tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN June 23, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
because for 50 years he's been abusing power in women. >> faith jenkins. thank you. and thank all of you for being with me. i'm brooke baldwin in new york. don't move a muscle. jim sciutto is sitting in for jake tapper. "the lead" starts right now. >> thank you, brooke. it was a direct shot at the heart of our democracy. "the lead" starts right now. new details on russian cyber attacks. vladimir putin's involvement in them and donald trump's secret struggle between fighting back and what he saw as protecting the integrity of the u.s. election. critical condition. another republican senator is out, putting the gop's health care push into a deeper hole. could the president's promise to repeal and replace obamacare be in trouble? plus, out of line. just a week after an assassination attempt on republicans, the secret service is now looking at actor johnny depp for joking about killing
the president. welcome to "the lead." i'm jim sciutto in for jake tapper. a highly detailed account of how u.s. intelligence first learned the alarming extent of russian hacking and alerted the white house. along the way, debates and a lot of second-guessing. kremlin sourcie ining saying it digging deep to say that vladimir putin helped in the russian cyber hacking and president obama saying it put aside critical russian systems if putin didn't cut it out. exactly how the cyber attack was carried out and crucially how to stop another one. let's start with cnn's michelle kozinski. >> reporter: the "washington post" tonight starkly lays out
the u.s. intelligence community's case, pointing not only at russia meddling in the election but at vladimir putin himself, detailing that intelligence sources had captured putin's own instructions, directing the hacking and misleading the campaign, plus its goals to defeat and hurt hillary clinton in the election and help donald trump. but the post interviews with former obama officials reveals the pain now from some of them that more was not done to punish russia. quoting one, it's the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. i feel like we sort of choked. they say the administration was worried about appearing to try to influence the election themselves as well as provoking russia. one official explained, our primary interest in august, september and october was to prevent them from doing the max they could do. and after the election, some of the harsher options for punishing russia, like a massive cyber attack on them or sweeping
sanctions, faced concerns and roadblocks from a number of corners. former deputy national adviser tony blinken today defended the obama administration. >> maybe the judgment was wrong, maybe we should have acted differently, maybe we should have done things we didn't do. but given the perception that the russians' main objection was to counter the election was one of the main reasons for fighting this. >> cyber weapons can be controlled remotely, like cyber bombs to cripple russia systems, still in the early stages. >> what's important now is we know what they did and we have a president today who sits in the oval office who doesn't appreciate the attack that occurred, who doesn't acknowledge it. >> reporter: in the russian administration, probes continue.
the white house waiting to receive fired fbi director's memos and awaiting a criminal hearing next week. >> we know that donald trump won fairly and squarely -- >> so this "washington post" reporting is extensive. it's almost like this time machine taking you back to the obama administration, you see them struggling, jim. how public do we go with this? we don't want it to look like we're playing politics, but now it's had the opposite effect. some of them feel like politics had a role, anyway, because the risk of it, the fear of having that influence, they think, influenced what should have been done. it's also interesting as we see the russia probes expanding. now the senate judiciary committee wants more information from former president obama's
lo loretta lynch to see if she had something to do with it. >> michelle kozinski, thanks very much. at president trump tries to press on with his own agenda, the white house cannot escape the ongoing russia investigations. today answering whether president trump plans to fire the special counsel now overseeing the russia probe for the justice department. mr. trump himself has said he is, quote, bothered by robert mueller's relationship with former fbi director james comey. cnn's jeff zelany has the response today from the white house. >> by the way, other things are happening. we've done a lot. this is a big one. we have a lot of good ones coming. >> reporter: president trump signing a new law today to reform the veterans affairs administration, a bipartisan action in a divided washington. but the russia investigation is threatening to overshadow the
president's agenda. he raised new questions today about the objectivity of special counsel robert mueller, suggesting in a fox news interview he's too close to fired fbi director james comey. >> well, he's very, very good friends with comey, which is very bothersome, but he's also -- we'll have to see. >> reporter: the president didn't mention he interviewed mueller for the fbi post one day before the justice department named him to conduct an independent investigation into russia's role into the 2016 election. >> look, there has been no obstruction. there has been no collusion. there has been leaking by comey. but there's been no collusion, no obstruction, and virtually everybody agrees to that. so we'll have to see. >> reporter: inside the west wing, the president is growing increasingly furious over the russian probe. one day after admitting he didn't tape his conversations
with comey, the president said he had no regrets to what led to a goose chase in washington. >> my story was always the truth, but you'll have to determine for yourself whether his story changed. but i did not tape. >> it was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings. >> well, it wasn't very stupid, i can tell you that. >> reporter: beyond the russia investigation, the administration facing criticism from republicans and democrats alike for not speaking out about russian meddling. the u.s. intelligence community says it has no question russia interfered. the reality is in two or four years, it's going to serve vladimir putin's interest to take down the republican party, and if we weren't upset about it, we have no right to complain in the future. >> the white house banning cameras again today at sean spicer's briefing, partly as a request to limit transparency. three days ago he said he didn't know if the russians interfered in the election. sean spicer said he thinks it was russia.
