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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  March 30, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT

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>> reporter: [ inaudible ] what effect do you think that could have on the chairman's indications? >> i don't know whether -- i don't know anything about the materials yet. so i'm not in a position to say whether these were enter cements between foreign parties, i just don't know. i don't even know if these are intercepts. again, i'm in the either envy yabl or unenviable position of not knowing what these materials are. but i think people need to understand the process of figuring out how these were collected, were they properly collected, were they properly december se disseminated, were they properly masked or unmasked, we look at these issues all the time. it is not new for our committee, which makes it so irregular it would be presented to us in this way. in is within our ordinary wheelhouse. there is a proper way to put it before the committee. that certainly was not followed here, and the white house ought
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to explain why that wasn't followed here. but there is a good way to answer these questions and we will do our best to answer these questions, but we will not lose sight of the russia investigation and we are going to keep focus on that. yes. >> reporter: has there been any up tick in attacks on your or your staffers' computers or i.t. networks or anything since this investigation has been going on? >> i'm not aware of anything like that. thank you very much. >> reporter: i'm john berman. this is the lead. that was adam schiff, congressman from california, the ranking member of the house of intelligence committee. a fascinating news conference. he confirmed he has been invited by the white house to go to the white house and look at documents that the white house now says were collected by the national security council staff in the routine conduct of doing business that they say draws questions to some of the things they were looking into before about whether u.s. intelligence
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collected information and intelligence on u.s. citizens. this, of course, all gets to russia and the investigation into trump associates, whether or not they were coordinating with the russians during the election and the claim from president trump that he was wire tapped -- that's been discredited. he went to expand it to say perhaps he was surveilled after the fact. adam schiff has been invited to the white house, so as the ranking member and majority members of the intelligence committee, and this all comes on the same day the "new york times" published a report saying two white house staffers, two people who worked in the white house are the ones that shared with republican devin nunes that information which chairman nunes indicates to him that trump associates were picked up in incidental surveillance. i want to get to mother yo raja on capitol hill who was listening to that. it was fascinating. >> reporter: it was. and also him not saying whether or not the "new york times" report was accurate because he,
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frankly, doesn't know. adam schiff met with devin nunes earlier today in an attempt to try to get this information to move forward, and it is essentially as we know have broken down in the aftermath of devin nunes going to the white house, briefing the president of the united states on this secret information he got, but not telling the committee about it and not sharing that information. now, schiff says that they actually do not discuss this issue earlier today when he met with devin nunes earlier today. he did not discuss who the source wachlt s. he did not discuss whether anyone in the white house authorized him to get on white house grounds. i asked schiff about that and he said it did not come up in the conversation. schiff raising a profound concern that the information that the white house is suddenly making available to them comes at the same day as this "new york times" report suggesting two white house officials were involved in authorizing mr. nunes to review this information, saying that why all of the, quote, cloak and dagger
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in providing this information to the committee as, you know, when all of these questions have been raised about whether or not the white house was involved in any way. so a major question about whether or not this investigation can go forward and whether or not the white house was involved in trying to undercut this investigation. i tried to get schiff on that directly, do you think the white house tried to undercut this investigation in any way, you're hinting at it. he would not go there, saying he wants to see the information first but raising concerns about how the whole thing played out. john, one more thing. we have not heard from devin nunes yet since the release of the "new york times" report, his staff putting out a statement saying they're not going to comment on any of their sources until -- we'll see what devin nunes has to say when he gets into california later today and perhaps in washington next week. >> stand by. manu brings up what is the key question here. the "new york times" reports two white house staffers shared information with house intelligence chair devin nunes.
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after that report came out, the white house invited other members of congress, members of the intelligence leadership, to come view information. we do not know if it is the same information, that is a huge question. if it is the same information, it does beg the question why the white house waits more than a week after giving it to devin nunes to give it to the other members of congress. i want to go straight to the white house, bring in cnn senior white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, at the white house press conference today sean spicer faced a lot of questions and gave some very careful answers. >> reporter: extremely careful answers, john, that's right. ai aides to the president are reeling from questions about whether they provided information to the chairman. that is hardly the only headache for this white house where a staff shakeup is also underway. the white house danced around a report in the "new york times" that two white house officials provided information to house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes, intended to bolster
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president trump's claim he was wire tapped by former president obama. >> i'm not commenting on the reports, not getting into it. >> reporter: the white house press secretary sean spicer revealed the administration sent a letter to the intelligence committees offering what the west wing sees as helpful details. >> we have sent a letter within the past few hours to both of those committees that there was surveillance that occurred during the 2016 election that was improper and that we want people to look into this. >> reporter: just last week spicer pushed back on the notion white house officials would be involved in assisting nunes when he made the mysterious trip on the white house grounds. >> it doesn't seem to make a ton of sense, so i'm not aware of it but it doesn't really pass the smell test. >> reporter: spicer was pressed on those comments today. >> i was very clear that i said based on what chairman nunes has said i believe -- the following doesn't make sense. your obsession with who talked to whom and when is not the answer here. it should be the substance.
