tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN May 9, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
with just part of a day? aleve, live whole not part. you want this color over the whole house? it's just a burst pipe, i co(laugh) it. no. with claim rateguard your rates won't go up just because of a claim. i totally could've - no! switching to allstate is worth it. here we go. top of the hour. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you for being with me. we are a couple moments away from the white house daily briefing with sean spicer. we have our eyes on that. he is expected to hit a number of topics including health care, a possible surge in afghanistan and the testimony of sally yates. let's go to sara murray in that briefing room, waiting for sean spicer. quite a menu of options as far
as topics today. what are you listening for? >> reporter: that's right, brooke. aside from the president's tweets yesterday, this will really be our first time to pose questions to the white house about what happened in that hearing on capitol hill yesterday with sally yates and the revelation that she offered some pretty stern warnings about michael flynn, about his contacts with the russians and misleading the vice president about them. one of the questions this white house still has not answered is why president trump kept michael flynn on as national security adviser for 18 days after this administration was warned that he could be compromised and blackmailed by the russians. of course, we are also expecting there could be questions about health care, where this looms next on capitol hill now that it's in the senate. in addition to that, where the president's head stands on sending additional troops into afghanistan. we are expecting his top national security advisers to recommend he send anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 additional troops. remember, this is a president who ran on the notion of america first, who underscored the idea of nation building and said we
need to get out of so many foreign entanglements but because president, sitting in the oval office and being faced with reality is a different situation. so far the white house has not given any indication as to whether the president might approve that recommendation so you can bet sean spicer will be asked about that today as well. >> we know the president met with his national security adviser, h.r. mcmaster today so afghanistan, top of mind. we will be listening to news made there. thank you so much. speaking of military movements, i have barbara starr who is about to join us from the pentagon. barbara, what are you learning about syria? >> reporter: well, the president has now approved another recommendation from the pentagon and that is for the united states to arm syrian kurdish rebels. these are the u.s.-backed forces that are trying to go against isis and re-take the capital, the isis self-declared capital of raqqah. what is going to happen now is
the u.s. will supply these kurds with small arms, machine guns, ammunition. those kinds of supplies. but they will do it in a limited fashion. it will all be parcelled out specifically for various missions to re-take raqqah. why, you might ask? well, this is very key, because it is the turks, turkey across the border to the north, that is so opposed to this and of course, turkey, a vital nato ally for the united states. the turks are not fans of any of these rebel forces in the region. some of these factions, the turks consider outright terrorists, there's a lot of different factions there. the u.s. point is the ones that the u.s. is supporting are against isis, are fighting isis, and these are forces that really are in desperate need, it's said, of ammunition and additional arms if they want to take the campaign forward to raqqah and boot isis out of raqqah once and for all, which the u.s. considers a vital military objective.
so the president approved this just in the last hours yesterday, we are told, and those arms, those supplies, should start flowing to these kurdish groups. now, because of the turkish opposition, top administration officials have made a series of phone calls, had conversations face to face with their turkish counterparts to explain all of this, to explain the reasoning and the fact secretary james mattis talked to his turkish counterpart, the state department talking to their turkish counterparts trying to keep the turks relatively calm about all of this but the turks are clearly going to be upset about this. they have already conducted some of their own military missions against some of the forces working just inside northern syria and iraq. >> good point about turkey and the opposition in the wake of the news. we will look to questions on that to sean spicer momentarily. thank you, at the pentagon. and another topic that sean
spicer is likely to address momentarily here is republican senator lindsey graham, who as you heard just about 24 hours ago, called for this investigation into president trump's business dealings in russia. this is what senator graham, a republican, told manu raju. >> well, look at the facts taken. some we know about what clapper said. i want to know more about trump's business dealings. i asked is there any business dealings with the trump organization that gave you concern and he said no, he said with the caveat i don't know what the fbi's looking at so i don't want to run afoul of them. >> reporter: what's the business interest of theirs? >> i don't know. the fbi, according to clapper, i think they are actually looking at that so maybe that's something we need to steer clear of. what i'm trying to do is find out what happened so we can prevent it in the future. >> reporter: you think his tax returns would be helpful in determining the business interests aspect? >> could be down the road. >> all right. we have gotten the two-minute
warning to the briefing. before we see sean spicer, dana bash, let me bring you in, our chief political correspondent. just responding to senator graham's comments to manu and also the significance in the fact that it's lindsey graham calling for this kind of investigation, right? >> reporter: that's right. look, he chaired the hearing yesterday. he is in charge of the subcommittee that oversees the fbi, and i think he is -- has a history of, experience as a prosecutor. he and others, democrat and republican, will say that whether it is about russia and its involvement in the u.s. elections or anything else that has the potential for criminal or untoward activity, you follow the money. so it is not surprising given that, that that is what he is saying he wants to look into now. it is surprising, to your point -- there's sean spicer. i will stop talking. >> we will go to the briefing.
