tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN August 16, 2018 6:00am-7:00am PDT
i'm poppy harlow in new york. "hogwash." that is the word from former cia director john brennan. brennan clearly not intimidated by president trump's decision to revoke his security clearance declares that collusion -- his word -- collusion with the russians in the 2016 campaign is now beyond question. he's talking about the trump team in a scathing opinion piece that he wrote for the "new york times." brennan writes "mr. trump has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare and silence others who might dare to challenge him." in the white house briefing room yesterday a statement read by
sarah sanders asserted brennan lost his access to highly sensitive information because of his "erratic conduct." >> mr. brennan's line and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with action to the nation's most closely held secrets and facilities. the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos. >> well, later yesterday in an interview with the "wall street journal," the president gave a more revealing explanation of why he chose to revoke brennan's security clearance saying that brennan is among the obama era officials that he blamed for the russia probe. here's what the president told the "journal" "i call it the rigged witch-hunt, it's a sham and these people led it so i think it's something that had to be done." let's go to abby phillip who joins me at the white house. a few question this is morning because as you've heard and pointed out a number of pundits are saying this is president trump repeating a similar pattern of behavior that he
exhibited after firing james comey, telling one things to reporters, to the press, after he has his own officials go out and give a different line of reasoning. any attempt from the white house to reconcile the two? >> it seems like an almost parallel situation in which the white house goes to great lengths to lay out the reasons why john brennan's security clearance was being revoked. sarah sanders said erratic behavior was the reason, using his clearance for politically motivated purposes or perhaps profit but then the president keeps it simple. in this interview the journal, he says it's a rigged witch-hunt. this is similar to what the president did after comey was fired. the white house said he was fired because of his treatment during hillary clinton during the campaign, that was unfair to her. later the president told nbc in
an interview that he was fired because he thought about the russia -- what he called a witch-hunt and said something needed to be done about it. he thought it was unfair to him. so poppy the white house is struggling to reconcile these two but it's notable that sarah sanders was asked are you going to apply the same standard that you used to apply to john brennan against all of these other people she listed off that they are considering revoking their clearances. she wouldn't say that they would do that. >> right, that's a great point. also this list of sort of threats i guess, threats that they might revoke security clearance for includes some new names, different from what the white house had previously been talking about about a month ago. it includes names like bruce orr, someone who is going to testify before congress in just a few weeks. what ties together all of those new names that have been added. >> this is significant. bruceor that you just mentioned, he is a current official working
in trump's government right now so that's -- that makes even more unclear what is going to happen to his clearance if the president does revoke it. but the white house added sally yates, former trump official in the justice department, they added peter strzok, lisa page and bruce ohr. peter strzok, lisa page and bruce ohr are all people associated with the russia probe in some way. they are all people that the president has attacked on social media, criticized in some cases in peter strzok and lisa page's case for their criticism of him but it really does seem to be a slight change for the white house instead of talking about former obama-era officials that are critical of him, they are adding people who the president has zeroed in on as being associated with the russia probe. >> important point. abby, thank you for the reporting. let's talk about the intelligence aspects. with me, a couple cia veterans, cnn national security analyst elliot ackerman and from the
heritage foundation and former cia department division chief bruce clinger. thank you for being here. bruce, let's listen to what michael hayden said last night to anderson cooper. >> the white house just messaged the entire american intelligence community if you stand up and say things that upset the president or with which we disagrees he will punish you. >> is hayden right? is this a threat to others to be quiet? >> well, those still in the intelligence community would not be consulting with or talking with the media, they would be wary about interaction with the media so it would seem to apply more to those who left the intelligence community and speaking out as n a political way. >> when you look at what brennan wrote in the "new york times"
opinion piece, it's quite an accusation and he doesn't lay out the intelligence that gets him to that. he says the president's claims of no collusion are hogwash and he goes on to say there is no question that there was collusion on the part of the trump team. he says the only question that remains are whether the collusion took place that constitutes criminal liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred and how many members of trump incorporated attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of the money into their pockets. momentous or reckless assertion by brennan? >> i think what's momentous here is the true collusion seems to be on the far right and the far left and we're seeing a level of hyperpartisanship affect our institutions like the fbi, like the cia, and that undermining of
these long held institutions which have always been non-partisan is what is momentous and it's discouraging to see. the real losers here, frankly, are the american people because we don't know if going forward we will have a truly depoliticized intelligence service. >> bruce brennan's assertion that i just read in the times that it's hogwash to say there's no collusion, this coming from the man who led the cia. is it momentous, is it reckless of him? >> well, the revoking of the clearance is executive order 12968 identifies what procedures for accessing or maintaining or revoking security procedures and then there are adjudication guidelines identifying what areas one would lose clearances for and none of those seem to be applicable in this case so it raised the perception that it's politically driven. >> i'm asking you what brennan is saying, the assertion he's
