tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN February 8, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PST
hello, everyone. acting attorney general matt bit kerr on the hill and under oath. this morning he's appearing before the house judiciary committee. the hearing will pick up shortly, but right out of the gate, it was fireworks. it was fiery, it was contentious, especially a contentious questioning by the chairman of the committee, democratic congressman jerry nadler. big questions going in were essential the following -- what conversations has whitaker had with the president about the special counsel's investigation. did any conversation happen before he was named acting attorney general, and would he try to claim executive privilege? so far some answers, but also raising more questions.
manu raji has been watching all this. late out the headlines we've heard so far. >> the big headlines is matt whitaker made clear he did not speak with president trump about the investigation. he said i have not talked to the president about this or service white house officials. he also said i do not believe that he's had conversations with a third party, an individual who may have later paced on notches about the special counsel probe to the president. he did rereel he had been briefed once about the investigation, but he was briefed multiple times and would not reveal any of those matters. and after the firing of jeff sessions, the acting attorney general, they view it as an attempt to interview with the mueller investigation going forward, something he now oversees, but whitaker tried to
tell the committee he's done nothing to impede the investigation. >> i want to be very specific about this, mr. chairman, because i think it will allay a lot of fears that have existed among this committee, among the legislative branches largely, and maybe among some american people. we have followed the special counsel's regulations to a tee. there's been no event, no decision that is required me to take any action, and i have not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation. that's something that democrats are not going to accept. they're threatening to bring him back, and they say he will have to answer questions at a later
i think they still have some work to do. he said he wasn't going to discuss his conversations with the president, but went ahead and discussed his conversations with the president, so it will be up to them to see -- and while he set his hasn't discussed it, what about the prosecutor's works in manhattan. investigating michael cohen, as we have reported late last year, myself and pamela brown, whitaker and the president have had conversations about that. he is that he thought these were not campaign violations, we also reported that they have had questioning about the hillary clinton e-mails and the clinton foundation investigations when whitaker was chief of staff. there's way more to go here.
again it's up to whitaker to see how far he's willing to put this line in the he sand, but he's clearly willing to open the door to at least some conversations. >> it has appeared a happen hazard application of i'm not going to go there when it comes to the testimony. let's see what lapse when they come back. let me bring in dana bash. manu brought up this moment. it crystallizes how unfriendly relations are and how hostile it was right off the bat, dana, when during -- i want to play you the moment, but to set it up, the chairman of the committee asking questions of the acting attorney general, and the acting attorney general decides to be timekeeper in the middle of this questions. let's play this. >> in your capacity as acting attorney general, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?
>> mr. chairman, i see that your five minutes is up, so -- i'm -- i am here voluntary. we have agreed to five-minute rounds, and -- >> i think that's a fine place to end the five-minute rule. >> the committee -- i will point out we didn't enforce the five-minute rule on the acting attorney general whitaker. we will. >> i was just saying it might be a good breaking point at that point for you. >> the attorney general was in the middle of saying something. answer the question, please. >> then he goes on. dana, chutzpa or something else? >> i think that's probably the minimum of the words you can't use to describe that, kate. yes, it is contentious. there's no question, but he is in the chairman's committee room. that is one of the benefits of
being the chair. you can -- if you are questioning, you can go over time. it happens all the time, no matter what party it is. >> but dana, it's more obvious than not. >> exactly. it's more often than not. look, it was snarky. maybe that's another word i would use on tv. the other thing you would say is, despite how contentious it is, kate, jerry nadler laughed it off. he didn't have to. he could have gotten angry. he could have said, wait a minute, you're not in charge here, i'm in charge here, and been completely within the bounds of his power. he didn't do that. i think maybe he let the moment speak for itself. let's just be clear. matt whitaker is getting cheers from his base and people who support him for maybe sticking it to the chairman, but i think we have to remember, there are protocols in place, and that's not on pollyanna thing to say.
