tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN October 27, 2017 6:00am-7:00am PDT
i am poppy harlow in new york. we begin with a line presidents are not supposed to cross, but it was crossed by trump. the white house was a powerful force to lift a gag order to allow an undercover informant to cooperate with a deal involving uranium sale. it was uranium, and a host of agencies look at all those of u.s. agencies that had to approve the sale, including the state department which was headed at the time by hillary clinton. what was not public knowledge back then in 2010 was a newly reported fbi investigation into shady russian dealings aimed at getting a foothold in the u.s. nuclear sector. there are a lot of dots to be connected. i am glad we have jessica snyder
to help us connect them, because this is important. let's begin before we go through those dots with the president making a really unprecedented move since the nixon era. >> it's being criticized. two sources tell cnn president trump did play a hand in getting this gag order lifted, and it's something chuck grassley asked the justice department to do last week, and when it came out an informant wanted to talk saying he had information on the corruption on the uranium deal in 2010, but the informant disclos signed a disclosure statement with the fbi. by wednesday night the gag order was lifted. here's where some people, democrats in particular, are crying foul. the justice department has strict rules limiting any white
house involvement in white house matters when it involves the opponents, in this case, hillary clinton. kellyanne conway defended the president's intervention this morning. >> he believes, as many others do, frankly, the fbi informant should be free to say what he knows. this was made -- let me repeat, the judiciary chairman, chuck grassley, made this request to the justice department last week. >> they are confirming the president did play a hand in this. we have reached out to the justice department about the president's role in this, but right now they are not commenting. >> hillary clinton was heading the state department at the time and she was asked about it last week, and she said this is over and done and put to bed. this is what she said. >> i would say it's the same bologna they have been peddling for years and there has been no creditable evidence by anybody, and in fact it has been debunked
repeatedly and will continue to be debunked. >> that doesn't seem like a full answer, because there's reporting from "the hill" says there was an tpeb investigation and it's unknown whether congress or the obama administration was made aware of it before the sale was approved, right? aren't there still burning questions? >> there are. that's really what republicans are touching on here. there was that fbi investigation into bribery and corruption, and it was into whether a russian company they were looking to gain influence in the uranium market. that fbi investigation resulted in a guilty plea by a top russian executive in 2015. republicans say there's a much broader investigation that should be done. reports are that russians channelled millions to the clinton foundation at the exact same time that committee that hillary clinton was on approved that sale of a big uranium
company to a russian agency, so now republicans, they want to know if the committee ever knew about the fbi investigation into bribery at the time the uranium deal was approved, and of course at the time they want to know the millions of dollars funneled into the clinton foundation, if that played any role in the uranium role in 2010. >> the panel is the timing, the timing of some of those big donors and when they were related to the company or not, that's problematic for some of the republicans argument here, and chief political correspondent, dana bash is here, and jeffrey toobin joins us. how legitimate are the questions and why is the timeline an issue here? >> the timeline is an issue, and it will speak to the fundamental question and accusation that this was pay for play for the
clintons. >> right. >> that they were getting donations from this gentleman at gci, the clinton global initiative at their foundation, and the allegation is that's why he ended up getting this big deal on uranium. what those inside the clinton campaign argue, because they spent a lot of time, instead of doing a forensic investigation in this, the timeline doesn't add up and this individual already left the company and by the time this deal went through, he would not have gained from it. having said all that, you know, the fact that the -- never mind the question of how this fbi informant was, you know, the gag order was lifted by the president of the united states -- >> which jeffrey will get to. >> which is highly unusual. the way i look at it is, republicans, even, you know, if it's -- if it's a little
subterranean in the conservative world have not let this go. they have brought it to the floor because it's politically advantageous for them to do now. but why not hear from this guy? at the end of the day, you know, he will tell us something that is important about how this deal went down and perhaps put an end to it. >> it's beneficial for the american people to get as much information as they can for those that know, and it's appropriate for senator chuck grassley to call for the gag order to be lifted, but we have two sources saying the president pushed for this, the president pushed the department of justice to do that. how big of a deal is that? >> this is an old investigation that deals with almost 10-year-old events, and it's an
attempt by the republicans to get us to talk about something other than the russian influence in the presidential election last year. the idea that this is a priority for the senate judiciary committee at this late date, it's a completely political undertaking. designed to get people to talk about the only thing that unifies the republican party today, which is hating hillary clinton. >> how big of a deal was it that the president intervened here? >> after watergate, which richard nixon used the irs to target his enemies, there was a series of policies put in place to limit the president and the president's immediate subordinates involved in criminal and i rfpl s investigations. it's not a law or a crime to violate the rules, but clearly what has gone on here is the president getting involved in a criminal investigation, who should have a gag order and who
should have a gag order lifted, and it's precisely what this rule was designed to avoid. it's not a crime or aimpeachabl offense. >> this is a president who said that part of the reason he fired james comey was because of, you know, the russia investigation? it may not be illegal, but it's not a good look. >> look, i think the president clearly has been willing to exercise his executive power in ways that past presidents have not, at least since richard nixon. there has been a quasi idea that you had to leave the authorities alone to do their job, and even though the president, as the chief executive overseas these agencies. i think there are a couple things here, poppy, and one is
