tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN June 12, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PDT
there, despite reports that the president has become increasingly frustrated with him and with the russia probe, so much so that sessions reportedly offered to resign last week. meantime, sessions says he plans to testify tomorrow before the senate intelligence committee, but the panel's chairman has not yet publicly confirmed that testimony, nor revealed whether the hearing will be public or behind closed doors. let's go to phil mattingly. he's on capitol hill with more. so, it's this weird sort of flip-flop. he was going to testify in front of different subcommittees. now he's sending his deputy to do that. he wants to talk to senate intel, but we don't even know if we'll be able to see it. what are you hearing? >> reporter: yeah, it was a little bit of a wild day yesterday when jeff sessions, the attorney general, sent a letter to the two committees he was supposed to testify in front of tomorrow, appropriations panels, poppy, that have nothing to do with the senate intelligence committee or the russia investigation matters, but democrats on those committees, poppy, had made very clear those were issues they planned on asking him about. so, yesterday jeff sessions, the attorney general, sent letters to capitol hill, saying because of that and in the wake of jim
comey's testimony where the attorney general's name came up a number of times on several specific issues, he was volunteering to testify in front of the senate intelligence committee on tuesday. here's the issue -- nobody actually told the senate intelligence committee about that, according to sources that i've spoken to. as a matter of fact, it stunned most members. they hadn't been planning on that. they hadn't made kind of -- they hadn't set up the possibility of this occurring, so there's been some scrambling behind the scenes here. now, you hit on a couple key questions, poppy. if that testimony does go off as the attorney general has requested, would that be in public or in private? i've talked with several staffers for democrats who have made clear they believe this testimony needs to be in public. now, it's interesting to look at the issues that he's going to be asked about, poppy, and obviously, a lot of this came up from the jim comey testimony, not just publicly, but also behind closed doors, the classified session where sources tell us that jim comey talked about specific intelligence from russian intercepts that talked about a potential third meeting between jeff sessions and russian ambassador to the u.s., sergey kislyak. it's important to note, the
justice department said that meeting never took place, jeff sessions said that meeting information took place, but that is something that democrats want to ask him about and they'd like to do it in public session. on top of that, there's also the issue of jeff sessions' recusal. how wide-ranging was it? how much did jim comey know about that? this is something kamala harris, senator from california, made clear she was interested in. all of those issues are issues democrats would like to speak about in a public forum, ask the attorney general about in a public forum. the real question now is is that going to happen and frankly, will this hearing at all happen like jeff sessions would like it to? >> if it does, it would be tomorrow and many hope in public. phil mattingly, thank you. meantime, the president's daughter and chief adviser ivanka trump is speaking out this morning about the james comey testimony on capitol hill, largely echoing her father's talking points. listen. >> well, my father felt very vindicated in all the statements that he's been making and feels incredibly optimistic.
