tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN January 5, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
even as michael wolff's white house tell-all flies off the shelves and p even as the president rages against it, there's even more break ing news in the russia story. it takes our reporting today presidential efforts to keep attorney general jeff sessions from recusing himself, two big steps beyond as in two more people involved. a senior administration official telling cnn's jim acosta that there were two other high-level officials doing the arm twisting. "i think it's fair to call it pressure," the official said, about white house conversations with sessions and top sessions aides about the matter. jeff zeleny now with more. what's reaction from the white house on news of the efforts to stop sessions' recusal? >> reporter: the white house has not commented about this at all. i talked to ty cobb, one of the president's lawyers.
he said, look, i respectfully decline to comment about the specifics of that. one of the reasons here is that now we're talking about potentially obstruction of justice. this has gone from just, you know, kind of a political criticism to the potential of obstruction of justice here. no one wants to discuss this publicly. there's no question -- thinking back to those days last year, last spring, when jeff sessions recused himself, i remember i was with president trump, he was in norfolk, virginia on a military boat. he was -- the "gerald ford," touring it. he got word and was very upset. as we learned more about it, it was clear at that moment that he was surprised by this. and officials tried to get jeff sessions to stop this. now coming full circle about a year later, it's clear here that that was a key moment here. the president so furious about jeff sessions who he thought was an ally recusing himself. of course jeff sessions, a long-time senator from
alabama, recused himself under the advice of -- advice of the justice department there, who said he was simply too close to this. so anderson, all this coming full circle. >> and the meeting the president's holding with members of congress and other cabinet secretaries up at camp david this weekend, i understand attorney general sessions was not invited. do we know why? >> he wasn't. as we speak now, president trump and leaders from the house and senate, speaker paul ryan, majority leader mitch mcconnell, and others are meeting at camp david, having a dinner right now. other cabinet members there, as well. jeff sessions, attorney general, not there. the white house says, look, don't read anything into that. but the defense secretary is there. the secretary of state is there. the education secretary is there. they say it's about the 2018 agenda, and the attorney general is not necessarily part of that perhaps. the reality is, bottom line tonight, the president still has not given up his anger at his attorney general, jeff sessions for that decision nearly a year ago to recuse himself from this
investigation, which, of course, touched off all these events which are still unfolding. anderson. >> yeah, appreciate that. thanks. the eye of the beholder, the obstruction of justice is in the eyes of the reporter. and currently, teacher of law at the university of minnesota joining us. former virginia attorney general ken cuccinelli. professor painter, how much does it change things in your opinion now that according to cnn's reporting it wasn't just the white house counsel who was urging sessions not to recuse himself? does it rise to obstruction of justice in your mind? >> well, it does. now whether this rises to the level of the type of obstruction of justice that could be criminally prosecuted and who would be prosecuted for it, that remains to be seen. and robert mueller will presumably make those determinations. but this is clearly a situation where the white house under the leadership of president donald trump is engaged in obstruction
of justice with respect to the russia investigation. firing james comey, drafting a false statement for donald trump jr., who was a material witness in the russia investigation. trying to force-out jeff sessions, the attorney general, so they could in turn fire robert mueller. these are repeated instances of obstruction of the russia investigation. i'm shocked that the white house counsel would get himself involved in this type of effort to obstruct justice. >> ken, do you see it that way? >> that's clearly what's going on. >> no. it's not clearly what's going on. there was no effort to oust jeff sessions. he offered his resignation, and it wasn't accepted. back before the litany of items that mr. painter referenced was the recusal by jeff sessions. if you think about the recusal regulation because that's what the special counsel is appointed under a regulation of the
justice department, the attorney general's recusal was far broader than that regulation calls for. far broader, under any reading of it at all under any circumstances. >> no. >> it's certainly understandable that the white house would be aghast at how the attorney general went about that and the scope of what he was doing -- >> that's just wrong. >> -- of course the president was -- >> that's wrong. the ethics rules for lawyers -- >> let him finish -- >> excuse me a minute. the president, of course, was known to be upset about the recusal in the first place. but look, this is on the front side of all the kinds of lit any of things that you just heard about. at the same time, as i said, it went way beyond from the attorney general's perspective, way beyond -- >> wrong -- >> -- the recusal called for under the regulation -- >> that's just wrong. that is wrong. >> read the regulation. >> that is not the reading of
