tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 27, 2017 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT
continent away can still hit home. nick paton walsh, cnn, beirut. >> and that's all for "the lead" tonight. i'm john berman in for jake tea party. time now for wolf blitzer in "the situation room." >> happening now, breaking news, secret meeting. the republican chairman of the house intelligence committee reveals he met with a source inside the white house complex just a day before briefing the president on intelligence he says points to surveillance of the trump transition team. did anyone on president trump's staff know what was going on just steps from the oval office? what classified information was disclosed? we're standing by to talk to chairman devin nunes who will be joining us live. kushner to testify. the leaders of the senate intelligence committee now say president trump's son-in-law jared kushner, one of the president's closest advisers, will testify about newly disclosed meetings he had with a russian diplomat and a
controversial russian banker. he'll answer questions as part of the senate investigation into senate meddling in the presidential election. tonight, new questions about why these meetings were not revealed until now. changing the subject. still smarting from from his defeat on health care president trump gets busy with bill signings, business roundtables and promises of tax reform, but after his stinging loss, who is he willing to work with in washington and what can he really accomplish? and tests and thefts. north korea tests a rocket engine once generation the possibility kim jong-un is making progress on a ballistic missile that could hit the united states. we also have new details pointing to north korea's involvement in a multi-million dollar cyber theft breaking into banks' computers and draining money from the accounts. is the north korean leader becoming more brazen? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
we're following breaking news, new revelations from the house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes about a secret nighttime meeting at a at of owl places the white house complex. a government official tells cnn nunes was seen tuesday night hat the national security offices at the eisenhower executive office building right next door to the west wing and oval office. while nunes won't say whathe learned, the following day he went before reporters and went to the president saying he had new information about possible surveillance of then president-elect trump and his top aides during the transition. this afternoon press secretary zane spicer refused to rule out the possibility that nunes' source came from inside the white house. i'll ask chairman nunes about all of this when he joins me live. that's coming up. also breaking, word from the senate intelligence committee that president trump's senior
adviser and son-in-law jared kushner just volunteered to answer questions for the committee's investigations into the russian activities surrounding the 2016 election. this comes as the white house is now revealing kushner had more undisclosed meetings with russian contacts during the transition than were previously known. we're going to get reaction from democratic senator ben cardin, the top democratin the foreign relations committee, and the our correspondents, analysts and guests, all of them israel have full coverage of the day's top stories. let's begin with our senior congressional reporter manu raju. what are you learning about this nighttime mogot over at the white house complex involving the house intelligence committee chairman? >> reporter: wolf, tonight we are learning that devin nunes did in fact meet with a source on white house grounds where he obtained that information suggesting that some trump team communications may have been picked up by u.s. surveillance on issues up related to russia. now this causing an uproar among
democrats who wondered idea he had to brief the president of the united states on this, even as they are investigating the issue of russia and his ties to the trump campaign. now, nunes also coming under fire for cancelling a tuesday hearing on the issue of russia and instead deciding to have a private briefing with james comey and mike rogers, the head of the national security agency, but today, wolf, those two officials say they are no longer going to brief the committee in a private session. tonight a strange twist in the house intelligence committee's investigation into russia and the trump campaign. chairman devin nunes facing new questions about whether he compromised the investigation by briefing president trump last week on intelligence he says he obtained through a secret source. >> the administration i don't think is aware of this. i want to make sure i go over there an tell them what i know. >> reporter: today nunes revealed he met with the source last week on white house grounds to review the information. a government official said nunes was seen tuesday night at the national security council offices of the eisenhower
executive office building where classified information can be viewed securely. >> we have been kept totally out of the loop. it's just bizarre is not revelation put the white house on the defensive after spokesman sean spicer said this last week when asked if the information came from the white house. >> it doesn't really pass the smell test. >> reporter: today spicer could not rule out that someone on the white house staff may have authorized nunes to review the information in a classified facility. >> i don't know that members of congress need to be cleared. >> reporter: swirling controversy raised the stakes for the senate intelligence committee which now plans to question jared kushner over his repeated contacts with russian officials. >> you're asking that there's something nefarious doing what he was tasked to do. based on the media frenzy he volunteered, he said, hey, we've made some contacts. i'll be glad to explain them. let me know if you would like to talk. >> reporter: but the house investigation is starting to break down along partisan lines with democrats criticizing nunes. >> without further adieu speaker
