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tv   CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow  CNN  October 31, 2017 6:00am-7:00am PDT

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the guilty plea of a third. campaign adviser, george papadopoulos admitted he lied to the fbi about meetings that included the promise of dirt and thousands of e-mail from hillary clinton from the russians. the most concrete evidence to date of russian efforts to influence the election and the trump's campaign receptiveness of the overtures. moments ago the president weighed in on the major development. few people new the young low-level volunteer named george who has already proven to be a liar. >> there is at least one person involved in the trump campaign who did appear to know volunteer george a little. his name was donald trump. >> george papadopoulos, he's an oil and energy consultant. excellent guy. >> that was the voice of president trump introducing excellent guy, papadopoulos. you can also see this photo meeting with the "washington
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post" and papadopoulos and other foreign policy advisers. however much the president knew about him before he might be about to learn a whole lot more because the special counsel's office calls him an help, which screams wire, wire, wire. >> the president's tweets r referencing the fact of the surprise guilty plea and was accused of making false statements of the fbi. let's look at the president's tweets. the fake news is working over time as manafort's lawyer said there was no collusion and events took place long before he came to the campaign. few people knew the young volunteer george who already is known to be a liar, so check the
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dems this morning. referencing, yes, he's a corroborating witness but also has been accused of false statements. this may seem a little extreme, certainly, to call somebody like this a liar on twitter, but on the other hand it is, if you will, trial practice 101, trying to impeach on witness, perhaps even before that person gets on the stand. also an indication that despite the fact that we have heard the president very upset, even seething over yesterday's developments. it's clear that the legal strategy is making its way into his tweets. the president has already at times indicated he did not know george papadopoulos. also, we have been told by sources here at the white house he was seldom seen at trump tower. all of this, obviously, part of a strategy to discredit this
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individual who appears to have the potential to play a big role in this case as it develops. back to you. >> joe johns at the white house. thank you very much. let's go to our justice correspondent. a member of mueller's team made it clear yesterday that what we have seen so far is a, quote, small part of a large investigation. what is next? >> this story developing on two fronts, poppy. first of all, we will go to the case of paul manafort and rick gates. both men due back in court on thursday. meanwhile the restrictions on them are extensive. both under home confinement in addition to $10 million and $5 million respectively. both men cannot leave their homes and they only are allowed to for medical or religious purposes or when they go to court. as for that bond, they will be forced to pay on it, 10 and $5 million only if they violate the
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terms of their release. then, of course, there's the george papadopoulos guilty plea. that is packing the most punch here in washington. papadopoulos is called a pro active cooperator with prosecutors meaning he has been assisting them with the wide-ranging russia investigation. papadopoulos has admitted to russian contact after he became a foreign policy adviser to the trump campaign, and the fact that he tried to set up meetings with russian officials and members of the campaign team. we saw this morning the president calling papadopoulos a liar. sarah sanders referred to him yesterday as a volunteer in the campaign, but we seen the e-mails released in the paperwork and it makes clear papadopoulos did communicate with paul manafort and sam clovis, who encouraged papadopoulos at one time to travel to russia to get that
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alleged dirt on hillary clinton. now clovis since told the "washington post" he was being paw lig polite and opposed the trip, and it's likely to come out from papadopoulos, and prosecutors said his guilty plea is just a small part of what is to come. john and poppy. >> thank you so much. who was george papadopoulos talking to overseas? who were these foreign contacts? we have new developments on that. nic robertson in london with more. what are you learning? >> reporter: what i am learning from a source here is that he met with george papadopoulos in the context of papadopoulos telling him that he wanted to explain some of the candidate trump's comments at that time about the middle east, and that was the context that this source met him in.
