tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN February 13, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
>> reporter: he is seeing a lot of stupidity if he turns on this piece. jeanne moos, cnn. >> stupid. >> stupid. >> reporter: new york. >> and there you have it. thanks for joining us tonight. ac 360 starts right now. >> we begin tonight keeping them honest with the white house continuing their effort to gaslight american people. if you haven't seen the movie "gaslight," gaslighting is when someone tries to make you question your reality or sanity. they do this by denying the reality you know to be true. that is how the white house is gas lighting the american people. today the white house is changing its story to shift the
blame. two ex-wives ended up working side by side with the president and right hand of the chief of staff. the story magically, conveniently changed hours after the fbi director testified about a time line that directly contradicted what the white house had said just yesterday. the white house tried to make a case that you shouldn't believe your own eyes and ears you should believe each version of the white house's shifting narrative and you should believe the white house when you hear the president cares about victims of domestic violence. again, this centers around porter who resigned last week after news broke had accused him of abuse. the picture showing his first wife with the black eye, the white house has been scrambling to come up with a consistent
story when they learned about the allegations. they still have not been able to do that. cnn reported that don mcgahn new a year ago and learned more details over the past year. yesterday the white house said it learned of the extent of the allegations just last tuesday and acted quickly. the background check was ongoing and they hadn't received any papers related to it. today the fbi director completed contradicted that and did so in public in front of the intelligence committee. >> the fbi submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in march. and then a completed background investigation in late july. that soon there after we received request for follow-up inquiry. and we did the follow up and provided that information in november. and we administratively closed
the file in january. and then earlier this month, we received some additional information and we passed that on as well. >> so not only does that contradict what the white house said yesterday, it contradicts what the white house said earlier today. this is deputy press secretary on fox and friends this morning. >> what we know about porter specifically, is that his background check investigation had not been completed yet. it was still in the investigative process and had yet to be adjudicated. prior to an adjudication, the white house is not going to step into the middle of the process and short circuit it. >> that was at 8:40 and two hours later, you heard fbi chris wray saying that wasn't true and a completed background investigation in july.
try and keep up, because that is a totally different time line than what press secretary sarah sanders described just yesterday. >> we learned of the extent of the situation involving porter last tuesday evening and within 24 hours his resignation had been accepted and announced. we let the process play out. it was ongoing and hadn't been completed. this is a process that doesn't operate within the white house. it is handled by law enforcement. did not receive any completed papers regarded with that background check. >> that is not true. sanders blamed an ongoing process one that supposedly doesn't operate in the white house. not operating in the white
house. then, the fbi director testifies and today, sarah sanders is asked what accounts for the discrepancy. >> the fbi portion was closed. the white house personnel security officer who is the one that makes recommendation for adjudication had not finished their process. >> who? the office of white house personnel security? that is who she is now pointing the finger out. she said yesterday this is a process that doesn't operate in the white house. now naming the office that has white house in the title and is blaming them for not making a recommendation to the white house to which they are part. even if you believe this news story and that is a big if, if somehow the white house credibility is intact, then you have to disbelief what they said yesterday. >> those two statements, the fbi
director's statement mr. wray and your statement yesterday seem to be at odds with one another. do you see anything you would like to clarify based on your answer yesterday? >> my understanding is that any information would go to the personnel security office. that office had not completed its process. that was ongoing and therefore recommendation had not been made. >> the fbi director said under oath that the completed background information was actually committed in late ideal. >> the white house security personnel office received information last year in what they -- report in november. they had not made a final recommendation for adjudication for the white house because the process was still ongoing when porter resigned. the fbi's july report required
significant additional investigatory fieldwork. we find those statements to be consistent with one another. >> those statements are not consistent with one another. and this isn't some esoteric policy dispute. just last week, he was being praised by the white house and today cnn learned that he was in serious discussion to be promoted before this blew up. also today chief of staff is quoted in the "wall street journal" in regards to how the case is handled. he said quote it was all done right end quote. from the white house, don't believe the fbi director, don't believe your eyes and ears, beef us. lamenting on twitter because of
lives being destroyed. the white house is sticking to its story that above all, the president cares about victims. >> does the president believe the women? >> again, the president takes all of these accusations seriously. he believes in do you process. he supports the victims of any type of violence. look, we have condemned domestic violence in every way possible. >> keeping them honest, that is not true either. the president has not condemned domestic violence in any way possible. actually not condemned it in any way possible. he has not done that. in fact, he has a long history of defending men of violence against women including himself. he had two opportunities to get
