tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN February 19, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
you can tweet the show here at "the lead." "the lead." that's it for lead leyde today. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com we're learning that special counsel robert mueller is looking into son-in-law jared kushner's efforts to get foreign financing for his company during the presidential transition. even as kushner still has a full white house security clearance. tweet and sour. president trump attacks former president obama in an extraordinary tweet tirade. democrats and oprah. is the president trying to distract from the special counsel's indictment of 13
russians? russia's spies. we'll take to you a troll farm where there is a disinformation campaign spread through social media. and troubling re lagss. as the florida high school shooter appears in court, we're getting new information about his extensive arsenal and his disturbing behavior while the couple who took him in speaks out. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the special counsel's investigation reaches president trump's family and their finances. sources say robert mueller is looking beyond son-in-law jared kushner's contacts looking the get foreign funding for his company during transition. the president is still fuming over the indictment of 13 russians accused of meddling in
the election. a short while aeg tweeted asking why president obama didn't do something with the russian meddling. that follows a twitter tirade in which the president lashed out in all directions, sparking outrage when he steamed blame the russia probe for the school massacre in florida even as the funerals continued. our correspondents and specialists are standing by with full coverage. let's begin with the breaking news. as the special counsel looks to the foreign interests of son-in-law jared kushner, joining us now, update our viewers on the very latest. >> well, cnn has learned that robert mueller is now asking questions about jared kushner's personal business dealings during the presidential transition. we're told by people had are familiar with the investigation
that mueller's lawyers are asking about discussions kushner had with potential chinese and qatari investors. this is first time mueller has asked to know about contacts the president's son-in-law had. the discussions are around this building in manhattan. 666 fit avenue which kushner's company owns. the financing on the company is in debt over $1 billion. it is not clear what is behind the specific interests of the financing. we're told the special counsel hasn't asked for financial information or interviews. he has declined to comment is that moments ago, we received a statement. let me read that to you. it says another quote. another source with questionable motives, now contradicts the facts. in all of mr. kushner's
extensive cooperation with all inquiries, there has not been a single asked, nor documents sought on the 666 building or kushner company disease. nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions. this is kushner's attorney just now giving us this statement. he just handed the statement. >> he's blaming another anonymous source. >> we have more than one source. and we know that several people that have gone before the special counsel have been asked these questions. >> what about the meeting specifically in do you have some details? >> we don't have our own information. the "new york times" and others have done stories about discussions that jared kushner had. one in particular was a chinese insurance company. they also owned the waldorf
astoria in manhattan. there were discussions with them about potentially investing in the 666 property. they pulled out surprisingly at the last minute. there was always qatari investor who was going to invest in the building. that person pulled out as well. >> the whole notion of what mueller might be up to right now, it raises lots of questions. based on what we're hearing, what is he trying to figure out as far as the overall russia probe is concerned? >> that's not entirely clear. we know that investigators have been looking at this. and one person cautioned us to say. perhaps investigators are exploring. nonetheless it is significant that these kinds of questions have been posed to people have appeared before the special counsel. and it is not the just about financial dealings. it is also in general about kushner's contacts with
foreigners with. foreign nationals during the transition. >> what have we heard from the company involved? the chinese company involved? >> we've reached out to both. we never heard back from the qataris and the representative, a spokesperson declined to comment. hies. >> thank you very much. president trump is heading back from florida. just a little while ago, he fired off the latest tweet of an extraordinary tirade. >> what is behind the outburst? >> that's right. the tweet storm continues into
today. he stayed inside the mar-a-lago resort most of the holiday weekend stewing over russia and the fbi and it didn't take long before he unleashed on twirt. notably, not russia. >> president trump began his president's day at his golf course after deciding to avoid the links in the aftermath of the mass shooting. after golf he took twitter blaming his predecessor tweeting, obama was president up to and beyond the 2016 election. so why didn't he do something about russian meddling? the president has spent. of the weekend watching cable news and getting riled up by his sons who urged their father to take a tougher stwans the fbi after it was revealed the agency failed to follow up on a tip. very sad that the fbi missed all the many signals sent out by the
