tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN March 30, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
>> the left has kept saying all along, why didn't the president just call, pick up the phone and ask the fbi or the justice department if he was being wiretapped. he could have done that. but the minute he did that, if he had done it, then he would have been accused of interfering with the investigation. >> that's not what this is about. >> jack, you should be -- jack, you're the one who should be mad here. someone who comes on tv to defend the administration. you should be mad that they've made your job so difficult over the last week. >> no, no, no. >> look what -- they could have done this so easily, jack. >> i'm outnumbered. >> let me make up with point. they could have easily just given the information to the committee. >> and by the way -- and devon -- devin nunes gave an interview to ely lake who has lied. he said something that was not true. ely lake has come back out and said, this wasn't true, what devin nunes told him. >> he may have lied the to speaker ryan as well. >> let me ask you guys a question. why isn't adam schiff saying, yeah, let's go look at it?
instead -- >> he is. >> just like yesterday, he said -- >> he'll go look at it. >> let me finish. he was almost about to sign the invitation for comey to come testify, but suddenly, there are stipulations. there was no reason to have stipulations. same thing today. he was invited -- >> jack, you're rewriting -- jack, you're rewriting history. stipulations, what are you saying -- let me answer the question. i know this not because i've talked to him, but because i've read the documents and read the public reporting which you can read as well and you probably already know, which is that he was willing to sign the letter. in fact, he said today, he's willing to have comey and rogers come in behind closed-doors testimony, but he also wants a guarantee that clapper, that yates, and others are going to testify openly and that hasn't been assured. even today, he still hasn't gotten assurances from nunes that's going to occur. >> and jack, let me also ask you, if you were devin nunes right now and say you just walked into this, unwittingly,
do you think you were set up for this? or were you a part of it? or is this just innocent? that all of these -- if you look at this timeline, if you look at the timeline, everybody is -- i'm a former english major. i know about foreshadowing. every action was foreshadowed from the president to sean spicer and suddenly devin nunes is over at the white house. i mean, it just -- >> chairman, other than collusion, what is the explanation here? >> i really do not think that the white house -- and i say this are respectfully, but i don't think they're organized enough to have such orchestration of this in a way -- >> jack -- talk to -- >> by the way -- >> let -- hold on, jack. if you call this orchestration, you know, god help us all. because that's not orchestration. >> no, but what you're assume sth ing is that the president said,
okay, on monday, i'm going to say this. sean, on wednesday you're going to say that. and devin, on friday you're going to do this. i don't think that's possible. >> wait a minute. wait a minute. what we're forgetting about the ryan lizza's reporting. ryan, explain your reporting, because you have a senior white house official saying -- i mean -- well, explain. >> a senior white house official who would have had, if he wanted it, access to this information. but, i mean, the bottom line is, he knew what nunes was going to say on monday, before he said it. so, that -- >> right, he told you, watch what nunes is going to say. he's going to lay the predicate and he referred you to a hill article, which talked about incidental collection. >> ryan, the question is, why would somebody hate his job or his employer so much that he would be that disloyal? i mean, i understand how it's useful to you, if i had that kind of mold, but that sounds like a real sleazy person, frankly. and i'm not going to make that the subject. but i want to get back to adam schiff. >> well, we were talking about the hearing and i was asking what we should expect -- >> but he's undermining his
team. if he goes around saying things -- >> are you surprised that a white house official would leak something, from this white house? >> it gets back to what we republicans say about the deep state -- >> but jack, they wanted us in the press to focus on incidental collecti collection. >> i don't know how they're there. >> jeff, we haven't heard from you. other than collusion, is there any explanation for this? >> well, i do think that devin nunes is such a uniquely clueless individual and so out of his depth in this whole investigation that ascribing too much planning and motive to him might be wrong. but it is true, also -- >> does that mean you're on my side? >> i'm not sure. i think your side basically wants to make the whole thing, what did evelyn farkas know and when did she know it. it's like, who cares? >> and who is she? >> but the question that i think, you know, that we need to focus on, is, what is the
underlying truth here of what were the relationships from the trump campaign and the russian government. and russian oligarchs. and how can that information come to light in the most fair and efficient way? i think it's quite clear that the house intelligence committee is a hopeless mess. the senate judiciary committee seems to be doing a better job. but giving devin nunes any responsibility for this, and trusting him to be doing the public's good as opposed to donald trump's good is just -- it's a fool's game. >> it seems to me, actually, i was thinking about it tonight. i think that the senate committee is going to come out with a very balanced report that some people are going to like. the house committee report is going to be called political regardless of what they find. because both parties, you could argue, have been very, very political and running to the press, as opposed to what warner and burr are doing, it's a