on the record with this deep hell belief. here is how it went. >> do you believe rob porter's ex-wives, mr. president? do you believe rob porter's ex-wives? >> let's go. >> now remember according to air r -- sarah sanders. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> and that was it. now above everything else, the president supports the victim says the white house. the white house says don't believe your eyes, believe us. we asked the white house to come and talk about this and they said no. jim acosta is joining us. when they knew specific information. >> reporter: you don't have a
white house official but you do have me. i was told by white house official earlier this evening who said the white house counsel has not shared enough information about what he knows and what he knew at the time about porter's background. wray said earlier today that the background check process was completed in july and at that time that mcgahn knew this information was lurking. now the official did say that perhaps kelly did not dig enough or prod enough in this information. but according to this official that i spoke with earlier this evening, a lot of these questions are going back to mcgahn and asking the question why he never said much about what he knew at that time. >> another example of the white house not able to get their story straight on something. ma do y what do you think is going on
here? >> last week they were saying rob porter is a good guy. a man of honor and integrity. and the next day changed that story and this week you have had white house press secretary pointing to the fbi. and today the white house press secretary was pointing to the white house office of personnel security. the american people can listen to all of those different versions in terms of how the white house is explaining this or they can listen to the one version that came from the fbi director earlier today who said we completed our investigation last july. our reporting on this has not changed. multiple officials have known for months. anderson, instead of the me too movement, it seems to be the anybody but me movement at the white house. >> joining us more is kaylin.
blaming intelligence and law enforcement agencies yesterday. and today after the fbi explained they had completed she pointed to the white house security personnel office which is so obscure. many have never heard of it. what have you learned about this office? >> reporter: people who are currently working in the white house right now who had no idea what the press secretary sarah sanders was talking about. two different narratives. and then today, after the fbi director christopher wray blew a hole in that narrative, sanders brought up the security personnel office. they do not have a lot of employees and the white house described it as the fbi takes their information that they get when they are doing a background check and turn it over to this
office and this office goes there to the white house counsel office. this is underneath the umbrella of the white house. it is not some other building out in washington. it is part of the white house. so the white house was not clear on that when they were explaining that today. and a u.s. official told my colleague jeff zeleny that the office was akin to what an hr would be in a private sector. they take information and pass it on which is not what the white house was saying today. >> i was listening closely, and she did not use the word claiming that the white house security personnel office was doing investigation. she didn't say that. she said their process hadn't been completed. despite what sanders continuing to make it sound like there is distance. that office is part of the white house. either way, we know mcgahn and chief of staff john kelly were aware of these allegations for
some time. >> reporter: that is right. we should not let what is important here get lost in what the white house is saying. seven-days since that first story on porter broke. today was the first day the white house mentioned this security officer. we know based on cnn reporting is that the white house counsel don mcgahn knew about these allegations and john kelly knew about these allegations and other officials knew about these allegations and not only did they allow porter to work in the white house but considering to promote him. multiple people had never heard of this office. i talked to dozens of people in the white house every day and several people could not name me one person who worked in the personnel security office. just to give you a sense of how
obscure this office is. appreciate the reporting. up next or panel weighs in on conflicting time lines. how does the white house get out of this mess? turn up your swagger game with one a day men's. ♪ get ready for the wild life a complete multivitamin with key nutrients, plus b vitamins for heart health. your one a day is showing. there'swhatever type ofhe end of eweekender you are,ton. don't let another weekend pass you by. get the lowest price when you book at hilton.com imagine if the things you bought every day... earned you miles to get to the places you really want to go.
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pretty clear that the story still isn't clear. today as we mentioned press secretary presented in a new direction a white house office so obscure. few people have heard of it before. >> the fbi portion was closed and the white house personnel security office who is the one that makes a recommendation for adjudication had not finished their process and had not made a recommendation to the white house. >> joining me now is james schultz, phil mudd, and cnn chief political analyst ghloria. phil, had you known about this office. >> in some ways yes i did. in some ways the stories are not conflicting. this is speck lulative, let me e you the way this works.
the fbi pass over a file to the white house security office. that file could include things that are basic. the guy shoplifting when he was 17, who cares. he smoked dope when he was a sophomore in college, who cares. or you step forward and say he might have hit two ex-wives, how do you adjudicate that and why can't you adjudicate a security clearance for a white house official in seven months. i think the fbi sent over a nasty package in july and updated in november and the white house guy said wow, we are not sure what to do with this one. that's what happened here. >> gloria, the white house story does keep changing every day. previously they were saying the process hadn't finished, it was the white house intelligence committee and now this office. >> kind of malpractice coming from the paumodium of the who w.