>> good afternoon. the president this morning met with general mcmaster, as you know, general mcmaster is helping lead the team that's organizing the president's upcoming foreign trip. this week the president has been focused on meeting with the team getting ready for the various stops he will be making in meetings he's going to be having. during his many conversations with world leaders, the president has seen a great desire for america to reengage and be a leader once again in helping solve the world's complex problems. he's already made moves both behind the scenes with leaders and his public statements to show them that america is reasserting its leadership on the world stage. these visits are another important part of resurgence. while on the trip the president will further strategic objectives in the region including new opportunities that will strengthen the united states and her al hilies while weakening our enemies. many of you are interested in the logistical aspects of the
trip. we will have further briefings throughout the week on those aspects of the trip as soon as we can so stay tuned. also on the subject of foreign visits, i would like to announce the president has invited the crown prince of the united arab emirates to visit the white house on may 15th and the crown prince has accepted. we look forward to welcoming the crown prince and see the visit as an opportunity to deepen cooperation with a key partner in the middle east. moving on to dmoefk matteomesti the vice president spent his morning on capitol hill, meeting privately with majority leader mcconnell and also had individual meetings with other senators. the discussions focused primarily on the path forward for the american health care act in the senate and how the administration can work with congress to craft a tax reform bill that follows the president's priorities simplification, providing tax relief to the american families and individuals, and stimulating the economy. the vice president also attended the weekly senate republican policy lunch. later this afternoon, the vice president will be joined by
second lady karen pence, general mcmaster and ivanka trump to welcome 150 military families for a reception at the white house. the event recognizes national military appreciation month and national military spouse appreciation day which takes place this friday. the president's cabinet is busy inside and out of the beltway speaking on the administration's agenda with local officials and key stake holders. secretary of health and human services dr. tom price is in michigan and west virginia today, where he will hear from those on the front lines of the fight against the opioid epidemic. also today, the justice department announced that attorney general will be speaking on opioids on thursday at a drug enforcement administration 360 heroin and opioid response summit in charleston, south carolina. the dea's 360 strategy is designed to help cities and surrounding regions deal with the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic and the violent crime associated with it. this day-long event sponsored by the dea anti-drug coalitions of
america and university of charleston school of pharmacy will bring together stake holders and professionals working in law enforcement, prevention, education, treatment, recovery, health care and emergency response. in washington, secretary of commerce ross is speaking this afternoon at the 47th conference of the americas which is taking place at the state department. the event brings together administration officials, distinguished leaders from across the region to focus on major policy issues affecting the hemisphere. also at the state department this morning, secretary tillerson participated in a signing ceremony for the united states and georgia general security of information agreement with the prime minister of georgia, a major milestone in security cooperation between our two countries. the president was also pleased to see several top administration officials recently moved through the senate. last night, heather wilson was confirmed to be secretary of the air force and governor branstead was approved to be ambassador to china and is moving on for a vote on the floor of the senate.
the president also looks forward to seeing dr. scott godly confirmed to serve as the commissioner of the food and drug administration today. with regard to the paris climate agreement, the president has been meeting with his team for quite awhile on this matter and he will not be making an announcement regarding that agreement until after he returns from the g-7. with that, i will be glad to take your questions. katelin? >> two questions for you today. first one is why did the president wait 18 days to fire mike flynn after the white house was informed of his conduct and warned that he was a potential target for russian blackmail? because you realize the timing of this makes a lot of us think he wouldn't have been fired if this story had not come out in the media. >> well, i think first of all, let's look at the timeline. sally yates came here on the 26th of january, then she informed the counsel's office there were materials that were relevant to the situation.
it wasn't until about seven days later that they had access to those documents. after that time, they did what you should do frankly is an element of due process reviewing the situation. they informed the president right away after they were informed of her giving us a heads-up and ultimately, the president made the right decision. but i guess the question or the point i would put back on you is somebody came over, gave us a heads-up on a situation, told us there were materials, we were provided those materials seven days later, reviewed those materials, underwent a process of reviewing the situation, and ultimately the president made the decision and it was the right one. i think the process worked frankly when you think of the time in which we had the information to make the decision that the president made. >> reporter: you are saying the president stands by that decision and he made the right decision but why does he continue to defend mike flynn? >> i don't think -- it's not a question of defending mike flynn or not. >> reporter: he should seek
immunity? >> i think mike flynn is somebody who honorably served our country in uniform for over 30 years and i think as he's noted, lieutenant general flynn was asked for his resignation because he misled the vice president. beyond that, i think he did have an honorable career. he served with distinction in uniform for over 30 years and the president does not want to smear a good man. >> reporter: what was his role at the white house in those 18 days? was he still fulfilling his normal national security adviser duties? >> i'm not going to get back into it. >> reporter: wasn't worrisome he was still doing that when he was the potential target of blackmail? >> one thing that's important to note is let's look at again how this came down. someone who is not exactly a supporter of the president's agenda who a couple days after this first conversation took place refused to uphold a lawful order of the president, who is not exactly someone that was excited about president trump taking office or his agenda.
