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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  February 14, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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happening now. breaking news. emergency declaration. the white house says the president will take executive action to build his border wall as he agrees to sign a bill to avd a government shutdown. he is creating new controversy even as he averts a crisis. outplayed by democrats? we are told mr. trump has been griping about the bipartisan compromise, complaining republican negotiators got a raw deal. did nancy pelosi trump the president? william barr has oversight over the special council. could that sway him to release his final report? talks on ousting trump. the former fbi acting director is confirming the top justice department officials discussed the possibility the 25th
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amendment to the constitution would be invoked. the administration is pushing back as andrew mccabe is speaking out. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news on the 11th hour drama as the house is preparing to vote on a bill to prevent another government shutdown. president trump waited until the last minute to confirm that he will sign the legislation that cleared the u.s. senate a short while ago. he is also planning to declare a controversial national emergency to secure border wall funding that was not in the bill. another breaking story, william barr was sworn in as the attorney general and overseer of the russia probe. this as former fbi acting director andrew mccabe is speaking out about the investigation and his concerns
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about the president. mccabe now publically confirming that there were high level discussions in the justice department about potentially removing mr. trump from office. i will get reaction from congressman will herd. our correspondents and analysts are standing by. first, let's go to jim acosta. after a lot of suspension, it looks like there won't be a shutdown. >> reporter: it looks that way at this point. the hydra igh drama came as the president was taking the prospect of a government shutdown to the wire. they were hopeful he would sign earlier this week. then the white house was starting to sound less certain. then you saw mitch mcconnell come out on the senate floor and announce that the president would sign the bill. the president is now saying he will take executive action to build his wall. that plan could hit another kind of barrier as in a court challenge. president trump's latest cliffhanger, whether he would
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plunge the nation into another costly government shutdown came to a climax. after days of handwrittenin iwr mitch mcconnell made the big reveal. >> i had an opportunity to speak with president trump. he would say to my colleagues, he has indicated he is prepared to sign the bill. he will be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time. i have indicated to him that i'm going to prepare -- i'm going to support the national emergency declaration. so for all of my colleagues, the president will sign the bill. we will be voting on it shortly. >> reporter: minutes after he made the announcement, the white house revealed what the president was planning to do, saying in a statement, president trump will sign the government funding bill and as he stated before, he will also take other executive action, including a national emergency to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border. nancy pelosi accused the president of trying to pull a fast one. >> it's not an emergency.
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what's happening at the border, it's humanitarian. the president has tried to sell a bill of goods to the american people. putting that aside in terms of the president making an end run around congress. >> reporter: with little more than a day before the government runs out of money, some were starting to worry. >> we have to pass it. then we all pray that the president will sign it. >> reporter: as republican lawmakers were praying the president would sign the spending deal. >> let's pray the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so government doesn't shut down. >> reporter: part of the reason for the high drama, the president's allies were pleading with mr. trump to reject the deal. as it fell well short of his promise to build a wall on the border. >> any republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain. >> reporter: as one fax news personality tweeted, this bill must not be signed. as the president was dragging his feet, he was making it all about him.
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despite his wish to blame democrats should there be another shutdown. >> i don't think you are going to see a shutdown. i wouldn't want to go to it. if you did have it, it's the democrats. >> reporter: democrats say there's a reason why republicans were pulling away from the president. >> on the funding of the government, i don't think republicans -- it was disastrous for them and their brand. it hurt the president. they don't want to repeat that. >> reporter: after the president signs this bill, or is expected to sign the bill and go after a national emergency to get his wall built on the border, he is setting up another legal fight in the courts. nancy pelosi is taking a hard look as to whether to mount a legal challenge to block the president from using a national emergency to move funds around inside the administration to build his wall on the border. the press secretary told reporters they are ready for the fight in the courts. any kind of legal challenge at this point could add another delay to the president's promise
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to build that wall on the border. something he talked about during the campaign. something else he talked about in the past, he has criticized the use of executive action on immigration. let's show you this tweet from 2014. this is when former president obama took executive action on immigration. then at the time, donald j. trump tweeted, republicans must not allow president obama to subvert the constitution of the u.s. for his own benefit. that's exactly what the president is trying to do right now. go around the congress and take executive action on his own. he will have a new personnel on his person to offer legal advice he might need. his new attorney general william barr was sworn in just a short while ago. >> the legal battle will intensify. jim acosta, thank you very much. now let's go to capitol hill. our senior congressional correspondent manu raju is on the scene. what is the very latest now?