>> ivanka trump's more measured words in stark contrast to her father's latest broadside attack, tweeting, "i believe the james comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. totally illegal. very cowardly." ivanka trump said that. let's go to jason carroll, who is live for us at the white house. good morning. >> reporter: good morning, poppy. you heard it there. basically, this president really making an effort to go after the former fbi director, james comey. you saw there in the tweet, basically saying if what he didn't do was illegal, at the very least, according to the president, what he did was cowardly. as you know, comey, for his part, basically testifying last week, going over in really specific detail about that conversation that he says took place between himself and the president, where he says the president asked him to let the investigation into former
national security adviser michael flynn, to let it go. trump, of course, denies that. but then you had his son, donald trump jr., who seemed to contradict at least some of what trump said in an interview a little earlier today. you have all this going on poppy, when at the same time, then you have another character entering this whole sort of realm of what's been going on, former u.s. attorney preet bharara, who too says he had some sort of uncomfortable conversation with the president where he says it seemed as if during a phone conversation that the president was trying to forge some sort of a relationship between the two. of course, he was fired a short time thereafter. you know, you have at this point a number of gop lawmakers that want the president to simply stop talking, stop tweeting about comey, and then you also have a number of lawmakers actually on both sides of the aisle who say, just let the tapes come out. if they exist, let them come out to set the record straight. still unsure if that's going to happen, at least from this white house so far. also at this point, still unclear in terms of special
counsel robert mueller what his fate may end up being. >> the president of the united states, as we all know, is a unitary executive. but the president is going to seek the advice of his counsel, inside the government as well as outside, and i am not going to speculate on what he will or will not do, but right now, the role of the president is to govern the united states of america. he's going to do that. he's going to leave anything else to the lawyers, but i can't imagine that that issue's going to arise, but that again is an issue that the president with his advisers would discuss, if there was a basis. >> reporter: and poppy, more legal troubles, possible legal troubles facing the president. you've got the attorney generals from both the district of columbia and maryland who are going to be filing a lawsuit in just about an hour from now, basically alleging that this president violated the constitution, violates something called the emoluments clause, which basically says that a president cannot profit while he's in office from foreign
governments. both of these attorneys general say this is exactly what this president's been doing. they say he has not cut himself from his business ties. they say that his hotels and golf properties around the world continue to profit from the relationship between the president and these foreign governments. at the end of the day, what you're going to have here in this lawsuit, poppy, is the push for the president to release his tax forms. as you know, that's been something he's been unwilling to do so far. poppy? >> indeed, jason carroll at the white house. thank you very much. let's talk about it. karen finney is here, former senior adviser to the hillary clinton campaign and former communications director for the dnc. alice stewart, former ted cruz communications director and rebecca berg, cnn political analyst and national reporter for real clear politics. rebecca, to you first. on the issue of the tapes, there is this growing divide, it seems even within the republican party. you have more sort of big-name republican senators like susan collins saying, you know, what gives? the white house needs to be much
more clear in all of this. just tell us if there are tapes or not. is this a growing problem for the white house to have that amid their own party? >> well, certainly, it doesn't help the white house to have republican senators basically demanding this information from the white house, but this will be settled sooner rather than later, poppy. we have the house intelligence committee requesting these tapes, if they exist. they set a deadline of later this month, so we'll see if the white house responds to that request. and then you have bob mueller, the special counsel, and there is no doubt that as part of his investigation, he would be requesting these tapes, and he will be able to determine through that request whether they do or do not exist. so, we will be getting an answer very shortly, i would imagine, on this issue, whether the president wants it or not. he told reporters last week, of course, that he didn't want to tell them at this time whether the tapes exist. it might be because he was bluffing in his original tweet where he said they did exist, or maybe the white house is worried about the legal implications of saying they do exist, and the
subpoena that would set up. >> let's just remember, no one would likely be talking about tapes if the president had not brought them into the conversation, tweeting about them in the first place. >> exactly. >> alice, i'm intrigued and confused about the strategy among some republicans, some of the most trusted advisers around the president coming out and attacking special counsel robert mueller. newt gingrich did it this morning in a tweet and here's what he said -- "republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. look who he is firing. check reports. time to rethink." he's been applauded under many republican lawmakers when he was named as special counsel. what's the strategy to go after him now? >> right. i think -- i don't agree with the strategy. clearly, that was the same way they went about dealing with comey, to discredit his integrity, and i don't think
