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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  May 15, 2017 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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for the congress and for holding the president accountable. >> thank you very much jackie, paul, jeffrey, i appreciate all of your time. our breaking news coverage of this story continues right now with anderson cooper and "a.c. 360." good evening, we begin tonight with breaking news with a striking bottom line, according to "the washington post" and the "new york times," the president of the united states revealed highly classified information to in a meeting with russian ambassador and the russian foreign minister after the firing of james comey. now the post broke the story, they're reporting suggests that when the president revealed this intelligence, reportedly gathered by an ally, and not to be shared with other countries, he was boasting to the russians about what he had. as you might imagine, this is touching off a firestorm on
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capitol hill and beyond. we have our own new reporting on that, what the intelligence covered and delayed reaction from the white house team. jim acosta joins us now from the white house. jim, explain how the white house is reacting, because several people who were in that office put out statements, although in some cases they're not really addressing what the actual reporting said? >> reporter: i think it's safe to say that the white house is knocking down that story in the "washington post," they're saying it's false as reported, but in a carefully worded statement, you could hear the national security advisor to the president, h.r. mcmaster addressing reporters earlier this evening, declaring that this story is just not accurate. here's what he had to say. >> there's nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the american people. the story that came out tonight as reported is false. the president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of
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common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation, at no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. to oth two other senior officials that were present, including the secretary of state remember the meeting the same way and have said so. i was in the room, it didn't happen. thanks, everybody. thank you. >> and that was it, anderson. h.r. mcmaster did not take any questions from reporters, he did not answer the questions, but you heard h.r. mcmaster say that the president did not reveal any sources or methods, he did not specifically say that the president did not reveal
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classified information. the deputy press secretary just went back into the west wing a few moments ago and talked to reporters saying there would be no further statements from the white house tonight. >> that story that first appeared in the "washington post," specifically it did not say that the president revealed sources and methods in what he said, but for h.r. mcmaster saying that the president didn't reveal sources and methods, that's not what the post said. >> reporter: that sort of dance around that distinction, we can put up a statement from rex tillerson, the secretary of state that during the president's meeting with foreign minister lavrov a broad range of subjects were discussed but they
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did not discuss sources, methods or military operations. the president only discussed the common threats that both countries face. but anderson, nowhere in these statements that were released by tillerson, powell or the national security advisor. is there any kind of denial that the president released classified information to the russians, and of course that's a deeply sensitive topic because president trump went after hillary clinton for having emails on her private server. h.r. mcmaster will be briefing reporters tomorrow on the president's upcoming foreign trip. obviously if mcmaster does not show up at that briefing, that's a telling sign that we should
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circle the wagons on this. >> it's not clear that any of those statements almost sound word for word the same, the fact that they don't specifically say hi didn't reveal classified information, that's not just an oversight that the white house put out a statement that didn't directly address that. >> this is the sort of denial speak that you get from administrations when there are very serious questions being raised and obviously up on capitol hill, they're raising some very serious questions tonight and republicans are tearing their hair out wishing they could just get through a day in this town without the white house doing serious damage to itself. >> how does this tie into the reporting that you've done on the airline lap top story. >> reporter: when we were reporting that story, we worked with intelligence agencies for a couple of days, specifically to remove any references that the
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president is allegedly discussed with these top two russian officials there in the oval office. they specifically did not want to mention the city, and they said specifically, if you mention these types of things, the terrorist groups will be able to figure out that we have certainly collection methods and our allies have certain collection methods and this could lead to lives put in danger, not only sources and methods being put in danger, people inside isis, might be put at risk as a result of this reporting. we went through the classified information, we wanted to make sure that the public understood the grave danger that this lap top bomb, this intelligence showed, but we didn't want to put anybody's lives in danger. so we worked with the intelligence agency to remove this from the story.