the regulation. >> read it. >> and the ethics rules for lawyers, rule 1.7 for lawyers, conflicts of interest. he cannot investigate a campaign in which he was a material part of that campaign. he cannot do it under the ethics rules for lawyers or under the ethics regulations. open and shut. he could not participate -- >> there are three types of investigations -- >> -- or super vise that investigation. >> the department of justice. there are three types of -- >> ken, what are you saying? >> there are three types of investigations at the department of justice. criminal and civil are what people think of most, of course. the first thrust and the primary thrust of the russia investigation was the third one at the department of justice, that's counterintelligence. this is a russian meddling of one form or another, at least an attempt, in american affairs. that is a counterintelligence investigation first and foremost. the regulation that governs recusal does not touch that, does not touch that. >> it's criminal. >> that's where this whole thing began. that's where this whole thing began, and the attorney general recused himself way beyond
merely criminal investigation. he -- he took all of the items off the table at the department of justice, including those not addressed by the regulations. there are very -- >> as he was required to do -- >> white house counsel in the role of counsel to the president to call up the attorney general and question what he was doing and why, and why the scope was so broad. >> ken, this is the president who believes that the job of the attorney general is to protect him, it seems like. i mean, is that the job of the attorney general? >> that's your position, anderson. you've long held that position, anderson. i would think that most white house counsel certainly think it's their job to protect the president. the attorney general's job is -- >> wait. it's the white house counsel's job to protect the president or the presidency? the office of the president? my understand is don mcgann -- >> an excellent distinction. excellent distinction. the presidency, the office of the president. he serves the president in his official capacity, period, and that's it.
that is it. the attorney general has an unusual role as a cabinet member in that unlike the other cabinet members, the attorney general has independent decision-making authority. that's part of what we've talked about here. the attorney general also has, like all the other cabinet secretaries, policy implementation and some political, meaning dealing with capitol hill in particular, responsibilities that genuinely are not independent. they do fall under the direct authority appropriately of the president. just like all the other cabinet secretaries. the piece we're talking about with attorney general sessions is that independent legal authority under the attorney general's office that doesn't exist under any cabinet secretary. that's it. >> professor, was it appropriate for the president of the united states to not only tell don mcgann to try to get jeff sessions to not recuse himself but also other senior members of the white house? >> absolutely not.
there's not a single authority out there that's reputable that i heard say attorney general sessions was not required to recuse himself from the investigation of russian interference in the election when he worked for the campaign. he was required to under the lawyers ethics rules and the government ethics rules. it's an open and shut case. and for the white house counsel or anyone else in the white house to pressure the attorney general to violate the law and to violate his ethical obligations as a lawyer, is just flat-out wrong. now whether it was criminal obstruction of justice or not is for robert mueller to determine. and i'm not going to opine on that. it is obstruction of justice. and it is just flat-out wrong for anyone to argue that the attorney general could somehow supervise an investigation of a political campaign in which he had a very important role when that campaign was accused of collaborating with the russians. we'll find out whether or not they collaborated with the
russians and whether or not it was criminal. the attorney general had no business being involved in that investigation, and he did the right thing by recusing. >> we're going to -- >> anderson? >> go ahead, ken. >> let's keep in mind that this -- obviously trump won the race. but there are also -- the russian involvement was, we've traced now, to ferguson, to the jill stein campaign. this is not just about the trump campaign. so when you look at the other aspects of what the department of justice is responsible for, at least those other areas, the professor painter'soc objection really fall away. i appreciate what he has to say in the criminal context, and explicitly that which is what the regulation related to special counsel addresses. but not in the other areas of responsibility of the department of justice. >> investigating jill stein? this is ridiculous -- laughable. this whole thing is laughable -- >> no. you are twisting my words, professor. you're very good at that. >> come on! no, i'm not -- >> this is an investigation of russia. >> this has nothing to do with it --
>> it is an investigation of russia. i'm worried about russia. you worry about jill stein. >> and who collaborated with the russians. >> the activities span across more than just the trump campaign and attempts to influence the american electorate through the trump campaign. there's also through stein and through news manipulation, for instance, around ferguson. >> and who collaborated with them. they're being investigated, and attorney general sessions did the right thing by recusing. >> both points have been made. always good to have you both on. thank you. ahead, what we're learning about the investigation president trump has been calling for again and again of the clinton foundation. the question, is it justified or is it, as some say, diversion from questions about russia? more on all of this ahead. you know what they say about the early bird...