>> of course he's concerned about any country or nyaany act who is involved in our elections. >> that is still the softest posture toward russia of anyone in washington, republicans and democrats alike. in fact, many republicans are still so concerned about the fact that president has still not acknowledged in a harsh, sharp way about the russian interference. speaking of russia, it is possible at the meeting of the g-20 early next month in germany, president trump and vladimir putin could come face to face for the first time in their first meeting since trump took office. jim? >> and might the president deliver a warning there. jeff zelany, thank you very much. he has been one of the toughest critics of the trump administration russian investigation. senator ron white doesn't think the president is doing enough to prevent another white house cyber attack. he joins us after this. to help reduce my risk of progression,
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an article in the "washington post" indicating vladimir putin's hacking in the u.s. election as well as president obama's attempt to obstruct it. the senator is with me. thank you for being here today. >> the cia's assessment that putin was directing this cyber attack comes from sources deep inside the russian government. is it your understanding that u.s. intelligence has such presence close to russia? >> i can't get to the heart of it, but the biggest part of the story has been to try to get more information out to the american people. for example, way back in november, i pushed with six
senators to get more declassified. in january i pushed then director comey to push his investigation in public in a way that was more consistent with sources and methods. with every step of the way, we have to get more information to the public. just this past week, you had officials who have expertise in elections, in effect, withholding information from the american people about which states were attacked. that's not acceptable. >> let me ask you this, because the president himself has shied away from before and after the election from very starkly and aggressively naming russia and speaking with urgency about these attacks, and again today we heard sean spicer say, well, the president thinks that anyone who attacks the country, but in fact the intel community agency has pointed its finger very directly at russia.
are you concerned by the president's reluctance to do that? >> yes. i think it is very obvious and it has been clear since late last year that russia, not x country or y country, russia in particular attacked our institutions. and what we need is to have all hands on deck, and the fact that for some inexplicable reason the president won't acknowledge what all of the intelligence leadership has said in the past, i just don't think helps the effort. >> one official in the "washington post" story said, and i'm quoting here, it is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. i feel like we, the obama administration, sort of choked. we've heard that frustration from others. in your view did the obama administration blow it? >> i'm troubled by the matter of what has been alleged with respect to the obama administration not doing more.