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>> when mcmaster spoke, he said he didn't talk about methods and sources, what you're saying is if there had been any level of detail of these conversations with the russians, that could have allowed eed a very sarryes figure out. whether the president said this is how this was collected, by just telling the details, it's possible the information -- the russians in this case could figure out what the sources and methods were? >> they could reverse engineer the information to figure out how it was collected, to figure out how the u.s. obtained it. here's the other -- the president still regards russia as not the adversary here, he really believe in the fight
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against -- the issue is that the russians have other motives as well. >> they figured out then that could put those sources of information at risk. we don't know where that information is going. that was what was really emphasized to us when we were reporting this story back in march. >> you should know that we invited anyone from the white house tonight, but they said they were done for tonight. our team of national security experts. jim, i know your communication devices have been blown up with the people you've been talking to. what is the reaction?
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>> the reaction is of deep, deep concern on a number of levels. one because it's classified information, that's obvious. and two, the russians were the ones to receive this information, it's prime adversary in the intelligence community today. and it seems to show a -- there are countries that you share intel with as a matter of alliances, the uk, france, et cetera, that's natural. there are others that you don't want public, because of the nature of those relationships, those three things make this particularly serious. former senior u.s. intelligence official described it to me this way, i have never before soon a senior government official so carelessly share information that endangers a sensitive relationship. unprecedented. >> believes that the president
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cannot be quiet about that information in front of the russians-- >> that's not the first time we have heard concerns from our allies, what they share with the president and what comes out. this relates to the lap top threat, the idea of getting a bomb hid on in a personal ele electronics on to an airplane. i have talked today about suspe suspending -- this threat is considered right now the greatest, most immediate, clear and present terror danger to the u.s. so beyond the obvious sensitive territory that you're in with the nature of the information and the relationship, the nature of the threat, makes it the most sensitive territory you can get. >> if what "the washington times" and "new york times" reported is true --
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>> this is the most serious accusation made against a sitting president. >> ever? >> i cannot think of any other president that has put the national security in danger. remember that russia gives information to iran, that gives it to hezbollah, gives it to syria, we're talking about agencies like jordan, israel, england that may have worked for five years to get somebody into isis at a leadership level, he's going to be killed. if it's electronic, they're going to disclose this information. this is so serious. now we have to unite. we have to put aside all the stuff about comey, about whether the campaign coordinated. we have to put all this aside because the -- we have to find out if it's true. the first step is damage control, the second step is doing something to protect us. do we have to ban the lap tops
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tomorrow or this week? we have to focus on this, do not politicize this issue, that's the greatest risk we have faced so far. >> the white house saying that the president didn't share sources or methods with the russians, he shared specifics about looming threats to both countries. but to evan's point, can you kind of reverse engineer if you get some information and figure out what the sources and methods are and endanger whoever gathered that? >> if anyone can reverse engineer something, it's serge the russians, but my greater concern here is this is going to have a widespread chilling effects on all of the intelligence relationships that we have with all of our allies, the ripple effects is going to be regard -- having these relationships for a number of years overseas, our allies pass
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this information with the expectation that we are going to keep it to ourselves and not share it with anyone else, certainly not with the russians without talking to them first, and if we do that, and if it's true that the president spread this without the liaison service that gave it to him, they're going to become more conservative, they're going to stop giving information, and so that puts us most at risk. >> that risk was created by "the washington post", that second risk. "the washington post" published this material, i don't blame them, somebody leaked it. we now learn from something the editor of the "washington post" reporter told us, that the leak had to have come from within the united states, how do we know this? is that the leaker, quote, did not want to come pound the problem. russia would want to compound the problem. so we now know that the leaking of the information that creates
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the compounding problem of the intelligence services, it would be bad enough if this happened, but nobody knew about it. now we have two problems, one sources and methods could now where found by russia. >> you can make the argument that the united states would have to informal lied intelligence services that this information had been disclosed. >> that would be part of the damage control, we're not talking about messaged damage control, we're talking about risk damage control, which is obviously far more important. >> the information the president reportedly revealed, we're not talking about confidential, not top secret, this is code word information. what kind of dots can you connect with that? >> code word means that the programs are so significant, the sources and methods are so
