tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN March 28, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
that's all the time we have. thanks for watching. cnn tonight starts right now. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> trump white house facing accusations over a cover up. the administration denying it blocked former acting attorney general from telling the house intelligence committee what she knows about the trump campaign and russian officials. that hearing was supposed to happen today but was canceled. the person who canceled it, chairman nunes. saying he's moving forward with the probe. but democrats charge he's too close to the white house and
must step aside. they want to know who signed him into the white house grounds to view classified information which he briefed president trump about first. >> if the president puts russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a russian connection. >> that happened. i want to begin with senior political analyst and comment y commentary. the national security reporter for the washington post, the chief investigative correspondent for yahoo news. the white house correspondent for urban radio networks, the woman who got sean spicer talking about the russian salad dressing. so i think welcome to all of you but it's appropriate to start with all i don't haof you. i want to start with gloria.
so, plenty of moving parts on the russian investigation. the white house denying that administration blocked sally yates from testifying on the russian trump connection but chairman nunes would not say if the white house asked him to scrap the hearing. listen and then we'll discuss. >> are you going to stay as chairman and run this investigation? >> why would i not? you need ask them why these things are being said. >> can this investigation continue? >> why would i not. aren't i briefing you continuously and keeping you up to speed. that sounds like their problem. my colleagues are perfectly fine. they know we're doing an investigation and that will continue. >> did the trump administration seek to have sally yates not
testi testify? >> you're speculating. whenever there's time we'll hold a press conference. >> did they ask you to cancel the hearing today? >> come on. >> why did you cancel the hear sng. >> nothing's been canceled. >> the answers are perplexing np democrats say this looks liking a cover up and now the first gop congressman is calling for nunes, his recusal. what is going on here? >> i think you see the house intelligence committee imploding completely. i think you see democrats led by adam shift saying that nunes can't be -- can't do his job and can't do an impartial investigation. you see signs of so calledclusion and i'm not talking about the white house and the russians. i'm talking about nunes and the white house. and it's a difficult situation
which is why it makes sense to me to have an independent investigation or a joint committee or something that would take this or try to take this out of the realm of politics because you are dealing with serious national security issues here. i know that devin nunes says that we all ought to be concerned about the unmasking of people who were incidentally, in some of these communications, and all the rest. but that is a diversion. that is a side issue right now. the major issue in front of the congress is the question of any kind of russian ties to people in the trump transition. and -- >> we're not talking about -- we're focusing on how he got his information. why did he go here and there. you're there, april, every single day.
>> i agree whole heartedly but at issue and at question, can there be fair intelligence committee investigation on this? and at this point it does not look like it. even though the intel chair is saying that he's still in charge and really this is left up to speaker ryan. to see if this is really something that can fly because it doesn't look like it will be. he would be the one that would have to basically remove the intel chair and in question is the impruprities that have happened, checks and balances are not checks and balances right now. looks like check mate. >> i want to go to you because you broke the story regarding sally yates at the washington post. the white house were not a fan of your scoop. >> on the 24th, ms. yates attorney sent a letter to the white house counsel requesting
that consent saying if they did not receive a response by march 27th at 10:00 a.m., they would conclude that white house does not assert executive privilege over these matters. the white house took no action that prevented ms. yates from testifying. that's the story, that's what the documents show. the report in the washington post is 100% false. >> so he's right in a sense but context is everything because here's the thing. the hearing was canceled on friday so there was no need for them to reply. >> if you have a game rained out, you don't expect the refs to show up. there's one point i completely agree with. a lot of this russian reporting is based on sourcing. ours is based on a series of letters among lawyers. they should read the letters that are published with our story and makeup their own minds. the reality is what happens was
there was this back and forth that was somewhat contentious and when it seemed to be coming to a head, they pulled the plug on the hearing. >> here's the key point of your story. yates and another witness that plan meeting, former cia director john brennan had made clear by thursday that their testimony probably would contradict some statements that white house officials had made . and the next day the hearing was canceled. >> what you see in our letters and conversations with people familiar with these discussions is that both yates and brennan are trying to work through their former agencies and with the current government officials to make clear what they intend to say, where the lines are and they're having these discussions but with yates it became
complicated because of this whole issue of privilege and it was never really resolved because the hearing was canceled. >> while this house investigation seems to be stalling and people are questioning whether they can have one, the other question is where nunes got the surveillance intel. we don't like to reveal our sources. the white house is refusing to say who signed him on to the white house grounds. is that problematic? >> one. we're going to find out who signed him into the white house. look, it's washington. nobody keeps secrets in washington anymore. when you're a political official. just the appearance of it looks leak they're trying to hide something.