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>> reporter: amid the questions about the russia investigation and in the aftermath of the recent healthcare debacle, the white house is shaking up its staff. with deputy chief of staff katie walsh leaving the west wing for an occupant side group that will support the trump agenda in hopes of avoiding another obamacare-like defeat. walsh is avoiding questions on whether reince priebus could be on his way out. >> with miswalsh's departure today, are you expecting more staffing stakups in the west wing? >> no. >> reporter: now, a source on the house intelligence committee says the panel received the letter sean spicer mention at today's briefing and provided it to us. this is it right here, john. the letter does invite, as you were just hearing from manu and from the chairman, the ranking member of the committee, does invite the intelligence committee members to come over and review documents being made available by national security officials in the white house. council lawyers, and it says that the white house remains
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committed to cooperating with the committee. john, this letter obviously stands in stark contrast to what devin nunes did last week, which is come over here and review materials in a way that was just not shared with the rest of the committee, the democrats on the committee. this obviously appears to be an attempt by the white house to put a more -- i guess up front and, you know, public process into motion, john. >> it is a key point. sharing, cooperating now more than a week after might have shared the same information with chairman nunes. jim acosta at the white house. thanks so much. while the intelligence committee was trying to get on the same page, the senate intelligence committee hearing held open hearings on its investigation into russia. what was said about russian meddling in the u.s. election is next.
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i want to be clear. the "new york times" says devin nunes was brought to the white house grounds and briefed by ezra cohen watnik and michael ellis, a lawyer that works on national security issues at the white house counsel's office and someone that used to work with devin nunes on the house intelligence committee. it is these two individuals that work on the white house grounds that gave him whatever information the chairman says he has that trump associates or officials were picked up in incidental surveillance during the transition. the white house does not deny this report today, and they'll deny pretty much anything at any time. they have no problem with denials. the fact they didn't deny it raises this question of whether or not the white house, white house staffers were coordinating with the house intelligence chair during this investigation. >> reporter: that's absolutely right. not only is the white house not
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denying it, neither is devin nunes as well. in fact, michael ellis that you mentioned is one of the sources in that "new york times" report who is suggested, i actually asked devin nunes earlier this week specifically was michael ellis, who is a former aide on the house intelligence committee to devin nunes, was he a source. he would not say, said i'm not going to talk about my sources and methods. i also asked him can you rule out there's anyone at the white house involved at all, in any way either to give you the information oraa lou you on the grounds to review this information. he said, i'm not going to answer that question. i have answered these questions over and over again, i am not going to go there. he has not suggested that. now, the question that adam schiff raised at his press conference is why did the white house apparently allow chairman nunes to come and review this information, apparently from white house staff, and have mr. nunes brief the president the next day, and before even talking to the committee about it. it seemed rather circuitous and
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as he mention, quote, cloak and dagger. why not have the staff tell the president and leave the investigation out of it? i tried to get adam schiff to say, are you suggesting that the white house is trying to undercut and stall this investigation. he would not go there yet, but he did say it raises significant questions about the credibility of the house investigation and the question is whether or not they can actually produce anything on a bipartisan basis of russia meddling. >> why the secret trip to the white house and dramatic trip back to the white house to brief the president when two white house staffers could take a not-so-dramatic walk down the hall to brief the president. an poor question. i want to bring jessica schneider in because you have been covering the senate intelligence committee that held its first hearing today. the significance perhaps greater because they've been trying to paint a contrast to the relative disarray and disharmony on the house side. >> reporter: yes, really all business in the senate intel committee today. experts right now testifying that russian interference during