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we've been talking about arm-twisting on jeff sessions recusing himself with the russia investigation. here with us tonight is our panel. jack, the -- actually, phil let's start with you. this new reporting that it wasn't just don mcgahn trying to basically arm twist or pressure jeff sessions, there were two other high-ranking senior white house officials involved with that, does that raise the stakes in this? i mean, it seems like everybody would have to have their stories all on the same page in any kind of interviews about it. >> right. i think what this does is it reinforces the way that donald trump was approaching control of jeff sessions, and more broadly control of his administration. we saw, for example, when he was trying to put pressure on jim comey, former fbi director. he used all sorts of people he tried to have twist comey's arm to do what he wanted in terms of allegedly turning down the heat on michael flynn, former national security adviser. he had, for example, dan coates
allegedly was asked to do something with comey, as well. we've seen repeated instances in which donald trump has used multiple people to try and get what he wants. that's fundamentally what the question is here. yes, there's this broader question, broader criminal question of obstruction of justice. what we're seeing is a president who is used to getting his way, came from the private sector where he's a ceo and sort of, you know, active by edict, who comes into the presidency and tries to do the same sort of thing. i think that fundamentally is what these additional sources reveal. yes, once again, this isn't just him saying hey, mcgahn, go and talk to session, try and keep him from recusing. it is donald trump using every tool in his arsenal to try and make something happen which is probably inappropriate. >> and according to the wolff book, wants his attorney general to act like his lawyer, like cohn did in the private sector. >> donald trump more than anything else in his presidency has wanted this investigation to go away, and he has shown a willingness to do anything to make it go away. that is consistent with his
years as roy cohn as his lawyer. what cohn did in the years as his mentor and the president's lawyer enabled donald trump to conduct a business that was constantly evading the law. that's really the hallmark and the consistency of the trump operation. evasion of legal and normal protocols. the number of lawsuits filed against donald trump, the amount of litigation initiated by trump and roy cohn to shut people up. this was not your normal business operation. we are now seeing it transferred to the white house. and now, as phillip has suggested, donald trump thinks he can operate with the same kind of impunity and evade the law once again. what is frustrating him -- and it's clear from michael wolff's book, as well, and from what steve bannon has told us through so many of these passages -- is his outrage that he is subject to the law and to protocols that
are inherent in the presidency and common decency in government. and he will not go along with him. and back to this question about sessions' recusal, sessions was head of the national security portfolio for the trump campaign, and as we now know and -- and certainly sessions knew -- he had these meetings with russians. so if you did not recuse yourself, you might really have some serious consequences. of course he recused himself. >> tara? >> and this was a time when it was the wild west in the west wing. you didn't -- there was really no control. reince priebus was pretty neutered from the beginning as chief of staff. you had steve bannon running around doing whatever he wanted. jared kushner doing what he wanted. it was pretty much a free-for-all. so to carl's point, donald trump was not used to the restraints that are built into the presidency and the way things
operate. so it surprises me not at all -- it doesn't surprise me at all that he would ask for roy cohn, because of how instrumental roy cohn was in donald trump's life. the influence that he had. trump is quoted saying more than once that roy cohn would brutalize people. and that he was vicious to people on my behalf. and that roy cohn demanded ironclad loyalty which is partially where trump gets this from, this idea of loyalty, almost mafia-like in a certain way. that's not how the presidency works in this country. this is consistent with what's reported of how donald trump has run his entire operation, run his entire life. so why would it surprise anyone that he would change to anyone different? it should scare people that he would want a roy cohn in the white house with him considering the illegal stuff -- >> i have to say it would disappoint me if he did not try to keep his attorney general in the game on a very important matter. and as he said, robert kennedy -- >> he wanted him to protect him. that's why. >> he cited robert kennedy. he cited eric holder.