the white house has not been forth riet or willing to work with eethner department of justice or with capital hill, spiff clae the democrats. they have not been as forthcoming as they should have been. >> do you think we'll get answers? >> eventually. there's a lot of question about working for nunes who went to work at the white house on national security matters and so he would seem to be a natural suspect as it were to have at least facilitated this visit by nunes. >> but he was asked about michael ellis today and his response is "you're asking too many questions." >> right. >> i hate that. >> but can i just say on the
question of the executive privilege here. this was actually, to me, the most significant development today and a good thing for people who want to get at the truth. he took privilege off the table and that's astonishing. white house, democrats and republican jealously guard executive privilege as much as they can to thwart congressional investigators and whether he knew what sean spicer was going to say today or not, the fact is spicer locked the white house in to a position that really allows for testimony far beyond any other white house counsel. >> do you agree with that? >> it's a great point. absolutely. he gave the green light. >> her to testify.
i suppose this is a white house that occasionally changes its mind. i suppose they could come back tomorrow and say there are legal issues here and we don't want her to talk about x, y, and z. but it seemed spicer came out there. it didn't seem off the cuff and the fact that this story had been bcome public had sort of forced their hand and made them not want to seem to be covering up her testimony. >> guess what everyone? i have to get -- you're coming back because it's such a great panel. gloria, you'll be the first out of the break. show down in the white house press room.
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white house press secretary sean spicer lashing out about a reporter asking about alleged ties to russia. back with me my panel including that reporter, april. >> i give the floor to april. totally. >> as you do every single day, you ask tough questions. >> the last 20 years. >> so you asked about this russia connection. let's play it and then we'll talk about it. >> april, go ahead.
>> sean, don't seem so happy. you're like go ahead. anyway, with all these investigations, questions of what is is, how does this administration try to revamp its image two 1/2 months in. you got other things go s goin russia, wire tapping -- >> no, we don't have that -- i've said it from the day that i got here until whenever that there is no connection. you've got russia. if the president puts russian salad dressing on his salad, somehow that's a russian connection. but every single person -- i appreciate your agenda here but the reality is -- no, at some point report the facts np facts are that every single person that has been briefed on the subject has come away with the same conclusion.
republican, democrat. you're shaking your head. i appreciate it. but understand this at some point the facts are what they are and every single person who has been brief oden the situation are respect to the situation with russia, republican, democrat, obama appointee, career, have all come to the same conclusion. at some point, april, you're going to have to take no for an answer with respect to whether there is collusion. it seems like you're hell bent on making sure whatever image you want to tell about this white house stays. because at the end of the d day --. you're asking me a question and i'm going to answer. please stop shaking your head again. >> i mean, what are you a child? as you put it today. you said you were road kill today. he was so combative. >> he's frustrated. you can clearly see that and
today wasn't a pretty day np administration wanted to come out and combat this washington post story and anything about russia, they're very concerned with because of what's been happening with nunes. this whole scope from the day after the president was inaugurated, there's been problems from the podium, from the time they started talking about the crowd size to today. they're frustrated. they're trying to find their footing. i understand the job he's trying to do but i'm also doing my job as a reporter by asking the questions and i did not ask a question that was wrong. i asked after the series of questions from everyone in the room, how do you change the narrative from this negative picture to something that -- >> we don't have that. that's your narrative. which is odd to me because yes, that is the reality of it but
basically what she's saying is this is all your fault, buddy. >> i did not say that. >> these are some serious issues, right? and everyone's tense. i think what you're seeing in similar ways to the way the clinton email tested parts of government. it's testing government in different ways and people are stressed out. >> can i add one thing? what he said is not correct. the subject of potential russian collusion with the trump campaign or associates is the subject that everyone is investigating. and i interpreted his comment as saying that everyone's looked into this and nobody's found anything. well, the fbi's been investigating this since july. we don't know the conclusion of
that investigation. it is the subject we are all looking into and his statement made it look like it's been is asked, answered, looked at and moved on. that's not what director comey said last week. >> and april struck a nerve with sean spicer and we are watching him live on television every day. with lots of press secretaries over the years at that podium there are lots of contentious tos and froes, right? you all know that. but -- >> ever like this though, gloria? >> i don't know that it's ever been under a microscope like this. but there's been lot of contentious moments in those press rooms. but the problem he has and april, you know more than i do that the problem he has is he's pushing this boulder up a hill
and keeps getting rolled over by it and that's because the story won't go away and every effort, every effort they make, whether nunes is making the effort to cancel hearings or to divert people's attention to unmasking, which is really an issue that is not what's in front of everyone. whatever they try and do it isn't working. and i think today -- let me just say this to the earlier point, which is i think today sean spicer made a mistake. because he said we welcome yates' testimony and in doing so, in doing so he kind of opened a pandora's box because of course now seihe's going to testify and whether she does it publicly or privately, she's going to testify because he's