hold on. let me answer the question. she had come here, given a heads-up, told us there were materials and at the same time, we did what we should do. just because someone comes in and gives you a heads-up about something and says i want to share some information doesn't mean you immediately jump the gun and go take an action. i think if you flip the scenario and say what if we had just dismissed somebody because a political opponent of the president had made an utterance, you would argue it was pretty irrational to act in that manner. we did what we were supposed to do. the president made ultimately the right decision. i think he was proven that -- >> reporter: how is she a political opponent of the president? she's acting attorney general. >> appointed by the obama administration, a strong supporter of clinton. that's now i think number four. jim? >> reporter: thank you, sean. are the canceled meetings a sign the president is vacillating on the paris accord, and undecided whether to remain in the agreement or withdraw from it? >> i think it's simply a sign
the president wants to continue to meet with his team, devel develop -- meet with not just the national -- the economic piece but his environmental team and come to a decision on what's the best interests of the united states using the expertise that surrounds him. >> reporter: does the president want another war in afghanistan? what would winning mean to him? >> i think reducing the threat, whep when it comes to isis and the taliban. >> reporter: reducing the threat. >> reducing, minimizing. obviously in the best case scenario -- i'm going to answer mara's question. i think the answer is we want to eliminate the threats that are against our national security and pose a threat to our citizens, our allies. so we need to fully eliminate any threat around the globe frankly, not just in afghanistan, that poses a threat to our people and allies. >> reporter: does he have a question as he considers what to
do next and if he wants to commit more troops? at one point we had 100,000 troops there and we didn't eliminate the threat. why would 15,000 do the trick if 100,000 didn't? >> i think that's a very washington question, meaning just because you spend more, throw more people doesn't mean you are doing it in the most effective way. one of the things he has asked his national security team to do is to actually think -- rethink the strategy. what are we doing to achieve the goals you are asking about. how do we actually, how do we win, how do we eliminate the threat. i think doing that isn't just a question of throwing money or people, but looking at the mission and the strategy and that's what the team has been doing holistically, not just in afghanistan, but the total beyond afghanistan is also the way he's asking to lo at the threat isis poses. >> reporter: will he explain this to the american people or -- >> we'll see. i don't want to get in front of him. i don't know how he's going to do that. but we will wait and see and go from there. john. >> reporter: thanks, sean.
question about the president's policy concerning syria. this morning we learned from the pentagon that the president approved a plan to directly arm syrian kurds against isis. has the president discussed this plan with the leader of turkey and what was the reaction from turkey? >> i don't know if he's addressed this to the president yet. i do know that yesterday, the president authorized the department of defense to equip kurdish elements of the syrian democratic forces as necessary to ensure a clear victory over isis in raqqah, syria. the sdf partnered with enabling support from u.s. and coalition forces are the only force on the ground that successfully seized raqqah in the near future. we are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partners in turkey. we want to reassure the people and the government of turkey that the u.s. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our nato ally. the u.s. continues to prioritize support for arab elements of the sdf, raqqah and all liberated territory should return to the
governance of local syrian arabs. the fight for raqqah will be long and difficult but ultimately, yet another defeat for isis and another step towards eliminating the isis threat that threatens peace and security in the region and the world. >> the secretary of state is meeting today with his counterpart from russia today, the foreign minister of russia, sergey lavrov. are you expecting deliverables from that meeting? >> we will have a readout when that's done. >> reporter: i have two brief. first, are you expecting after again afghan review to be done by the time the president heads to saudi arabia? >> that's a question i will leave up to the national security team. i'm not going to -- the president is not putting a deadline on that. this is obviously what we announce today is part of that. it is not entirely it. we will have more as we go forward. i don't want to pin down a timeline on it. >> reporter: one more. in this briefing you talked about the president's desire to
fully eliminate any threat around the globe to u.s. interests. you talked about he wanted to reengage and be a leader once again and reasserting its leadership on the world stage. some of the president's supporters are going to hear in those comments maybe a bad omen about the president changing his mind and becoming more interventionist. you talk about isis a fair amount but what would you tell them about is he going to embark on nation building, is he going to deepen american involvement in conflicts in syria and afghanistan and elsewhere? >> i appreciate that. i think that his priorities remain the same but he's going to do what he can to make sure he protects the country and our people and threats that directly affect the united states. >> reporter: just following up, correct me if i'm wrong, i know you will, the day after it was announced that he was under investigation, flynn, he met with, if i'm correct, with pence and russians on a phone call.
so while he's under investigation, why is he being allowed to participate as the national security adviser? >> i really don't recall the schedule from that day. the point is, again, i think this is -- look, i answered the question a moment ago but i think as i went through the timeline, sally yates came over here, gave us a heads-up, provided us the opportunity, made it very clear that materials were available for the counsel to review but -- and we followed that process. within 11 days after that, we accepted general flynn's resignation that the president had asked for. >> reporter: the point being while he's under investigation -- >> i understand. >> reporter: what is -- >> we are not going to relitigate the past on this. we have been very clear as to what happened and why it happened. i think the president made the right decision and we have moved on. >> reporter: can you confirm that the meeting today between ivanka trump and [ inaudible ] was canceled and if so, why? >> i don't know. i will be glad to get back to you on that. i'm not sure. >> reporter: secondly, as it
relates to the g-7, you said the decision on the paris climate agreement will be made after the g-7 so does the president feel that he can extract any concessions while he's there? does he feel like he can renegotiate it or does he just want more time? why until after the g-7? >> i think the president wants to make sure he has an opportunity to continue to meet with his team to create the best strategy for this country going forward. sara murray, welcome back. congratulations. >> reporter: thank you very much. i just want to get back to that point. why shouldn't president trump's supporters if he does decide to add more troops to afghanistan see that as running counter to what he campaigned on for so long, the notion of america first, the notion of the fact we are too involved in foreign entanglements abroad? he campaigned on that and the way he's governed from what we have seen in syria and what he assumes to be doing in afghanistan, he had a very different message. >> i want to be clear.
