tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN December 2, 2017 11:00am-11:30am PST
lot of interest when mike pompeo takes the stage here later this afternoon. >> wow. lots of things to talk about. and listen to. while you're there. barbara star. thank you. the next hour cnn news room starts right now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> thank you so much for joining me this saturday. a puzzling and potentially damning tweet from the president of the united states. the president trump now providing a newer explanation for his firing of general michael flynn, tweeting this. i had to fire general flynn because he lied to the vice president and the fbi. he has pled guilty to those lies. it is a shame, because his actions during the transition were lawful. there was nothing to hide. the tweet is a potentially major -- potential major shift from the explanation trump gave for flynn's dismissal back m february.
>> i did. but mike -- excuse me. i fired him because of what he said to mike pence. very simple. mike was doing his job. calling countries and his counter parts. so it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it. i would have directed him to do it if i thought he wasn't. i didn't direct him, but i would have because that's his job. >> okay. so what's critical here is the time line. if the president now says he knew michael flynn lied to the fbi when he fired flynn on february 13, then why did the president ask then fbi director james comey to let the investigation go the very next day? in his opening statement to the senate intelligence committee, comey wrote that on february 14, president trump asked him to drop the fbi investigation into flynn, saying, quote, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting
flynn go. the he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. of course the big question now, did the president of the united states just admit to obstructing justice. for more on these developments now, let's bring back cnn's kara skin nel and boris sanchez. let's begin with you, boris in new york where the president is. what more are you learning? >> reporter: hey, there. yeah, that tweet was sent out shortly after a fund-raising lunch. the only public event the president is holding today in his stop in new york. he didn't really mention michael flynn during his speech, so it was a bit surprising to see that tweet come out shortly after he left this restaurant. he did mention michael flynn as you showed in that clip earlier when he was departing washington to new york, saying there was no collusion between the trump campaign and russia. we've heard from white house sources saying the president is not worried about the fact that
the former national security adviser is now cooperating with the special counsel in h its investigation. however, the president's tweet and the fact that flynn has now admitted to lying to the fbi does raise a series of questions. as the white house is trying to distance itself from michael flynn, describing him as an obama era official making at claim that president gave approval for michael flynn to have those conversations with sergey kislyak and other russians, there's the other side where it's been widely reported that president obama specifically warned donald trump, then press president lect against hiring michael flynn and the fact that shortly after inauguration, you had the acting attorney general sally yates who was ultimately dismissed by president trump warning the white house that michael flynn could potentially be blackmailed by russian officials. beyond all of that is the fact that this politically is a cloud
that hangs over the white house. notice right now we're not discussing the major legislative achievement this administration put on the board yesterday in passing tax reform. this is something that the white house is not happy to address. but it is something that the president will continue having to answer as he goes through the next several weeks with more and more information coming from that special counsel probe. >> all right. let's bring in -- contradicting earlier explanations for the firing? >> reporter: it's today the president said he fired flynn because he had lied to vice president pence and had lied to the fbi. what trump had said previously was that he fired him because he had lied to pence. let's take a listen to what he said in february. >> when i looked at the information i said i don't think he did anything wrong. if anything he did something right. he was coming into office,
looked at the information. he said huh, that's fine. that's what they're supposed to do. supposed to be -- he didn't just call russia. he spoke to both ways, i think there were 30-some odd countries. he's doing the job. he was just doing his job. the thing is he didn't tell our vice president properly and then he said he didn't remember. so either way it wasn't very sat famili satisfactory to me. >> one thing he is distancing himself from michael flynn and the conduct involved. saying the only thing flynn did wrong which is lie to the fbi which he's now pleaded guilty to. but not saying anythinglying co. he said he that had spoken with russians and other officials in consultation with transition officials and specifically at the direction of one senior
official which cnn has learned is jared kushner, the president's son-in-law. >> very complicated and continues to be so. perhaps getting even more complicated. the thank you so much for breaking it down. for now. so just moments after the president offered in new explanation of why he fired michael flynn, via twitter today, walter -- the former director of the u.s. office of government ethics tweeted this. just couldn't resist commenting on flynn. are you admitting you knew flynn had lied to the fbi when you asked comey back to -- to back off flynn? i spoke with him last hour and asked why he believed this could have legal implications potentially. >> walter we can feel your surprise about why the president would tweet like this.