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the election may have been a lot more wide ranging than previously believed, not only do they blame a lot of the fake news spread on russian trolls but those testifying today say the russian meddling was in full effect during both the democratic and republican primary. so it looks like hillary clinton wasn't the only overt target here. one of the experts saying that senator marco rubio was an inadvertent target, and this afternoon senator rubio revealing for the first time his staff was the target of repeated hacking attempts by russian ip addresses, first right after rubio announced his reelection bid for senate in july 2016 and one attempt happening as recently as yesterday morning. >> a second attempt was made, again, against former members of my presidential campaign team who had access to our internal information. again, target from an ip address from an unknown location in russia, and that effort was also unsuccessful. >> reporter: so senator rubio not disclosing a lot more
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details, but it does go to the belief that russia meddling was wide ranging, happening over the span of many months during the campaign. according to expert it, it is still happening today. those experts even cited the recent smear campaign against house speaker paul ryan after the failure of his healthcare bill, john, as the results of some of that russian meddling. so a lot to be uncovered here. just the beginning of one of many hearings in the senate intel committee. >> it was really fascinating how much you can learn when partisanship is not as much a part of it. jessica schneider in washington for us. thank you so much. it was supposed to easy concerns by ivanka trump's white house job is raising questions like will the president fire his own daughter if she wasn't cutting it. that's next. it's off to work we go! woman: on the gulf coast, new exxonmobil projects are expected to create over 45,000 jobs. and each job created by the energy industry supports two others in the community. altogether, the industry supports over 9 million jobs nationwide.
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ca all right. welcome back to "the lead." as we first reported yesterday, ivanka trump is formally becoming a white house employee with title of assistant to the president which is a significant title. her elevation raising red flags for ethics experts. the latest installment of "conflict of interest watch." christina joins me now. does her official role in the white house ease ethics concerns? >> no, it does not. that's a short answer. it is a step in the right direction because now she is required to disclose assets and that could come any day now. look, when the white house job wasn't official, ivanka didn't have to provide that information. but here is the problem. ivanka still owns her fashion business and gets paid from it as well as from the trump organization. so those ties give the ethics community a reason to ask, is she making policy decisions for the good of the country or for
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her own bottom line. in order to resolve conflicts all together she would have to sell and she said she can fix this by recusing herself all together from certain decisions, but who is going to police that? ethics experts don't trust this white house to do it, and as for the nepotism concerns, the white house says the justice department is on its side. it also says that this position, ivanka's is an unpaid one which satisfies the letter of the law, john. >> one more item on the conflict of interest watch as it were. the trump organization pursuing perhaps another hotel in the nation's capitol? what is going on here? >> well, if it happens it would be really controversial. i spoke to one of the d.c. developers, a competitor to the trump organization frankly, and he said the trump organization has been scouting locations for months, multiple groups are actually interested in funding this project. here is what jumped out when i was reporting this. the developer said that, quote, interest in partnering with the
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trump organization has exploded since the election. the trump organization in response says it is always looking for projects but it has nothing new to announce right now. they're not exactly denying it, and this hotel would be different than the existing one. it would be branded the scion hotel, which is the mid price line that the trump organization announced in september. again, that's different than the existing one. as you know, that one has the trump name all over it. it has really been a flash point in this controversy over the president's conflict of interests. trump goes to eat there, his cabinet secretaries are spotted there. >> a lot. >> and that raises the question whether you can buy access, and competing hotels and restaurants are crying unfair competition. look, a second d.c. hotel would definitely open a new line of questioning at this point. >> all right, christina. thank you for being with us. appreciate it. >> what would happen in the investigation of the trump campaign in russia? i'm going to ask senator rand paul live coming up.