shooter. this is not acceptable. they are spending too much time trying prove russian collusion with the trump indication that. there is no collusion. in the wake of special counsel indictment of 13 russians for meddling in the 2016 election, the president appears to be lashing out at everyone but russia. first, he fired off a tweet suggesting he had been vindicated in the russia probe pointing to comments by the deputy attorney general. but rod rosenstein never definitively said there was no collusion. merely that this indictment didn't charge collusion. >> the nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear they were ordinary american political activists. >> the top democrat overseeing the investigation, adam schiff, seizing on the indictments as clear cut evidence of russian meddling. >> it ought to put to rest for
anyone including the president who continues to call this a witch hunt, that the evidence is now overwhelming and unequivocal and we need to move to protect ourselves from russian interference in the elections coming up. >> the president instead choosing to focus on comments made in the obama facebook. finally, blaming the obama administration. obama was president, knew of the threat and did nothing. >> i've said all along that i thought the obama administration should have done more. none of that is an excuse for this president. knowing what our intelligence committee knows now about the russian effort, it is inand milk panel the president of the united states continue to sit on this. that congress wants over this interference of the. >> can we expect the president
to have additional action against this country who clearly doesn't fear or respect us? >> well, i won't get ahead of what the president is prepared to announce but i wouldn't for one second say that his foreign policy has not been effective. >> trump also claiming he never said russia did not meddle. contradicting himself from the past. >> could have been a lot of people had interfered. he said it simply. i think it could have been russia but i think it could have been other countries. >> the president claims the multiple russia investigations are satisfying putin's plan tweeting -- if it was the goal of russia to create discord, disruption and chaos, then with all the committee hearings, investigations and party hatred. they are laughing their asses off in moscow. get smart, america. saying they --
>> two groups created chaos more than the russians. the democrats is that the main stream media who have pushed this on the american people for more than a year and americans should be outraged by that. >> the president is expected to arrive back at the white house within the hour. this as demonstrators spent the day outside the white house engaging in a lie-in. calling for stricter gun control. we are told that the president he spent part of weekend at mar-a-lago. it is unclear what will happen next in terms of concrete steps to address the issue. joining us now, congressman, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> let's begin with the breaking news. i hear that robert mueller is
looking at jared kushner's contacts in qatar and china. is that a subject of interest for the house intelligence committee as well? >> well, we've not gotten to that point. i will say that mr. kushner is a businessman, obviously. i think it is curious for mr. kushner to meet with this person a week after, with the trump campaign effort to solidify a deal. >> raised concerns. that it could pose a conflict of interest. is there anything in particular that worries you? >> well, i'm always concerned when you have folks who are in
federal positions, misusing their authority. i think it is a concern for all of us. sometimes it happens unknowingly. in this case, it can be deliberate but we have yet to see. we'll wait for director mueller's investigation and see where the house intel committee picks it up from there. >> the president is sounding off on twitter, as you know of in light the indictments. obama was president up to and beyond the 2016 election so why didn't he do something about russian meddling? closed quote. he's not the only one blaming the obama administration. there have been others including some democrats who criticized president obama for not taking action against russia. did they drop the ball?
>> i won't say they dropped the ball. i think more could have been done. i think the administration was cautious and a bit an rehencive. i think their efforts could have been more centered and assertive. we can't go back and play monday morning quarterback. i think it is important to look at the now. i think president obama has said it himself. now we're focused on the trump administration. i think these indictments show very clearly this isn't a political witch hunt. this indictment is real. it is not about republican or democrat. ghs old law enforcement. and law enforcement is working. we don't have the kind of relationship with russia to bring those folks to the u.s. but the indictment is clear and it sends a strong message that we will not tolerate russian interference of the will. >> a lot of people agree with you. the obama administration could
have done more. remember, the president, he's been in office 13 months. what has he done in the u.s.? some of the president's recent tweets also suggest he feels vindicated by the indictments. they noticed it didn't necessarily have anyone winning. in your view, is collusion still an open question? >> i think so. we have these open reports from the house and senate committees and special counsel mueller. if wrongdoing hasn't occurred, then we can move.
