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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  March 5, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PST

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starting right now on a special edition of "this week" with george stephanopoulos. the russian connection. the explosive allegation from president trump, claiming the trump campaign was wiretapped by president obama. trump offering no proof to back up his claim. obama denying any white house involvement. the bombshell allegation. pitting the president against the former president. the big questions. was there a wiretap at trump tower? if there was, what did it find? if there wasn't, why is trump leveling this charge? all this, as another member of team trump is clouded by possible ties to russia. >> i have recused myself in that matter. the matters that deal with the trump campaign. >> will these russian
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revelations overshadow trump's first 100 days? who is telling the truth? complete coverage this morning as we break down the russian connection. from abc news, it's a special edition of "this week." here now, co-anchor martha raddatz. good morning. just five days ago, the president looked like he was turning it around. fewer protests in the streets. the stock markets soaring. and that well-received speech to congress. and now, whatever goodwill he had seemingly blown away in a saturday morning tweet storm. even by his own standards, the president leveled an extraordinary accusation against his predecessor. accusing former president barack obama of wire-tapping him last october during the critical final weeks of the election. president obama has denied any direct involvement through a spokesman saying, neither president obama nor any white house official ever ordered
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surveillance on any u.s. citizen. any suggestion otherwise is simply false. either obama tapped trump's phone. or he didn't. one of them has it wrong. this hour, the search for the truth. two questions we'll seek to answer. is it possible that there was a legally sanctioned wiretap at trump tower? did a court approve surveillance based on evidence the public does not yet know? and second, if mr. trump is flat out wrong, what made him level this extraordinary charge? did the man who has daily access to the deepest levels of u.s. intelligence base his claims on something he read on the internet? here to help us answer these questions, we have spokespeople for both presidents trump and obama. plus senator al franken, whose question to jeff sessions focused attention on those ties to russia. chief washington correspondent
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jonathan karl joins us in a moment. with what may have motivated trump to tweet. but we begin with chief investigative correspondent brian ross and what we know about trump's incredible accusation. >> reporter: president trump's twitter outbursts came just before sunrise at the private palm beach club the president likes to call the winter white house. terrible. just found out that obama had my wires tapped in trump tower just before the victory. nothing found. that was followed by four more presidential tweets taking on president obama and misspelling tap. how low has president obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? this is nixon/watergate. bad or sick guy. white house officials this morning say they do not know the basis for the president's allegations. a top-secret intelligence briefing? or whether it came from reading an article on the conservative breitbart website posted friday
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that detailed speculation from a conspiracy-loving talk show host, mark levin. >> how many of trump's people were eavesdropped on? had their conversations recorded, transcribed? because this, ladies and gentlemen, is the big scandal. rar spokesperson >> reporter: a spokesperson for president obama called the allegations false. ben rhodes responded to the tweets. no president can order a wiretap. those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you. even a senator from the president's own party, along with u.s. intelligence officials, called trump's claims a troubling development. >> i am very worried. i'm very worried that our president is suggesting that the former president has done something illegal. >> reporter: the president's twitter raids this weekend did serve to keep the focus on russia, and contacts between the russian ambassador, sergey
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kislyak and five top trump advisors, that includes two meetings with attorney general jeff sessions. revealed this week. leading him to recuse himself from any investigations into the trump campaign. >> i feel like i should not be involved in investigating a campaign i had no role in. >> reporter: last april, when trump gave his first major foreign policy address -- >> it's time to shake the rust of america's foreign policy. >> reporter: video of the event uncovered by abc news reveals the russian ambassador arriving right before trump, being shown to a front row seat. until this week, the president denied when asked by cecilia vega that anyone from his campaign had met with the russians. >> did you or anyone your campaign have any contact with russia leading up to or during the campaign? nothing at all? >> reporter: none, at all, he said. now, that answer no longer stands. >> we need to know, is anyone compromised? is there a risk to the country because someone is compromised? >> reporter: we do know the fbi