it's the right way to go about it. mueller is someone who has tremendous character and reputation and integrity, and i think they should focus more on the facts. and look, to this point, it's critical to remember, i think comey did a fantastic job with this testimony. i think he was very credible and very clear and concise. however, he did not prove any type of collusion or obstruction of justice in what he said. so i think it's in the white house's best interests to remain quiet, and as ari fleischer indicated, don't be speaking too much about this on twitter, and certainly, don't be criticizing mueller because it gets yourself into more legal trouble. and the white house would be best served to focus on their legislative agenda. they have a great week ahead, and they should get back on offense, not on defense, and let outside groups, the rnc and other groups, focus on the russian intel investigation from here on out. >> karen finney, over the weekend, preet bharara, the fired u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york, did his first interview with abc, and he went on the attack,
talking about some pretty uncomfortable situations that he could relate to comey on. listen to this. >> so, they're very unusual phone calls, and it's sort of -- when i've been reading the stories about how the president has been contacting jim comey over time, it felt a little bit like deja vu. i said, it appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship. it's a very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation, without the attorney general, without warning, between the president and me or any united states attorney who has been asked to investigate various things. >> okay, do you think, karen, that his attacks and his questioning of the president on all of this would be more effective had he not been tweeting his very personal thoughts about the president leading up to this? >> i think what mr. bharara said was incredibly effective, because what it starts to establish is a pattern with this president, and we've actually
seen this and heard this, frankly, from people a number of times, this idea that he requires loyalty and that he's got sort of a sense of paranoia, almost, in trying to forge these relationships with these two men who were in jobs where their job was to be independent. and not surprisingly, those two men were also fired when they refused to, you know, meet the president's request for loyalty and again said, look, i'm going to be loyal to the job and to what i'm supposed to be doing. and again, remember that preet bharara was also investigating, i believe it was -- you know, one of the secretary -- one of our cabinet secretaries, and had purview over a number of things -- >> you're talking about secretary price, hhs secretary price. >> that's right, and could have been problematic for this administration. so i think it's a very disturbing pattern. attacking these men in the way president trump does on twitter, that's very cowardly. if there are tapes, release the tapes. don't say it and then pull it back. if there is more evidence that would defend what the president
is saying, he should be willing to put that out there as openly as he is willing to put out there on twitter his thoughts and his feelings, because it is damaging to this country, it is damaging to people's belief in -- >> let me jump -- >> -- our system of government. >> i want you on one other thing, karen, but i want to get rebecca in this. there are interesting poll numbers if you dig into the president's base, with what he's been doing late 4r5e6lately, it appealing to his base. looking at non-ed waited white voters, 60% in march approved of how he was doing as president. now that's already fallen to 46%. if you're sitting in the white house around the president, looking at these numbers, what are you saying this morning? >> well, it should be cause for concern, no doubt about it, poppy. and if you look at the approval rating for the president among republicans, so self-identified republicans, not including independents who were also a big part of president trump's base, that approval rating has also gone down over the past few
months. it's gone from the high 80% range to now the low 80% range. so, across the board you're seeing polling problems for the president, and this is at really just the start of a whole summer of senate intelligence committee hearings, house intelligence committee hearings, robert mueller's investigation is just getting started. those stories are not helping the president at all, not only because of the revelations that are coming from these investigations, but also because they're distracting and detracting from what the president and the administration are trying to do. >> the agenda. look -- >> the legislative goals. they're not getting anything done on that front. >> last week was infrastructure week. that didn't get a whole lot of attention. this week they're talking about apprenticeships and jobs, which are so important, and that's not what the headlines are. karen finney, bernie sanders made a lot of headlines in chicago this weekend when he came out and talked and he knocked the democratic party. he said, i'm often asked why did donald trump win. here's his answer. >> and my answer is that trump
didn't win the election, the democratic party lost the election. the democratic party must finally understand which side it is on! >> karen, is he right? i mean, given your prominent role within the party, is he right? does it need to reconcile these wings and come together or risk 2018, 2020? >> well, here's what i would say to that. as someone who has actually done the work as part of the democratic party, made phone calls, knocked on doors, and you know, every time -- when he attacks the party, one of the things that i take issue with, he is attacking those rank and file people who do the work day in and day out, local elections, statewide elections. we're not just talking about a presidential election, and we're talking about people who volunteer their time for this party because they care about it. bernie is certainly welcome to his opinion, and i know the bros are going to get all whipped up on twitter when i say this, but he's not a democrat. so, while he has every right to his opinion, i don't take his
