tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 8, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
russian leverage, revealing testimony by form he acting attorney general of the united states. fired by president trump. sally yates said she warned the white house that now former national security adviser michael flynn lied to the vice president. was compromised. and could be blackmailed by the russians. presidential warning. the white house admits that former president obama himself warned president trump not to hire flynn as his first national security adviser. why did mr. trump ignore the advice? travel ban trouble. a panel of federal judges presses trump administration lawyers on the president's travel ban questioning the intent of the revised executive order. they also noted that the president's vow to ban muslims frommanteri frommant entering the united states was still on the campaign website. why was it suddenly removed? and for the second time in three weeks north korea detaines a u.s. citizen bringing the number of americans now held by the kim
jong-un regime to four. what is kim's end game? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news tonight, revelations that the trump white house received multiple warnings about former national security adviser michael flynn who was fired by president trump for giving misleading information about his contacts with russia. former acting attorney general sally yates speaking publicly about flynn for the first time told the senate judiciary subcommittee she told white house officials that flynn was vulnerable to being blackmailed by the russians. if a few minutes i'll talk to key senators asking questions in that hearing. also tonight, white house is now confirming that just days after the election, president obama personally warned president-elect trump against
hiring flynn who was fired as head of the defense intelligence agency back in 2014. we are also following right now, new developments in north korea. north korea now holding yet another american citizen, professor teaching at a pyongyang science university. another american teacher was detained by the kim regime just weeks ago. we're covering all of that. much more this hour with our guests including senator chris coons, member of foreign relations committees and correspondents and specialists are standing by. straight to breaking news. jim sciutto is with us with the very latest. jim, the white house was warned that michael flynn was vulnerable to being blackmailed by the russians. >> that's exactly right, wolf. contradicting the white house. you might call this a kitchen sink hearing. everything came up. even the muslim travel ban. on the issue of russia, topic of this hearing, intriguing answers on some key questions.
one, could the investigation go to the highest levels of the u.s. government in former acting attorney general sally yates says yes. two, on trump business ties to russia, that according to the former director of national intelligence james clapper possibly still part of the investigation on the issue of collusion between trump advisers and russia. no definitive answer ruling that in or crucially ruling out but again on flynn sally yates contradicting president and white house spokesman. >>. >> we felt like it was critical to get this information to the white house. >> in a hearing sharply divided, former acting attorney sally yates sharply contradicted the white house version of events, regarding fired national security adviser michael flynn. yates told senators she gave the white house a forceful and detailed warning that flynn lied when he denied discussing u.s. sanctions with the russian ambassador. >> we walked the white house council who also had an
associate there with him, through general flynn's underlying conduct. the content of which i obviously cannot go through with you today because it's classified. but we took them through them in a fair amount of detail, underlying conduct, what general flynn had done, then walked through the press accounts and how it had been falsely reported. we told white house council that general flynn had been interviewed by the fbi. >> in february, day after his firing, by the president, sean spicer claimed yates had given a much less substantive heads-up about flynn's comments. >> acting attorney general informed white house council they wanted to give quote a heads-up to us on comments that may have seemed in conflict with what he had sent the vice president. >> in fact yates said she made clear the president's closest adviser on national security was in danger of being blackmailed by russia. >> this was a matter of urgency. >> describe. >> in make the determination about notification here, we
today balance a variety of interest. for the reason that i just described a few minutes ago we felt it was critical to get this information to the white house. because in part because the vice president was unknowingly making false statements to the public and because we believed that general flynn was compromised with the respect to the russians. >> the hearing was intended to focus on russian interfere unin the u.s. election. on the key question of whether trump advisers colluded with russia in that interference, the former director of national intelligence james clapper said he has not seen evidence as he said in the past. >> is that still accurate? >> it is. >> yates, however, was less definitive. >> ms. yates, do you have any evidence or are you aware of any evidence that would suggest that in the 2016 campaign anybody in the trump campaign colluded with the russian government or intelligence services and in a proper fashion? >> and senator, my answer to that question would require me
to reveal classified information and so i can't answer that. >> over all, the hearing was a tale of two hearings. many democratic senators focused mostly on flynn, many republicans focused on leaks. >> have either of you ever been an anonymous source in a news report about matters relating to mr. trump, his associates, or russia's attempt to meddle in the election? >> and unmasking. >> do we know who unmasked the conversation between the russian ambassador and general flynn? was there unmasking of this situation? >> now on the issue of general flynn's security clearance, you heard from the president, white house press secretary, again today that he had security clearance from the obama administration. but you heard from the former director of national intelligence clapper today that for the most senior officials including national security adviser in his 40 years of experience they are subject to, in his words, wolf, a much more invasive security clearance process contradicting again the white house account there.
