tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN May 9, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PDT
show me top artist. show me the top hot 100 artist. they give awards for being hot and 100 years old? we'll take 2! [ laughing ] xfinity x1 gives you exclusive access to the best of the billboard music awards just by using your voice. the billboard music awards. sunday, may 21st eight seven central only on abc. the former acting attorney general warning the white house that a top aide to president trump was at risk of blackmail. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. sally yates telling congress that alerted the white house that flynn, former advisor to the president could be plaque
mailed. the bhous on the the defensive now insisting the president's son-in-law is not involved. and barack obama fighting to save obamacare. we're going to hear what he is saying about his signature legislative achievement. but i want to begin with the testimony of salally yates where and bring in cnn justice correspondent pamela brown. thank you for joining us. we heard the testimony by sally yates and what she told the white house council about general flynn. so take us through the highlights. >> yeah, that's right. she revealed for the first time, don, that she discussed michael flynn with white house council don megan on three separate akags starting two days after the fbi interviewed flynn when he was still the national security advise. she said he initially wanted to visit the white house to share
information that flynn would be potentially blackmailed by the russia. the reason being flynn had spoken to russia about sanctions but denied meetings about it. she said the second time they met was the next day when megan had several questions including whether flynn could be criminally prosecuted. and there was third conversation about allowing white house officials to see the underlying of flynn's behavior. now, her account, the chain of events undermined sean spicer's claim that she merely gave a vague heads up about the situation. don. >> so, listen -- oh, i'm sorry. >> it's critical we get this information to the white house. in part because the vice president was unknowingly making false statements to the public. and because we believe general flynn was compromised with respect to the russians. >> so pamela, the key question about collusion came up. what did we learn today about that?
>> so when it came to collusion sally yates said she couldn't comment on that. of course, there's an ongoing fbi skregz into that matter. so she said she couldn't comment. but james clapper, on theord hand, says he stands behind his earlier comment saying he didn't see anyclusion between the trump campaign and russians. he said he also was aware of the fbi investigation into this matter. there was one conversation he had with senator graham. don. >> pamela, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> joining me now is senator amy cove shar. thank you so much for joining us. >> well, thanks, don. it's great to be on. >> sally yates made pretty clear
she gave a forceful warning about former general flynn. >> i think first of all it's very important to dismiss this idea it was just a little heads up like at a cocktail party or a hey at an inaugural parade. this is where she had two former meetings with other staff there and went through her reasoning he had been compmized and disclosed to them in detail the discussions he had had with the russian ambassador. and theb it was obvious, i would say, he'd been lying at the time based on what he said to the vice president and others. and two days later they have him there with the president of the united states and vladimir putin for an hour and allowing to stay for 18 days. >> so having said what you just said, sally yates had two
meetings and a phone call with white house council, don megan. still it took 18 days for them to fire him. why do you think it took so long? >> i don't know. it may have been the loyalty, they dismissed this, the organization. whatever it was, it was not right. because you have a situation, and i was the one who asked both director clapper and former attorney general yates. i said when you have someone lying on tape, you have them saying one thing on tape and lying to vice president, isn't that the kind of material that could be blackmail? and they both said definitively yes. and in fact these are the kinds of things russia has used on people in the past. here you have him on tape saying one thing and then lying to the media and lying to the vice president of the united states. it could be used for blackmail, and that is why they took it so seriously. and i have no idea why the white house didn't do the same. >> let me ask you before about
the president because before the hearing the president tweeted this. republican senator grassley did ask that. and let's listen in and we'll talk. >> as far as you know, has any client supplied information relating to mr. trump or his associates in declassified and shared with the media? >> not to my knowledge. >> misyates. >> not to my knowledge either. >> next question. have either of you ever been an anonymous source in a news report about matters relating to mr. trump's associates or russia's attempt to medal in the election? >> no. >> absolutely not. >> susan emphatic about that. some people have called the president's tweets witness tampering. do you see that way?