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>> reporter: the house is expected to pass this bill to avoid a government shutdown. the fight is just beginning. democrats and republicans are pushing back at the president's call to declare a national emergency. the president in order to succeed here on capitol hill, to get his national emergency declaration, will have to convince skeptical republicans to go along. >> the president has chosen to go this route, i continue to believe that this is not what the national emergency act was intended to be used for. it was contemplated as a means for responding to a catastrophic event like an attack on our country or a major natural disaster. my major concern is for the president to unilaterally repurpose billions of dollars that have been designated for
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specific projects undermines the appropriations process and really is of dubious constitutionality. >> the concern we have is that we not set new precedent. if it's a matter of the president exercising the types of emergency powers that have been exercised by other presidents, we think he has ever prerogative to do that. there's not a problem there. if it's expanded upon, then the question is, what about if somebody else thinks climate change is the national emergency? how far will they go? >> reporter: lawmakers get a chance to vote on this. there's an effort to move forward a resolution of disapproval to block this from going forward. there's going to be action among the house democrats to bring this up. it's likely it would pass the democratic majority in the house. what will happen in the senate is a question. as you can see, major concerns among republicans. will they get enough to veto proof the majority. another question. all this boils down to the
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details of the plan to declare a national emergency. the president hasn't spelled out what that is where he will get that pot of money to build that border wall. >> you are learning, manu, about the behind the scenes negotia negotiating that the majority leader mitch mcconnell had to engage in to ensure that the president would, in fact, sign the legislation. what are you hearing? >> reporter: mitch mcconnell made it clear he was leery about going this route of declaring a national emergency, worried about the fact this vote will come up eventually. maybe he won't be able to hold his members back, even at a closed door lunch today, i'm today republican senators weren't clear what the president would do, coming out of the lunch, saying they will wait until the president makes his intentions known about how he will sign the deal. mitch mcconnell got on the phone with the president. the president said he would sign the deal and declare a national emergency. mitch mcconnell offered his support for a national emergency, something he did not want to do. when i caught mitch mcconnell over the senate floor moments
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ago, i asked him about the move to support a national emergency. do you have concerned? he did not want to discuss that. he setaid, it's about keeping t government open. give the president some money for the border barriers. we have a signature on a funding bill. that's the most important thing right now. >> mamanu, thank you very much. joining us, will hurd. thank you for joining us. >> always a pleasure to be on with you. >> you represent a district with the most border with mexico, more than 800 miles. do you see the need for the president of the united states to declare a national emergency? >> let me start by saying the problem that we're dealing with on the border, drugs, over 400,000 illegal immigrants trying to come into our country last year, this is absolutely a problem. it's a problem that has existed through multiple
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administrations. however, i do not think the tool that the president should be using on this is a declaration of a national emergency. it's very -- he can do this. this was a bill that was passed and signed into law in the '70s before i was born. i think congress gave up a little bit of their -- too much of their authority to the executive branch. he is able to declare that. the question is going to be which pot of money does he think he can pull from. a lot of the conversation is around military construction. over the last four years that i've been in congress, we have been rebuilding our military. the facilities that we need to build to make sure the men and women that are serving our country, that they have the proper training, they have the proper resources, that could be impacted. also, we have to remember, there's only five, six months left in this fiscal year. what additional things can be built in this short period of time? there's 55 miles of new physical barriers. we will be allowed to have
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technology, which i know you and i have talked a lot. the only way we secure our border, get operational control. when i use that term operational control, i mean knowing everything that's coming back and forth across our border. you gotta have technology and you gotta look at all 2,000 miles at the same time. that's where i think where we should be. it's a positive thing that we're going to make sure the government stays open and that we're not going to impact the lives and the families of over 800,000 government employees who are involved in keeping our country safe. >> you are going to vote in favor of this bill that comes up fairly soon on the floor of the house of representatives? >> i voted to keep the government open every time i've had the opportunity. this could potentially change. i don't think it will. it's likely that i'm going to continue to support this piece of legislation that 17 of my colleagues in a bipartisan way has been introduced. here in the capitol, the bells are ringing, which means we're having our vote on the rule before we take this up a little
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later tonight. the fact that the senate voted by this i think was 83 or 87 votes, is a good sign this will pass the house in an overwhelming fashion. >> it was 83-16 in the senate. overwhelming support. a lot more than the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto if he were to veto this legislation. you only need 6$67, two-third majority in the senate. big picture. the president rejected previous deals that would have given him more money for his border wall with mexico. he says republicans were outplayed and questions your deal making skills. how are republicans feeling about their relationship do you believe with the president right now? >> we lost 40 votes. our negotiating position is in a worse position than it was had we done all of this prior to the election. we have to remember that this
