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tv   Wolf  CNN  February 2, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PST

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this all has to play out, but if you look at the list, there remains one person standing right now and that's rod rosenstein. okay, everybody, thank you very much for bringing us through this. thank you for watching. we have a lot more to discuss here on cnn. our breaking news is going to continue. wolf blitzer is picking it up right now. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> hello i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. we begin with breaking news. the release of a partisan republican memo alleging abuses of fbi surveillance authority. president trump authorized making the document public in direct defiance of both the fbi and the justice department, and just moments ago the president spoke about the alleged abuses that are now the focus of this document. >> i think it's terrible, if you want to know the truth. i think it's a disgrace what's going on in this country.
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i think it's a disgrace. the memo was sent to congress who was declassified. congress will do whatever they're going to do, but i think it's a disgrace what's happening in our country. when you look at that, and you see that and so many other things, what's going on, a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that. so i sent it over to congress. they will do what they're going to do. whatever they do is fine. it was declassified. and let's see what happens. but a lot of people should be ashamed. >> the fbi expressed grave concerns about releasing this memo. it cited, and i'm quoting now, material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy, closed quote. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto to help sort through all of this. jim, what are the main allegations in this republican memo? >> there is a lot to digest here. let's focus on what's new in it.
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one headline is this warrant to surveil carter page in the survival of the trump campaign was issued and renewed three times. i'll add some context to that in a moment. keep in mind we did not know that. let's get to the allegations here. one allegation, the principal one, really, the now former director of the fbi, andrew mccabe, told the intelligence committee that the warrant would not have been issued without the steele dossier, this dossier of information about president trump compiled by a british agent initially paid for by republicans and then by the democratic national committee. the memo also alleges that the judge who issued these warrants was not told that the steele dossier was, one, paid for by democratic money and was not origins as the memo alleges of this information. so those are really the central allegations here. it also goes on to argue that christopher steele had it in for
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president trump, in effect, that he had an agenda against president trump. but now some context. one, we know, and cnn has previously reported, that the fbi had its own corroborating intelligence to call for this warrant to surveil carter page. we also know that the way this process works in the fisa court, former director of national intelligence james clapper said this on the air this morning. they do not base warrants just on outside information. there would need to be warrants to back up this request, specifically to surveil an american. that's important there. that's why that initial headline i noted is important, because this warrant was issued and renewed three times. to do that, the fbi would have to come back to the judge, to the court and say, it is gaining valuable intelligence from this surveillance to justify continuing the surveillance and
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the judge would have to make that application. the central claim is that the whole warrant to monitor carter page, and of course the president carries this forward to say really the entire russia investigation is based all on the steele dossier, the nunes memo itself notes that there was also information included in that warrant application from george papadopoulos, former trump campaign adviser, who months earlier told an australian diplomat that he knew russia had damaging information on hillary clinton, information that that australian diplomat considered important enough that he then shared with his american counterpart. in the nunes memo, there is actually reference to other intelligence that was used to get this warrant here, which somewhat undermines its argument this was all based on the steele dossier. it's an explosive document here, very political, and as you heard the president, it fits in with his broader argument that the fbi corruptly surveilled a member of his campaign. >> i just want to remind our viewers that this is the
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majority document from the house intelligence committee. the minority document, the democratic document, that has not yet been approved for release, democrats wanted it released simultaneously because it rebuts some of these allegations in the majority documents that were standing by. let's see if that majority document is released at some point. i assume it will be. he ha evan perez is getting more information. evan, what does the surveillance court tell us about the renewals? >> first of all, to get one of these warrants, you have to be able to show a judge that you have reason to believe that someone is acting as an agent of a foreign power. it was first granted, and then after 90 days was renewed three additional times. it tells us that the fbi told this judge, or presented to this
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judge information that indicates that they believe that the surveillance was yielding fruit, was yielding valuable information that supports this idea that carter page or whoever you would have in a surveillance is acting as an agent of a foreign power. again, today the president tweeted about the sacred investigative process. and wolf, what we're seeing from this document is a little bit of a picture of how messy investigations are. yes, sometimes you use information from informants that are not clean. obviously when you're investigating criminal organizations, you use criminal informants, people who are murderers and thugs and other things. in this case, you know, what the fbi would say is that, look, information that we use, sometimes it's raw intelligence, and if after 90 days we don't see any indication that someone is acting as an agent of a foreign power, then we have to stop that surveillance. again, we don't know everything