eric holder, the only cabinet in history who got accused -- actually was guilty of contempt of congress which -- >> who we as republicans were critical of -- >> which by definition is obstruction by the way. >> we were critical of that. now we're against jeff sessions doing the right thing? >> if i'm the president, i want to have my a.g. fully in the game, operating on anything. and it's not -- see, one of the things i think you guys maybe not -- >> even if there's a conflict of interest? >> right. this is inconsistent. >> okay. but if i'm donald trump, i'm saying -- >> he criticized holder for what he did, but now we're all of a sudden going after jeff sessions for doing the right thing and recusing himself? >> where you're making the assumption is that donald trump heard from all the attorneys who said, no, he's got to recuse himself or it's obstruction. that did not take place. he was going to him and saying, don't get out of it. and you just heard two very distinguished lawyers who had a completely different read of this. i'm not a lawyer. but i work for a law firm. and i can tell you if you get two of them in the elevator, you're going to have two
opinions. and that's what happens. some people believe that he had to recuse himself. remember -- >> it was because he wanted to protect him at all costs. not for the investigation -- >> the article said to hold out as long as you could. in terms of sessions meeting with russians, i was on the military committee, i was on the foreign affairs committee. we met with foreign people all the time, foreign heads of state, quite often and ambassadors. claire mccaskill said "i never met with one," and find out two, three months earlier she had tweeted about meeting with the russian ambassador. >> i didn't say there was anything wrong with meeting with russians. >> he mentioned the hearing -- >> all i said is it's relevant to the investigation. let's find out where it goes. >> paris, where are you? >> i think the first problem is we're citing things in this book as fact. we're assuming that bipartisan across the board -- even a lot of democrats, even journalists have said there are a lot of questions about the voracity of the book. to assume that everything that's said about what the president
said as it relates to the attorney general is assumed. the second problem that we have is, we're questioning the fact that loyalty is the problem. when has loyalty been a problem? when you look at any administration -- i happen to be one who worked in one for four years -- >> veto corleone wanted loyalty >> we can talk about dictatorships, the mafia, or the white house which i worked in for four years -- >> 435 members of congress want loyalty and 100 members of the senate. there's nothing wrong with -- >> the loyalty is not to donald trump. it's to the american people. that's the distinction. >> correct. >> and i'll point out that the roy cohn quote doesn't come from the book. it comes from "new york times" reporting. >> that's correct. >> and i would say "the new york times" has not been overly friendly -- >> how about -- >> they've been more accurate than the white house on most things that have come out. >> exactly. >> maria, where are you? >> the problem is that the truth hasn't been overly friendly to this administration because they don't believe in the truth. and that's exactly the image that's coming out. >> it is -- >> whether you want to question
every single thing that the author has said, michael wolff himself has said he has tapes. he has notes. he has proof. he stands behind it. we'll see where that goes. but to your point, this comes out also out of reporting from "the new york times" and the "washington post." and so many journalists have been covering this administration for the last year. they all say that this book paints a very accurate image of what they have reported and what they have heard. >> given like -- paris, given what you know about roy cohn, a guy who ended up being disbarred for stealing funds from clients, a guy who worked for mccarthy, who was a thug in the legal profession -- and i knew him as a kid, knew an attorney who worked for him. would it concern you if donald trump wanted jeff sessions to be like roy cohn for him? >> i think you have to look at how the president looked at roy cohn. if he looked at somebody who was loyal to him and would do everything he could to -- >> he brutalized people.
he was vicious. those are quotes. >> as long as a mass murders -- mass murderer is nice, you don't want them by your side. >> my mom, if i spit on the ground, my mother would say "that's artwork." i could say, i want somebody like my mom to appreciate and love me like that because i may be wrong, but my mother will look at me and say "my son is right." i think what the president is doing is saying i want people around me who understand me, who appreciate me, and will do their best to be loyal to me. >> with all due respect, it sounds like you want enablers. your mom was an enabler. if you're doing things wrong. that's not what the attorney general's role is. >> real quick -- >> coming up, we'll hear from a senator on the judiciary committee about obstruction next. shawn evans: it's 6 am. 40 million americans are waking up to a gillette shave. and at our factory in boston, 1,200 workers are starting their day building on over a hundred years of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation. today we're bringing you america's number one shave at lower prices every day.