to focus things like infrastructure doing things that work for all americans. >> president trump attacked the media for spending too much time trying to prove russian collusion. >> the fib could have done more. i think that president trump has a habit of blaming people. i think now we have to focus on the crux of these recent events, the indictments. now is a time to stand firm as a leader. he made a campaign promise the
lead our country. he is failing to do so. >> congressman carson. thank you for having me. looking into the efforts to get foreign financing. ♪ if you have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, little things can be a big deal. that's why there's otezla. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats psoriasis differently. with otezla, 75% clearer skin is achievable after just 4 months, ... with reduced redness, thickness, and scaliness of plaques.
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we are following new revelations about the warning man now facing 17 counts of premeditated murder in the florida massacre. let's go to brian todd who is working the story. >> reporter: we have flew details on disturbing information that a report that a child welfare agency had on the shooter a year and a half ago and the family nikolas cruz stayed with in the weeks leading up to the killer are now speaking out. the family who took nikolas cruise in for three months say they had a mondster living unde their roof and didn't know it. their son was a friend of cruz's retelling news outlets are saying they had no idea cruz was capable of inflicting the carnage that he did. they knew he was depressed and knew he had an ar 15 assault rifle in their house.
>> it seems like you had no problem with him having a weapon. >> that at all. he followed the rules. >> followed the rules. >> they weren't allowed to be out if we weren't home or one of us wasn't home. and he knew that. to our knowledge he never had them out. the attorneys say they were not aware of previous police incident reports saying the police had been to the house more than 20 times between 2011 and 2016 to check on multiple outbursts reported by his now deceased mother including one incident where she said he hit her with a plastic vacuum cleaner hose. and this report was filed a year before the sneeds took him in. >> indicating the agency was aware of the posts on snap chat and cutting both of his articles. the report says he is a
vulnerable adult due to mental illness. he has depression. he stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. then it concludes that his final level of 56 low because he lived with his mother and was receiving counseling of the. >> was that the right decision to make? >> maybe a year ago it was but obvious reply changed over the time period where the mother passed away. and apparently he wasn't going to counseling anymore. >> we reached out to the department of children and families to ask why the risk was low. cnn has learned the shooter obtained at least ten fire articles. >> before he moved in, one of the stipulations was he had to get a gun safe. and we got a gun safe on the way back. >> he didn't have free access to this gun? >> no. i thought i had the only key to the gun safe. >> i think that's just one factor in a string of factors that caused this to happen going
all the way back to marching the different reports. the 20 times law enforcement hbl out there. youth services had been out there visiting him. even though snead's attorney say they didn't know about the police reports or the school warnings on him, he says they did know that he was depressed. that he sought counseling and he had been bullied at school. given that, we pressed the family on why they still allowed the ar 15 style rifle in their house. they said they were sticklers for the gun safety. they believed they had taken all the precautions they could and the dpam everything they could to steer the young man away from trouble. >> i understand you're hearing that the fbi tip last month, if it had been acted on, that tip could have tied a lot of this together. >> it could have. our law enforcement analyst says if that tip the fbi received on january 5th had been passed on tots miami field office, the agents there could have accessed
the report from the department of children and families about his mental state. they could have accessed the police reports and the school warnings. all of those dots could have been connected by the fbi. we cannot understate how important it was. >> they did not connect the dots and they have to learn from it. making sure it doesn't happen again. >> thank you very much. this week cnn is hosting a nationally televised town hall with victims, classmates, both the senators and president trump. be sure to watch "stand up, the students ofstoneman douglas demand action." i'll have more breaking news on robert mueller's investigation and questions jared kushner's
business dealings. also breaking, the president resumes his tweet sfworm russia's election meddling with a new jab. this one directly at former president obama. -looks great, honey. -right? sometimes you need an expert. i got it. and sometimes those experts need experts. on it. [ crash ] and sometimes the expert the expert needed needs insurance expertise. it's all good. steve, you're covered for general liability. and, paul, we got your back with workers' comp. wow, it's like a party in here. where are the hors d'oeuvres, right? [ clanking ] tartlets? we cover commercial vehicles, too. i think there's something wrong with your sink.