given her license to do so from the podium. >> i've seen contentious moments but never on a daily basis. >> if you go book to the lewinsky scandal you can find contentious moments. all of us know sean and all of us know april. this is the first time she mixed it up with the white house. it wasn't her fault. she was casking a simple questin they took umbridge with. she talks about pushing a boulder up the hill. he is being asked to go out and give the unanceerable. and often times -- >> he's not forced -- >> i know. but let me just say this because i do think i'll bring it full circle here. he's supposed to go out there and speak on behalf of the leader of the free world because we know that donald trump sits
back and watches the briefings. and he should be speaking directly to the american people and world leaders, what have you but he's really having to speak to donald trump because donald trump critiques everything. >> ands there is no question sean spicer's job is going to get easier. >> the key here is there are specific matters that the committee's can go into and advance the ball one way or another. certainly calling sally yates and michael flynn, putting him under oath, why he had those conversations with the russian ambassador and who instructed them or did he have conversations with the president about the conversations he was having with the russian ambassad ambassador? that's where the committee can get some facts on the table and we might start to get some
answers because this is going at an exceedingly slow pace. we're learning a lot about the atmospherics and very little about the core facts at hand and i think that's what we ought to all be focussed on. >> i want to get your response but i want to play this first. because you got mentioned a lot today. watch this. >> april ryan, a respected journalist with unrivalled integrity, was doing her job just this afternoon in the white house press room when she was pate ruinized and cut off trying to ask a question. one of your own california congresswoman, maxine waters was taunt woued with a racist joke t her hair. too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride.
but why should we have to? and any woman who thinks this couldn't be directed at her is living in a dream world. >> and we're back 92 campaign, it seems like. >> no, it wasn't the campaign. >> but seriously those are very strong words. what did you think of the secretary's comments? >> i was surprised. i arrived home and was with my daughters and someone said did you see hillary clinton and i was like no. and i saw it and couldn't believe it. i was shocked. but i did go on twitter and said preach. >> listen, yes, he does work for the white house but ultimately he works for the american people and he -- the american people
deserve the truth and you should be respectd and as long as you respect him, he should respect you and it was not a fair -- it was not good answer. >> well, let me say this to you. that end of the day, he's going to do his job and i'm going to come back tomorrow and i'm going to keep coming back. i understand what sean is dealing with and i understand what i'm dealing with as well. what i will say particulate of the picture is the fact when sean is like that or any press secretary is like that it's the reflection of the leader of the free world. the way he came in the briefing room was a reflection of the president of the united states. so the president probably was angry about the washington post article and other things that are going on and it showed in sean spicer in his appearance that podium today. >> yes, gloria, i got to cut you off. you're coming back.
all right. back now with my panel. we were talking about what happened in the briefing today. you wanted to weigh in. >> for all the folks on social media saying you're apologizing for sean spicer and you're against april ryan, let's be clear april and i go way, way back and we'll leave it at that. >> now you're insinueating something. >> 20 years this year. >> i wanted to apologize for tweeting during the break but one other point of something that happened today just to show how bad things are between the white house press core and the white house. first time i remember this has happened when the white house announced today it will not be sending or allowing any white house staffers to go to this
annual white house correspondent association dinner. president trump said he would not be there and the white house staff quote out of solidarity, will also not be going. in previous years news organizations didn't want to go because there's too much koezinekoecoz cozine coziness. >> i've never gotten so many invitations. >> it's an easy ticket this year. >> this year is the year to go. i will tell you this and i may not -- i shouldn't be telling you but i'm going to give you a little scoop. there will be a major theme and one of the major themes of the night will be freedom of the press. thatd is a major theme that night. that's going to be the over arcing theme and i will let you know this. some of the cabinet secretaries had been placed at some of the
tables. i shouldn't say this either. there supposedly was a cabinet secretary at bloomberg. so now with this memo to the whca, that will not happen. >> i guess i'm going to go now. i need to be there. so if you're cnn, i'm going. >> you can sit with me, don. >> all right. gloria, let's go if you'll be my date. this is all about the first amendment. so let's talk now about gloria, senior advisor, jared kushner who testified behind closed doors. this russian cloud is hovering over the inner circle. >> and with real reasons. we know he met with the russian ambassder and we just learned he met with an emsary from a russian bank with ties to putin
and you have to scratch your head and say did he do it as just a perfungtry meeting or as business man jared kushner and all you'd have to do is google it seconds you would have known it might not have been a great meeting for the president's son in law to take. was there something to it? was it just naivete? disorganization on the transition? which we know is disorganized. you can't jump to a conclusion. there's something definitely nefarious here, but you also have to look at the reporting here which says that this person, by the way this bank was under sanction, okay. so why would the president to be
