taxi in midtown manhattan and jumped
in trump's lap and called him daddy, he wouldn't know who he is. had no contact. hired him to do a job. with the campaign about six weeks. i was with the campaign from day one. >> wouldn't hire to be campaign manager, would think vetted him. >> when allegations came out he fired him. i talked to korey louen do youski every day for 18 months and after manafort, i talked to kellyanne conway and -- any day. never talked to paul manafort one time. little involvement. >> with you but -- hold on go back from interview to interview on this network with manafort talking about influence in the campaign and trump talking about how influential he was for the campaign. maybe didn't speak to you as radio personality or someone in virginia who helped with the
campaign. doesn't mean didn't have involvement. >> he was campaign manager for a short period of time. as soon as the allegations came out, the day they came out. trump fired him. >> sound like sean spicer. >> because he's telling the truth. this guy as soon as donald trump found out what was going on about paul manafort allegedly, he fired him. i don't know what else you could ask him to do. >> did not happen that quickly. here is sean spicer, what he said about paul manafort. >> there's been discussion of paul manafort who played a limited role for limited amount of time. hired to oversee the campaign's delegate operation. played a significant role in the convention and delegate operations for previous republican nominees. bob dole, h.w. bush, ronald reagan and gerald ford. >> did manafort serve for
limited time with limited influence? >> i appreciate the guest tonight and sean spicer attempting to spin this. the problem is evidence is mounting up in greater numbers than paul manafort. americans are not stupid. we know he was campaign manager. to say insignificant figure is spinning at best, lying at worst. doesn't explain michael flynn, carter page or roger stone. when you have all these ties to russia and mounting evidence, it is circumstantial to his point but you can't ignore it. what donald trump and his supporters and surrogates would be berchtial doing is put the country first for once. right-wing radio hosts like to talk about patriotism but not implement. we have to be patriots and ask
for special prosecutor to look at this. not about me versus you, d versus r or black versus white, anything else chlgs this is agents of foreign country attempting to undermine our democracy. should take it seriously. >> kellyanne conway claims that donald trump didn't know or work with two of his advisers carter page or j.d. gordon also linked to russia. >> raise an excellent point in the case of mr. page, mr. gordon, others, have attenuated contacts to the campaign that i managed for the last three months. spoken directly to the president and other senior officials. he didn't know these gentlemen, didn't work with them. sean spicer addressed this in his briefing. he's absolutely right. others more involved in the campaign that seem to be of interest but where is the nexus? people are quick to make that
nexus. >> play what donald trump said to "the washington post" editorial board. >> during the week be announcing some names. >> anything you can start off with this morning with us? >> i hadn't thought in terms of doing it. could give you some names. wouldn't mind. ferris who you probably know. ph.d., adviser to the house of representatives caucus and is a counterterrorism expert. carter page, ph.d. george pap dop loss, oil and energy consultant. excellent guy. honorable joe smits, inspector general at department of defense. lieutenant general keith kellogg
and i have quite a few more. >> kellyanne conway said attenuated relationships with the campaign but out of all the names said carter page. beginning of the interview. >> yeah but i don't think donald trump ever deeply involved in foreign policy to begin with. could have been pulling names out of his hat. one of the things we're forgetting is lot of the attention on russia invited by recognize himself. during the campaign invited russian hackers to look at hillary clinton. openly praised way vladimir putin has operated in eastern europe and presided over russia. it's not just his advisers at issue here but trump's own statements invited this scrutiny. some is because he's cavalier with the facts. never been a student of foreign
policy. gotten in over his head repeatedly whenever he kmentz, north korea or russia. but place he's in now, all the grandstanding he did on russia during the campaign is coming back on him. he'll have to answer that and advisers too it's real issue. >> fork in the road. health care bill, going to get passed my gut says but a lot of deal making to do. said going to do one thing, repeal and replace, make it better. everyone covered. not happening and freedom caucus don't like some parts. moderates don't like others. and new poll of approval rating at 37%. does he understand the danger now in his presidency because of false claims and words? >> i think the rubber will meet the road on his presidency
around the economy and jobs. i think his base may not care a whit about russian allegations or other things in the immediate kwla but do care if deliver things they want like health care and whether or not he can deliver on the job propositions. >> says president trump has a credibility problem and on the verge of being a fake president. from the "washington post." appreciate it. thanks for the conversation. coming back, intelligence committee member who says we need independent to investigate the russian connection. announcer: get on your feet for the nastiest bull in the state of texas. ♪ ♪
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like to get your reaction from the reporting we have tonight that the fbi has information indicating associates of the president communicated with suspected russian operatives and it may have been to coordinate the release of information to damage hillary clinton. what do you make of this news. >> don, these are the individuals we've continued to connect the dots on. have had deep personal and political, financial ties to russia particularly at time when russia was interfering with our elections. we laid all of this out. feels like forever ago. we asked the fbi pursue all leads and if worked with russia, hold them accountable. >> you're on the house intelligence committee. play b what colleague devin nunes said today. >> recently confirmed on numerous occasions the intelligence committee collected
information about u.s. citizens involved in the trump transition. details of those associated with the administration, details with little or no intelligence values widely disseminated in reporting. third confirmed additional names of trump transition members were unmasked. fourth and finally, want to be clear, none of this surveillance related to russia or investigation of russian activities or of the trump team. >> you said that the president's communications were incidentally collected but then says possible. was it collected or possible? >> i don't know the answer to that. i know there was incidental collection regarding president-elect and his team. i don't know if it was physically physically a phone call. >> so what do you think of that?
