tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN February 9, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PST
this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. the chairman of the committee threatening on call matt whitaker back for questioning. the congressman saying he's not satisfied with his answers. he testified that he hasn't talked to president trump about the mueller investigation. when asked how many times he had been briefed about the special counsel's probe, he got into a testy exchange with chairman adler. >> it is our understanding that at least one briefing occurred in december, before your decision not to recuse yourself on christmas day, is that correct? >> what's the basis for that question, sir? >> yes or no? >> mr. chairman, what is the
basis for your question? >> i'm asking the questions. i only have five minutes so please answer yes or no. >> no, mr. chairman. you are asking me a question. it is your understanding. can you tell me where you -- >> no. i don't have time on get into that. >> so speaking to an audience of one, and if there is any question that exactly who that one might be, the white house appears to be pleased. one official saying, whitaker's testimony wednesday as expected. let's discuss now. shimon has been following this very closely. good evening. he said there hasn't been a decision in the special counsel investigation that has required him to take action. what does that tell you? >> so it could be two things. either, a, that he has no say in this investigation and it is being led by the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein who has been overseeing robert mueller and his team. the other thing is that all the serious decisions, any kind of
serious activity that was going to be conducted by the special counsel's office, happened before he got to the department of justice. so two things here that it could mean. it could also tell us that he came toward the end of this investigation. things are starting to wrap up here and that really, his only involvement was just to be brief. that he didn't really have to make any significant decisions. the other thing i want to point out. he was speaking to an audience of one. people at the department of justice were not happy with his performance. today people i talked on said that they were embarrassed by what did he today and people at the department of justice really never thought that he should be in the position that he was in. so yes, he may have been brief but i don't know that anyone wanted to make a serious decision at the department of justice. >> very interesting. so he wasn't open with his
conversations with the president about michael cohen. >> we had done some reporting, our team had done that, the president was pretty angry at the southern district of new york and there investigation of michael cohen and how they essentially implicated him in the hush money. our reporting is that the president confronted him why. they were doing this. basically it seems that whitaker didn't have any answers for him. he would not go there today, whitaker. he kept saying he didn't want to talk about his discussions with the president. it could be that the southern district of new york, as we said on this show a couple nights ago, are kind of doing their own thing and they're not telling the department of justice. they're trying to keep this separate. keep this from the political hands of the department of justice, of the white house and
they've not been briefing the department of justice on parts of their investigation. so he may not have known what was going on at the southern district of new york. nonetheless, whether or not he had those conversations with the president, he would not go there. >> let's talk about jeff bezos. we're learning that prosecutors are looking into his claims about the "national enquirer" to see if they violated anything. what do you know? >> this spells a big problem for ami, for david pecker. the southern district of new york is not playing around. if they get any sense, they're pretty aggressive, relentless. if i think that am sximpb david pecker went against this deal. they gave them this nonprosecution agreement. they wouldn't prosecute them for their involvement. if they get any expense ami was doing this, that there was anything criminal here, they'll rip up the cooperation agreement.
and ami could face some legal jeopardy. they're going to have lots of questions. how did the "national enquirer" get their hands on this material which could spell even more trouble for this group. and whether or not it was politically motivated. this had open a lot of doors that will lead to a lot of trouble. >> thank you. appreciate your time. >> i'll bring in now mr. james clapper. thank you for joining us. >> thanks, don. >> give me your takeaway from the acting a.g. whitaker's testimony today. did you find him incredible? >> not really. i spent 25, 27 years in various capacities testifying on the hill. his performance was truly cringe worthy start the chairman that his five minutes were up.
you just don't do that. i thought that was truly amateur hour. he just came across as not credible at all. he conflicted with himself and i thought he ought to get the booby prize for the fred astair tap dancing award. he was in over his head. more seriously though, i thought, that was six hours of a reminder of how the independence of the department of justice has taken a beating with him as the acting a.g. >> interesting. let's dig in a little more. he refused to answer an important question.