son in law meet with this person who's under sanction. >> it's unclear if it adds up to anything or not but there's reason to question kushner's judgment. >> absolutely. that guy was a sanctioned individual and this is all the more reason why this and a lot more should be public hearings with people testifying so we can see answering all questions and we could take the measure of jared kushner who we never hear him talking. to get people under oath explaining what they were talking about, who they talked to, what instructions they had, this is key. and i just want to come back to the point i made before. we're nearly three months into this and i don't see the ball moving very fast. i think that's a dachger for the democrats as well as the white
house. the democrats have got to at some point or the people who think there's something there got to be showing some cards or coming up with something or this is going to look like just one big ---ing. >> and everybody -- >> you said not great for the democrats or the white house but not great for the american people because they have to live through this. i'll give you the final word on this because you broke that story today. >> i think one of the things people haven't keyed in on is what the white house did by saying we want her to talk, that actually increases the pressure on nunes. because they've canceled the hearing and haven't said when it's coming back. and that just puts nunes under more pressure. because everyone's fine with it so when have it going to happen? and i don't think that's a great moment for him either.
>> final word, quick. >> if the house doesn't do it, does the senate invite her up and she does it in the u.s. senate? >> it's going to be trouble pch you guys were great. i wish we had you for the whole two hours. good stuff. >> good night, don. >> don't shake your head, don. >> nice yellow, gloria. and don't start none, there won't be none. don't start causing trouble. actually keep your feet to the fire. we appreciate it. >> i just do what i do and ask questions. >> many on capitol hill rr calling for divin nunes to recuse himself. a cutting edge university counts on centurylink to keep their global campus connected. and why a pro football team chose us to deliver fiber-enabled broadband to more than 65,000 fans.
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the chairman are what a cover up to a crime looks like. why have you come to believe that? >> i said the actions by the white house and now using chairman nunes to further delay our investigation and don, russia attacked our democracy and our constituents want tuse take this as seriously as they do. michael flynn lied to the vice president about his contacts to the russian ambassador. senator sessions at the time mislead his conformation hearing. donald made a very deceitful claim about wire tapping by obama and now inviting the chairman over to the white house to see classified information and keeping all the committee members in the dark. i think we need to reclaim our independence. >> here's what you said about chairman nunes.
>> are you going to stay at chairman and run this investigation? >> why would i not? you need to go ask them why these things are being said. >> can this investigation continue with you as chairman? >> aren't i briefing you continuously and keeping you up to speed? >> but they're saying it -- >> you got to go talk to them. that sounds like their problem. my colleagues are perfectly fine. they know we're doing an investigation and that will continue. >> so he has confidence in himself. the question is do you have confidence. i'm wondering what your colleagues are saying or knowing. >> i worked well with him in the past but for the independence and credibility of this investigation he should recuse himself. the republican also is calling for that
a lot of what we do doesn't involve russia and for him to be the chairman of the committee, it serves us well if he steps aside for the russian investigation. >> let's talk about the former acting attorney general, sally yates. they say they did not communicate about her testimony and they want to hear from her. so why did the chairman cancel that hearing? >> we were supposed to be -- i should be here reporting what we heard from yates, brennan. that was supposed to be a continuation of the public hearing we had. no reason was given but we know sally yates had sought to testify, wanted to make sure the white house wasn't going to claim a privilege and a letter urged her to be cautious about what she said thp pis is what you do when you don't want information in the public light and i think the white house could be more forthcoming.
>> you think that the white house did not want her to testify publicly at least or did not want her to be heard from because it would not look good? >> it's sure easy to say we want her to testify the day that the hearing is canceled. that's not what their actions were when the hearing was set up and she had agreed to come in and was already ready to appear. it's very convenient for them to say that now. i think we need try their word and asee if they allow her to do it. >> here's what your web page shows. it's argraphic connecting the dots. given that so much is so uncertain in this investigation. do you think this is premature? and would it be better if you waited for all the evidence? i think what you said, correct me if i'm wrong is you have to figurier out if this is a
confluence of events or if there's a conflict. >> they went after what we hold sacred, free and fair elections. and right now there are serious thoughts that continue to connect personal financial and political ties that trump and his team had that were converging at the time of the russian interference and i think the american people want to better understand that especially when so much of our work is done in a classified setting. all we want is to follow the evidence, see where it takes us. it's in our president's interest if this is not a pattern to be clear. and people need to be held accountable. >> thank you very much. coming up the white house says it made no attempt to block sally yates from testifying so why was her testimony canceled?
