tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN March 28, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
news. free to testify. the white house denies trying to block the fired acting attorney general from facing questions about the trump camp's russia's contacts. jared kushner prepares for his own testimony, likely under oath. intelligence uproar, chairman devin nunez reject calls for him to step aside from his committee's russia investigation amid growing controversy of partisan ranker. i will ask the former cia director, leon panetta, for his take of nunez's access and credibility. regulation roll back. the president signs a sweeping order to undo the obama administration policies to combat climb ate change. will it create jobs as mr. trump claims? and accepting blame. top u.s. commander concedes an air strike likely killed innocent iraqis. did isis deliberately lure coalition forces to attack a location? knowing dozens of civilians
would die. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states an around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room."an around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room."nan around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room."dan around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news this hour, the white house is pushing back against new controversy in the house investigation of the trump camp's contacts with russia. the press secretary sean spicer flatly denying the report the administration sought to block testimony of sally yates. but democrats are questioning whether a house intelligence committee hearing that had been scheduled for today had been cancelled to prevent yates from talking publicly. this is another cloud over the investigation led by republican devin nunez. house intelligence committee chairman. tonight, nunez is rejecting growing calls for him to step aside from the probe as even some republicans are joining
democrats and raising concerns about his credibility. also tonight, the senate intelligence committee is moving forward with plans to question the president's son-in-law, jared kushner, about his russia context. the panel's chairman revealing kushner's testimony will be conducted in private and likely under oath. the president meantime is making good on a campaign promise to gut obama era environmental policies. his just signed executive order is designed to put energy independence and jobs over efforts to combat climb at change. this hour, i'll talk with leon panetta who served as defense secretary and cia director under president obama. and our koerncorrespondents and analysts are standing by. first to our senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny. jeff within sean spicer says the administration would welcome testimony by former acting attorney general, salaly yates. >> i can tell through are conflicting accounts of how
serious the white house is about this testimony. now there was scheduled to be a hearing today on capitol hill, another hearing about these russian allegations. of course that was called off. but sally yates was going to be one of the star witnesses. now you'll remember she was a deputy attorney general in the obama administration and healedover. acting attorney general in the first days of the trump administration until she was fired. that's a bit of background here but the press briefing today sean spicer said they would welcome her testimony. >> on the 24th ms. yates sent a letter to wlous council specifically stating that if they did not receive a response by march 27 at 10:00 a.m. they would quote conclude the white house would not assert executive privilege over these matters. the white house did not respond and took no thaks prevent ms. yates from testifying. that's the story. that's what documents show. >> i hope she testifies. i look forward to it. let's be honest. the hearing was never -- was
actually never notified. if she choose to move forward, great. we have no problem with her testifying plain and simple. >> but the question here is executive privilege here and now the issue we're talking about, wolf, is the investigation into michael flynn and contacts he had with russian operatives. sally yates is in final weeks of the obama administration so she has a perspective on this that she wanted to share with the hearing today with the house intelligence hearing which is abruptly cancelled wolf. so even though the white house is saying they would like to have her testify we will see if that ever happens in the house committee or on the senate committee which is also under way. >> testimony from jeff zeleny, thanks very much. also, tonight, house intelligence chairman, insisting the russian investigation is moving forward as he rejects growing calls to recuse himself. let's go to senior congressional
reporter, yet another chance today. >> he is defiantly staying in that position or asking for him to step aside and amounting to partisan politics and republicans on the committee including peter king of new york told me earlier today now this all coming afternoon ynunez briefed the white house. surveillance he learned from a secret source on white house grounds about communication with trump officials and that were picked up in intelligence reports and also his decision to abruptly cancel tuesday's public hearing that was supposed to happen today and also committee and because of this canceling all other private briefings going on today. raising real questions about whether it committee can go forward. now when i asked nunez, will you listen to democratic calls to recuse yourself, he said he would not. >> but are you going to stay, is chairman going to run this investigation?