ryan should replace chairman nunes. >> reporter: despite brefgt president nunes has still yet to present the committee with intelligence showing that some trump team communications have been picked up incidentally and that some individuals had their identities unmasked by the intelligence community. nunes has given shifting explanations about what the information he's reviewed actually reveals. was the president also part of that incidental collection, his communications? >> yes. >> reporter: they were? >> yes snow said that the president's communications were incidentally collected but then you said it's also possible, so was it collected or is it possible that it was collected? >>ant answer toss that. >> reporter: so you don't know if the president's communications -- >> i no there was incidental collection regarding president-elect and his team. >> reporter: and then later in the week nunes was asked if trump officials were monitored or simply mentioned in the intelligence reports? >> we don't know -- we won't know that until we actually
receive all of the documentation. >> reporter: and he refused to rule out the information came from the white house. can you just categorically say that the white house was not the source. >> you've asked this question many, many times, and i will continue to say the same thing. you can ask me every single name that exists on the planet, and i'm still not going to tell who you our sources are. >> reporter: now wolf, nunes trying to tamp down this controversy. earlier today he told a reporter with bloomberg that actually the information came from an intelligence source, not a white house source and speaker paul ryan expressing, quote, full confidence behind chairman nunes as leading this information, this coming from his spokesperson, but republicans on the senate sides are distancing himself, john cornin', the number two would not comment about nunes when asked by our colleague ted barrett saying the senate will the do the investigation the right way. wolf?
>> i'll be speak live with chairman nunes coming up later right here in "the situation room." manu raju up on capitol hill, thank you. also at white house today, conflicting signals as president trump tries to move on from his stinging defeat on repealing obamacare. let's gets to our senior white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, is the president still committed to repealing obamacare, or is he open to simply trying to fix it, improve it? >> i think that's the question, wrofl. still bruised from his defeat on health care the white house is signalling all of a sudden it's willing to work with democrats on the issue. that may come as a surprise as aides said today repealing obamacare is still on the table. >> that's the smallest desk i've ever seen. >> that's not the bill signing president trump was hoping for. >> do you still want to repeal obamacare, mr. president? >> officials are now talking about lessons learned and perhaps a change in strategy for the administration, possibly away from house conservatives
who didn't back the president. >> we learned a lot through this process and the support willing to listen to these individuals and if they can come to a resolution on a way forward, obviously we're willing to listen. >> reporter: with the president tweeting that democrats are smiling in d.c. after conservative groups like the house freedom caucus and the club for growth helped save obamacare the white house is now offering to work with democrats. >> i also think though that democrats can come to the table as well and if you look at what the president said in the oval just after that comment, he said, you know, perhaps it's time for us to start talking to some moderate democrats as well and come up with a bipartisan solution. >> that's a major course correction after the president blamed democrats for his own defeat. >> i think the lose remembers nancy pelosi and chuck schumer because now they own obamacare they own it. 100% own it. >> even today the house was not ruling out an obamacare night in the future.
is repeal obamacare geld? >> i don't think it's dead. >> but it would have to be dead have democrats working. >> you why would they work with you? >> because it's dying. >> you're still trying refeel. >> part of it is there's a recognition it's failing. it's dying on its own. it will be dead soon. >> that's a non-starter for democrats. >> for the president to say that he'll destroy it or undermine it, that's not presidential. that's petulance, being petulant, not a president and it's not going to work. >> thank you very much. >> reporter: it's no surprise that the president is interested in reaching out to democrats considering his approval rating in a gallup poll just dropped to 36%, below where president obama and clintons were at their all-time lows and the white house is also mending fences with republicans after the president tweeted that his supporters should watch judge jeannine on fox saturday night when the host opened her show with this attack on house speaker paul ryan. >> my opening statement. paul ryan needs to step down as
speaker of the house. >> reporter: the white house said that was just a coincidence. >> he's ain if a of the show. he and speaker ryan talked extensively over the weekend. >> did they talk today? >> i think they talked saturday and sunday at length, but, again, he's a fan of the show. he tweeted out support of it. that's it, plain and simple. >> i know what a lot of people say. >> reporter: white house press secretary sean spicer described the president's decision to drop health care as walking away from a bad deal, quote, a bad deal and just as how frustrating this was getting for president trump and as for the prospect of cutting dealings with more bipartisan support in the future is only becoming more complicated as more democrats announce they won't support the president's pick for the supreme court and in just the last few minutes we should point out we've received word from a spokesperson for house speaker paul ryan that he was, again, over at the white house meeting with vice president pence, the health and human services secretary and tom price and also chatted briefly with the president.