totally different approach. >> and burr -- >> gloria, we've got to go. >> and they're doing an investigation into russia, period. not into leaks. >> well, they should be! >> i want everybody on the panel. to our viewer who just joining us, president trump's former national security adviser, who was fired for lying about contact with russia, is now offering to testify to the committees investigating that contact and talk to the fbi as well, in exchange for immunity. "the wall street journal" broke the story just about two hours or so ago. we're doing our own reporting, just a short time ago, general flynn's attorney put out a statement. it reads in part, quote, general flynn certainly as a story to tell and he very much wants to tell it. no reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution. the story first broke in the "wall street journal." i spoke with correspondent carol lee in tonight's first hour. take a look. carol, first of all, what have you learned that former national security adviser michael flynn
has offered to the fbi and others? >> well, we've learned that through his lawyer, he has had conversations to achieve some sort of immunity in exchange for his testimony, or for cooperation, in terms of the fbi. those discussions, it's our understanding, have happened in recent days. there's a statement out now from michael flynn's lawyer, saying that he would agree to testify under certain circumstances and that they have had these conversations and his lawyers are saying that they're concern is not so much that michael flynn has something to hide, they're saying he doesn't or he has something he should be concerned about, but in this political environment, he would not be treated fairly. and so, he's asking for immunity from any prosecution to be able to give his testimony and cooperate and not have any consequences should something arise that could be criminally prosecuted. >> and i think, in your story, you cited the fbi as well as the
house intelligence committee and the senate. the house intelligence committee spokesman for chairman nunes has said that michael flynn has not asked for immunity. the lawyer's statement does talk about the house intelligence community and the senate. i just read it very quickly. it doesn't directly mention the fbi, is that correct? >> no, his statement -- i just took a quick look at it. it does not. but the fbi is obviously a natural place to go and fear trying to seek immunity or if you're going to be investigated. we know that the fbi had interviewed michael flynn a couple of months ago, when he first was under scrutiny or it was reported publicly that he was being -- his communications with russian ambassador were being investigated. and other potential communications between him and russian officials were being looked at. and he was, at that time, interviewed by the fbi and so, it would be -- it would make sense for him, obviously, to have that discussion with the fbi, because they're conducting
an investigation. and then, obviously, the house and senate intelligence committees are, as well. >> i guess the statement -- i mean, when i first read the statement from chairman nunes' spokesperson, saying that he had not asked for immunity before the house intelligence committee, it seemed at odds with your reporting, but also the lawyer's statement. but when you read the lawyer's statement closer, it basically -- it doesn't use the term "immunity." so -- and the lawyer does say that they have had talks with the house intelligence committee. so really, it's kuf maybe a question of semantics. >> it's maybe a question of semantics, but if you look at the lawyer statement in our discussions with various sources, you know, he is seeking immunity. what he's asking for is to be able to cooperate and to deliver testimony in exchange for not being prosecuted in some way, because of something that he were to say or something that
may arise in that. so, it's -- everyone's kind of parsing words here. but certainly, his lawyer, as his lawyer says in the statement, has discussed this with the house committee. >> and do you have any details on what flynn has you ever aed to talk about? >> no, we don't know what he has offered to talk about. we don't know if it's, you know, specifically things that he did or experiences he had when he was on the trump campaign. we don't know if it's -- if it has to do with some of the things that he, i'm sorry has did has a consultant. there's a number of things that michael flynn has done for foreign governments. we know he's done some work for the turkish government. we know he's been paid tens of thousands of dollars by russian companies and he has -- he was made a very, what got a lot of attention and appearance in 2015, for instance, for the russian media organization, where he sat at the table with vladimir putin. so we don't know exactly what he's offering to talk about or what they want him to talk
about. >> do you know if theofficials e house or the senate have responded to flynn's offer of immunity? >> no, we have not. our understanding is that there has not been any sort of deal as yet worked out. and that these discussions were ongoing and that they've been happening in different forms over the last couple of days. >> that was my conversation earlier tonight with "wall street journal's" carol lee. let's go now to the white house and cnn's jeff zeleny. has the white house responded to the new reporting about michael flynn and about asking for immunity? >> anderson, i talked to white house press secretary sean spicer just a few moments ago. he was still in the briefing room, about to leave his office. and he says the white house will have no comment on this tonight. the whole discussion of general flynn, of course, the white house is watching this. but they are not having official comment on this tonight, anderson. >> flynn resigned from the white house, i guess, a month ago, or a month and a half ago. clearly, his shadow still looms over this white house. >> it looms large over this white house, anderson.
