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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  December 1, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

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on legal situation with michael flynn and is reportedly feeling kwoent, quote, unquote, no anxiety about the situation. the president is apparently feel sorry for flynn and his family. stay with us here at cnn as we continue the special live coverage with my colleague jake tapper. i'm brooke baldwin, have wonderful weekends. wonderful weekends. "the lead" starts right now. -- captions by vitac -- good afternoon and welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we begin with the bombshell news, retired lieutenant general michael flynn, president trump's former national security adviser, a key member of his campaign team and inner circle in the white house, pleaded guilty -- to lying to fbi about conversations he had with the russian ambassador. flynn is now cooperating with the special counsel investigation, we're told. in a move widely interpreted as his own play in order to guarantee that he and his sign michael flynn jr. avoid jail time for questionable and possibly illegal activities. it's hard to overstate the
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significance of today's news. the charges against somebody first in the white house. it was for a crime that occurred while he was annoyed in the trump white house as a national security adviser. flynn is now the fourth member of the team connected to trump on the trump campaign to be charged as part of the special counsel investigation. and these questions loom large after today's news. why did flynn lie to the fbi? what was the then national security adviser so afraid of our own federal investigators finding out that would be worth such a risk of lying to them? with so many serious consequences. what was flynn hiding? cnn's jim sciutto and even perez have some breaking news on this story. and, jim, let me start with you. flynn is specifically charged with lying to the fbi about conversations he had with the russian ambassador sergey kislyak. you're finding out more about one of those conversations and how flynn may have been acting on the orders of jared kushner, although kushner is not named in the filings. tell us more. >> that's right.
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sources tell myself and my colleagues gloria borger and dana bash that the very senior member of the trump transition team who directed michael flynn to reach out to the russian ambassador, in case case regarding a u.n. security council resolution on israel, that the very senior member of the trump transition team was, in fact, the president's son-in-law, jared kushner. why is this important? even in the white house statement today reacting to these charges or, rather, this guilty plea by flynn, the white house says, well, he's lied in the past. basically putting distance between itself and flynn, implying that he was acting on his own here. when, in fact, when you read this statement of offense here, it describes that communications went in both directions. one, that you had this very senior member of the campaign team, that being jared kushner, directing flynn to reach out to the russian ambassador on a contact that he later lied to the fbi about, but also that flynn was reaching back to the trump transition team, other members, not identified by name but identified as members of the
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trump transition team, that he was keeping informed about other conversations he had with the russian ambassador during the transition, including conversations about obama administration sanctions on russia in response for interference in the election. so it belies in effect the administration narrative here that flynn was an outlier, a freelancer on these communications. in fact, we learned from the statement of offense that there were members of that trump transition team, kushner himself, directing him to have these conversations and there were members of the trump transition team that flynn was keeping informed as he was having these conversations with the ambassador to russia, conversations that he later lied about to the fbi. >> and, evan, this is flynn at the direction or at least in consultation with senior officials of the trump transition team conducting foreign policy. telling russia not to retaliate after the obama administration which was then in charge of the country imposed sanctions. ask the russians to delay or vote against a u.n. security
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council resolution against israel because of its settlements. and that obviously you're not supposed to do. it's a violation of an obscure law called the logan act. beyond that, i'm wondering is there anything that indicates -- we know that flynn is implicated, kushner is implicated, you're reporting. is there any information of anyone else implicated, the president or pence or anyone else? >> yeah, i mean, well, here is what's happened in the last few weeks, jake, we've had multiple officials from the white house, meaning reince priebus, former officials in the white house and current white house who have gone in for interviews with the special counsel. they've all been testifying on this. we know recently from our reporting that jared kushner was brought in and that he was asked about michael flynn and we expect that this is one of the questions that was being asked. so what we're hearing in the past hour or so is a bit of spin from people close to the white house, people who tell us that essentially kushner wasn't alone
