tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN February 14, 2019 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
national emergency, which he had made abundantly clear, he thought was a bad idea. and he used it to try to end this. he used it with and, frankly, against -- not against but on the other side of a negotiation with the president of the united states. >> dana bash, thank you very much. thank you to all of our contributors. jake tapper picks up our special coverage from washington now. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. capitol hill in a varitable frenzy this hour, that president trump might not sign that spending bill to keep the government funded because there wasn't enough money to fund his wall. he went on the record saying the president will sign the bill and will also declare a national emergency in an attempt to get more border wall funding. senate majority leader mitch
mcconnell had previously voiced concerns about declaring a national emergency but appeared to have softened on this policy in order to get the president's signature on the government spending bill. we're covering this story from both ends of pennsylvania avenue. manu raju, the president was calling republican lawmakers, venting about the spending deal. it obviously put senator mcconnell, the senate leader in a tough spot. walk us through what happened. >> republicans were nervous all day long, jake, about whether or not the president would, indeed, sign this legislation. i'm told a closed door lunch, they had no idea whether the president was going to sign this. coming out of the lunch, several republican senators told me they didn't know, they weren't going to commit to voting until they knew exactly where the president stood. mitch mcconnell has opposed a national emergency declaration for some time. he is worried about the precedent that would set. he was worried that republicans would vote with democrats on a resolution to try to plok the president from moving forward.
he wou he had warned the president about going in this direction. essentially convinced mcconnell that in order to get this through he, too, has to get behind this idea of declaring a national emergency. there are a load of questions, jake, about exactly what that means. one thing is pretty clear, that there will be a challenge, likely in court, about whether the president can do this. nancy pelosi, house speaker, moments ago, warned she may take action to prevent the president from doing this in court. >> we are prepared to respond appropriately to t i know the republicans have some unease about it, no matter what they say, because if the president can declare an emergency on something he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he want wants to convey, just think of what a president with different values can present to the american people. >> now, jake, there will be an
effort on capitol hill to disapprove of this from going forward. there's really nothing that mitch mcconnell can do to prevent that from happening under the special consideration and the process they will use. they will force a vote in the senate and it will put republicans in a difficult spot, deciding whether they should side with the president or side with their concerns that they have voiced for weeks going this route. i spoke with several republican senators heading into this vote. they're very concerned about what this means, marco rubio, roy blount as well as jon cornyn, republican of texas. all of them are saying they need more details. members do not have any idea really where he plans to get this money, how he plans to invoke this authority. there are a lot of questions republicans aren't clear other than the statement that he's going to declare a national emergency, not understanding how this is going to happen. although the crisis has been
averted, it's not over, jake. >> are they voting on the senate bill now? >> they just voted to overcome a filibuster, overwhelmingly, 84-14 vote to overcome a filibuster, block this legislation from going forward. essentially they're on the final vote to foo vote final passage. it will pass the senate easily. then it heads to the house tonight where it's also expected to pass. we'll see how some of the members come down. we do know that some of these members, particularly on the left, were concerned that it didn't go far enough in limiting how ice can go after undocumented immigrants but easily will pass bipartisan support and also concerns over the national emergency. jake? >> manu, you talked about the bipartisan concerns about the national emergency being declared. you heard speaker pelosi talking about what a different president with different values might do
declaring a national emergency, even suggesting potentially -- she was imagining a democratic president declaring a national emergency having to do with gun violence in the united states. the republican opposition in the senate -- this is important. this is going to be voted on. the house will vote on the national emergency and the senate will vote on the national emergency. are there enough republican senators who are opposed to this in theory that it actually will lose in the senate? i guess what i'm saying, marco rubio, roy blount, et cetera, all the republicans you're talking about, are they going to put their money where their mouth is? >> reporter: that is totally unclear. i've been trying to pin members down as they've been talking about this. all of them said we don't know yet because we need to see exactly what the president is doing, where he's going to get this money. army corps of engineer projects, that would be met with fierce opposition from republicans and democrats alike.