and i think it will for some time to come. largely, because he was so engrained in the campaign. michael flynn was so close to this president. he wasn't some adviser who was brought on sort of at the end. he was, you know, along for the ride throughout here. but the -- all these questions of michael flynn, if he would testify at some point in the future, it's all hinging on what is happening here at the white house right now. all these classified documents. all the conversations between russian meddling. that's why this is a potential very serious issue for the white house. because it goes directly into the heart of everything that's hanging over this. this russia cloud is, you know, hanging over everything the white house is trying to do. and michael flynn is still at the center of it. even though he is not here. but i can tell you, anderson, the white house would certainly be concerned and worried, if he would get that immunity and would testify. >> yeah, with michamichael flyn leading chants of "lock her up,"
the guy on, i think it was "meet the press," back in september a year ago said, people asked -- essentially, people asked for immunity have committed some sort of a crime. you don't ask for immunity unless you've committed some sort of a crime. he's now asking for immunity. it's an incredible development. jeff, appreciate it. joining us now is cnn's senior political analyst, david gergen and the multi-facetis, david ax axelrod. look forward to your show on saturday night. david gergen, you said earlier tonight that, quote, the clouds are darkening over the white house tonight. any way you look at it, and congressman kingston was trying to spin this as -- or trying to say this was a good thing for the white house. any way you look at it, this doesn't seem to be good for them, no? >> anderson, first of all, we've never had a national security adviser embroiled in a legal dispute that potentially has criminal implications since john poindexter back in the reagan
years overs the iranian arms deal. we've never had -- never, ever had a president in the first hundred days whose white house is so embroiled in controversies that are increasingly suspicious. so, yes, this is very bad news for the white house, darkening clouds. i'm not quite sure how they deal with it, but, you know, if the national security adviser is ready to sing in exchange for immunity, you know, that has to be worrying to them. because, you know, this goes to the heart of what the investigation and the fbi is investigating two central issues. one is, to what degree did the russians throw the election toward the president. but the second issue is, to what degree were the russians colluding with trump associates. and michael flynn is right at the top of that list. and to have him now asking for immunity, you know, sends this
message that there's a -- there is a fire here of some sort. and what we've been seeing for the last two or three weeks is the effort to create a lot of clouds, so we can't see the fire. but the flynn story says there is a fire. >> david axelrod, flynn was of the president's national security adviser, one of his closest advisers, not just in the white house, but on the campaign trail up until six weeks ago. what's your reaction to all of it? >> he was an integral part of the trump campaign, when the trump campaign was a very trim operation. and as david said, the danger for the white house here is, i mean, the link that will make this a full-blown crisis is if a link can be made between people in the trump campaign organization and russians or others who are familiar with the fact of the hack and what was to come. and i think that's the big question that people are asking. and flynn would be one of the
people who you would look at most closely, because of the ties that he's had in the past, because we know he's had conversations with kislyak, perhaps others. so, this is, this is a really, really alarming development from the standpoint of the white house. and i quite agree with david. you know, part of why people are so keenly interested in this and following this so closely is the freneticism in which the president has reacted to any charges of collusion with russia and these charges he's dropped from time to time to try to avert the discussion. so this is a big deal. and by the way, it comes at a particularly inconvenient time, because on the very day that this news surfaces, we learn that one of flynn's appointees in the white house was involved in this nunes escapade.
so, it really -- it couldn't be worse. this is -- this is, as david gergen would say, a bad news day at the white house. >> right. i mean, david gergen, not only somebody that flynn appointed to the national security council, but someone who the new head of the national security council, the new national security adviser, tried to get removed from the national security council. and according to the reporting by matthew, of "the new york times," president trump himself intervened to stop that removal. i want to play a clip of something that general flynn said on "meet the press" back in september. i spoke about this. he was speaking about secretary clinton and the people around her asking for immunity. let's play that. >> the very last thing that john podesta just said is no individual too big to jail. that should include people like hillary clinton. i mean, five people around her have had -- have been given immunity to include her former chief of staff. when you are given immunity, that means you've probably committed a crime.