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critically important that any leaks or information about that might give away damage that the program exists. i have been read in on code word programs before both in combat and peacetime. you're not read in, you're also read off when you leave the program, which means you say i will never disclose that i know anything about this program or that i will give any information about it or even give what the code word is that describes the program. and it is so dangerous, any kind of investigation that comes out on a code word program, would n endanger the fight for the -- when you connect the dots, any significant item might be able to lead you to the source and the methods. even though the sources and methods as general mcmaster said but not given. if anything was given up, it might lead the russian
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intelligence service to find out more things and connect dots. it could destroy the program, ruin the relationship with the other country, generate a lack of trust with all other nations, because whatever country this came from, others are going to see it as well. it's not just going to affect that one-on-one relationship, it's going to affect everybody that shares intelligence with our intelligence community, because they're afraid to give it to them because they don't want it given to the president who might give it to the president. >> you worked with the cia and the fbi. what do you make that this was a statement made by the president of the united states to russian officials, who one of them is at the center of the ongoing investigations and who were allowed into the oval office the day after the fbi director is fired. you would think of all the times somebody would be careful of what they said, and how they said it, it would have been that meeting right there, photos of
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which are being provided by the russians because u.s. reporters were not allowed in the room at the time. >> anderson i have a different perspective. there was a mistake, that wasn't what the president said. in 2016, the rush shanks lost 220 people. if the president had not warned them about threats on aircraft and a russian aircraft went down tomorrow, what would we say? two mistakes were made here and they are significant. the first was a minor mistake, it was not a moral sin. you have got to tell your foreign partners if you're the president of the united states, i'm going to reveal your information to the russians, i don't believe the russians are going to leak it to isis, they're killing isis periodically in syria. and the second mistake was by general mcmaster, i respect him, but he's playing us for fools, there are two elements of intelligence, what you know and how we know it.
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what you know about threats to aircraft and who told you. what he told us today is that the president did not reveal sources and methods. he said nothing about what the president said in terms of the fall threat. don't play us for fools, if the president revealed the actual threat without revealing the source of the threat, please tell us and don't play us for idiots, general mcmaster really lost some credibility today, he should have been honest with us, he was not. >> what do you expect russia to do with information like this. also the reporting from cnn earlier was that rex tillerson's statement sounded like it was coordinated from the white house, it didn't come from the state department itself, because a lot of state department people had no idea that the statement had even been made. >> on the second part, i had talked to some colleagues in the state department. it seemed like the statement was moving so fast and the white house wanted to present one
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coordinated set of cabinet officials all at once. that's unusual, i honestly have never seen that happen before, but it does -- i do see the logic there, they were moving fast. on your first question, anderson, it really depends on what kind of information it was. i will say this, the russians are not only not our friends, particularly in syria, they are acting in and an nom anymore kl way in syria. open opposing what we have tried to get done in syria. they have done little to nothing in syria. so if it was isis related, i fail to see the great benefit here. i'm kind of like phil, i don't see the benefit here about them sharing information about the fight against isis in syria. if however, they were in peril, being in an attack, okay, you might want to share some, but you do it in a more deliberate,
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scheduled, measured fashion, you discuss this with the intelligence community before you meet with the russians and you lay out the degree to which you'll share and how much. it doesn't seem like this was done in any kind of a coordinated fashion. you're talking about a president who doesn't get the intel briefing every single day. when you get it every day and you really absorb it, and you take some time with it, then you know the nuance, then you know the complexity, then you're more careful when you get in a meeting. this is a man that doesn't get it every day, and because he doesn't, he's lacking that nuance, that fidelity about information that's really not fit to put out. >> some very strong views about dysfunction at the white house, we'll speak with a democrat on the house intelligence committee investigating improper ties to russia. this will no doubt come up in tonight's town hall with house minority leader nancy pelosi.