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here. that at least, according to the testimony that has been given, priebus, bannon, flynn and jared kushner were all involved in this effort on the u.n. vote. so what this means, jake, and this is an important part of this, is now the prosecutors are going to be able to look at multiple pieces of testimony and decide whether or not anybody has told a falsehood in addition to the falsehoods that we know that flynn has given. so i think there is a lot more investigation here by the special prosecutor to hone in on exactly what you're getting at. >> all right. even perez and jim sciutto, thank you both. of paramount importance to the special counsel mueller is the question i referenced earlier, why did flynn lie? what was he attempting to hide by lying to the fbi? and whether anyone, including president trump, may have told him to lie or knew that he lied. now, the white house today is attempting to spin today's news as unrelated to the white house, which is nonsensical. not only was flynn the national security adviser when he committed the crime, president trump has been trying for months
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to stop all scrutiny into these various investigations. today, "the new york times" is reporting that president trump for months has been lobbying various officials to stop their various russia probes, including the head of the senate intelligence committee, republican senator richard burr. who told the times that the president's words were something along the lines of, i hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible. where have i heard something like that before? >> i understood him to be saying what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to flynn's account of his conversations with the russians. >> that's right. we heard something like that from fbi director james comey since fired who was beckoned to the white house earlier this year and he says he was urged to drop his investigation into flynn. >> why did you fire director comey? >> because he wasn't doing a good job, very simply. he was not doing a good job. >> of course that concluded with the president firing comey with, as he later told nbc, the russia
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investigation foremost on his mind. despite various bogus cover stories initially pushed to the public that the president was concerned that hillary clinton had been treated unfairly by comey. think about that, the white house actually tried to convince you of that live. of course senator burr and comey aren't the only ones the president has pushed to stop their investigations or to say things that weren't factual about them. to senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and senate intelligence committee member senator roy blunt, the president said wrap this up, "the new york times" reports. the "washington post" earlier reported that national intelligence director dan coats has also received a presidential push to publicly state as a fact that the trump campaign did not work with russia. nsa director admiral mike rogers was also given such a push. neither of them complied with the president's request. now, kindly recall huge the white house has not been telling you the truth about this. the special counsel today noted that in december as the "washington post" reported and shortly thereafter, flynn called the russian ambassador in consultation with trump
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transition team senior officials specifically to discuss the sanctions that the obama administration had put into place, specifically for meddling in the election. now, when asked about it, press secretary sean spicer on january 13th told the public that that call was to extend holiday greetings. now after "the new york times" and cnn in february of this year reported that intelligence officials were telling us that trump campaign officials had had multiple contacts with individuals known to russian intelligence, then white house chief of staff reince priebus went on television and said this -- >> i can assure you, and i've been approved to say this, that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it's grossly overstated. >> but we know now, of course, that there were multiple contacts and conversation between russians known to u.s. intelligence and members of the trump team. namely jeff sessions, donald
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trump jr., paul manafort, george papadopoulos and carter page. we did not know that then, after our story and "the times" story, the white house, according to the "washington post," enlisted richard burr and the house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes and mike pompeo to speak to reporters to push back against what is now established fact, that russians known to u.s. intelligence had reached out to the trump campaign. so in addition to the question why did flynn lie about his conversations with the russian ambassador, we also have to look at whole year's worth of actions and ask why has the white house told you so many lies about this story? and why has president trump been exerting so much time and energy behind the scenes and in front of the cameras to try to get those investigating this matter to stop doing so? why did he want comey to drop the case to the point that he took the drastic step of firing the fbi director? now comey had no comment today, though he did post this image on instagram with the quote, but
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let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing treatment from the book of amoss. my panel is with me. bill, take a listen to the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee reacting to "the new york times" report. >> you've got this repeated pattern of the president of the united states, who is trying desperately to stop this investigation. cost james comey his job because he wouldn't stop the investigation. >> so it's -- you've got this repeated pattern of the president of the united states trying desperately to stop this investigation. it cost jim comey his job. why is president trump trying to stop these investigations? >> well, because he thinks -- he's worried about what the special counsel -- he was worried what jim comey would find as director of the fbi, and now he's worried about what special counsel robert mueller is finding. that's why this is such a big moment. people are focused, in my opinion, a little bit too much on the particulars to which the count that flynn pled guilty.