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here. we don't see the supporting documents from the fbi, the fisa application, but at a minimum, a judge would have to be convinced that after 90 days, the fbi was getting value intelligence and information that indicates they had the right to continue this surveillance. >> but evan, in fairness to carter page, he's been investigated for a long time and all these warrants to get approval for the foreign intelligence surveillance court to monitor his activities. four other trump campaign officials, they have been charged with criminal wrongdoing. as far as i know, he hasn't been charged with any criminal wrongdoing, right? >> that is exactly right. the fbi had him on their radar as far back as 2012, 2013, in a case involving russian spies and they actually came to him and talked to him about the fact that they believe the russians were trying to cultivate him as an agent. so that would also be information that the fbi would have and would probably be used in an application to support the
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idea. in other words, they would tell this judge that, look, carter page, we talked to him in the past, and we told him that the russians were trying to cultivate him as an agent, and he has continued this contact with who we believe to be russian foreign spies. >> wolf, one more point if i could add just from the memo. as you know, it's been a steele dossier that's unverified, it is solacious, and cnn reported that portions of it have been corroborated. it's interesting there were two references in this nunes memo that referred to corroboration of information in the steele dossier. not complete corroboration, but there is a line that said it was in its infancy at the time of the fisa application, indicating that in the early stages some of it was corroborated. it goes on in the next line as
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saying that steele's reporting was described as minimally corroborated. not entirely or even principally corroborated, but two references in the nunes memo to at least some information being corroborated by the fbi, as evan reported and we've been told multiple times, is the way the fbi operates. when it gets information like this, it doesn't take it at face value, it corroborates to see if it's true. the nunes information is at least somewhat corroborated. >> the fact this is a criticism-motivated document doesn't mean we shouldn't read this and perhaps ask some questions. i think that's what's important here. some of the allegations the republicans are making is concerning. so the question is, are there underlying documents that show exactly what nunes is saying in th this? in the application for a fisa
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warrant, did they disclose this was a political document? perhaps that's a question that the judge might have for the fbi. and we don't know what will happen following the disclosure of this document. >> and did andrew mccabe indeed tell the committee that the warrant would not have been issued without the dossier? that's the central assertion here and that raises, as evan says, some serious questions. >> we're obviously anxious to get the minority opinion, the democratic memo that still has not been released. stand by, guys, for a moment. the decision to release this memo certainly highlights the very troubled relationship between the president, president trump, the justice department and the u.s. intelligence community. let's go to our chief white house correspondent jim acosta. you heard a very cryptic remark today about the future of the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. >> that's right, wolf. when the president was meeting with some north korean defectors in the oval office a short while
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ago, he was asked if he had confidence in rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and he told reporters, you figure that one out. that is not an endorsement, that is not an expression of confidence in rod rosenstein, however, he only figures briefly or is featured briefly in this nunes memo that was released a short while ago. we should also point out, wolf, that in addition to that memo, there is a letter from don mcgahn, the white house counsel, essentially justifying the president's decision to declassify this memo. the letter basically states that there is a, quote, significant public interest in the memo and that is why it is being declassified. but wolf, we should point out, and i think we're going to be hearing this throughout the day as democrats are seizing on all of this. what we're hearing from democratic sources and what the democratic side of that intelligence committee is saying, and i think you were just under lilining this a few moment ago with jim sciutto and evan perez, there was more
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intelligence that went into this fisa procedure that was undertaken rather than the steele dossier. that's what the intelligence committee was saying and that seems to be omitted in what the republicans are aputting out today. the white house has been working with basically the intelligence committee in putting this out and accommodations were made, but it doesn't appear at this point that will rise to any kind of level that will satisfy anybody at the fbi, and you have the president disregarding pleas from his own hand-picked director of the fbi. i think one of the big questions moving forward is what will happen with chris wray? what does he do next? that is certainly uncertain at this point, and wolf, i think the other thing that needs to be stressed is as we're looking into this all day long today, that when the president says there is no collusion with the russians, there is no obstruction of justice when it comes to the russia investigation, there is more to it than just this nunes memo.