others will raise concerns about the precedent this would set. will they actually vote this way? it really depends on the details. can the president convince them to stick with them? they're not saying yes, because they want to learn more. clearly, there will be a fight for the president to get this through congress. they need a significant amount of republicans on both chambers to jump ship, trying to prevent him from making this move. jake? >> thanks so much. stay with us. abby philip, the white house has put out a statement saying the president will declare a national emergency. what's next? where do we go from here? >> this caps several days of uncertainty, both here and in the weiss white house and also on capitol hill about what president trump would ultimately do about this bipartisan spending bill that he was unsure he would sign up until a few moments ago. the president spent the afternoon meeting with aides in
his office, going through details of this bill. he tweeted midday he was reviewing it after it was released near midnight last night. and trying to weigh his options here, how to move forward. one of the messages the president received is that nobody wanted another government shutdown. his options then became very limited. he would either need to not sign the bill and there would almost certainly be a shutdown or he would sign it and could have an option of declaring a national emergency to get more funds to go ahead and build his border wall. the white house saying definitively now that he's going to declare a national emergency, tells you they are look at trying to identify a larger universe of money that could be available to him in order to build a wall. there were options available to him that might not have required a national emergency. this is clearly the more difficult political route and it came after mitch mcconnell announced it before the white house even did on the floor. mcconnell, not too long ago, was
very much opposed to declaring a national emergency. so, you know, on capitol hill there was real concern the president could plunge republicans into yet another political crisis. mcconnell backing away from his concerns on declaring a national emergency led the way for the president to say yes i will sign this bill. sarah sanders was asked about the legal challenges that the white house has expected for several weeks now. she says she doesn't think there will be but the white house is prepared for them. she says congress needs to do their job but everybody knows that even though the white house doesn't think there's going to be a legal challenge, there almost certainly will be. aides have been telling us behind the scenes for weeks now that they expect that to happen pretty much immediately once the president makes that decision. jake? >> abby philip at the white house. kaitlin collins, you're also a white house correspondent just, i don't know, half hour, 45 minutes ago, you reported that
white house aides were starting to back way from their confidence of the president, or assurances that the president would sign this. do you think that that reporting prompted mitch mcconnell to take action and get this done? >> i think it's hard to overstate what a roller coaster today has been. earlier today, the president was calling his allies on capitol hill, saying he didn't know if he was going to sign this bill, venting about the parts of it that he didn't like. white house aides earlier this week were telling us behind the scenes -- they wouldn't say on record but behind the scenes that the president was going to likely sign this bill and we would avoid a shutdown. aides were no longer saying that, were increasaying it was increasingly looking like he wasn't going to sign it. and then they interrupted and said the president said he would sign it and declare a national emergency. mcconnell has clearly stated his
opposition to a national emergency in recent weeks. for him to go on the floor and say the president is going to do so, something he could have gotten republican senators to block the president from being able to do really shows how ein danger the president was of opposing this bill. >> and prompting a second government shutdown. >> yeah. >> and mcconnell's concerns, as have been reported, are that a national emergency sets a precedent, that is unpredictable. who knows what a democratic president -- who knows what president ocasio-cortez would declare that republicans won't like and also it will divide the caucus. there are republicans who -- like rand paul and others, who are very much opposed to it. >> the president has sweeping power to do this under 1970s law. watch and see what he does. in the early part of the administration, they would say he's going to sign an executive order to do x. at the end of the day when we got the paper it would say an executive order to study if x is