making about collusion on the part of the president. what do you make of that? >> well, the whole russia investigation is a long standing investigation that's going its way through the mueller team, et cetera. so we don't know the results of that until they come out with indications one way or the othe other. >> when you look at why former intelligence officials have their clearance it's not just as the white house said to monetize on it. it's to help current intelligence agencies, to help people currently working in the cia, to be able to pull on your expertise from things you have lived and worked through and led on. some are pointing out that what the president has done here actually just hurts his own cia now. do you agree with that assessment? >> i certainly agree with that assessment and i think what we're seeing is unprecedented actions on both sides of this
argument. what the president is doing by threatening these mass revocations of security clearances is unprecedented. we've never seen a president do that before. >> in the case of john brennan, we're seeing a cia director be more aggressive, more political than we've ever seen before in the history of cia directors and the resip rerociprocareciprocalp with institutions that function best when they are depoliticized and it's a poisoning of the culture. what. >> bruce, what does it tell you that the president and the white house did not consult with the director of national intelligence dan coats and that according to our reporting, the cia was caught off guard. >> well, the normal procedures would be an agency head or the special executive would make the determination to revoke
someone's clearance so as mr. ackerman said, this seems to be unprecedented, i'm not aware of a president revoking clearances personally in the past. but during my time in the intelligence community, i found the analysis was very fiercely apolitical, fiercely non-ideological. the intelligence analysts call t i like they see it, they're providing information to policymakers to enable them to make the best policy decisions possible on behalf of the united states. so once people leave the intelligence community they can intersize their first amendment rights and we can discuss and debate any statements that former officials make. >> and elliot, isn't that what brennan is doing as a private citizen no longer leading the agency? saying look, the way you handle yourself on the world stage in he helsinki was tantamount to treasonous. that's not him saying in the his official capacity. he's a former agent. >> certainly but i think there's
also precedent and the precedent is that the directors of cia are brought in very, very closely to administrations, they handle significant sensitive information for sensitive decisions so if we have a precedent by which former cia directors are extremely vocal of the outgoing administration -- the counteradministration you'll wind up with a changed intelligence culture and a highly politicized intelligence apparatus in the country so is it ultimately worth it? the american people should not fall into the trap of trying to ascribe blame, is brennan wrong, is trump wrong. it's like when you have two parents going through a divorce and they're yelling at each other in the house. it doesn't matter who is right. what matters is the trauma inflicted on the kids sitting in the house. no one is discussing this. this is poisoning the well of what these institutions are
supposed to do in this country. >> elliot ackerman and bruce clinger. thank you for being with me. we are going to talk with the politics of this ahead. minutes from now, jury deliberations kick off in the fraud trial for extrump campaign chairman paul manafort. this is a major test for the special counsel bob mueller and we'll take you live outside the courtroom in minutes. also, hundreds of u.s. newspapers this morning band together with one message -- we are not the enemy of the people. all this on the same day that the president tweets the fake news media is the opposition party. he just wrote that minutes ago. and emergency workers could hardly keep up. person after person dropping in a connecticut park in one day, more than 0 peop70 people overd on what is believed to be synthetic marijuana. we have the latest. zheimer's asn is going to make it happen
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back to our top story, mixed reaction from lawmakers on capitol hill about the president's decision to strip former cia director john brennan of his security clearance. some lawmakers are calling it a nixonian move in an effort to silence his critics. others support him. lauren fox joins me with more. let's start with the president's critic which is, by the way, it's not just democrats. some republican senators are calling him out on this. >> senator mark warner, the leading democrat on the senate intelligence committee called it, like you said, nixonian. he said the president donald trump is just trying to distract the american public. but susan collins, a moderate republican from from maine said the move was "unwise" and senator bob corker, the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee said it was "a banana republic kind of thing." so a lot of criticism even from on the republicans. >> what senators are endorsing
this move? >> well, rand paul a republican from kentucky sent out one of the strongest statements. he said he pushed president trump to revoke brennan's security clearance. in 2013 he filibustered brennan's nomination to lead the say yay and that was during the obama administration but senator john kennedy, a republican from louisiana had this to say about john brennan. >> he's been totally political. i think i called him a butt-head and i meant it. i think he's given the national intelligence community a bad name. >> so as you can hear, there is a lot of reaction from republicans who say that they're okay with this move. i would expect most republicans are going to be standing with the president, poppy. >> you just leave it to john kennedy for the colorful
language of the day. lauren fox, let us know what else you're hearing. let's discuss with karoun demirjian. ladi ladies, to you first. when you look at what the president told the "wall street journal" in this impromptu 20 minute oval office interview last night about why brennan's security clearance was revoked "i call it the rigged witch-hunt, it's a sham. these people led it so something has to be done." why does he do stuff like this?