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when the president's own son has a meeting at trump tower that involves the campaign chairman at that time, the president's son-in-law and a russian attorney promising dirt on the hillary clinton campaign, none of that is really at issue here in this nunes memo. so there is more to the russia investigation story than what's contained in this memo today, wolf. >> just to remind our viewers, very important, jim, the fbi director christopher wray and the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, they went over to the white house earlier in the week. they met with the white house chief of staff john kelly and they appealed to him, don't release this memo, is that right? >> that's right. that happened on monday, and from what we understand, you know, the president had not even read the memo when he made that comment in the state of the union speech tuesday night, that 100% this memo is going to be released. so when the president made that comment, he had already essentially made the determination this memo was going to be put out before he had even read it or had his team
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review it. we understand in the last 48 to 72 hours, the white house legal team has been reviewing this, going over this along with members of the intelligence community, and i've been talking to a source familiar with that process over the last couple of days who was saying redactions or accommodations were being made, that things were being scrubbed to make sure sources and methods were not revealed in the release of this memo. they seem satisfied that was the case, although the white house was saying this morning there were no redactions, so there seems to be a difference of opinion of what a redaction is, if it's a white house-initiated redaction or if things were changed from comments coming from the intelligence committee. that is uncertain at this point. but wolf, make no mistake, when the fbi -- and this can't be underlined enough. when the fbi puts out a public statement appealing to the white house to not authorize the release of a memo and then it's done, anyway, i think the only thing you can conclude is that you have a white house that is just hell-bent on having some
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kind of hand in this investigation. and that's just not how things typically work here in washington. i think most people realize, if they're not looking through jaundiced eyes, that that's what's going on here. there is an attempt at getting their hands on this investigation, and by releasing this memo, they had an influence on the perspective of this russia investigation, wolf. >> i know you're getting more information at the white house. jim acosta, thank you very much. we also have a statement from the chairman of the house committee, devin nunes. he said the committee has discussed serious violations of the public trust and the american people have a right to know when officials in crucial institutions are abusing their authority for political purposes. let's bring in our panel. jane harmes is here. commentator mike rogers is with us. he is a former chairman of the
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house intelligence committee. senior white house chairman pamela brown and our chief legal analyst gloria borger. let's talk about the future of some of these individuals that the president slapped big time by rejecting their personal and public appeals. rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, the number two at the department of justice. he's in charge, he oversees it, because jeff sessions recused himself, he's supposedly not involved at all. the president was asked, do you have confidence in rod rosenstein, and he said, you figure that one out, and he had an angry look on his face as he said that. >> that is not a vote of confidence, and there is reporting now that top democrats on the hill are warning the president that if he were to fire rosenstein or special counsel mueller that it would spark a constitutional crisis. and so they are -- given what
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the president said today and given the fact that rosenstein is mentioned in this memo as somebody who approved one or more of these fisa applications on behalf of the department of justice, it's very easy to see that he's in the line of fire. andrew mccabe is also mentioned in here is gone. james comey, also mentioned in this, is gone. rod rosenstein is still there. he pleaded with the president not to release this. he is, of course, the person, if the president wanted to fire bob mueller, he would have to go to rod rosenstein to do it. so what the democrats are saying in this letter to the president saying that they are alarmed by reports that you may have released this document as a pretext to fire rod rosenstein, they are putting him on notice that they would consider this a constitutional breach. >> two of the people who signed off on these fisa warrants for
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carter page are people that trump himself put in their positions. rod rosenstein, for example, he put him in the position or appointed him, nominated him for deputy attorney general. dana buente, he was overseeing the national security convention, he was brought over from the division office. these are two people that trump himself put at the department of justice. something else that sort of stuck out to me was this is all about the fisa warrant for carter page. if you recall, up until this point, the trump administration has distanced themselves from carter page, saying he really wasn't part of the campaign, he was really a nobody. but now they're using this to say that the fbi was targeting the trump campaign with this fisa warrant for carter page. it doesn't quite square in that sense. and let's not forget, carter page was someone who was under surveillance going all the way back to 2014 for his ties to a russian mob. he went to moscow in july of
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2016, a few months before this fisa warrant application, and met with russian government officials. he admitted that and e-mailed a trump campaign by saying he gained insight into other things. people i spoke with in the fbi said that's also part of the calculus. it's not just the dossier, although mccabe said this would never happen without the dossier. i would like to see what other information besides the dossier to get the approval of the judge. >> so mike rogers, you've read the four-page memo released unclassified. now the president declassified it personally. he said all of this represents a disaster. clearly his goal is to show that the entire russia investigation, in his famous word, is a hoax. he would like to see it simply go away, and presumably, he believes that this memo will help in that process. >> well, now we're going to have
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dueling memos. out of the classified space that's never a good thing. as someone who did not a fisa application but a title 3 application, which is the criminal version of the same thing, i can tell you that this is not enough to get a warrant from a judge. so this begs the question -- which i always question why, and i think this is why the fbi was so strident about there are omission s in here that would lead you to the wrong conclusion if you just read this memo. that's what the fbi was talking about. the mention of papadopoulos means there is other information that wasn't disclosed in this very brief memo. and these fisa applications are are fairly significant. and you have to show that there is some connection to a foreign government. think of this. the fbi actually went to carter page and said, we think you are being recruited by foreign intelligence agents, in this case, russian foreign intelligence agents. i disregarded.