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spit on the ground, art work. here's what richard blumenthal, who serves on the judiciary committee, said about obstruction of justice a few minutes ago. >> this excellent reporting certainly indicates a key element of an obstruction of justice case which is corrupt intent. and what is building here, it may not have reached the threshold of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, is clearly an effort to shut down the investigation, to interfere with it by in effect telling jeff sessions he had to maintain control over it and stymie it if possible. >> back now with the panel. one of the things we talked about last night a little bit -- repeating -- jeff toobin made the point and other. even if there was no underlining crime, no collusion or anything inappropriate that the trump administration did, vis-a-vis russia or anything else, if there was an attempt to obstruct justice, even if the attempt wasn't successful, that in and of itself can be a crime. >> and if everything was hogwash, this was a hoax and
made up, then why this behavior? this is what is inconsistent. this is what makes it baffling to so many people when you look at this. when you're completely innocent, this is not how you behave. why was trump so incensed about sessions recusing himself rightfully from the situation if there was nothing going on? why did he need someone to protect him? protect him from what? this is what makes it very -- it screams thinking that everyone's made this up and donald trump is paranoid -- >> i disagree. i do know the president. i don't know him well, but i've talked to him particularly about this. he is outraged because he does believe he's innocent. i was involved in the campaign. i don't think people like kellyanne conway would be stupid enough -- i've known her for years. these are ethical people. >> if you're innocent, you act like -- >> not necessarily in washington, d.c. >> no. no. if you are innocent -- >> think about ted stephens
being ruined by the fbi. >> one at a time. maria? >> if you are innocent, you would invite people in to say "i have nothing to hide, look at everything." you would want you to be clear -- >> they ruined him -- the fbi raided congressman kurt weldon's office, ruined his reputation. later gave him a clean bill of health. you know, the old expression in washington, when do i get my reputation back? i got to tell you -- >> donald trump has gone overboard to try to keep things from coming out, to say that he needs protection. >> and look at everything we're learning about andrew mccabe and wiseman and corals and julie lee and peter strut -- you say politicians are pai are paranoid -- >> none of that has changed the mueller investigation. >> but -- >> you know, what i think -- >> they fired some of those people. >> paris, go ahead. >> your former boss came out cnn in a strong way talking to ana cabrera -- >> embarrassing interview in my
opinion. i was upset with how he handled himself on air today, i will say. that's not how he behaved when i worked for him. >> maybe you should still work for him. but at the end of the day, the points he made were valid. the points he made talked about the scope that happens when you have a special prosecutor and why he's upset and many republican congressmen are upset that the attorney general recused himself. because now what you have mueller doing is opening up, did he do this? let's narrow the scope to what it's supposed to be about. it's -- was there meddling -- >> part of it because trump fired james comey. that's why -- >> if there was, let's look at the clintons. if there was, let's ask mueller, why do you have people that you have employed who were, in fact, donors to the clinton campaign, who were, in fact, treated -- >> they were -- >> that was the standard. >> let's get back to it -- >> yes. >> carl, go ahead. go ahead. >> let's get back to -- >> you don't like where this is going, it's an open net --
>> carl, go ahead. >> really quickly, paris, the scope of mueller's investigation included obstruction of justice because of the way james comey was fired. >> no -- >> yes, it was. >> carl, carl? we haven't heard from carl. >> let's try to get back on the ground here. let me say a couple words. >> i do want to make a point. >> i know you do. >> a couple words here. we have a legitimate investigation that needs to run its course. if there is anything untoward about what ray has done, what james comey has done, there's plenty of time after this investigation runs its course to have every kind of inquiry to find out what those violations were. this is the best shot that we have at justice and democracy working in a terrible, terrible moment in which our intelligence agencies have told us that we were violated by a foreign power in our most democratic process,
our election. and they are acting to have an honest investigation, and the trump white house and the trump partisans -- and i'm going to say including what sounds to be yourselves -- are trying to demean, undermine, discredit every attempt to have a decent investigation. incidentally -- let me -- >> let me steal a couple of minutes and own my partisanship-- >> i will. i will. let me finish -- are you right about ted stephens. the case was an abomination. the fbi investigation in the mccarthy era was -- >> jack is going to respond. >> we have to take a break. >> -- we have an attempt to find out what happened and why in the world you two republicans would not say what howard baker said in watergate, what did the president know and when did he know it -- >> jack's going to -- >> i lost control. >> jack's going to respond. we'll take a break. also coming up, the author of "fire and fury" spoke out. more on that ahead.