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what prosecutors do, especially in complicated white collar cases find some countdown count that is easy to prove that often doesn't show where the investigation is going because they don't want to tip off all the other defendants. they take care of that. they've made the deal. it's a generous deal for flynn by mueller, i think. one count. could have done much more -- found many more grounds to prosecute him on. then flynn has to cooperate. that's the most important sentence. flynn is now cooperating with mueller. he's cooperating across the board. >> he wants to stay out of jail and he wants michael flynn jr. to stay out of jail. he has to give everything. >> exactly. people said, well, i wonder how much he's giving up. he doesn't get to choose how much he's giving up. he is now going to be meeting with the fbi for hours on end. he doing so under penalty of perjury. he's got to say everything. the most important thing -- mueller may already know this or have indications of this are about the campaign, not about what happened in the transition or about what flynn knows about
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the conversation with comey on january 27th, not about the kislyak conversations. so that's why the flipping of such a senior person as flynn, who was in the room in the campaign, in the room in the white house, who spoke with trump all the time, who spoke to everyone close to trump at the time. if jared kushner told flynn something, flynn now tells mueller, mueller interrogates kushner. that's why this is such a big finding. >> if you read the government's findings, jackie, flynn is not the only one. a prosecutor i spoke with said if i were jared kushner or sbtee bannon, i wouldn't be sleeping very soundly tonight. >> the closer this gets to the president, the worse it is. he can dismiss paul manafort, who was the campaign chairman, as an intern on someone who had a minor part of the campaign, which is laughable. you can -- his lawyer had a statement about flynn today that referred to him as an obama appointee. a-plus for trying, but let's be
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real here. when it comes to your family, to these ever closer advisers, they can't dismiss jared kushner as the coffee guy or steve bannon as an intern. >> all right. everybody stay with us. we're going to have the panel here the whole show. remember, this is a plea deal, an agreement between two parties. so what type of information did flynn give up before his guilty plea today? i'm going to talk to a former federal prosecutor next. stay with us. i saw the change in rich when we moved into the new house. but having his parents over was enlightening. ♪ you don't like my lasagna? no, it's good. -hmm. -oh. huh. [ both laugh ] here, blow. blow on it. you see it, right? is there a draft in here? i'm telling you, it's so easy to get home insurance on progressive can't save you from becoming your parents. but we can save you money when you bundle home and auto.
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we're back with the breaking news. former trump national security adviser michael flynn cooperating with the special counsel investigation after pleading guilty to lying to the fbi about his contacts with russians. let's get right to cnn's pamela brown. and pop la, the former national security adviser appeared in court earlier today. walk us through what flynn admitted he did. >> so here's what's at the center of this charge of lying to the fbi.
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it's flynn's conversation with then russian ambassador to the u.s. sergey kislyak. we learned in court documents today that flynn first talked to his senior transition official about new sanctions against russia, sanctions put in place by the obama administration. according to flynn, the transition officials did not want russia to escalate the situation to flynn immediately called kislyak back, asking russia not to overreact to the sanctions. keep in mind, this is happening on december 29th when barack obama is still president. then flynn calls the transition team back and reports on what kislyak said about the sanctions. that is noteworthy because vice president pence, as you'll recall, stated on national television in january sanctions were not discussed with kislyak. so either he didn't know about it and other members of the transition knew and the administration and didn't tell pence and just allowed him to go on television and lie to the american public or pence did know and he lied. but pence has claimed he didn't know flynn discussed sanctions
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until february around the time flynn was fired. >> and we should point out, michael pence was the head of the transition team. >> he was the head of the transition team. >> because they fired chris christie and put pence in charge. if him not to know that is interesting. tell us about what happened in court today. >> well, flynn pleaded guilty to the charge of lying to the fbi in court. he released a staple acknowledging wrongdoing, saying my guilty plea in agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflect a decision i made in the best interests of my family and of our country. so this plea agreement indicates he's providing information to mueller's team. and at the hearing today, flynn said very little. here he is in this earlier video today walking into the courthouse. he said he was guilty. just simply guilty, your honor, when asked how he pleaded by the judge. he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, according to federal sentencing guidelines, but the judge stressed today he could impose a harsher or lighter sentence. after the hearing, michael flynn
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was seen visiting his son's house in virginia. as you see in this video. sources have previously told cnn that flynn has expressed concern about his son who was under scrutiny by the security council. >> pamela brown, thank you so much. i want to bring in cnn's senior legal analyst preet bharara. he's also a former u.s. attorney. preet, what's your initial reaction to this bombshell news? >> well, you know, in some ways people were expecting there might be charges against michael flynn. there's been speculation in the press for a lot of weeks that flynn not only was probably going to be charged but he might plead guilty to those charges. i think in some ways there is some surprise that the charges are so narrow and it's just one count, a significant count, a serious count, of lying to the fbi, which is something you should never do. but i think it highlights one very important thing that we've seen not only in this case, but also in the case of the cooperating witness george papadopoulos.