their explanation it was up to the obama administration in effect to clear flynn, not up to the trump white house. >> you can be the national security adviser to the united states. you need the best most thorough security clearance. >> and vetting. >> we learned that president obama personally warned president-elect trump against making michael flynn his national security adviser. let's go to jim acosta. what are you learning, jim? >> the white house isn't denying that president obama warned president trump he should stay way from michael flynn but aides to trump are chalking up the former president's feelings as quote bad blood. >> well, i just had the opportunity to have an excellent conversation with tle president-elect trump. >> it seemed like a cordial meeting in the oval office two days after a bitter election. >> the meeting lasted for almost an hour and half. as far as i am concerned, it
could have gone on longer. >> former obama officials tell cnn president bam. offered then president-elect trump a clear warning, don't hire retired general michael flynn as national security adviser. one report says obama told trump there are more qualified people for the position. caution from one president to another came more than a month and half to another that flynn ta talked to the russian ambassador. >> it is true that president obama made it known that he wasn't exactly a fan of general flynn's. >> still, the white house is putting the blame on the obama administration for granting flynn a security clearance in early 2016. president tweeted, general flynn was given the highest security clearance by the obama administration but the fake news seldom likes talking about that. >> why didn't he suspend general flynn's security clearance which they just approved months earlier. there were steps that they would
have taken, if that truly was a concern, was more than just a person that had wad blood. >> former obama administration point out that flynn was fired by the obama administration over his style. >> in april 2016 mr. flynn was no longer working for the obama administration. he had been let go in 2014. >> president trump repeatedly defended flynn since firing the general himself. he tweeted mike flynn should ask for immunity and this is a witch hunt. similar to the complaint the president aired two days after he showed flynn the door. >> i think he has been treated very, very unfairly by the media. as i call it the fake media in many cases. and i think it is really a sad thing that he was treat sewed badly. >> i'm pleased to appear before you this afternoon. >> the president has questioned the cred wilt of former acting attorney sally yates who raised internal questions about flynn
and warned the white house before she was fired by mr. trump over a different matter. he tweeted, ask sally yates under oath if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to white house council. >> does the president believe that sally yates was the leaker? this -- >> again, i think the tweet speaks for itself. what he is saying is the senate should ask those questions. >> now the white house is still not saying much about flynn in its own efforts to vet former national security adviser for that position. but aides have said the retirement attorney general did not undergo a vigorous vetting process as he was already a favorite by trump and he was a regular at trump campaign rallies asking how much vetting flynn receive end i talked to one trump transition official said in one word, none. >> very interesting indeed. jim acosta, thanks very much. let's get to more on all of this. political specialist analyst are here with us. i want it play this clip for
you. this is sally yates answering questions from dianne feinstein, senator, on the fear that the president's national security adviser potentially could be compromised and blackmailed by the russians. >> compromise was certainly the number one concern and the russians can use compromise material information in a variety of ways. sometimes overtly and sometimes subtly. but i will also say we -- another motivating factor is we felt like the vice president was entitled to know that information he had been given and he was relaying to the american public wasn't true. >> so what you're saying is that general flynn lied to the vice president? >> that's certainly how it appeared. >> yet after she notified the white house council of that, it took 18 days for flynn to be
fired and he was only fired after the washington post reported that news that they had warned of potential blackmail. >> right. what is certainly true in this entire scenario is that the public reveal of this information in the washington post is what prompted his firing. those two things happened sequentially. so the fact that it entered the public domain is what was unsustainable for the white house. that much is clear. but i do think you played the key clip there, because to me, this whole day of testimony, the final analysis that people will walk way from here is that the acting attorney general went to the white house and said, your national security adviser has been compromised by the russians. now the question, the burden is on the white house, why did you sit on that for 18 days? >> what's the answer? why did they sit on that for 18 days? >> that's the question for the white house. the question for sean spicer. question for the president. the white house council. and everybody in between.