>> he's conflicted himself out. that's disappointing. i always liked that intelligence committee is one where we're collaborative and independent. today the chairman betrayed independence and collaboration that the american people are counting on us to show at trying time in our country. should have told members of the committee first, not the president who with his campaign is subject to fbi criminal investigation for what happened with russia. this is reason we need independent commission to get to the bottom of what happened and how to get out of this mess and promise americans it will never happen again. >> a number of false narratives going around. if you read the transcript of what he said, no explains the president's tweets or none said u.s. citizens surveilled or member of the trump team. this is collateral information collected because foreign agent was being surveilled. two different versions of the
story. nunes says president trump may have been surveilled. adam schiff says most names were masked and manu raju reports this was gossip among the transition team. what is the real story? >> president trump not wiretapped or surveilled by president obama. this was a stunt, distraction in the middle of a week where americans are starting to realize there are serious questions around the president's team and what happened with russian interference. now our investigation is on life support and only way to get to the bottom of this is independent commission. look what happened? attorney general lied during his confirmation hearing twice when asked about prior connections to russia. had to recuse himself. now the chairman we worked with so far collaboratively on this,
he too rushed over to the white house, acting as donald trump's lawyer and jeopardized the independence of the committee. >> has he explained why he didn't come to you first? >> no. it's really out of character for him. we passed cybersecurity bill and intelligence authorization bill under his leadership. his best days. today has been his worst. not judge someone on the worst day. see what happened when we convene tomorrow. does he show us he can lead us in collaborative way. >> you don't believe he should be part of the investigation anymore? >> unless he convinces us otherwise, it's conflict of interest to go to the white house where the president, we learned, and his team subject of a criminal investigation. >> subject of the investigation. that's why democrats and republicans wondering why he would do that.
looked like partisan political effort. can we talk about health care? we're hearing there's a possible deal in the works with the freedom caucus and likelihood of the bill getting passed in a more positive category now. what do you think? >> i think so far everything we've seen, this bill is bad, going to make people sicker and poorer and donald trump has threatened that people will pay a political price. i'm worried about the price at doctor's office. there's ways to improve the affordable care act, he hasn't come to the democrats yet. promised to be a great leader and businessman. we're still waiting. hope it fails. >> you hope it fails but do you think it will pass? do you think the gop will say we have to pass it? >> no. i don't think it will pass. >> appreciate your time. coming back, what we know and don't know about paul manafort and russia.
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about past business ties to russia. drew griffin has the story. >> alleged russian connections won't go away. tonight another possible connection linking former champaign chief to russian oligarch and putin himself. dug up by associated press. reporting 2005 memo in which paul manafort working for russian billary oleg baz pushing greatly benefit vladimir putin. says he did work for him but rejects that he was pushing political interests of vladimir putin. including influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the united states. i have always publicly acknowledged that i worked for mr. deripsska and his company
rusal, to advantage its interests. once again manafort writes, smear and inwenuendo used to pat a false picture. provided investment consulting services but declined additional details. manafort and russian billionaire had a falling out. funneled money into manafort business venture registered in the cayman islands but deal went south. according to filing, company says manafort simply disappeared. white house spokesman sean spicer this afternoon downplaying any connection this has to the president. >> he was consultant, clients
all over the world, no suggestion he did anything improper but to suggest president knew who his clients were from a decade ago is a bit insane. hired to job, he did it. that's it. plain and simple. >> latest russian headache for the trump administration. cnn rooeported that fbi is investigating possible connections. manafort fired by trump campaign on august 19th, same day fbi announced manafort was involved in another investigation and another possible connection to russia. this time his consulting work for pro-russian former president of the ukraine victor yan cove itch who had to plea. opened investigation in corruption and money laundering.