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welcome back. more on our politics lead as we follow breaking news. house intelligence committee ranking member adam schiff says a "new york times" report raises profound questions about who showed classified information to chairman devin nunes last week. joined by senator rand paul, republican of kentucky. thank you for being with us. >> thank you. >> i'm sure you have seen the "new york times" report that chairman nunes had at least two white house sources for that classified information that he then turned around and reported to the president. does that chain of events, the idea that the white house shared it with the chairman who then shared it back with the president, and the idea that they were talking about an investigation in the white house associates, does it concern you? >> it sounds like a lot of breathless reporting about the
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president was told classified material. i thought he was allowed to reed classified material. i see the reporting and i don't understand a bit about what people are talking about. what is the alleged impropriety with showing the president classified material? >> i think what people are looking at is the fact that white house staffers shared it with one member of the intelligence committee and not the ranking member as well, just the republican -- >> and -- >> hang on. just the republican on it -- and, you know, without sharing with the whole committee, and then that ranking member made a point of -- sorry, the chairman made a point of rushing back to the white house to brief the president. just looks odd, it looks odd they would tell him and he would tell him. >> here is the point with the reporting. i hear that the suspects -- you are calling two people in the white house who work there whom i don't know and don't believe i have met, are you calling them suspects. >> i never called them suspects. >> well, the networks. i don't know which networks, but the networks are calling them
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suspects. noti you know, really? what if these two people are whistleblowers? don't we like whistleblowers in government? somebody spied on general flynn and illegally released the information of a phone conversation he had to the media. that is a felony. this was in the trump administration -- i mean in the obama administration of the trump campaign. so everything the president has said about this is true. someone eaves dropped on his campaign including his national security adviser and then leaked it to the press. that's a news story. >> just a couple of things here, senator. the president said wire tap, that he and trump tower were wire tapped. hang on, hang on. again, you are making your points here and they're valid point. i want to make sure we get straight what they are. general flynn was picked up in, you know, a conversation with the russian ambassador during the transition. that wasn't during the campaign, it was during the transition. wouldn't that fall under the category of the incidental collection that we hear so much about?
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>> all right. >> you know that we eavesdrop and surveilled foreign diplomats. >> a couple of points, phones don't have wires on them anymore. the term wire tapping essentially means to most people eavesdropping. was general flynn part of trump's campaign, part of the transition? yes. did someone eavesdrop on him? absolutely true. did someone illegally leak it to the press? absolutely true. so i think we've been parsing this, but i think it is mostly been unhappiness over the election. people are unhappy that donald trump won, so they parse the words wire tapped. was general flynn's phone conversation listened to? yes. so the media says it is incidental, no big deal. actually, it is a very big deal. many civil libertarians like myself are worried that a million americans are having their phone calls listened to because we're targeting foreigners, but what's to stop them from reverse targeting americans? >> so you've been absolutely
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consistent on this for your entire career, you have, and you have been talking about this long before russia. i want to give you credit for that, sir. i want to ask you, i know you don't like talking about this at all. i know you would rather be talking about issues including healthcare, and i know you blame the media for a large part of this discussion. but do you hold the white house at all responsible for their lack of disclosure in their, you know, incremental disclosure and the way they handled this? do you think they could do it any better? >> all of us can do a better job. all of us make mistakes, myself included. i do think it is sort of this witch hunt. i mean all day this breathless stuff, the suspects that met secretly with the chairman. they all have the ability -- if someone is a whistleblower and they know someone illegally looked at general flynn's information, absolutely, i want them to come forward. they probably can't meet me at a starbuck's. they probably would meet you in a secure room, either in the capital or the white house, but the fact that they may have met in a secure room in the white house doesn't make it wrong.
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it actually makes it noble that someone is trying to clear up the mess of who spied on general flynn because no one is denying that general flynn was spied upon by the obama administration. >> we don't know much about the information, but one of the things chairman nunes told us is that it wasn't about russia at all. this information was not about michael flynn and his conversations with russia, but i want to move on to healthcare for both of our sakes right now. the president lashing out at conservatives in the house forstalling the healthcare overhaul. today he went to switter and this is what he wrote. the freedom caucus will hurt the entire republican agenda if they don't get on the team and fast. we must time them and dems in 2018. he is talking about the freedom caucus which was in the house, but you were a big proponent of this healthcare fan, saying that he is going to campaign against people like you next chance he gets. >> i think the freedom caucus is doing what is best for america. they're very principle willed and honorable men.
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i think that we're trying to also let republicans know if we pass something bad, if insurance rates are going up at 20%, 25% a year from now after republicans have taken ownership of healthcare, that won't be good for the party. it is also just not good for the country. we do want insurance rates to go down. we want more people to have insurance at a lower cost, and i'm still talking to the white house. i am still talking to the freedom caucus. i am talking to anybody that will listen, and i do still think -- i think 70%, 75% we still get repeal of obamacare, that we are going to find a good meeting place at some point. >> is pressuring conservatives in this way from the white house the right way to get to that deal? >> everybody uses what they have. so it does take pressure from all sides to try to get to an agreement. it is the way deadlines work. we go at each other back and forth, but the thing is as much as i have objected to the ryan plan, i still think paul ryan and i probably agree on 90% of
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how we would do it. it just got mashed down from the top too much, and if they would let it percolate from the bottom up a little biltmore at more ane conservatives anti-i think there's a happy meeting ground that will please ryan, the caucus and conservatives and others, but it takes time to hash it out. we get closer every day. >> senator rand paul of kentucky, i know we caught you between votes. i appreciate your time. >> no problem. thank you. >> it is a conservative watchdog group that sued to get hillary clinton state department e-mails, now it is taking on the president. stay with us.