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is investigating if there was possible collusion between russian spies and the trump campaign. if there was a wiretap, actual evidence would have to be provided to obtain approval from a special panel of federal judges, not the white house. in fact, anyone other than the president would break the law to reveal such a wiretap. no u.s. official contacted by abc news would confirm trump's allegation that trump bugged by the fbi. martha? >> thank you, brian. jonathan karl joins me now. and jonathan, what are you hearing from your sources at the white house? we'll be talking to the white house directly in just a few moments. what are you hearing why donald trump did that? >> these allegations made over twitter caught the west wing by surprise. they had no idea this was coming. had no idea what the president was talking about. after the tweets went out, you had something of a mad scramble, martha, in the west wing, trying
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to figure out what was he talking about? is there evidence, a search to find out if the allegations, the explosive allegations the president just made were, in fact, true. as of now, i see no indication they found any evidence that trump tower's phones were tapped, let alone the idea that president obama would have ordered such a thing. >> as we just heard brian ross say, was it from this breitbart report? >> uh, there's no indication it's anything beyond the speculation that was in conservative media, including that breitbart report. there was an interview that aired on fox nows, the day before, an interview with paul ryan. he was specifically asked about this. paul ryan said he just didn't know. there's also speculation that he saw that interview, as well. >> president trump is down in florida this weekend. at mar-a-lago. you have reported there was a very tense meeting on friday. >> this was quite a scene, martha. in the oval office, the
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president summons his senior staff. including reince priebus, chief of staff, steven bannon, don mcgann. jared kushner. i'm told he went ballistic. that's the way it was described to me. infuriated specifically at the fact that the attorney general, jeff sessions, recused himself from this investigation. trump, the president, saw this as emboldening his democratic critics. he said, we never should have given ground. there's no reason for him to recuse. nobody's done anything wrong. he left that meeting, went to florida, didn't take his senior staff with him. i'm told by two sources that reince priebus and steven bannon both said we'll stay behind and work on this. >> and then came the tweets. at 6:30 the next morning. >> then came those. >> thanks so much, jon. as jon just mentioned, the white house has not appeared before cameras to explain what the president meant, until now. let's bring in live white house
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spokesperson sarah huckabee sanders. thank you for joining us. >> good morning. >> these are extremely serious charges the president is making. where is he getting this information? >> look, i think there have been quite a few reports. i know that jonathan and others earlier in the program mentioned that that it was all conservative media. that's not true. "the new york times" and bbc talked about the potential of this having happened. the bigger thing is, let's find out. if they're going to investigation russia ties, let's include this as part of it. that's what we're asking. >> was the principal source the breitbart story, which links to "the new york times." but "the new york times" doesn't say anything definitive. donald trump does. there's nothing equivocating about what he says. i just found out that obama had my wires tapped. that's not looking into something.
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he says it happened. >> look, i think the bigger thing is you guys are always telling us to take the media seriously. well, we are today. we're taking the reports that places like "the new york times," fox news, bbc, multiple outlets have reported this. all we're saying is, let's take a closer look. let's look into this. if it happened, if this is accurate. this is the biggest overreach. the biggest scandal. >> you're not saying let's look into this. the president of the united states is accusing the former president of wiretapping him. >> i think that this is again, something that if this happened, martha. >> if, if, if, if. >> i agree. >> why is the president saying it did happen? >> look, i think he's going off of information that he has seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential. if it is, this is the greatest overreach in the greatest abuse of power that i think we have ever seen and a huge attack on democracy itself. and the american people have a right to know if this took place. >> okay.