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and that is that the mueller team takes very, very seriously the idea of lying and of obstruction, and i think we also know that the mueller team still has a long way to go, as i think some of the commentators are have opining about on the show before i came on. there are a lot of other witnesses to talk to. there are a lot of other shoes to drop. they're in some ways just sort of getting started. and, you know, most sort of tellingly, there is a lot of lying going on and they have to get to the bottom of why that lying was happening. what underlying activity were they trying to hide? this is a person who was the national security to the president of the united states and these lies that he pled guilty to, they're not allegations anymore, they're proven charged, occurred on the fourth day of the presidency of donald trump. >> and what he was doing, conducting foreign policy before the trump team had taken over, before the president had been inaugurated, a violation of the league an act, that's not an act that has been enforced quite
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often. in fact, think only once before in the history of the united states. what might this tell us -- what do you suspect it tells you about who he might be looking at next, jared kushner, who else? >> look, i think the mueller team is looking at everyone. the logan act is an obscure statute i think passed in 1799. i don't think ever successfully used, but it's interesting for people to talk about and suggests the seriousness of some of the things that may have happened here. i think the mueller team is looking at every member of the campaign. think they're looking at every member of the transition team. think they're looking at everyone up to the president of the united states himself. i mean when michael flynn, it's been reported today has said that he's cooperating with the government, that means he must tell if he's asked everything he knows about the conduct of other people up to and including the president of the united states. and it's already been reported on your show and in other places that the senior transition official that directed him to make contact with the russians was jared kushner. the next question is, well, who
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is jared kushner talking to? was he talking to his father-in-law, who happens to be the president? was some of this contact only after the election when there was a transition team or did some of it happen during the campaign itself? that raises a whole other series of questions about whether or not the president through michael flynn and others was suggesting that they wanted the russian government to do things with respect to the election. you know, the things that people understand mueller to be looking at, interference with the american election. almost more seriously than that, whether or not in the campaign and afterwards there were promises made or representations made on the part of the future trump administration of what they would do for russia in exchange for either, again, speculatively, help in the campaign or less speculatively, an agreement not to press hard on sanctions and to vote a particular way on that u.n. resolution that dealt with israel. those are i think very, very important questions that remain
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unanswered. >> all right. preet bharara, thank you so much. flynn's guilty plea puts enormous pressure on the white house inner circle. how the white house is taking the news.
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fast, and easy. download the xfinity my account app or go online today. and we're back with this breaking news. michael flynn cooperating with the special counsel investigation after pleading guilty today to lying to the fbi. my panel's still with me. neera, let me go to you. you see michael flynn as a pretty important player, not only in what he's being charge with during the transition, but all potentially any possible collusion during the campaign. >> yeah, i mean, mueller is actually, you know, this -- bill's right, just this charge
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is actually somewhat irrelevant. he's going to find out information about everything that happened. and the issue with flynn is, you know, for those thinking there is a quid pro quo here, he's part of both ends. he knows about all of the contacts on the campaign in which russia is basically stating that they are trying to help the trump campaign and then he's central to what the, you know, what the presumed or alleged payoff of that would be, which is president trump's actions in response to russia helping. i would remind everyone of two things. first of all, the president has consistently throughout his year so far taken position after position after position that's helped russia. that could all be part of the quid pro quo. he's also acted in order to basically discourage this investigation. which basically, you know, i think for most people, if you're innocent, you don't make calls to members of congress, you don't fire the prosecutor, you don't take a series of actions