opinion. but look, i think our country is facing a much greater challenge when look at a president who has a propensity to lie and not tell the truth, and we're looking at the possibility of potential collusion with a foreign government that is hostile to this country. that is something that every american should be concerned about, and i think it is a far more serious issue than, you know, what bernie sanders does or doesn't say about the democratic party. >> i think, karen finney, you will get a lot of responses, then, on twitter, because he ran on the democratic ticket and certainly got a lot of democratic votes. i'll let the twittersphere decide -- >> then went back to being independent. >> thank you very much, karen finney, alice stewart, rebecca berg. we have a lot ahead. the controversy over comey exposing cracks within the republican party. what is the gop strategy moving forward? plus, hundreds are detained in protests, challenging russian president vladimir putin today, all over russia. we are there live. and the preliminary hearing under way right now for those
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deadlines, but really a sense of urgency here to get whatever exists in their hands. and first and foremost, they are trying to put pressure on the president. if there are tapes that exist between the president and his conversations with comey, to hand them over. we have heard from senator susan collins, republicans saying, look, you know, they shouldn't have to subpoena these tapes, but if they have to, this is something that they are definitely debating and considering. we have heard from senator james langford who has suggested that perhaps these tapes don't even exist. democrat senator chuck schumer saying, look, it is time for the president to stop playing games. so, there is definitely a sense of pressure to get that in those committee hands. another committee working on this, the senate judiciary committee, is pushing to get the comey memos, those comey memos from the columbia professor, his good friend, daniel richmond, who comey was working with, to get those in the hands of the media, to leak it to the media. they gave him a friday deadline.
a source is telling cnn that he is cooperating with the committee and that there is likely some sort of movement to happen with those memos later today. so, that is something that they are working on as well, trying to create a sense of urgency and accountability on the white house part as well as comey and his associates. poppy? >> suzanne malveaux on the hill. thank you very much. and while some republicans are urging the president to clear the air, others are struggling with how to keep defending him. where does the party go from here on that front? let's discuss with cnn historic yoran. with allen lipman, author of "the case for impeachment." nice to have you both here. >> thank you. >> douglas, let me begin with you. suzanne outlined some of what republican lawmakers are saying this morning, but if you look at it in total, you've got more and more republican senators sort of pulling away from the president on some of these issues. lindsey graham saying, you know,
just stop talking, or you might walk into a perjury trap. you've got senator james langford of oklahoma saying that the conversations that the president allegedly had with comey were "very inappropriate." susan collins of maine saying just show us the tapes, stop giving us mixed messages. mike lee of utah about comey's testimony, asked if he believed him, saying he doesn't strike me as someone who would lie under oath. if you're sitting in the white house this morning, are you worried about this growing divide? >> i would be, if i were donald trump, that you're going to start losing too many republicans. i mean, the tape issue here is just incredible. i mean, here, i spent a lot of my career, poppy, i was director of the eisenhower center. i wrote a lot of books on world war ii. donald trump constantly talks about douglas macarthur and general patton. can you imagine them playing mamby-pamby games with tapes, like maybe i have them, maybe i don't, and the clownish routine, hijacking all of our national
discussion over whether he has these tapes or not? put up or shut up, it's that simple for donald trump, and i think that's what you're starting to hear a lot of republicans say, and that chorus is going to grow, because it's really unconscionable we're being jerked around on whether he tape recorded his meeting with comey or did not. he either did or didn't. if he didn't, tell us, if he did, cough them up. otherwise, a subpoena's coming the president's way soon. >> allen, you pointed to an example of an impeached president, andrew johnson, arguing there's a lesson in him, very long ago, but there's a lesson in terms of not having deep ties to congressional republicans. what is it? >> that's right. andrew johnson was much like donald trump, a maverick in his own time, a guy who said that washington was a few square miles surrounded by reality. he had no relationship with republicans in congress, and he clashed with them, and that motivated them, of course, to
move forward to impeachment. i have a piece of advice for republicans today, and that is follow what republicans did in watergate. put patriotism above party. the house voted 410-4 to authorize an impeachment inquiry. it voted 33-3 to subpoena the nixon tapes. and more than a third of republicans in the house judiciary committee voted for at least one article of impeachment against richard nixon. that patriotism did not save republicans in the short run in the midterms of 1974 or in the presidential election of 1976, but republicans came roaring back in the midterms of 1978, and of course, in ronald reagan's big victory in 1980. don't go down with this sinking ship, republicans. put patriotism over party.