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bill we're voting on tonight, dls d dhs is one piece. there are several other agencies that we haven't funded. those bills were negotiated conference. the house and senate came to a bipartisan agreement on this back before the election. we could have had a victory back then. we should have taken -- made the decision to finish our appropriations process before the election. because of the loss of 40 votes, our negotiating position was more difficult. i think my republican colleagues that were involved in the negotiation, the fact that this wasn't being done and negotiated in the public, that they were thoughtful and deliberate and made sure we're doing things like have the innovative tower initiative. this is what i have been describing as a small wall. we will lay fiber-optic cable and sensing tools. we will make sure we are funding the state department so i.d. can address root causes of illegal
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immigration. that's violence and lack of economic opportunities in central america. all of those things are included in this bill. that's a good negotiation by my colleagues. >> did the 35-day government shutdown, the longest in u.s. history, accomplish anything? >> absolutely not. i have been very clear that i don't think shutdowns make sense. trying to negotiate on the backs of 800,000 people, people that were involved in protecting this country. we had people in coast guard go without pay for 35 days. coast guard is involved in stopping drugs from coming in our country. tsa agents were having to protect our airports without getting paid. i would still say -- wolf, you know this. i spent almost a decade as an undercover officer in the cia. one of the more likely things that could happen to our homeland is that a terrorist goes and gets a fake european passport and comes in through an
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airport. that's why tsa is important. they went would you teithout pa no sense. we shouldn't negotiate on the backs of the men and women trying to keep us safe. i'm glad we're not going to another one. shutdowns actually cost more money because of when you have to restart things. i'm glad we're not getting down there. we shouldn't have been there in the first place. we should have done this negotiation before the elections last november. >> the estimates are that it costs u.s. economy 8 or $10 billion, which is more than the president wanted. have you expressed concerns to the president, congressman? >> my opinions are pretty well-known. i have forwarded this up the chain to a number of folks. i have always tried to be involved in articulating a sensible solution to this. ultimately, in this deal, it's a completion on the secure fence act, a doubling down on technology within our ports of entry and at our ports of entry.
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making sure we have more immigration judges and ensuring we're addressing the root causes through support to the state department and the usa i.d. i'm glad this final bill is getting ready to be voted on and probably in an overwhelming fashion. >> we're glad 800,000 federal employees will continue to get their paychecks. they and their families deserve it. thanks so much, congressman hurd, for joining us. >> always a pleasure. let's bring in our political and legal experts to discuss the breaking news. it looked like it was touch and go. >> it was not sure. that's why white house aides were saying it was likely that he would sign the bill. this morning, they were not sure. they felt the president was leaning towards not signing. a lot had to do the president's xhu comments but he was calling republican allies and saying, i'm not sure if i'm going to sign this bill. there was intense lobbying on
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behalf of not only republicans that wanted the president to sign this, but also some of his own aides, the legislative affairs director and the dhs secretary who were meeting with the president in the oval office, trying to go over the positive aspects of this bill to convince the president that he needed to sign it to avoid a shutdown. >> jeffrey toobin, i will play clips. these are republicans expressing their deep concerns about the president declaring a national emergency in order to get the money toed by his wall. >> the national emergencies that have been issued in the past have not been contentious. i'm pretty sure that this one would be. >> the national emergency is border security and it entitles him to do something. we support that. tomorrow, the national security emergency might be climate change. >> it would be another erosion of congressional authority in this particular area. >> i think it's of dubious
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constitutionality. >> do you think it's worth backing the president on this issue of a national emergency if it avoids another government shutdown? >> look, i think the key fact to remember is to quote john boehner, there's no such thing as a republican party anymore. there's just the trump party. all those senators who are clearing their throats and muttering concerns, they're all going to fall into line. they are all going to sanction this serious erosion of the separation of powers. if there's one principle that has been enshrined in the constitution since the 18th century, it's that congress has the power of the purse. the single exception is this national emergency act of 1976 where every president since then in a handful of uncontroversial cases has reallocated money without congressional authoritizati authorization. this is wildly dramatic
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expansion of presidential power. the republicans are going to clear their throats and fall into line like they always do. >> it's interesting, david. the president, when he was a private citizen, used to rail against president obama when he would move money around. didn't declare a national emergency necessarily. in 2014, the president as a private citizen tweeted this. republicans must not allow president obama to subvert the constitution of the u.s. for his own benefit and because he is unable to negotiate with congress. >> right. you can imagine that if it was president obama now doing the action that president trump is proposing, republicans would be howling. president obama, it's known he executive ordered the dapa program, not daca, deferred action of parents for americans. it would have provided protections. the obama administration lost in appeals court. there was a supreme court tie that kept it as a loss. it was a clear signal that he had overreached his power as the
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executive branch. i think you have a situation here where republicans who were critical then are as jeffrey said going to probably fall in line with an executive overreach in this case by president trump. >> we don't flknow how the president is going to divert potentially billions of dollars from existing appropriated funds to go ahead and use that money to build his wall. legally, what do you anticipate? >> a couple steps. we will see lawsuits from different interest groups right away, questionable whether they have standing or not. then it seep seems we might se resolution of disapproval from the house. nadler hinted at this. if that happens, then it turns to the senate for a vote. that's where things could get dicey, given all the republicans you played sound from them, do they hold firm on that? do they back the president? mcconnell has signalled he would back the president. will the rest fall in line? >> i have a guess.