>> why would i not? you guys need to ask them why these things are being said. >> does this investigation continue with you as chairman? >> why would i not? aren't i briefing you guys continuously and keeping you up to speed? >> they are saying it cannot run as -- >> you got to go talk to them. that sound like their problem. my colleagues are perfectly fine. they know we are doing an investigation and that will continue. >> we know that today and today's hearing was supposed to fee tour sally yates as jeff zeleny was just reporting. now the question had been whether or not the white house was seeking to block her testimony, the white house denied that. of course. but when i asked devin nunez whether or not the white house had any role in urging him to do cancel today's hearing, he would not say. >> you guys are just speculating. i'm sorry. whenever there's time we will did a press -- >> did they ask you to cancel the hearing today?
>> come on, guys. i mean -- >> why did you cancel the hearing some. >> nothing has been cancelled. >> nunez today earlier suggesting that he is open to having fbi director james comey and mike rogers, nsa director come before the committee in a private briefing and they cancelled that briefing today but adam shif top democrat and the intelligence committee moving forward on its own and making plans to interview jared kushner, president trump's son-in-law, and adviser, and about contacts with the russian officials and i'm told it is likely that testimony will be under oath but in a private setting not a public set pg. we will see whatever we may learn from this private testimony, wolf. >> getting excellent exercise on the hill as well. thank you very much. we are also learning more tonight about the senate russian investigation and plans to
question the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, jared kushner's testimony is likely to be under oath and likely to focus at least in part on the newly disclosed meeting with the russian banker who has close ties to vladimir puton. seeing as jessica snyder is looking into all of this for us. this hearing is supposed to take place i take it behind closed doors. >> that's right, wolf. the chairman richard burr saying that the testimony will be private interview but likely under oath. of course on the list of likely questions, why did jared kushner take a meeting with the chair of state-run russian bank at the height of the transition? >> jared kushner met with this russian banker during the transition. sergey gor cough is the chairman of veb bank and has deep ties to russian government. gore cough was appointed to his job by vladimir putin. kushner met with him in december 2016. but insists this was all part of
kushner's transition duties. jared attended the meeting in his capacity as transition official. nothing of substance was discussed. there was no follow-up. but the bank says executives met with kushner as part of a road show of business meetings in 2016. exposing that gore cough met with a number of representative accident tifs from a number of the banks circles in the united states including head of the kushner companies, jared kushner. so was it transition meeting o a meeting to discuss private business? the white house not answering requests to clarify instead insisting all inquiries about the administration ties to russia are just another distraction. >> if the president puts russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a russian connection. >> but russian experexperts say cause for serve. veb bank was under u.s. sanctions for years. meeting with an entity under ankss isn't necessarily a problem but doing business with it might be. when kushner met with gore cough
he was ceo of kushner companies p. at the time the company was trying to find buzing in manhattan. >> the business administration was well known to the people he was doing some sort of business with. so that's where you get the issue of gray area and lines blurring between what somebody does in his or her private capacity as a business person whaen somebody is doing in their public capacity as an official or adviser to the most powerful man in the world. >> vev's bank strategy posting toity website, stating together with the government we will select the most promising growth areas in the economy. a kremlin spokesman says the russian government was notware of the meeting between kushner and gore cough. the senate of the intelligence committee richard burr tells cnn that jared kushner will likely testify under oath but privately to senators. republican senator susan collins