we don't know the answer to that. that is the question. in my maybe somewhat educated guess, in covering this now president, then candidate for a long time, is that i doesn't like to be told what to do, particularly when it comes to somebody who he has had intense loyalty towards because he felt that that was reciprocated. that mike flynn was very, very loyal to him. all during the campaign. particularly at the end. and that he, and they formed a bond. they were together a lot on the plane during the campaign and that was very difficult bond for him to break. could there have been more of a reason? possibly. but i think at its root that is probably one of the key ones. >> the fact that this is described, not a heads-up, this was urgent. she made that clear in her testimony. and yeah, you have to wonder why they didn't act more urgently as a result. >> everybody stand by.
democratic senator chris coons of delaware, a member of the judiciary and foreign relations committee. by the way, he is joining us live now following this three-hour plus hearing. senator, what is your answer? why do you think it took the white house 18 days to fire michael flynn after then acting attorney general sally yates, after he was compromised and susceptible to blackmail by the russians? >> that's a ge questireat quest wolf. that wasn't answered today. we heard from clapper and former acting attorney general yates, that russia should be celebrating. that they successfully interfered in our election. and that it was blindingly clear that former national security adviser flynn was a national security risk. he had been compromised when sally yates took that information on january 26 to the white house, to the white house council, it was befuddling to
hear for weeks they failed to restrict his access or reduce his engagement in national security decisiones with regard to japan, north korea, with regard to a phone conversation between trump and putin. so former attorney general yates said in response to a question on exactly that topic, because she left the administration january 30, she can't answer the question why did they not take action sooner. but today she made clear that her warnings to the white house were unmistakable and strong. >> sally yates also said, senator, that white house council don mcgahn why it mattered to the department of justice if officials were lying to each other. to which she explained that flynn could be compromiseed. do you think the white house knew about the potential impact of michael flynn's russian connections? >> she certainly made it clear. she also made it clear today that in a second meeting with the white house council she was
asked about whether he was potentially criminally liable and under what statutes he might be prosecuted. i thought that was also important information we heard in today's hearing. >> do you trust that white house council don mcgahn is giving the white house good advice based on the testimony we heard today? >> i don't know. i can't speak to that. i know that ms. yates gave the white house council unmistakable ef evidence that michael flynn should be removed. it was asked, is he someone that should be fired immediately? she said, that's not my call. that's the president's call. she was fired from her job days later. it is hard for me to discern that vice president was given advice to act on and the president put our security at risk and whether the council failed to react, that's unclear. >> she was remove ownedd on a
different matter. she didn't believe the president's travel ban was unconstitutional and didn't want to implement it. that's why she fired her. on the other hand, you trust the white house was listening. maybe the white house council was accurately relaying information they had received from sally yates but they didn't care. >> it is entirely possible. after meeting white house council, i believe he relayed that information tutful dutiful and fully and that team of advisers simply decided ton act on it. she was clear in her testimony that in looking at the executive order on the travel ban in the context of the campaign season and many public statement made by president trump and key s surrogates, that she believed that courts would not uphold it, that courts would overturn it or block it based on intent. ultimately that's been proven true. in several different court cases around the country.
and today there was oral argument in the fourth circuit on the second executive order where i suspect they are looking hard the the president's intent and whether or not as he had promised in the campaign this executive order was meant to be a religiously discriminatory muslim ban. >> do you believe michael flynn actually committed a crime? i ask the question because we do know he was subsequently interviewed by fbi agent at the white house white house council present. do you know, senator, if he told the truth or lied to the fbi? if he lied to the fbi, that's a crime. >> i don't know. i don't o have access to the transcripts or records. i don't know if he was truthful or not. i did ask ms. yates that. she declined to answer because she said it would release classified information. she was very careful today not to release classified
information. there was another issue which was general flynn's failure to report he received tens of thousands of dollars from rt, russia today, and hundreds of thousands of dollar from turkey. a failure to file as someone who was representing a foreign power, that may have legal consequences for general flynn. >> when he got his security clearances renewed in april 2016, he lied in those documents, didn't provide information about the money he receiveded from russian tv or money he received from turkish elements? >> that's what is reported in the media, wolf. i don't know that independently but that's certainly what's been reported. i'll say this. i have reached this conclusion, i can't believe the trump administration let general flynn in the white house let alone in the situation room after the direct and clear warnings that president trump got from president obama and that white house council got from then acting attorney. this man put our national security at risk and i think there should be some consequences on his actions.