that the uranium one issue would have been litigated during the campaign, and the leaked podesta e-mails had not been the issues, and this was never -- it may be nothing, but i know a lot of republicans early on in the campaign thought it was something, although i do not doubt they are bringing it up now for political purposes, because it gets everybody to talk about something other than the president's issues. as we saw during the 2016 campaign after the tarmac meeting between loretta lynch and bill clinton when the republicans were crying foul, the justice department intervening to protect clinton, and now you have trump taking a particular direction in this investigation, so you are going to have everybody not trusting the justice department and the
fbi, that further diminishes faith in american institutions and government, and that's a dangerous thing for everybody. >> that's an important point. i want to get to something else. there's a new fox news poll out, down from 42% to 38% in a month, and this is what is more fascinating. among white men without college degrees, 68% approval last month, and now 56% approval. significance. >> it's a big danger zone. that's the president's base. that's the core trump -- the core that makes up the trump coalition. no question about it. and the fact that he still was at 68%, so two-thirds of that base was still for him and now is just north of a majority, and it still means he has just north of the majority which is good, but the flip side is he's going in the wrong direction. it's probably no accident you have seen over the past month or
so a direct appeal to people in that base. >> sure. >> the nfl situation. i think case in point. some of that, i am told, is just the president reading the room and it started out by him being in alabama, by the way, where a lot of kind of good focus group for that base when he was campaigning in the senate race there and getting the feel when he threw it out there and it worked and he went with it. if you look at the way the president is operating with regard to those core supporters, there's gate to be concern. >> one final question, jeffrey, and that's more on the trump and russia dossier, and we know it was funded by the dnc and hillary clinton camp, and podesta and debbie wasserman schultz said they didn't know it was being paid for by these two entities. plausible?
>> highly plausible. because they were not managing the campaign day-to-day. i would be much more interested to know if robby mook knew, and he was the campaign -- >> debbie wasserman schultz was running the dnc. >> she was a complete outsider. john podesta was the chairman of the campaign and mostly involved in fund-raising. there's nothing unlawful or unusual about funding opposition research. that's what all campaigns do. it seems like the clinton campaign could have said from the beginning, yes, this is what we did and that's what campaigns do, and it's leaving a mystery out there, and you know what, she's not running there. >> that's the key, the one awkward event in this is that when john podesta went before the investigators, his personal attorney is the guy that hired
the company that did this dossier. he's sitting there knowing they hired him while his client was asked about it. i am not saying there was anything -- >> it's not a good look. >> i think it's also important to know where the information came from because the campaign should have had guardrails to make sure the information was not coming from places, in other words, foreign entities it should not have been coming from, if that was the case. >> i have to leave it there because we have a lot to get to this morning. so nice to have you all here. thank you. new details on the niger attack that killed the four american shoulders. we are hearing from a nigerien soldier that was there. he said he was surprised they were going out on this very important mission to get intel on a suspect the terror leader dressed frankly the way they were, wearing t-shirts and
baseball caps and not heavily armed. the woman that got all that information is our senior international correspondent, arwa damon. she is on the ground. you spoke to him. this is stunning, arwa. >> reporter: yeah, and the reason why he said he expressed his surprise was because when he and his unit patrolled through the same very volatile zone, and he was also surprised by the fact that they seem to be very lightly armed. it is worth noting, though, poppy, this is pretty much how the u.s. does go out in this particular region, they do not go out in armored humvees the way we see them in afghanistan and iraq and other war zones and that's because of the practicality, and also because of what the u.s. assessed the
risk to be. did america in the analysis of what the threat levels were miss crucial information. this soldier and his unit arrived on scene to find the remaining surviving americans and nigeriens back-to-back in defensive positions. he said he saw the bodies of two of the american soldiers that were killed in the back of a u.s. vehicle, and a third body lying close by, and he noticed some of the brush was still smoldering. as the assailants were withdrawing they set things on fire to avoid detection by aircraft. it took about a day, if not longer, of searching to try and find the body of the fourth american, sergeant la david johnson. he was also going on to describe, poppy, that he was surprised that not only did the u.s. miss go out so lightly
protected, it would seem, but they did not have overhead s surveillance. just this past weekend 13 nigeriens security forces lost their lives, and this is an area where over the last two years the nigerians describe as being terrorism. >> thank you for break that news and bringing it to us. we will get back to you for more. a lot ahead this hour for us. the top secret documents about jfk's assassination, not a secret anymore, but some are. still big questions remaining, namely was lee harvey oswald the cia agents, and how did this tiny montana energy company land
this massive contract to rebuild puerto rico's electric grid. republicans and democrats in congress are demanding answers. the governor of puerto rico says there will be hell to pay if there was any wrong doing. two americans lost at sea for five months. this is the moment they were rescued with their dogs on this boat. can you believe it? for five months. you are looking at video from the u.s. navy. incredible. that story ahead. t-mobile's unlimited now includes netflix on us. that's right. netflix on us. get 4 unlimited lines for just $40 bucks each. taxes and fees included. and now netflix included. so go ahead. binge on us. another reason why t-mobile is america's best unlimited network.