says her committee needs to clarify whether kushner was acting as a member of the trump transition team or personal. >> this has been a long standing practice of the russians to spread disinformation. so it i was not surprise whd wh they contradicted mr. kushner's explanation as why he had these meetings. >> and senate intelligence committee begins open hearings on thursday. first day is russian and cybersecurity expert but still no word yet on when jared kushner might actually pair before the committee. >> thank you. let's get more on you'll of this with the former defense secretary, former cia director under president obama, leon panetta, joining us now. mr. secretary, thanks for joining us. i want to get to all of the developments involving jared kushner. but first let me ask you about the cancelled testimony of the former acting attorney general sally yates. both the white house and house
intelligence committee chairman nunez maintaining they did not communicate about her testimony and that they still want to hear from her. so why do you believe chairman nunez cancelled that important hearing that had been scheduled today with yates, former cia director, former director of national intelligence as well? >> well, that's a major question, wolf. why those hearings would be cancelled. cancelled abruptly. the whole purpose here of these investigations is to determine the truth. the truth of what russians did in the election. what can we do to prevent that from happening in the future, and was there any collusion between the trump campaign and the russians. those are the issues. we're entitled to the truth. the only way you find the truth is by allowing testimony to take place by gathering evidence and
by trying to find the facts involved. and when you cancel hearings, when you fail to look at facts and the evidence, it does impact on the credibility of that investigation. >> people are wondering why did those public hearings that have been announced for a while, why were they suddenly cancelled. in letters published, there secretary, the justice department wrote to the law firm rep zebti representing sally yates. let me read a couple sentences from that letter. ms. yates seeks authorization to testify about communications she and a senior department official had with the office of the counsel to the president. such communications are likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege. the president owns those prif lemgs. therefore, to the extent ms. yates needs consent to disclose details of those communications
to hpsci, she needs to consult with the white house. the whus did not exert executive privilege and would have let her testify. her testimony, had the hearing not been cancelled. explain the idea of executive privilege to viewers. what's at issue here? >> well with be there is something called executive privilege where communications between members of an administration and the president are protected under this executive privilege rule. it seems clear that somebody raised the issue of executive privilege. however, the press secretary made clear that they are not asserting that privilege and obviously the deputy attorney general now has the opportunity to testify. i guess my recommendation would be that the committees ought to immediately proceed to get her testimony. >> when a former department of justice employee like her is
asked to testify, is it typical to have this type of negotiation possible restrictions on his or testimony? >> normally the role of a white house council is to raise the issue of whether or not executive privilege applies. that was certainly done in the time i was in the white house. and the president usually operates to try to protect that privilege. however, if there is an investigation that is going on, then clearly that privilege can be weighed. it sounds like they are willing to wave that privilege and i think that's good because we will be able to find the facts out as to what she knew and didn't know. >> yeah, sean spicer mincing no words saying the white house wants letter to testify. let's see if that hearing does in fact take place.jletter to t. let's see if that hearing does in fact take place.letter to te. let's see if that hearing does in fact take place.hletter to t.
let's see if that hearing does in fact take place.erletter to . let's see if that hearing does in fact take place.etter to tes. let's see if that hearing does in fact take place.r to testify. let's see if that hearing does in fact take place.r to testify. let's see if that hearing does in fact take place. to testify. let's see if that hearing does in fact take place. contradicting president trump's wiretapping claims against president obama, considering the former acting attorney general yates's role in the departure of michael flynn as national security adviser from the trump administration is it likely her testimony would also contradict previous statements from the white house on russian context? >> i think the issue here is what did she know about the investigation particularly as it related to the national security adviser flynn? and what were his contacts with the russians and was he forthright in explaining what the contacts were about. i suspect that that is the main area that she would testify to. although she is a deputy attorney general and isware of a number of elements that may be involved in this investigation.