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all right. welcome back to "the lead." sticking with politics now, amid the swirling questions about russia and healthcare, senior white house official also immediate privately with top leaders of conservative groups. in attendance was thomas fit, the president of judicial watch. a watchdog group that sued obama administration for access to former secretary of state hillary clinton's e-mails. they're calling on the trump administration to be as transparent as possible when it comes to russian. thomas fin ton joins me now. thank you for being with us. you were at this private, somewhat secret meeting. what was the white house
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reaction to your suggestion they be as transparent as possible when it comes to the ties of associates of president trump and russia. >> it is my view of the left is trying to destroy president trump and the response to that ought to be extreme transparency. whether it be benghazi, the irs, clinton e-mails and the russia story, let's get the information out there. i think president trump doesn't understand that the bureaucracy is getting in the way with clearing the air on this and just releasing these records in response to freedom of information act requests and such. to rely on congress to get at this, you're seeing the result of that. congress is in a bickering mode. the republicans and democrats are going to fight about the scope and nature of the investigation. so, you know, the president has an obligation to figure out what went on and order his agencies to start releasing information so the american people can get
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it straight out. >> how did the trump administration take your advice? >> i think they generally agree. i mean they were in receive mode. my chief concern is that the position of the trump administration in our freedom of information act litigation, even that over clinton e-mail issues hasn't changed from the obama administration. it is my view the trump administration has not come fully into power in terms of who is running the agency in terms of transparency issues. it is now getting to april and may and this transitional period, there has to be accountability. i think there's an opportunity for a transparency revolution on these issues, whether it be russia or, frankly, the clinton e-mails or president obama's involvement in the russia scandal. >> on this issue of transparency, we have an issue over the last week where chairman nunes was briefed by white house officials on some intelligence more than a week ago, and people asked where he got it, who talked to him, they asked to see it. the white house didn't release it, the chairman didn't release it. only today a week later the
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white house is inviting other members of the congress to come over. does that pass the transparency test? >> well, you know, it is hard to complain about information being disclosed to congress who -- and the committee chairman who has the top responsibility for handling intelligence information in the congress, and then a week later them further disclosing it to other members of the same committee. you know, i think they're on the right path here, and i think if anything they're too cautious in playing the typical washington approach and saying, well, the president shouldn't get involved in this. so, therefore, we're going to let the staff deal with it only through congress, and the president should just say, hey, i'm president. the response to nunes' involvement with the white house by the left seems to suggest they don't accept the president is president. nunes is right to go to the white house and right to go to the national security council about these matters, and, frankly, they should bring other people presuming they're going to honestly abide by the requirements of classification
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issues. and as i say, declassify as much as they can in a way the american people know what's happening but in a way that doesn't harm our ability to gather this information in the future. >> let me just play something that the fbi director james comey said yesterday. he obviously has been at the center of a lot of these investigations, and a lot of the issues that you've been concerned about over the last couple of years. listen to what he said. >> now, we're not fools. i know when i make a hard decision, it is going to follow. but honestly i don't care. if i have thought about it carefully and am doing the right thing, making the right judgment, it doesn't matter what is going to follow because it is not about that. honestly, the death of the independent fbi would lie on the path to considering impact. >> your response there? do you think it is a fair assessment of how he does his job? >> unsurprisingly, director comey agrees with director comey on his decisions. he is a political figure in washington as much as the head of any other cabinet agency, and
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the fbi should be recognized as a political agency the way other agenciness the federal government are. com comey made political decisions in the handling of clinton e-mail investigation, he made political decisions in the handling of the illegal leak investigation or non-investigation over what was done with general flynn's transcript and other information. he is as political a figure as herbert hoover in my view. >> thank you for talking to us. >> you're welcome. >> the president addressed the war on isis this week saying the u.s. troops are fighting like never before. but the war is not just a gruesome fight waged on the streets of iraq and syria. it is an attack on the hearts and minds. we see countless examples of young men and women lured by ice ills propaganda who return home indoctrinated. what turns a seemingly normal person into a potentially hate-filled killer? explores how a former catholic
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altar boy fled the comforts belgium for the brutality of the battlefield. >> reporter: meet uni unice dellafortrae, a 28-year-old isis veteran. he offers a rare insight into the mind much an unrepentant isis supporter. >> we are muslims who are dreaming of a caliphate. every muslim in the world, even if he has a beard from one meter to one millimeter, a muslim has to believe in a caliphate. >> reporter: that dream lead him to the civil war in syria and to isis. he says he never killed anyone there. let me ask you something. if you had been asked while you were in syria to execute someone, would you have done it? >> look, in islam there is the pledge of alliance. >> reporter: would you have done it? >> because you have to obey the amir. >> reporter: so you would have? >> that is islamic law. believe me, it is not a funny think to execute people.