>> what you have here as you also had in the situation with the firing of james comey is his aides around him trying to craft what would be a defensible rationale for something that the president cannot be talked out of, that he is intent upon doing. we saw when the white house put out this statement after sarah sanders read it at the briefing yesterday, it was dated july 26, that was a few days after that this meeting he had with rand paul where senator paul suggested he yank brennan's clearance and clearly president trump was intrigued with this idea and wanted to do it. so they sort of construct this whole rational around how you could do this. you're the president, you have to ultimate role in protecting classified information but then when it comes down to it and he's asked about why he's doing it, the president says what he thinks and he's said this before time and again that he considers
mike hayden, clapper, comey to be political hacks. and all of these conclusions that the intelligence community has republiced, all of these -- this information the law enforcement community has put forth, he considers it to be personal politically motivated attacks against him not intelligence gathering or national security work. >> karoun what do you think of the "times" -- brennan saying -- saying there was no question there was collusion on the part of the trump team before the mueller probe is wrapped up does that go to the white house argument that this is highly politicized? >> brennan is no longer serving in the role he was serving in the intelligence community so he can speak freely and he has been. he's been critical based on his experience as a high ranking intelligence officer and he's not backing down from that because he got slapped across
the face so it's not anything different if you would have had to have taken those actions since he retired since he's been out there commentating and pulling no punches opinions about thinking the president and the way he's talking about it is undermight being the united states. so i think if you think this is a great conspiracy starting with going down to mueller's probe and you continue to think that so everyone is sticking with their camps which is fairly -- it's extreme to this sort of thing because political statements are not usually considered grounds for revoking security clearance. there has to be something much more severe. >> you guys know obviously a name that is not on this list, a name that jumps out because it's
not on this list. that is former national security michael flynn who is a convicted felon, fired by the president for lying to the fbi, whom president obama did not revoke his security clearance despite him chanting "lock her up" about hillary clinton on stage, despite him warning incoming president trump about michael flynn. does that give credence who say this is about the president wanting to settle scores? >> this is clearly about punishing and threatening people who have been critical or who he considers to be threats. the white house -- sarah sanders said yes he in the "wall street journal" that. and so i do think that, you know, that sort of gives the lie to the explanation that's been given but as you pointed out earlier, the president himself has undercut this argument by
saying that the reason this had to be done is he considers brennan and others to have been the predicate for this entire mueller investigation, the entire vein of questioning of russia's interference in the election and any role his campaign may have had in that so it's pretty transparent that we're looking at both sides of the aisle, this is about silencing critics of the president. >> larry sabato of the university of virginia center for politics pointed something out to us this morning on twitter so we went back and dug up the tape and that is the final white house speech from former president nixon. listen to this. >> never be petty. always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them and then you destroy yourself.
>> karoun, lesson for the president in that this morning? >> it could be give than there's all kind of nixon era precedents that people are citing with the trump presidency given the russia investigation. yeah, look, the president is his own worst enemy in many ways and that he does not have a filter. he has his staff go through these hoops and orchestrate what would seem to be a more legally ethically politically defensible argument for why he's taking certain steps and then he undercuts it. so in that way the president is undermining himself and taking his own emotional visceral reaction letting that up end which would be a more middle ground. but is this impulsivity or the president feeling like his impulsiveness is what makes people love him. >> and he has the complete
authority to do the what he did with anyone else on that list minus the people who don't have their security clearance anymore. in just minutes, jury deliberations begin in the trial of paul manafort. his lawyers walking into court moments ago. you see them there. before that a quick check on the market. the dow is set to rebound today futures up more than 200 points new trade talks with china, we're keeping a close eye on the market. stay with us. i'll be right back. ♪ introducing e*trade personalized investments
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comcast, building america's largest gig-speed network. this morning jury deliberation begins in the trial of the president's former campaign chairman paul manafort. attorneys delivered their closing arguments yesterday. manafort is charged with 18 counts of bank fraud and tax evasion. the prosecution closed by saying this is the case that is all about manafort's lies. the defense closed by arguing this trial was all politically motivated. let's go to the courthouse. our justice correspondent jessica snyder is outside with more. both teams seem happy with their closing arguments and now it's in the jury's hands. >> that's right. when paul manafort's lawyers left the courthouse yesterday, they said that paul manafort himself was very happy with the way closing arguments went.