this morning new details and many questions about the assassination of president kennedy, including one major cliff-hanger, was his killer, lee harvey oswald, a agent of the cia? we don't know. why? hundreds of the documents were redacted and many are being held back for now, and the president not happy with that but feeling forced to make that decision
writes this morning, jfk files are being carefully released, and it's my hope just about everything goes out to the public. with me now, briana keeler who knows these documents inside and out. and cnn chief legal analyst, jef jeffrey toobin. let's go through the documents. lee harvey oswald, possibly a cia agent? >> this is one of the documents that i think will make people could wonder. there's a deposition with a cia director, and he's asked if perhaps lee harvey oswald is a cia agent or agent, maybe some other kind of agent, and there's not an answer, very
unsatisfying. >> and another document shows lee harvey oswald was in mexico city, and while he was there made a very intriguing and interesting and concerning phone call to a kgb officer at the russian embassy there. >> the cia intercepted this, and what we know according to the documents, oswald was spoken in broken russian, and we know from the documents that russia had some concerns, perhaps, they could be blamed for the kennedy assassination later, and we learned from the documents that according to the fbi that cuban operatives said they had been in touch with oswald, and he did sympathize with communist and did have contact with them. >> and the significance of these two things, and the unanswered
and unfinished part of the was lee harvey oswald a cia agent? >> the cia document is incomplete, and we have to be careful as we piece it together not to make an asesumption the next thing they were going to say was he was a cia agent. the second thing, the mexico city we have known for a while, and we are getting more detail about what lee harvey oswald was doing this, and we know some of this and we don't have any evidence that there was a conspiracy or coordination. this will fuel the conversation. >> it feels like the word of the week is nontransparency, or lack of transparency, on so many different stories and then this. >> i think this is a shameful performance by the american government. they have had 25 years to prepare for this document release. the idea that they are scrambling on the last day and
withholding hundreds of these documents, it just feeds exactly the problem that that this document release was supposed to address. and, you know, maybe in 180 days after the president's delay there will be more disclosures, but it seems to me this was handled in the worst possible way. >> the 1992 law said within 25 years, which was yesterday, the government has to release all of these and then they don't. >> that's what is nuts about this, right? it's not as if they were told you have 180 days to do this, and they had 25 years. it's not like the 11th hour in a way, and it feels like the very last second because there were requests for retkabgtions late yesterday. >> yeah, and people were rushing into the oval office to make
their case to hold some of these. >> and another theory is retaliation for another assassination. >> yeah, the vietnam president. you have president johnson himself who is entertaining a theory, that is not founded as we learned. president dm enjoyed the support of the u.s., but eventually did not. there was a u.s.-supported coup, and he was taken out of power and it dismayed the u.s., because they were worried about blowback. but johnson had a theory that kennedy was retaliation because of the assassination of their president. >> lbj had all kinds of
thoughts. there were fears it was the right wing that gathered in dallas when kennedy was there, or it was the soviet union -- this coup just had taken place weeks before the assassination. it has been an idea that has been out there, and what are the connections. >> you know, people don't remember or don't know how crazy the oswald story is. the united states marine, 1959, defects to the soviet union, and defects back to the united states, and goes to mexico right before the assassination trying to get to cuba. it's no wonder people have a lot of suspicions about whose side he was really on. most of these -- all of these documents relate to who was oswald, not to the mechanics of the yassassination in november f '63. >> there's a talker, marilyn monroe, you know, makes an
appearance in these documents, a warning to, you know, those in power, and the government about what is going to be written about her relationships. >> yeah, that's right. so this was a notification to robert kennedy, and to the attorney general that this book was coming out, and it did not, interestingly, make a splash. it was an assertion in the book that was rfk and marilyn monroe had had a relationship, and in the end when she was upset she was going to reveal -- bring out publicly they had an affair, and that this assertion in the book is that rfk was behind her death and it was not an overdose. >> and then a big issue is what
we don't know, what is missing, just to name a few, you know, almost 400-page file on the head of the cia office in dallas where kennedy was assassinated, and the dossier, the files on the man that met with jack ruby, the man that murdered oswald. how concerning is it that there's so much missing? >> it was a long time ago and this is all history, and when the government tries to do something to address suspicions that the government is not disclosing all the information, and then doesn't disclose all the information, it seems like a pretty big fiasco. >> indeed. thank you very much. three quarters of puerto rico still in the dark. this is an american territory. these are 3.5 million american citizens, and three quarter in the dark, no power. the company contracted to turn the lights back on, and it