it seems to me that these matters should not be part of politics. they should be about protecting american institutions. so yes, i am troubled by the allegations. >> let me ask you this. if today you and other democrats say that the trump administration is not moving quickly enough on measures to counter the next attack or to call out the russians publicly, why isn't it fair to criticize the obama administration for not moving quickly enough to, for instance, issue punitive sanctions against russia or take other actions in response to the interference? >> i just said that i am troubled learning this new information, that the obama administration didn't do more. and i think the standard has got to transcend one particular administration, democratic or republican. it has got to be to protect our institutions first and politics to the wind. >> senator wyden, there is still
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xfinity mobile. we're back now with senator ron wyden, democrat on the intelligence committee. secretary johnson testified earlier this week that russia probed some 21 states during the 2016 election. great concern among intelligence officials that i speak to that they were laying the groundwork for possible intervention in voting systems in 2020. is that your concern, that russia may take that next step in future elections? >> again, i can't talk about classified matters, but there is no question that what we are talking about is making sure we are taking steps to protect our voters in 2018 and 2020. and i made the point at the hearings, an open hearing, that there is a way to do it, and that is to take oregon's vote by
mail system nationwide. we have a paper trail for every single ballot. that's about the best pushback that you can possibly get against these people overseas that are trying to disrupt our democracy. >> let me ask you now on health care. another republican senator came out today against the senate version of the health care repeal bill as it stands, so now we have a total of four conservatives and one moderate senator who have come out publicly, and there they are now, paul cruz, johnson, lee and heller. in your view, is this bill in effect on life support or do you believe republicans will get the votes they need. >> let's take two categories of senators. it seems to me senator heller was leaving the door open for some kind of sweetener. what i can tell you about the conservatives is other than senator paul, i don't believe that any of those conservatives
actually intends to vote against this bill. i've seen this game before. what you try to do is sort of pretend that you're against this, then you take a cosmetic change and say, you know, that's the way it should have been to protect conservative voters. it's really part of the con job. there is nothing americans dislike more than a con job. the fact is this is a con job for the ages, and you see it in terms of the tactics i just mentioned among those conservative voters, and this overall bill after the president promised more heart and a bill that was less mean, this bill just doubles down on what they already did. >> so it sounds like you believe they will get the vote. >> certainly today, what we have to do is show how flawed this bill is. i'm the ranking democrat on the senate finance committee.
there is a huge cut in capital gains in this. it's retroactive. so if somebody got a million-dollar capital gain, say, in february, this has been pointed out, that person would get a $38,000 tax break. so what's the choice here? are we going to have $38,000 tax breaks that are windfalls, or are we going to make it possible for somebody who is a baby boomer who might have a stroke to afford nursing home coverage? >> senator ron wyden, thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. >> you just heard a democrat senator say the bill is a con job. is the bill really in jeopardy? stick around, we'll be right back. i think how much i can do to help change people's lives. i may not benefit from those breakthroughs, but i'm sure going to... i'm bringing forward a treatment for alzheimer's disease, yes,
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opposing the bill, ryan on the hill saying the bill doesn't go far enough, but with others, too far. >> that's the problem for senate republicans. the further this bill moves to the right, the more difficult it's going to be for moderates to continue to support this legislation and mitch mcconnell only has two votes to spare. it is decision time for senate republicans. at stake the fate of health care reform. 52 republicans are now weighing the pros and cons of this bill. their decision will impact millions of americans while at the same time putting their political futures on the line. >> i certainly need enough time to understand the bill myself, get input from constituents. >> reporter: the politics are getting the attention, but so is the policy. the bill calls for major changes to the future of medicaid, a point democrats are seizing on.
>> the president said the house bill was mean. the senate bill may be meaner. >> reporter: under obamacare, states, if they choose to participate, receive federal funds to expand medicaid to provide health coverage for low-income americans. the house bill would end medicaid expansion in three years and give states a block grant to fund medicaid as they see fit. the senate version phases out medicaid expansion more slowly, starting in 2021, but makes deeper cuts to the overall medicaid program by sharply reducing federal funding over time. while the senate proposal does extend medicaid's expansion life a few years longer than the house bill, the end result is the same. low-income adults will likely be kicked off the roles. >> this is going to hurt the people who worked hardest to elect trump. >> reporter: republicans argue that the federal government cannot afford increased costs and americans losing kovrcovera.