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it is something terrible, but, yeah. >> all right. clarissa roy joins me now. it is a fascinating profile. what, if anything, in your conversations with him surprised you? >> i think what is so surprising about him is that on paper he sounds every bit this kind of terrifying jihadi. he wants to live under sharia law, he would like it implemented in the west. he has no problems with the group's brutal tactics, with its warped ideology. when you meet him and spend time with him, there's a kind of whiplash because in person he seems on the surface to be utterly unremarkable, to be similar to other young men. he is wearing a hooded sweat shirt and jeans with his sneakers. he likes to play video games. he has women problems. he has been married three times. so there's a kind of disconnect between on the one hand embodying this hateful ideology and on the other hand being incredibly normal in many way. >> now he is back in belgium,
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what is his lifelike? do authorities know about him? >> of course, authorities know about him well. he had a three-year suspended sentence and he has recently been charged with domestic abuse. so he is certainly on the radar of authorities. but unice poses a unique problem to european security services and there are thousands of europeans who have gone and joined the battle field with isis, because how do you know whether someone is actually a ticking time bomb or whether they just hold really offensive beliefs? because technically, as you know, there is freedom of speech, we have religious liberty. you're not able to arrest someone simply for having an ideology that is morally repel enlt to other people. that leaves authorities with the difficult decision of trying to ascertain who is a ticking time bomb and who is maybe just an extremist. it is not an easy thing to ascertain. >> these are important questions and this documentary sounds
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fascinating. clarissa ward, thanks so much. be sure to tune in to "isis behind the mask" tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. a staff shake up a couple of months into the west wing. who is leaving and why. ays searr ways to manage my symptoms. i thought i had it covered. then i realized managing was all i was doing. when i finally told my doctor, he said humira was for people like me who have tried other medications,... but still experience the symptoms of moderate to severe crohn's disease. in clinical studies, the majority of patients on humira saw significant symptom relief... ...and many achieved remission. humira can lower your ability to fight infections... ...including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers,... including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions,... ...and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb,... ...hepatitis b, are prone to infections, ...or have flu-like symptoms or sores. don't start humira if you have an infection.