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this was in this sort of middle of april last year, that the course met with george papadopoulos, and he describes him as a nice guy who really on the issue of foreign affairs appeared to be quite out of his depth was the way this particular source characterized papadopoulos, out of his depth in terms of foreign affairs and didn't know the details of what he was talking about. my source was introduced to george papadopoulos by the gentleman sometimes known as the professor, joseph misford, who was running a diplomacy school at that time in london. this was the conduit for which the source met papadopoulos. the source knew misford for quite a number of years. his conversations around about that time with misford, misford was telling him he had good connections in russia, and that
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he knew -- had met putin and had dinner with putin, and he added as well that misford told them, they, the russians, had a bunch of stuff on hillary clinton. >> nic robertson for us in london. fascinating piecing this altogether. >> yeah, many more pieces to be put in place. we appreciate that, nic. joining us, our legal analysts. my kul was formerly an assistant to robert mueller, the special counsel. let me begin with you, michael, the president's attack this morning is to call the guy who has already flipped a liar. smart? >> well, he is a liar. he's a convicted liar. he lied to the fbi about the nature of his contacts on behalf of the campaign with russian
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intermediaries. this fellow, papadopoulos, in the statement of facts he says these are not all the facts. when he pleaded guilty, there are more facts here, this is not everything. so mueller has more stuff. then it says this is a small part of a larger investigation. then it says this guy is a pro active cooperator, so he has been cooperating for three months, which means he probably has had recorded communications with others in the campaign, which means they will have testimonial evidence and transcripts of what they said. it's a very dangerous legal gamut. i think ty cobb is smart to tell the president keep cooperating.
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if there's nothing there, mueller will decline the investigation. >> in the statement of offense about george papadopoulos, it knows the facts we know do not constitute the known facts to the party. there's more out there. >> that's very foreboding for those close to the president's circle, to hear that information, to know they are not going to be forthright about everything they might not know, and you will probably have an influx of people, and they want to correct their statement in some way, or say, you know, since i know you want to prosecute people for false statement let me insure that my statement was not at all misleading. it's true he has been convicted of pleading guilty of making a false statement to the fbi, but the fbi was aware of the false statement as of january 2017,
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and he plead guilty a few weeks ago. the underlying substance of what the fbi was aware of and the substance of e-mails and communications, he could not lie about that. they had already seen it with his own eyes. this person, papadopoulos, is not going to hold much water when the fbi was aware of the information substantively about what he lied about then. >> when you have a picture meeting with him, and your team, and you call him an excellent guy. what does it tell you, and more significantly, what message do you think it sends to other potential targets and witnesses that they were anyone to seal this guilty plea until yesterday? >> well, it demonstrates that mueller is using every tool in the prosecutor's tool kit the look into all of the allegations here, including the collusion.
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ultimately the biggest question of all, did president trump know about any of this and did the president obstruct justice? so by sealing this and waiting until yesterday, mueller is a very savvy prosecutor. he knows there's going to be arguments, oh, the manafort and gates indictments don't relate to the collusion, and he waited and released his collusion intensive guilty plea. the president is on the bubble of the obstruction liability, and the attack is probably against the advice of ty cobb and puts the president in more peril. prosecutors don't like it when you attack their witnesses publicly. >> you look at the pattern.