they had to know that the director was testifying today. and he was going to provide a record of what the fbi did. and he was quite clear that the information had been given to them multiple times starting in march of last year. and the fact that the white house and the chief of staff in particular said well, i only learned the worst details 40 minutes before rob porter was fired and we have not heard from the white house counsel don mcgahn who was clearly dealing with this information is something they need to address and address quickly because of what chris wray, the fbi director said today. >> jim, sarah sanders has not been willing to go into any detail about when kelly or mcgahn got this information. she says i am not going to get into a tick tock, we generally
knew, meaning everybody in the white house was reported to the media. >> well, what we do know is that what chris wray testified today was the office of personnel security meaning the white house sent back the file for more work on file. who ordered that go back to the fbi for further investigation, that is not clear at this point. was it the white house counsel office or office of personnel security and then it comes back as complete and november is a result of being sent back and more information trickles out in january. we don't know who knew what and who gave the order to do more investigating. those are the questions that are open at this point. >> phil, even with that initial investigation, they interviewed the who wives and have access to
the temporary order of protection that one of them put out by recommendation of a police officer and police report of the incident, i would imagine a fair amount of solid information in the report. >> let me give you a couple of perspectives on this. this is an investigation into a private life of a private citizen going into government. the security guys are not going to reveal everything about what individuals in these individual's lives have said. we are now in february, the file closed in july and re-closed after a follow up investigation in november. are you telling me in an expedited investigation you don't step back as a chief of staff and say why can't we close this after seven months. why can't you close the investigation in the first place. that is the first place. >> jim, did you have an answer to that.
this is a person who essentially the right hand of kelly and apparently was being thought of for promotion. >> i think kellyanne conway said it succinctly. it is incumbent upon the white house to make these adjudications in a timely fashion and once they had information. the question is when did that happen. >> they had a lot of information before making the determination, they are saying it was the picture that finally did it. now, from the fbi time line here, we know that there was information. we know that they asked for more information. we don't know who did the asking, which i think we should know. so we knew that they had at their disposal inside the white house a lot of things that would have made anyone say rob porter should not be working here and
they didn't do that. >> jim, do you really believe that the white house has been handling this in an honest way, sarah sanders every time she is asked about what kelly knew and when, she dodges the question. she says i am not going to go into levels of detail and same with don mcgahn. and yesterday she is pointing the finger. and now bringing up this white house office that doesn't have investigative powers of their own. >> no, but they do have review and they do make recommendations. and i don't think she is pointing the finger at the office or pointing the finger at the intelligence committee. >> she was, she said the process wasn't closed and it was closed. she was saying it was an ongoing process. >> it is an ongoing process to the extent that it wasn't
adjudicated. the answer to your question is that there has been the moving of the goal line on this one and the facts keep evolving and what they needed to do early on was put this one to bed and explain themselves more clearly at the outset. >> gloria, to your point, cnn is reporting that chief of staff kelly and don mcgahn knew some of these issues about porter long before last week. to blame this on the white house security office doesn't work. >> i don't know if they are casting blame. i think they are talking about process. >> but sarah sanders absolutely is casting blame. their explanation is that this security clearance was not over, the investigation is still going on. yesterday she specifically said law enforcement and the intelligence community and now after chris wray comes out and says we completed ours, she is saying it is this ob square
office that doesn't have investigative capabilities. she is saying their process wasn't complete whatever that means. >> and it is our reporting that kelly knew in the fall. don mcgahn certainly knew and the question i have, and i don't think we know the answer to is what conversations if any did mcgahn have with porter, did kelly have with porter. was this raised with him at all. apparently from some reporting out there, you know, he was trying to sort of down-play this at a certain point. but did those conversations evolve as more and more information piled up from the fbi. we don't know the answer to that. >> phil, does it make any sense that someone in an important position like porter who is working closely with the chief of staff that no one in this personnel office when they got
the initial report would have red flagged, there is this issue here. do you think they took it upon themselves to send back for more information and hold on to it waiting to get information to inform. you would think they would at least raise red flags hey, this is why he doesn't have a security clearance so far. >> i went from being a 24-year-old american citizen to a top secret clearance in nine months. you can't come up with an answer after you close the investigation in july? what do you think happened there? they got a hot mess delivered to them by the fbi and said we don't know what to do with this. they couldn't close it. they couldn't come to a conclusion to give him a security clearance because there
is too much trash in his five. >> this is happening with a number of people in the white house. jared kushner included. >> let's not cast a wide net on that. >> jared does not have it. >> whether people are filing the follow up paperwork for example financial information. it may mean that jared is saying i am not giving you that stuff. are defined by the things we share. and the ones we love. who never stop wondering what we'll do or where we'll go next. we the people who are better together than we are alone... are unstoppable.