accused of obstructing justice to theat the fbinuclear war, and of violating the constitution by taking money from foreign governments and threatening to shut down news organizations that report the truth. if that isn't a case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become? i'm tom steyer, and like you, i'm a citizen who knows it's up to us to do something. it's why i'm funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment. a republican congress once impeached a president for far less. yet today people in congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who's mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons. and they do nothing. join us and tell your member of congress that they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what's political and start doing what's right.
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call, visit or go to xfinitymobile.com. 74% of puerto rico is still without power. lawmakers from both parties want to know how did one tiny energy company in montana land a huge $300 million contract to help restore the power. and there are a lot of questions about this. the house energy and commerce committee wants answers. they have penned a letter. these are all the other committees on your screen that want answers, the government accountability office. they want answers into how they
landed the contract. was there foul play because the city knows the interior secretary. let's go to martin savidge in puerto rico. what do we know? >> there's huge skepticism on the island as to whether the country can deliver on the promises made. fema is now saying that it has significant concerns, and this is what it told cnn, and with the power authority here, how they procured the contract. on top of that, the governor continues to get hammered over this issue. the question, he says, is there has to be audits. he requested at least two audits, one done by the state government. he wants answers today. i asked him what will happen after that. here's what he told me.
>> if there is wrong doing, you know, in this process or any other process, there will be hell to pay, and that's my consideration, and what we are doing is a responsible action to make sure we understand what went through the process and everything is clear. >> i have spoken to the man that negotiated the deal with whitefish, and he says he steal believes it's a good deal and he would have done it again, and he says right now whitefish is doing a great job. >> the numbers will tell that. you have 74% of this island, of american citizens with no power. thank you. one congressman raising questions on all of this, one of the bipartisan groups of senators, and congressmen that signed this letter. he joins me now. thank you for being here. you have called on the executives from whitefish to
come before your committee to testify by november 9th. do you know if they will? >> we don't know yet. but, poppy, this contract really smells from what we are hearing so far. i just saw the governor say they want to audit the situation, but apparently "the hill," this morning, one of the papers in washington released part of the contract -- >> i have it all here. it says they can't audit. it's in the middle, it says in no event shall the power authority in puerto rico, fema, the comptroller the general of united states or any representative have the right to audit or review the costs and profit elements specificed here in. here's why the cost matters. pull them up on the screen, guys. $330 for a site supervisor an
hour, and the bulk of the workers, $462 for a subcontractor supervisor. >> i mean, i think this contract should be cancelled. i never seen a contract that specifically says no government entity can view it or audit it. >> you can't cancel it. >> we will talk about whether it should be cancelled or not, and i think it should be cancelled on that clause alone. but do they have the capacity to do this? y they started out with two employees. there should be a way to review it before it was done as well as for now to see if they have the ability to do it. >> puerto rico is bankrupt, and this company, can you tell me,
congressman, who is paying for all of the costs? >> it's not clear at all who is paying for it. the other thing the governor said, they relied on this group because they had some kind of equity backup. we found out the equity backup company is a major contributor to the trump administration. >> who is the equity backup company -- you have to substantiate that claim. if you have to come on this program and say that you have to have something to back that up. please send that to us. and zinke said i knew them but we were not best friends, and what questions do you hope the president will ask about this? >> we like to see exactly what work is specified, where they
are going to be improving this power grid. those are the types of things that we have been asking for with the energy and commerce committee. >> what numbers will tell you they are getting the job here done? it's 74% without power now. >> i think you won't be able to tell that for a few weeks to see if the grid comes back. i think the nature of the contract is highly suspect. >> i would assume that you would be willing to subpoena them to testify if they won't come voluntarily? >> our letter went out on a bipartisan basis from the chairman of the committee, and me as the ranking officer. >> opioid crisis, sort of announcement move yesterday, he did deem it a public health crisis. it does open up some different roots for funding to help those addicted and recovery, and it