>> what kind of consequences are you talking about? >> i think that is up to a court of law and criminal justice but with the reckless access he took, given the ways he misled the vice president or failed to file, i think there vein j rang of statutes which he might be run afoul. >> you see the current justice department under the current joe attorney general, jeff sessions, do that. >> i have a lot of respect for the department of justice and i believe the attorney general understands and respect the rule of law. if a recommendation comes up from the fbi or from line attorneys at the department of justice that form are national security adviser broke the law, i believe that they would proceed. >> would you be open to granting michael flynn immunity in ex change for his testimony? that's what his lawyer suggested he wants. >> that's not my judgment call to make. but i think if the national security adviser came forward with really compelling evidence
that would make a significant different in the investigation, that might be a wise choice for the intelligence committee to make. >> stand by, senator. this is an important day. there is a lot of breaking news unfolding right now. need to take a quick break. we'll be right back. d now, the future's going to be a nightmare! does nobody like the future? c'mon, the future. he obviously doesn't know intel is helping power autonomous cars and the 5g network they connect to. with this, won't happen in the future. thanks, jim. there's some napkins in the glovebox. okay, but why would i need a napkin? you could have just told me a bump was coming. we know the future. because we're building it. we're on the move. hey rick, all good? oh yeah, we're good. we're good. terminix. defenders of home.
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our 18 year old wase army in an accident.'98. when i call usaa it was that voice asking me, "is your daughter ok?" that's where i felt relief. we're the rivera family, and we will be with usaa for life. we are following breaking news. former acting attorney general sally yates testifying to a senate panel that she told white house official owns two separate days that the then national security adviser to the president michael flynn was vulnerable to be blackmailed by russians weeks before he was ultimately fired by president trump. we're back with democratic senator chris coons of delaware. a member of both judiciary and foreign relations committee.
senator, another point in the hearing, senator lindsey graham who chaired this panel today asked former director of national intelligence james clapper about president trump's business dealings involving russia. listen. >> general clapper, during your investigation of all things russia, did you ever find a situation where a trump business interest in russia gave you concern? >> not in the course of the preparation of the intelligence community assessment. >> since? >> i'm sorry? >> at all? any time? >> senator graham, i can't comment on that because that impacts an investigation. >> it wasn't enough to put into the report. >> that's correct. >> senator coons, what does that tell you? >> that tells me that there are some concerning ties between
president trump and his global real estate empire and russian interests. or it points in an intriguing direction. i would have to review that more closely. clapper was very careful today. what i heard in that tape strongly sulgts the ongoing counter intelligence investigation ran into some ways this which real estate holdings by trump and his family and investments in those holdings by russians or by folks closely tied to russian leadership may have raised a legitimate concern. >> the republicans today asked about unmasking, asking about leaks, asking about the president's travel ban while democrats as you know focused on russian interference in the presidential election and michael flynn. is there a bipartisan mission here because it seemed sort of divided today. >> it was striking to me that in the opening, former director of
intelligence clapper, said this is a pressing threat to america and to our democracy and demands action and a response. senator lindsey graham, republican from south carolina and ben answer is from nebraska both stood up and engaged that question and broadly speaking most republicans on the panel seemed to want to go down of what i view as the rabbit hole of talking about unmasking and others asked questions about leaks and whether or not leaks are investigated. always a legitimate concern. but there did not seem to be a broad buy kpaipartisa bipartisa making it clear that we see the thread of our democracy and act it take it on. senator graham is leading bipartisan bill with 20 bipartisan sponsors, 10 republican and 10 democrat, that if we moved forward would improimpose some real costs on russia for their actions. >> president trump's travel ban is being heard in richmond,
virginia. the judges are questioning department of justice attorney trying to make a case that executive order, second one by the president is not a muslim ban thaent campaign statements should not apply when the president said during the campaign he wanted a ban on muslims. what's your response to that? >> my concern here is that there is not a significant change between the first and second executive order and that there were abundant statements on the course of the campaign trail. by now president trump about his intent. his desire to find way it ban muslims. i will remind that you former mayor of new york rudy giuliani reported publicly that candidate trump in transition to his presidency called him and said we have to figure outweigh it make this muslim ban work legally. i think the court is likely to look that as probative evidence about what the intentions were of trump and senior administration as they crafted these two executive orders. >> senator coons, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> just ahead, republicans go after former acting attorney
general sally yates for refusing to defend the president's travel ban. >> is it correct that constitution vest the executive authority in the president? >> yes. >> and if an attorney general disagrees with a policy decision of the president, a policy decision that is lawful, does the attorney general have the authority to direct injustice to defy the president's order? >> i don't know whether the attorney general has the authority to do that whether or not but i don't think that would be a good idea. and that's not what i did in this case.