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trust the brand doctors trust. nexium 24hr is the #1 choice of doctors and pharmacists for their own frequent heartburn. for all day and all night protection... banish the burn... with nexium 24hr. the breaking news, the president shared more than smiles and hand shakes with the russian ambassador and foreign minister. the president talked about house information is gathered on isis. the white house is attacking the story without denying key details. diena powell is saying that the story is false. democrat and republican lawmakers are expressing concerns. candidate trump had plenty to say on the subject of classified
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information. crooked hillary clinton and her team were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive highly classified information, not fit. that's no ee that's not all he said. >> what we should do is enforce all laws dealing with the handling of classified information. hillary is the one who endangered national security by sending classified information. classified information in the reach of our enemies. what happens when i'm dealing with the problems in the middle east. are you folks going to be reporting all of that very, very confidential information, very important? we got to stop it. that's why it's a criminal penalty. >> she sent vast amounts of classified information, and this is where they said that she was extremely careless and frankly i say grossly incompetent. she will be such a lousy
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president, folks. >> joining me is my panel. matthew, you continue to report the story out for the "new york times," how does your reporting and the reporting of your colleagues jibed with the white house so far? >> the white house carefully worded their denial, and they're saying that the president didn't discuss any sources or methods or military operations that were ongoing or secret. the thing is nobody's saying he did that, what they're saying is that he was sitting with the russian ambassador and the foreign minister and he got excited and told some incredibly granular detail about this intelligence, he talked about the city where the plot emanated from. things that could help anybody figure out how this is being collected and from whom it's being collected. it's a problem because the russian interests are not the same as our interests in syria.
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they're there mainly to prop up the government of al assad, and allowing a country that's not a clear ally, is in many ways a -- on top of that, this intelligence came from on ally, a very close mideastern dle easy that if they know their security has been breached, they'll never share information again. >> professor dershowitz, does the intent of the president in sharing this information matter, if he didn't intend to give up classified information, he's inexperienced in these realms. >> if he were a private citizen he would, because it requires -- but as the president he's exempted from any laws, the
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separation of powers, prevents the president from doing what he wants with classified information, so he's probably not guilty of any crime, probably has not committed any impeachable defense. but he's put at tremendous risk. it sounds more and more like it might be jordan or israel. i know there were rumors earlier on that israel was having trouble deciding whether it will share information. imagine information getting to iran, or through iran to hezbollah, this is going to create a terrible problem, particularly for the president as he's going to the middle east this week. >> i want to read something that bob corker who chairs the senate foreign relations commission. he said, quote, the white house has got to do something soon to bring itself under control, obviously they're in a downward
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spiral right now and they have to come to grips with all that's happening. >> speaker ryan, that's obviously very critical coming from somebody who's on pretty good terms with president trump. and speaker ryan's office put out a statement with a certain amount of dismay and wants more information on it. so i think this is something that everybody recognizes as serious. and when we're watching the news, we have different controversies with donald trump, and people say this is the worst that's ever happened. this is the worst by far. the reason that it's the worst, is because he's put people's liveses in jeopardy. in a very serious in the immediate and in the long-term. not only has he harmed relationships currently, it's going to affect relationships in the future. >> without officials at the state department even knowing
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and basically rebutting things that were not really in dispute. >> they're scrambling. and general mcmaster came out and specifically said that the post story as reported, which are two important words was inaccurate. so if there's one tiny little mistake in it. maybe it's inaccurate as reported. but the gist of the story is, it seems to me, nobody has denied. and i think this goes to a larger question, anderson, which is the question of the competency of the president. i think you hear a lot of people whispering about it here in washington and i think now they're starting to talk about it out loud. because if you have a president who doesn't know how to handle or talk about highly classified information to one of our adversaries, there is a problem. and there is a big line in the "washington post" story that really struck me, which said that trump seemed to be boasting about how great his intelligence is. and we all know donald trump by
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now, and he likes to kind of brag about things. and you can just see that occurring. i've got great intelligence, lavrov, here's what it's telling me. >> then candidate trump railed against hillary clinton's handling of classified information, how do you square that with this? >> i wish we would all slow down and take a good long look at what is really here, and none of us at this point knows what's really here. hillary clinton had hundreds of thousands of emails that were put on an unclassified server. that's a lot. what we're talking about here is one, quote unquote, mistake. we don't even know that that's the case. >> the allegation is that this is code word level, that's the highest classification as it gets and it was given directly to the russians. >> what really disturbs me here,