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you have this professor offering george papadopoulos information, dirt on hillary clinton and thousands of e-mails. donald trump, jr., was offered dirt on hillary clinton also by somebody connected to the russians there. is that a pattern there that is something that this special counsel will be looking into? >> these offers were essentially the same. the heart of it is the e-mails. everybody is on the trump campaign trying to get these e-mails. and these are two offers with respect to the hillary clinton e-mails. what is interesting, when you look at the timeline, there's an offer made and then president trump makes statements publicly. there's an offer made for the e-mails. president trump says, russia, if you can hear me -- or i love wikileaks, or there's an offer made to don jr. in a meeting and the president says there's going to be a big speech coming up about clinton and the dirt, so there seems to be a connection between offer to the campaign
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and then statements publicly by the president. i can't dismiss that as just coincidence. >> talking about the timeline, you had the papadopoulos statement about the thousands of e-mails being offered by the russians in april and then in july the president said russia, if you are listening, get these e-mails, we want to see them. it's important to note, is it not, none of the offers from papadopoulos for these meetings with russians were accepted and granted? yes, sam clovis responded, he says, to be polite, but no actual meetings that we know of came from these. significa significant? >> is it significant. you are trying to get the hacked e-mails, to assuming he was being nice for a second for the sake of argument. it's significant he did not have a response, but it's not significant legally that he still attempted to commit a
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crime. there's a whole code in the federal code of attempting to commit feel knees, and those carry the same amount of wait and jeopardy, so simply the attempt is not going to be enough to exonerate these individuals if there's more to come. >> it struck me yesterday the lawyer for paul manafort in the public statement, the first thing he said is, the president is right, there is no collusion. isn't his number one role to defend his client paul manafort? why does he think that statement helps his client. could it be he wants something from the president? >> he was starting the process of advocating to the president for a pardon for paul manafort. you saw two very dramatically different strategies yesterday. one is the -- what appears to be the scorched earth defense that manafort is launching, and the other, the cooperative strategy,
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the guilty plea from papadopoulos, you know, ultimately manafort's fate to some extent rests in the hands of the president so his lawyer wants to please the president. not totally, however, because these are also state crimes, which the president doesn't have the power to pardon, and there are reports that mueller is working with the new york state ag, eric snyderman, and it's a complicated chess game going on. that was a pardon employ yesterday. >> it was a notable statement. thanks so much. what about the investigation? what do they think about it on capitol hill? will republicans be impressed? how will they weigh in? >> chief of staff john kelly jump into the debate overnight over removing confederate memorials, and uses the words,
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good faith of both sides and a lack of compromise led to the civil war, the controversy about that. 70% of puerto rico is still without power after hurricane maria. minutes from now, fema chief brock long on the hot seat over the federal response. you wouldn't do only half of your daily routine, so why treat your mouth any differently? complete the job with listerine® help prevent plaque, early gum disease, bad breath and kill up to 99.9% of germs. listerine® bring out the bold™
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this morning the president trying to keep his distance from former campaign adviser, george papadopoulos. >> joining us now, cnn correspondent, and a national reporter for real clear politics. feels like the sun has riddsen a whole new washington this morning. the fact that somebody pleaded guilty to something that deals to the heart of the issue of russian collusion. it changes things. how does it change the political stakes here? >> certainly. the progress in the russia
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investigation has been so incremental until now it has been hard for the public to see the point in all of this, and you heard from republican lawmakers questioning what the end result would be and why are we doing this. you also saw some republicans trying to curtail the funding for this. i think it certainly changes the game in a variety of different ways. first of all, the idea that george papadopoulos has been working with the special counsel for months now, certainly raised the questions of what else comes from this? and then you also have on the political side here democrats now see -- democrats who had been cautious about really playing up the russia probe might change their tune. republicans very wary about weighing in too heavily here because of the fallout that is to come. interesting enough you also heard support from people like chuck grassley on the judiciary
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committee saying doj is enforcing foreign agent laws which they had not done before. >> speaking of grassly, lauren. let's look at this. there's unique video of him fleeing the interview yesterday, and i think we can pull it up for you guys. >> i can dramatically re-enact it -- there we go. >> he snuck out the back. >> he did, lauren. he did, lauren. your beat is capitol hill. why not confront this stuff head on? >> i think part of the theme yesterday at the press conference they were talking about unrelated skwrao juju tke nominees. let's remember, this is the big week for tax reform. house republicans are expected