after manafort's name appeared on ledger of secret payments. manafort denies he ever took money illegally from money. denies pushing russian agenda in ukraine and now denies connection with russian billionaire had anything to do with plan to enrich russian president vladimir putin. >> what is unclear right now is just how aggressively the fbi is really looking into it. while it's true cnn is reporting fbi is investigating communications between russians and trump campaign officials including paul manafort, as of last month manafort said he had yet to be contacted by the fbi. today he said he looks forward to meeting those conducting what he called serious investigation into this so he can discuss the actual facts.
>> bring in matthew chance, live in moscow. paul manafort, former campaign manager admitted he worked with this russian billionaire with close ties to vladimir putin. what more can you tell us about that? >> yeah. ol egg is one of the oligarchs who rose to wealth and power in the 1990s after the breakup of the soviet union. he was second biggest at one point produce every of aluminum in the world. incredibly influential and successful businessman in the russia that formed after the collapse of the soviet union. not had acknowledgment from either rusal, the company, or paul manafort there was anything other than business agreement between them.
rusal has told cnn it was consulting advice paid for from manafort, business interests of daripaska. no confirmation there was pushing russian policy or promoting russian interests or nullifying russian figures in the region which is allege in the report. >> you're speaking to people in moscow. what are they saying about the constant attention with putin, trump and u.s. relations? >> i think russians are frustrated with it. both people you meet on the street and russian government. kremlin for its part said it never saw the trump administration through rose tinted spectacles. never had idealistic view what they could deliver. but for many months donald trump
was heralded in the russian media as savior for russia. spoke symthetically about pro russian policies on range of issues and frustration and disappointment he's not been able to deliver on any of those words he's talked about. recognizing crimea as part of russia, cooperating over terrorism. behind the frustration is a great deal of fear. already rocky relationship between washington and moscow under obama is potentially not going to change and maybe get worse in the coming years. coming back, more and more unanswered questions about the russia connection. but what was moscow hoping to gain? pour it through brita's two-stage filter...
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cnn has learned that fbi has information that indicates that trump associates communicated with suspected russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to hillary clinton's campaign. according to u.s. officials. michael weiss is here. juliet c juli juliet chiem, and -- good to have you all. juliette start with you. reaction to the breaking news? what do you make of it? >> it confirms where comey was
hinting on monday. him recognizing and acknowledging there was investigation of members of the trump team is the -- only conclusion is there's investigation related to russia and potential collusion. that we have to take as fact because comey is leading investigation at this stage. now that others are confirming that to the media just to put another marker down. i believe one of the reasons comey came out so strongly on monday -- he didn't need to. i was shocked. thought would be a nothing hearing. one of the reasons he came out was to protect the investigation, put a public statement out there that this thing was going on. when you saw what nunes did today on the house intel side we know why comey was worried about the investigation being compromised or others trying to stop it. monday to me was the beginning of what will be a long series of pieces of data that will eventually lead to -- fill in
the blank. i don't know yet. i don't know if we have collusion but can't dismiss all the data points. i don't think anyone rationally can anywhere. >> carl bernstein believes there's a cover-up under way. do you believe there's evidence of that? >> they're certainly acting like they have something to hide. flynn lying about the conversations with kislyak. and -- could argue doing it because realized having too frequent communications with the russians is indecorous but all they had to do was say we talked to them, so what? incoming administration, want to reset relations. there's no there there. it's the lie that gets you in
the end. >> they didn't say it initially but people defending them say it's within their rights to speak -- >> it is. there is nothing wrong with seeing the russian ambassador, question is what are you discussion and offering as recompense for some russian deal not to png american officials living in moscow, et cetera. >> speaking of the response from the white house and trump administration, do you believe the white house has done enough to come clean about any ties to russia or speaking to russia? today sean spicer asked if he could assure the american people no one in the white house was worktion in the interests of foreign nation all he could say is everyone filled out forms and he couldn't vouch for them beyond that. >> can you say with certainty right now there is nobody working for this white house presently working in the interest of a foreign