>> and as important as her testimony would have been if there had been that hearing today, former director of national intelligence james clapper and former cia director, they were also scheduled to testify in an open hearing today. their testimony could have been even more significant in the american public's learning what was going on. i assume you agree? >> there's no question. this is an intelligence issue. our intelligence agencies are the ones who determine that russians were deliberately trying to inflew enour election. issues surrounding what russians were doing clearly came to intelligence officials that were involved in this matter so their testimony i think would be critical to being able to determine what exactly the facts are as it relates to russian interference. >> a lot of supporters of the
president though feared that whatever they said could have contradicted some of the accusations that have been levelled by president trump. >> well, again, you know, the whole purpose here, i think what the american people expect is that we will find the truth. and that's the purpose of these investigations. the investigation by the senate intelligence committee, by the fbi, and by the house intelligence committee. although clearly the house intelligence committees' investigation has some real credibility problems now. as a result of what chairman nunez did. but the whole point is to try to find the truth, find the facts and determine exactly what happened. not speculate, not listen to the statements that are coming out of all sides as we go through this investigation but what are are the facts. what is the evidence. and what is established in truth
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saving you money on your car and home coverage. call for a free quote today. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. we're back with former cia director, leon panetta. mr. secretary, listen to republican senator lindsey graham weigh in today on the house intelligence committee chairman devin nunez and his actions. listen. >> the problem that he's create said that he went off on a lark by himself, inspector clue sew,
unmasking some incidental in a trump campaign with russia. i this can only be repair fed he tells his colleagues whoe met with and what he saw and let them look at same information. >> you agree with this inspector clue sew reference? >> lindsey graham has a great way of framing those kinds of issues. it's pretty simple, wolf. you cannot have a credible investigation by a committee at a congress without a close working relationship between the chairman and the ranking member. that's absolutely essential to an objective and fair hearing. what he did was wandered off, went to the white house, got secret information there. went to the president and then briefed the press without telling his ranking member what he was doing.
that's major beach in the ability of both of them to trust one another. whether it can be repaired or not, i don't know. but it cannot work. you cannot have a credible investigation without a close working relationship between the chairman and the ranking member. >> you served in the house of representatives. i think you were on the house intelligence committee, you may have been chairman did you ever find yourself in a situation where you would have withheld this information from the ranking member, the rest of your committee? >> in my day there was a close working relationship between the chairman and the ranking members. and particularly when it came to this kind of investigation. and if you -- if you're not making that person a part of everything you're doing, sharing the briefing. sharing the intelligence, sharing the evidence that is presented, so that both of you know what the committee is being madeware of, then it's going to
break down. and i think chairman nunez has a real basic decision here as to whether or not he is going to run a credible investigation into this issue or whether he is just going to do a political side show. that's the choice and that will determine whether or not the house really does conduct a credible investigation. >> and in your experience working at the white house, working at the cia, white house chief of staff, cia director, is it normal for the chairman of the house intelligence committee to come over to white house grounds, use a secure room there to get access to executive branch documents? >> well, in my time at the white house, and at the cia, that never happened. the fact is, that they have a security room up on capitol hill in the intelligence committee operation where they can provide that kind of information and the
right way to have handled this is for the chairman and the ranking member to have sat down on capitol hill in their secure room, to get that briefing together. so that they both were made aware of the information that was being provided. >> on the issue of the senior adviser to the president, the president's son-in-law, jared kushner, we're getting different explanations. he met, as you know, with the head of a russian bank. that bank had been sanctioned by the obama administration because of russia's activities in crimea. the white house says kushner held this meeting as part of his transition duties. the bank says kushner was representing his family's real estate business. in your experience when a meeting like this has been a routine part of a presidential transition? >> it's very strange to have somebody in a transition meeting with the russian bank.