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let's just say for the sake of the argument that's true, the thing to do, there were only three people from the administration in that room, the secretary of state, the national security advisor and someone from the nfc staff. then we see in this "washington post" story, in the very first line, it talks about current and former administration officials knowing this. how does that happen? >> les ask dr. rosenberg from the "new york times" who's reporting on this. matthew, what do you say? >> in hillary's emails, there was a small, select few that were classified information. that it came from an ally, was exposed to the government, or it went to an adversarial government. number two, there was a note taker in the room. there were notes disseminated throughout the government. these things get around. there's never just three people in the room when you're sitting in a room with the russian
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foreign minister and the russian ambassador. but to kind of compare this to hillary clinton's email, which was never publicized, it's like look here, the emails, this comes up time and time again. and the fact that we are talking about president trump, and the issue here, which you're sharing foreign intelligence, incredibly sensitive intelligence, by a foreign ally, who has all right told you if you share this information, they're going to cut you off. >> i'm worried about your show at 9:00 tonight. i'm very worried that nancy pelosi is just the kind of person to politicize this issue. it should not be politicized. we should put aside all the stuff about comey, we should put aside the stuff about whether the campaign had any connections, as americans, republicans and democrats focus on how serious this is in a nonpolitical way, damage control must occur first. we must now react to it on the
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assumption that this information has been dissem natured, the worst case scenario is that the information flow may have stopped. we need to stop any kind of lap tops from getting on any kind of airplane. we have to look forward, do not politicize this issue. >> matt, how do you see this? >> the fact that this is russia, he could have done this to another country, he could have revealed this information to another country, it wouldn't have been quite as news worthy. >> and to the guy who has a phone call with -- >> right. and on top of that, i think it does seem very clear that donald trump views russia differently than most of us do. i think he sees them as more of an ally in this war on terror. >> which does not look at the actual evidence on the ground in syria. >> what they're actually doing to fight isis in syria.
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it's completely speculative, but the reporting seems to comport with this speculation. it seems like donald trump is the type of guy who likes to brag, and i could see a negotiation, we're talking, and i want you to like me, or i want you to reveal something to me. if i tell you something secret, that's almost like a negotiation ploy, a strategy. i can see it working in business, a little gossip, a little something i know. but guess what, this is highly classified information and i think that donald trump, i think inadvertently. >> he wants you to like him. i want to get reaction from capitol hill. >> reporter: bipartisan concern, a lot of concern from republicans and democrats on exactly what happened. there was a vote on the senate floor and senators were buzzing
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about what exactly did president trump share in this meeting. you heard congressman corker talk about how troubling it is to know that your president divulged classified information. if this repo. >> it turns out according to "the washington post" that president trump revealed highly classified information last week. what's your reaction? >> obviously it's disturbing if it's true. i just can't comment on every news story, but obviously it's not a good thing. >> will you be part of the investigation here going forward? >> let's wait and see what this was all about first. >> and anderson, the question is also whether or not the senate intelligence committee will get briefed on this matter or will
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look into it further. senate intelligence chairman richard burr said he was not let in on this issue, he said he was just reading about this when he flew into washington earlier today. so a lot of questions from members of both parties, even ones who get that sensitive classified briefing really don't know much about it. >> representative swolwel, what do you make of this potential release of information by the president to the russians? >> good evening, anderson. you know the cost of the president's ties to russia cannot be our national security. and if this is true, that is a price that we could pay. and if you step back and look at what happened here, the president is alleged to have given classified information to a foreign adversary, who i would argue, anderson, when you look back at this a new years from now, i would ask that why were
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the russians even in the oval office after the attack they carried out. so given that role with a foreign adversary could put american lives at risk. i hope that the administration comes to congress this week particularly to our committee and updates us as to exactly what was revealed. and is this a change in policy on how we communicate with russians. >> what "the washington post" has reported, it does sound like it was more of a boast by the president, than a particular desire to pass along specific information to these two russians. >> i want to learn more, anderson, i'm not going to jump to conclusions just yet, but remember this was somebody who fired the fbi director the day before the meeting because he was too much of a show boater. so if your president was show boating or grandstanding with
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u.s. intelligence in such a grandiose way, everyone should be concerned about it. the house and senate investigations into the firing of james comey and whether the president recorded conversations with and who knows, were these conversations with the russians recorded? more on that ahead.