that means he spoke with the president on saturday, sunday and today and all three days since health care was dropped on friday. just how delicate the relationship is between the president and house speaker considering how bad that defeat was on friday when they have h to finally drop trump care on capitol hill >> what a setback that was for the president and for the speaker. love to know what they discussed. thanks very much for that, jim acosta over at the white house. let's get reaction to all of this from the top democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, senator ben cardin of maryland joining us live from capitol hill. senator, thanks for joining us. >> wolf, it's a pleasure to be with you. thank you. >> so the house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes is supposed to be leading the investigation on the house side into possible collusion, possible collusion, between the trump campaign, at least trump associates and russia. do you believe he compromised this investigation with the secret meeting he had over at the white house plex?
>> he's clearly compromised his position with chairman and shown he's more concerned with sharing information with the president than he was concerned about what russia was doing in the elections. it's difficult to see how congress can conduct an independent investigation here hand why we need an independent special commission investigating what russia was doing in the united states and all the contacts it may with officials here in america. we already know about five contacts with the trump campaign. >> do you think chairman -- >> i would urge the chairman to appoint an independent review. >> what about on your side in the senate? the senate intelligence committee, do you have confidence that chairman richard burr and the ranking democrat
that senator warner, mark warner of virginia, are they doing a better job? do you have confidence in their investigation? >> i think the senate intelligence committee needs to do an investigation and need to take a look at what the intelligence community is telling them about russia's attacks and do i have confidence. senator warner is keeping us informed, and i trust his judgment on this from the democratic point of view, but i still underscore the point. you need an independent special to do a broad investigation of all the aspects, not just the intelligence community but what watch is doing in europe. what their intent here are in the united states and what contact did they have with the trump people. all that need to be independently investigated. >> do you think a white house staffer provided chairman nun that he spoke about last week. >> now, of course, he got the
information under white house control. that raises the question who had the information and at what point did they make it available to the house intelligence commit and then the chairman releasing that and briefing the president before talking to his committee is outrageous. >> that's been reported that you received a cache of documents, classified document were. there any unmasked names in those reports? did you see anything, for example in, those documents that raised alarm bells for you? >> that was from the state department, that information. it was on tan because we neo-russia was engaged in our reports and that wehe that available to the democrats and republicans and it was marked classified so i can't go into any of the specific. i've said before the information i've received is consistent with what had been reported openly about russia's engagement here in the united states. >> you're obviously privy to classified information. who might have been surveilled,
for example, for there to be what is called incidental collection on the president, his family or senior staffs during the transition. >> that would have been under the jurisdiction of the intelligence committee. it would have been targets of other countries that are legitimate to be looked upon by the u.s. intelligence community. >> according to the white house chief of staff reasonus, president trump still doesn't accept the conclusion of the house and senate intelligence committee chairs and the leaders and the house hand center, the director of the national security agency that president barack obama did not require tap trump tower during the campaign. how concerned with you that devin nunes is apparently providing the president with what his saidic say could be governor without offering the ton text of these reports.
>> that's why i said the chairman can no longer function in that capacity. what's impossible here it's impossible for president obama to have wiretapped president trump easily. it skront happened. we know that. it's been verified by every source and yet the president still holds out this as a possibility when it does not exist. could not exist. so for the chairman of the house intelligence committee to now be involved in giving information to the white house that they are using to try to cover for that statement just shows that the intent of the chairman of the intelligence committee could be to help the president of the united states rather than get to the bottom of what russia was doing in the united states. you read that he feels somewhere indicated. more developments unfolding right now. we'll continue this conversation right after a quick blake.