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before the break, carl bernstein called the mueller investigation our best shot at finding out what happened in the campaign with respect to russia and what happened later with respect to possible obstruction of justice. carl was also speaking out against efforts to undermine the probe. jack kingston wanted to respond. the floor is yours, jack. >> i got my time. i'm feeling good about this. let me just say from a republican standpoint, i believe there are very, very valid
concerns about the team that mueller has put together. if peter stark was on a democrat team, i think he would have the same concern. we can say this is a squeaky-clean guy, but i don't believe that. i think andrew weisman is suspect. andrew mccabe's wife who's received hundreds of thousands of dollars because of clinton donations or efforts, i think those are all concerns. if we are only concerned about the truth, let's make sure we have the best team investigating it. i want to make this point -- the reason why congress on a bipartisan basis let the special prosecutor law lapse is because it does become a runaway train. who would have thought that ken starr investigating real estate deals in arkansas would find his way to a 24-year-old intern with a blue dress and then it was all about perjury? i talked to henry hyde about it at the time and said, you know, this is really disappointing
that after millions of dollars this is where we end up. >> did you vote for impeachment? >> i did vote for impeachment because it was about perjury. >> okay. >> it was a question of perjury. >> why did you bring up the same concerns then -- >> i did. i did do it. that's what i'm saying. >> all right. we haven't heard from phillip for a while. phillip? >> let me yield the floor. >> i appreciate that, sir. i want to make two points. the first is that the playbook that we have seen essentially since donald trump started running for president is to find little nit-picky things to use to the try and under mine your opponents. i agree with carl that that's what this appears to be. there's no indication at this point that mueller's investigation has been affected by any sort of partisanship. peter was fired two months in because of the text messages that emerged. there's no evidence for that. i understand why trump allies want to seize upon that. i do want to go back to something tara said, though, which is why would donald trump object so strenuously if he is isn't. and there is a reason we know
of, he is extremely insecure about what happened in november 2016. he believes that he is the target of people who think he's not a legitimate president. he knows he lost the popular vote, so he makes up total nonsense about voter fraud. he's trying to do everything to assert i won, it was through my own excellence as i candidate that i was able to be elected president. he sees the russia investigation, legitimately, as an attempt to say, no, russia helped you do it. i think he's focussed on it because he doesn't want people to say, hey, russia's what -- >> sorry, what did you say, the president's innocent? >> i believe that we investigate. we look -- >> you said you believe very well that he may be innocent. i think the article you did today about the economy was very, very good, and that was under the administration was also very, very good. i would say this -- if this investigation is going to be fair, and as a republican we want it to be fair, but this investigation is is not focused
on getting at the truth about russia meddling before the election of donald trump. if we're going to be honest, we know that this precedes the trump election. the obama administration knew about russia trying to influence the election -- >> they opened an investigation. >> if this investigation is truthful, let's go back and look at everything. not just simply focus on president trump. and that is why republicans get incensed about it. you can see -- >> literally he knew, though, you want it to be broad when it's involving hillary clinton and narrow when it's involving jared kushner. >> no -- i'll be very clear. to be narrowly focused on russia meddling in the election. >> except for trump has shown zero interest in finding out the truth even about that because he has yet to admit it happened. >> no, president obama showed no interest in doing that. >> there are two things that i want to -- there are two things that i wanted to make -- two points. jeff sessions, i went to look at the statement he made when he recused himself. he's talks about how he had conversations -- several conversations with department of justice counsel.
and i'm glad he had the conversations and that he didn't listen to the white house counsel and the other two people that trump sent, because he actually -- and i'm not a jeff sessions fan. he did the right thing in recusing himself. he talks about how during his nomination hearings because of the fact that it came out that he met with the russians, that he told the congress that he would recuse himself. if anything came up where his impartiality was questioned -- of course his impartiality would be questioned on anything to do with russia. that's my first point. the second point is on trump's red line and everybody talking about how mueller could be a runaway investigator if he goes into his finances -- >> which he is -- >> -- his finances are absolutely relevant here. the issue is that he has -- we have never seen his taxes, and he could absolutely be incredibly beholden financially to the russians. >> we'll have more with the panel ahead and get their take on word that the feds are investigating the clinton foundation over whether donors were promised favors or access to hillary clinton while she was secretary of state.