of course in justice a few minutes, it will be in the jury's hands. six men and six women who will determine paul manafort's fate. on wednesday there were strong words on both sides of the prosecution and defense. they said paul manafort is not above the law and then they accused him of lying to the government, banks, bookkeepers. the lead prosecutors greg andres put it this way in a very pointed statement here, he said when you follow the trail of mr. manafort's money, it's littered with lies. mr. manafort lied to keep more money when he had it and he lied to get more money when he didn't. the defense team saying rick gates was the real liar here. of course rick gates, the former right hand man to paul manafort who flipped, pleaded guilty and is cooperating. the defense team put it this way. he said to the very end he lied
to you. meaning rick gates, the government so desperate to make a case against mr. manafort made a deal for mr. gates so it comes down to whose side was more persuasive. the prosecution put up 27 witnesses, the defense none. but the judge reminded the jury that manafort had a right not to testify, manafort did not take the stand. we'll see how that plays out when they begin deliberations. >> jets, keep us posted let me bring if laura coates. you look at the counts and you look at the fact that manafort faces over 300 years in prison if found guilty on all of these counts. the jury is going to be in the deliberation room in just a few minutes. they'll see some things for the first time. they'll see the pictures of this ostentatious life-style, the $15,000 ostrich jacket, the high end clothes that he bought with his foreign wire transfers and
you have to defense trying to hang their entire case on discrediting rick gates. the star prosecution witness. is that a risky move? >> it's risky on both sides. it's particularly bold of the defense to hang their entire case on whether you believe in the credibility of rick gates who is only a corroborating voice and not the linchpin to most of the actual charges on the indictment. he's only a corroborating voice on a fraction of them so to say i'm going to put my eggs in one particular basket is a bold and perhaps mistake to make but if you're the prosecution they are well aware that if the most exciting thing is whether or not there is an ostrich jacket and an ostrich vest, they're well aware this is a very, very dry, elemental document-heavy case and for that reason people say well perhaps we should go more
salacious but the reality is it can be both dry and cult and dry they have testimony from accountants who don't have the same skel cons in their closet and they're trying to make the connection that says listen either he lied or he didn't. this is not just about the russia collusion investigation if at all. this is about whether or not uncle sam got paid and the documents say he did not. >> also, the defense again reiterating, laura, in their closing argument that this is politically motivated but then judge ellis jumps in and instructs the jury to ignore that part and the justice department's possible motive for bringing the case. will jurors? is it already just planted in their mind? >> it was a good rebuke to do
so. they said they would not mention the authority of the special counsel to bring forth this matter which is part of his mandate to uncover and investigate things he found in the course of the collusion investigation. so when they did it, it was a good rebuke. however it's very difficult to unring that bell for the same reasons a jury will look to figure out why the person did not come on the stand to defend themselves or give any other witnesses to defend that. it's also hard to ignore the elephant in the room which is the very first case out of the mueller collusion probe. it will be the litmus test and that is a hell of an elephant to have in the room so they were from to strategic to plant the seed, watch it go through the entire trial and they can't ignore it. >> there you go. laura coates with the expertise, thank you, my friend. >> thank you. up next, an unprecedented unified fight. hundreds of newspapers with one clear message -- stop attacking
welcome back. this morning, hundreds of u.s. newspapers coast to coast are banding together with a clear message -- the message, we are not the enemy of the people. meantime, minutes ago the president tweeted this, quote, the fake news media is the opposition party. it's very bad for our great country but we are winning. let's go to anchor john avlon who joins me now. reality check time so necessary this morning. >> a reality check with the president's tweet. he's doubling and tripling down, there's a broad pushback. we've got around 350 american newspapers linking arms and taking a stand publishing condemning president trump's attacks on the free press "to
the press alone checked as it is, the world is indebted for the triumphs that have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression." in contrast, here's donald trump. >> they are the fake, fake disgusting news. he is the the worst. those very dishonest people back there. absolute dishonest, absolute scum. it's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. they are the enemy of the people. i would never kill them but i do hate them and some of them are such lying disgusting people. it's true. >> none of that is normal in american politics. despite the built in tension between the president and the press but if you think words like that don't matter look at this. 51% of people agree. luckily, overwhelming numbers of
independents and democrats disagree but freedom of the press shouldn't be a partisan issue. the president gives an excuse to autocratic around the world. exhibit a, donald trump's self-serving distortion of the term fake news has been picked up by dictators who take him seriousl seriously. venezuela's maduro denying human rights abuses and economic catastrophe, this is what we call fake news today, isn't it? the philippines duterte killing thousands in the name of his drug war, quote, i'm being de n demonized by fake news. myanmar denying that they are ethically cleansing the rohingya people saying there's no such thing as rohingya, it's fake