kushner's business deegs during the time of the transition after his father-in-law was elected president of the united states. let's bring in our analysts and experts. let's talk about this. a government like china, big business in china works they be trying to exploit some financial deegs with someone, with high government officials like kushner? you used to work on the national security council. >> they would certainly be looking to exploit someone like kushner. i went to a lot of meetings with the china he's the and he one of the cardinal rules you is don't go in without experts. i can't think of any meetings we went into without having experts in the room, without having done a lot of natural sbis what the chinese would be trying to extrapolate. the chinese i know what the russians are two of the biggest koirnlt intelligence risks and jared kushner, either because of
inexperience or hubris or malign intent, went in alone, put himself in compromising situations and for some reason thought he would be the upper hand. >> what does it today about mueller's investigation that he is going into these areas, potential business dealings with qatar or china during the trans snigs. >> the first reaction that i had when i read the story was wow, this isn't russia. so this has a wider scope than perhaps many of us know about. we're not sure what the specifics of what the mueller team is interested in but clearly it goes beyond russia. you step back and you say, it made me think back to the president's remarks to the "new york times." if this investigation goes into your finances, it didn't ask about his son-in-law's, your finances or your family's finances, would that be cross go
the red line? the president very much suggested it may be crossing a red line. now does this question of jared kushner's finances, if mueller is looking at it, does that cross a red line for the president? >> and they're on the verge of working out a plea agreement the former campaign adviser rick gates. according to the "los angeles times," gates is prepared to testify against former campaign chairman paul manafort. this could be a very significant moment. >> yes. it could be yet another block for mueller's team. we know he is now the third person cooperating under this probe. it will put a lot of pressure on paul manafort. manafort has pleaded guilty but he isser on crimes are unrelated and this can put more pressure on him to cooperate as well. >> the president keeps saying that this whole russia probe is
a hoax, a witch hunt, a ruse. he denies in that tweet that we saw over the weekend, that he ever said that it was a legitimate line of questioning. but listen to this. >> i don't think anybody knows it was russia that broke into the dnc. how many times do i have to answer this question? russia is a ruse. this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. it is a witch hunt. the russia story is a total fabbricatio fabrication. russia did not help me. i call it the russia hoax. that was a democrat hoax. a democrat hoax. >> i guess we made the point that it is a democrat hoax. but the indictment that's we saw on friday, clearly make it tougher for the president to hold to that position. >> i don't know that it makes it tougher for the president. he is going to continue toy is a it is a hoax and try to undermine it.
it may make it tougher for americans to believe the president as he tries to sell it. not his core supporters but some of those folks in the middle read through indictment. having been tuned in to the russian thing, seeing everything you just played and they can adjudicate that he is clearly not aligned with where the facts are. >> he refuses to say, all the national security folks say, all on this intelligence chiefs say, that yes, what russia did was meddle in the u.s. election. they are continuing to do so and they're looking ahead to do on it a bigger lead going toward the mid material elections. he refuses to go there at all. >> it is clear that he has massive inferiority come blefl this election. that's clear from all his tweets, every statement that he makes. and he is not fulfilling his job as president to state the obvious. he is so focused on his own
narcissism. we're stuck in the postgame of what doan or didn't do rather than saying, okay, they meddled. we're under live attack and we're doing nothing about it. >> one of his craft directors says, it is happening, it's a serious problem. the director of national intelligence says it. his own national security adviser general mcmaster, a three-star active duty general was at a conference in munich and said there's to question about it. to which the president publicly in a tweet rebuked mcmaster, forgot to say that the election was not impacted or changed and that the only collusion was between russia and crooked hillary. remember the you'uranium diseas. it is amaze go that he would publicly slam, humiliate his own national security adviser and active duty lieutenant general.