>> it was asked nafgt by the chairman on the udishiary committee and both witnesses answered. that also included another tweet where he basically blamed president obama for all of this. because flynn had once worked for president obama. he seemed to forget that president obama had actually fired general flynn. and from the news reports we see today, had also warned president trump about not hiring general flynn. so it's just one thing after another where they receive these warnings and then just decided nope, we're going to keep him in because he was loyal to the president. and i think when you're dealing with such an important job like this and you're dealing with russia where director clapper made clear they were going to do this again, they were successful, and they were emboldened, you don't put that person in as your national security advisor. >> it has been said that maybe
the president had some sort of animosity towards flynn and that's how the white house -- that's what sean spicer said. the former president clearly had some animosity towards michael flynn and that's how president trump took it when they met in the oval office and president obama warned him about not making flynn his national security advisor. >> there were multiple warnings, and at some point you can't make excuses except to say this was the wrong choice. he shouldn't have been in this job. and one of the reasons i would like to see an independent out of congress is so that we could have a group of experts look at what happened here, but mostly look at it going forward. because this wasn't just one incident with one pritical party or candidate. as director clapper made clear today is they're going to do again. >> i have a short time left. and just want to ask you what
did we learn? dow you learn anything new today? >> well, i didn't know the details of sally yates' meeting over at the white house. i thought that was pretty incredible. i wasn't aware of how ferocious clapper was and the major warning he gave us and the fact we have to educate our citizens and take this onto protect our democracy. and then finally, i thought that all of us ask questions about what really matters here. and that is that there was russian interference in the election. let's stop pretending there isn't and figure how to fix this going forward. and i don't think sally yates could have done a better job including how she went one-on-one with ted cruz. >> senator, thank you so much. >> thank you. let's bring in now ambassador r.j. woolsy. thank you, ambassador for coming on. sally yates testify today.
and not only did the justice department have evidence that flynn lied to the vice president but that the russians did, too, and could blackmail him. as a form head of the cia, is it a dream come true to have a former national security advisor in that position? >> well, if all these statements are accurate, yes, it would be an advantage to the russians. but if you don't mind my saying so, i think we're looking at the wrong election. because if you want to make sure we don't have a russian take over of american votejerk we want to make sure we protect our electoral system, we've got to do something to these voting machines we have now, 25% of which have no paper. there are only electronic. which means once they're hacked, you can't do an effective recount. it is of utah most urgency to get voting machines for our next election fixed. we can go back any time we want and look what happened in this
past election. form election council offices, it doesn't matter. we might learn something, and that'd be good. but the main thing to do is protect the system from russian hacking and every else's hacking in the next election. the russians are never not interfering with all sorts of other countries. >> ambassador, your point is well-taken. and i think people would at least have a system where you have a set of balances with the sls. there was a hearing today. james clapper spoke and sally yates spoke. and specifically talking about the vetting of michael flynn and the warning, why did know that at least raise a red flag in this white house about vetting him, about sally yates, about the current president who was barack obama then? why didn't that at least raise a red flag? >> i don't know. but it may have been that the
president trump didn't believe what president obama said. it may have been that what president obama said wasn't accurate. i don't know. >> wasn't he get -- wouldn't he be privy to classified information from president obama and from sally yates and from the justice department? >> he being flynn? >> no, he being president-elect trump. he was getting classified briefings at the time. wouldn't they have shown in this information? >> i don't know, it depends on whether it's information or not, whether it's accurate. i don't think on the outside here we have any way of knowing those things are true. >> well, my question is and i asked someone earlier, i think it was jack kingston. this isn't just a president whippering in someone's ear i'm telling you a rumor or this is possibly happening. it seems they were emphatic about this was happening, you
should not appoint this person. and then sally yates went over to white house to tell them because there were issues with it. this isn't just someone whissering in someone's ear and maybe you like the guy or don't. this is they had intelligence. >> whisper or not it depends really on what that intelligence was and whether it was pressing and right to accept what president trump was being told. he may have thought it was not valid. i don't know. i don't know what it was. >> yeah. and the question i had as i was listening to this all day, how would it behoove sally yates or a president of the united states, barack obama, to give information because they didn't like or to give false information about michael flynn? it makes absolutely no sense to me that -- that they would even
do that. how does it benefit either of them to have some sort of vendetta against michael flynn. he's not even that big a figure. why would they care? >> i don't know it does. but intelligence is full all the time of misunderstandings, misstatements, misidentifications, confusion, and messes. and it is really extremely difficult, i think, under the circumstances like we're facing now to deposit who is exactly is saying the truth. we're workingen the wrong election, the one that fixes the next one. >> it's important also to go back. we can learn as you said earlier, we should learn from that. a number of centers tried to undermine yates' testimony, questions her motivation and
saying she's a partisan person. and one person even called her a partisan hack today, a commentator here. what's your impression? >> i've never met her. i've never talked to her. i would say from the brief exposure to the television presentation, she seemed to be a truthful, straightforward individual. but i don't know. and you and i might be deceived again. >> thank you, ambassador. i appreciate it. when we come back more on yates' testimony about general flynn. plus why she says the president's first travel ban is still unlawful. what do you got? restrained driver in a motor vehicle.