news. and the official paper for the communist party say trump is right, fake news is the enemy. something china has moan for years. america's all been different. we've been a beacon of freedom in a stormy world leading with the example. >> so needed this morning. so needed. joining us to have this conversation let me bring in marcella garcia. it was your paper and your team that led this effort that said we have to do something, we have to be a united voice as journalists across the country to do something. 350 papers from towns large and small, coast to coast, every state in between coming out and
doing this even in kansas a newspaper in topeka. what do you hope this moment achieves? >> i hope this moment achieves -- i hope people get the message about the value of a free press. like you correctly say two weeks ago we became alarmed at the level of rhetoric coming from my president, your president, the president of the united states of america labelling one whole class of fellow americans as the enemy of the people and we thought it was time for the media to have a say in this debate to remind people what we do everyday which is to hold power accountable and elected officials accountable. >> marcella, were you surprised by the response you received? >> absolutely. we talked about it as an
editorial board and we all thought it was a great idea and we started reaching out to newspapers, some said no, some others say yes but all of a sudden a ton of local community newspapers started coming in saying us i want to be a part of this so it's been overwhelming. >> let me point out those papers because this is important. in new mexico they write "we are not the enemy of the people, we are the people." the athens news says local officials are increasingly going on the attack. in minnesota, the swift county monitor, a small paper says attacks on journalists will lead to violence i know from being the middle of the country people think the coast doesn't get it. how important was it for you to
have these papers from small towns in middle america and everywhere else join your effort? >> it was very important because this isn't about the globe, this isn't about president trump. this isn't about one paper or another newspaper it was about racing voices and saying we're not the enemy of the people and again as we have noted before the threats or -- threats of freedom of the press or defending a free press looks very different in boston and new york than he does in the middle of the country. for us it was important to use representation for most of the state which is we do, we have representation from nearly every state and also red and blue states. >> i would read what the san francisco "chronicle" editorial page editor john diaz wrote. this is what he's predicting as a result of this. trump will call it collusion and attempt to cite this day of editorials to discredit criminal and factual news stories in the
future, critical and factual news stories in the future even though no one involved in these pieces had anything to do with his campaign. do you think that's a correct prediction? >> i don't know. i don't know wh's going to happen. but i think what's at stake here is too important for us. the stakes are so high that we needed to say something. the rhetoric which that we felt is too dangerous so it's a real threat to weaken our democracy. so we couldn't afford or be bothered with what the president is going to say or how people are going to view this. we needed to make a stand and that's what we're doing. >> marcella, thank you, and john? >> it's inspiring to see newsrooms across the country under so much to stand up and we
first responders overwhelmed with emergency calls after more than 70 people overdosed at a single park in new haven, connecticut. officials say when the emergency crews were assisting one person in the park, four to six others would literally fall down overdosing right next to them. at this point, no fatalities. two individuals are considered to be in serious life-threatening condition.
police have in cuss totd didtod person connected to this. this had to do with a synthetic drug. the dea is learning more and telling us more this morning. what was it? >> it was a chaotic situation yesterday. the dea has test results that they had been waiting on about the substance that led to so much yesterday. at this point, according to a local mayor's spokesperson, he can confirm the results have come back and show this was synthetic marijuana with no additi additives. there was reporting and concern because of what doctors were saying this was possibly some of the k2 or what's known as spice laced with something like that or perhaps another substance. however, now the dea has confirmed through this spokesperson saying that this was synthetic marijuana with no additives. it did lead to a lot of activity yesterday. >> what's synthetic marijuana versus marijuana? >> we have seen this before. the federal government warned
about this. the substance that's usually -- it's mixed with other chemicals. fentanyl as well. it's something that -- what's different is the sheer numbers that we saw yesterday. 74 people there in the new haven common, a very popular park, next to yale university. four people were treated there. as you point out, no fatalities yet. there have not been any overdose cases in that specific area in the last nine hours. that could change. >> we know this comes as the cdc report this morning shows a report number of overdoses last year, 72,000 americans dieing as a result. >> grim figures as the situation unfolds in connecticut. 72,000 people dieing from drug overdoses in 2017. >> thanks for the reporting. keep us posted. the fate of former trump campaign chair paul manafort soon to be in the jury's hands. today we are keeping a close eye on the developments. we will go live to the
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