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that basically is designed to hide what you did. >> not to mention, of course, when he met in the oval office with russian officials and told them, hey, i just fired comey, that weight has been taken off my back. >> what was the one person he raised with comey more than once, flynn. >> yeah. >> he might have concerns about all kinds of other people, including his son-in-law and their exposure. flynn was not the target of either comey or mueller's investigation, it was a broad investigation into russian, you know -- >> interference. >> in the '16 campaign and what the trump campaign might have known. the person on trump's mind was flynn. well, does trump -- does trump know that he and flynn were in conversations, activities or other things, whether it's in the campaign or before he became president or in the month in the white house in terms of obstructing justice? did trump know that flynn had the most sensitive knowledge --
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>> that's interesting. >> about him and now flynn is the one who has flipped. >> because gates and manafort were the first two indicted and the president was not trying to get comey to lay off of them. i want to bring in cnn's jim acosta at the white house right now to get his reaction. jim, a white house lawyer said this is all on flynn, but now we have sources suggesting that flynn was taking direction from the jared kushner. >> reporter: that's right, jake. and i talked to a senior white house official earlier this afternoon who said not only kushner but that there was a, quote, fulsome conversation among various officials inside the trump transition about michael flynn's conversation with the russian ambassador at the time sergey kislyak. this str white house told me they're not feeling any, quote, anxiety about michael flynn or what he might be saying to the special counsel's office. they are saying at this point and we are checking with obama administration sources on this, they are saying here at the white house that flynn's
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conversations with sergey kislyak were, quote, authorized by the obama administration. we should point out that is something that we have not heard before in terms of a defense from this white house. and the obama administration has -- former officials with the obama administration have not responded to us when we've checked on this. but ty cobb, a white house lawyer here, jake, has put out a statement that has a few holes in it. it says today, michael flynn, a former national security adviser for for 25 days in the trump administration and a former obama administration official entered a guilty plea of making a single false statement to the fbi. nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than mr. flynn. jake, we should point out when the white house is trying to say that nflynn worked for the obam administration, they are the neglecting to mention that president obama fired michael flynn and tried to warn incoming president-elect trump during that meeting in the oval office on november 10th to stay clear of michael flynn.
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and then president-elect trump did not heed that advice. so there are some former obama administration officials who are seething a little bit this afternoon, jake, as the white house is trying to use them to shield the president from this michael flynn case. >> it's astounding. in terms of whether or not flynn was authorized to talk to kislyak, we're going to have jim clapper, the former director of national intelligence, on in just a second. we can ask him about it. but i hear that the obama administration is pushing back on some of the white house comments today is in sununu they are pushing back on it. they are saying, listen, to call michael flynn a former obama administration official is laughable because he worked for multiple administrations and that barack obama himself in the oval office, remember, two days after the election, you'll remember those pictures that were taken outside the white house. obama administration officials with tears in their eyes distraught over the election results. barack obama tried to buck all of them up. but had this meeting with donald
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trump over here at the white house and told president trump -- president-elect trump in that meeting, don't hire michael flynn and president-elect trump did not heed that advice. these former obama administration officials are saying, wait a minute, you're saying he worked for us? that's rich. so it just goes to show you how this white house is looking for some cover from the obama white house for michael flynn's activities when at the same time the president is not really dealing with this much at all. i should point out, earlier today i tried to ask the president as he was welcoming the libyan prime minister here what about these, you know, this case against michael flynn? he had no comment. did not say anything to that question, jake. >> all right. jim acosta at the white house. thank you so much. jackie, one of the other spins, i mean, these are astounding spins that we're hearing. >> i'm dizzy. >> the idea that flynn was a former white house official, not mentioning that obama fired him. one of the other things we're hearing is an official with ties to the white house, close to the white house saying to gloria borger earlier today, hey, this is just a charge of lying, everybody in washington, d.c. lies.