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>> mcdonnell backing the president on that is so stunning. he is someone who has been opposed to the president declaring a national emergency. it really indicates just how much and how seriously the mcconnell thought the president was going to oppose this bill. otherwise, he could have gotten senators to block the president from doing so. by announcing his support, it shows how much the senate republicans who are opposed to a national emergency declaration didn't want another shutdown. >> go ahead, jeffrey. >> they're all -- jeff flake is gone from the senate. his spirit lives on. all these senators, i'm so concerned about what the president is going to do. you know they're all going to fall in line. you know they are all going to follow the fox news line that the president needs this power. we will see what happens down the road with other presidents. who knows how that's likely to be a long time ago. this say republican party that has absolutely no principles
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except supporting donald trump. >> i'm going to play a clip. this is a year or so ago when the president was also forced to sign an omnibus spending bill that he hated but he did it. he made this promise to the american people. >> but 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. some people don't even know -- $1.3 trillion. it's the second largest ever. >> he made that promise. let's talk about what he is doing now. this is -- that was anticipate 800-page bill. this is an 1,100 page bill that only a few experts legislative asis tanlt assistants have been able to read.
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it's part a spending bill to keep the government going. how do white house officials explain the commitment he made to the american people a year ago and now once again repeating what he did then? >> the ones there a year ago are having flashbacks, especially after the president was so on the fence today about signing this. come close to not signing it. before mcconnell interrupted grassley to speak, white house aides were saying they thought the president was leaning toe i towards no. he was going to sign the bill. he thought it didn't have enough money, but it was james mattis who convinced the president to sign it. it had money for the military. he said, this is worth it. it was lobbying in the white house. it was a day like what today has unfolded like. the only reason the president signed was because of mattis. this case, they had to bring in the dhs secretary, convincing it didn't give amnesty to people, talking about the i.c.e. detention bags, the over $1
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billion for the wall. it was and intense lobbying effort. i want to mow that a lot of this -- white house aides look ought for coverage. that can deter the president from making a decision. that's why over the last 48 hours, there were calls from the white house to some of the president's favorite news hosts telling them how this could be a win. they know the coverage can affect the president's decision. >> to her point, the president wants a win that looks like h r ethered his critics. legislation doesn't work like that. people have to meet in the middle and move on. i think that's why you are seeing him declare this emergency. because it signals to his base, i'm fighting even though i caved in on the wall. >> this legislation, jeffrey -- you got a smile on your face. it's 1,100 pages long. it was finally approved, completed last night around
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midnight. then they voted early early tonight. they didn't have 24 hours to go through this legislation. >> look, it's an open secret that no one reads most of the legislation, especially the budget legislation. i don't think that's the real issue here. the real issue here is the substance. this incredible miscalculation that the president made about his beloved wall. each time he has thrown a fit about it, instead of getting more money, he is getting less money. he could have had $25 billion. then he could have had $6 billion. he could have had $1.6 billion. now he is getting $1.3 billion. somehow they're trying to convince the folks this was a brilliant legislative strategy. they can try. i'm sure that's what they will say on fox. these facts exist in the world. >> a lot of what changed since that came out around midnight
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was the president was growing worried there were going to be things in the bill that caught him off guard. that was his concern when you showed that clip of him signing the 800 page bill. the white house knew the top lines. but they were going through this. they weren't sure what the restrictions would be on the money they do have for the wall in here, what kind of wall they could build. you have seen disagreement between democrats and republicans on what exactly they would be able to do. that was a concern for the president. you heard him say that. that was a big concern for them. this lobbying from his own staffers helped push him over the line. >> originally, after we got the report that the appropriators have come up with some sort of compromise, sean han. >> dale: hannity said it was a garbage compromise. >> that's what the white house was telling those hosts when they were trying to convince them to spin it more positively this could be a win.