i have no idea what that was about and it doesn't sound like it was something done pursuant to the normal duties that someone in a transition position would engage in. i have a feeling it related to financial issues since it involved a russian bank. but to his credit, he is willing to testify on that issue and i hope that the committee really thoroughly looks at what reasons were, why he engaged in that conversation. >> yeah. if he were dealing with foreign government, even matting with the russian ambassador during transition, that's much more acceptable, right? >> that's right. you basically deal with foreign ambassadors, talk with them. but to engage with a bank that was sanctioned by the united states, you would think he would think twice about doing that because of the implications
involved. >> during transition, this is after the election, he is now president-elect, wouldn't there be intelligence officials toor w enforcement officials that would tell kushner that this bank is seen as an arm of putin the banker kushner was meeting with had deep ties to russian intelligence service. wouldn't he be briefed on that kind of information before taking a meeting like that? >> wolf, you would think so. at least in the transitions i've been involved with. there would be an awful lot of care exercised with regards to those kinds of meetings and you would have intelligence officials who would make the individual aware of what implications are. i have a feeling that the trump transition did not engage in that kind of disciplined approach to the relationships that they engaged in during the
period of the transition. and i think they pay a price for that now. >> leon panetta, thank you so much for joining us. >> good to be with you. >> just ahead, more on the breaking news involving this entire russian investigation. is the house intelligence committee devin nunez trying to protect the president? we have new reporting. we will tell you about that right after a quick break. but at t. rowe price, we can help guide your retirement savings. so wherever your retirement journey takes you, we can help you reach your goals. call us or your advisor t. rowe price. invest with confidence. itbut one i think with quesa simple answer. we have this need to peek over our neighbor's fence. and once we do, we see wonder waiting. every step you take, narrows the influence of narrow minds. bridges continents and brings this world one step closer. so, the question you asked me. what is the key?
we're following breaking news on the investigation of russia and its contacts with the trump camp including white house denial it worked to try to block testimony by former acting attorney general sally yates. we are joined by our experts on all of gloria vanderbilta borge was 12k3w4r50i6r7b8g9sds and gloria borger was supposed to testify today. james clapper, national intelligence. we were all looking forward to their testimony. didn't happen. had we heard their testimony, what do you think the upshot would have been? >> well, had she testified, there wouldn't have been major revolution but it would have been an embarrassment to the white house. what we have seen from both reaso reince priebus and sean spicer, saying sally yates come to white house council to give them what they called a heads-up.
rather what i think we would have heard from sally yates would have been beyond a heads-up. i think we would have heard she had significant concerns about an issue of compromise with general flynn. and that would have been more than an embarrassing to the white house. and we didn't hear her say it today, wolf. >> you've been doing a lot of reporting on this. i read your piece in the "new yorker" magazine. just today. what are some of the new revelations you've got? >> two. one, the two other witnesses that haven't gotten as much attention today that's no picnic for the white house as well, right? >> clapper and brennan. >> clapper and brennan. brennan saying trump should be ashamed of himself for his appearance at cia. clapper says there is no evidence of the president's tweets about the wiretapping. just basically laying out efd for very obvious coordination between the white house and nunes including on the morning of the monday hearing last week, white house official told me
very clearly that nunes would start to raise the issue of incidental collection. and we know since monday after that hearing one of the things that nunes has done i think arguably to change the subject has been to say that the incidental collection is the issue here which led to him going to the white house. you know, and the other night and briefing the president and so there was some very obvious coordination between the white house and the chairman of the intelligence committee on the last week. >> nunes said to me yesterday the only law i thinks may have been broken is the releasing of the name general flynn in that phone conversations. m may. >> but general flynn's conversations, the russia issue would have come up if sally yates would have testified. >> general flynn was central to that story. >> exactly. >> but the lead conversation and the unmasking conversation is that you know, it is a
diversion. >> that's why i don't think they can -- >> say with a straight face that that's the real story. the collection has nothing to do with the fbi investigation and senate into russian contacts with trump campaign officials and russian -- >> that's what last week has been. >> so it worked. >> stop talking about rush why and talk about the election. >> what time did he go in, was the sun up, this is a week of not talking about the one issue the white house didn't want it talk about. >> david, have you a good understanding why the hearing today was cancelled? >> i don't think we have a good understanding. spz what is the actual explanation? >> there was no clearer explanation other than that nunes clearly did not want it move forward with it. that was there. the why, i leave it to -- >> and sally yates wanted to testify. it wasn't as if she was hiding behind saying she didn't want to