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>> yeah, but not to the fbi. i mean, that -- there in lies the problem. the thing with blaming the obama administration, they also, remember, when there were questions about whether he was even vetted for this position, they said, well, the obama administration gave him his security clearance. so we thought it was fine. we trust them. it just -- there is no basis in logic. >> i'll say, i mean, michael flynn, the charge here is he was trying to undo the impact of the sanctions. i mean, what happened here was the president actually -- president obama had sanctions against russia, which oddly enough the trump campaign was trying to mitigate the damage around. the trump administration. so mike flynn was working against the interests of barack obama at the time that he was doing this. the whole thing is crazy. >> details. >> it's upside down. >> it's so inappropriate. flynn's own statement i thought was dignified. he served -- i served the country in uniform for 33 years. the proper thing for the trump white house to say is we respect
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general flynn for his service. we think it's very unfortunate he's had to plead guilty to lying to the fbi. we know nothing about this and obviously we don't think president trump has done anything wrong and look forward to the investigation being finished. the idea that you try to make general flynn, who was serving i believe in uniform -- he was a three-star general, sort of a creature of the obama administration. and den denigrate him, i mean, it's such a foolish spin it seems to me from their own point of view, it makes you wonder if they have any sense of what they're in now for. >> i don't know what they are -- their play would be other than what bill says. but the fact is, i mean, the noose is growing tighter. i mean obviously first you had three campaign officials, two indicted, one pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi. >> right. >> now you have a major player in the trump campaign and the trump white house pleading guilty to the fbi. if you look at the charges, if you look at the lies, it's all about russia. it's all about favors for russia. contacts with russia.
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foreign policy with russia before president trump was president. i mean, i don't know what they're -- they can say, but i certainly think that this nonsense about everybody lies or, you know, flynn was an obama official is just silly. >> but they've used the same playbook over and over. like i said earlier, they keep throwing whoever is in trouble under the bus and saying that the president had nothing to do with it, and that seems to be -- they seem to be running that over and over and over again. and thus farther haven't been any consequences for it, in terms of the president himself electorally. he's already pretty unpopular. >> the reason you have to say the president had nothing to do with it, they're worried there is an it that people are worried that the president has something to do with it. think, well, maybe it's true that john dean didn't tell him about these things and lying about nixon's involvement. it's what they want you to believe now that flynn and jared kushner were doing things and
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trump presumably didn't know about them. that's very -- the idea that donald trump didn't know about whatever general flynn was doing with the russians strikes me as ridiculous. so they're better off -- >> the buck stops here isn't a thing in this administration. >> what's weird about it is his behavior since is what makes him look the most guilty. i mean, he basically by trying to stop -- >> he, trump? >> donald trump's effort, relentless effort to impede the investigation -- >> that's what's so odd, right? >> is what makes him look like he's the one who is guilty. >> and also -- >> that's why he wants to impede the investigation. >> you don't fire an fbi director. you up don't call members of the intelligence committee to stop an investigation if you think there is nothing at it that relates to you. >> it seems to be consuming him. i mean, there was a story this week about how he was going up to people on the golf course, strangers, and saying, hey, this russia investigation, it's not a thing. it's to that point where it's just happening in casual conversations, he's blurting this out? >> well --
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>> he's kind of acting guilty, just to be clear. >> well, the other thing is obviously one of the things that mueller is looking into clearly is obstruction of justice. based on just what we know publicly and what we know from the fbi and the justice department, the special counsel, there is a case there. i don't know that it would be a successful case, but there is a case there. >> right. and the obstruction or part of it was trying to get comey, like we said before, to let general flynn get off the hook. which gets us back to the question of why he was so concerned that general flynn ultimately not be the center of this investigation. >> stick around everyone. shortly after the 2016 election, the former director of national intelligence james clapper told me he saw no direct evidence of collusion. looking back what about now. we're going to talk to james clapper. we'll talk to him after the break.