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♪ weathertech. made right, in america we're back with senator ben cardin. the white house has revealed that jared kushner, the top adviser to the president, the president's son-in-law, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the head of a major russian bank. the banker in charge there has deep ties, according to u.s. officials, to the fsb, the russian intelligence service, and the bank has also been sanctioned by the u.s. in connection with the russian annexation of crimea, and the russian president dmitry medvedev, whose corruption
launched huge protests over the weekend in russia, sits on the board. you're the ranking democrat on the foreign relations committee. did you know about this meeting? >> wolf, no, i did not know about this meeting, and it seems like every day we're finding out about more contacts that were made between russia and the trump team. certainly mr. kushner, that's a major contact with a person that has the ear of the president and that's certainly information that's very interesting and it seems there's a pattern here. what we want to know is what was the purpose that have meeting, and i know he's planning to come before the committee, but i still point out there's just too many contacts here, too many episodes that the american people deserve an independent review, an independent investigation that doesn't have any of the restrictions of a jurisdiction of any of our committees that can have full-time theme are not partisan that rex pert on the subject and that can take a look at.
it might have been an innocent meeting from mr. kushner's point of view and may have been an intertension opportunity that russia saw to carry out their strategies in the united states >> you know what the white house says, that one of his jobs was to reach out to various international officials, reach out to international governments, be sort of a liason, if you will, and he has now voluntarily decided to go before the senate intelligence commit and testify. isn't that encouraging to you? >> it's encouraging, but that may very well have been mr. trump's objective for such a meeting and may not have the been russia's objective in such a meeting. we've got to the protect the security of america. we need to know what techniques russia is use, and that's why you need to take a look at all these issues. it may have been very innocent from mr. kushner's point of view, may not have the been, but we know that russia will use every opportunity they can to carry out their mission, and their submission to bring down our democratic system of government. they tried to compromise our
free elections. they are interested in their system being expanded in europe and also they have little respect for the way we have our democracy here in the united states. >> should the foreign relations committee, and you're the ranking democrat, hold hearings and investigate all of this? >> oh, yes. i have called on our committee to have more hearings. i know that we will be having additional naergs hour committee. chairman corker has already indicated that. the two of us work very closely together. we do not work in a partisan way. we work together, and we've already had a hearing on russia, and we intend to have additional hearings >> senator cardin, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. coming up, have kim jong-un's computer hackers figured out how to break into bank accounts? we have evidence that north korean cyber attack is behind the theft of tens of billions of dollars.
we're following the breaking news that the chairman of the house intelligence committee, congressman devin nun eds, says he met with a source inside the white house complex just one day before he briefed president trump on possible incidental surveillance of trump and his top aides during the transition. chairman nunes, by the way, will be joining me live for an interview. that's coming up later here in the "the situation room," but, first, let's turn to our experts for some analysis. what do you make of the reaction, nia, from the white house, from the white house press secretary sean spicer? he didn't rule out the possibility that nunes got this information from someone inside the white house. >> that's right, and he's been faced with this question over the last couple of days.