it's the only viable strategy, and it's the right thing to do. >> douglas brinkley, do you think there is a more partisan divide now, today, than there was then under, when the example that allan just gave of andrew johnson? is he right that this is more partisan than ever as we look at this russia probe and talk of investigating obstruction of justice, potentially? >> well, of course during andrew johnson's time there was a partisan divide. the civil war had just ended. >> exactly. >> he came in, johnson, because lincoln was killed, so it's a very brutal situation back in the johnson period. but when nixon, you know, the movement to impeach nixon, it was republicans that turned on nixon. i mean, everybody always talks about howard baker, but to me -- >> yeah that moment. >> -- on the nixon tapes, the big moment in my mind is when barry goldwater, the head of the right wing of the republican party, looked at nixon and said, you lied. you lied to me. i want nothing to do with you.
and when goldwater walked the hard right turned on nixon and he was left very vulnerable. so, it's a moment here for profiles in courage in the republican party. lindsey graham is showing himself to be that person, and susan collins this past week. if they put some pressure on donald trump, they may be helping him in the long run get through this. >> douglas brinkley, allan leichtman, we're out of time, but i appreciate you both being here. thank you very much, for the history lesson as well. >> thank you. next, a crackdown in russia. protesters hit the streets all over the country. 200 different protests today taking a stand against corruption. hundreds of people arrested, including an opposition leader. a live report from moscow, ahead. dearthere's no other way to say this. it's over. i've found a permanent escape from monotony.
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opposition leader. his lawyer now says he's facing a 30-day jail term. let's go straight to moscow where jill dougherty is, global fellow at the woodrow wilson center and former cnn moscow bureau chief. today was supposed to be the equivalent to the fourth of july here in the united states. it was, as you say, hijacked by these protesters. what was their goal? what were they trying to achieve today? >> reporter: they were trying to get people out on to the streets, number one, and they wanted 10,000. a little unclear at this point how many people specifically they got, but it was a pretty good turnout. definitely, judging by what we saw in the thousands. there were some arrests. there were about 300 or 400 people arrested, but essentially, it went off without chaos, you know, without riots or anything like that. i think the moscow authorities were prepared. there had been a demonstration back in march, and they were pretty prepared. they were pretty methodical about the way they dealt with it. that said, these demonstrators were able to get their message
across, and essentially, that is anticorruption, and there was quite a lot of anti-putin. even if most of the country supports putin, the people at this protest do not. poppy? >> you also note, jill, and just looking at some of these images that were taken just a little bit ago there, the number of young people protesting was startling. why? >> reporter: yeah. well, a lot of them really are young, you know, they're like even 17, 18 years old, and they're a very interesting group, because they grew up with no other president but vladimir putin. and you could say, so, why aren't they grateful to him? because after all, you know, putin, especially in the beginning, really helped russians to live better. but these kids, these young people have grown up expecting a lot. they demand a lot, they want a lot out of their lives, and they're worried they're not going to get it, precisely because of corruption.