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they said that the president was going to declare a national emergency or take some kind of executive action, both of which was included in sarah sanders' statement to get more money for the wall. that's how they were trying to frame it better for people like sean hannity. >> does the justice department need to go ahead and provide a legal opinion to the president and the white house right now what he can do and what he can't do as far as reallocating money? >> it's safe to assume they have probably had that in the works for a long time. we don't have reporting on that. in a situation like this, any executive order is supposed to -- i say that because we remember what happened with the travel ban. supposed to go through the office of legal counsel, which serves as the law firm for the federal government. it's supposed to go through that. it's suppose tod to be vetted b doj. many, many nights to make sure that if he goes through with
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this, they are prepared and not caught off guard the way they were. >> they have been preparing for that. it's not like he decided today to do a national emergency. he has been talking about it since the night he agreed to sign the spending bill telling allies, i will sign a national emergency. aides have been trying to make sure they are going through the legal loopholes. they have been preparing. they have had a lot of lawyers looking at this. >> if i can add one point of preparation. brett kavanaugh, his great cause as an appeals court judge was expanded presidential power. the issue of whether the president is allowed to use the national emergencies act in this way, it seems is very likely to wind up before the supreme court. the fact that neil gorsuch and kavanaugh are believers in expansion of presidential powers is likely to be very important in the resolution of this case. if i had to guess, i would think
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the president is going to win. >> elections do have consequences. especially two new members -- two new justices on the supreme court. everybody stand by. the house of representatives back in session. they are getting ready to vote on this legislation as well. we will have breaking news coverage on that. also ahead, as a new attorney general gets control of the russia investigation, there's new confirmation the top justice department officials discussed the possibility of removing the president from office. why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago. we're the tenney's and we're usaa members for life. call usaa to start saving on insurance today.
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live pictures of the house of representatives. we're standing by for lawmakers to vote on a bill to prevent another government shutdown. the white house says the president will sign it. he will also declare a national emergency to fund his border wall. also breaking, there's a new boss for the mueller investigation as the former fbi acting director is speaking out about the russia probe. let's go to pamela brown. william barr, he was sworn in as the attorney general in the midst of drama at the justice department. >> quite a day to be sworn in. the former fbi director andy mccabe revealing for the first time how seriously he took conversations about rod rosenstein wearing a wire with the president and how much invoking the 25th amendment was considered among top doj officials in the aftermath of comey's firing. for the first time, former acting fbi director and drew mccabe, the man who took over
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after president trump fired james comey, talking about his former boss. >> 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 formidable adversary on the word stage. and that was something that troubled me greatly. >> reporter: in an interview with cbs, mccabe detailing the lengths he went to to secure the russia investigation in the days 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 or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace. >> reporter: in clips not released, mccabe revealing extraordinary discussions among
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senior justice officials about invoking the 25th amendment to remove the president from office. this according to cbs anger scott pelly. >> there were meetings 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. >> reporter: "the new york times" reported that mccabe rode that rod rosenstein looked into the 25th amendment issue and determined he would need a majority or eight of the 15 cabinet officials. cnn reported that rod rosenstein discussed wearing a wire. the justice department claiming it was inaccurate. as t there was no basis to invoke the 25th amendment. nor was rosenstein in a position
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to consider invoking the 25th amendment. rosenstein has long denied he thinks there's a basis to remove the president from office but has yet to deny those discussions ever occurred. the discussions of the 25th amendment sources say came at a time of confusion and concern inside the fbi. the president had just fired james comey. something the fbi director learned about from cable tv. mccabe had become the acting director. mccabe began working with agents to launch a criminal and counterintelligence probe, concerned about why trump was acting in ways that seemed to benefit russia. at the same time, trump was hosting russia's foreign minister and the russian ambassador to the united states in the oval office. reportedly telling his guests, i fired the head of the fbi. the next day, may 11th, trump ed aadmit he had fired comey because of the russia investigation. >> i said to myself, i said,
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this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story.>> i this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story. >> reporter: mccabe is accused of lying to investigators. that's now being looked at by the d.c. us attorneys office. he did keep notes detailing several of the interactions referenced in his book..s attor. he did keep notes detailing several of the interactions referenced in his book.. attorn. he did keep notes detailing several of the interactions referenced in his book. let's bring there josh campbell, a former fbi special assistant to mccabe and comey. there were eight days between when comey was fired, robert mueller was appointed, the special counsel. you worked for comb jey and the mccam mccabe. >> describe what wasn't happening. i heard since this reporting that the fbi opened this investigation into the president, people describing it