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job. i want to bring in now my panel. jeffrey, let's talk about this. first, i want to ask you about president trump's tweet this morning. he said ask sally yates under oath if she knows how classified information got into the newspaper soon after she explained to the white house conscouncil. she answered with a similar statement saying she knew nothing about that. what's your reaction to that. >> this is clearly an attempt to intimidate her. it's on implicit threat to prosecute her for lying. and he's the president of the united states. he runs the justice department. you know, in an ordinary presidency or frankly in every other presidency the president would never threaten someone on the eve of their testimony in this way. but now, you know, we've become
innerved to it. >> but is this about leaks or not about the warning he got from sally yates? >> yes, and that's what they did all day today instead of talking about substance of the hearing like what was michael flynn's relationship with the russiana and what did the administration know about that, they were obsessed with the issue of leaks, which was a way of diverting attention. >> you'll you, it does get frustrating because the answers you get from folks, you see it in the hearing and play out as well on these panels and television, it's not necessarily the truth. it's really about partisanship. and republicans are trying to change the focus of the hearing. when does it just become about what is the truth in all of this and not about partisan bickering and trying to, you know, lie to
the american public the. >> well, there'll be a moment, and i'm pretty confident of that. and there's going to be a moment in which its decided what this investigation is actually about. but today was in truth a very bad day for the white house. you not only had sally yates, sort of a protagonist giving this really interesting detailed account of what she did, but you have james clapper a former odni reminding us what this was about. and don megan did not serve the president well. sally yates' testimony is accurate. and then you have coarse trump giving these by twitter and clearly making us all wonder what is he so nervous about. >> i want to put up this twirt. so yates's was acting toerj for
ten days now. november 10 obama warns trump about flynn. and then january 30 ag yates directs doj lawyers not to make legal arguments defending trump's executive order on immigration and refugees on travel ban. february 13, report flynn may be vulnerable to blackmail. and february 1 gts, flynn resigns as national security advisor. in those ten days, she warned the white house about lieutenant general flynn, told the department of justice not to enforce the president's immigration order. is there a bigger thorn in the president's side than sally yates right now? >> yeah, probably not at that time and probably not today. one thing i think in addition to
it fact she took that action to counter-mind the executive order and those warnings to the administration about general flynn, i think also imine-wise makes her a thorn in the side to administration is if you watch these hearings today, she was unflappable. didn't flinch, didn't mince words. and then the administration and after them the republican centers who questioned her, they couldn't get her to budge or to equivocate on her position. she was ready with all of her answers, and that made it harder for them to tell the story republicans and the administration wanted to tell. the idea they were going to sort of push back on the story she had to tell just completely went flat today because flynn was such a strong witness. >> do you think the white house and trump supporters see it that way, the way david just laid it
out? >> i don't think they is see it that way. because if you look at trump's twitter time line today, in all of the tweets today mike flynn's name was not brought up. when the majority of the meeting was supposed to be about what michael flynn knew and didn't know. so i think we walk away with this just knowing that supporters are focus on different stuff here. >> the hearings started out about flen, those centers tried to change it to the executive orders on travel. president trump couldn't mention general flynn in those tweets because general flynn underscores all of this smoke about russia. he wanted to go away from it and distract from it. and again, whether believe yates or not, she was unflappable in the face of these attack
attempt. >> i would like to explain to a visitor from outer space we are analyzing the news development about donald trump's tweets about the news development. i mean who cares snl we're trying to analyze the news here, not like what donald trump tweeted about the news. >> it's also worth noting thathat trump administration has repeatedly broken with what the obama administration did on healthcare, visitor laws, tax, you name it. but when it comes to flynn, they go back to that and say obama administration is when he was office when he was issued his security clearance. but obama didn't name him his national security advisor. >> exactly. president trump did. >> the whole idea the obama administration didn't take his security clearance away, they fired mike flynn.
how can barack obama be blamed for mike flynn? what are they talking about? >> can i just add a little point just to pick up on something that may have been lost? i've been focusing on jim clapper, because he's the quiet storm in all of this. supporters have been saying well, jim clapper never said anything about culugds. and clapper alluded that was essentially out of the loop, he did not know about the fbi investigation until gyms comey announced it. >> he hasn't been there for four months. he hasn't been involved in four months. so it would be interesting if he did. >> that was one argument. but when he said i didn't see anyeds f evidence of collusion i
think they didn't quite notice at this stage how damning his testimony was as well to their narrative and talking . point. thank you all. when we come back mentioning their father's ties to the trump administration white courting chinese invessers. (male #1) it's a little something i've done every night since i was a kid, empty my pocket change into this old jar. it's never much, just what's left after i break a dollar.