feasible. you could do court challenges, a challenge in court. congress has never ruled back on a national emergency. there are a couple of options. republicans i talked to who are unhappy about this are worried he's going to reprogram disaster relief money either in florida or texas. texas governor, both senators wrote to him in mid january, a day after he said he wouldn't declare a national emergency to say please don't move disaster relief money around. >> he said please don't move texas' disaster relief money. >> sure. >> i don't know that they were voicing concern about other states. >> cnn polling shows 66% are opposed to use a national emergency in order to build a border wall, 31% support it. does this carry significant risk? >> it takes an unpopular policy and implements it in the least popular way. it seems as though the president seems to take at issue border
security, where he could have the upper hand and find the least effective way to try to pursue his policy goals. i say least effective. he may ultimately get fencing put up along the border at the end of this. it's likely that it will get tied up in the courts. his poll numbers have jumped significantly in the last week or two since the round one of the shutdown ended, a situation that was moving in his direction, by opening the government and continuing to move forward, only something that would give him $1.3 billion. i think he should take that win. by opening the pandora's box of saying the last person who cares about article i, turn out the lights. by moving in this direction toward a national emergency, you're going about trying to get your wall in a way that setsy bad precedent and is just not popular with voters. >> chairman of the senate judiciary committee, senator
lindsey graham of south carolina a few minutes ago. >> he has all the legal authority in the world to do this. i will stand behind him. >> i'm not sure, but i think that's a change of position in terms of the national emergency. no? >> he has been calling the president -- >> i stand corrected. >> silly for me to talk about policy but is this a national emergency? >> it doesn't feel like something is happening that is imminent, that the country is in dire threat and we have to do something that is extraordinary in order to try to fix it, like we would after 9/11, let's say, or some huge natural disaster. i spent a big chunk of today at john dinkle's funeral, john and nancy pelosi, bill clinton, people talking about governing over the course of this man's long life. we are going through extraordinary leaps and bounds in order to justify something
absolutely outrageous that the current president of the united states wants to do and it's not an emergency. >> whether or not you think it's an emergency, spending months and months debating whether or not you're going to declare an emergency undermines the base. is chairman graham correct? does the president have the authority? what would the challenge be in court? >> i'm going to give you a ringing i don't know, because i don't think anyone knows that the point. the national emergencies act of 1976 has been invoked about 40 times since then, by every president since the '70s, a few times by each one. never in a controversial way. never in a way that congress objected to, either explicitly or implicitly. here, you have a situation where congress has debated the very expenditure at issue and said no, we're not going to spend this money. and the president says i'm going to do it anyway.
this is a bedrock constitutional issue. the power of the purse, the power to decide how the government's money is spent belongs to the legislativive branch of government, not to the executive. this law is a narrow exception. the supreme court has never defined what an emergency is. and the supreme court has never defined the scope of the president's powers because this has always been uncontroversial in terms of the invocation of its use. there certainly will be a legal challenge. frankly, i doubt that the members of congress will be successful in challenging it. the courts are very reluctant to allow lawsuits of one branch against the other. but if some land owner, whose land is taken with this money, that person could certainly bring a lawsuit and somehow the courts are going to have to deal with this and, you know, i don't know what the answer will be once the courts engage with this. >> mick mulvaney, white house
acting chief of staff, told me months ago that he was confident that they had the authority to do this. behind the scenes at the white house, there have been a number of issues, including mulvaney, saying go ahead and do this. this is a way to get your wall. >> mick mulvaney is the chief of staff and was the budget director, and he has also been in congress. this isn't just something that the president decided today. they've been preparing for three weeks, since the president first signed that short-term spending bill, to declare some sort of national emergency or take action i think that's an important distinction to make here. sarah sanders makes it in her statement, prepared to take executive action, including a national emergency. this isn't just going to be the president declaring a national emergency and that's the end of it. it's going to take multiple steps. he can do other points of executive action. there's about $1 billion that the white house thinks they can get ahold of pretty easily, without any big legal challenges, that they can put toward funding the border wall.