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it is too soon to tell, but it would not be surprising with tonight's breaking news. the report that president trump disclosed highly classified information to the russians underscores the larger concern about the russia probe. 40% support an independent
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commission or a special prosecutor. as for the president's -- 29% approval rating for trump's firing of comey. as for the president's tweets he might have recorded the krves conversations comey, the white house 17 times has avoided answering our questions about it. >> did president trump record his conversations with former fbi director comey? >> i have talked to the president and the president has nothing further to add on that. >> why did he say that? why did he tweet that? >> as i said, the president has nothing further to add on that. the tweet speaks for itself. i'm moving on. >> does anybody in this white house have a recording of what transpired in the january 28th dinner. >> the president's made it clear
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what his position is. hal halle, i have answered the question over and over again the same way. >> that is certainly true. back with the panel, gloria, there's a report from republican senator susan collins, quote, can we have a crisis free day? that's all i'm asking. it does feel like virtually every day there's some new situation arising out of the white house that the white house has to clean up and has to come back out and make news statements got, and news statements often raise more questions. >> by the way, a lot of the confusion flows from the top down. this is a president who tweeted about comey better hope that the conversations aren't taped. and this is a president who sat in the oval office with two russians and apparently said some things he shouldn't have said. and this is why, i talked to a couple of republicans from the house today, who were saying to
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me, this is why we're worried that our whole agenda's going to be derailed. because we're not trying to do tax reform, for example. and this is also why, anderson, that you don't see a whole lot of republican surrogates out there rushing to defend the president every time he does something like this because they're not sure they should. and that's why you saw a republican like mccain, who's been quite critical, saying, okay, i have to learn more about this, because they're getting hit by this every single day. and they don't know what to think from day to day. >> and kirsten, unlike the reactireak sh reaction on the day comey was fired, kellyanne conway, everybody was put on tv to -- tonight they sent out mcmaster
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in a very carefully worded statement, that did not reflect the actual reporting. and then the statement from tillerson, and then said no more statements tonight. >> i also think it's interesting that dena powell and now they have been sent out and are now going to be tarnished by what went down tonight and these sort of orthodox and not denial denials. ultimately the problem is with him and he creates this chaos and sends these people out to clean up these messes, but until he stops doing the things that are causing the messes, no communications strategy is going to solve the problem. >> at what point do capitol hill republicans start to distance themselves from the president, or senators or congress men?
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>> yeah, i think gloria made a very interesting point which is that this is almost a game theory. if you're a conservative writer or whatever, republican politician, you're sort of balancing, is he nixon? is he mccarthy? is he reagan? there were conservatives like george well who attacked, reagan didn't have until late in his administration the scandal part, but there were conservatives like george will who -- is he nixon? it's unclear. so i think that you're having people hedge bets and i don't know when the tipping point is going to come, but at some point, people will abandon him. >> jeffrey, if the president did what "the washington post" says he did, what the "new york times" says he did.