>> i really want freedom in choices to allow americans to buy health coverage that fits their needs and that they can afford. >> reporter: it is this argument at the core of the decision-making process for unsided gop senators. for conservatives, the bill doesn't go far enough. but for moderates who faces a reelection bid in purple nevada in 2019 thinks this bill could impact a lot of people. >> not the answer. it's simply not the answer. and i'm announcing today that in this form, i will not support it. >> reporter: both sides of the argument calling for major changes with just a week before senate leadership has promised the bill will be brought to the floor for a vote. still the white house remains confident. >> it's a very, very narrow path, but i think we're going to get there. >> reporter: and, of course, all of this comes before the congressional budget office releases its score on the bill.
that's expected to come sometime early next week, and jim, that could complicate this debate even more. >> reporter: ryan nobles on the hill. thank you very much. here to discuss health care with me are our political roundtable. we just had senator wyden and i asked about the politicals who came out against this. he thinks they're just posturing. >> i've been talking to democrats and republicans in the last couple days and nobody knows what mcconnell is up to. there is a school of thought that he actually doesn't want the bill to pass and it's better for his caucus if it is blocked. on the other hand, democrats especially like wyden and really think this is all a kooky drama for the cameras and the senators get to express their reservations up front, they get some cosmetic changes to the bill and they say they can support it, they'll bring
something to their constituents and the bill will pass just like they said it would. >> i'm in the first school of thought. mitch mcconnell does not want to make people vote for a bill that is 60% unfavorable and 40% favorable. everything bad that happens in health care with premiums and everything else in the next 18 months, voters will say, well, you changed obamacare, congratulations. let the conservatives go. he'll show up wednesday or thursday and say, it's terrible, i did my best. why cast a vote at all? i think he'll pull the bill and say, let's get on to tax reform, infrastructure and some happier talks. they'll revisit it and make some fixes later. it would be amazing if mcconnell pushed this to a vote. >> how has the president reacted? he said we're going to pass this bill, and he clearly, at least
in the public's comments, sees this as being an achievement, fulfilling a promise. how does he accept it if it does turn out kabooky. >> president trump deals with senators a different way than he feels dealing with house members. there's a couple things to keep in mind here, and for mcconnell it may just be important to go through the motion, so if you want to move to tax reform, you can say, we gave this our best shot, but we think it's more important to get other things done. if it were to pass, there is still the entire matter of reconciling this in the house which is so up in the air. for those of you who do boat, they just want them to say -- >> it's not trump's natural issue, right? he has other things he wouldn't mind focusing on. >> but he did make a lot of promises on it, and republicans are going to own whatever
happens in health care whether or not they pass this. if they don't pass anything, then it's their fault they didn't fix obamacare like they said they would on day one. i spoke to a republican speaker who said, i can't go back to my republican constituents and say, we can't do the thing we said we would do for the last seven years. >> that's a short-term problem with your own supporters, and when they get things they like, they forget about it. second, passing the bill means you've actually passed the bill which none of them have thought of the consequences on. that means it's someone in the real world. >> this morning in his interview on "fox & friends," the president again brought up robert mueller.
is this a real threat from the president? >> i think the president wants to raise what he sees as real doubts about the independence of robert mueller and a distance from jim comey. i think it's his gut instinct. he feels ganged up on by this really important part of the investigation, as well as by the entire rest of it. for him to raise these issues, i think he thinks creates some doubt and the ability to counter the credibility that's been raised. >> if he doesn't like the conclusion, because he also brings out the democratic party foundations, is it sort of like that? >> and he also said jim comey better hope there are no tapes. why should we believe him when he said there were no tapes when he originally said there were tapes -- >> he said he has no tapes.
>> right. there could be tapes for all we know. who knows? it very much his style to, i think, just as you're saying, lay the groundwork to discredit somebody. >> there are two votes, one that the president did not do anything criminally or it goes to the county for impeachment. i don't know why he's obsessed with this. well, i do, but if you think about it, it doesn't rule out that there's records. this is a different kind of situation. >> and frankly one difficult to control going forward as much as the president likes to control the message. stay here.