i think that's getting lost in the suddenness of the president not signing this bill today. the white house has been preparing for this for several weeks now. >> as my family members like to say, the president wrote a check he can't catch. if you were to call 911 and tell them three weeks from now, somebody is going to break in my house, i don't think they would send police to your house because that's not an actual emergency. >> do they declare this today, tomorrow? where does this go? >> that's a good question. what are they going to invoke and actually set in motion? i don't have the answer to that. national emergency can take a lot of forms. we've been burned before, saying they're going to do x because we've been told they're going to do x, tonal find out they're going to study x. i don't know if they've reached conclusions on either $1 billion, what they're going to try to reprogram. >> sources tell cnn that the
president was planning on spinning this deal as a win. you may recall his friends in the conservative media, sean hannitt hannity, who originally called this a garbage deal, here is how he characterized it. >> garbage deal, $1.37 billion not enough but it will keep the ball and the project moving along. >> so there was a, you know -- >> uh-huh. >> silver linings kind of thing going on on fox news last night. but president trump apparently today back to the garbage deal part of that sentence. >> which is befuddling and implies it's surprising. we have sat at this table and i have said before nancy pelosi is not going to give him a ton of money, certainly not for a concrete wall but he'll get something for border security and use that to build a fence and he can call it a win, she can call it a win and everybody
can go home until this national emergency got thrown back into the mix, which takes it potentially from a good moment for the president, whose numbers have been trending positively, and throws it back into chaos. >> members say they will not vote for this compromise package, alexandria ocasio-cortez, chomar, pressley and tlaib. there was an opportunity for progressives to say republicans hate this bill. >> the message he stated at the state of the union, continued in el paso. instead he's uniting democrats against the more outrageous thing that he wants to do.
>> can we back up a second? if this national emergency really had the characteristics of a national emergency, republicans used to have control of white house and all of congress and yet this didn't happen. one of the reasons why, there's not enough republican support for it. they could have done this any time in the last two years. >> the wall or the emergency declaration? >> the wall. they could have put the spending package together, a $25 billion building package together. >> what mick mulvaney would say, if he was sitting here, to play devil's advocate, you need a filibuster-proof majority in the senate and democrats didn't have that. that's not true. there are republicans in congress, including most of the border, district and border state republicans who didn't support the wall. >> do you remember how they got the tax bill through? procedure called reconciliation, which does not require a filibuster-proof majority. my sense is there would have been a path that way. >> of the 17 conference committee members who worked hard on this compromise, only one of them did not sign the
final agreement, congressman tom graves. he tweeted a picture of the bill's 1,000-plus pages all printed out. with 30 minutes notice i was allowed one hour to review and make a choice. welcome to congress, by the way. president trump said he wouldn't sign another giant piece of rush legislation like this one. take a listen. >> i say to congress, i will never sign another bill like this again. i'm not going to do it again. nobody read it. it's only hours old. >> it's a little different but same principle applies. >> a little but not that much. that's why people in the white house are having flashbacks to that, when the president nearly did not sign that bill. the only reason he signed that bill is because the defense secretary at the time, james mattis, convinced him there was so much money in it for the military that he could get the wall later. that that's why he has been
complaining about republicans, namely paul ryan, that he didn't get the money when he could have. we're seeing a repeat of that today when the president was close to not signing this bill, complaining about senator s hechlt lby in particular, who has been negotiating, talking with the white house as they've been going over this the last three weeks. the president was complaining today he thought the republicans on this committee got outplayed by the democrats and the president thinks he's such a dealmaker that had he been involved he could have gotten a higher number. he has been complaining about that today, listening to conservatives like laura ingram on fox news, pointing out what the president said, that he wouldn't sign a bill that's this long and hasn't had a time to look at it. that's why you see the white house phoning all those people, trying to get them to spin it in a more positive way. we have breaking news right now. manu raju is on capitol hill. what's going on tlup?