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to unveil their bill tomorrow. obviously that's going to make a big difference here if members of congress have to talk about the mueller investigation. many tried to say yesterday we will stay on message and not get distracted, but whether or not they can keep focussing on tax reform is going to be up to them and up to reporters asking questions about the mueller investigation in the upcoming days. >> and the president gives them new reasons to ask questions, like him calling papadopoulos a liar, and steve bannon, we know, caitlyn, is telling the president he should be much more aggressive in fighting the special counsel's investigation right now. do you think that's good advice and do you think the president will take it? >> it's not good advice, and we saw yesterday sarah sanders downplaying they may try to fire the special counsel, although
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they said not planning to. you know, tax writers on capitol hill are arguing that they can walk and chew gum at the same time and they are not going to be glued to their televisions and forgetting to write tax legislation, but the pr aspect is significant. they were banking on the president to be on the same page with them, keeping the general focus of the public on tax reform. remember on health care they had a very difficult time in terms of actually selling the bill to the sub, and they still need to do that on tax reform. that's a key part of this whole process is the public reaction to this, of course. this certainly makes that more complicated. the president has shown he is not going to really stay silent on this. he does have allies on capitol hill in trying to shift the focus to the clintons, but you
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also have many republicans concerned about the president taking action as it pertains to mueller and this investigation and don't want him to cross that line. we will see what happens with that. >> if the president does keep up these attacks, as he has indicated he will this morning, and frankly keeps up the focus on the mueller investigation, do you think from all of your reporting on the hill it does cripple him when it comes to getting some lawmakers who are on the fence on some parts of this tax deal that we are going to see tomorrow from -- from getting onboard with the president? >> on capitol hill republicans already struggle to trust the president, when they agree on tax policy that the president is going to be consistent and go out and sale what they have already agreed to in private negotiations. this adds one more element of trusting whether or not the president is going to be able to use the bully pulpit and go out and campaign, something that members always say is the president is very good at going out and getting the base all rallied up around something, if
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the president says it's a good idea the base will believe him and they need him here on tax reform because this is going to be a controversial bill, and there will be k street lobbyist and they need the president to go out and sell it for them. >> on that note, it's important to note that this is just the start of this, right? >> yeah. >> this is an investigation that figures to play out until at least next year, which is the mid-term election, and putting all the more pressure on the republicans to pass the tax reform bill, and if they have this hanging over them, it's all problematic. >> thank you both. we appreciate it. we are just moments away from the opening bell on wall street, just a day away from the president's tax plan, and a few days away from his fed chair pick. >> there's a lot going on this week. this list is getting smaller and smaller and it looks as though the president is zeroing in on
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this candidate to be the next fed chief. jerome powell, 64 years old, and an investment banker. he was appointed to the fed in 2012 by president obama, and he is a republican and he has worked with janet yell kwroepb over the past few years very closely. in terms of what we expect from him in monetary policy? a lot of people on wall street say he has a similar style as janet yellen, but different in terms of how he feels about regulating wall street. the president has promised he would like to peel back, roll back, do away with post financial crisis banking regulations. jerome powell, it seems as they he would lean toward loosing some of the rules for small banks that complained. what are we expecting in terms of fed rate banking policy.
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what does that mean for you? increased credit card rates, and auto rates, and mortgage rates. that's the real feel affect of what the fed does for you. this is one of the most powerful positions in the world. janet yellen, and the president has said good things and not so nice things about janet yellen. she is the first woman to run the fed. if she is not reappointed, and many think she will not be, she will be the first person in 40 years not to have two terms at the fed. also, you know, an economist has been the fed chair, and so that will change. >> the president could still change his mind. that's always important, the president -- >> they like to pretend it changes his mind late, but it does not open. >> we're watching. thank you so much. what do republicans in congress make the latest of this
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this morning the president tweets that george papadopoulos is a liar after a former campaign adviser this morning calls him a volunteer coffee boy. >> but for the most part the republican leadership stays quiet. joining us now is congressman leonard lance. i wonder if we can get your response to the indictments?