testify. her attorney wrote multiple letters talking about the issue of privilege and the department of justice said you know what, the president has all the cards on this. you need to talk to white house council and white house council didn't respond to her and then suddenly nunes cancels the hearing she was trying to find way to testify. >> look, the hearing, the hearing today that did not happen would have been a very bad day of headlines for the white house. it would have been last monday, plus more than that because you have clapper and brennan, prepared to back clapper testimony in which he said there is no proof to back up what the president said in his tweets. that's number one. second thing that clapper and brennan would have been able to describe is what she know about, as least as much as they can talking in an open setting, talking about russian contacts with the trump campaign. that's an fbi investigation. there is limited amount of information they can provide. but we would have seen a another
day like monday and that is what devin nunes does not want. that's something that sean spicer and certainly the white house operation did not want. >> isn't it also true the white house touted this that clapper said in his time before he left his position he saw no evidence of collusion. >> but they did not want clapper to have a hearing in which he could clarify -- >> just like headlines proving not true. so maybe clapper could provide positive headlines but that not true either. >> that issue cleared up monday. it's in the ic's investigation of the russian cyberattack. that separate than the fbi's investigation. >> i just don't think that the white house wants to keep peeling the onion over and over again. if you peel the onion and you think okay, sally yates went in and talked to the white house council and said yeah there was an issue that you needed to
worry about, there was some kind of a compromise, then we might be asking the question well, why did it take two plus weeks, why did the white house sit on that and why did it take two plus weeks for the white house to acknowledge it only after a washington post story came out and talked about flynn's conversations and why then didn't they tell pence? so we might continue peeling that onion which would not be a good road for them to go down. >> that's all backed -- >> it backfired. >> sally yates is going, we're going to hear sally yates say this in an open format. >> i'm sure we will hear it from clapper, from brennan. if they don't testify on the hill, they are always welcome to come here to the situation room and give us their reactions. it was that voice asking me,
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>> we're back with our panel. you know, the word came from the republican leadership on the hill today from the white house, maybe repeeling and replacing obamacare is not done after all. >> it's back. yeah.aeling and replacing obamacare is not done after all. >> it's back. yeah.ling and replacing obamacare is not done after all. >> it's back. yeah. who knows. i was talking to a white house official over the weekend and he said to me that there are whispers of it coming back and one of the reasons is that the
freedom caucus seems to be splitting up a little bit. and that they are worried because some pro life folks may be going after them for not killing planned parenthood, which repealing obamacare would have done. and i also think if they are looking at tax reform and they are looking at infrastructure there was a big chunk of change they would have gotten from repealing obamacare and they need the money would be wolf. they need the money to do it. >> even if they get it passed, repealing and replacing obamacare, there is no guarantee the senate will approve it. >> no, i think that's what he ran into, something he thought might have a shot in the senate with some alteration, he wasn't crafting a bill that was really just about his base in the house. that was part of the problem. if you heard the white house today, it sounds to me like they really don't want this hot potato any more right now.
they would like this -- if congress wants to go ahead and get this through and do something the president will be there with his signature but it doesn't sound to me like the white house was about to take up the effort again to try it sell something that the president clearly saw as a loser for him last week. we have to approach this believe it when we see it. rather than think that a full attempt to repeal and replace obamacare as we saw in the last through weeks. >> this was the pledge the president made throughout the campaign that republicans have been making for six or seven years right now. so they are just going to forget about it? >> that's what you saw from the right. a lot of krets that okay you tried with one deal that nobody really liked and you're giving up? what is that? . i think there are two sides. this predom calk yaus, lost as much as they drove this process they are also feeling heat. trump had some mightily radical tweets against the calk yas. i think there are some senior
official eats the white house think they let the president down or just doing their due diligence to explore whether there is any chance of getting back -- >> are you a hundred percent convinced, david, that if there had been a vet last friday when all is said and done that the president and the republican leadership the speaker would have lost? >> i mean, i'm convinced because that's what every republican member has said. >> that's one thing to say. i. >> i think they were just one or two votes short where the psychology of the floor takes over. they were significantly short of where they needed to be. i think that that vote would have gone down. the other thing i would add to the list, not just freedom caucus chase it as you say but they will hear from conditions back home, the very same complaint about obamacare they were sort of giving voice to the last receive eb years. they will hear from constituents on this. >> you can't just say never mind
when have you every single republican member of the house and senate campaign end repealing and replacing obamacare. so they have a problem here. they understand it's a problem but the people who elected them and so they have to say we're going to come back to it. what else can they say, wolf? they have to say we will come back to it. they do need to figure out a way to pay for their tax reform. that is really a problem for them. what they will have is a much more narrow tax cut bill rather than massive tax return effort. >> yeah. look, they spent seven years saying this cap puts us on the road to socialism and is the main reason the economy isn't do is as well. you can't just say oh, well we will move on to tax reform. >> they decided today, david, so move on to the epa and doing away with some of president obama's executive orders.