>> now, we should say, i mean, he was, you know, clearly had a political reason for saying that. you can argue that somebody can ask for immunity for a whole bunch of reasons and it's not necessarily because somebody's committed a crime, david gergen. >> that's very true, but at the same time, it's generally true that somebody asking for immunity to protect themselves from criminal prosecution. and it's also true that the lawyer's at the same time for general flynn, which came out tonight, cnn has been reporting on, says in the last line that this is all about protecting his client from prosecution. so that seems to be the central motive behind it. and i think the point you made about h.r. mcmaster, who was highly regarded in the military, and is now the national security adviser to general flynn's successor, and tried to oust this person. tried to send him off the staff. because flynn had recruited him. and this same person was deeply involved in giving stuff to nunes and the collusion with
nunes. tried to fire him, and the president personally intervened? i've never heard of anything like that anderson. and it happens -- you know, i hope for the country's sake, frankly, i hope for the president's sake, that this is more smoke than fire. because i think it would be calamitous for the country if it went the other way. but they're behaving in such a suspicious way that it has to make you doubt. you know, when sean spicer stands up there and says things that you know are not quite true, it makes you doubt. i just wish for the country's sake they would come forward, be honest, let's face it, let's deal with it, and let's move on. because it is not helpful to have a corruptful president. if that's what this comes to, it's extremely bad news for the country. >> and this is how these scandals unravel. and they tend to morph into other stories as events develop. so, now there's going to be a great deal of interest in exactly why this young man who mcmaster wanted to fire, who flynn brought to the national security council was saved by
the president. and it also raises the question of whether he had a pipeline to the president in some way. i mean, the big question -- >> and if he had a pipeline to the president, why did he need nunes to pass along information? >> exactly. and the curious thing about the whole nunes, as lindsey graham said, inspector clouseau episode, is that he goes down to the white house, he gets briefed on this information, and then he breathlessly runs back to the white house the next day to tell him about the information that he had obtained the previous day, from the white house. and so, you know, it is a -- it is a hot mess right now. >> and i just can't -- david axelrod is so on point on this. and i think he speaks for a lot of people who have worked in white houses over the years. people who work there feel so privileged. think really want their presidents to do well. they want it to be clean. and this is just a deeply disturbing, you know, moment for an awful lot of people who have
tried hard. >> i think, anderson, one other thing that should be said. i was one who was really disturbed by general flynn's behavior at the convention, when he led those "lock her up" chants. it was kind of a low point in the campaign of 2016 and perhaps in presidential campaigns over time. and so, you know, it is the height of irony now that he finds hills in the position that he's in. >> yeah. again, "the ax files" 9:00 p.m. eastern on saturday night here on cnn. up next, we'll check for reaction on capitol hill to all of this. a lot happening tonight when we continue. whoa, this thing is crazy.
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schneider. what are you hearing? >> reporter: out here on capitol hill, no direct confirmation as to whether or not they'll take general flynn's lawyers up on that offer, for testimony in exchange for immunity. you know, out here on capitol hill, we have heard from a spokesman for the house intelligence committee. they say that there has been no request from general flynn, and in addition, the senate intelligence committee, just not commenting on this. but of course, like you mentioned, somewhat of a tantalizing offer from general flynn's lawyers, saying that, yes, he has that story to tell. he will tell it, if the circumstances permit. but no reaction just yet here from capitol hill. >> yeah, richard burr, who's the senate intelligence chair, he did mention michael flynn yesterday. what did he say? >> it was interesting, anderson. you know, yesterday, chairman burr held that press conference in advance of the senate intelligence committee hearings that started today. and in that press conference, you know, he was asked, who exactly are you talking to? he said there were many people on that list of people he wanted to talk to. he said general flynn, of course, is one of those people.
i reached out to general flynn's lawyers yesterday. they confirmed to me that, yes, general flynn's lawyers have been talking to the senate intelligence committee. they're saying general flynn himself has not been talking to the committee. but it remains to be seen whether any deal is in the works. whether any deal will actually happen. anderson? >> jessica schneider, appreciate the update. kerstin powers, paul begala, matt lewis, julia kayyem, jeffrey lord, and back this hour, jeffrey tubin. jew julia, you said a few days ago you thought this could be in the works. >> we don't know quite yet what he's willing to proffer and whether he'll speak without the immunity we're hearing about. but just going back a little bit, this shouldn't be that surprising for people who know about how these cases unfold. several months ago, we learned about that weird interaction regarding flynn and sally yates. her concern, the former deputy attorney general, her concern about flynn. that she relates to the white house.