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it led them to show up at his door. the other activities are probably in the application. we don't get to see any of it. that's why i think it's a disservice to come to a conclusion on this memo. >> you've read the memorandum. what's your reaction? >> let me say that mike and i overlapd f overlapped for two years on the house intelligence committee. i had already joined. when he joined he became a chairman. eight years under the committee serving as one and two chairmen, the system is broken, possibly ir rreparabl irreparably. it's tragic. i served when the surveillance act was passed. it was done to make sure we had surveillance of abuses in the committee, at the time president
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nixon. i was a young lawyer during the saturday night massacre, so i lived this history. what's tragic here is the committee is broken, this is a political document. i don't know what the democratic version will say, but mike is right to call for a full classified investigation by the house intelligence committees, and all the relevant people should come up there and all the backup material should be reviewed, and my guess is it will show a very careful fisa application process. >> that may be possible in the senate committee where there is still bipartisan cooperation, but that has completely gone away in the house. there is a war going on between the republicans and democrats. they don't talk to each other, they don't want to talk to each other, they're continuing the fight. so to talk to them about continuing to investigate what's going on right now -- >> it breaks my heart but the chairman could be removed. that's been a request. he recused himself, and mike conaway, who is number 2 on the committee, seems to be a
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reasonable guy. bring back this mike. >> without running for office -- >> but you have to have leadership, mr. rogers. we have to have the speaker of the house, who is the leader of the republican majority, in the house of representatives. you have to get him involved. he said earlier today he would like to see both of these memorandums, the democratic memorandum and the republican memorandum, released at the same time. they ignored that. we t they rejected that. they simply went ahead and released the public majority report. >> in fairness, what they probably should have done was held this until the democratic memo went through the process. that memo came within a day of them voting on this and the long process. in fairness in that argument, they could have held this until the other memo went through the process now that it's even been approved, but they really couldn't probably vote on it that day because none of it had been vetted, they hadn't gone
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through the same process. >> this looks to me like a memo that was written with a conclusion first and then the facts to kind of cherry pick to back it up. and it portrays an fbi very much in the way. the president has called the fbi corrupt, but it portrays an fbi if you were just to read this, that was nefarious in a way, hiding -- knowing they had a biass biased source in steele who produced biased information in the dossier, which they hid, you know, which was hidden from the fisa judge, and they were knowingly trafficking in bad information to come up with surveillance that would lead them to a false conclusion. we don't have the information that they received, as we've been talking about around this table. we don't know the list of particulars that was given to the fisa court that said this is what we learned, this is what we
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learned, this is what we learned. so what we have here is a portrait that is troubling, and again, evan perez said this earlier, and i think he's right, and again, mistakes may have been made. we should know that. >> i agree with that. i'm not saying that that didn't happen. the claim could be true. but the process to prove the claim is terrible. >> right, it's like a legal breach. >> it certainly raises very serious questions about the fbi and the spy's application. why wasn't it included in here that this was a political document. how much did christopher steele really know this was paid for by dnc and hillary clinton's lawyer? jim clinton, who had a fusion, was only told it was someone political and democratic. it raises questions, but if you're trying to make a case that the fbi is biased, i think they're actually doing a disservice because i'm more skeptical about this not seeing all the information.
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>> what's fascinating is that even the members of the house intelligence committee -- and mike rogers, i want you to weigh in on this -- except for two of them, they didn't have a chance to review the raw intelligence. trey gowdy, the represent can, d -- republican did, he's a ranking member of the intelligence community, but the democrats didn't have a chance to look at it. >> if i was chairman and didn't have the chance to vote, i would object vociferously and there's even information underneath the application of the fisa that the judge could ask for at any time. without having that full context picture, i don't know -- >> maybe you should explain, jane, maybe you can explain. they let a few staffers go through the raw data, they let two members go through it, but no one else. why?
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>> there is a gang of eight process. i was in the gang of eight, so was mike when he became chairman, allow us to see information that the rest of the committee can't, so i assume that was the process that was followed. we've done careful oversight over the fisa process for years. in fact, until about 1990, i was not in congress yet, but each fisa application was reviewed or at least shown to the house and senate communities. we remanded fisa in 2008 to set up section 702 and there is sophistication in congress about the fact that it works well. the fisa court is picked by the chief justice and is a people with life tenure who are qualified. so to claim in a four-page simple memo that there were massive abuses just doesn't -- >> the decision of the fisa courts, mike rogers, who you've
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heard it, is that they almost always authorize what the fbi and the justice department, as they rarely reject a request. >> so that's really inaccurate. we went through this process and we went through the very careful process, by the way, in the committee a few years ago to bring in a fisa judge not as a witness. this was all negotiated, to come in and talk through how all of that process worked. we kept getting these allegations that as an fbi guy, i know it wasn't true. i sign the application and it gets signed off by a whole bunch of check-offs. agents, the legal department in the fbi, the doj, then it gets to the judge. the judge or sometimes the clerk says, i know this judge. that ain't going to fly. why don't you go back and do your homework? and that process goes for a while. i'll tell you who else is going to be hoched off on this memo and that's the fisa court. they take this as seriously as
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anything, because they know it's classified and it's not like any other judicial work that they do. i know them, they're going to be really honked off that they're giving the implication that this 3-page memo is signed off, are you kidding me? >> let's not forget the context of -- there is the initial application which includes the dossier and other information, and we don't know what that other information is, but every 90 days you have to go back to the judge and say, as a result of surveillance on this particular person, we believe we need to continue it because it's warranted. this information to support this person is acting as an agent of a foreign power. that is critical and that's missing in all of this. what is the information that the surveillance of carter page warranted for this to be renewed three times? >> a key question is what is mr. wray going to do. he's been slapped big time by the president of the united states.