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as an overreaction on the part of the fbi. there was chaos and they were responding to that. i can tell you having been inside the fbi at the time on the seventh floor in the ex executive corridor. it wasn't chaotic. people were shocked the president removed the person leading the investigation into him. for those who still might question whether or not this was an overreaction, don't take my word. ask yourself one question. where do we live? what country do we live in? this is the united states. whether you are a dog catcher or the president of the united states, if you run afaoul or there's an allegation you are violating federal law, the fbi will investigate. had the fbi not acted, we would be talking about why they were derelict in their duty. >> the fbi was investigating multiple trump associates. the president admitted that the russia investigation played a role in his decision to go ahead and fire comey. was there a concern at the time
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that donald trump was compromised by russia? >> we look at some of the reporting. as a former employee, there are non-disclosure agreements that i have to be bound by. looking at what mccabe said in his book, which is cleared by the fbi and great reporting by cc c cm nn, concern there was actions benefitting a foreign government. look to michael flynn. he was in contact with the russian s and lied about t. you have the president asking comey to go easy on michael flynn. when that didn't happen, he fired him. there would be bells going off inside the minds of the investigators. why is the president acting in this way? that's the direct that we see based on some of the reporting. the fbi trying to find out, is there a threat? the last thing is we're -- this is a big development. we have andy mccabe, he has been embattled. he is out with a book. the reason i would suggest that
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this is such a major development is because up until now, it's been silence from people that have been in senior level positions inside the fbi and inside the department of justice. think of all the slings and arrows andy mccabe has taken. this is the first time we are hearing from him telling his story. the same thing happened with james comey. he was able to describe what happened. i think what this goes back to -- i would ask you the viewers if you think about the fbi right now and the department of justice and the view that has been able to -- this conarrativ they are corrupt. you haven't sessions, rosenstein to defend. you have this narrative. now you have andy mccabe trying to counter that. here is our side of the story. this is fascinating to see what stories he tells. >> josh campbell lepi inhelping. thank you very much. laura, mccabe, he tells some
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incredible stories about how concerned he was about protecting the russia investigation. in case he was removed for some reason. almost an unprecedented situation. did he do the right thing? >> i think that's a hard question. on the one hand, we have the former general counsel james baker who we have described in his closed door testimony with congress explaining that they were really troubled by some of the behavior that they saw from the president, especially after the firing of james comey. they're trying to figure out his mowty vag t motivation. it could have been innocent, or worst case, he was working at the behest of the russian government. that's what they had to try to get to. there's nothing more serious. on the other hand, they are going after the president of the united states alone. they are not doing this with the gang of eight. they are not doing this even with the justice department. mccabe is opening this on his own. in many ways, the fbi faced so much criticism for going it alone.
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we think about james comey not informing the attorney general about what he was doing. so i think that's the tension you see here. on the one hand, it's a big deal. you are going to be doing it when these consequences come up. >> jeffrey, andrew mccabe said that it was no joke when conversations came up about removing the president of the united states through the 25th amendment to the constitution or having rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general of the united states, wear a wire to go into the oval office and tape the president. what do you make of that? >> you know, we have heard the than a year. i think just by sheer repetition, we have become inyou are in innured how serious this is. the fact the leadership of the fbi thought the president was so compromised by russia, his own cabinet might have to force him out of office.
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he was obstructing justice to such an extent that they had to hire a special prosecutor. this is not normal behavior. ev either on the part of a president or law enforcement. this was an unprecedented crisis in american government. the passage of time shouldn't dull its impact on us. >> good point. very important point. the president didn't take much time. he tweeted very quickly that in his words, mccabe is a disgrace to the fbi and a disgrace to our country. this is someone that spent decades working his way up through the fbi. it sounds like he will simply brush aside mccabe's accusations. >> right. not only did he tweet that pretty quickly after that interview, he had the press secretary put out a statement saying he was an embarrassment, he had no credibility. going after him and pointing back to the inspector general investigation that shows he was misleading. that's what the white house will do as mccabe is coming out,
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especially this interview on sunday. that's what white house officials are worried about, this will infuriate the president. you see clearly this morning, it didn't take long. the white house's plan is to brush this off and say this guy has no credibility. when he makes comments like potentially invoking the 25th amendment, the white house is trying to brush that off. >> that's an achilles hileel. what incentive does he have to lie? he hasn't been fired. he is writing it down. i think that's a hard thing for both the white house and rosenstein to get around. at that point, he had no intensive to lie. now he lost his pension. he has been disgraced, under the gun for president trump for so long. back then, he had no reason to lie. >> rosenstein's statement that there was no basis for invoking the 25th amendment does not mean it wasn't kicked around in a conference room at some point. doesn't mean it was. it's opaque language.