the one thing there is a difference between afghanistan proper and our effort to defeat isis. that's one thing that he was also very clear on in the campaign and as president, that he is going to do everything he can to fight radical islamic terrorism, to root out and destroy isis. in some cases, if isis, he has to go into afghanistan, they may be synonymous at that point but they are not always the same. the goal is always going to be defeat isis which is something he's been very clear on with the american people from the get-go. but that all being said, let's be clear, with the exception of the piece that we announced today, that the president authorized yesterday, no decision has been made. so let's not get ahead of what that ultimate policy will be. >> reporter: one other question. can you give us a better sense of what the president has been doing with his time the last few days? we haven't had very detailed schedules, we haven't seen him publicly. he's only had one or two meetings. what is he actually doing all
day long? >> thanks. as i said at the top, t the president is going on an eight-day trip. he's going to saudi arabia, israel, rome, g-7, nato. this is an opportunity next week as i mentioned, he will have the crown prince here. he has a commencement speech at the coast guard academy. part of the use of this week is to be meeting with the principals and head of the directorates of the countries we are going to ahead of the meetings, where he's receiving extensive briefings throughout the week with his team. he's had several meetings with general mcmaster over the last couple weeks, one of the leaders in the effort for this trip. he's met with the chief of staff, his legislative team who was just meeting when i walked out of the oval office with part of his economic team. this is an opportunity for him to get ahead of this first really long foreign trip to make sure that he is on a whole host of issues, whether isis, whether our economic issues, trade issues, to make sure we go in there strengthen our relationships but also make sure we put america's priorities
first. yeah. >> reporter: president trump tweeted yesterday that the story of possible collusion between his campaign and russia is a hoax and he questioned when this taxpayer funded charade would end. is the administration trying to set parameters on what congress and the fbi should investigate? >> no. >> reporter: so, if that is the case, what did the president mean by when will this charade end? >> i think even director clapper said yesterday when asked if there was any evidence he had seen of collusion, he said no. i think that at some point, i said it before in this briefing room, but we have to take no for an answer. he said the director of national intelligence asked has there been anything you have seen additionally that shows collusion, he answered very clearly, the answer is no. it continues to be no. i think there's a point at which all of the things the president is doing economically and in national security wise, to move
the country forward, this needs -- we need to take no for an answer and move on to the issues. >> reporter: is it the role of congress and the fbi to say when a matter should be concluded and not the white house? also following up on that, senator lindsey graham has said he wants to look into president trump's business dealings to see if there are any connections to russia. would the white house cooperate with that? >> yeah. so the president obviously was aware of senator graham's suggestion after he made it today and he's fine with that. he has no business in russia. he has no connections to russia. he welcomes that. in fact, he has already charged a leading law firm in washington, d.c. to send a certified letter to senator graham to that point, that he has no connections to russia. that should be a really easy look. matt? >> reporter: two questions on two different topics. first, you said that sally yates was a strong supporter of hillary clinton. what is that based on?
>> i think she's made, you know, i think it was widely rumored to reply a large role in the justice department if hillary clinton had won. >> so on a different topic, i have a question about that fired usher, angela reed. it was reported she received a generous severance package. how do you give a substantial severance package to a government employee? >> i don't know. i would be glad to get back to you on that. aneta? >> reporter: yesterday we learned sally yates said she learned of the first immigration order, the travel ban, by reading the newspaper. i'm wondering why the acting attorney general wasn't privy to that. was that because she was a clinton -- obama pointee, clinton supporter? why was the acting attorney general not notified? she had just met the same day it was signed. >> i don't know why she want. again, we don't want to relitigate the first executive order at the time. we talked about all the proper
individuals that needed to be made aware of were made aware of at the time. >> reporter: is it not unusual that the attorney general -- >> again, i also, to be clear, remember, this is someone who ultimately didn't even want to enforce it. so to suggest that -- >> reporter: she couldn't want to enforce it until she heard about it. >> we were approved and right about who needed to be in the loop about that. she also chose to disregard the president's lawful order. >> reporter: it was on purpose, though. >> i did not say that. what i'm saying is we discussed at the time of the executive order being signed back in january the process by which that was followed. the appropriate people then were in the loop on that. >> reporter: yesterday, in her testimony, sally yates said she arranged for white house counsel to view the evidence against general flynn at the doj but wasn't around to see if that happened. you said that that took place seven days after her initial meeting. was the evidence against flynn related to the president at that time or did the president learn about the allegations against
flynn through the media 18 days later? >> so following the meeting the white house counsel immediately informed the president and senior white house personnel when she first came here, late on friday the 27th, yates and the white house counsel met again to discusses certain issues that she had left unclear at the time, and then those -- the president as you know fired her on the 30th of january after she refused to enforce the president's legal executive order contrary to the advice of doj officials at the time who had told her this was legal, she overrode them, didn't do this. the white house didn't get access to that underlying evidence described by miss yates until thursday, february 2nd, which is a week after miss yates first met with the white house counsel. and then that's when i think the full sort of review began. once they had had access to that information. >> reporter: was the president
informed at that time? >> i know he was informed at the front end of what she had told them and the counsel had informed him they were going to then seek the information that she said was available to them. ha hallie? >> reporter: i want to follow up on what a couple folks mentioned. you described in this briefing what sally did as a heads-up with don mcgahn. she testified she came to the white house twice in person on the 26th and 27th to do more, she says, than simply offer to provide materials. she says she encouraged the white house to act and expressed real concern about mike flynn being compromised by the russians. on the 28th, saturday, mike flynn sat in on that oval office phone call with president putin. is that the right call? >> again, i think what you have is somebody who was an obama pointee coming in saying -- i get it -- no, no -- at that moment, sure, you have someone who you have to wonder why they are telling you something to the point where they had to come back a second time because what they were saying was unclear.