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in our pop lead now. actor johnny depp is now apologizing after making outrageous, inexcusable remarks about violence against the president of the united states. he is one of several hollywood stars who have taken their disdain for president trump and the republican party, frankly, too far. stephie elam is live in l.a. this comes just days after a gunman fired on a gop congressional baseball team, fearing the life of representative steve scalise and several others. >> with that shooting still fresh on people's minds, joking
about violence seems even more distasteful. of course, president trump probably isn't worrying about johnny depp. for their part, the secret service said they are aware of depp's comments but won't comment on how they will perform. after johnny depp knew what he was going to say to a crowd in u.k. would get a rise on people? >> when was the last time an actor assassinated a president? i want to clarify, i'm not an actor. i lie for a living. >> fort record, the answer to his question is april 1865 when actor john wilkes booth killed president lincoln. johnny depp is far from the only celebrity to engage in these kinds of comments. yes, hollywood has long tended to lean left, but this kind of talk is new. in january madonna said this at the women's march in washington.
>> yes, i have thought an awful lot about blowing up the white house. but i know that this won't change anything. >> reporter: in snoop dogg's video of lavendar did a mock shooting. and kathy griffin was fired as the "snl" co-host after she held up a bloody head. all l.a. stars are traditionally public about their politics, but these incidents cross a line. >> there hasn't been anybody saying enough is enough, and i think that needs to come from hollywood, from the left wing, somebody who can say, hey, i
voted for hillary clinton but let's not incite violence to the president of the united states. i may not support him, but there is a fine line we can't cross over. >> reporter: as for depp, they said, president trump has condemned violence in all forms and it's sad that others like johnny depp have not followed his lead. i hope that some of mr. depp's colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if his comments were directed to a democrat elected official. >> reporter: johnny depp put out a statement saying, i apologize for the bad jokey attempted last night in poor taste about president trump. it did not come out as intended. and i intended no malice. i was only trying to a muse, not to harm anyone. it's quite unlikely he will be arrested for it, but perhaps people will think about what they're saying and how it can
incite other people. >> back with me is my political panel. marcia, how damaging is this for those who have legitimate feelings for the president? how can this hurt the opposit n opposition? >> president obama was in office to the extent it happened, they talked about things along these lines. there was immediate outrage from the other side of the aisle and everyone should apply the same standards in both cases. it's just completely not appropriate. the white house's response to this is interesting. of course, they say it's troubling and it is troubling. it's not appropriate. but also they go straight to the partisan argument, which is it's not fair or there should be more outrage about this sort of thing. i'm not sure if they need to do that. it's just not appropriate, whoever the president is, period. >> let me play a clip because i want to play what candidate trump said himself at a rally last summer. have a listen. >> hillary wants to essentially
abolish the second amendment. by the way, if she gets to pick -- [ booing ] >> if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. although the second amendment people, maybe there is, i don't know. >> do you remember that moment, bill crystal? >> one of many moments why i was not a fan of donald trump in the republican primaries or even the general election. a week ago i witnessed that terrible shooting in alexandria. it was only a week and a half ago, amazing. we were heartened by the response, and i thought lthere was a deeper response, president trump gave a dignified statement, bernie sanders. i guess the shooter had was some kind of bernie sanders supporter, sort of, and bernie sanders read a very good statement, i thought, on the senate floor, pelosi.