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>> robert mueller is doing his job, and the president is being advised by his attorney. >> in our reporting, steve bannon wants the president to go on attack of mueller, and attack the delivery man in all of this if you will. would that be a mistake? >> i think the president is well advanced by ty cobb. i was the first member of the congress on the republican side to say that attorney general sessions should recuse himself in that matter and that has led to the investigation and let the investigation proceed. >> when you see the president calling george papadopoulos a liar, is that letting the investigation proceed in your mind? you are a lawyer, and is that something you would advise him to do? is it something you are comfortable with? >> i believe there's a guilty
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plea in not telling the truth, and that's why there was a guilty plea. >> i think the difference is the context in which the president is calling him a liar, he's a cooperative witness that could not be helpful to the administration. we want to move on and get to the taxes. everybody wants to know what is it in? you will have to vote on it. it seems like they will split the baby on salt, state and local taxes. allow the property tax deductions but not allow the state tax deductions, and that could be a big deal with the taxes are up to 9% and a big hit for your constituents. if that's included for no longer being a deduction? >> i want to see salt retained in its entirety. i think a week ago there was the
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fact that there would be no retention of salt at all, and that was in the senate version of the budget. i did not vote for the budget. there were 20 of us that did not vote for us on the republican side. as i understand it, chairman brady of weighs and means said it would be a continuation of the deduction of property taxes and property taxes in new jersey are the highest in the nation, and i will continue to fight for the reduction of salt, and i have not seen the word product which will be unveiled tomorrow. >> if the state tax deductions are removed, could you vote for it? your vote matters. i think you need to be on the record here because your vote matters here? >> i am negotiating from the position it should be retained in full, and i will examine of proposal tomorrow, and i want to see the numbers run for the constituents in the district i
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serve. >> some said this is the demise of the republican party, because the party failed on repealing and replacing obamacare. would you be willing to risk all of that in order to retain the state deductions >> would you vote against it? >> i am a member of the problem solvers caucus and we put forth a proposal on the health care and it's similar to what senator hatch and chairman brady of weighs and means have suggested. i think that we can do two things at once -- >> on this, are you willing to risk control of the house? >> i want tax reform and i think that we can get tax reform, but i am fighting for salt. >> congressman, when you know the details of the tax bill, tell us because we are all waiting? >> the details matter. what we do in the house is not
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necessarily what the finance committee is going to do. tonight, stay up late. jake tapper. hosting a cnn special report on the russian investigation, that's only here on cnn. what caused the civil war? you think that is that a settled issue. well the white house chief of staff says lack of compromise. you might take something for your heart... or joints. but do you take something for your brain. with an ingredient originally found in jellyfish, prevagen is the number one selling brain-health supplement in drug stores nationwide. prevagen. the name to remember.
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new this morning, general john kelly facing criticism for comments he made overnight about the civil war. listen to this. >> it was always loyalty to
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state first back in those days. now it's different today. the lack of the ability to compromise led to the civil war. men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand with their conscience, had to make their stand. >> kelly also called confederate robert e. lee an honorable man. let bring in the host of the ben ferguson show, and a writer for 538. let's begin with the part we heard there. perry, to you, a lack of compromise led to the civil war. your thoughts? >> you know, that comment is inaccurate in terms of history, if you think about history. from the constitution, which had the three clauses to the civil war, there's a lot of attempts to compromise, many different policies intended to adjudicate
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between the slave states and the free states. the idea that there was a lack of compromise between the two sides, there was a huge difference obviously over slavery and that led to the civil war. in terms of kelly, i was more broadly surprised he was talking about the issue at all. it seemed like something that is not really the place where you want the chief of staff to go. they are talking about getting tax reform passed this week. i was surprised he jumped into this debate of confederate simples and monuments at this point. >> i think he was talking about the history of the country, and we know that many generals and those in the military study these issues and study them in school. it's part of what they do. the point he was making, you have three quarters of a million people die. it's obvious in civil war there was not compromise. there was a lot of people that said i will stick with my state. there were issues over slavery and lack of compromise on
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slavery and lack of a compromise on taxes and representation in the capital. this is history and it shouldn't always be controversial to have a discussion on history. we can't even discuss the civil war without somebody screaming it's racially discriminating, and they spend years in war studying these wars. this is something that he should always be able to talk about. any american should be able to talk about this. >> a lot of people study the civil war in school, ben, not just generals. >> studying the war and why it happened and how it happened and how battles were won and lost and the states rights and robert e. lee and what he was doing for virginia. >> whether or not there was a compromise to be made on slavery, what should the north