>> reporter: before the second topic you said it was widely rumored she wanted to be part of the clinton white house potentially. so that makes you negate her coming to -- >> no. again, i guess my point is somebody who is not -- who clearly showed by the fact that career doj attorneys told her the president's lawful order -- that she should sign the president's lawful order and then chose not to do it -- >> reporter: that was after. >> i get it. that vindicates the president's point. this was not somebody looking out for -- my point is we were correct in the assumptions we made at the time. >> reporter: my next topic is just on health care. is the white house asking senate leadership to put more women on the working group? >> i'm not aware of that. >> reporter: would the white house loik ike to see that? >> the more voices we can put on a panel to help get this done, the better. to the extent i'm not going to tell leader mcconnell or the white house is not going to tell
him how to conduct a panel, but at the same time, i think any voices that can be constructive in getting a more patient-centric health care system put together would be welcome. but that's not our call to make. >> reporter: there's been a number of conversations in washington this week about the relationship between h.r. mcmaster and the president. how does president trump characterize his relationship with his national security adviser? >> excellent. >> reporter: another follow-up question very quickly on flynn. you have spoken from the podium before about the president asking michael flynn to resign as a result of him misd leleadi the vice president. we learned a lot about michael flynn this week and potential investigations, and we know actual investigations into his actions before coming here to the white house. was this at all considered in the president's decision to ask him to resign? >> i think you can only -- you can only accept someone's resignation once. he asked for it, he got it. so to go back and relitigate
isn't really something that makes a ton of sense. he got it, he asked for it, he got it the first time. i don't think you go back and continue to say would i have asked for it here, here and here. de what he did the first time. he was right and he got it. >> reporter: can you just be clear on the 18 days? the white house put any security restrictions on mike flynn at all during that period of time? was he limited in terms of access to classified information, national secrets or decision making in any way? >> i'm not aware of any. it doesn't -- the decision that we made was the right one. the president made a decision, he stands by it. >> reporter: you have yates coming to the white house on january 26th and 27th. you then have mcgahn going to the doj on february 2nd to see those documents. but it's not until february 13th that flynn actually resigns. tell us what happened between --
you got this warning, you then saw documents that backed up that warning, then you have 11 days that passed. what was happening in those 11 days? >> i think if you go back in time and look at what we talked about at the time, there were several conversations that occurred with general flynn between the chief of staff, the general counsel, the vice president, it all occurred then. look, when you think about the scope of time that actually occurred, those 11 days, to make sure that we did the right thing is important. and we ultimately did. that's what's important when you think of this. when you look at this compared to other instances, the idea that in 11 days, a review was conducted, the president acted decisively. i think that actually shows the system worked properly. john? >> reporter: [ inaudible ] at all how yates describes those conversations on the 26th and 27th? she's saying she came here with great urgency, that she made clear that he had been compromised, that she had evidence he had been compromised, that this was
something she felt like the white house was going to take action on? >> well, look, i'm not going to -- i don't think there's 100% agreement about how she describes everything. but i think generally as far as the timeline goes, we are fine with it. but again, i'm not going to net-pick the fact, what her tone was like. i would suggest that the reason she was asked to come back the second day was because it wasn't -- it clearly wasn't that clear on the first day. so i think logic dictates you don't ask someone to come back and explain themselves a second time if they have done an effective job the first time. but again, i'm not going to get into needling every little point about what happened. john? >> reporter: thank you, sean. i have two questions. first, a citizens group known as united against nuclear iran released a list of 16 american companies a few days ago, among
them volvo, honeywell and schlumberger all of which are cutting back on jobs involving americans but all of which expressed a desire to do business in iran under the terms of the deal that was made with tehran. my question is this. what is the administration's response to businesses who say they want to do business in iran under a deal the president described as the worst ever? >> i think that speaks for itself. the president is very clear on what he thinks of the iran tede and companies need to abide by the law. >> reporter: two weeks ago monday, the president met with some of us, he said, it was on the record, he would have an answer on the administration's policy toward the international monetary fund in a few days. it's been two weeks. can we expect any time an announcement on what the administration will do regarding the imf? >> i would be glad to follow up
on that one. dave? >> reporter: the governor of texas on sunday signed a law that essentially outlaws sanctuary cities in the state of texas. do you view this as a positive step and would you encourage other states to do the same? >> you know, obviously it's a positive step. i think it shows that as we have discussed here from an economic and security standpoint, that makes sense for the citizens of our country. each governor, each mayor will have to make their own decisions but i think the president's position is very clear when it comes to sanctuary cities and how we are going to try to address them going forward. because it's not just an economic issue, not just a jobs issue, but it's a security issue for our country. so i think ultimately, every elected official from the local level all the way up to president needs to feel comfortable with the laws they are passing to make sure they are protecting the people. ultimately that's what every government first and foremost responsibility is to its people.