here it is. >> are you overseeing a witch hunt? >> congressman, as i mentioned previously, the special counsel investigation is an ongoing investigation. so it would be inappropriate -- >> you wouldn't oversee a witch hunt. you would stop a witch hunt, wouldn't you? >> it would be inappropriate to talk about an ongoing investigation. >> so the acting attorney general, the person in charge of the mueller investigation, refusing to say it isn't a witch hunt. something just about every other law enforcement official has said. >> to me, there have been earlier references on your show about this. he was playing to an audience of one. so i guess he didn't feel that he could disagree the president's characterization of the mueller investigation being
a witch hunt. and it was sad to use the overworked term. >> we were just discussing the allegations about the "national enquirer." bezos suggested that saudis could be involved in putting out negative stories about him. can the saudis be trusted? >> no. and this whole jeff bezos thing, the interesting context, this is someone who the president intensely dislikes, resents and sit jealous of because of his wealth and his success with amazon. then there is the potential saudi connection and this suck up publication that the "national enquirer" put out,
extolling the virtues of saudi arabia and the reform program and all that. well, just a very curious context here. you were discussing breaking this immunity agreement and where that heaves ami. so to me the more interesting question is the bigger context. >> today a report to congress on the saudi crown prince's role on the death of jamal khashoggi. but the administration declined to meet that deadline. what message does that send? >> well, i think it is pretty obvious. the administration has indicated, they won't point the finger of blame where it belongs which is at the door of mohammed bin salman. there is no way this whole
operation could have gone down without his knowledge, acquiesce enls and indeed, direction. i think the white house knows that. the incompetence of the intelligence committee, notably the cia, that to have concluded exactly that. there is no way this could have happened. and the white house, there is no way of avoiding pointing that out. >> can i ask you, when you worked in government, did you ever ignore a congressional deadline? >> no. sometimes if it was a written request, or something like that, that maybe required more time to prepare, you communicate with whoever the interested party was on the hill and say, we're working at this. we'll have it for you on this date.
just to blow him off entirely, no. >> so to do that is unusual, you say. >> yes. to say the least. >> we may find out later that they are asking for another extension. who knows? but at this point that remains to be seen. the "washington post" has reported that the cia has concluded that bin salman ordered khashoggi's killing. do you think the administration is trying to bury this? >> well, sure. i think it is pretty obvious. and you know, i thought it was really interesting when gina haspel went to the cia and said, the comment made by the republican senators about the complicity. i read a lot into that. the. the intelligence assessment is
probably pretty devastating and the evidence they had to back it up. and that's not where the white house wants to be with saudi arabia. >> yeah. director, thank you. have a great weekend. >> thank you. the feds are very interested in jeff bezos, that they tried blackmail and extort him and that may spell trouble with ami's deal with prosecutors. if you want to know why people you have to start by asking... could listening to audible help you find the secret to a stronger relationship? sometimes it doesn't take anything at all for us... just say "alexa, give me my free audible book," and your first pick is on us.
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so federal prosecutors are looking at whether the "national enquirer's" parent company violated its nonprosecution deal in the michael cohen case. that's after the "washington post" owner jeff bezos said the ami tried to blackmail him. good evening, gentlemen. i need to get to you weigh in on this. i've been waiting to talk to you about this. it is an explosive story. >> just when you think it couldn't get any thicker, it hardens into cement.
there are so many intersections in places this could go. the thing that's most striking to me is that if you're willing to jeopardize cooperation agreement by putting a threat in an e-mail, that suggests a level of panic and concern that really should get everybody's antenna going and i would suspect, especially prosecutors. i would ask you, first, what kind of exposure does the violation of the agreement present? and then two, won't the prosecutors be able to go to ami and find out where they got that material? >> yes, it's a good question. it is a double risk. remember, that nonprosecution agreement protects ami against charges in the hush money payments made to karen mcdougal. now any nonprosecution agreement
says you shall not commit any further crimes. now you're on our watchful we're the prosecutors. if they committed a crime, that goes out the window and now ami, pecker, perhaps, are facing prosecution for the hush money payments and extortion as well. there is a healthy legal debate out there about whether the actions conscience institute extortion. i think they do. >> what about the second part of the question where em, what about how they acquired the material? >> they should and can ask that. ami, if they realize the writing is on the wall, and the nonprosecution agreement will get written up, the lawyer tells them, it's over, guys. this agreement is over. but if they thookd get those text messages, there could be a crime apart from that so that's another place they could be in trouble. >> why do you say you would bring these charges even though others say they wouldn't?