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the president tissue -- let me say again, the president said this did take place. why does he believe these articles that you say you cite and i'm saying, they are not definitive. the breitbart brings them all together. and heat street. they have two sources with links to the counterintelligence community. that's it. anonymous sources. the president constantly says he doesn't like anonymous sources. and he doesn't like leakers. >> i love how anonymous sources don't count when it's something that's positive in this administration and against the former one. you guys use anonymous sources every single day. >> is that the bar? but it is the president -- yes, yes, we do. yes, we do. but the president believe this is -- but what's the bar there? what does the president believe? >> look, i think he's made very clear what he believes. he's asking that we get down to the bottom of this. let's get the truth here. let's find out. i think the bigger story is not who reported it but is it true? i think the american people have
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a right to know if this happened. because if it did, again this is the largest abuse of power that i think we've ever seen. >> okay. let me just say one more time. the president said, i bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that president obama was tapping my phones in october. so the president believes it is true? >> i would say that his tweet speaks for itself there. ? "the washington post" says this morning that senior u.s. officials with knowledge of wide-ranging federal investigation into russian interference into the election said there had been no wiretap. >> they've also said there's no evidence of any wrongdoing by the trump administration, or the trump campaign in coordination. but that doesn't seem to matter to the media. that point gets continued to be ignored over and over again. we have been on this for six months. you guys continue to ignore that and continue to bring up the investigation. all we're asking is that we have the same level of look into the potential that the obama
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administration wiretapped trump tower. >> the obama -- president obama, through a spokesman, denied any direct involvement. does president trump not believe him? >> i think they don't have the best track record. they say they had a cardinal rule. well, frankly, that's just not true. the president himself got directly involved in the e-mail scandal with hillary clinton. >> you don't believe him when he says that doesn't happen? >> the attorney general met privately and secretly with bill clinton during the middle of the investigation. so to pretend like this is a very clean and credible source, i'm just not buying it. >> do you believe there was a fisa order? even if president obama didn't order it? >> i think there certainly could have been. it sounds like there's something we should look into and verify. >> is the trump administration -- >> that's above my pay grade. i think that that's something that white house counsel would have to answer.
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we owe to it the american people to look into it. >> if there was an order, there would have to be probable cause shown before it was granted. evidence of wrongdoing. so suspect the president, by saying, this, indeed, happened, confirming that the investigation had enough evidence to get a fisa order? >> i'm not sure if they can create wrongdoing. they've been trying to make the case for it. the fbi says this is b.s. the house intelligence chair says there's no evidence of it. but i don't know that that -- would indicate that intelligence services wouldn't have attempted to see if there was something at that point in october. >> and a fisa court-ordered wiretap is highly classified information. why is it acceptable for the president to tweet something like that out? >> i don't think he's tweeting out classified information. he's talking about, could this have happened? did this happen? >> once again, he said it did happen. >> everybody acts like president trump is the one that came up with the idea and threw it out there.
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there are multiple news outlets that have reported this. all we're asking is that we get the same level of look into the obama administration and the potential that they had for a complete abuse of power that they've been claiming that we have done over the last six months. and time and time again, it's been said, there's no evidence there was wrongdoing. the fbi says this is b.s. yet you guys continue to hammer and hammer some false idea and false narrative that there's something there when frankly, there just isn't. >> i want to say donald trump started this on saturday morning. talking about this. >> i hardly say he started this when there were multiple news reports. >> many months ago, president trump has consistently complained about leakers. if these stories are true, if heat street has two sources, they say are linked to counterintelligence, are you going to go after those leakers? >> look, we take every leak seriously in the white house. whether it is something that helps us or not.
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we cannot have people leaking classified information at any level. and we certainly take that very seriously and would not ignore that. >> have you ever heard these allegations from the president before? >> i have not had a conversation with him about these personally before. >> had anyone? had he consulted anyone before he tweeted that he was going to put these explosive allegations out? >> i can't speak 100% whether he did or not. i'm not sure. >> couldn't the president declassify these things if he wanted to? >> you know, i don't think that's necessary. i think what is necessary is congress doing its job. let them investigate this. let them do exactly what they've done on our end and see whether there's something there. i think there is a lot of reporting that indicates there certainly is. >> do you think there should be a special prosecutor to look at this? >> i don't think we're there yet. i think we need to let congress do their job. i think that's where we need to start. again, i think that's the first place to go.