they keep flynn for several weeks, and then he's finally fired. we then, next, hear that flynn was sort of cleaning up some of his affiliations with foreign government, in particular, turkey, who a number of people i know who work these cases say that's a clear sign someone's trying to make themselves clean in anticipation of a proffer. and the third thing i thought was interesting last week and why i raised the possibility on air is you kept hearing about carter page and manafort. and roger stone. all of them willing to talk. and the one you did not hear about was mike flynn. so those three things plus, you know, other background noise made it seem like this was the moment that we were heading to. and i want to make it clear to viewers, we do not know what he's willing to proffer. so it may be he knows nothing or he's worried about his own criminal liability. so the idea that this goes directly to the oval office, we're not there yet. these cases take a long time,
but certainly, this is -- basically, horrible news for the white house at this stage, though. >> paul begala, as somebody who worked in the clinton administration and saw some tough days there, what do you make of this offer by flynn's people? >> i think julia is spot-on. i would add to it that immunity does not immunize you from perjury. the most important thing for all these witnesses is to tell the truth. and you know, i know the prosecutors want to prosecute people. but what i want, i just want the facts. i want the truth. it's why i've been wanting an independent commission as well as a special prosecutor, to kind of keep the politics out of it. but believe me, at the white house right now, they're tight. they're tight right now. there's a knot in their stomach. because somebody who knows an awful lot has now volunteered to share that. and it may be that everything he knows is just all sweetness and lights and puppies and unicorns and then that's just great. then it has good news, as jack
kingston was arguing to you in the last hour. but it's just not. it's just not. it's like saying, a tumor is good news because you'll lose weight. yeah, maybe. >> jeff toobin, if everything he says is, look, there's no there there, everything's fine, everything i did was aboveboard, why would prosecutors give him immunity for him in order to say that? if they don't feel there's a reason? >> well, it depends. i mean, you know, they want a complete picture of what happened here. and he is such an intricate -- integral player in so many parts of this story, i mean, he has had enormous numbers of contacts, it seems, with russian government officials, with people associated with the russian government. if you want to know what the trump campaign was doing with them, you want to talk to mike flynn. even if there was nothing illegal about what he did. i mean, sometimes prosecutors in
an effort to just get a complete story will give someone immunity, even if they don't implicate other people in criminal behavior, just because they are so critical. but, again, i keep returning to this. you know, witnesses are important, but documents and tapes and transcripts, they are even more important, because they are not subject to the people lying. these tapes exist in the world, and if the judiciary -- if the intelligence committee and the justice department are doing their job properly, and i think they will be, they've got to see that first, before they make an agreement about giving anyone immunity. >> jeffrey lord, i want to re-read that first line from general flynn's attorney, that statement they put out. he said, general flynn certainly has a story to tell and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit. isn't that something that would put a chill through washington,
someone at the heart of it saying, they have a story to tell? >> only if you have a story to hide. i'm not at all convinced there's anything to hide here. there seems repeatedly to be no there there. but let's find out. i'm all for this. and i find it very interesting in the whole tale of devin nunes at the white house, that there were quote/unquote leaks of classified information to the chairman of the house intelligence committee, this is a mammoth story, but when the obama administration leaks like a sieve to "the new york times" and t"the washington post," thi is no big deal. this is why you need to get all the players on both sides from president obama on down, on both sides, in front of some committee or commission or whatever and testify and let's find out. >> kerstin, i want to play what general flynn said when he was talking about immunity for people around hillary clinton during the whole e-mail server story. this is what he said last september. >> the very last thing that john podesta just said is no individual is too big to jail.
that should include people like hillary clinton. five people around her have been given immunity, to include her former chief of staff. when you are given immunity, that means you've probably committed a crime. >> so, kerstin, is there any way for the white house to put a good spin on this? >> no. i mean, look, this really makes him a hypocrite, because it's actually not true that you've necessarily committed a crime if you get immunity. so he's a hypocrite. that's a minor offense in washington. it looks bad for him. the bigger issue is, if there is a russia connection, mike flynn knows about it. and this is somebody who was with donald trump for a long time. he had a lot of face time with him. he was very much there during the manafort period. he knows where the bodies are buried. and he's embittered. this is somebody who's not happy. he was fired by the white house after being left to twist in the wind. so if he wants to get back at anybody, now is the time. and as people have pointed out, he's also obligated to tell the truth. now that he's struck this deal, if there's a story to tell that
implicates the white house, he has to tell it. >> and matt lewis, probably another good example of why attorney general recused himself, because it's his department who would be making a deal with general flynn and the two of them were close advisers throughout the campaign. >> in hindsight, it looks like a really good move that attorney general sessions did that, even though donald trump, president trump, at the time, didn't want him to do it. it's one of the few things that i think the trump administration has sort of gotten right, you know, when we see this mess with nunes everything and like that. look, general flynn is somebody who has been with the campaign and in the administration very intimately, as kerstin said, he knows where the bodies are buried, if, in fact, any bodies are buried. and i have to say, i think i feel like today was a turning point in this story, at least in terms of the way the media is going to cover this. that's bad news for donald trump. this feels like now you're in the feeding frenzy. i think that this story is going
to be really the dominant story going forward now, for, you know, we've had -- this period of time, where the news cycle, it's every day, donald trump tweets something and he could change the narrative. i don't think that's going to work anymore! it feels like something changed today. and again, why do you -- why would your lawyers say that you have a good story to tell and that you want immunity if you don't. >> paul callen was saying earlier, legal analysts, those are very provocative words for defense attorneys or for any attorneys to use. we'll continue the conversation next, beyond all the drama that we've been talking about tonight, a former obama official is taking heat, accusing her of leaking classified information. she says her words are being twisted. you heard her name, evelyn farkas, earlier used by jack kingston. we'll talk about her, ahead. [ upbeat music ] strut past that aisle for the allergy relief that starts working in as little as 30 minutes and contains the best oral decongestant. live claritin clear, with claritin-d.