>> i grew up as a prosecutor, prosecuting the mafia here in new york city. i think they took a page right out of the may book. extortion means using threats, fear and intimidation getting someone to hand something over of value. so let's break it down. it was almost like hollywood level obvious. did i a trial where a machine guy threatened to cut someone's fingers off. the facts are not that clear cut but you have enough. what did ami do? did they make threat is that darn right. look at that e-mail that jeff bezos published. we're going to out these humiliating photos wrflt they trying to get something of value? this phony statement they wanted him to make clearing them of any wrongdoing would have had enormous value to them.
and then was it wrongful? there's a hard line between business negotiations and something that crosses the line. i would be willing to stand up in front of a jury and say these e-mails when they were threatening to put out these lured lewd photos, like you were weighing your wedding ring at the time, that crosses the line from standard business practice. >> can i ask another question? what is it in that cooperation agreement beyond what we know about, the payments to the two women, night prosecutors be interested in getting that's of value to them beyond those initial facts? >> when someone cooperates with the southern district of new york, we do it a little different than other districts. it is all or nothing. you have to tell us everything you know. other districts will tell a cooperator, you can just sort of answer this narrow band of questions. in the southern district, the standard rule is you have to tell us everything. it is all or nothing. i would say this has ami at the
ready. if they want to demand documents or details, i would say up to this point, that nothing has gone wrong, that they're producing everything they have to the southern district. >> a big question, too, is why. why all of this? why do you think david pecker, what was his main goal in this? the "national enquirer," you don't hear about jeff bezos that much. this all come back to trump, right? >> the simplest is that he feels bad about the position he's in now with the president because of that cooperation agreement and he's trying on get back in his good graces through this subterranean route and has only accomplished the complicating the situation by a lot. >> so ami is denying, right? that they tried to blackmail bezos. they're now saying they'll investigate the allegations. how can they investigate
themselves on something like this? >> well, you certainly can't by just asking your board to investigate. they all have an interest in the company surviving. if there was any interest, they would bring an independent firm, independent investigators. that's ridiculous on its face. >> i'm not sure if you saw it earlier. john dean was on. he said pecker could do some jail time. do you think it is a possibility if he violate the deal? >> sure. if they decide he committed a new crime, they would tear that new agreement up and pecker is back to square one. only now he's produced all this evidence over to the southern district. the only thing protecting him before was the nonprosecution agreement. if he violated it, he is
outright exposed. so things could really collapse around him. >> a lot of people face jail time. a lot of people are covering up for this president. i have to ask you about this, your team talked to hillary clinton about this for the circus. >> there is a lot of consternation from democrats about whether the findings of the mueller report will see daylight. are you worried about it when you look at the landscape? >> i think that anyone in a position of responsibility has a duty to keep the american people informed. and i would expect that duty to be fulfilled. if there is a report, that report should be sent to the congress and made public. >> most people agree the report should be made public. the question is, will it? >> i have confidence in bill bard.
he had a pretty good record as attorney general. he said he won't fire trump and there will be a report. i think it is in the prerogative of the attorney general to redact certain things that may be a national security issue. but i think under any circumstances, the truth will get out about this report one way or the other. >> the circus, showtime this sunday. make sure you tune in. my thanks. >> thank you so much. the "washington post" reports that over a dozen men and women from costa rica worked at the golf club without legal status. one said my whole town practically lived there. we'll talk to one of the reporters who broke that story. that's next. oh!
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they look out for me. and they help me grow my career. at comcast it's my job to constantly monitor our network, prevent problems, and to help provide the most reliable service possible. my name is tanya, i work at the network operations center for comcast. we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. a major investigation by the "washington post" details a pipeline of undocumented workers from costa rica to new jersey where they got jobs at president trump's national golf course in bed minister. one of the report here's broke the story, nick miroff. so good to have you on. this story is fascinating. you're reporting uncovers a whole new angle on president trump's use of illegal workers
at his companies. explain what you learned and how it adds to our understanding of what they've been doing for all these years. >> sure. well, this is a long story. but you know, in december, we saw a couple women come forward including one who was working at bed minister and attending to the president and his family up until the end of last year. and that really got us on to the on, to this trail. and you know, sparked this curiosity as to how many people have worked illegally at the club and starting when. and eventually led us all the way to costa rica and to this small town where we found really a whole village of former bedminister employees who worked illegally.
>> i want to read a quote from the article. it says, over the years, the network from costa rica to bedminister expanded as workers recruited friends and relatives. some flying to the united states on tourist visas, paying thousands of dollars to help smuggle them across the mexican border. new hires needed little more than a fake phony green card and a fake social security number to land a job, they said. it sounds like what the president talks about all the time, accuses other people of, and he's using the exact same practices. you talk about people overstaying their visas. which is maybe a bigger problem than the people crossing illegally on the southern border. did the people hiring these workers know they were undocumented? >> well, these former workers said yes, they did. that their managers knew.