government? >> i can tell you every form has been filled out. >> so you trust -- >> absolutely. you got -- people filling out forms. sit and ask me to vouch for a few hundred people filled out everything, ridiculous for me to suggest i possibly could. under the penalty of law every single person filled out form vetted by whatever level of classification they need to get from fas classification and hr entities. i can't prevent somebody from fully disclosing something on taxes or filling out form. but if instance of something brought to our attention. referred to law enforcement or dismissed or action will be taken. there's no tolerance for that. >> are you okay -- is that a satisfactory answer to you? >> i think it is. i don't know what more they could do. people are vetted, investigated
when at proper classification level and fill out forms. if they lie on the forms, white house is in the process of not just hiring several hundred people but i think 4,000 patronage jobs altogether. but i got to take offense and push back on the cover-up idea. i don't see there's anything to cover-up. i know there's longing for good old days of watergate with the white house up to something and where is the missing bean but think the democrats are getting themselves worked into a froth about this way too early. fbi -- >> democrats want to pin their hopes on this, they've got to do the work right? got to do the work. i understand where you're going with it. there is some truth to that. but again as -- there are a lot of people who have had communications with russians, all they have to do is come
clean or say there's no there there. but i got to get liz in. >> it's beyond just having communications with the russian ambassador as mike pointed out. what are they talking about? with flynn came out they were discussing sanctions inappropriately. he wasn't in a position at that time to be discussing sanctions at that time. >> we -- he didn't talk about sanctions. >> there's this pattern of those that talk with the russian ambassador and they start talking in pro-russian talking points essentially. >> i have to say what are you talking about? when did jeff sessions -- what was the pro-russian thing that jeff sessions that talked to kislyak started being pro-russian about. he was not asked if he met with him. >> yeah he volunteered the
information and denied ever meeting kislyak. so there's that. >> he said -- recused himself. >> that is not exactly what al franken asked. asked for contact between the trump campaign and officials and jeff sessions said there was no contact. >> if there was, would you recuse yourself. >> he asked was there contact and sessions said no when he had met with kislyak twice. do you have the tape. >> let's get off jeff sessions, so much other sketchy characters that met with kislyak. >> good a
carter page was not with the campaign -- >> that's a good example. >> he was not on the transition team. >> very little influence and worked for the campaign for a short amount of time. >> he was the chairman of the campaign. it's not good for america to spit out these talking points because america wants to know. the whole point of the investigation is to figure out the set of russian interference into our election and the collaboration between trump officials and russian officials. that is the story. that is the story. and i know trump surrogates don't want to know this. >> please stop. no one can hear when everybody is talking at the same time. that says we are missing the simple explanation in all of this. >> people want to turn this into a partisan issue.
i remember when james comey was in the democratic party for giving a press conference about hillary clinton's e-mails and saying it is still open because of anthony wiener. this is a registered republican, but before anything else, he is a top counter intelligence official. testifies before congress in a congressional setting and restrained matter. yes, it's true. the fbi and the department of justice is investigating the trump campaign with possible ties with agents of the foreign government, namely russia. as part of a counter intelligence investigation we are looking into possible acts of criminality. people within the white house or the transition team may have been guilty of espionage. that means looking at the infiltration of a foreign government into the american political system. that is your top line. the fbi takes this seriously enough to wage an investigation that has been ongoing since july
and before donald trump got the nomination to be the republican nominee. everything else -- >> that's an american issue. michael is right. >> the investigation is not over yet. >> it's amazing how the media has all these dots connected and looking at it since july. >> says you. >> i want to know, my question is and we have to go. everybody wants to vet these people from other countriecountt they can't vet americans who will be working on behalf of us? >> i might be a russian spy on their application. >> we will put that. thank you all. that's it for us tonight. see you back here tomorrow. hi. i'm jeff. in my johnsonville commercial we open up in the forest. i'm eating my breakfast and all of a sudden a raccoon come up and ask me, "what are you eating?"
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the dinosaurs' extinction... got you outnumbered. don't listen to them. not appropriate. now i'm mashing these potatoes with my stick of butter... why don't you sit over here. something for everyone is awesome. find your awesome with the xfinity stream app. more to stream to every screen. >> good evening and thanks for joining us. we begin with a cnn exclusive. new details of the fbi investigation to potential leaks with the trump campaign and the russian government. pamela brown is joins us