[ doorbell rings ] par-tay! xfinity watchathon week starts april 3. get unlimited access to all of netflix and more, free with xfinity on demand. well, the breaking news tonight. michael flynn has told the fbi that he's willing to testify in exchange for immunity. meantime, the white house is not denying a "new york times" report that at least two white house national security staffers provided house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes with intelligence reports. in a day of fast-moving developments, the white house also released a letter inviting house and senate intelligence committees to review new documents related to the potential unauthorized disclosure of classified information about u.s. persons. here's the part that grabbed our attention. quote, in light of recent disclosures, regarding possible
inappropriate accumulation or dissemination of classified information, eg, the comments of former deputy assistant secretary of defense, evelyn farkas, our hope is that the committee will continue to investigate the following questions. what grabbed our attention is the mention of evelyn farkas, a name that's new to most people, but a name that jack kingston brought up in the past hour. in recent days in certain circles, she's become a major talking point. randi kaye reports. >> a former defense department employee from the obama administration, now taking heat for saying this earlier this month on msnbc. >> that the trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their -- the staff, the trump staff's dealing with russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. >> reporter: her name is evelyn farkas. and she served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense
for russia, ukraine, and eurasia until 2015. something else she said now has conservative media blaming her for leaking classified intelligence. here's what she said about wanting to inform lawmakers on capitol hill. >> so i became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open. and i knew that there was more. we have very good intelligence on russia. so, then i had talked to some of my former colleagues and i knew that they were trying to also help get information to the hill. >> reporter: even though she says her comments were based on media reports, those on the right suggest that farkas basically admitted she was responsible for leaking information that the obama administration had collected on then president-elect donald trump. conservative media has run with it. suggesting her comments prove there was surveillance on trump. >> farkas is referring to surveilled information on the trump transition team. listen next, as she admits that
there was an unmasking, in other words, revealing the identity of those trump team members. >> reporter: earlier this morning, farkas defended her earlier remarks. >> we were having now transition of power from the obama administration to the trump administration. and if, indeed, there was an investigation ongoing, if, indeed, there was information that the obama administration had about russian interference and possible american involvement, i wanted to make sure that congress knew about it. i do not, absolutely, do not condone leaking. you know, it's against the law. >> reporter: white house chief of staff, reince priebus, reacted on conservative talk radio this morning. >> this is an incredible statement. you know, and what it means and what she meant by that and whether that has anything to do with the issues in regard to surveillance of trump transition team members is something that we need to figure out >> by mid-afternoon, white house press secretary sean spicer was
laying blame. >> if you look at, there's the obama deputy assistant secretary of defense that is out there, evelyn farkas. she made it clear that it was their goal to spread this information around. that they went around and did this. and she said, quote, that's why there's so many leaks. they have admitted on the record that this was their goal. >> randi joins us now. you spoke to evelyn farkas tonight. what more did she say? >> i by phone, she told us once again she had nothing to do with leaking intelligence. that she had no access to this intelligence information anymore, because she was out of government. she said she was trying to make sure that congress was being notified correctly if there was, indeed, any information to know about. she also said, whoever started this whole thing took her words out of context. she said it was to make it seem like she was some part of a big conspiracy. she said that the white house is now spreading fake news. that was her words, and iic picking on her.