the protocols should be kept if you have a democratic administration and republicans in charge. >> let me bring in evan perez. there was another moment that i think, while in the time we have, i do want to make sure that this is cleared up maybe once and for all, etch. the top republican on the committee, he asked a question of the acting attorney general about roger stone's arrest. cnn was there the morning of roger stone's arrest at his hour in florida. the ranking member raised a question about that. let me play that for you, and then let's talk about it. > are you familiar, from public reports or otherwise that a cnn reporter was kaumcamp out outsi roger stone's house when the fbi arrested him? >> i am aware of that, and it was deeply concerning to me how cnn found out about that.
cnn has been more than transparent about what is the definition of good reporting and reporters' gut. if y you could please lay out wt really happened. >> i think what you see him doing there inch he knows the president will be watching this hearing, and there where he says he was concerned how cnn had knowledge about something, he knows exactly what happened.
so every friday we were. we saw some hints, including the fact that the grand jury met on thursday, an usual day to meet. and then we saw them left not in his suit and tie. in consultation before we did that, that's one of the things that people don't understand. this is a stakeout. a lot of them, 99% turn up
absolutely nothing, you never see the video, and nobody asks questions. in this case, it was a very lucky shot to do, and it ended up capturing the moment when roger stone was being arrested. if you could see the video, roger stone has since released his own video of what happened based on his security cameras. you see the fbi handled this in exactly the way you would expect them to. he said he was treated respectfully, so i think a lot of the complaints you're seeing nowadays about what happened and about cnn's role in here are sort of a bit of a conspiracy being hatched for the either purposes of politics. >> there's no conspiracy. if we need to say it once and for all. evan, thanks for that. here with me is a former prosecutor for the district of new york. as we can see there's a lot
that's already happened and we're only two questioners in. ellie, kind of on the main point that he was asked if he had been briefed on the special counsel's investigation, he says yes. then asked multiple times, multiple times he says yes, he's been briefed. dodds that as sensitive information? i'm trying to get at the application of i will answer or i won't answer. >> theoretically it could be sensitive, but practically who cares? i think what will be interesting to watch for is when is he going to invoke executive privilege? that's when the rubber hits the road. when lawyer roa jaret talk about before, when he gets asked about the conversation with the president about the southern district's investigation. lawyera had reported that the president lashed out.
-- i do note think what executive privilege is intended to do. it's to protect national security information, but not behind the scenes conversations about, hey, make sure these guys don't hurt me. >> and how it works actually comes from the president it seems in this day and age it seems like a formality. what's the most important thing you were listening to? we've had some answers, but it seeks it raises more questions. >> well, first just the level of fireworks, as you put it. you might have thought that nadler and others were going to be sort of tame, at least off the bad, and on the contrary they came right after him. >> second i think it's important and what he really said is -- he took a baby step from asserting, and said i would assert it if you asked me about conversations with the president, but then he, as you say, would have to be the
president himself, so we're not going to have an assertion, and finally the point laura made, he draws the line, but then he tiptoes over it, which i account in large part for nerves. >> i was going to ask -- >> he seems ill at ease. the same thing with a five-minute rule, but that's a dangerous witness, someone ill at ease. that might mean even in they're going overall with kid gloves, that they'll get some good stuff. and as elie said, executive privilege is not a cure-all. the more you tack about the conversations, the possible of waiver and the line come up. >> the longer -- we know these committee hearings can go on for hours. the more questioning. how that -- how you answer the second time, the third time is just as important. guys, much more to come. we are going to bring you back
total house hearing with the acting attorney general matt whitaker, as soon as it starts back up. many more questions about his oversight of the russia investigation, what conversations were had and when with the white house about the special counsel's investigation and much more, when they come back from what they're taking right now, chess votes on the house floor. while we are on pause there, there's another big story that we have the opportunity to bring to you today. this explosive allegations of blackmail and extortion, now amazon founder jeff bezos is taking on "the national enquirer" after he says the publication threatened to reveal pictures or else. with less of the sugar you don't. (straining) i'll take that. (cheers) 30 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar. ensure max protein. in two great flavors. a lot will happen in your life. wrinkles just won't. neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair's derm-proven retinol
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blackmail. it is claimed that they would release photos if he didn't stop publishing an article about amazon. arthur, this is an extraordinary turn of events a few weeks ago. the national enquirer released a story saying that jeff bezos had had an extra marital affair. in that stores there shall text messages. he wanted to know how "the national enquirer" got those text messages. he launched an investigation into this, and that brings us to yesterday's event. he says something unusual happened to me yesterday. actually for me it wasn't just