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[ seagulls squawking ] there's another controversy brewing tonight over conflicts of interest in the trump administration. nicole kushner name dropped her brother and his role in the administration as part of a real estate pitch to wealthy chinese investors. the kushner project makes use of a controversial visa program which allows investors a fast track to a green card in esh change for a $500 investment. let's discuss now. an author and political commentator jack kingston is here as well. what's going on here? it's not as if the kushner
family doesn't know -- her sister knows her brother is in the white house. >> the kushner family has had many interactions with the chinese investors, with the chinese government over the years. they've already gutten a $50 million investment from the chinese who are interested in the fast track visa program. >> in 2008 she said my brother's company is the ceo and recently moved to join the administration. >> they sat down to the president and misses xi at the white house. and that got broadcast to investors. they know exactly what this pitch meant. they know exactly what this program is all about, and they
know exactly what it means that president trump is the guy who can green light a visa or not. so there's no way to spin this other than its pure corruption. jack, is there a way to spin it? >> well, i think there's a question about this program. this program has been out there for many years. and i do know it's out there and the chinese like it as a way to get into america. and certainly jared kushner -- >> yeah, there's a controversial eb-5 program. but the contraverse versy was more about should jared kushner's sister should have known better? and is the strgsz okay with it? are you saying it's okay for her to use him as leverage to get
some sort of business deal? >> well, let me give you a parallel we have seen many times. it happens quite often when he have an ethics debate on capitol hill. and that's when some are married to lobbyists. there was a democratic senator who wife was a lobbyist. and frankly they said wairp not entitled to make a living independent of their spousemizech and the court and -- >> jack, what does thought have to do with nicole kushner and jared kushner. >> well, i think the rael is that are we saying that anybody not the titled to be involved with an existing law and be involved illegally -- >> no one said that, but do you think it's okay for her to use her brother's name as leverage? she could do business, she could use this controversial eb 5 program. does she have to mention she's a
kushner and her brother's in the white house? >> i think she needs to be very careful and your point is a good one. i think we should probably look at this program in general. and in terms of framally members and people who are in congress and in decision making positions. >> that has nothing to do with this now. that's a whole another show. we're talking about jared kushner and his sister and the white house. that's a whole another show. >> and the influence. >> and the influence. here's what the press secretary had to say. >> jared has done everything to comply with the ethics rules. he wasn't involved. and secondly, i think we talked about this before that the president and congress are talking about how to look over the entire visa program, all the various visa programs and whether or not they are serving the purpose they were intended to. >> is that the same talking
point jack is using now? >> if it is, i didn't see the show before. >> i can agree with jack on things as much as it pains me. and i think the visa program is subject to potential influence, pedaling, and controversy. and it has been for a long time. it probably should be ruviewed. in fact the kushner family has benefitted before. they induce mostly welgy investors in return to get a fast track visa to this country. and they're not even get a fair return on their investment. >> they apologized. said the name drop was not intended to be an attempt to lure investors, that's a quote from them, to one of its projects in new jersey. the company said the statement miss mier wanted to make clear that her brother had stepped away from the company in january
and had nothing to do with the project. you think that's enough? >> i think number one, you happen to make sure jared has complied with the law, and it sounds like everybody's in agreement he has. and number two, what are you allowed to do if you are a relative of someone in an influential position, and if there is a law regulation on that, certainly the sister has to comply by it. but i can tell you this, i do know former government officials who have gone to china and talked about it. and when you are a former say congressman or former state department employee, in a former country that title means more. i'm an excongressman. that title doesn't mean anything. i'm served, i'm out of it. people aren't impressed with it. but oversees it has a cachet. this program, i think this could be a good excuse on a bipartisan
basis for everyone to look at. >> i have to go. >> don, i just want tasay quickly i think this is the second time the kushner's were involved iin trying to refinance 666th avenue to billions of dollars. and that was shutdown in march. so this is the second time already jared kushner who is supposed to be leading the charge with the chinese is -- >> i'm out of time. >> barack obama making his first public comments on healthcare after the house voted to repeal much of his signature plan. we'll tell you what he said. stella artois has partnered with us at water.org to help provide access to clean water to women and their families in the developing world. we can be the generation remembered for ending the global water crisis once and for all. ♪
general sally yates stating today that michael flynn had lied, that he could be blackmailed. the white house took another 18 days to fire him after the story broke in the media. can they defend that? >> i think, they're going to have to try, right? in terms of the actual seek wrnss, look, mike flynn is gone. he was fired. he does not need to be a headache for the trump administration moving forward, because they fired him. so i think the less they can talk about flynn, the more they can look to it future. >> that was my question. why do they keep defending him? wouldn't they want to just sort of move on somehow the. >> they didn't not encourage the house to have the hearing today. they want want to turn the page and move on asap. i don't think we'll be remembering this for very long. >> alex said two things. he said we didn't the think we
learned anything that was hanging on the edges out there. and two things, why do you think it took so long for them to let flynn go, 18 days? >> it seemed like trump really liked him, trump had actually considered him to be vp. new reporting today there sems be less of rapport with his successor hr mcmaster which many think him to be a more capable guy. he punches back no matter what, whether it makes strategic sense or not. he'll punch back anyway. he just punches back widely at anyone, whether his advisers this can it makes any sense or not. >> maybe they didn't just generally know how to handle this. maybe they didn't believe it at first.