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tripadvisor. the latest reviews. the lowest prices. a u.s. official tells cnn federal authorities are actively investigating the clinton foundation, looking into whether members were promised favors or access to hillary clinton when she was secretary of state. this has been brewing for years. it's unclear what if any new evidence led to the current investigation. the official says it's being led by an fbi field office in arkansas. back with the panel, maria, as a democrat and former adviser to secretary clinton, what do you see? >> i agree with what nick merrell said today, it's a total sham. i think this is something we all could have predicted. we saw this coming miles away. frankly, probably in jeff sessions' attempt to prove his
loyalty, this is something that he did to prove his loyalty. >> a total sham? really? >> yes, absolutely. >> paris? how do you see it? >> this has been investigated before, and they're going to come up with nothing. >> i wish i could take everything you said about the president and that investigation in russia and flip it and talk about secretary clinton because it would be the same thing. you just -- you can't -- use your same talking points on trump on secretary clinton. you won't do that because you're just start in your partisan -- >> no, i'm using talking points that are the truth when it comes to president trump. and when it comes to -- >> you use talking points that are false. i think at the end of the day -- >> not according to reporters. >> -- other reporters? maggie haberman said this thing was very -- treads on dishonesty. a lot of democrat reporters, a lot of democrat -- >> maggie haberman and a lot of other reporters have said that the total image that "fire and fury" states or presents is very accurate. >> carl? >> the total image? that's hogwash. >> okay. >> carl, go ahead. carl? >> okay. >> i think we need to know a lot
more about the circumstances under which this investigation was opened. it's possible that as you say it was nefariously opened. it's also possible and we need to find out that perhaps somebody came in with some kind of evidence that's worth investigating. we need find out. let's not prejudge. we ought to be in the business of getting the facts, and we have very few facts. but certainly there is something about donald trump at this moment calling for hillary clinton, crooked hillary, to be locked up, and his justice department initiating this apparent investigation. >> no. that has nothing to do with it. >> we don't know. >> no, i'm just -- >> i want to say that's exactly right. >> i totally agree with you. >> the issue at the moment, we need to know more about the investigation. but it is impossible to remove from this the stink of donald trump having consistently called for this to happen with a total lack of any additional evidence,
right. donald trump watched "fox and friends" and decided that hillary clinton should go to jail. this happened over the course of a year and a half. >> well, that's -- >> we don't know why this happened. we don't know why this investigation began again. and with donald trump saying these things, he's edged from prejudiced or -- >> okay. >> hold on, jack, you're going to thank me for this. so there is a there-there with the clinton foundation. this is something that's plagued them for several years. even "the new york times" back in 2015 did a rather extensive story about uranium one and the donations to the clinton foundation. and some questionable activities there. all the way back to bill clinton getting a $500,000 speech from a russian bank that was investing in the uranium one deal and people with the russians wanting to get this uranium. there was a lot going on there. and there was over $130 million worth of donations from people involved from frank yustra, $31 million from him, the guy who was head of uranium one, who was
friends with the clintons -- >> that's been debunked. >> no. it started in 2005 through 2007 when they thought that hillary clinton was going to run for president in 2008 which she did. and it carried on from there. he left in 2007, that's correct. but the clinton foundation -- >> wait -- >> nefarious activities going long before just now. what made it relevant now is the fact that the uranium one deal was approved in 2010 under the obama administration which was questionable at the time because the fbi had uncovered a russian bribery scheme within the nuclear energy sector that they did not tell the members of the group that has to approve the foreign investments. so people didn't really know. they wonder why didn't anybody say anything. because there was the russian reset going on. so there was a lot of things where the -- where the clintons were involved in this. >> that didn't have to do with the approval. >> she was on the board -- >> she was not a part of it. >> jack, we haven't heard from you. >> well, i do know -- >> okay.
>> one at a time. jack. >> i do know there were people on this panel who said if you're innocent, why worry about it? >> are we trying to shut it down? >> the department of justice backed off this investigation in 2016 and i thought they made a good decision. i wish that james comey would have followed their decision, as well, on potential violation of the hatch act. at that time they said to the fbi you can continue this particularly if something new comes up. it is a continuation of an investigation, which actually started under obama. now, we don't know what the new evidence is or what triggered that. so i do agree with you that we need to find out what made it happen. i think tara has raised some points that have never been settled. there probably are other things. there's that algerian donation that was never reported, even though it was not supposed to be allowed.