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and basically h.r. mcmaster has not denied what he did, neither is rex tillerson that he gave classified information to the russian ambassador and foreign minister. that it may affect intelligence sharing from our allies to the united states, would you agree that that is bad. >> sure, if in fact that's exactly what he did. but anderson, i think it will also open -- it will continue to open up the whole question of leaks and classified information. i mean let's just recall the irony here, this is a "washington post" story, and while i was waiting to go on, i noticed that in march of this year, tom hanks and meryl streep announced they were making a movie of the "washington post" leak of the pentagon papers, which were entirely classified and they're being celebrated for
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it. i just think there's some confusion all over washington. >> most of the confusion is coming out of the oval office, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of confusion coming out of "washington post," because "the washington post" has a good track record as does the "new york times" reporting that has all flushed out to be true and what they have come out on tv to deny has turned out not to be true. >> anderson, there were two stories from "the washington post," that the attorney general threatened to resign, which he personally denied to a washington news channel. and then director comey had asked for more resources and then the deputy director, the acting director says to the committee, that that's not so, he has no memory of that. so not everything that gets written in the "washington post" is 100% accurate. >> look at this from the russian point of view. so they have got chaos in the
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united states government, people arguing about whether they hacked the election, or whether the transition team was in collusion with the russians. >> they got a foreign minister and their ambassador in the friggin' oval office, and getting according to reporting code word level classified information directly from the president of the united states in the oval office. you cannot make this up. >> that's my next point. they walk into the oval and they get all this information, and they walk out, they go wow, let's reverse engineer all of this and figure out who the source is, if they didn't already figure it out while they were sitting there. so they're sitting there and kind of laughing about all of this, saying, well, this is better than we thought when we hacked. >> coming up, matt lewis and former white house counsel john dean. also stay tuned for the town hall meeting hosted by nancy pelosi.
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jim sciutto is back with new reporting. >> two former intelligence officials knowledgeable with the situation tell myself and jake tapper that the main points of the washington post story are accurate. the president shared classified information with the russian foreign minister. the information did not directly reveal the source of the intelligence but intelligence officials tell cnn that there's concern that russia will be able
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to figure out the highly sensitive source. there's some disagreement, i should note according to one of the sources as to how far the president went in revealing this information. the intelligence relates to what is known as a sensitive access program or sap which covers some of the most highly classified information and is protected with unique additional access and security protocol. that point is key there, anderson. often with intelligence, you can hve two differing opinions about the same thing. did the president go too far? will the russians be able to figure it out based on what the president revealed of this particular information? there is concern that of the adversaries we have that russia is so highly skilled at this kind of thing that their concern is that russia could reennegine based on what they know. >> and potentially endangering either an individual or individuals or a collection method? >> exactly. or frankly an intelligence
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sharing partnership. it's a partner that did not want to know it's sharing this kind of information with the u.s. >> which is obviously -- the u.s. relies on intelligence partners to share information, regionally all around the world. >> exactly. often you rely on allies. you have an open sharing relationship with. the five is being the most pertinent example. five countries, u.s., canada, great britain, australia, new zealand. if we know it, they know it. you have other relationships, france, germany, japan. then you have relationships where you share in certain situations and not in other situations. this being one of them, particularly sensitive. >> we should point out the u.s. has had difficult relationships at times with our allies in terms of intelligence sharing with the unit ed kingdom when there were spies. there was concern about the infiltration. this is another level of concern that the president of the united states might have revealed.
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>> it is. it's one that i have heard from foreign intelligence officials and foreign diplomats prior to today, the concern is if we share this, might it come out, frankly, of the president's mouth at some point based on the way he has discussed these issues during the campaign and since his election? here is an example of how that concern could be born out. >> jim sciutto, appreciate the reporting. i want to welcome former nixon white house counsel john dean. thanks for being with us. you have seen "the washington post" report and "the new york times" reporting. you heard what jim sciutto said. what's your reaction? >> well, having been in government, having had classified status for a number of years, i can tell you it's hard enough for government employees who are experienced to know what line they can go up to and not cross. the answer repeatedly is, anderson, just to say nothing when you get in these areas.