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he's the fbi director. he was approved six months ago or so. what will is rod rosenstein and the deputy attorney general, can they stay on the job after being publicly humiliated by the president of the united states, after grave concerns of releasing this memo. everybody stand by. we got a statement from the democratic leader in the house, minority leader nancy pelosi, saying this. i'll read her words. donald trump has surrendered his constitutional responsibility as commander in chief by releasing nunes' unredacted classified memo. his decision undermines our national security and is a bouquet to his friend putin. that was strong words. we'll assess that. a lot more coming up. i'll also speak live with a republican member of the house intelligence committee. this is cnn's special live coverage.
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the following is major breaking news here in washington, the release of this four-page memorandum released by the republican majority of the house intelligence committee alleging wrongdoing on the part of the foreign intelligence surveillance court and the fbi and the justice department. jim sciutto is getting more information. jim, what else are you learning? >> wolf, as you reported and we've been reporting, a central claim of the nunes memo is the former fbi director andrew mccabe told the house intelligence committee that that initial warrant on carter page would not have been issued without the steele dossier, furthering this republican claim, the president's claim as well, that really this is based all on the dossier which at the time was funded by democrats. i've spoke to two intelligence
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committee democrats and they dispute nunes' characterization of the committee. one of them said he is mischaracterizing what he said. that's not what he remembers them saying and now democrats are push foing for the transcri of mccabe before the committee. they want that record set straight. paul ryan, in addition to expressing support for the nunes memo being released, is calling for the committee to release the democratic memo, the democratic side of this story in effect as well. again, the key line here, two democrats on the house intelligence committee disputing nunes and his description, what is a central claim of the nunes memo, what andrew mccabe told them about the role of the dossier in initiating this warrant on carter page. >> a very important point indeed. the statement from the speaker, paul ryan, which we now have,
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you're absolutely right, he wants that democratic minority report released as soon as it's scrubbed, presumably, to make sure there is no classified information there. he also says, i also have serious concerns with the practice of using political documents funded by a candidate's political opponents to make law enforcement and counterintelligence decisions. that's basically what the house committee republican majority is saying as well. everybody stand by. i want to bring in a guest right now, utah congressman chris daugherty, republican. he's a member of the house intelligence committee. thank you for joining us. >> good to be with you, wolf. >> what else besides the so-called dossier, the steele dossier, was used to justify before the foreign intelligence surveillance court going ahead and issuing this warrant against carter page? >> very, very little. and, you know, the previous reporter said that some democratic colleagues are saying mr. mccabe said no, it wasn't
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the dossier that was the preponderance of the evidence. i can assure you that is exactly what he said and i hope those transcripts are released. so in addition to the dossier on a private citizen, ironically they used a yahoo news story that was based on what? the dossier. that's essentially it. wolf, you can't read this. i was listening to some of your previous guests and kind of smiling as they tried to twist and turn this thing. you cannot read this and not be concerned. did the fbi and the department of justice, did they abuse their power in a presidential election? that is a serious question. and one other thing. why in the world -- >> on that specific point, congressman, you want the fbi director, you want him gone right now, you have lost confidence in him, christopher wray? >> i'm not saying that at all. >> have you lost confidence in the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein? do you want him gone? >> i'm not calling for anyone's
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resignation, i just want people to be accountable -- >> of all this wrongdoing and the president rejected their concerns of grave, grave repercussions if this memorandum was released, and they went to the white house and they personally appealed to john kelly, the white house chief of staff, please don't do this, the president rejects that advice, why shouldn't they be gone? >> well, again, i'm not calling for anyone's resignation. that's between them and the president. but wolf, you've read this. look what we've heard for the last week. grave national security concerns that's going to endanger methods, it's going to endanger people. show me anything in this memo that does that. it simply doesn't. >> why didn't you release the democratic minority report, the ten pages they wrote, rebutting many of the points you're making right now? why would they hold that up and not, what they always do, and i've covered the house intelligence committee for
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decades, why not release them simultaneously, the majority report and the minority report? >> two points on that. number one, every republican voted to release the democratic memo to the house. i suspect every republican -- i know that i will -- will vote to release that to the american people as well. >> why not do it simultaneously -- why not give the american public the opportunity, congressman, to look at both at the same time? >> i'm trying to tell you why. because it hadn't been scrubbed yet. i can tell you the democratic memo is much longer -- >> why did they have to rush to release the republican report? you could have waited a few days, scrubbed the democratic report and done so at the same time. >> well, i think we felt like this is so important that the american people needed to know. look, this is an investigation that's going on for more than a year now. it will continue, i'm sure. i don't think the investigation pivots on the few days when some information might be available and other will follow. the democrats have their ability