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>> you know the president's supporters will say there's a deep state bias hate of donald trump in the fbi, in the justice department. this whole thing is a witch hunt. it's a hoax. don't take this seriously. >> i know that on fox news there's going to be every theory about how the fbi is a nest of leftists. come on. it's just so ridiculous. the idea that the fbi, which is a law enforcement organization, populated by the best cops in the country, that that is some nest of left wing activists is just absurd on its face. but this is what you will hear from -- on fox. 35% of the country is going to believe it. no one changes their opinion about donald trump. nothing changes. the polls are always the same. no matter what you ask.
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35% to 40% like him. 55% don't. that's just how it's going to be. >> the white house says this makes their argument for them that the fbi is biased, the doj is biased against the president. you have someone before -- we had the new yo had t"the new york times" confirming this happened. that's stunning. the white house can point to this and say they debeated wearing a wire. there are officials of the doj, of the fbi, that are against the president. >> she's right. the white house's line has been and will continue to be this idea that this was a witch hunt. the fbi was out to get the president. because mccabe had that finding from the ig's office of lack of candor, that does make him a target for the president's tweets and attacks. what ultimately matters is what the special counsel finds. this is why you have a special counsel. to take it out of the hands of
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the regular line, fbi and doj. >> i don't think robert mueller is the arbitor of truth in america. we can make our own judgment based on what has come out so far. the mueller report is going to be important. the idea that we're in some perfect thing between the fbi is a nest of corrupt leftists and the ffbi was trying to do their job, i don't think those -- >> he is not -- you are right. he was appointed in 2017 because you had a situation where the white house and doj and fbi were at odds. you bring in someone with a sterling reputation at the time. republicans even sung his praises. who is just in charge of this one case out of the chain of command. that way -- we don't know what's in his report. this is why you have a special counsel. >> this is happening as this new attorney general has been sworn
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in, bill barr, who is close with robert mueller. they have a long-standing relationship. they are friends and have worked together. >> they are personal friends. they have gone to this is a white house photo just released. chief justice john roberts and the president of the united states standing right next to him. >> he has a long path with mueller. he was his boss at the justice department. when he was head of the criminal division and bill barr was there. he's now in his second time around. everyone is so hyped up for the mueller report and all the expectations. the fact andy mccabe has rip pe the band-aid off of what happened in 2017 really highlights what barr wants to avoid. he want to astloid airing of all that was going on. he hates the idea of detorre information information. we'll see him try to clamp down
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on that. >> what's the mood there at the white house right now? you're close to a lot of those folks. you've done great reporting. >> the president really liked matt whis ker. that was a point of contention, but the president liked him a lot. we did report when bill barr was undergoing his testimony, the president was surprised to see just how close they are because the president's famous line was that comey and him were good friends. he testified he didn't even have his cell phone, but they're actually very close. to close they talk about going the each other's children's weddings. i think that was a surprise to the president. white house officials will tell you it doesn't matter in the job. who's in the white house counsel's job, chief of staff job. the president gets frustrated with a lot of people around him, oftentimes blaming them for something that may or may not be their fault.
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so i don't think people have faith that bill barr is going to go unscathed during his tenure just because they see twhat's happened there. >> what do you see, jeffrey? >> i think barr is going to try to approach this in good pait. he's a person that's imminently qualified to be in the job that he has. he's done it before. he has a lot of respect in all communities. even among people who don't agree with him politically. but you know, his legacy is going to be determined by what he does with this report. i don't think there's any doubt about that and the public interest here is intense and if he keeps anything but classified information secret, i think there, you know there's going to be a big reaction, but his reaction may be so what. what can the democrats do? they can try to subpoena.