>> reporter: they passed the bill out of the senate 83-16 vote, easily surpassing veto-proof majority. they got 83 votes in the affirmative to send this to the house. the house will vote tonight. we expect a bipartisan majority to sign this, end the shutdown threat that led to the 35-day government shutdown, longest in history, 800,000 federal workers and employees, government contractors the risk of furlough that they suffered in the early part of this year. after the senate acted, expect the house to act and the president will declare a national emergency as he signs this bill. >> we'll squeeze in a quick break. it's time for the ultimate sleep number event on the
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breaking news this hour, moments ago, united states senate passing a spending bill to avoid yet another partial government shutdown. that now goes to the house of representatives. after a lot of drama, the white house says president trump will sign this legislation. but also the president may sign a national emergency in an attempt to get enough funding to build his border wall. a lot of republicans in the senate have been talking about whether or not they support such a thing in national emergency and saying they don't because of the precedent, because of the divide in the caucus, because they don't know if it will pass through the senate.
take a listen to senator kennedy. when asked. >> it's not my preferred choice but i don't think the world will spin off its axis. >> is that where you think senate republican also land? >> 100%. before the break we were talking about how the national emergency is the least popular way to implement this policy. it also wouldn't surprise me if a week from now we're looking at public polling data that shows the national emergency strategy being five to ten points more popular. part of that is because once trump come outside and is forcefully behind something, to the extent there were republicans who were mushy at first, they'll come home. especially in the senate, in congress, republicans don't want to have to deal with this anymore. to the extent that this is something where it's trump and the courts dealing with it rather than them i can see them saying fine, let's take it there. >> that's what we're seeing here, how much senate republicans wanted to avoid another shutdown. even though they're against the president, they're still voting
for this bill. you see the margin there. concern that there are republicans about the republicans doing such, there's a democratic president next and they declare a national emergency on climate change, on guns, on whatever. that they're going to have to look back at the president declaring a national emergency for this. they're the ones who have been saying for years when president obama was in office that any of his executive orders were an overreach of power, abuse of his power. that is exactly what it is. they'll be facing calls like that. who knows what the world will look like by then. >> this isn't like the bush v. gore decision where the supreme court said we're ruling this way but this can never be used as a precedent ever again. this will be used as a precedent. in fact, speaker pelosi threatened -- although that's not the word she would use. she imagined what a future democratic president might do with this power. take a listen. >> you want to talk about a national emergency? let's talk about today, the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of
gun violence in america. that's a national emergency. why don't you declare that emergency, mr. president? i wish you would. >> you've talked about how there have been 40 national emergencies that have been declared but they're much more controversial. >> national emergencies have been declared because of the situation in sudan, iran's pursuit of ballistic missile programs. those are the typical things you see come across. of course, there are disaster declarations, that kind of power, too. i think it's closer to 50 or 60 that have been invoked but this is a sweeping executive power. it's good to have this conversation to say does congress really want to allocate this much of its own power to the executive branch? again it's great that senator kennedy can say that. we don't know what's going to be invoked, what's going to be involved. money has constituencies in government. what we doesn't know is where the president, if he does this,
will go to get the money. texas delegation is an spamp of th example of that. if he decides to build a big, beautiful wall along an installation that abuts mexico, i don't think anyone will rebut that, but if he goes after disaster relief of texas, people will go after that. >> one good thing happened, which is 800,000 workers, u.s. federal workers are not going to be -- >> right. >> but it's interesting the president chose not to backpay the contractors who were left out in the cold during that 35-day shutdown. there's something telling about how empathetic the president is not, that he chose not to do that. >> of course the other thing going on here is the constitutional crisis, that this potentially poses. obviously, the purse strings are control bid the house of