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we're back with this major breaking news. the president's former national security adviser, lieutenant general michael flynn pleading guilty today to lying to the fbi and now the announcement that he is cooperating with special counsel mueller and the russia investigation. joining me now is the former director of national intelligence in the obama administration, james clapper. he was the top intelligence official when flynn was talking to the russians. i want to start with what the white house is saying because they are saying things relevant to the obama administration. first, jim acosta, our white house reporter, just said that the white house is saying that flynn's conversations with ambassador kislyak in which he was basically trying to do the trump transition team's own foreign policy in contrast to the obama administration's foreign policy, that that was with the blessings of the obama administration. is that true? >> that's absurd. that is absolutely absurd. there was great concern at the time, not just with this particular contact, but with the
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violation of the principle that has normally been followed of one president, one administration as a time. and that was what gave rise to because of all of these contacts that mike was having and others in the transition with the russians and other foreign entities, you know, what the -- what was this all about? so to say that we blessed it or acquiesced in it is a stretch. >> the other thing that was interesting was the white house attorney referring to flynn as a former obama administration official. which is technically accurate -- >> that's true. >> but you fired him. >> that's right. you know, i officiated, help efficient at his promotion ceremony to lieutenant general. he worked to me on my staff for about 11 months and then i supported his move to be director of d.i.a., an agency i
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was director of in the early '90s. it didn't work out, as sometimes is the case. for good reason i had, as well as dr. vicars, we both agreed that we thought that we needed to shorten his time as director of d.i.a., which we did. >> and i have heard -- first of all, we should recognize as he recognized in his statement that he served to more than 30 years in uniform. he's served in combat zones and, you know, there is a lot of service to admire there. but one of the things that is -- that i've heard from contemporaries of his, from colleagues of his, is that sometime after he left the administration, after he had been fired, even though the obama administration let him stay on for a few years to earn the pay grade retirement that he wanted, is that something happened, something changed and he grew angry and bitter. >> well, no, i'm not a psychologist, but that comports with my informal, unofficial assessment. because mike actually took the
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relief early pretty gracefully. and i do think that after that he changed and he became an angry man, became consumed with it. i think was engaging with any number of republican candidates to latch on to them. as it turned out, he latched on to the one that won. >> now, as somebody who was in the obama administration who had concerns about the russian interference in the election, what is your reaction to today's news that flynn has pleaded guilty and specifically to lying to the fbi about conversations he was having with the russian ambassador? >> well, it's dramatic but not surprising. in my take. i know know mike's great devotion to his family. i, you know, i am surmising that the special counsel's office leveraged that awareness with respect to his son.
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and i think mike would do whatever he could to preclude his son from legal jeopardy or even jail time. so i think that's, you know, and it is in a sense with respect to mike kind of a tragedy in a way, given the service, long and distinguished service he rendered in the alabama. over 30 years. lots and lots of deployed time to iraq and afghanistan. you have to acknowledge that. i think the overarching implication for me, the first thing that came to mind is that, at least right now, the rule of law does prevail in this country. that to me is very important. obviously huge implications for the white house. it's not a good day. you know, he's not a coffee boy. this is not a hoax. it's not fake. it's real. and i think as a friend and admirer of jim comey, i think there is a certain amount of vindication there. i've often wondered what would have happened had he not been fired. probably the outcome would have
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been the same. and i do think the larger interest here is served is to try to understand exactly what was going on with the transition, the campaign and the russians. and we need to get to the bottom of what today remains still a mystery to me is this singular indifference bied threat posed by russia. >> let's go out with that. i want to ask you, in january -- february, you said when you left the administration, when you left your position as director of national intelligence, you had seen no evidence of collusion. a few weeks ago, i asked you that question and you said that there was a circumstantial case building and you were convinced that vladimir putin was age to play president trump. does today's news make your more suspicious of collusion? what do you think? >> well, it does. again, circumstantially, but, again, we haven't seen any smoking gun evidence of that. now if anyone would know about that it would be mike flynn.
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so hopefully given the terms of his plea bargain, his agreement, that that -- the truth on this will come out. because to me what's even more important and whether or not there was collusion, which is hugely important, is the threat posed by the russians and the administration's singular indifference to that threat. and that to me is what is in terms of long-term concern for the country is that. >> general james clapper, thank you so much. appreciate your time, sir. the special counsel's investigation is closing in on the president. what could be the next domino to fall? who could be the next domino to fall? remember how the economic crash
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was supposed to be a wake up call for our government? people all across the country lost their savings, their pensions and their jobs. i'm tom steyer and it turned out that the system that had benefited people like me who are well off, was, in fact, stacked against everyone else. it's why i left my investment firm and resolved to use my savings for the public good. but here we are nine years later and this president and the republican congress are making a bad situation even worse. they won't tell you that their so called "tax reform" plan is really for the wealthy and big corporations, while hurting the middle class. it blows up the deficit and that means fewer investments in education, health care and job creation. it's up to all of us to stand up to this president. not just for impeachable offenses, but also to demand a country where everyone has a real chance to succeed.