nunes also faced with this question on a number of occasions. nun eds has said he's not going to give up any names or name on this. he's basically said it's been one source, and today we heard spicer said essentially anythinging is possible, so the questions continue. the idea that nunes was on the white house complex getting briefed on this information and then had to make a big show of going back to the white house the next day to brief president trump on this information, it's very odd, right, and it raises more questions. other questions that it raise, who let him in? are there records of who let him in, and spicer today didn't seem very curious about the answers to those questions. even though apparently there are questions that he can get pretty easily. >> yeah. >> you say it raises all these questions. that's what really struck me about sean spicer today it was clear that the white house has no interest in the answers. >> right. >> to all the questions that are raised. they clearly have zero interest in trying to expose this in some way or look into it or even to try to clear their own
involvement in any way. that doesn't seem to be an imperative either. they would rather let it hang out there with these questions unanswered rather than dealing with what -- >> they are not even suggesting that the perception looks bad. they are refusing to even suggest that. >> i think, you know, suggest or not. they know it looks bad quite frankly. we're just a week into this, a week ago tomorrow evening that he met over there at the white house grounds. this is all moving pretty quickly here, and we are going to find out. that's how thys these things work in washington and we're almost certain to find out and they can say who cleared him in. how it works at the white house if you have a scheduled appointment if you're the intel chair or anyone else, you have to be in the system and cleared in by someone and escorted by someone so they know who allowed him in. now the -- it veems to me that he has damaged the credibility of himself first and foremost, and he's not really a long washington insider. been in congress since 2003 or so but he, you know, certainly has not done himself any favors here so whoever is helping him behind the scenes i don't think is doing a very good job of it
>> you heard the democratic leader, the minority leader in the senate chuck schumer suggest very strongly to the speak their nunes should no longer be the chairman of the house intelligence committee. the speaker is expressing strong support for chairman nunes. where's this going? >> well, we'll see. john mccain obviously saying maybe there needs to be some sort of independent investigation into this, darrell issa has said the same thing, and, of course, you're going to hear them say that. but listen, paul ryan has said that he has confidence in nunes so you imagine as long as paul ryan has that confidence that he'll stay in that portion but, i mean, he couldn't do a better job. if his effort is sort of to try to undermining the credibility of this house intelligence committee, then he's doing a pretty good job at that the. >> and we should really separate out, wolf, the two different components of what's going on here. this -- all the questions about him going to the white house complex, getting this information and then going back to the white house and briefing the president, this was all to give the president a talking
point when jeff was in the cabinet room that day and asked him about feeling somewhat vindicated about those tweets that were totally discredited and remain so today, so there's all of this angst and questioning of the white house. all everyone is twisting themselves in a pretzel over there because they want to be able to provide the president the opportunity to the stick to the fact he feels somewhat vindicated. that's separate and aprart from what the white house is far more concerned about and rightly so, the entire investigation into russia contacts, and that as someone who is heading the investigation is what he is completely undermining, and, remember, that's about russia interfering with the u.s. election in 2016. it doesn't get much more serious than that. >> go ahead. >> and the fbi is still looking into that. i mean, as we're watching all these shiny objects about who let him in, who briefed him, the fbi is still going head long into this, as is the senate as well, but i think it's interesting to remember that the president himself in an interview on fox, he said some new information will be coming out by the committees, so is this part of a big conspiracy, a
big sort of plan to roll this out, or is this sort of happening separately? we don't know the answer to that, but i still have that stuck in my mind. i believe it was an interview done in michigan when the president was out going to nashville later that evening, two weeks ago this week, saying more information will be coming out is this what he owes talking about, is he not? we certainly don't but certainly something to keep in mind. >> i remember that interview as well fanned in fact someone inside the white house in the eisenhower old executive offers building right next door to the west wing, if that official worked in the white house, clearly that person worked in the white house hand had this information, why did it have to be provided to the chairman. house intelligence committee? why not release it to other white house officials they could make it public. >> that's what the white house counsel's office is for and staff is for and the fact that he went over there and the drama the next day as david was saying earlier. there's no need for that and sean spicer said we're just learning about that and perhaps he was. it's -- i mean, we don't know if
the president knew about this or that people in the west wing knew about it, but someone knew about it in the white house, national security office, because that's where these skiffs are, so someone allowed him in. >> we do know in the "time" magazine interview when devin nunes came down to brief him and reveal the information to the white house, the president was right on that hand made sure to note it to the "time" magazine interviewer. >> and nunes certainly wanted to make a public display of it which was really odd could. have briefed the president privately and didn't have to go before the cameras to announce he was going over there or when he came out of white house he didn't have to have a press conference there either. >> lots of questions for the chairman of the house intelligence committee devin nunes. he'll be joining me live here in the "the situation room" coming up a little bit later. let's take a quick break. much more when we come back. you could spend the next few days weeding through w2s, pay stubs and bank statements to refinance your home. or you could push that button. [dong] [rocket launching]