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michael moore. he's a former u.s. district attorney. and an adviser to the trump campaign. i want to speak with you now first, mr. moore. the former acting attorney general sally yates, other intelligence officials, they have been asked to testify before the house intelligence committee this week on these links between russian officials and members of the trump campaign, but then on friday chairman nunes suddenly cancelled that. you know sally yates. what do you believe would have happened today if that hearing had happened as it was supposed to? >> don, i don't think there is any question at all that the white house does not want sally yates to testify. they may say they do. i heard spicer today say they would be happy to testify. there's no credibility coming out of the executive branch right now. i think also when you think
about it you're likely to hear that president trump's vindication has turned into implication. the worst thing that can happen from a lawyer's point of view is for your client to get caught up in somebody else's wiretap. that's what it sounds like has happened here. somebody in the trump team either in the transition team or the executive branch now is probably caught up in a tap. i don't think there's any question they did not want her to testify. i'm not surprised to hear him say, oh, we're all for it. i think probably a week or so now when the hearing gets rescheduled you'll start to hear things from white house lawyers who say we think there may be presidential privilege there and suddenly spicer and other members of the executive branch will say we can't do this, but our lawyers tell us not to. >> i want to remind our viewers about sally yates because she's not exactly popular with the
administration. back in january, yates ordered the justice department not to defend the president's executive travel order. the president remarked she had betrayed the administration. she is the official that notified the white house that michael flynn may have misled officials about his meeting with russia. flynn was later fired for that. if she testified publicly today, would that have been a further blow to this administration already under a lot of pressure after last week's hearing? >> i don't know. number one, the white house did not stand in the way of the white house testifying. it was the chairman of the committee, and you have said that. i checked with devin nunes' office. they said they had no communications with the white house about cancelling it. seems to me she'd have a tough time testifying because here was a woman who he wwas a prosecuto. she was looking into the russian
wiretap. she apparently knew about general flynn's conversation with the russians, and now she's a witness. i don't exactly see how she shifts gears and wears two different hats. >> what sort of wiretap was she looking to? >> i don't know, but she felt like flynn had been compromised, so she had that information from some source. then there's -- >> would that make her a more credible witness if she has all this knowledge of the investigation? >> i don't know because i don't know how you switch between, hey, i'm on your team to now i'm just a bystanding witness. we have to remember this is a very political set of hearings, so i just think she would be a very -- an interesting witness to put it mildly, but as i understand what devin nunes had to do was he wanted to get comey back in before he had yates and before he had clapper back.
needed to have an invitation. comey said i want to have adam schiff's signature. >> her attorney said she would be speaking on things that had already been commented on by officials both democrat and republican and intel officials as well. >> you know, they always say that, but then they get in the hearings and i've seen it where witnesses say things -- they get out of their lane. remember again the white house did not stop her. they had the opportunity to invoke privilege, but they did not. >> did the white house stop her? >> sally is a consummate professional. i think the fact that the white house didn't give a yes or no but stayed silent on it, she decided with counsel there's an issue here. the idea that she's somehow p t partisan or obama appointee, if that's the case, and i like jack and he's done some good things in south georgia when he was representing us, but that means
nunes, who was basically on transition team, has no business leading the investigation because it may be skewed some way. that's just not the system we have. sally is a professional. she was acting attorney general at the time. she was privy to information. it's not uncommon, i don't think, to have the attorney general give information to a congressional committee. this is really one of the most important things we can be talking about. that's whether or not we got in bed with the enemy. >> do you think there should be an independent committee? do you think they can still do their job? >> i think they can do their jobs. on cnn tonight you had james langford. people forget the senate has a totally different -- maybe the sniping back and forth that you see in the house is totally the opposite of what you have in the senate. they're going step by step, democrat and republican, and having a very dignified hearing and investigation. i think the house unfortunately there is a lot of politics
around it, and that's what i would be concerned about. >> i've got to go. thank you. appreciate it. straight ahead, jared kushner's meeting with a russian bank who has ties to vladimir putin. he'll now be questioned by a senate committee. wherever you are. it's your trade. e*trade youthat's why you drink ensure. sidelined. with 9 grams of protein and 26 vitamins and minerals. for the strength and energy to get back to doing... ...what you love. ensure. always be you. could save money on car insurance.nce you know, the kind of driver who always buckles up... comes to a complete stop... and looks both ways, no matter what. because esurance believes that's the kind of driver who deserves to save money on car insurance.
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