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to make their case as does, i might point out, the fbi if they feel like there is something in this memo that isn't accurate. i hope they do make their case. but i tell you once again, whether this is released simultaneously or a few days apart, you're going to be able to compare them side by side and draw their own conclusions. >> so many of your colleagues, former members, current members, they say what you did -- you voted against releasing the democratic report. all the republicans did along strict party lines. you voted in favor of releasing the republican report, congressman. >> no, that's not true. we voted to release the democratic report. we voted to release it to the house of representatives. >> you wanted to hold off. you wanted it to go through what they call a scrubbing process. you voted in favor of releasing the republican report right away. you didn't vote in favor of releasing the democratic report right away. >> well, we went through the same process with both of them. >> there were two votes and they were both strictly along party
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lines. >> wolf, why are we talking about that instead of talking about the contents of this memo? >> because the contents of the memo, congressman, the contents of the memo are being seen as political. remember, devin nunes, the chairman of your committee, he was a member of the trump transition team. he worked assertively on behalf of the president. he had to recuse himself at one point because he was too close to the white house. he was getting back channel information. he himself had to remove himself. mike conaway, the number two republic republican, had to take over. this is seen by a big chunk of the american public, congressman, as being a politicized moment in american history which you could have avoided by simply releasing both memos at the same time which has always been the case. >> okay, look. we can talk all afternoon if you want about whether the memos are separated by a few days. why aren't we talking about
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what's in these memos? why aren't we talking about whether the fbi abused their power? why aren't we talking about whether they were honest before the fisa courts? did they present information? did they tell the fisa courts that this dossier, that, by the way, the fbi director himself said was unverified and solacious. did they tell the fisa courts that? did they tell the fisa court that this was nothing but a political hack job paid for by the democrats and hillary clinton? why aren't we talking about that instead of some process that involves a few days. >> congressman, i know you're an honorable member of the house intelligence committee, and i'm sure you must be very upset that your committee has now been blown apart going back many, many decades. i've never seen the house intelligence committee so partisan as it has become over these past several months. mike rogers, the former chairman of your committee and former fbi agent is with us right now.
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i want to bring him in because i want him to ask you a question. he has deep concerns, congressman, the way you and the republican majority of this committee have behaved. go ahead, mike rogers. >> what happens next? is there any chance to have a bipartisan investigation into the accusations, or at least the story you tell in the memo? >> yeah. we certainly hope so. and mike, i know you. you were on the committee before i came on but we've interacted in the house. you may be a republican, but we may agree to disagree on this. some of the things you said i do disagree with. look, one of the things i loved about the committee was it was bipartisan. we didn't do our work in front of the television cameras. we traveled together, we got to know each other, and we worked on national security and intelligence issues which are by nature bipartisan. and i agree with you, both of you, wolf. you said the same thing. it is disturbing, it does break my heart that we have lost that. but we still have to complete our responsibilities. we still have to investigate
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this and report to the american people. and look at an example of this. i myself have been called a traitor. i have been said that i care more about president trump than i do about my country. these are my air force wings that my father wore. i was an air force pilot. i have members of my family that are deployed even now. talk about bipartisanship when you are talking about members of the committee as traitors. what in that report would indicate we would betray our country? >> we don't know what the democratic side is because you've refused to release the minority report so far. >> what is in this report that would indicate i have betrayed my country? >> you know when there is a legal battle and there is a defendant and a prosecutor, there are always two sides and it's important to get both sides and right now the other side is being silenced. but jane harmon is with us as well, congressman, and she served for many years on the
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house intelligence committee. she remembers her experiences. she has a comment she wants to make to you as well. >> we don't know each other, but i served on the committee for eight years, four as ranking member from 2002 to 2006. i also represented a district in los angeles that makes most of our intelligence satellites so this is personal to me, too. my question is this. aside from the past and future of the committee, the future i am very sad about, what about all the members of the intelligence community who right now are watching this and some of them serving in austere locations in harm's way? what are they saying about this and are they getting a message they have to get that our country stands behind them and the intelligence they are getting is the political sphere to find out stuff to harm us? i was a democrat. i was called a traitor, too.