unusual. i made an offer that i couldn't refuse. i'm glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it in writing. so bezos published they e-mails, and basically threatening him, saying if he did not drop hi investigation into how "national enquirer" obtained those messages, they would publish mo more risque photos. they were saying if you did not drop this, we were going to go after you in other ways and embarrass you. >> bezos in this also hints at a connection with saudi arabia. this may seem to get at the heart of the issue here. >> right. there are so many overlays with this story. one of them is the saudi connection. obviously bezos owns "the washington post." its columnist jamal khashoggi
was murdered last year, and they've been investigating the saudi government and its involvement in that murder. and there was a glows -- so there's been issues between the saudi government and "the national enquirer." maybe there was a connection here with the saudis and "the national enquirer" that didn't like jeff bezos' publication president with its articles. >> it doesn't seem that any suggestion that jeff bezos is going to slow down. ami did respond a while ago. what are they saying? >> they're say they behaved
ethically. american media believes that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story. further at the time of the recent allegations made by mr. bezos, it was in good-faith negotiations to resolve all the matters with him. that said, they take the allegations made very seriously and it's going to be investigating him. if they find anything, appropriate action will be taken. okay. let us see what comes of that investigation. >> ami investigating ami, i don't think many people are expecting anything interesting to come from that. >> thanks, oliver. it looks like there's much more to come on this. still ahead for us, we're going to bring you back to the house judiciary committee with acting attorney general matt whitaker. as soon as it resumes, you can see everyone is basically waiting for it to do just that. they're taking a pause. they'll be back in, and you can only expect that the fireworks we saw will be picking back up as soon as they begin once
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by the supreme court for now. there's much more to this. joining mess is ariane devos. justice roberts sided with the liberal-leaning court. what happened here? >> they have blocked this law from going into effect. opponents said it would leave only one abortion provider in the state. the law requires those providers to get admitting privilege it is in a local hospital, so the opponents went to the supreme court and said, put it on hold for now. we're going to ask you to take up the legality, but for now put it on hold. as you said, roberts, he sided counter the liberals here, and kavanaugh, we haven't heard a lot from him, he sided with the conservatives. to really understand what's going on, you have to walk back to 2016.
the supreme court heard a similar case out of texas. they struck that down. that's when justice kennedy was on the bench. if you look at what happened there, you look at what roberts was facing. he didn't feel like if the court had struck down that texas law and was suddenly going to allow the louisiana law to go into effect, robert said let's hold off for now, let's block this law for now, this case may come to us next term, and so you can't read too much into where roberts was here. he was an institutionalist, he didn't want anyone to think there was a whiplash. maybe he doesn't want a biting dissent, but it's for now. >> so everything is now about what's next with this law? what then does this -- what does this decision tell you about the future of roe v wade, anything?
>> it tells you a bit about kavanaugh. he took a middle ground, but certainly was with the conservatives, but we have a lot of these laws coming up, because opponents of abortion 3/4 emboldened by this nully solidified conservative majority. we'll see more of these cases come to the court. their hope is they justices, this court, if it doesn't overturn supreme court precedent will chip away at it, gut it. that's the fear of these supporters of abortion rights. last night was good news for them, but they're still very nervous, kate. much more to come. thank you very much. coming up for us, we will bring you back to the house judiciary committee with acting attorney general matt whitaker, as soon as it resumes. and the fireworks are sure to resume's well. up next for us, top adviser to the president, kellie anne conway revealing she was
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i sitting down with her, and she spoke about the first time she had been in a restaurant with her daughter and some of her daughter's friends and their parents. it was in october of 2018, right after the brett kavanaugh hearing and tensions were very high. >> i was assaulted? a restaurant, and -- >> assaulted how? >> that person has to go to court soon. >> assaulted how? >> i was standing there with my daughter, her friends were there, too. somebody was grabbing me from behind, and was shaking me to the point i thought somebody was hugging me, one of the parents coming to pick up his other her
daughter. it felt weird, like it was a little aggressive. i turned around, and the woman was just unhinged. >> just a stranger. >> i don't know terr her whole face was terror, anger. she was right here. my daughter was right there. and she ought to pay for that. she has no right to touch anybody. she puts her hands on me. i said get your hands off me, was doing it from the front with my daughter who videotaped her. she just would not leave the restaurant. she kept going on and on. she went outside. she just wouldn't stop. this woman think it is it's okay to touch someone else. >> so you call 911, the police came. >> did they arrest her? >> she left. >> with the police? >> no, she had already gone. >> you told the president about it. >> i did, but long after. >> what did he say?