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sally yates warning the white house that then michael flynn was vulnerable to be black mailed by the russians. 18 days later, flynn was fired by president trump. let's dig deeper with the specialist and analysts. i guess the other point in all of this is not only is the president warned by sally yates but earlier, two days after he was elected, elected on november 8 will and november 10, the then president told the then president-elect don't hire michael flynn as your national security adviser. there's a big problem there. >> it seems like that information was received by president-elect trump only through a partisan lens. only through the campaign that had just ended two days before
which was his entire mind-set obviously. some might argue still is in many ways but we know he talks about the campaign a lot but back in that moment, receiving that information according to sean spicer today. here is my predecessor who is no fan of michael flynn and they fired them. so of course he will say i should, but we know that donald trump emerged from that meeting with president trump actually saying, i learned thing about health care that i now understand are important and maybe there are ways to keep pieces of president obama's law that won't hurt too many people. some national security matters. he paid keen attention to that but did not pay attention even though he had very little experience in national security matters to hearing there was a real kesh to tconcern to the si president about -- >> and i'm not sure that it was that he was digesting it through partisan lens as the white house is saying now. because you're right, when he walked out of that meeting or when he was sitting in that meeting and talking about that
meeting with president obama, you could see that the sort of the weight of it all was coming down on him and he at the time seemed to be genuinely appreciative of the advice he got and did not take it in a partisan way. and that one of the reasons why he didn't heed president obama's advice on michael flynn is because he felt like he was -- personally over a barrel with regard to michael flynn. not that michael flynn had something on donald trump but because he felt such gratitude or loyalty or whatever it is that you want to call it to this guy who wanted to be national security adviser. because he couldn't be anything else because the white house did know enough to know he wouldn't be confirmed probably or it would be a bumpy process. >> and months at a time on the campaign he was at warm-up act at campaign rallies for the candidate. >> but it wasn't just barack obama who warned him. i mean, i reported that there were officials in the original
transition who raised red flags to donald trump particularly after they had their first intelligence -- >> chris christie was running -- >> right pf app their first intelligence briefing. there were questions being raised not only by those folks but people on their national security team. who also -- who also raise questions. but every single time, donald trump would come back with, he's been very loyal to me. >> and those folks were jettisoned. >> yes. and michael flynn is but as dana point out, he didn't get to state or defense which he also would have taken because he would have had to be confirmed. >> today the white house is blaming the obama administration for michael flynn. president trump tweeted, michael flynn was given highest clearance but the obama administration but fake news didn't like talking about that. sean spicer said in 2016 it was the obama administration that renewed his security clearances.
>> the trust they had in obama administration in hindsight is staggering. >> they didn't do any additional vetting. >> no, that's the thing. vetting for security clearance is not the same as vetting for the nse. it's just not. it is a bigger position. extremely important position. maybe the most important position going into this white house. and it sounds like based on what jim acosta was reporting that they didn't vet him at all. it was sort of like, this guy is on my team so that's his job. >> and james clapper, who obviously the trump administration they viewed him through a partisan lens even though he was a -- a life-long intelligence professional, he did most recently work for the obama administration. he said in the hearing today that that is not how it works. you don't just, you know, kind of accept the clearance of former administration. you have to do former vetting when you have somebody at a high level like this. >> i think his quote is it is much more invasive and aggressive. >> james clapper worked for 50
years in the u.s. tintelligence community serving democratic and republican presidents. a critical court hearing for president trump's travel ban. we will update you on that and all the breaking news right after this. 103 how long did it take you two to save that? a long time. then it's a fortune. i told you we had a fortune. get closer to your investment goals with a conversation. when you design custom shirts sometfrom customink.ppens our design lab has tons of fonts and incredible artwork. you can even upload your own logo. and we're always here to help. to get started with free shipping, visit customink.com today.