>> reporter: [ inaudible ] the administration's position sanctuary cities should not be existing nationally, will you still take action that denies funding to cities nationwide? >> again, i think it's a positive sign. i hope more follow the governor's lead. but we are going to do exactly what the president said and follow through on the executive orders he's made. major? >> reporter: so sean, you mentioned director clapper's testimony yesterday. you said no evidence of collusion. he was also asked if he was aware of the fbi counter intelligence investigation, he said he was not. therefore, he left the impression before the panel he could not give a definitive answer about the question of collusion. do you accept that as a valid representation of his knowledge and the fact this remains an open question? >> sure. i mean, in the sense i'm not going to question but i think the interesting thing is on all the other issues that he testifies about, everybody takes it as whole cloth that if he says anything -- he was the dni. so when you guys want him to speak for the entire 17
agencies, you sort of assume that that's what he's doing. in this case, when he's been asked similar questions before, and said well, i can't speak to this case generally speaking, i see nothing, the presumption is therefore he has to be -- in this case he's saying i have not and continue to not see anything that shows an effort of collusion. as the dni, i would ask you the same question, which is at some point, given all that he was seeing and all that he was given access to, when at some point are you guys going to accept this idea that there was no collusion? >> i'm asking you if you accept what he testified to. >> sure. >> reporter: that they have equal weight. that yes, the time the agency said they found no evidence, this representative fact you take as valid, and it's also representative fact you take as valid he was not aware of an fbi counter intelligence investigation and therefore, at this time, cannot say conclusively there was no collusion. you give them equal weight, correct? >> sure. >> reporter: fine. on afghanistan, because i think it's important what the president's thinking about here.
you have been implying that isis is a part of the afghanistan equation and what i want to ask you about is as the president looks in afghanistan, as the team presents him options, are those options primarily about whatever isis component is in afghanistan or the larger, more malignant issue in afghanistan which has always been the taliban? >> right. as you know, there are multiple missions going on to confront those multiple things. the u.s. currently has about 8400 forces in afghanistan doing a counter terrorism operation which is operation freedom sentinel and then the nato mission which is to train, advise and assist under operation resolute support. the main objective of us being in afghanistan from being used as a safe haven for terrorists who attack the united states and our allies, that's the maj objective. we remain very focused on the defeat of al qaeda, its associates as well as the defeat of isis affiliate in
afghanistan. but that's simply put what the mission is going forward. >> reporter: when you suggest it's a washington question to ask if 15,000 can do a better job than 100,000, are you suggesting the ideas theme president is being presented with are so original, so outside the box that 15,000 troops can achieve what 100,000 deployed shortly after 9/11 cannot achieve? >> i'm suggesting fully defining the mission, what is the exact objective, how far away are we doing it, what's the time level we have to have, can we grow the afghan force. there are several things that go into a strategy. i think the idea of just saying can we throw x number at it is not the way the president is looking at these options. he's trying to figure out, walk back from a goal of eliminating this threat and then tell me how we get there as opposed to tell me how many troops we need and
what you're going to do with them. i think there's been in the past some instances of just figuring, okay, if we add more troops that will help solve the problem. the president is asking to re-look at the entire strategy and then figure out what the footprint is in a variety of ways to get there. that is a different look at what the strategy is versus what it had been. >> reporter: one last thing. you suggested that when sally yates refused to enforce the executive order, that vindicated the assumption you had that she might not have been a purely well motivated government servant bringing over this evidence about michael flynn. on the other side of that, after don mcgahn looked at the evidence on february 2nd, was in fact sally yates' warning vindicated? >> i don't know. i don't know what don saw. i'm not privy to that. >> reporter: you told us that led to his firing. so it had to have some legitimacy, right? >> what led to his firing was he misled the vice president. >> reporter: wasn't that information a part of the conversation? >> i cannot get into and i don't know, frankly, what was in those
materials. >> reporter: can you not assume -- >> i don't think they should assume anything. facts should guide it. the bottom line is the president fired him for misleading the vice president. i just said to you multiple times and i said at the time, so at the time that it happened, and right now, we continue to say the vice president was misled by general flynn and the president asked for his resignation. full stop. john? >> reporter: if i can come back to paris. >> you can. let's all go. >> reporter: it's my understanding the president's initial inclination was to pull out of the paris agreement. he suggested as much on the campaign trail. but the situation has become a little more complicated. the knock against the paris agreement is that it would have a detrimental effect on the u.s. economy fully implemented. does the president believe there's a way to stay in the paris agreement, maybe renegotiate the standards? he's under a tremendous amount of pressure from many of his own advisers, other countries, to
stay in this agreement to some degree. does he think he can make changes and still stay in it? >> i think the reason he's seeking the advice of his team is to get options and then he will pursue the best one. i'm not going to tell you which one that he's going to do. that's why he's continuing to meet with the team and to get advice. that's it. plain and simple. steve? >> reporter: also, in the omnibus spending bill the president signed was a provision to extend the eb-5 visa program. it's been pointed out the company jared kushner was recently in charge of has been aggressively reaching out to people in china to say invest in our property in jersey city, remember the eb-5 program, the people that invest a certain amount of money in this country get the sort of golden visa program. does the president see any potential conflict of interest there? >> i think jared has no affiliation with that company anymore. he recused himself from it, sold his interest in it. that's a question more for the