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closed captioning brought to you by -- all right. welcome back. sticking with politics, lots to talk about with the panel today. you know, the "new york times" reporting two white house officials helped give chairman devin nunes intelligence reports. you know, white house sources, people that work in the white house, errol lewis, are these whistleblowers? >> that's interesting. as a legal category if they should resort to that -- i would classify them as political operatives who found an easy mark, who picked up one of the most distasteful political
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chores the white house was looking for somebody to pull it off. sean spicer couldn't pull it off. the intelligence agencies wouldn't play ball. they wanted nothing to do with it, to conduct a real investigation. devin nunes was there for the plucking and two operatives went after him and succeeded. >> sean spicer directly, alex burns, said the idea that the white house coordinated this information with devin nunes doesn't pass the smell test. what does it smell like now? >> well, interestingly, i think it was the same briefing sean spicer repeatedly cited devin nunes' own words in saying that his source was not a member of the white house staff, but spicer himself did not make that claim, right? so it is sort of a denial that appears now not to hold up, that was sort of -- you know, laundered through the member of congress, right? so, look, it is pretty spritrik that sean spicer wouldn't come out and deny this report giving how free the white house is about denying things. like everything about the russia
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investigation, you see question piled on top of question piled on top of question. >> the chain of custody of this information is peculiar, it just is, what the white house told devin nunes and who knew what when. but essie, what about the information itself? at a certain point don't we need to know what was said and shouldn't it be measured on its own merit cincinnati. >> yeah, it is remarkable that sean spicer was so hostile with the media about these process questions. really, the process here matters. i tend to agree with sean most of the american public generally doesn't care about process. when it comes to this story i think process will prove important. we want to know the chain of this information moving through, why they went to devin nunes and not to the committee, why now they're opening it up to everyone on the committee, as they should have probably done before. it is very clear that people are not talking to other people, and i actually wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that sean didn't really know where the
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information came from when he said it didn't come from the white house. we have seen him do that before, where he's said, no, this didn't happen and then it turned out it did and he kind of had to say, well, i didn't know at the time that it happened. what we do know is there's a lot of disorganization, and what is surprising is trump might not know how these investigations work but certainly people inside the white house like mike pence and reince priebus do. so you would think they would be a bit more careful and organized. >> john, we should keep in mind this is pretty low grade information. they were looking for somebody to try to make the president's unfounded claim about being wire tapped -- >> true. >> -- appear somewhat plausible, if not actually true. so it was always kind of just an excuse. it wasn't any kind of real devastating information. the notion of incidental collection, okay, we all learned a little bit of something. but it seems kind much obvious and not all of that information in a way. >> look, all we know because all devin nunes has told us is that it is probably legal, it was probably incidental collection and not about russia. rand paul before, you know, he
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thinks any incidental collection is spying. i don't think people in the intelligence community feel the same way. it means you are recorded on a conversation, picked up on a conversation with somebody they are looking into it. it is a separate and different things. alex if we can move to other issues because there's a ton else that happened today. the second major white house departure -- and we're 69, 70 days into the administration, katie walsh, the deputy chief of staff, gone. what does it tell you about the inner workings of the white house? >> it tells the direction the staff is moving is not where you would expect it to be at this point in the administration. this is an administration that is understaffed as it is. they have not filled out all of the sort of senior posts in the cabinet, even some in the white house. to have a staff departure at this point, you know, what they came out and said is katie walsh was going to support an outside group that will provide air covering with advertising for president trump's agenda. it is really, really early in the political cycle for that kind of thing to happen. you know, the folks i have spoken to in washington are skeptical of the notion everything is fine except they
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want more television advertising. >> look, it is importance. she is a rienls priebus guy. her loyalty was to the republican national committee and reince priebus and what his future holds. we will wait to see what it holds for him. i want to talk supreme court and predom caucus. which do you want? >> freedom caucus is fascinating. the idea that paul ryan wants to leave this piece of legislation in the hands of people that demonstrated over and over again, much to his embarrassment, they're not all that interested in leg slating. >> i don't know that's fair. these people have constituents at home. >> these people, by the way, whom the president attacked today. he said he wanted to run against potentially in 2018. >> yeah, try passing legislation without 30 people. you can't get a bill passed without 207 -- right, right, you can't get a bill passed without someone in the freedom caucus, some democrats maybe. so that's not very politically smart. but these guys have constituents at home to answer to, and back at home the obamacare repeal,
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the new healthcare bill was not popular. so i think they're doing exactly what they were elect to do, which is not to make the president look good, which is not to handled over what the president demand, but what is to represent their constituents. >> just the last few minutes we have breaking news. democratic senator joe man chan of west virginia says he will vote to confirm neil gorsuch to be supreme court justice. probably the most conservative member of the democratic caucus. what does it mean for the confirmation process? >> the bigger question is whether he will vote in favor of the democratic effort to filibuster. >> he will not filibuster. >> but in terms of will he vote with republicans to change the filibuster rule or stick with the democrats and force them to walk the line. >> he told me he won't. >> i think if the democrats see the writing on the wall and neil gore stuch is going there, and
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maybe one or two red state senators up for election, they can go home and say, look, i haven't opposed the president all the time. >> errol lieu w, s.e. cupp, thank you so much. that is all for john blake. >> happening now, breaking news. secret sources reveal the "new york times" reports two senior white house officials helped house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes view information on the white house grounds. the white house invites others to do the same. they accept but voices profound concern at the trump administration's actions. widespread meddling. the senate intelligence committee gets a chilling briefing on russia's election meddling involving cyberattacks, fake news and paid internet trolls. we will hear from a national security expert. threatening his part