jarrett is in richmond, virginia for us tonight. that's where the 4th circuit court of appeals. 10 of the 13 federal judges were appointed we should point out by democratic presidents. what happened? >> that's certainly true, wolf. but both sides face some really tough questioning from the court this afternoon. the judges jumped right in, pressing the justice department to explain exactly how they are supposed to ignore statements from then candidate donald trump on the campaign when he spoke about muslims. one of the judges said this is the most important issue in the case. another saying this is almost willful blindness. take a listen. >> surely after the executive order 2 was signed, sean spicer said the principles remain the same. trump's statement concurrent with that time, you know my plans, spicer, president trump
yesterday continued to deliver on campaign promises. is there anything other than willful blindness that would present us from getting behind those statements? >> yes, judge floyd. respect for a head of a coordinance branch and acting legally which is to say the presumption of regularity. i think part 3 of the brief does a great job -- by walking through what president made clear and he clarified this over time but he made clear in months leading up to the election and after inauguration that what he was talking about was the threat from terrorist groups that operate in particular countries that have been designated a state sponsors of terror or designated as countries of concern because they are safe havens for terrorists. he made clear he was not talking about muslims all over the world. and that's why this is not a muslim ban. >> now when he directed his questions to the plaintiff's attorney, wolf, the issue really became, how could you remove the taint from this executive order
and if we look at these campaign statement. the judges posed a series of rhetorical questions. one asking, maybe would he say sorry everyday. another saying, well are we supposed to look back what president trump said in college? and finally they said, if you can't remove the taint, how is the president supposed to protect the country. >> laura, thank you. laura jarrett reporting for us from richmond, virginia. dana, i want to play a little clip. this is an exchange that sally yates had with senator ted cruz on this very issue of why she was fired because she refused to go ahead and support the president's original travel ban. listen to this exchange. >> is it correct that constitution vests the executive authority in the president? >> yes. >> and if an attorney general disagrees with a policy decision of the president, a policy decision that is lawful, does the attorney general have the authority to direct the department of justice to defy
the president's order? >> i don't know whether the attorney general has the authority to do that or not, but i don't think it would be a good idea. and that's not what i did in this case. >> well, are you familiar with 8 us c-section 182? >> not off the top of my head, no. >> it is the binding stat story authority for the executive order that you refused to implement and that led to your termination. it is certainly a relevant and not terribly obscure statute. it says, quote, whenever the president finds that entry of any alien or any class of aliens into the united states would be detrimental to the united states he may for proclamation or such a term he seems necessary suspend aliens or class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem appropriate. would you agree that that is broad statutory authorization?
>> i am and i'm familiar with that. i'm also familiar with another addition that says no person shall be discriminated against visa because of race, nationality or place of birth. that was promulgated after the statute you just quoted. that's part of the discussion with the courts with the respect to the nia that this statute trumps the first one you just described. but my concern was not an ina concern here, rather a constitutional concern. whether or not this -- the executive order here violated the constitution specifically with the establishment clause >> she basically crushed him. >> i was going to say, senator cruz, you met your match. but crushed him is your word. and i think that that's just fine. look, he was trying to do legal gotcha with the code, and she
said, you know, i'll hear your legal gotcha and one up you, which is the united states constitution. that's what i was following. and you know, it didn't work. look, not every attempt to kind of get at what she was trying to do went as bumpily as that one, but that was certainly one to remember. >> ted cruz is the legal expert. >> he's a very, very smart guy. >> exactly. >> but he met his match. >> he did, but what he went on to say, and this is the crux of his argument and his complaint is that he believes she's making the argument that a litigant should be making in court, not what the acting attorney general should be making after the office of legal counsel had ruled on this. i'm just saying, he sort of agreed that she had an argument to make. he just thought she was making it in the wrong venue in that position. >> that's fair. >> what they're trying to do is disqualify her as a liberal, right? the whole point of asking about
the travel ban at this hearing and veering off in that direction was to kind of establish her bona feedies if you're a republican as somebody who is a liberal, was part of the obama administration and shouldn't be trusted. and i don't think that succeeded at all today. >> and she really throughout all of these three hours of testimony today, she did remarkably well. you have to admit. >> she was very well prepared for this hearing, for sure. one of the things she said, to your point, she seemed to try to take it back to what her job was, which was, you know, being true to the constitution. because she saw this, she thought this was unconstitutional and unlawful, that's why she chose -- >> it's very interesting, very interesting series of developments today on the muslim ban from coming to the united states. during this extraordinary hearing in richmond, virginia, some of the judges asked why is it still on the trump campaign website, a ban on muslims coming to the united states?