company itself. >> reporter: the president doesn't see potential conflicts here? >> jared did everything that was required to make sure he recused himself. took all the steps necessary. >> reporter: you put out a statement that congratulates -- >> thank you for bringing that up. yes. >> reporter: -- who ran in south korea. he had actively campaigned suggesting the president's idea that south korea pay its fair share of the thaad missile system was a bad idea. he wants warmer relations with the north. do you hope to convince him to change his mind? >> i think the president looks forward to meeting with him and talking about our shared interests. i will wait for that conversation. >> reporter: second question. you did say the president has an excellent relationship with his national security adviser but there's been a widely circulating column that quotes the president, two sources, saying his national security adviser is the general undermining my policy. did the president say that? >> i don't believe he has. i haven't seen him. i mean, i think when you look at
the president's schedule this week, as i just noted to sara a little while ago, there is probably no one aside from family members that are spending more time with the president this week than general mcmaster. he values his counsel. he continues to be extremely pleased with his pick and his performance as national security adviser and he has the utmost confidence in him. >> reporter: just a couple more questions on general flynn. you keep saying the white house was given a heads-up by sally yates about what general flynn had said to the russians. she described it differently, saying she told the white house that general flynn had been compromised by the russians and was subject to blackmail by the russians. is that the position of the white house now after seeing all the same evidence sally yates saw? that general flynn was compromised and potentially -- >> look, we have commented on this. we made a decision based on actions that he took. the president asked for and accepted his resignation. we are not looking to relitigate this. >> reporter: don't the american
people deserve to know -- >> they need to know the president took decisive action in this country's best interests and back to steve's question, made an excellent choice for national security adviser. >> reporter: [ inaudible ]. >> ni don't know that -- >> reporter: sally yates came to that conclusion. >> i don't know that that's -- for her to come to that conclusion without any investigation seems premature, don't you think? >> reporter: the white house investigate whether or not their national security adviser was compromised by russia? >> we looked into the situation. the president made a decision and it was the right decision. jonathan. >> reporter: sean, follow-up on that but first i want to ask about director, fbi director james comey's testimony before the senate which now apparently it looks like the fbi director gave inaccurate testimony to the senate. is the white house concerned that he greatly exaggerated or misstated what kind of contact
huma abedin had in terms of her e-mails and sending them to anthony weiner? >> i have not asked the president or the staff about that. the one eeissue is i don't thin there's any question by any account there was classified information inappropriately shared on an unclassified system to an uncleared person. to me i think that's what continues to be the take-away. >> reporter: is there concern the fbi director apparently gave inaccurate testimony? >> at this point i have not asked and i'm not fully aware -- i'm aware of the testimony that occurred and the inquiries but i have yet to follow up on that. i would be glad to follow up. >> reporter: does the president still have confidence, full confidence, in fbi director james comey? >> i have no reason to believe -- i haven't asked him. i have not asked the president since last time we spoke about this. >> reporter: the last time you spoke about it, you said he did have confidence but you are not sure enough to say that again now? >> in light of what you are telling me, i don't want to start speaking on behalf of the president without speaking to
him first. >> reporter: one follow-up on flynn. the president of course said flynn should ask for immunity before agreeing to testify. does he still believe that? >> i think general flynn should seek the advice of counsel and take their advice with respect to his investigation and the inquiries into his background but that's a decision for him
and his counsel. thank you, guys, very much. have a great day. >> all right. there you heard it. really the crux of a lot of the questions pertaining to the testimony we all watched yesterday, the former acting a.g. sally yates, who was fired just early on in the trump presidency. david chalian, let me start with you, our political director there. i think we noted the same thing. the fact from the sally yates testimony was that she told the white house that general flynn, nsa at that time was a russian blackmail risk and sean spicer kept referring to that warning as a simple heads-up. what did you make of that?
>> yeah. that heads-up expression is what he had said back at the time. so he's trying not to change the characterization i think he used heads-up four or five times in the briefing today. it just is remarkably different than the tone and tenor we heard from sally yates yesterday who was discussing a sense of urgency to get over to the white house counsel, to say your national security adviser here at the white house is likely compromised by the russians. that may be interpreted, it sounds like if you listen to sean spicer, from the white house, as a political opponent or some partisan opponent who came over to give a casual heads-up about michael flynn. from sally yates' side, here's this career-long justice official who went over with urgency to say your national security adviser is compromised. those two things are not the same thing. no doubt that the white house wants to paint it one way, but to me, it suggests as you heard in the briefing, these questions
aren't going away because what that triggered from sally yates was 18 days of inaction and so now, the white house which clearly he did not want to answer at all is still going to be peppered with questions about well, what was done in those 18 days once you knew your national security adviser was compromised. >> that's the question. dana, let me follow up on it. to hear sean spicer today call sally yates quote, a political opponent of trump, you know, history is important. context is important. sally yates once upon a time was appointed during the bush h.w. years. >> yes, look, here's the thing. you are exactly right. sally yates was a career justice department employee. she is somebody who prosecuted many very important cases, eric rudolph, for example, and others. she also went after democratic politicians in your hometown of
atlanta, and she got a lot of democrats upset with her. even and including john lewis, who evan perez, our now colleague who back then was working in 2009 for "wall street journal" did a story he showed me yesterday, that that story said john lewis was trying to block her appointment because he was afraid she was a republican. yes, she was working for the obama administration but obama was the guy who was the president. she had also worked for other administrations technically because of her job as a career justice department official. the other thing about the heads-up. to me, heads-up is hey, mom, put on cnn, i'm going to be on brooke's show. not oh, my gosh, there's a matter of national security and your national security adviser could be compromised by the russians. you need to know this. to me, they are very different. i totally agree with david that sean was trying to use the same language he used way back when, when we first learned about this, but still, now that we heard the testimony from sally