>> what he always said, were you okay? >> how was your daughter? that's so traumatic. i would imagine for you, but as a mother probably that's the first thing -- >> there were other people's kids there, which is why i didn't talk about it publicly. i want it to be a teachable moment for everyone. >> i did ask her about incendiary comment coming from her boss, whether she views that too as contributing to the toxic atmosphere. she shot back sarcastically that i violated a challenge she gave to form a sentence without mentioning donald trump, but then she argued flatly the only person she believes is responsible for this conduct is the woman who committed the alleged assault. >> dana, the woman that conway says assaulted her, she was charged with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct, i believe. what is she saying?
>> that's right. there is a trial other records relating to reached out to mary elizabeth inabenne it. it -- to her attorney. the statement -- she saw kelly anne conway, a public person and exercised her first amendment right to express her opinion. she did not assault misconway. the fact will so ms. conway's account to be false, and her attorney says she will plead not guilty. >> thanks for bringing that. i really appreciate it. >> thanks, dates. we're going to bring you back to the house judiciary committee. it looks like they're getting ready to start back up. when they get back up and going,
we are going to get back into it with you. also ahead, i'm almost afraid to see it, but there are signs of progress on capitol hill, lawmakers work to strike a deal to avoid another shutdown, what could that deal look like? >> what does it mean for the president's request and demand for money for the border wall? sfwloo
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. ms. lofgren? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. whitaker, for being here today. on january 28th, you made a statement, and i'm trying to understand more about that. you mentioned -- and this is a direct quote -- right now, referring to the mueller investigation -- right now the investigation is klee to being completed. what was the basis for that statement that you made, mr. bit kerr? >> thank you for the question, congresswoman. i had a press conference announcing an important indictment related to huawei and their alleged stealing of intellectual property of an american company. i was asked questions about the special counsel's investigation. i prefaced that answer by saying
i can't talk about an yoon going investigation like the special counsel's investigation. as i sipped here today, i don't have any to add to what i said. >> it seems to me that you did talk about an ongoing investigation and, therefore, you can understand i'm sure we'd like to know what you meant. in that same statement, quote, you were comfortable that the directions that were made will be reviewed through the various means we have, unquotes. what does that mean? >> congresswoman, thank you for that question. i would refer you to the special counsel regulations that, again, the question that i was was -- the answer that i gave to the inquiry was regarding the timing of the special counsel's
investigation. i have nothing as i sit here, to add to that, but i do want to mention that the special counsel's regulations by their very nature say that the attorney general will receive a report, that that will be a confidential report, and that report will cover the decisions. so i was talking about, as attorney if, as acting attorney general, if and when i receive that report -- again, i have only less than a week, as you know, before mr. barr comes on board, i would review those decisions pursuant to that report. >> is it fair to say really what you're saying is the special counsel's investigation is proceeding within the scope of the authority set forth in deputy attorney general rosenstein's may 2017 order? is that -- >> thank you for the opportunity to clarify that. i think what i just explained is that the special counsel's investigation is proceeding consistent with the regulations
that outline why the appointment happened, consistent with mr. rosenstein's appointment. >> thank you very much for the clarification. i'd just like to note, to some extent, it's hard to ignore that the willingness to discuss ongoing investigations has not been applied evenly. i mean, you have just mentioned today that roger stone indictment, and that's an ongoing matter, but let me get back to an opportunity you have to clear the air. many have speculated that your appointment was based on your public appearances that harshly criticized the special counsel's investigation. prior to your on hiring as chief of staff to then attorney general jeff sessions, i'd like to know, did you discuss or
share your private opinions of the special counsel investigation with president trump or other white house officials, such as mr. kelly, or trump family members? public surrogates like mr. giuliani? i would note this is not covered by executive privilege, because at the time you were a private citizen. s. >> congresswoman, thank you for that question. i came to washington, d.c. in october of 2017 to be attorney general sessions' chief of staff. i have the greatest respect, as you you know, for jeff sessions, and i am honored to carry out the role of acting -- >> that's very nice, but that wasn't the question i asked. >> well, as you 2340e, i am -- as i mentioned, honored to serve as acting attorney general, and i'm honored that the president selected me to be the acting attorney general. i can assure this committee