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and we see what happens from there. >> can you tell us anything about the meeting that president trump had last night with attorney general jeff sessions? did they meet? >> i believe they had dinner, yes. they did. >> and the subject? >> look, he's the attorney general of the united states. um -- >> who recused himself this week. >> he's one of the cabinet members for the president. we have a lot of activity ongoing. potential for an e.o. coming out at some point that would certainly involve the attorney general. i would imagine that came up during dinner. >> does the president still believe attorney general jeff sessions should not have recused himself? >> the president believes jeff sessions is a good man and that he didn't do anything wrong. so i certainly feel that he didn't feel it was necessary. but he also is very supportive of the attorney general. >> and did the white house ask attorney general sessions specifically not to recuse himself? >> look, the white house was not involved in the details of, you
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know, what that decision process looked like. i know the attorney general met with the ethics counsel at the department of justice. he made that decision not by direction of the white house. >> i just want to go back again, to the president's tweet. one more time. and sean spicer tweeting today. reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigation immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling. sounds like the white house is doubling down on what president trump says happened. >> as we should, martha. if this happened, once again, this would be the greatest abuse of power and overreach that has probably ever occurred in the executive branch. >> what about the accusation? you keep saying, if, if, if. the president of the united states said it was a fact. he didn't say, i read a story in breitbart or "the new york times" or wherever else. he said, just found out that
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obama had my wires tapped in trump tower. that's not an if. >> look, i -- i will let the president speak for himself. but in terms of where we are in the white house, our ask -- >> you're his spokesperson. >> and i'm speaking about it right now. >> but you're backing off of it. you're backing off of it. >> how am i backing off of it? while i'm saying that i think this happened -- >> because you're saying if. >> i think the american people have the right to know. i think we should get definitive answers. i think we need to put out hard facts that show that this happened. >> that's what president trump was clearly doing in those tweets. thank you very much for joining us this morning, sarah. appreciate it. >> you bet. now to president obama's former press secretary josh earnest. who, right up till the end, argued that the russians meddled with the u.s. election for one reason. >> you didn't need a security clearance to figure out who benefited from malicious russian cyberactivity.
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the president-elect didn't call it into question. he called on russia to hack secretary clinton. so he certainly had a pretty good sense of whose side this activity was coming down on. >> and josh earnest joins us now. thanks for joining us. i want your reaction to what sarah sanders just said. >> good morning, martha. i appreciate the opportunity to be on the show today. let me remove the mystery here and explain to you and your viewers why it is false to say president obama ordered a wiretap of trump tower. this may come as a surprise to the current occupant of the oval office, but the president of the united states does not have the authority to unilaterally order the wiretapping of an american citizen. if the fbi decided to use their wiretapping authority, it would require fbi investigators, officials at the department of justice, going to a federal judge, making a case, demonstrating probable cause, to
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use the authority to conduct the investigation. that's a fact. here's the other thing we know. and let's just remove the mystery from all this. we know exactly why president trump tweeted what he tweeted. because there is one page in the trump white house crisis management playbook. and that is simply to tweet or say something outrageous to distract from a scandal. the bigger the scandal, the more outrageous the tweet. >> we know about the denial from president obama. and the law as well. president obama's former speech swrn writer, jon favreau, your former colleague, said -- i would be careful about reporting that obama said there was no wiretapping. statement just said that neither he nor the white house ordered it. can you categorically deny that the obama white house didn't seek a fisa order? >> i can categorically deny that the white house was involved in directing or interfering or
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influencing an fbi investigation -- >> that's not what i'm asking. can you deny that the obama white house did not seek and obtain a fisa court-ordered wiretap of the trump campaign? >> the simple answer is, i don't know. it's not because i'm no longer in government. the fact is, even when i was in government, i was not in a position of being regularly briefed on an fbi criminal or counterintelligence investigation. no one at the white house, including the president of the united states, should be in a position in which they're trying to influence or dictate how that investigation is being conducted. >> do you know whether the president was given information about surveillance at trump tower? >> what i can tell you. first of all, i'm not aware of all of the details of how the president was briefed by the fbi. what i can tell you is that the president was not giving marching orders to the fbi. about how to conduct their investigations. he was not asking for regular updates on fbi investigations. and let me just stipulate one more time. you have to ask the fbi whether there actually is an investigation into mr. trump, his associates, his campaign.