they went to a baseball game that night and i thought maybe that would remind people the limits and guardrails on their rhetoric. >> it doesn't take long for people to go back to their corners. >> the statement bernie sanders made is that violence does not change the system. when you incite violence to try to make change, non hoof v-viol a system that works. >> i think that's the question you're getting to, can president trump himself have a role in calming the public rhetoric in general, not just himself. >> talking against journalists at times, and we don't know what he intended about those second amountme
amendment comments, but there was a time he was talking about this. >> he talked about peacefulness and unity and inclusion, and those are themes that he can choose to keep hitting on if that was a message to send. >> discord, i should say, in the democratic party and nancy pelosi specifically with the general election. are you familiar with her comments saying, i'm the problem, in effect. >> i don't think so. it appears her caucus stands behind her as they always have. she has always had a lot of support from the democratic party. although there were a record number of votes against her in the last house leadership vote. a lot of candidates running across the country in several recent elections who have declined to say if they support her for leader. even jon ossoff in the georgia special election, which i
covered, did not comment one way or the other on that. the key thing is it works. the other thing i've heard is even if nancy pelosi steps down as leaders, and you can't put her in the ads, she's a stand-in for san francisco values. she's a stand-in between this cultural wars of hollywood individuals and the coastal elite and a republican base that is very much motivated by the feeling of being judged by those people. so those ads get made whether nancy pelosi is the minority leader or not. >> the big question is, does the democratic party have a message, right? does it have a salable message whether in primaries or as we look barred to 2014. . hillary clinton and her aides thought at some point, being. they've been coming somewhat close but not quite, so it
wouldn't be foolish if the government had to say, we know how to fix obama stuff, but wouldn't it be good for them to say, we're working on it. and here is a tax proposal that will help americans. >> find a way to put that on a bumper sticker. thanks, as always. president trump fulfilling one of his campaign promises making it a lot easier for one agency to use that catch phrase "you're fired." ♪
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we're back now with more in our politics lead. earlier today president trump signed a law to reform the department of veterans affairs, keeping good on one of his campaign promises. the new law is designed to protect whistleblowers as well as make it easier to fire bad employees at the va. the bill had previously won
overwhelming bipartisan support, a rare thing in washington. this after years of stories that highlight ked chaos in the va tt found dozens of veterans who died or suffered due to wait times across the country. this brings us to our shameful treatment of veterans going all the way back to world war ii when the u.s. military tested highly toxic and sometimes lethal mustard gas on thousands of american troops. what's more shameful, most of the veterans who were used in those secret experiments have been denied the basic treatment and care they deserve, this for some seven decades. but as our jake tapper found out, a new bill could change that. >> the squad is sent into a gas chamber and gas is released. >> reporter: exposed to toxic chemicals is a new experience to a massive generation.
more than seven decades after world war ii, hundreds of surviving veterans that participated in secret mustard gas sprermexperiments and other training suffer huge health issues. 98-year-old harold cannot prove that it has contribute to his health problems. he has continual scarring and respiratory trouble, but without concrete proof, there is little help from the va. according to that congressional report, the va has denied about 90% of veteran claims from veterans like harrell since 1975. but now m clair mccatskill is
trying to help him. >> what this bill says is it shifts to the va to make sure it happens. >> they must reconsider all previously denied claims as well. mccatskill says david shulkin initially balked at the proposal. >> he said, you can't open this door, we can't give coverage to veterans who can't prove it in some blanket negativity. i got him back on the phone with his staff in the room and said, really? it doesn't open the door to veterans coming in. it's just a small group of elderly men who served their country so bravely.
>> reporter: but now he is behind the bill saying, i do support senator mccaskill in this approach. she does need legislative support in this and she knows we're going to do this together. mccaskill is now working to get it supported as well. >> harrell's wife is angry about what the va did and said her husband just wants help that he deserves. british stores are being shut down at an epic pace across the mags today. in fact, the number of stores closed this year alone is triple what it was last year. retail technology said there has been 50 stores closures during this year. then after those numbers came out, sears holdings confirmed this morning that it is shuttering some 18 more sears
stores and two k-marts bringing the closures to 236. i'm jim sciutto in for jake clapper. now i bring you to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. no intention. the president again criticizes special counsel robert mueller saying, we're going to have to see, when asked about mueller's future. but the white house press secretary said the president has no intention of firing mueller. are they on the same page? on putin's orders, an explosive new report says the cia provided president obama with direct evidence that russia's vladimir putin personally ordered the campaign to influence the u.s. election in favor of donald trump. to tell the truth. president trump now admits his