before appointing me to this position, the president did not ask for and i did not provide any commitments, promises concerning the special counsel's investigation or any other investigation. >> that's not the question i asked, sir. i see my time is about to expire. mr. chairman, i would like to add -- i know we'll have follow-up investigations. >> i will allow to you ask the question again more specifically and ask >> the question is whether you shared your private opinions of the special counsel investigation with president trump, other white house officials such as john kelly, trump family members, public surrogates such as rudy jewgiu i giuliani. at the time i'm referencing is when you were a private citizen and before you were hired so it's not covered by executive privilege. did you do that? >> just to be clear, you're asking whether or not i talked
to anybody in the president's circle or the white house about my views of the special counsel's investigation when i was a private citizen not at the department of justice? >> correct. >> no, i did not. >> all right. >> thank you. mr. chavet. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. acting attorney general, as you mentioned, there were other matters within the purview of the justice department and within the oversight responsibilities of this committee besides fishing expeditions, trying to get the goods on this president in an apparent effort to impeach him. for example, 70,000 americans died from drug overdoses in 2017. i'm old enough to remember back in the mid-'80s when president ronald reagan and his wife felt so compelled to do something about the scourge of drugs in this country that the effort to
just say no began and other efforts following that. that was because back at that time we had 10,000 deaths a year due to drug overdoses, and we now have over 70,000 deaths. so it's gotten, unfortunately over time, worse, not better. and most of the increase in deaths in 2017 were due to synthetic drugs, synthetic opioids specifically like fentanyl which accounted for a significant number of those deaths. this is clearly an epidemic which has been declared state of emergency nationwide by the president and has deeply affected families in my home state of ohio as well as families all across this nation. what efforts and resources has or does the justice department intend to use to combat this
growing epidemic, and what help can congress provide to assist you in your efforts? >> congress, i appreciate that question, and i know ohio has been dramatically affected by the opioid crisis. we have done a lot at the department of justice, and i would like to partner with this committee, and i'm sure general barr would as well to combat and have additional tools to combat this opioid crisis. but some of the things we have done is we set up in 2017 the opioid fraud and detection unit, which was a way that the justice department could utilize data to help combat the devastating opioid crisis. we did the largest health care fraud takedown in june of 2018. we set up the pill task force, otherwise known as the prescription intradiction task force in 2017. we set up an innovative way and
set up operation s.o.s. which is operation surge. we went down to manatee county where we saw they had taken an asa and embedded them in the sheriff's office to take on every fentanyl case, and they drastically reduced the cases in manatee county, and we decided to take that model and apply it to the most affected states and districts that could really make a dramatic difference in saving lives. we also -- >> if i could, let me stop you there. i just have a follow-up question along the same topic. and the president addressed this to a considerable degree in the state of the union the other night. do you have an opinion, is there a relationship between enhancing border security, particularly at our southern border, and making at least some progress in reducing the scourge of drug addiction in this country? >> congressman, absolutely there
is a connection between the drugs that are being imported through our southern border, which is a large majority of those drugs, and the opioid crisis we now face. in fact, i went to china. the chief of staff, jeff sessions, asked me to go to find out what they could do to reduce the amount of fentanyl that's being produced in china. we had some nice dialogue with high-level government officials, and the president, as you know, has agreed with president xi to reduce fentanyl production in china, and one of the ways china was to do that was schedule the analogs of fentanyl. it's a very serious problem and i know ohio is dramatically affected by it. >> thank you very much. i only have about 30 seconds left. i know you have only about a week left -- >> less than a week, actually. >> less than a week. yesterday this committee in a bipartisan manner passed the no
oil producing and exporting cartel act of 2019. this is something i had introduced almost 20 years ago along with my democratic colleague john conyers who was chair and ranking member of this committee over the years. they would basically give the attorney general authorization over the cartel when they manipulate the prices -- we all pay for this at the gas pump time and time again. i know we've been in contact with the justice department and we look forward to working with your successor on that effort. i don't know if you'd like to make a comment on that. >> i am fully aware of that bill, and i look forward to the department of justice working with you to not only successfully pass it but implement it. >> thank you. i'd like to give mr. nadler and some of our democratic colleagues a lot of credit for that as well. thank you very much. yield back.