she called it obnoxious. i also asked her if she thinks she might be called to testify before the intelligence committee, and she says she doesn't think they'll make her testify, because she doesn't know anything, anderson. >> randi, thanks very much. back now with the panel. kerstin, do you see substance claims by allies of the president that this person evelyn farkas is relevant to anything being investigated by congress? >> no. and snoeps that has debunked this. and she's talking about information that was already reported in "the new york times" at length, and in fact, i think she might have been even been referencing that. that the obama administration has been basically preserving intelligence and disseminating it, because they were concerned that if there was an investigation down the road, that it wouldn't be available. and that's exactly what she was talking about. so i really am struggling to even understand where they're getting the idea that she is in any way confirming that there
was surveillance of donald trump. >> jeffrey, i know you gave evelyn farkas the way to comment in her own words in "the american spectator," which is obviously commendable. i read what she said. she left government in september of 2015. she's now, i guess, a pundit on cable news. you know, nothing wrong with that. and no one has presented any evidence that she's done anything wrong nor do her comments really indicate that, do they? >> well, i mean, she believes -- i spoke with her this afternoon, and just for the record, it turns out that we are both graduates of franklin and marshal college, which i did not know. i did not know her. she contacted me based on hearing me mention her name last night on your show. she -- i thought it was only fair to let her get it out there, as i did with carter page at "the american spectator" in her own words. she believes she's been wildly misinterpreted. that the videos were, you know, cut and pasted in essence to make her say something that she didn't say. now, i -- and i said directly to her that my view was that
whoever leaked classified information has broken the law and should pay a price for it. so this is why you have investigations. and she was -- from her perspective, i'm sure, very forthright. and i can tell you as you played clips there, that sean hannity, mark levin, and rush limbaugh have been very tough on her in the conservative media. they believe that this is some degree of a smoking gun. this is why you have an investigation. and i think, you know, go to it. let's find out what is the story. what is going on here. >> but, what is surprising or controversial about a former pentagon expert on russia saying that there were people in the outgoing administration concerned the incoming administration, you know, allies of which are under federal investigation for possibly colluding with russia, would try to bury relevant intelligence? i mean, doesn't that actually make sense? and by the way, she's not in the government anymore. >> what's controversial -- what's controversial is that whatever went on in the administration and the obama administration turned up in "the new york times" and "the
washington post," repeatedly. you know, anonymously leaked, which tla, quihey, quite frankl. so somebody was leaking classified information within the obama administration. and that's the point. it may well not be miss farkas. i just want to know who it is. >> but jeffrey, i just saw sean hannity claiming that it proved that president obama was having donald trump surveilled. i mean, where does she say that? >> well, clearly, clearly donald trump was being surveilled. accidentally, incidentally, however you want to phrase it -- >> no, that's not surveillance. incidental collection is not surveillance. isn't that the crux of the smoking gun, is that you believe that she's saying that there was surveillance? >> kerstin, kerstin, if you are picked up on tape by the government of the united states, accidentally, that information is supposed to disappear into the depths, never to be -- >> i'm just asking you, where did she confirm -- where did she confirm that president obama had donald trump under surveillance? >> well, what she says -- she
says in there that the people in the administration were concerned. "the new york times" says -- >> but that's not anything about surveillance. >> what? well, where -- >> she doesn't say anything about surveillance. >> if it's not from surveillance, how did they get the information? >> she's talking about incidental collection! i mean, i feel like we've had this conversation so many times! >> that is surveillance! >> all right. paul beglal, do you think the white house or its allies will be able to distract from all of this by continually bringing up evelyn farkas? >> not just by that, but by everything. it's not a smoking gun, it's a smoke screen. and donald trump is not very good at being president. he's only had ten weeks, but he's driven himself to the lowest percent of approval in american history for an incoming president. but what he's great at, great, and i mean this, the best i've ever seen, is distraction. he uses weapons of mass distraction. that's what the farkas fracas is, it's just a way to distract us. by the way, today! ten minutes before the senate intelligence committee convened a really interesting,
informative hearing. ten minutes before, what did donald trump do? he tweeted out an attack on the house freedom caucus for primary elections that are 20 months away. he didn't do that because he really has a strategy to unseat republicans in primaries. he did it because he wanted to distract attention from the senate intelligence committee. we will see this every single day -- >> well, matt, to that point -- matt, to that point, he also was tweeting about, you know, bringing back -- or changing libel lies against papers like "the new york times," which is, that's an old chestnut from back in the campaign. it just seems, again, we're not even reporting on it, because it just seems like such a distraction. >> yeah, we're not, but i tell you what, there was a time when he really could drive the media narrative with a tweet. and the media would just chase after that story and he would get a news cycle or two out of it. that's why i think this is different. i think things have shifted. i'm -- it feels like there is now -- i think it's the flynn story. you know, we've had -- there have been, you know, this has been a developing story for
weeks and months now. i feel like the flynn news has the potential to take this into a game-changer, where there's a feeding frenzy, and then win just don't think he can distract. and that's when you're in danger of having a presidency that is inundated day in and day out by questions. once -- if you finally get people under oath to testify, that opens up all sorts of cans of worms. >> we've got to wrap it up. >> free advice? >> very quickly, paul. >> the way to handle these scandals, and i've handled a lot of them, is not distracting with other things. it's actually to tell the american people, i know other people that are worried about general flynn and his testimony. i'm here to create jobs and do my job as president. he never seems to get back to the core reasons that 62 million americans voted for him. reasons that are mysterious to me, me, but i suspect they have a lot too with jobs and the economy, not with evelyn farkas opinifarkas.