>> i think it is very interesting. you hear this president say time and time again. no collusion. but if you look at the text of this indictment, every american should. it is access sgribl increditably detailed. it never says that. when you heard the deputy general speak about it. you see this president doing something that career staffers have warned makes it harder to do their jobs. he is casting doubt on the very people americans rely on to keep their families safe to say that their findings aren't valid. everybody stand by. i'm going to ask but another of the president's inflammatory tweets accusing about the school massacre because agents were too busy with the russia probe.
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augh! (family giggling) oh my. birds eye voila! so veggie good. the president clearly has the overall russia investigation vex on his mind. even when he's talking about the deadly shooting in florida. he tweeted this. very sad that the fbi missed all the many signals sent out by the florida school shooter. this is not acceptable. they are spending too much time trying to prove russian collusion with the trump campaign. there is no collusion. get back to the basics and make us all proud. >> i think the criticism is spot
on. first of all, it is factually untrue. obviously mueller can have a team of people from the fbi helping on the russia probe, looking into it, and that has nothing to do with following up on tips. i think the president is right to say the fbi needs to do a better job than they were able to do in this scenario but why would he, except that he is so consumed, more about himself and his peril, than he is for this community, these lives ruined through this tragedy. that to me is what that tweet said. that he is more concerned about his political peril than about the families. >> a lot of people have pointed out, that before the president tweeted that, it had been on fox news as sort of a talking point all day long. >> the president's tweets really do give us a window into what he's consuming when he is away from washington. this is a stunning admission and
a stunning failure by the fbi that left 17 people dead in florida. that said, the president is again making it about himself. he is acting as though fbi can't walk and chew gum at the same time and he is public critiques and rebukes of our law enforcement agencies that these people say administration it more difficult for them to do their jobs and it erodes confidence and he is bringing it back to him instead of the people who died in florida. >> what do foreign intelligence services think when they see this development, when they suspect there may be some paranoia on the part of president? >> i think that vladimir putin and the russian tense services are doing cart wheeze because president trump is doing their job for them. this tweet is rife with inaccuracies. it is pointing fingers internally and it is entirely misleading. if you go on the fbi website and you look at the range of investigations they have underway, there are sole things that they do on a daily base ice
than just investigating quote under quote russian collusion and these horrific attacks that have occurred. we have to be clear that president trump's tweets are viewed as actual policy. in the four years that i was at the white house, we spent so much time going over every word in public facing statements by the president to look at unintended and intended consequences. so all the work that the national security council and the agencies are doing is upended when the president doesn't coordinate with his team, issues these tweets, and in the case of russia, makes it a whole lot easier. >> let's not forget there are 35,000 employees at the fbi working a whole range of issues. a few dros probably working the russia investigation right now with mueller. that's another story. all right. stand by. there's more breaking news with special counsel robert mueller's probe to look into jared
kushner's business dealings. also, cnn gets a look inside the building where computer spies meddled. e. but to help others, they first had to protect themselves. i have afib. even for a nurse, it's complicated... and it puts me at higher risk of stroke. that would be devastating. i had to learn all i could to help protect myself. once i got the facts, my doctor and i chose xarelto®. xarelto®... to help keep me protected. once-daily xarelto®, a latest-generation blood thinner... ...significantly lowers the risk of stroke in people with afib not caused by a heart valve problem. it has similar effectiveness to warfarin. xarelto® works differently. warfarin interferes with at least 6 blood-clotting factors. xarelto® is selective, targeting just one critical factor interacting with less of your body's natural blood-clotting function. for afib patients well-managed on warfarin, there is limited information on how xarelto® compares in reducing the risk of stroke. don't stop taking xarelto® without talking to your doctor,
as this may increase risk of stroke. while taking, you may bruise more easily, or take longer for bleeding to stop. it may increase your risk of bleeding if you take certain medicines. xarelto® can cause serious, and in rare cases, fatal bleeding. get help right away for unexpected bleeding, unusual bruising, or tingling. if you've had spinal anesthesia, watch for back pain or any nerve or muscle-related signs or symptoms. do not take xarelto® if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. tell your doctor before all planned medical or dental procedures... ...and before starting xarelto®-about any conditions, such as kidney, liver, or bleeding problems. it's important to learn all you can... ...to help protect yourself from a stroke. talk to your doctor about xarelto®. there's more to know™. almost $800 when we switched our auto and home insurance. with liberty, we could afford a real babysitter instead of your brother. hey! oh, that's my robe. is it? when you switch to liberty mutual, you could save $782 on auto and home insurance. and still get great coverage for you and your family. call for a free quote today.