>> i thank the chairman very much. these are extraordinary times, mr. attorney general. we know that the former director of the fbi testified to the house intelligence committee in open hearing that there was an active investigation into the associates of the trump campaign, and he was fired subsequently. mr. mueller was then hired. the investigation has consumed indictments and guilty pleas, and of course a deal with perjury charges such as obstruction of justice, perjury, false statements. at current rate we're seeing so many of the trump organizations being indicted. and with the short time that i have, i want to make sure your questions are answered in a yes or no manner. this is the first oversight hearing we have had in the justice department in almost 15 months. you did not have a confirmation hearing and you have not yet appeared for an oversight hearing, yes or no? yes or no?
>> congresswoman, i am the acting attorney general. >> yes or no, have you appeared in an oversight committee before the congress? >> the witness will answer the question as asked, please. >> mr. chairman? >> mr. chairman, if he has -- feels that can answer yes or no as appropriate, if he can't answer yes or no, he should be able to answer like many other democrats have answered before. this is unreal. >> the limit is five minutes, and if she wants a yes or no answer, she's entitled to it. i will not allow the witness to stall and waste members' time. >> where were you when mr. holder was here? >> may i have my time restored to -- i think it was four minutes? >> yes, you can. >> thank you. again, mr. attorney general, the question is did you have a confirmation hearing and has it been more than ten years since
you testified before congress? has the time been restored? >> yes, it was. >> i don't know if your time has been restored or not. >> mr. attorney general, we're not joking here. and your humor is not acceptable. now, you're here because we have a constitutional duty to ask questions, and the congress has the right to establish government rules. the rules are that you are here. so i need to ask the question, and i need to have my time restored so that you can behave appropriately. i will behave appropriately as a member of the judiciary committee. i've asked a question. did you have a confirmation hearing and have you not yet appeared for an oversight hearing? >> congresswoman, i am an acting attorney general. i have been appointed according to the vacancies reform act, and i have never appeared in front of congress for any hearing, even when i was united states
attorney. >> i asked for a yes or no answer. let me -- and so you've never appeared. let me quickly ask a question. prior to the firing of former attorney general jeff sessions, did you discuss or share your private opinions of the special counsel investigation with the chief of staff, trump family members and others? yes or no? >> as i previously answered, congresswoman -- >> yes or no, sir? >> as i previously answered, congresswoman, i have not discussed -- >> yes or no? >> as i previously answered, congresswoman, i have not discussed -- >> and since you were appointed acting attorney general, did you discuss or share your private opinions with the special counsel? >> again, the special counsel's investigation is an ongoing investigation and i have nothing more to say than what i've already said. >> so you are denying reports that you shared many one-on-one calls with president trump and his then chief of staff john kelly when jeff sessions was attorney general? >> again, congresswoman, is
there someone that provides you the basis for that question, or is that an anonymous sourced article? >> i'm asking the question. answer the question yes or no. >> could you repeat the question, please? >> so you are denying the reports that you shared many one-on-one calls with president trump and his then chief of staff, john kelly? are you denying that, yes or no? >> congresswoman, as i mentioned several times today in my opening statement and otherwise -- >> yes or no? >> -- i am not talking about conversations i've had with the president and chief of staff. >> so that's a no? >> i don't think you can assume anything by that. >> let me pursue with my line of questioning. since the investigation secured numerous indictments, i would like to pursue the line of questioning with respect to your understanding of the mueller investigation and the review that you have given. have you given an extensive