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we're back with the breaking news. the president's national security adviser, since fired michael flynn, pleading guilty, cutting a deal, flipping in the russia probe. i want to remind our viewers about this moment from the republican national committee in july of 2016. >> lock her up. that's right. yep, that's right, lock her up. if i did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, i would be in jail today. >> okay. well, my panel's back with me. neera, as a person who worked on the clinton campaign, supported hillary clinton, this must be an interesting week for hillary clinton supporters, seeing michael flynn actually having to plead guilty before a judge. matt lauer, who the clinton campaign was not a fan of his, not having a good week either. something in the air. karma perhaps? >> i definitely will say i do feel like there is a little karma, but, i mean, seriously, what's at the gist of this is that during the campaign there was actually discussions about
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russia's role and those concerns, i mean, hillary raised that trump did -- was acting basically like putin's puppet. and everything we've learn since that time, the number of meetings that were taking place, donald trump's behavior has really confirmed the view that not only was he acting on behalf, the trump was acting as if they were colluding with russians. but their foreign policy and the way they've acted ever since looks like putin has something on him as well. >> so, bill, we should point out, of course, that the republicans in the senate announced that they have the votes to pass the republican tax bill. even though what exactly is in that bill is still up in the air because not everybody has seen it and things have been changed and added. this normally would be a celebratory week for president trump, but he spent much of the early part of it tweeting out
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insan insane bigoted retweets from a far-right group in gleengland a now we have this. >> i wonder if all of those tweet storms, attacking the nfl, playing the muslim card. >> the media, al franken. >> attacking cnn and al franken. in retrospect, he used it, i guess his lawyers have been told by general flynn's lawyers that he was not cooperating with or potentially cooperating with mueller and i wonder if trump kind of saw what was coming here and therefore maybe he was just disturbed and upset and decided to take it out on twitter, there is a certain method to that madness. reenforcing the base. that is ultimately not a winning strategy. a, because the facts are going to come out, and, b, because the base isn't big enough. these republican senators, they'll pass the bill. we'll see what happens in conference. i'm a little bit doubtful this bill is going to be such a wonderful boost to the economy, but they will not be historically what this week is remembered for. i do think the flynn thing is
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very big. it is someone who was at the very, very close to donald trump on the -- closest to donald trump on the matter on which the investigation is focused. now cooperating across the board with the special prosecutor. and the many i think preet bharara said, well, you know, of course they're looking at everyone. but at the end of the day mueller has an obligation to focus on donald trump. >> yeah. >> that's why he is the special prosecutor there. it's not to indict various people for various mishaps during the campaign. you shouldn't focus in on the sense of being unfair and maybe thinking there is nothing there that you can charge him with or refer to congress, but, i mean, this is now focused in my view in that respect. we can get distracted by jared kushner and this and that, but at the end of the day, this is about donald trump and did he do something he should be impeached for? >> i guess the other question is whether or not jared kushner is a means to an end. instead of going from flynn to trump, to goes from flynn to kushner to trump.
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that's just a theory. kushner is the very senior official directing michael flynn based on its faced, based on what the justice department and the special counsel laid out, violate the logan act. >> you don't get closer to trump than his family, bottom line. they are his coffnfidants. so it's hard to think of anyone that would be more definitetrim to the president. >> do you think son-in-laws or sons-in-law are really part of the family? >> not jared but ivanka. ivanka doesn't want her husband in trouble. >> exactly. >> no, i don't think he cares about him. >> as much as we like sons-in-law in general. >> it's all about ivanka. >> thank you so much. it's great to have you. join me tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern. we're going to have more coverage of the flynn guilty plea and what this might mean for the trump administration.
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i'm going to lead this discussion on "state of the union" on sunday morning. mike warner also republican senator tim scott of south carolina we'll talk about the tax bill with him as well. sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. i'm jake tapper. turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." in "the situation room." have a great weekend. -- captions by vitac -- happening now, breaking news, guilty and cooperation. fired national security adviser michael flynn enters a plea bargain in the russia investigation. he admits he lied to the fbi on conversations with the russian ambassador and now he's cooperating with special counsel robert mueller. what information will he reveal? kushner's call. cnn has learned that jared kushner directed flynn to contact the russian ambassador and that intelligence intercepts picked up conversations with foreign diplomats. start of the deals. the special counsel now