sean spicer was asked about it at the briefing. he didn't know why it was still there. guess what happened? shortly thereafter, it was removed from the campaign website. you can see it right there before and after. >> and it's not like this is the first time it's been noted. democrats have been saying this, we have been reporting it for, you know, however many days that the trump administration has been as such, has been in office. so it is noteworthy that it took the judges who are going to rule on this as a legal matter for them to realize, oh, wait a minute, it's still on there. this also came up as part of the question to sally yates about what her motivation was, and she even said that it was just like the judges have said, that it was something that the president, then candidate said over and over again. one quick thing i want to say about where sally yates is now versus before. you're right. she is now an acting position as attorney general, and she wasn't just a career person. but you know, she was attacked, evan perez did a story when he
was at the "wall street journal" about her being attacked by democrats in 2009 because she went after democrats in atlanta for corruption. and so they thought she was a republican. so that kind of gives you a sense of where she falls, which is in the middle. >> she and comey should get together. >> now you know why people won't run for political office. >> she was impressive today. no doubt about it. just ahead, more on the breaking news. a warning to president trump that his pick for national security adviser was vulnerable to be blackmailed by russians. plus, another american detained by north korea. we're learning new information. we'll be right back. e watch me this i gotta try weekenders. then we've got the bendy... ... spendy weekenders. the tranquility awaits. hanging with our mates weekenders and the it's been quite a day... ...so glad we got away weekenders. whatever kind of weekender you are, there's a hilton for you. book your weekend break direct at hilton.com
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the second american detained in three weeks. brian todd is working the story. what are you learning? >> this man's born in china, educated in california. he was detained in north korea over the weekend. suspected of, quote, hostile acts against kim jong-un's regime, but the regime has not specified exactly what those ablths were. as wolf mentioned, that makes two americans now detained in north korea over the past three weeks. another american known as tony kim was declined in late april in the same overall charge, committed, quote, hostile acts. both these americans are professors at this place, the pyongyang university of science and technology. onef the few schools inside north korea that employ foreign professors. they teach the children of north korea's elite. analysts say in 2011, a writer went undercover, posing as a
professor at that university. she came out with a book in 2015 exposing the propaganda and isolation at the university, experts say the north korean security services might have recently gotten hold of the book and are now going after professors with connections to the u.s., wolf. that's an intriguing story connecting that one undercover person to that book. >> so two american citizens in the last three weeks. there are two other americans who have been held much longer. there's a lot of military tension on the korean peninsula right now. >> a ton of tension. you see the pictures of the four americans, including a university of virginia student, they're held in north korea. this comes as kim jong-un's regime has accused the u.s. and south korea of plotting to assassinate kim. south korea's intelligence says it knows nothing about an alleged plot. also have the north koreans conducting several missile tests recently, planning for just about what everyone believes is going to be a sixth nuclear bomb test coming up. and as wolf mentioned, a u.s.
aircraft carrier is holding tests. this could be a bargaining chip. >> thanks very much. that's it for me. thanks for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. next, breaking news. the former acting attorney general says she warned the white house multiple times about general mike flynn. and we're learning obama himself warned trump. so why didn't the white house listen? plus, jared kushner's sister wooing investors, name dropping the president, touting her brother's access. one former white house official calls it outright bribery. >> who's going to win the political race everyone is watching. let's go "outfront." and good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, breaking news. blackmail tarked.