so, that's why if they can attract and effect people to these demonstrations. it's a very powerful message, and the kremlin still is grappling with precisely how to deal with it. poppy? >> jill dougherty live for us in moscow, thank you very much. we appreciate it. the white house, meantime, is ramping up its fight against isis. u.s.-backed syrian forces now moving into parts of the de facto isis capital of raqqah, this as the u.s. military is conducting its first strike in somalia, targeting terrorists there under the new powers granted by the president. meantime, in the philippines, american troops are providing assistance in the country's battle against terrorism there. barbara starr is live for us at the pentagon. look, this is a president who said consistently, america first, america first, america first. however, much more intervention in the expanding war on terror. >> reporter: it is an expanding war, poppy. some of it dating back to the obama administration, but president trump clearly moving in several directions, i think
it would be fair. the white house saying that's part of the policy to keep america safe from terrorism. and we're seeing it in so many places, in somalia over the weekend in the horn of africa, the u.s. conducting that first air strike under president trump's expanded rules against the al qaeda affiliate there. in syria, we are seeing u.s.-backed forces moving into raqqah and last week a number of u.s. air strikes in southern syria against iranian and regime-backed militias that had been in threatening positions against u.s. forces in the south there. those air strikes pushing them back. in the philippines, u.s. special forces in the southern philippines now working to provide technical assistance to the government there in its fight against isis. and in afghanistan, in eastern afghanistan, the u.s. moving against isis forces there. earlier today, a u.s. military
convoy attacked in that area with small arms, and we saw three u.s. troops, sadly, killed over the weekend by a so-called insider attack. not clear exactly who the perpetrator was, but widely believed it was someone who was able to get inside and kill three u.s. forces there, battling several hundred militants, isis militants, in eastern afghanistan. is any of this going to be enough to put isis out of business? clearly not. the attacks in london showed isis is inspiring people around the world still very much. poppy? >> indeed. barbara starr, thank you for the reporting at the pentagon this morning. coming up for us, one of the president's most-trusted advisers, his daughter, ivanka trump, traveling with her father this week. they're trying to change the message and focus on jobs and apprenticeships. also touting an issue very close to her heart -- government-funded, paid leave, trying to change the game for mothers and fathers across america.
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all right, some breaking news in the case against bill cosby. in court right now, we've just learned his defense team has rested this morning after only calling one witness. again, the cosby defense resting after calling one witness. that witness was not bill cosby. the judge asking mr. cosby, is it your decision not to testify? cosby in court answered yes. that information coming to us from our lawrence crook and jean casarez in court. we'll have much more on that in a moment. meantime, right now a hearing is under way to decide if 18 penn state students will stand trial in the hazing death of their fellow student. the parents of 19-year-old timothy piazza walked into the courthouse in pennsylvania this
morning. that is where the judge will decide if there is enough evidence to charge fellow students in their son's death. their son died after a binge drinking ritual hazing at a fraternity house in february. our sara ganim is outside of the courthouse. and sara, what will we see in court today? >> reporter: poppy, the most significant thing that could happen this morning at this hearing is that prosecutors could decide to show that surveillance tape from inside the fraternity house that details the 12 hours after the hazing incident in which tim piazza struggled and declined, eventually turning ashin and unresponsi unresponsive. his parents, who i'm told will be in the courtroom, do plan to leave for that part of the hearing. they do not wish to see this video. that's according to the family attorney, tom kline. now, this is a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward to a trial. these 18 defendants, plus the fraternity, will go before a judge who will decide if the
evidence is strong enough for them to go to trial. two of these defendants have already waived, but the rest of them, 16 members of the fraternity, plus the fraternity itself, will all be in the courtroom together for this hearing. attorneys for the defendants have been mostly tight-lipped since these charges were announced, but some of them did tell me they do plan on fight this. one attorney telling me this -- the government assumes that these young men, many of whom were intoxicated themselves, should have been able to differentiate symptoms of extreme intoxication from symptoms of a life-threatening head injury. that is an impossible burden to place on them." of course, that's the view of the defense attorneys. we'll see what the judge has to say after viewing that surveillance tape after this hearing today. poppy? >> sara, we will stay on it. thank you very much. sara ganim. ahead for us, ivanka trump gets another ally in her fight for paid family leave -- her dad. but can she convince congress? next. your insurance company
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