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that's for them to talk about. not something that was talked about or directed or managed by the white house, because this is a cardinal rule. these are rules that have been in place since watergate. and for a good reason. >> let me ask you something about the obama administration. in "the new york times" this week. saying the obama administration rushed to preserve intelligence that russia hacked the election and that mr. trump's statement doubting the intelligence and saying that the russian story was hyped, quote, stoked fears among some that intelligence could be covered up or destroyed once power changed hands. was there a scramble to spread information about the russian efforts in the final days of the administration? >> in the final days of the administration, martha, what you'll recall, the president ordered a top to bottom review of the russians' involvement in the 2016 election. they determined russia did interfere in our election and they did so with the goal of
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trying to benefit president trump. >> was "the new york times" right that there was a scramble to spread information about the russian efforts in the final days of the administration? >> the white house ordered the intelligence community to conduct this review. they released the results of the review on the president's order. an unclassified version. the president said it's important for the intelligence community to be honest and to brief senior officials in the u.s. government. so, yes, they did give briefings to senior officials, democrats and republicans in the house of representatives. in the united states senate. and to the president-elect in his office. it was important for people to understand exactly what russia did to interfere in this election. it was important for the president-elect's team to know what they'll confront. >> are you concerned they were trying to quash the investigation or destroy evidence? >> i can't speak to whether or not there is an investigation. but what i can tell you is, it's clear that president trump is working hard to try to distract the american public and the news media from the growing
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scandal about why his administration, and why he, himself, has, at best, not been forthcoming about their talks and their ties with russia. whether it's paul manafort, carter page, roger stone, mike flynn, jeff sessions. j.d. gordon. it's like a russian novel to try to keep up with all these accusations. >> seb gorka is accusing president obama of being behind recent leaks from the intelligence community. can you say that no obama staffers have been involved in leaks? >> martha, what i can tell you is that the men and women of our intelligence community are patriots. they are professionals that have served presidents in both administrations. they took an oath to protect the country and set aside their own political views. and that's what the men and women of our intelligence community do. they should be lauded for that. they put their lives on the line to keep us safe. they deserve the support of the administration. of the white house. they don't deserve to be
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attacked or accused of a political motive. >> thanks for joining us. >> thanks for the opportunity, martha. we want to put this together now with michael mukasey. he was former attorney general under george w. bush and knows the federal wiretap laws and the fisa courts inside and out from his time fighting terrorist threats. now we have the president himself saying he was the target of surveillance. ordered up by his predecessor. thank you for joining us, mr. mukasey. good to see you. your reaction to the tweets and the explanation from the white house? >> i don't do tweets. >> you heard about them. >> yeah, i hear about them. but i don't do tweets. for a good reason. it's not the ideal medium to get an idea across. this is the difference between being correct and right. the president was not correct in saying president obama ordered a tap on a server in trump tower. however, i think he's right in that there was surveillance. and that it was conducted at the
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behest of the attorney -- of the justice department through the fisa. >> what do you base that on? >> i base that on news reports that you mentioned in the last -- in the last -- and i also base it on kind of inadvertent blurting out by adam schiff that his committee wants to talk to the counterintelligence agency at the fbi involved in this. that means this is part not of a criminal investigation, but of an intelligence-gathering investigation. the fbi has two functions. the fbi investigates crimes and they gather intelligence. they started gathering intelligence in '08 based on guidelines we put in place. they tried to get, apparently tried to get a wiretap based on their criminal investigation function in june. it was turned down. they tried to get, and got, an order permitting them to conduct electronic surveillance. in october. october 2016. so that's when, apparently, that's when -- >> you're basing this on news reports, as well. >> and on, and on, adam schiff.
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>> if a wiretap did exist, it would have to have been approved by a fisa court based on real evidence. so if there was a wiretap, does that mean there were suspicious things going on between the trump administration and the russians? >> it means there was some basis to believe that somebody in trump tower may have been acting as an agent of the russians, for whatever purpose. not necessarily the election. for some purpose. the fbi keeps track of people who act as agents of foreign governments. thy keep track of people that act adds agents of the chinese, the russians, the israelis, everybody. >> some of the evidence may have been gleaned from classified means. is there any way to verify the claims in the press or trump's claims so the american people can really understand what's going on here? >> um, the only way to verify, um, whether there was a -- electronic surveillance is to disclose the warrant and the fruits of it. that should not be done even in
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a political storm as hot as this one. >> given all these accusations, and you're aware of the tweets president trump put out. they were pretty definitive, shouldn't they want a special inquiry, a special prosecutor, an independent prosecutor to look into this? >> there's nothing to prosecute. the only crime i have seen was committed by the russians when they hacked the dnc, john podesta, and they tried to hack the republican national committee. that's the only crime i'm aware of. now the question, of course, is, why was it committed? some people say to promote the election of donald trump. i happen to think that is ridiculous. because at the time that it happened, donald trump looked like a sure loser. you would have to believe that vladimir putin was an idiot to try to back a sure loser. i think much more likely he was trying to intimidate a sure winner, secretary clinton. >> thank you very much.