>> and they fessed up to that. >> you're awfully defensive for something -- very, very defensive. >> let me throw out one question, though. i was on the foreign affairs committee. i heard how important the clinton foundation was for the world. and my question would be, if it was such a great foundation, why is it not able to function? why did they have to shut it down? >> why did they have to refile their 990 because they forgot about all the foreign donations. >> i think they did fantastic work on hiv aids. >> yes. absolutely. >> there was a big social component to getting to hang -- for a lot of the donors, getting to hang out with bill clinton and schmooze. there was that big event in new york. >> let's talk about presidential libraries and presidential
foundations, which are a big problem. people want to give in because they want to be around and have influen influence. >> nothing has ever been proven between the donations and any -- up next, new insight on the russian woman who did all the talking at the trump tower meeting, that donald trump jr., jared kushner attended, it's part of a new cnn special report airing at the top of the hour. we'll have a preview when we talk to pam brown when we continue. are you done yet?
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all with an xfi gateway. find your awesome, and change the way you wifi. well, what a week it's been in washington. every day, it seems there's new developments in the russian investigation. to help you stay on top of it, a special report by pamela brown. at the top of the hour, pamela brown strings to the many threads. here's one key moment as cnn began to drill down a now infamous trump tower meeting. we kept learning more about mysterious characters who met with donald trump jr., jared kushner and paul manafort. perhaps the most intriguing was the woman who did all the talking. >> the leader of the meeting, russian attorney natalia veselnitskaya. a character right out of a spy
novel, she seldom tells the same story twice. at first she denied any connection to the russian government. >> have you ever worked for the russian government? do you have connections to the russian government? >> but she does have connections to the chief prosecutor in russia, who she shared her talking points with months before the trump tower meeting. she also denied bringing up any dirt on hillary clinton. >> translator: i want to make sure that everybody understands there was never talk about damaging information about mrs. clinton. >> now she says she may have had dirt about alleged donations to the clinton campaign. >> natalia says she provided certain documents to the russian prosecutor general. >> the family attorney spoke with vesselnitskaya. >> and pam joins us with more.
>> when we put all the threats together over this past year, it's easy to lose track of it. the special report is split into six acts. it covers the trump tower meeting, the dossier. we followed the money and we also looked at all the president's dealings with russia over the last decades. and we also look at president's men, all the people who in a sense have been caught up in this web in the russia probe. and we also examine the firing of james comey because it's really fascinating. it just happened so abruptly, came out of nowhere and so many questions have been raised about the president's motivations for that firing. and robert mueller looks at it in the justice probe. so we just spoke with what we actually know and brings it all together so you can tie all the pieces together, anderson. >> you've been covering the story for a year now.
did you learn anything new working on the report? >> i actually did. i've been covering it, along with my colleagues, we have a team here, that's been covering the russian probe. for example, in the follow the money act, we focus more on the business that donald trump did with russians, not in russia, which is key here because he repeatedly said he's never done business in russia. but that's really missing the point. we focus on the real estate deals that he's done in the united states. and it's really interesting to go back and trace that over the last several decades. we also learn -- we interviewed james clapper, the former chief spy. and he told us that president trump confronted intelligence officials during that january 6th briefing about how the result of their intelligence report impacted the legitimacy of his presidency. it's no secret donald trump used the russian meddling investigation as a threat to his
legitimacy of his election win. but he raised those concerns to the highest levels of the intelligence community during his first face-to-face meeting with them. you do learn a lot and you great better understanding of what this investigation is all about, anderson. >> pamela brown, thank you very much. thanks for watching "360." time now for the cnn special report, the trump-russia investigation. the following is a cnn special report. [ applause ] only being a politician for a short period of time, how am i doing? am i doing okay? i'm president. hey, i'm president. you believe it, right? >> a shadow hangs over the white house. >> why so many lies? >> this is not normal. >> the most explosive evidence yet in the russia investigation. >> the urgent questions. >> was it appropriate for you to meet with the russian officials? >> is it true that mr. manafort owed you millions of dollars? >> how is all of that not