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have given? i think that's the question. the way he said, they couldn't figure out a way to keep the south keep some slavery, that's why the civil war happened. i think that's what some people took from the comments that john kelly made. >> well, and i am fine with them looking at it and taking it that way, and you have to look at the historical context with what he was saying. you look at robert e. lee and his quotes, he said he was willing to give it all for his state including death if he could have slavery end so there would not be so much bloodshed, and he was willing to give his possessions and belongs, and people like to leave that out. when saying he referred to robert e. lee has an honorable man, when you say you are willing to let the slaves be
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freed to stop the bloodshed. >> perry, one part you didn't hear and the people didn't hear in the bit that we played at the top is when he finished his thought, general kelly, and he said men and women in good faith on both sides made their stand. it was interesting, given all of the terms including both sides, following the events in charlottesville, and kelly used the same words. >> yeah, it -- yeah, one side of the civil war was obviously defending the institution of slavery and the other side was not. we can debate the history of the civil war. i am not saying kelly should not be able to talk about it. i would argue his comments, if you looked at him carefully were inaccurate, and the last couple of days he said there was no attempt to compromise before the civil war is not historically accurate. i think, again, kelly's interview, and his comments,
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also, if you saw them about congresswoman wilson where he defended his comments, and i am focusing on what he says is not true rather than his right to say them. >> some people are saying, you know, general kelly was supposed to be somebody that moderated or kept the president in line, and we are now learning that perhaps maybe many of general kelly's views reflect or they share them. if you think there was a need for a moderating force, it probably is not general kelly. >> thank you very much for that. we are heading for the head of fema to face lawmakers on capitol hill. 70% of puerto rico still without power. how will he address those issues? question.
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the answer company. thomson reuters. . this morning 70% of puerto rico is still without power. 70%. sources tell cnn the fbi is now investigating that controversial $300 million contract with whitefish energy. >> both facts mean the fema director brock long is likely in for a grilling when he takes a seat on capitol hill in moments. the senate homeland security committee is holding this hearing on the federal response to hurricanes that battered millions of americans this year. rene marsh has been all over this, especially the whitefish deal and joins us now. that has to be the focus, right? >> oh, yeah. you can bet that they are going to get that question. the focus of this hearing is going to be that federal response, did anyone drop the ball? if so who? we know the head of fema will be
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there, brock long, as well as top officials from the department of defense, health and human services as well as the army corps of engineers. back to that headline off the top there, the fbi, cnn has learned, has now opened a preliminary inquiry into the $300 million whitefish energy contract which was secured by puerto rico's electric power authority. now the energy firm was contracted to build -- rebuild parts of the electrical grid. if the fbi's inquiry develops into a full-blown investigation, it would join several other inquiries under way. it wasn't immediately clear at this point exactly what aspect of the deal that the fbi is going to be looking into, but we do know that members of congress have raised concerns about the process. there was no bidding process and fema itself has also raised concerns over whether the amount of money awarded for the contract was even reasonable.
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now critics started asking lots of questions when it became apparent that this company is based in the hometown of interior secretary ryan zinke and the ceo of the company is an acquaintance of zinke. we also know that one of the investors in the firm was a major donor for the trump campaign as well. however, it is worth pointing out through all of this, the company secretary zinke as well as the white house and the power authority in puerto rico have all denied any wrongdoing. so in just a matter of minutes, we expect that hearing on capitol hill to get under way and again, brock long from fema, the head of fema will be on the hot seat. >> rene marsh, thank so much. president trump once called george papadopolous an excellent guy. this morning he says no one knows him and called him a liar. what is going on here? a new strategy, attack strategy from the white house on mant who might be the most important
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person right now in the special counsel's investigation. all.
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good morning, everyone. i'm john berman. >> i'm poppy harlow. top of the hour the president on the attack after a man who was one of his own, not long ago, that man george papadopolous, he has proven central in the special counsel's investigation into russia and election meddling. president trump now calls papadopolous a low-level volunteer who has already proven to be a liar. true he did plead guilty to lying to the fbi about his attempts to get dirt on hillary clinton, but also not exactly the context the president meant it in this morning. >> one of the most important part thes -- parts of the statement said few people knew papadopolous. he knew him, the


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