does not tap in fema or additional funding. chris christie the republican governor who headed the opioid commission was asked did the president go far enough by not calling it a national emergency. here's what he said. >> we believe this is a health crisis. the president did exactly what we asked him to do yesterday. now it's up to congress to step up and put funds into the public health emergency fund, which will give the president the maximum flexibility to district the funds to the states and get the money on the ground to start fighting this fight. >> it's interesting that he is saying the president did exactly what the commission wanted even though he didn't call it a national emergency. he says it's on you guys, it's on congress to appropriate more funds. should congress? >> of course we should. we should probably be appropriating maybe ten times what we appropriated in the last couple years, and the republicans are in charge, they
are the majority. the national emergency and public emergency, it's not as important as that the president asked for the money. if the president says i want $10 billion for the emergency, that would put pressure on the majority. >> are you willing to ask congress for this? >> yeah, absolutely. we did have for half a billion for the last few years. >> you have 59,000 americans who have died this year alone as a result of opioids. >> thank you. defense secretary, james mattis, in on the peninsula, on the korean peninsula right now says the u.s. is trying to avoid war, but north korea is obsessed, in his words, with its weapons program. next we will take you there. excuse me, are you aware of what's happening right now? we're facing 20 billion security events every day. ddos campaigns, ransomware, malware attacks... actually, we just handled all the priority threats.
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this morning defense secretary james mattis says among the threats the united states and south korea is north korea's obsession with its weapons program. earlier mattis srevisited the demi demilitaryized zone. let's go straight to will ripley. >> the sense i get, secretary of defense james mattis did not say anything at the demill triesed zone today. yes, he said that north korea is obsessed with weapons and they pose a threat to the region and the world, and he took notice of the fact that secretary mattis still talked about a diplomatic
path. the problem, they say, is the united states wants total dene k dee nuclearization. they say that's off the table. it's a terrifying prospect for many people in the outside world, but the north korea mind-set is different from the rest of the world's. even as many point out, a provocative test could push the trump administration to take steps that could push this entire region down a path from which there would be no return. north koreans watching closely the president's upcoming trip to asia, and the north koreans want
to know if the president will go to the zones. as always, the president is leaving that up for speculation about whether or not he will make that trip. everybody wondering what he'll say. >> of course. of course. every word counts, especially there. thank you for the reporting inside of north korea. a broken mast, the nightmare for two american women. they were just rescued, though. this is a good news story. after five months stranded at sea. their incredible journey, next.
an amazing rescue two american women and their dogs found alive after being stranded at sea for five months. navy sealers rescued them off the coast of tahiti they were headed for tahiti from hawaii but their engine failed. ryan browne is there. incredible good news story this friday. >> it is a great news story poppy. the crew aboard the ""uss ashland"" u.s. navy amphibious vessel able to rescue and recovery of these two people and their dogs after they encountered serious trouble five months ago. they lost their engine. we got to hear from one of those, the rescued party, jen fer appel, who described some of the challenges they faced before being rescued 900
miles off the coast of japan. >> we made some modifications in order to proceed, but we could not go more than about four to five knots so we had limited capabilities to maneuver. we probably had less than 24 hours before our boat sank. it was incredibly emotional and it was -- it was so satisfying to know the men and women that serve our country would come and assist us. >> reporter: now fortunately they had stockpiled a lot of food aboard their vessel and able to be out there for five months before being rescued and found by a taiwanese fishing vessel actually. very good news story in the pacific ocean. these two folks and two dogs being rescued by the u.s. navy. >> five months. five months worth of food, enough for them and their dogs. that's incredible. ryan browne, thank you for that.
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good morning, everyone. i'm poppy harlow in new york. 10 a.m., top of the hour. the white house defending president trump's involvement in persuading the justice department to tear up a gag order on an undercover fbi informat. two sources say the white house was a powerful force to lift the gag order and allow the enforcement to cooperate with the deals involving u.s. uranium s