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it's going to be a very interesting tough call for him. >> it will be. everybody stand by. more news we're following tonight. the top democrat on the senate intelligence committee speaking out about the ruling that paul manafort lied. let's go to manu. what are you hearing and seeing? >> that's right. the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee reacted to the news of a federal judge saying that paul manafort breached his plea deal with his efforts to cooperate with prosecutors because of him not being truthful of his content in part with the russians, suspect uing to have ties to kilimnick. when i asked mark warner about that, he said it showed why the president is concerneded about the mueller probe. >> my reaction to the federal judge saying that manafort lie ed. >> this is one of the reasons why the president is terrified about the results of the mueller investigation.
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and intelligence investigation. the number of data points between folks related to the trump campaign and organization with russians is unprecedented and i think there will be some interesting conclusions when we get to that stage. >> another story line was what's been happening on the senate intelligence community. mark warn rer has split with the republican chairman of the committee, richard burr, who said he's not certain, doesn't believe the facts they can point to any real evidence of collusion. when i talked to warner today, he pushed back rather strongly. he said there are a number of data points showing there were efforts to coordinate, to talk, conspiracy. that's a question he believes that needs to be probed further, including those contacts with paul manafort and kilimnick. we know that inadd ver tantly
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released that manafort shared polling data in 2016 with kilimnick. he said they need to be investigated further even as republicans say at this point there's no signs of any collusion between trump campaign and the russians, but this revelation from the federal judge last night that paul manafort lied about those interactions with kilimnick add ing more fodder to mark warner as they push forward on the russia probe. >> you're right. it looks like this division on capitol hill over this in intensifying. >> it is and i think one of the reasons we see is clearly because now there's more focus on the senate because the house is in democratic hands, the chairmanships are in democratic hands. there's more pressure on burr, ranking member of the intelligence committee, to hold a line for republicans. whether how that plays out though and how that affects his relationship with senator warner, we'll see. >> how do you see it?
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is. >> this underlines the need for facts. warner and burr, they're argue about facts not available to us. what did the interview and evidence show? i haven't seen that evidence. no one in the public has. that's why you know, usual way of the congress does investigations is they hold hearings. subpoena documents. maybe the senate judiciary committee should decide to release that evidence and let us all decide which one of them is telling the truth. i don't mean lying. just in terms of who was accurately characterizing. >> this is a tense moment right now in u.s. history. >> part of the issue is that we don't have what we think of as like the 9/11 commission to air all of this out so the public really wants and understandably so, a full account of what has gone on with russian interference. not one is seemingly poised to answer that.
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not mueller, not the senate intelligence committee. we get drips and drabs of information, but there's no one really putting it together for anyone and american people in a digestible way. >> you're right. there was no public -- >> well, really, that's why you were see iing, campaign rally o the year. and that's why when you saw warner, i think the white house is preparing not only for this, but they note there's an onslaugt of investigations.
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national security editions, it's going to be so much scrutiny on this. they've been preparing for this since the midterm elections, but it's going to start to hit them and it's going to affect the traject richt of the nery of th next two years but they could use it as tool to say look what the democrats are doing to the president. the president calls it presidential harassment and i think they'll try to use it to their advantage. >> now that barr is a new attorney general replacing the active, that maybe that would be an indication that mueller's getting ready to finalize his report and give it to the attorney. >> we certain ly look for clues everywhere we can. obviously our reporting had been that the deputy attorney general who's been yoef soverseeing the investigation, would depart after barr got confirmed.
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barr is now confirmed, so i think there's a safe aaasumts t make there. we'll tell you first. >> promise. you'll tell me first, is that what you're saying? is she promised. everybody stick around. there's little bit more and finally tonight, very important. we want to join people in parkland, florida and across the nation in honoring the victims of one of the deadliest school shootings in u.s. history. on this day one year ago, 17 students and staff member ws we killed when the gunman walked into the marjory stoneman douglas high school and opened fire. the massacre has been at the forefront of the debate over guns and mental health. but for so many of the survivors, this is a day about remembering and healing. the community dedicated this valentine's day to public service and acts of love. a memorial service is being held in parkland later tonight. all the students, parents, faculty who lost so much, our
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thoughts are with you on this day. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks very much for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. breaking news. done deal. the white house says the details for a national emergency declaration are done. that's how trump plans to get money for his wall. plus, senator kamala harris addressing questions head on about her quote, blackness, breakthrough vobut are voters hearing her? and a dangerous conspiracy theory that could put lives at risk. good evening. national emergency. after keeping the country on edge for days, the president says he will sign a bipartisan bill to keep the government open and sarah sanders says trump quote will also take other executive action including a national emergency to ensure we


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