yates, it just seems -- it doesn't seem to fit. >> you know, brooke, just to echo what my friends here have said, it's sort of the difference between saying hey, it's going to rain this afternoon versus you have a category 5 hurricane that is aimed directly at your house and you better do something about it and you better figure out what you're going to do, and that's what sally yates was saying. and i think that the notion that she was this partisan was spoken very bluntly by sean today when he said that yates was someone who you have to wonder why they are telling you something. so clearly, they were questioning her motives as a partisan and you know, sometimes in government, you get to a point where people come to you and you just have to believe that they are doing it because
they are doing their job and they are giving you a warning because it is their job to do this, and that sally yates wasn't coming to them out of any partisan irk but she was coming to them to say look, you have a problem here. >> and she came to them, to use your metaphor of the category 5 hurricane, three times after president obama warned of said hurricane to the incoming president himself. let me move on to, dana, you covered, you all really have, covered capitol hill for years and years, on this whole question about you have essentially these 13 older white gentlemen, essentially -- you know where i'm going with this. essentially tasked to come up with the senate's version of this health care bill which i don't know how much these men know about menopause or maternity issues or obstetrics or you name it but when sean spicer was asked about this, he almost acted like he wasn't even
aware. >> well, we first reported this last week and it was -- actually, it was our male colleague, ted barrett, who when i got the list of members of this working group said where's the women. >> we talked about it friday. >> we talked about it friday. now, i will say that some of the women who are in the senate and are very involved in this health care legislation and trying to make it right, susan collins among them, is saying you know what, i'm not worried about that. i'm still working and she is. other officials at the white house besides sean spicer have said that they do see this as an optic problem. i think i would say it's also a substance problem. i think as we were talking, i saw some e-mails going back and forth that manu raju said mitch mcconnell was asked about it and also didn't seem to think this was a problem. now, i will also say that when we reported on this late last week, an aide to one of those
male senators who are part of the working group said, i should say this was a female aide, said they weren't going to play identity politics, they felt they had a diverse group working in terms of geography, in terms of political spectrum, and they felt they were doing just fine. we'll see if that changes as this becomes more and more sort of in the zitgeitgeist. >> a senior white house official said today we will see those optics addressed. thank you so much. i want to move on to talk about this epa news. president trump is delaying his decision on whether to withdraw from the paris climate accord for at least a couple more weeks. he now wants to wait until after his trip to the g-7 summit in italy this month. originally, the white house had planned to announce its decision by the meeting. even the president's own advisers are deeply divided over whether to ditch the deal. while the president is pondering what exactly to do, his
predecessor is definitely defending the landmark climate pact. >> there's indisputable that the planet is getting warmer and the only real controversy is how much warmer will it get. the current administration has differences with my administration in terms of energy policy and that's part of what happens in democracy. so there will be a useful debate that takes place in america. >> off of that, some changes also to tell you about regarding the epa or environmental protection agency. as the epa chief, scott pruitt, decided to replace half of the members on its key science advisory board. with me now, one of the nine scientists dismissed, robert richardson, ecological economist at michigan state university. robert, thank you for being on with me.
let me read your tweet for everyone else. this is from you from this weekend. quote, today i was trumped. i have had the pleasure of serving on the epa board of scientific counselors and my appointment was terminated today. what happened? >> i received notification late friday evening via e-mail that my appointment would not be renewed. it was unexpected because we have been led to believe that those who had completed their first three-year term would be reappointed to a second three-year term so the news that i received on friday afternoon was surprising and i did react with some disappointment to that with the tweet you referred to. >> you were in your first term, you presumed you would be re-upped. the epa says you all weren't fired, you can reapply. let me read what the epa spokesperson told "the washington post." this approach is what was always
intended for the board and we are making a clean break with the last administration's approach. that said, a lot of your colleagues, mr. richardson, have said this is entirely political. how do you see it? >> i also see it as a political action insofar as when this board met in its executive committee in january, before the inauguration, we were informed that it's typical that members who have xlocompleted a first three-year term are reappointed to a second three-year term which would then be the maximum and paperwork was being prepared for submission to request our renewal. so we were going on with the assumption that this was all in order and we would be renewed at the end of our expiration date. >> why do you see it as political, then? >> in part because of the
rhetoric that has been -- surfaced since then. the quotes i have seen from the epa spokesperson have said they didn't want to renew these appointments, they wanted to fill this board with representatives from industry. one quote was that this board should reflect an understanding of the impact of regulations on the regulated community. this is a board that advises on science and we have no -- the board had no role in reviewing or approving regulations so that was a completely separate function of the agency. so i believe the decision was political because that rationale is not accurate in terms of what this board's authority is. >> we have seen recently a number of scientists speaking up against the administration, the marches in washington and beyond, activists rushing to save government science data even before this new administration came in. what are your thoughts among your peers about how the trump
white house is simply approaching science? >> well, i certainly share some of the concerns that you have highlighted, and to be fair, the appointment of my role and the eight other members who were not renewed were expiring and certainly, any new administration would have the authority and the right to appoint its own advisers. >> will you reapply? >> in some ways -- i don't plan to at this time. but when you see it in the larger context of proposed changes to the science advisory board which is a different board proposed budget cuts, the removal of information and data from the epa's web page, taken into totality, this gives me great concern. >> okay. robert richardson, thank you so much in michigan for us this afternoon. appreciate your time. top of the hour, you're watchi