it was well known at the club that all of these workers, and we're talking about grounds keepers, house keepers, kitchen workers, table bussers, that sort of thing. it was well known that they were illegal, that their documents were phony. they would present phoney documents at the time that they were hired. but it was essentially an open secret at the club and there was no stigma about it whatsoever. and it was also well known in the town of boundbrook near bedminister where so many of these workers lived. >> the trumps have been forced to fire illegal workers at five of their golf courses. just recently, they promised to use the everify system. the president promised to be using it already. >> what are we going to do about illegal hiring? the republicans joined the democrats and said, we're going
to stop illegal hiring. >> we're using everify. >> are you for it? >> i'm using everify on just about every job at doral. i'm using it at the old post office that i'm building. it will soon be a phenomenal everify. i'm using everify. >> if they aren't using it, is it because they didn't want to be found out? >> well, that's a good question. what we've seen is that properties and golf clubs in particular, that want to be especially rigorous about checking the status of their employees, have in fact signed up for the everify system. so some of the competitors are using the system. the trump organization can only confirm that they've used on it three properties, up until now. eric trump told us that there are a few others, without naming which ones they are. of the 12 courses that the trump organization has in the united
states, only three were using everify until now. in some cases, that was because it is a state law requiring large employers like the to use it. it was not in place at bedminister. >> here's the report, that workers earn $10 an hour or less for seeding, watering, mowing, building the sand traps, driving bulldozers. a licensed heavy equipment operator would have received an nch a of $51 to $55 per hour. if the trump properties, if they can't use cheaper legal labor, what will that mean for their businesses? >> well, a lot of the workers we've talked to had the same question. they wonder, if the trump administration, if the trump
organization is going to require, is going to use everify and hire only legal workers, they will likely face a real crunch starting this spring when they have to hire for not only bedminister but these other properties where they say they'll use everify and only hire workers who have been rigorously checked for their immigration status. the spring season is coming up and they'll need to hire a lot of workers and it is not clear where they'll come from. >> i have to say, this is some really amazing reporting. nice job. >> we really appreciate your time. please come back. virginia's attorney general and officials fighting for their lives.
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a source tells cnn that the virginia governor ralph northam has no plans to resign this week after admitting and then denying that he was in a photo. featuring people in blackface, and a kkk robe in his medical school year book. he is not the only one facing a controversy in virginia. the virginia state attorney general admitted that he had put on blackface. why is blackface back in the noon? robin, your article was fascinating. thank you for helping viewers through this. we're in the middle of black history month. we're talking about officials putting on blackface and it keeps feeling like this conversation that we need to have.
it keeps coming back. why do people get caught up doing blackface? >> i don't think that we were ever not caught up. i mean, one of the things to me that is striking, as much as we say that it is in the news now, i think it is in the news politically and intensely in virginia. but it never seems to really go away. my goal was to try to understand, parse out why it is that it just won't go away. that it keeps being repeated in different iterations, and yet it is still the same thing. >> i keep looking online and i see showing year books in the late 1970s, the 1980s and even the 1990s. when this came out, i said we'll
see more of this and surely, more pictures started to roll out. >> there was a picture from his own year book saying, he went back and there it was. i believe he said it was in colorado. >> wow! >> so let me hear you talk about this more. one inspired by this country's he original sin that keeps evolving, year after year until each iteration is a little bit different from the previous one. how has it evolved? >> i think it has become less blackface and more black make-up. more brown face paint. i think it has become glossier and sleeker. i mean, you see in it fashion magazines as a kind of, you know, edgy boundary pushing anesthetic.