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>> let me respond to that if i could. one at a time. look, i have talked with fbi agents in the last 24 and 48 hours who support the release of this memo. i have never said, and i don't know anyone who said the fbi organization is corrupt. what we have said is that there was some leadership in the fbi that we think made mistakes and they should be held accountable if they did, and we should tell the american people that. fbi agents feel the same way. if their leadership has gone askew, if they've done things they shouldn't, those people want them held accountable. of course they do. and i would say the same thing to the ic generally. they want their leaders to be held accountable if they made mistakes. they're smart enough to know when we say, look, we've got a problem here, we're concerned about that. they're smart enough to know we're not attacking them and the entire organization or agency. we're trying to do what congress is supposed to do. and that's provide oversight.
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you can't have any organization that we can't question them. the only ones who can do that are russians and the kgb back in the day, but we don't do that. >> of course we don't, but that's why mike rogers' suggestion that there be a full investigation in the committee if it can be available to function is so much better than releasing public statements, don't you think? >> we're doing that and we'll continue to do that. we have more information we continue to release. we hope the democrats will join us in that. we hope to release a bipartisan report which is certainly our objective and our goal. this memo has been demonized over the last week or so and then say once again it's the republicans' fault for releasing it. it is our responsibility to report to the american people. >> i just want you to react once again to the reporting we're
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getting from jim sciutto, our chief national security correspondent. he's quoting democrats on your committee as disputing what your republican majority memorandum says about andrew mccabe, the deputy fbi director's testimony, that it was strictly based on that steele dossier. democrats are disputing that. you say you want the transcript of his testimony released. when are you going to do that? >> well, that will be -- that will be up to the committee, i suppose. i don't know the rules for doing that. i wanted to do what diane feinstein did and that's by herself release transcripts, but i would support releasing those transcripts, and i can promise you this. when this memo was created, we were very, very careful. we didn't take political opinions, we didn't take, you know, speculation. we read the transcripts very, very carefully. i'm extraordinarily confident that what we put in this memo about mr. mccabe is exactly backed up by the transcript.
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>> were you there when he testified? did you read the transcript of what he said? >> you bet i was. >> and the democrats seem to be suggesting you're cherry picking one answer and ignoring other answers. your response. >> my response is, look, i would love to release a transcript just like i wanted to release this memo and let we're not talking about cia undercover agents in russia. we're talking about christopher steele who put together a political document. i've argued for month this is shouldn't be classified. i argued for months it shouldn't be done in public so we hold people accountable and you don't have things like this where people say the memo doesn't reflect the reality of the transcript when i know that it does. >> we are talking about national security. let's get back to the bigger picture for a moment, congressman. do you believe that russia interfered in the u.s.
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presidential election? do you agree with the director of national intelligence, the cia, the nsa, the fbi when they released their final report in january of last year that russia interfered deliberately in the election? >> not only do i agree with that, i was in moscow a couple of months before the election and came home and said every-to-every media that would listen to me, russia is going to interfere. i was trying to warn the american people before the election. of course i agree with that. we start -- >> do you agree with the conclusion of the intelligence community, they did so for three reasons? the first reason, to sew descent and undermine the u.s. democracy. do you accept that conclusion? >> absolutely. that's what i said all along. they asked why would they do this? they want to break way the foundation of democracy. and they've been so successful in that. partly because of our own
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accord. >> putin has succeeded because that's what's happening right now. the whole nation or the support for the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, the fighting that's going on here in washington, he's sitting back and he's smiling, saying, guys, good work. we succeeded. >> no doubt about it. you know, the guy who -- the russian officer who put this together surely deserves a promotion because it's exceeded their expectations. there's no doubt about it. it's one of the things we hope we can come around to talk about. that is, is there any way to insulate ourselves from this in the future? you know, we've got elections coming up in nine months or so. we're going to have a presidential election in 2020. it's not like russia is going to look at this and say that wasn't worth our time. they're going to look at this and say holy cow, look how successful this was. let's go do more of it. >> you disagree -- i want to get to james comey, the fired fbi director. he just issued a statement. you disagree with the president, this idea of russian meddling
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that it's simply a hoax, it's gone on too long? on that specific point, congressman, you disagree with the president? >> i think there's two distinctions, russian meddling. there's no question that was the case and no question, as i said just now, that they were successful. the second thing, and i think that's what mr. trump is talking about, and that's the accusation of collusion. i don't know a single democrat who wants to talk about co collusion any longer. as dianne feinstein and others have said, there isn't evidence of it. i think that's what the president is talking about when he says he feels like it's a witch hunt when they accuse him and people around him of colluding, which is treasonous, by the way. it's a serious accusation, of colluding with russian agents. >> he he says the whole thing is a hoax, a witch hunt. he want the whole thing to end. he he makes it clear it's gone on way too long, costing the american taxpayers way too much money. he says move on and get over it. >> if he wanted the whole thing
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to end -- if he wanted the whole thing to end, i would disagree with him this is too important for us not to complete. >> the argument that some of his aides have suggested is by releasing this memo, it undermines the entire russia probe, undermines the investigation, it creates great concern among a big chunk of the american public that this is all political. it's simply designed by what's called a deep state to get him to undermine the president of the united states. that's why he wants to gone. let me read to you james comey's tweet that he just posted in response to the release of this memo by the house intelligence committee. quote, dishonest and leading memo wrecked the house intelligence committee, destroy trust with intelligence community, damage relationship with fichlt sa court and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an american citizen. for what? doj and fbi must keep doing their jobs.