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that helped us understand everything. great to see you. just ahead, the senator who started the chain reaction. senator al franken is our exclusive guest next. how hard will democrats push for a special prosecutor? for resignations? coming right up. prosecutor? resignations? coming right up. hey ron! they're finally taking down that schwab billboard. oh, not so fast, carl. ♪ oh no. schwab, again? index investing for that low? that's three times less than fidelity... ...and four times less than vanguard. what's next, no minimums? ...no minimums. schwab has lowered the cost of investing again. introducing the lowest cost index funds in the industry with no minimums. i bet they're calling about the schwab news. schwab.
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my doctor told me that movantik is specifically designed for oic and can help you go more often. don't take movantik if you have a bowel blockage or a history of them. movantik may cause serious side effects, including symptoms of opioid withdrawal, severe stomach pain and/or diarrhea, and tears in the stomach or intestine. tell your doctor about any side effects and about medicines you take. movantik may interact with them causing side effects. why hold it in? have your movantik moment. talk to your doctor about opioid-induced constipation. if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator franken, i'm not aware of, uh, any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign. and i didn't have communications
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with the russians. um, and i'm unable to comment on it. >> that's attorney general jeff sessions. telling senator al franken that he had no communication with the russians. turns out, that wasn't true. so does senator franken buy the attorney general's explanation? is recusal enough? senator franken here live in just two minutes. this car is traveling over 200 miles per hour. to win, every millisecond matters. both on the track and thousands of miles away. with the help of at&t, red bull racing can share critical information about every inch of the car from virtually anywhere. brakes are getting warm. confirmed, daniel you need to cool your brakes. understood, brake bias back 2 clicks. giving them the agility to have speed & precision. because no one knows & like at&t.
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get move free ultra, and enjoy living well. ♪ and i'm joined now by senator al franken, democrat from minnesota.
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and member of the senate judiciary committee. and a key player in the wild series of events this week. senator franken, you sit as we said, on the senate judiciary committee. do president trump's claims, to you, have any basis in fact? >> not, no, not that i can see. i mean, as you said in your opening interview, he said this is a -- he's playing this as fact. i think this is just a distraction. to distract from this very, very serious interference by a foreign power on our democracy. and the question of whether trump world, his campaign, his business associates, had anything to do with it. and colluding with them. i think he's just distracting, as he tends to like to do. and, what you're referring to, the reason i'm here is that --
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when i asked then senator trump, now -- i mean, sessions, now attorney general, about revelations that members of the campaign had met with the russians, what he would do as attorney general with that. instead of answering my question, he just said flatly he had not been in contact with the russians. that turned out not to be true. and this is -- now, a -- >> how would you characterize that? you had a couple of days to think about it. you said at best it was misleading. was it a lie? >> you know, i would like to -- i -- i called for him to recuse himself before this incident. i hadn't called for him to resign. but, he needs to answer some questions. for example, he said at his press conference, that if he had just thought about it for a moment, if he had taken his
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time, he would have said that he had met twice with the russian ambassador. he had seven weeks to say that. he was testifying under oath. to the american people. and, he said something that just wasn't true. but he had seven weeks -- >> after that confirmation. but i want to go back to it. words matter. did he lie? >> um, well, lie is knowingly telling an untruth. i would -- like to give him some benefit of the doubt. he needs to come back before the committee and explain it. it doesn't make any sense. >> you said mike flynn lied. you said mike flynn lied or forgot. what's the difference? >> he lied to the vice president. i mean, he did. he -- that's why he had to resign, okay? >> understood. but, in that confirmation hearing, jeff sessions did -- >> at the very, very least, it was very, very, very misleading.
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um, i -- it's very serious. if he lied knowingly, then he committed perjury. which -- so i don't want to go there and definitively say that we should be prosecuting the attorney general. but i think the attorney general owes it to the judiciary committee to come back and explain himself. and if he doesn't, and if he -- i wrote him a letter on thursday asking for a reply by the end of business day on friday. he has not responded to that. he -- >> i think he said maybe next week, right? >> i didn't hear that. but -- look. he -- he -- in his press conference, he quoted his conversation with the ambassador. so it wasn't like -- >> do you think there is anything wrong meeting with the ambassador? >> there could be. could be. but why offer that you didn't meet with him unless there is something wrong? look.