you see it you see the connections in high end design. you mentioned gucci and parada. and i've seen on it the runway where designers have painted entire models' bodies black. and not really made the connection. so i think it has gotten so far distanced from the history that, and people are distanced from that and feel like it is someone else's history. it is not their history so they don't have the sort of emotional connection to it. and i think that we tend to think of sort of bad race related things in terms of hollywood film with people this hoods and so forth. that's just not the case so people don't think it is race related because they're not racist in the traditional
classic sense. >> you write this in here. you really helped me understand. i was trying to portray to people who didn't understand how offensive it is. so often people reprimanded for people wearing blackface are disconnected from the its history. if it is not your past, then it is not particularly painful or fearful. it is all just intellectual fodder, and for a lot of nonblack americans, african-american history is separate from theirs. it isn't shared history. you summed it up right there. >> i think it is striking when someone is revealed to have a blackface moment in their past and they apologize. and it is aimed at the so-called
black community. and i think to myself, you should be apologizing to everyone. because this should be offensive to everyone. in the same way that anti-semitism should not just be offensive to people are jewish but it should be offensive to everyone. because it chips away at our humanity, our shared humanity. as so many historians have pointed out, you can't have american history without african-american history. it is one and the same. so people should take it personally. whatever color they are. >> a guy said that he dressed up like artists, it is an homage. what do you say to that in. >> well, i think that is one of the sort of complicated things people feel. that because they're person i
have the of the work that a black celebrity or a black person may have produced, that any sort of mimicry is sort of okay. but i think that what you're getting into is you're not celebrating the work of the person. you're really sort of turning their identity into a costume. and you are using it for your amusement. and i think any time you start taking on the identity of someone, and using it for your own personal agenda, then you're treading in really sort of treacherous waters. >> robin, thank you. from the "washington post." thank you. everyone should read this article. it is called blackface, white supremacist in fashion. thank you. we'll be right back. when we started our business
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facebook is turning 15 in the midst of a storm of controversy. so what's really going on inside the most powerful social media company on earth? cnn got unprecedented access. >> there's a "game of thrones" culture among the executives. one of the problems of having a tight-knit set of people making all the decisions, if you keep the same people, it's hard to admit you're wrong. >> reporter: the company is powerful and after spending time behind facebook's walls, folks had something to say but were afraid to say it. >> it's like being part of a cult. >> reporter: this former
employee asked us to protect their identity. >> speaking out against the company is not welcome. there's a career -- you won't get hired. >> reporter: in a place that's connected billions, this former employee cites is a disconnect. >> in a public setting he politically argues against hit. the setting is more like really aggressively go against them, challenge the force. >> reporter: facebook is in transition. many executives have left over disputes over the company's direction, including the founders of instagram and whatsapp. amid all the controversy there's been speculation. should zuckerberg, who is ceo, chairman and the majority shareholder of facebook, step aside? >> that's not the plan. >> would anything change that?
>> i mean, like, eventually over time. i mean, i'm not going to be doing this forever. >> it's interesting. facebook is always interesting and there's always intrigue. lori siegel joins us now. lori, it's always fascinating when you go behind the scenes of facebook. as you say, there's been a lot of pressure on the company. what do you think are the biggest challenges for them right now. >> fully accepting this responsibility. you go in, mark zuckerberg has always had this mission to connect the world. well, congratulations, you've connected the world and there are all these massive issues that come along with it. i think having spent some time behind the walls of facebook, i think bursting their own filter bubble to a degree. you hear their former chief
security officer alex stay mos in that clip talking about that this insular group. "t" going to be these challenges ahead of facebook that are massive. there are issues of free speech and it's going outside those walls and getting help from the outside going forward, don. >> you've seen it firsthand. from what you have observed, what is the environment like? >> it's in transition. it was hard to get a lot of sources to actually come on camera and talk about some of these issues with nuance because the company is so powerful. that being said, i think there's a massive will to change things and to make things better as we head towards the 2020 election. what happened with russian interference has shiny the company and they've tried to do quite a bit to get in front of that. i'll give you a little anecdote. when facebook was public they had to shift towards mobile. they haven't made the app for mobile and this was a massive thing. everyone at the company had to go to mark if they had a product
and it had to be mobile the first. that same attention is being put on interference and getting in front of a lot of these issues with security and protecting democracy. i think it's something they're taking incredibly seriously. as we saw in the last election, it was unacceptable that they didn't anticipate the bad things that could happen on the platform. >> wow. interesting. i have to say i went want to facebook headquarters in new york recently. you walk into our offices and tvs everywhere. there were no tv monitors. that's the future. >> yeah. >> well, lori, thank you. always appreciate it. >> i can't wait to see this report, it's called "facebook at 15" airing sunday night at 9:00. we'll be right back.
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this monday i sit down with jada pennington smith with her daughter and her mother for their show "red table talk." it is important conversation about the challenges facing a gay men who happen to be african-american. and it gets personal. here's a sneak peek. >> the hardest thing was i could tell anybody else, but i couldn't tell my mother. >> why was it so difficult? >> you know that relationship you have, black women have with their sons. >> that's real talk. >> that's real talk. i want my momma to be proud of me. every day when i step into my -- when i step into that suit and i go on the set, i'm there for me, god, but i'm there for my mom because i know, if nobody's
watching. >> your mom is watching. >> she is. she's is it only person in the world i know that is always going to be there. >> to see our full conversation, make sure you tune in "red table talk" on facebook. watch this monday, 12:00, eastern. thanks for watching. our coverage continues. a hearing democrats spar with president trump's acting attorney general over the mueller probe and the conversation with the president. virginia's lieutenant governor faces impeachment after a second woman comes forward accusing him of sexual assault. president trump will declare coalition forces captured 100% of the territory controlled by isis. many believe the war against isis is far from over. these stories are ahead. welcome to viewers in the u.s.