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the best simple dinner ever? heart healthy california walnuts. great tasting, heart healthy california walnuts. so simple. get the recipes at walnuts.org. president trump is scrambling to refocus and move forward with the rest of his agenda after that stinging defeat of his plan to repeal and replace obamacare. republicans want to turn the efforts to tax reform or tax cuts, but divisions within the party could make that also very, very difficult. how about -- how big of a problem, nia, is this given the fall you're to repeal and replace obamacare? now it's a huge issue, tax reform, major tax cuts. that's not easy. >> it's not easy, and it's made more difficult by the fact that they are not going to get any of this revenue from -- from repealing and replacing obamacare, something like $1 trillion in revenue to make um
some of the offsthaets are going to happen with the tax cuts if the tax cuts happen. also this idea of the -- of the house is much more open to the border adjustment tax. this is going to be very boring for most view, i'm sure, but the idea of taxing imports and not taxing exports. that is something like paul ryan are open, to people like steve bannon are open, to and people on the senate side, john mccain, heidi hidecamp, something they are not open to and how they will pass this without a coalition and they are talking about different types of coalitions now. can they bring democrats along? it's unclear and that's a reason this hasn't happened. >> make shopping at walmart a lot more expensive. >> the retailers are going to freak out about that, no doubt. >> donald trump has also been all over the map on the border adjustment tax, opposed to it and then warming up to the idea and it's not everyone in the house republican conference which then begs the question again if the party is going to be divided on this in some way,
how do you cobble together the coalition? it may not be exactly along the same lines that we saw on health care, but, again, if the republican party is divide and democrats will remaining convinced that opposing trump is the way to go, donald trump will have a very hard time, even in something that's a little bit more politically palatable cutting people's together, very difficult to put together a coalition. >> jeff, you're well plugged in. has the president moved beyond the blame game for the huge loss on friday? >> i'm not sure he'll ever move entirely beyond the blame game and did speak with speaker ryan today over at the white house. the third time they had a conversation. talked for an hour on saturday, for about half that on sunday and i'm told he was over there for a meeting today so they are still talking about the way forward, yes, so i think the blame is something that is always going to be in his mind because this is such a huge defeat, but they are apparently trying to learn lessons from it and suggesting that there will be a course correction. i'll sort of believe that when i see it because i'm not sure it's in the dan of this president to
necessarily do it or his advisers, so we'll see, but it's so long ago since early january when he said, oh, you know, the president and senator schumer are going to do all these things and things. the democratic liberal base will not allow the democratic senate or house members for that to do that here so this is an interesting sort of thing going forward, but on tax reform it also got so much more expensive now because health care is out of it. >> yeah. >> so it's a -- i think this week is a back to the drawing board week never respect for this president and they are figuring out what to do. >> so the course correction, does it really suggest potentially there could be some cooperation with democrats? >> i mean, we all covered obama in his overtures to republicans, his notion that at some point the republican fever, the anti-obama fever would break. that never really happened. i think one of the big liabilities for strump that his approval rating is something like 36%. >> right. >> so what's in it for democrats? >> what's in it for sglemts why should they? >> with such a weak president
koorp wait them and their base certainly is bound together by this anti-trump feveror, so the idea that they are going to work with him i don't think he has necessarily a lot of leverage with them. >> and to add it a-to-that they just saw that not working with him led to a political success for them in the sense that it wounded trump politically so they just got ren forcement for the strategy in addition to where the base is and not even red state democrats feel compelled to cut out, they just had a political success. >> the politics aside, something does need to be done with health care. that's a bipartisan issue across the country and affects individual people i don't think health care is dead but i don't think it's next. it's still looming out thereto and if this president could somehow thread the needle on that, he would be a successful president. >> no doubt this was a stinging defeat for the president, for the speaker and the republican leadership. we're standing by to hear, from the way, by the house intelligent committee chairman devin nunes.
i'll be interviewing him live. that's come up. also, investigators are probing the brazen cyber theft of more than $80 million from an american bank, and authorities strongly suspect north korea was behind it. does kim jong-un have a new tool for funding his very ambitious missile program? hello, i'm an idaho potato farmer and i finally found our big idaho potato truck. it's been touring the country telling folks about our heart healthy idaho potatoes, america's favorite potatoes, and donating to local charities along the way. but now it's finally back home where it belongs. aw man. hey, wait up. where you goin'? here we go again.