involving climate change and the president today, you know, one president can sign an executive order. the next president can sign a different executive order. >> when you're sitting in the -- that much more than what you do other than fight this legislative battle in congress. but this too was a campaign promise. and this too is a belief by the administration that by freeing some of these regulations, forget the component of just not wanting to be where obama was. they put turbo boosters on the economy. >> yes, they do. >> is what what you think of this? >> well that's the period of the gamt. that's their argument. but you ant that is -- i know, that's something that they're confronting. they thought the sheer force of
donald trump on his first big laegtdive move would have put them over the finish line and that didn't happen. they can't afford to be out front on something this massive again that loses. >> getting back to what we were discussing earlier. the senate intelligence committee, the chairman and ranking democrats, they're going to announce, presumably, the witnesses that they're calling to appear in the coming days and presumably this is not going to necessarily be very good for the white house, either. >> we expect that jim comey is going to testify in the senate hearing. that's it. he doesn't plan to come back to the hill and talk about this investigation. again, he knows that he has to do this one because he already spoke to the house hearing, so we're going to have another day of bad headlines for the republicans for the white house. they want to talk about unmasking and leaking but that's going to focus on this. >> we'll watch that closely. everybody stay with us.
. tonight, a top u.s. military commander that's there's a fair chance 24 a coalition air strike in iraq killed civilians. let's go to barbara starr. barbara, tell us what the general had to say and what we're learning about the investigation. >> reporter: where we are right now is more than 100 souls, 100 bodies pulled from the wreckage today in west mosul.
today t today they came out and said u.s. was involved in the death and destruction. listen to what steven towns end had to say. >> we let them look at the scene. they had skill and technology. my initial assessment was that we probably had a role in these casualties. now, here's what i don't know. what i don't know is were they gathered there by the enemy? we still have assessments to do. it sure looks like they were. we'll say that. the iraqis firmly believe that they were gathered there by the enemy. >> reporter: what he is say is the u.s. and iraq believes it's likely these people were being
used as human shields. he was adamant that the u.s. does not target civilians. they have to determine was the house booby-trapped, did they bomb a suicide truck bomb, what brought the house down from a technical standpoint? they need to figure this out so they know exactly what happened so they can try and keep it from happening again. but at the end of the day, wolf, a lot of people who had nowhere to go, being held in a neighborhood controlled by isis, not able to get out of that neighborhood and really caught between those in isis who were holding them, and the u.s. and iraqis who were trying to liberate that part of mosul. >> quickly, has there been any change in the rules of engagement? >> reporter: so far, no. they say they are not doing that yet. they want to -- and it's one of the big reasons they want to find out what happened.
if they can find out something that went wrong in how they understood the target in the information or intelligence they had, then perhaps some changes. wolf? >> all right. barbara. thanks very much. that's it for me. erin burne "erin burnett outfro today. >> did the trump administration try to block a former justice official from crucial testimony? plus new details about a bank used as a cover for russian spying. and a rare appearance from melania trump at her husband's side. good evening to all. out front tonight, the white house this evening deeply frustrated by growing questions surrounding the trump campaign's alleged ties