again tonight's breaking news. trump former national security adviser michael flynn offering to testify in eggs change for immunity. the house and intelligence committee, the senate investigators held their first public hearings today on the u.s. meddling in the u.s. elections. we laid out facts about seven trump associates and their connections to russia. we ended up with a flow chart you see there. looks a lot like a busy subway
map. one connects paul manafort to passka. vladimir putin was asked about the possibility of him appearing before the senate intelligence committee to discuss his relationship. putin said, that's his right, let him do it. tonight, though, there's another connection you should know about. drew griffin tonight has the latest. >> his name is oh leg darapazka. typical of russian billionaires, he's well-known to vladimir putin and given awards by the russian government. there's no indication donald trump has ever met him, but turns out the two men do have connections. cnn has learned donald trump and oleg has shared the same attorney over the years. on his website, kasawits prominently lists donald trump
as a client. who he's represented in a wide range of litigation matters for over 15 years. oleg isn't on his list of clients. but records show he is the attorney in a federal lawsuit where he represents an investment vehicle wholly owned by darapaska. one attorney with two billionaire clients? perhaps. but consider this. the russian has a shoestring connection to donald trump and it's tied to this man. donald trump's former campaign chief paul manafort. they're former business partners. republican strategist who ran trump's campaign for five months also started several offshore companies with oleg. the russian billionaire entrusted nearly $19 million to man jaesmt fort in 2008, the money to be invested in a ukrainian telecom business. it was part of a major deal to
make long-term capital. the investment and relationship fell apart. for several years he tried to contact manafort and get answers about the missing money. court papers showed the attorneys had not been able to reach manafort. then, paul manafort began running donald trump's campaign in 2016. and the legal claims against him appeared to have gone away. manafort spokesman tells cnn believes the matter is dormant and not be pursued further. ethics expert said while there may be nothing inherently wrong in kasawits representing them in unrelated matters -- >> it raises questions, just in the larger context of what's been going on with manafort. every time you see something like this, you wonder whether this is perfectly legitimate, an
isolated issue where a lawyer who is involved representing various clients, or whether or not it fits into just a larger narrative of involvement with russia. >> paul manafort confirmed he did work for oleg, but rejects the allegation he was pushing the political interests of vladimir putin. that denial came after the associated press reported on a 2005 memo, the memo according to the a.p. was from manafort to darapska that could influence politics, business dealings, and news coverage inside the united states. cnn has been unable to verify the memo, and oleg has since taken out advertisements in american newspapers, to resolutely deny this malicious assertion, adding context often creates an illusion of might be true information. though it's based on complete
and full lies. as for the fact donald trump and oleg share the same attorney, there is no prove of anything nefarious. in the greater context of russian investigations, it is at the very least curious. >> do we know how it ended up that donald trump and this russian billionaire's company had the same attorney? >> well, the white house and oleg did not respond at all. but the attorney did. mark kasawits said their firm doesn't rep oleg. they represent the company battle run, which is wholly owned by oleg. they said our representation had nothing to do with the representation of any trump personnel or entities, and never relayed information or facilitated communication between mr. deripacifica and president trump and his representatives. a lot of legalese there, anderson, to say this may just
lemon for "cnn tonight." i'll see you tomorrow. this is cnn breaking news. breaking news. general michael flynn is willing to testify in exchange for immunity. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. president trump's former national security adviser, the man who lied about his contacts with the russian ambassador, now willing to be interviewed by the fbi. and congressional officials investigating the trump campaign's potential ties to russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution. flynn's attorney saying, quote, no reasonable person who has a benefit of advice from counsel would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized witch hunt environment without