representatives in the senate and not by the executive branch. let me bring back jeffrey toobin. take a listen to potential 2020 presidential candidate mike bennett of colorado. >> my message to all of my colleagues is that if we don't stand up for the rule of law here at a moment like this, we could have a constitutional crisis. it can't be about, you know, situational politics. >> is he right? >> it is about situational politics. look at republicans who were talking about it. marco rubio was saying what happens when president kamala harris says there's a national emergency about climate change, what are we going to say then? they're going to say that's no good, because politics is completely situational in washington these days. this is a profound question, who controls the power of the purse? it's been established in the constitution since the very
beginning, in the late 18th century, that it is up to congress. you have this situation where congress had a big debate over whether to fund a wall and congress said no. that was the core of this debate. now the president says i don't care what congress says. i'm spending this money anyway. the national emergencies act has never been invoked over the explicit objection over both houses of congress. brett kavanaugh, one of his big principles as a judge is expanse of executive power. i imagine he would support the president here. but you never -- this is new territory. the courts have never analyze this had kind of situation and we'll see what happens. >> we have a lot more to talk about. new insight into the chaotic moments after president trump fired fbi director james comey, from the man who temporarily
replaced comey, in his new book. that's next. stay with us. thanksmrs. murphy. unitedhealthcare, hi, i need help getting an appointment with my podiatrist. how's wednesday at 2? i can't. dog agility. tuesday at 11? nope. robot cage match. how about the 28th at 3? done. with unitedhealthcare medicare advantage plans, including the only plans with the aarp name, there's so much to take advantage of. from scheduling appointments to finding specialists, it's easier to get the care you need when you need it.
said he lost an investigation into whether or not president trump obstructed justice because he was so concerned that president trump would try to interfere in the trump campaign and russia investigation. possibly invoking the 25th amendment to remove the president and rod rosenstein volunteering to wear a wire to record president trump. the white house is pointing out that mccabe was fired for lying under oath. pamela brown brings us the new details. >> reporter: for the first time, former acting fbi director andrew mccabe, the man who took over after president trump fired james comey, talking publicly about his former boss, the president. >> i was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency and won the election for the presidency and who might have done so with the aid of the government of russia, our most
formidible adversary on the world stage and that troubled me greatly. >> reporter: he opened up an investigation the day after comey's firing. >> i was very concerned that i was able to put the russia case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion, that were i removed quickly, rae assigned or fired that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace. >> cbs anchor scott pelley reporting mccabe also confirmed in clips not yet released that there were serious discussions among senior justice officials about invoking the 25th amendment to remove the president from office. >> there were meetings at the justice department in which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the
cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the united states under the 25th amendment. >> "the new york times" reporting that mccabe wrote in a memo deputy attorney general rod rosenstein looked into the 25th amendment issue and determined he would need, quote, a majority or eight of the 15 cabinet officials, the justice department slamming mccabe's assertions as inaccurate, the response reading as the deputy attorney general has previously stated based on his personal dealings with the president, there was no basis to invoke the 25th amendment, nor was rosenstein in a position to consider invoking the 25th amendment. rosenstein has long denied he thinks there is a basis to remove the president from office but has yet to deny those discussions ever occurred. vice president mike pence reacting today, telling msnbc -- >> i never heard of it. i never heard of any discussion of the 25th amendment and, frankly, i find any suggestion of it to be absurd.