of more than $80 million from an american bank, money which could be funneled into kim jong-un's missile program. brian todd is looking into all of these important developments for us. brian, what are you learning? >> disturbing news tonight on both of those fronts. u.n. officials telling cnn's barbara starr, kim jong-un's regime conducted another missile engine test on friday. this is the third engine test they've done in recent weeks. the u.s. is now trying to determine whether the engine that was just tested would be capable of carrying intercontinental ballistic missile that might some day be table to hit the united states. this new provocation using a conventional weapon comes as we're getting new allegations of another type of weapon used by kim jong-un, that led to a brazen cyber heist of nearly $100 million. tonight, it appears kim jong-un, a man obsessed with building up his military arsenal, may have now weaponized read, allegedly using computer technology to
secretly fleece other company's bank accounts to the tune of tens of millions of the dollars. >> it's the largest case of financial bank robbery on the internet that i'm aware of in history. and it's one of the most serious examples of the type of capability that north korea has at its disposal. >> reporter: last year, hackers possibly working for north korea placed bogus wire transfers totaling about $1 billion from the central bank of bangladesh. money the bangladeshi government kept in the federal reserve bank of new york. >> it sounds like they used their taaccess to swift, which a secure financial messaging service, to provide some kind of payment messages, that then allowed the money to be transferred out of these accounts. >> reporter: $81 million of those transfers went through to phony accounts in the philippines. >> it looks like some of that money was then transferred to casinos, and at some point, that money either needs to go back to north korea or it needs to be help in north korea's name and accounts, likely in chinese
banks. >> reporter: federal prosecutors wouldn't comment when contacted by cnn, but tonight, "the wall street journal" reports prosecutors are investigating north korea's possible role in the heist. officials at the cybersecurity firm symantec, which researched this case, tell cnn, the malware code used in this bank hack is similar to the code used in the sony pictures hack back in 2014, which the fbi blamed on north korea. and a top nsa official says the agency is aware of the reported sony similarities. >> if that attribution is true, if that linkage from sony actors to the bangladeshi bank actors is accurate, that means a nation state is robbing banks. >> reporter: kim has an army of hackers, said to number as many as 6,000, working for north korea's notorious reconnaissance bureau, including an elite unit called bureau 121. sources say this kind of cyber heist would be an understandable
next step including banks and even nuclear plants. north korea has been engaged in criminal activities for profits for decades. it was used to be called the soprano state, because they were so in bed with asian organized crime. >> tonight, experts tell cnn, kim jong-un, who's been isolated from the world by crushing financial sanctions, needs the money, not just for weapons, but also to buy loyalty to the regime. >> he needs this for his strategic programs, and he needs it for the elites. he needs the elites to support him. he needs to be able to create the ski resort that they, you know, trumpeted, they need to import mercedes-benz and all these other luxury items to keep the elites happy. >> and experts say it's not likely that kim's regime is going to stop this kind of activity anytime soon. one analyst says kim is just getting started. in fact wrern, researchers at sc tell us tonight the hackers that
used the same malware code that have used in the bank hacks have not stopped operating since those attacks, indicating kim's hackers are still being very aggressive. we reached out to north korea's mission at the u.n. and they didn't comment on any of this. wolf? >> brian, could these hackers target americans' bank accounts? >> they could, wolf. symantec tells us the same group of hackers has a hit list of other banks to be targeted, including some in the united states. >> brian todd reporting for us. brian, thank you. just ahead, more on the breaking news. the house intelligence committee's chairman. he has a secret visit to the white house, just one day before dropping a bombshell claim about possible surveillance of the trump team during the transition. coming up, i'll ask chairman nunes about the controversy and what he makes of calls for him to step away from this entire russia investigation. you always pay
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more to stream to every screen. happening now. breaking news. nunes under fire. the house intelligence committee chairman reveals a secret meeting over at the white house complex, the day before his bombshell statement about possible surveillance of the trump team. this hour, i'll speak to devin nunes about his mysterious moves, his controversial claims, and whether his panel's russia investigation has now been compromised. family affair. the russia probe reaches deeper into mr. trump's inner circle, with his son-in-law now preparing to face questioning by the senate. why did jared kushner offer to testify? jailing the opposition. the kremlin responds to mass dwibs by arresting hundreds of protesters, including a top critic of vladimir putin. we'll have a live report from