>> it's just unbelievably mind blowing. somewhere in washington his attorneys are banging hair heads against the table because their client lacks the discipline to follow instructions to stay off twitter and stop admitting things publicly like this. >> so now, how might this assist the mueller investigation? because now the president is contradicting earlier tweets. earlier sentiments about the purpose of the firing, about the honesty or lack thereof of flynn. this potentially changes some dynamics, doesn't it. >> i think it may. the president has just damaged his credibility significantly, because -- we have to remember there are two possibilities. one, is that he's just lying now. and that him firing flynn had nothing to do with the criminal offense of lying to the fbi. but the other possibility is that he was lying back when he
announced that flynn was leaving because he had lied to mike pence. and if that is the case, if he knew back then that flynn had lied to the fbi, and had committed a crime, then he is -- had that in his mind when he talked to comey on that time line of yours, shortly after all of this, and asked him to back off of mike flynn, saying mike flynn's a good guy, and of course comey testified in congress that he was very uncomfortable about this conversation and thought the president was suggests an order as to what he should do. that really starts to make you wonder if there might actually have been some obstruction of justice here. >> all right. so weighing in on trump's tweet, democratic representative
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(♪) it all starts with a wish. the lincoln wish list event is here. sign and drive off in a new lincoln with zero down and a complementary first months payment. . welcome back. we continue with our breaking news on president trump's latest tweet, saying in part, i had to fire general flynn because he lied to the vice president and the fbi. the tweet is a potentially -- potential major shifter from the explanation trump gave for flynn's dismissal back in february. >> but mike -- excuse me. i fired him because of what he said to mike pence. very simple. mike was doing his job. he was calling countries, and
his counterparts. so it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it. i would have directed him to do it if i thought he wasn't. i didn't direct him but i would have because that's his job. >> all right. well then, president trump tweeted this on march 31st. mike flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt excuse for loss. joining us now on the phone democratic congressman ted lieu saying this is obstruction of justice. president of the united states now admits he knew michael flynn lied to the fbi yet trump tried to influence or stop the fbi investigation on flynn. so you say obstruction of justice. we're talking about there is just a day in between the
resignation of flynn and then the next day was february 14, when the president met with comey and said let this go. the so that's what you're calling attention to and you say that underscores potential obstruction of justice. >> thank you. it absolutely is obstruction of justice. i'm former prosecutor. that statute is very broad. you just have to endeavor to impede an investigation. we know michael flynn has pled guilty to lying to the fbi. we now know the president knew. and when the president trying to get comey to drop this investigation, that's classic obstruction of justice and the american people watching it unfold before their very own eyes now. >> former fbi director james com comey, he is doing the same
today. he responded to this latest development in the special counsel investigation and the trump tweet and comey who was fired of course by president trump. he posted this on instagram saying beautiful long island sound from west port, connecticut. three things cannot be long hidden, the sun, the moon and the truth. is it your feeling there is a chipping away in this investigation? not just by the michael flynn, you know, guilty plea, but even the president through his tweets? through his history of his comments that it is revealing far more about this overall investigation than perhaps even the mueller teams seems to be intimating? >> yes. we're seeing the unraveling of the mountain of lies that donald trump has been telling, not just his own staff, but the american people. he went publicly out to the
press and said that everyone's treating michael flynn infairly. he's a wonderful man, that this is a witch hunt. now we know those are all lies, because the president knew michael flynn lied to the fbi and why is that so important? it's important because the democra democracy, one the core foundations is respect for the rule of law. which means we need investigations to occur by law enforcement that are not influenced by politicians or anyone else, and that's exactly what donald trump has been trying to do in this case. >> even by way of the tweet from the president today, does this redirect or in any way intensify a certain direction with the mueller investigation? did the president just reveal something or a new direction to the mueller investigate in your view? >> i think he just gave significant additional evidence to special council mueller. we already now mueller is interested in -- i'm sorry -- he's been interviewing people
about the firing of james comey. only reason he would do that is because he thinks that some criminalial conduct occurred there. this tweet is additional evidence that the president engaged -- and interesting fact is that for watergate, the very first article of impeachment was obstruction of justice and richard nixon was brought down not tore the underlying crime but for the cover-up. >> prior to the tweet today what was your reaction to michael flynn's guilty plea in clearly his cooperation with the mueller investigation, i plead, lied to the fbi in exchange for information that the mueller team already knows they can get out of flynn? how damning potentially might that information be? >> i thought that was an incredibly significant development. you don't do a guilty plea and
just do one charge if you think you're going to get information that's not that important. the only reason robert mueller would do this is because he knows that michael flynn has damning information on people above him. and the fact that he only charged with him with one count, same thing with george pop a dop po lus. >> but if you don't cooperate rate i'm going to charge you with everything under the sun. i think he's sending strong signals to the rest of the people who may be kaupgcaught u this peb of criminal don duct that they may need to start working with them. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> we'll have much more right after this. with the candy canes. the wrapping paper the holidays. that counts. it's a phone for mom. okay, well, it's also that counts, too. no, the network. is inside the phone? around the phone. awarded network ever. count on it. here you go. as the network it's on. so give the best unlimited for four lines.
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finds -- >> i believe. >> i believe he called cnn fake news. >> he did indeed ant "the washington post." >> and "the washington post." >> and other news organizations as well. how much does that concern you? >> well, as an american, it concerns me because it's mon keying around with our constitution. it's relatively obvious with what's trying to go for it. when you tear down these institutions to a level saying you can't believe anything that is in any of them, that raises the stock of those agenda-filled other institutions and what not so that if you can't believe them, well that means you get to believe some of the other stuff that is in these. and so what is happening is a dilution of the great -- throwing dirt and oil into a bucket of water. so it all becomes undrinkable after a while. i think what the current administration is doing -- i don't know that they're saying we have to shut them down so
they don't publish anymore. what is happening is something more subtle and mo insidious and i think has more finger prints from other totality -- other governments in the past who have said look, we can't shut them down because that will cause outrage but we can den any great it, call them names. tell people that those are not the facts. that's what he is saying. >> all right. hanks with axelrod. be sure to catch it tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern on cnn. thanks so much for being with us today on extremely busy saturday. i'm fed rick ca whitfield. here's this week es turning points with dr. sanjay gupta. >> push up. there you go in she's em poured by her work outs. as a child health problems caused her to go from overweight
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