>> reporter: mccabe does have credibility issues. we should note he was found to be lying to investigators in an internal investigation at doj that was then referred to the u.s. attorney's office in d.c. mccabe has denied that he lied to investigators. jake? >> pamela brown, thank you so much. we should point out that the investigation was into whether or not mccabe leaked to the media that he wanted to be tougher and investigate the clinton foundation even more. so, it was actually an anti-hillary leak that he was being investigated for. kaitlin, how worried is the white house about this book? >> so here is the thing. in a sense, aides are worried because over the next few weeks before this book comes out you'll see andrew mccabe doing interviews like this where he's making remarks like those about the 25th amendment, involving the vice president and other senior cabinet officials. the president is going to be
watching that, is going to be frustrated and irritated as you saw on twitter today, and have a press secretary put out a statement, going after him as well, talking about that investigation into whether he misled other agents about what he had said. that's what they're worried about, that it will be a distraction for the president or cause that frustration that he had with rod rosenstein to resurface. when this was first reported by "the new york times" about the wire and whatnot, rod rosenstein nearly resigned. it created all the white house about whether or not they accepted his resignation. that frustration could resurface. >> play devil's advocate and put yourself in the shoes of a trump supporter, not even devil's advocate. deputy director of the fbi talking about invoking the 25th amendment because he's afraid that the president is going to impede an investigation. there are a lot of people out there i could see saying who are you to undermine the will of 62, 63 million americans? >> they're already saying it. people are saying this amounts
to a deep state coup, entrenched career person in law enforcement talking about trying to remove the president from office. >> there are ways you can remove a politician from office that is unpopular, doing things that people don't like, doing things illegal. you have impeachment and removal where elected members of congress can take that decision into their own hands. something like the 25th amendment should be exercised only in extreme emergency circumstances. >> like a national emergency maybe. >> extreme emergency circumstances. and so it shouldn't just be conservatives that are looking at this and saying i don't like the idea that this is going on. but i do think that those unelected bureaucrats do have an an important role in holding elected officials accountable. it's a shame that andrew mccabe is making it harder for those folks doing the investigation by being able to do their job. by continuing to go on tv, giving interviews like this, to try to probe the president, stir
this up, making it a political issue, it's making it harder for the folks trying to do their job and do the investigation right. >> i want to take one step back and take a look at these eight days in may and what happened. it is really quite striking when you review it all. may 9th, 2017, president trump fires fbi director james comey, may 11th, the president admits he was thinking about the russia thing when he fired comey. may 12th, one day later, trump tweets james comey better hope there's no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. in our days after that, sources close to comey say trump asked him to close the investigation into michael flynn. that same day, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein discussed invoking the 25th amendment and potentially wearing a wire. may 17th, special counsel robert mueller is appointed. that is a lot of stuff going on in just eight days. >> it is a lot of stuff. this is extraordinary. the fact that they would be
having a meeting like this at the fbi is extraordinary. it's also extraordinary that the national security adviser to the president of the united states is suspected of being a foreign asset and they tell the president and his reaction is, lay off of him, for the most part. it's all extraordinary. we spend a lot of time trying to justify how reasonable, rational people are trying to find a way to stop something they think is really bad from occurring while the president of the united states who does not seem to be very reasonable about any of this stuff continues to do more extraordinary things out in public. >> kaitlin, there's an excerpt in the atlantic, andrew mccabe talking about a meeting with the president after comey was fired, don mcgann, asked mccabe if he should visit the fbi. this is what mccabe said. in this moment i felt the way i felt in 1998, in a case involving the russian mafia.
i spent a guy named big felix in to meet with gutfeld. they were trying to work me the way a criminal brigade would operate. not the first time we've heard a senior law enforcement official compare president trump to a mafia figure. >> the president called him at the fbi earlier when they were in a meeting about the russia investigation and the president was under the impression that people in that building were going to be thrilled that he fired james comey. when he asked what's the reaction, are people happy, mccabe responded people were shocked, surprised and didn't get into the details but did say in the excerpt that people were crying in the hallways about it. when he goes back to meet with the president, he is relitigating why he did it. the president believes he got bad advice, that if he fired james comey all of washington would rejoice and think he did
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they're able to seek safe haven back to their home country. >> struck 15-year-old fallon smart who was crossing. smart was killed. 20-year-old noura, citizen of saudi arabia, studying at a nearby college, allegedly took off in his black suv. he was arrested, charged with manslaughter, forced to give up his partport. the student got out on $100,000 bail, reportedly paid for by the saudi government, as was his legal team. then, two week before his trial, he disappeared. according to the oregonian newspaper his tracking number had been sliced off and thrown away, law enforcement officials telling the people they believe he got another passport and left the u.s., possibly on a private plane, all paid for by the kingdom of saudi arabia, which told the paper last july that noura was back in the country.