and the trau that broke the camel's back was actually lying to the president of the united states. >> it's possible. look, donald trump has never really given any evidence he takes the whole russia issue seriously. you would think that the notion that russia interfered with our election, the president of the united states would consider that a national security problem. but donald trump never acknowledges thooengs that is a national security problem. he only sees it through his own political street and his own ego. >> switching gear now, i want to talk about healthcare. he spoke out on the first time on the house bill to dismantle his signature healthcare law. he urged congress to stand up against the repeal. i want to you to take a listen. >> i hope that current members of congress are appalled it
actually doesn't take a lot of courage to aid those hat are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential. but it does take courage to encourage the vulnerable, sick, those who have no access. i hope you understand that courage means not simply doing what is politically expedient, but doing what they believed deep in their hearts is right. >> salina, those comments, any impact on the healthcare debate, you think? >> probably not. and i'm just being honest. you know, the healthcare from the very beginning has always been a very politically charged policy. from 2009 when it began when the
president took over and he had a full house and a full senate that were in his majority to today. you know, this is -- both parties have ideals ask core values on how they think government should be involved in healthcare. it cost president oa the majority of his party iphis house and eventually his senate. now the republicans sort of face the same thing. here's what i would caution about the healthcare bill. i think what we have right now with the healthcare bill is sort of like halftime at the super bowl. falcons were up 21-3, and everyone think this is how it's going to end. but i think this is bill is not anything like what it's going to look like. and i think once the senate gets its hands on it, i think we're going to have something completely different. >> here's the difference here. we're seeing these similar fiery
town halls like what we saw back in 2009 congressman in idaho is under fire for his response to town hall. attendees concerned about how the house bill will affect medicaid recipients. >> people on medicaid are in fact dying. >> that line is so indefensible. nobody dies because they don't have access to healthcare. >> listen, mike, he went onto explain himself. and his response is more elgpt. i'll put it up there on the zreen. he said he says he was respondsing to a notion that republican healthcare would cause people to die. how damaging was that exchange for lander and the republican party you think?
>> for labrador, not very much. but it is a ready-made ad line for democrats to run potentially for any democrats who voted for the repeal and replace. so you'll be seeing that in the coming year as mid-terms heat up. but i want to stress this about what he said. by when he clarified by saying we won't let anyone die in the streets people can go to the emergency room. it seems the republicans in passing this, they want it get rid of that freeloader a bit, want to get rid of that mandate. everybody to pay what they want to pay as opposed to to ensure the most infirm or sick or weak. that explanation he gave doesn't wash. politic i fact said there are
multiple reports saying there are reports that the access to medicaid is what increased -- what increased mortality rates going away that's an alternate way of saying it. but without medicaid in the states not extending medicaid mortality rates were worst than the states did expand it. he is not really telling the truth there. even if he was eltelling the not truth in our point. >> my question is, alex is that -- the alternative truth. here is the thing because democrats are writing the campaign ads for 2018 saying whether they're jumping the gun or not, i don't know. but how concerned if you're running a republican in to28, how concerned should you be. >> you have to vote for that bill. you have to at least deliver for your voters what you promised to do. >> even if its bad legislation? >> well, look, the senate is going to improve legislation.
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president trump lashing out after two officials from the obama administration give crucial details about that investigation into russian links to the 2016 election. and the president's travel ban once again in the hand of an appeals court with tough questions about trump's statements concerning muslims. will the ban survive the latest legal test? good morning, everybody, and welcome to "early start." i'm dave briggs. how are you, my friend? >> i'm well, for just a tuesday morning. i'm christine romans. there is a lot going on this morning. >> you always surprise me with what day it is. >> it is tuesday. >> because it feels like