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very strong words from james comey. go ahead and respond. >> it's not the first strong words we've heard interest mr. come y, is it? he has been vocal on twitter the last few days as he has tried to stop this memo from being released. of course he's going to say that about this memo. he was named in the memo. it was the fbi under his leadership that did what this memo indicates it did. i don't expect him to stand up and say cheers to the republicans. he's the one we would hold accountable. he was the fbi director at the time. >> so, you're glad he was fired? >> you know what? i have no opinion on that. i think simply had we gone forward, we would have been able to continue our investigation. at some point we would be able to share, as we're doing now, with the american people, his actions. but i don't really care one way or the other if the president had fired him. that was between he and the president. >> one final question, congressman, and you've been
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very swren russ with your time. we really appreciate you joining us. >> yeah. >> it's important to get your perspective. do you agree with lindsey graham, republican senator from south carolina, that if the president does go ahead and fire the special counsel, robert mueller, that would be the end of his presidency? >> i hope he does not fire special counselor mueller. i hope mr. mueller continues his investigation. i always said that. i think it would be a terrible mistake politically. i think, for one thing, i'm not afraid of mr. mueller's investigation going forward. as i said there's no collusion we've seen in a year. if i would say i wanted him to be fired that would indicate i'm afraid of his findings. i'm simply not. i don't think the president intends to fire him. i don't think there's any serious conversation, at all, in the white house about firing him. >> congressman chris stewart of utah, member of the house intelligence committee. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf.
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>> let's get some reaction to what we just heard. gloria, he is a very intelligent guy, very smart guy, very passionate, very committed. great patriot. and he strongly defends the release of the memo. >> he defends the release of the memo. he believes, as you heard him say quite strong ly, that the american public needs to know that the fisa court made a decision based on a political document, the steele d ossier. what we know from reading through this, by the way, as we all have been doing, is that it wasn't based just on the steele dossier. in the last paragraph in this document, it talks about a fisa application based partly on the papadopoulos information that triggered the opening of an fbi counterintelligence investigation in late july of 2016. so, as much as people would maybe like you to believe that it was based solely on this
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dossier, which the president says is a hoax and lots of people, republicans, believe is a hoax, et cetera, et cetera, that there was something else there. so, we don't have all the information here and while the congressman says, you know, he's fine with releasing the democratic document, the democratic document as yet we have notstein. >> he kept bringing up why aren't we talking about what's in this memo? by the way, we have been talking about that. they sort of hurt their case by not letting it be more bipartisan, releasing both memos at the same time. clearly the fbi director has been public, saying there are key omissions. you're sort of left thinking, okay, this is only one part of the story. what more is out there? had they released both at the same time, we would have more information to work with, and make a better judgment. >> do you understand his explanation as to why they
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didn't release the two memos simultaneously? >> i do. i think i'm stronger than chris stewart was on the chairman. there is a process that this information has to go through. >> couldn't they have waited? >> they could have waited. >> another week or so? what would have been the difference if they released them both simultaneously next week at this time as opposed to releasing just this one? >> you got me there, wolf. it would have been inappropriate, i think, for them to vote and make members vote on a document they had less than 24 hours. the democrats put it together, threw it out at the committee and said we want to vote, too. that's not fair because you're dealing with classified and sensitive information. >> they have to scrub it. they have to make sure there are sources and methods -- they have to make sure that cooperation with friendly foreign intelligence agencies will not be undermined. by the way, the fbi and the justice department, they warned the president of the united states, they warned the house intelligence committee, if you release this memo, there will be
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damage. and comey now, in this tweet, says that releasing this memo inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an american citizen. >> i do think it's not helpful that comey keeps weighing in on this. >> yeah. >> keeps picking the scab on this. >> of course he's saying that because he was head of the agency at the time. >> one of the things the congressman said was vladimir putin is winning on this thing. we have to keep that in mind. foreign intelligence agencies, which we rely on, for getting clues to stop bad things from happening to americans. how are they going to feel about interacting with our intelligence community, given the way it is being put through this torture? >> hold on for a moment because there's more breaking news. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. this is cnn special coverage of major, breaking news that's clearly rocking washington. the highly contested memo