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this is about did people in the trump campaign or his business associates, the whole world surrounding trump, did they collude with the russians to attack our democracy? that is an enormous, an enormous issue. that's something we need to get to the bottom of. we need a special prosecutor. >> you absolutely agree they need an independent special prosecutor? you heard michael mukasey say there nothing to prosecute. >> well, you need an independent investigation. you have a prosecutor do that investigation. that's what an independent prosecutor does. leads the investigation. because, right now, we have a large number of people in the trump campaign, his business associates, who were dealing with the russians at the same time they're hacking and then releasing information. not only that, they had hundreds
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of trolls putting out misinformation. fake news. messing with google's algorithms so that if you googled anything about russia, it came -- what you saw was stuff from russia today and from sputnik. this was an attack on the united states. and the question is, and it's beginning to look more and more like we -- we certainly have to investigate this. that the trump campaign was in league with them. and what the -- what do the russians have on donald trump? why won't he release his taxes? >> i want to just very quickly here. james clapper. the former director of national intelligence just said on "meet the press," there was not a wiretap of trump tower. and he would know that. just your reaction to that and having the president tweet the way he did. >> my reaction to that is, of course there wasn't.
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the president asserting like, in your first interview, he said this was a fact. the -- anyone who knows. i'm on the judiciary committee. we do look at this intelligence stuff. you have to get a fisa order in order to get something like that. >> and you would know? >> would i know? uh -- probably i wouldn't know for sure whether they got a thing on a server. or applied for something on a server. but the president of the united states did not tap donald trump's phone. i mean, that's just ridiculousness. a distraction. here's what i want to get to. his own son, donald trump's son, has said in 2008, that russia did, an inordinate amount of business with them. and we don't know what they have over him. we don't know what the russians have on donald trump.
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and we need -- >> if anything. >> and we need to see, if anything -- we need to see his tax returns. he said that he couldn't release his tax returns because he was under audit. first of all, you can release tax returns if you're under audit. but he won't even release a letter from the irs saying you're under audit. it's easy to do. >> they've said the tax returns are not going to be forthcoming. we have to leave it there. i thank you very much for joining us, senator franken, this morning. >> thank you. let's take a quick break. when we come back, our powerhouse "roundtable." is trump's 100-day agenda off the rails? we'll be right back. 100-day agenda off the rails? we'll be right back. today, unlimited gets the network it deserves. verizon. (mic thuds) uh, sorry.
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rise above joint discomfort with move free ultra's triple action joint support for improved mobility and flexibility, and 20% better comfort from one tiny, mighty pill... get move free ultra, and enjoy living well. ♪ and we're back now with "the roundtable." abc news political analyst matthew dowd. white house reporter for bloomberg politics, jennifer jacobs. and chief correspondent for "the washington post" dan balz. welcome to all of you. i gotta start with matt dowd
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here. because tuesday night, when we were covering the president's address to the joint session of congress. we were talking about that this sunday. you said, oh, no. something huge is going to happen. something will happen. what did you know? come on, matt. >> the great carnac says -- >> even you couldn't have predicted his tweets. >> i needed to do a number of those to make up for my election night predictions. i'm glad i got one thing right. in this administration, every day is an unfolding on this. i think there was a misreading by many of the president that night that somehow he had totally changed. two things i can guarantee to the viewers. one, donald trump is never going to change. donald trump is a 70-year-old man who is successful in behaving the way he was throughout his life. he will not change. two is donald trump doesn't tweet for strategic reasons. everybody thinks, oh, this is what he's doing. if he was tweeting for strategic reasons, what he just did is made the issue even bigger, the russia issue. the russian connection. moscow on the potomac.