>> what we have is an apparent pattern in oregon and possibly other parts of the country where saudi defendants in the u.s. facing serious criminal charges have managed to flee the u.s., likely with the help of the saudi government in many of these cases. >> his 2016 hit and run case is far from the only one. a total of 17, across eight states and canada, were identified by oregonian. >> all of them have disappeared. a handful of them have been confirmed to be back in saudi arabia. the precise whereabouts of many of the defendants, even the ones who are supposedly back in saudi arabia is unknown. >> the earliest case is from 19 1988. this man caused a car crash and left a 79-year-old woman dead. days before his trial, saudi embassy paid his $25,000 bail.
he left jail with a saudi military officer and was never seen in the u.s. again. the alleged crimes are wide ranging, rape and sexual assault, vehicular manslaughter, child pornography, among others. in a statement to cnn, saudi embassy said that the notion that the saudi government actively helps citizens evade justice after they've been implicated in legal wrong doing in the u.s. is not true. and, jake, this news comes on the heels of the murder of jamal khashoggi. ron widen, senior senator from oregon where five of those reported cases have taken place, has reacted furiously, saying it's unacceptable and demanded answers from the state department, which has not responded to him or to us here at cnn. jake? >> alex, thank you so much. kudos to kavanaugh from the oregonian. he has been doing this for weeks. here is another example, kaitlin.
saudi student accused of raping another student. and he disappears. this is happening over and over again. >> these are really serious crimes, not something like theft or anything small. this is manslaughter, assault. it's these crimes and then the saudi government bailing them out of jail, paying for their fees and getting them out of the country so they can evade whatever kind of punishment it would be. it's stunning that ron white has asked not only the state department but justice department for some kind of clarity, comment, anything, and they haven't gotten back to him. >> it does feed into what we're seeing with jamal khashoggi. i don't want to single out the trump administration because they're not the only ones. >> they're not. >> u.s. government, white house, whether it's trump, obama, bush, et cetera, they let the saudis get away, literally, literally, with murder.
>> let's reflect on that denial at the end by the saudi government. reflect on the barrage of lies from that government about jamal khashoggi and his murder inside the consulate in istanbul. keep that in perspective. the role of the government is striking. ever since 9/11, it briefly came under closer scrutiny. the relationship between the u.s. and saudi arabia has been fraud. >> in 2004, previously had been co-chair of the 9/11 commission. he still spends time talking about the u.s. government relationship and what happened with the saudis during 9/11. going all the way back now almost 20 years to now -- 18 years to now where we are. this is not -- this is a pattern of behavior in how the u.s. government handles the saudis is something that someone at some point should have to answer for. >> take a listen to vice president pence earlier today,
talking about how the white house responded to the murder of khashoggi. >> the president's point, and our point is that as we demand justice in the case of the murder of jamal khashoggi, we also recognize high relief in this conference the important role that saudi arabia plays in the region. >> that says it all. >> i think saudi arabia and their role in the region is something we should keep in mind. we should also keep in mind that the king of saudi arabia, that folks have been saying with mbs at the helm will be modernizing. they're letting women drive. how exciting. we need to be realistic how much change is and is not happening when it comes to the kingdom of saudi arabe yacht when it comes to this story in particular, americans are fed up with the idea that folks who are well-to-do and well connected cannot face the consequences of their actions and basically these are folks able to get out of jail, out of the country
because they can drop hundreds of thousands of dollars and get on a private jet. you can understand. >> yeah. follow me @jaketapper. tweet me @the lead. our coverage on cnn continues right now. thank you so much for watching. happening now, the president decides to go around congress to declaring a national emergency to get funding for his wall. raising the bar. william barr sworn in, becoming special counsel robert mueller's boss with broad powers over his russia's investigation. what are the plans for his probe? concern or coup? former acting fbi director