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a president sometimes has to speak. generally has thought carefully what he is going to talk about when he goes into these areas. mr. trump has no government experience. here again, it's showing. sg . >> the white house tried to shoot down the story in as coordinated a way as they can saying the president didn't discuss sources or methods from the russians. we heard that from the secretary of state, from mcmaster. that is not what "the washington post" actually reported. do you see any parallels -- when you hear a statement by that -- like that, someone might call a non-denial denial, what stands out to you? >> well, i think this is just damage control by the white house with our partner, whoever we got the information from. it's not unexpected the white house would deny the stories or give the appearance if they're not hitting all the points. that didn't surprise me. i don't know what else they could do, frankly, other than try to minimize the scope of the
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story and narrow it down to what they think is appropriate. >> does it -- is there a benefit in coming out and making a statement that doesn't really address the actual story? because then obviously, news programs point out immediately, well, that was an interesting statement but when you actually look at the words, it's actually not referring to what the actual report said. >> it is conspicuous. i heard it on the radio. i didn't even read it. i read it later. it's very obvious they are not banging away at the story itself. they are playing around it. i don't know if they think this will get confused in translation or what's going to happen. it's not a very strong defense even. >> republican senator bob corker said today that this white house is, quote, in a downward spiral right now and they have to figure out a way to come to grips with all that's happening. do you agree with that? how do you think they could get a handle on this? obviously, critics will say this comes from the top. is it a question of changing staff, trying to get more
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control over who has access to the president, how information is disseminated? >> frankly, this is my biggest concern in donald trump getting elected is the fact that he didn't know what he was doing and then when he didn't surround himself with a powerful and experienced staff, he was asking for more problems. to stop the mistakes, to stop this chaos and crisis a day, he has to get somebody in there who he will listen to, somebody who knows their way around washington, knows their way around the government. because the people who are there right now really do not know what they're doing. and it's fairly dangerous. this is a very dangerous situation they have gone into today. >> i know jim sciutto has a question for you. >> mr. dean, thanks very much. to this point with various mistakes in the past, most republicans really the vast majority of republicans have been reluctant to call the president on it, at least in public. to see senator bob corker today, who is often held his fire, talk
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about the white house being in a downward spiral, certainly a change. i wonder if you in light of your experience have a message to republican lawmakers about the specific instance of the president's here? is there something that you would say to republicans about what the president is believed to have done here? >> that was certainly a shot across the bow today from corker. and i think he is leading the way in doing so. what historically has happened when republicans have taken on powerful presidents like mr. nixon is they have come out on the good end of history and not the wrong end of history. so when you can just obviously see mistakes and refuse to call them, uriyou are inviting more those mistakes. republicans need to get their act together and not be so worried about legislation they're not enacting because that's what they want to have happen. this is just distorting and distracting all of washington. >> in the minute we have left, the echos -- i guess i have to
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reference watergate here. the ranking member of the house oversight committee, also the ranking member of the house judiciary committee saying if there's any recordings, congress needs to obtain them. the idea we are talking about recordings in the oval office is -- i don't know if it's jada view or -- if it's deja vu or -- it's by jizarbizarre. >> the white house as early as 2011 transferred their system into the voip, where they can now have digital packets. they may well be a button on his phone he can press and make a recording. that's not impossible. >> fascinating. john dean, it's great to have you with cnn. it's great to have you on the program tonight. >> thank you. >> all of this is happening as the ninth circuit court of appeals grapples with the president's travel ban.
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sally yates was fired after she refused to defend that. tomorrow night on 360, tune in for my interview with sally yates. she and i had an extensive conversation this morning. her first and only television interview was fascinating. she talked about the firing of james comey, her own dismissal, the version of events from the white house. that's at 8:00 eastern right here tomorrow night on cnn. time to hand things over to chris cuomo hosting the cnn town hall with fancy pelosi. [ applause ] good evening. we are here in washington, d.c. for a live special cnn town hall event with house minority leader democrat nancy pelosi of california.