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all of that. and i can't decide whether donald trump is captain queeg or captain bly in the manner in what his operates. one was "mutiny on the bounty." other was "caine mutiny." both didn't end well for either one of those captains in this. he's one of those two. donald trump is never going to change. >> dan, you heard the white house explanation. they're kind of doubling down on this and saying, let's look into it, not it happened. >> it's a very odd formulation, which is an assertion by the president of the united states that something did happen. and a request by the administration to congress to see whether something did happen. and those two don't fit together. so, clearly, they don't have the evidence that donald trump claims is there. secondly, it's my understanding that the president of the united states could find this out himself. he has the authority to find out through the intelligence agencies what did or didn't happen. they don't have to ask the
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congress abit in order to get the information. so, clearly, i mean, i disagree slightly with matthew on this. it may not have been for strategic reasons. but i think that when he tweets something like that, it is to try, in some way or another, to get back on offense, not to be on defense, which they have been. >> and jennifer, you -- if you didn't hear, james clapper said this morning on nbc that there was no wiretap. so how does the white house deal with that one? >> this was a strange dance for sarah huckabee sanders to have to not criticize her boss and yet defend this. we're in unfamiliar territory. probably the most memorable quote from this particular situation is that one from senator ben sasse. he said, this trafficking in unsubstantiated rumors represents a civilization warping crisis of public trust. and, but, you know, the voters out there who support trump might just continue to see this as one big thriller. this could be a, you know, that
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tv show "homeland" could base a whole season on this. >> and probably will. to the point about messaging, again, matthew. sessions recuses himself. trump said he didn't need to. sessions was listening to his lawyers. what about accusations of perjury that you may see there? back to the russians. >> i think, well, first, the lawyers can talk about this. first, the idea of perjury is a difficult thing to prove, because you have to prove he had the intent of doing that. so i think that's difficult. i think this is just another example of donald trump's behavior, which is basically to make the -- assert these allegations. he did it with voters. he said 3 million illegals voted in the election. that's why hillary clinton won. and you talked to his people, they were like, basically, i don't know what he's talking about, we ought to look into it. same thing here. i think what this is
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fundamentally going to do is it reminds me of watergate. if you remember what happened. >> a pretty strong term to put out there. >> the break-in happened in june 1972. "the washington post" found a couple of bits of information. it took more than two years for that to finally come to fruition and for the president of the united states to resign. i don't know if the president of the united states will have to ultimately resign, whether or not there will be impeachment. this is the kind of story that will preoccupy the white house for a long period of time and put their agenda on hold at best. >> this is called a d.c. obsession. that's what it's become. >> dan, you called it a slow burn. your colleague, chris cillizza, at "the washington post" said where there's smoke and smoke and smoke and smoke and smoke, most reasonable people will assume there is fire. >> well, we know there's fire in one element that is a very big issue. the russian effort to disrupt the election. there will be an investigation.
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of that at a minimum. a second aspect is murkier. what communication, collusion, collaboration, whatever, between trump campaign officials, or hangers on, or associates, and the russians xaised. existed. we're getting pieces at this point. it doesn't add up to anything specific yet. as matthew said, we're at the front end of this. if these investigations, even if they come to nothing significant that affects the trump administration, will take months and months and months. that is something that the administration needs to deal with in a much more proactive way than they've been willing to. >> and jennifer, what do they do? or is it fair at this point, i mean, we all talk about this. you have written about this. you have as well, matthew. every interaction with an ambassador, which is normal behavior in many, many cases, does that build on itself too much? what do they do to stop that? >> listen, you know, i think what they'll start doing right now, talking to some of the aides, they're going to shift
quote
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the focus on governing. on monday, they'll start talking about the executive order on refugees. they'll start pushing the infrastructure plan again. i think they're really going to try to change the conversation. president trump is serious about the infrastructure plan. he's been pulling cabinet members together to planning sessions on this. they're going to try to really fight hard on obamacare. it sounds like they realize if they're going to pull the trigger, they have to do it soon. if the conservatives in the house are going to do it soon, it has to be trump that rolls it. they're not going to necessarily go in with a moderate bill. it's all about governing and shifting the focus. >> i'm going to give you ten seconds for your prediction on what we're covering next week. >> this. >> russia? >> he's not going to be able to shift the focus. this will occupy washington and much of the country for the next 12 months. >> thank you, matthew. thanks, dan. thanks, jen. we'll be right back. we'll be right back.
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and now, we honor our fellow americans who serve and sacrifice. in the month of february, one service member died overseas in iraq in a noncombat related death. right back after this from our abc stations.
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that's all for us today. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news tonight." and have a great day.
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