emerging about russian efforts to have discord online. matthew chance is just outside one of the tropical farms named in the indictment. matthew, what are you learning? >> reporter: first of all, wolf, learning this troll farm behind me, internet research agency is still functioning. we expect to see it closed up, there's been so much publicity surrounding it. but all through the day, people are coming and going, workers coming out for cigarette breaks. a reminder, this is the place named in the u.s. diamond as being the office where all the illegal activity took place. russians posing as americans, inserting themselves in blogs and internet chat rooms, hiring advertising space to promote one candidate or the other. even organizing divisive political rallies on the streets
of american cities. that whole conspiracy, alleged conspiracy to sew discord took place in that office block behind me. this is the only glimpse we have of a russian troll factory in action. the undercover video was recorded inside the secretive internet research agency in st. petersburg where paid internet provocateurs worked 12 hour shifts distorting the u.s. political debate. cnn spoke to a russian journalist that went undercover there as an internet troll in 2016. >> translator: the u.s. elections are the key issue for the kremlin and of course russia has invested a lot of effort into them. that's why troll factories are working. i have no doubt. >> reporter: this is the publicity shy russian oligarch, now indicted in the u.s. for bank rolling that factory.
dubbed by russian media as po t putin's chef denied involvement in election meddling. americans are very impression na impressionable people, they see what they want to see. i have great respect for them. i'm not at all upset i'm on this list. if they want to see the devil, let them see one. but the possible extent of his alleged involvement in the often shadowy world of russian foreign policy is only now starting to emerge. he's already under u.s. sanctions for supporting russian forces in ukraine. now through a complex web of relationships, he is suspected of links to covert russian mercenaries deployed in syria where cnn reported several were killed in a recent u.s. air strike. he denies any connection to the group. whatever the truth, putin's chef
and his network of secretive companies seem to extend far beyond the kitchen. wolf, we heard his denial of involvement in meddling in u.s. election, there have been other official denials, one from russian foreign minister, sergei lavrov, saying all of the details he heard, what he said was blather. also the kremlin has today reacted for the first time to the latest u.s. indictment saying it doesn't see any substantial evidence at least that any official russian, any state operator was involved in the meddling in the u.s. political system, wolf. back to you. >> all right, matthew chance in st. petersburg, russia. good report. coming up, there's more breaking news in a cnn exclusive. we are learning that special counsel robert mueller is looking into efforts by presidential son-in-law and adviser jared kushner to get foreign financing for his company during the presidential
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[loud cheering] [vo]we all call the same place home. i love you, afton! [vo]comcast is proud to bring the olympic winter games 2018 home to afton and every other hometown in america. happening now. breaking news. kushner under scrutiny. cnn has learned the special counsel is expanding his investigation to look at the foreign business dealings of the president's son-in-law and senior adviser going beyond jared kushner's russia contacts. stand by for our exclusive report. all tweet, no action. president trump is on the attack once again tonight, blasting president obama's response to the russia election meddling while refusing to blame vladimir putin. we are tracking mr.