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answering a barrage of questions about who knew what. at what point, she quote huffed like an ex-as berated teacher. here is an example of how she dodged on some of the questions. >> i can't comment -- i can't comment. >> i am not aware of any communications. >> not that i am aware of. >> not that i am aware of. i don't know the answer to that. >> i can't say with 100%. >> well beyond my scope. that would gone beyond my scope. >> my understanding. >> i haven't asked him about that specifically. >> here is cnn chief media
correspondent. >> keep you posted. >> i will let you know. >> reporter: she has been behind the podium longer than sean spicer and a long list of fibs to prove it. >> this is a witch hunt and a hoax. >> reporter: on the president's relationship with steve bannon. >> i am not aware that they were ever particularly close. >> reporter: she is lying some say. she is showing a trumpian tendency to attack the media. >> you cannot say it is an honest mistake when you are purposely putting out information that you know is false. >> reporter: some days you can see the frustration. >> it wasn't confusing to me. i'm sorry if it was to you.
>> reporter: sanders might not know what the president is going to say or tweet next. so deflection is an all too familiar deflection. sanders can be combative, dismissive. >> you said it was a racial slur what is your response that. >> i think that is a ridiculous response. >> i think the press mem mise i ridiculous and shows the lack of knowledge thaw have on this process. >> reporter: self-aware about her combative style, she has a sense of humor too. >> great to be back with you guys. >> reporter: by the end of the briefings, nobody is laughing. >> joining me now, is sarah
sanders speaking to an audience of one. >> he wants to see how sandsers perform. i think when we look at her dishonesty, the confusion, the deflection, it is all a reflection of the president's own attitudes. his own dishonesty and denialism. the president is still in denial about russian meddling, unconvinced. when you have a boss like that, that means sarah sanders is in a hard job. she avoids even finding out. >> she often says i haven't talked to the president about that. her job is to have information and it seems like often times she has one talking point or not enough information. >> she wouldn't be the first one to declines to find certain
things out because she doesn't want to have to lie and plenty of press secretaries in the past who uses that dodge. in some cases the answers that people want from sarah sanders don't exist because the president hasn't made up his minority mind. so she seems to have taken down the temperature from the spicer days. not that sense of performative aggression that spicer brought to the job. but not the sense that every briefing is this must see performance because of the sparring. >> every press secretary does have to lie at some point or miscommunicates or makes up or exaggerates. do you think that sanders has taken it to a different level.
>> both have taken it to a different level. her attempts to bring on a surprise guest in order to avoid questions like she did today, those tricks all of them, they mask what is going on. and i think it is useful after she has been in the job six months to step back and say this is unusual behavior from the white house. and she spent the entire briefing today just like yesterday avoiding every question we have. >> often times she will say, well i am not going to get into specifics on that. and no reason she couldn't, just choosing not to answer those questions. >> and to your point brian, the reason that the behavior of sanders and spicer isn't normal for a press secretary is because this president isn't normal. we pay her salary, the american
people so they can know what is happening in their government. but trump as we know has the sense that everyone, from the fbi and his staff to make him look good. >> seeking advice on how to handle the fallout. who the president is calling and the two main questions he is asking when we continue. mvo: we had support from the interfaith groups,
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the fallout from the porter scandal has stretched into a new week. and president trump is looking for advice on how to stop the negative coverage. calling his allies and sources. he had two key questions when does it end and what do we do. the answer seems obvious yet the president is looking for help. joining me now. >> is this something that donald trump has always done even as a private citizen reach out to friends. >> when he was a busy man he would ask anyone he ran into for advice. asking for the guys running the elevator what do you think of
this. what do you think of that. that is common. the difference between donald trump and many other executives is that he is often venting and looking for confirmation of his instinct. it is not actually soliciting deep wisdom. >> he is not looking for advice he doesn't want to hear? >> precisely. occasionally he will hear it. he actually hired john kelly with the hope that maybe this was a strong person who would go after him a little bit with the truth. in general, the president is not a person who wants sharp criticism or advice that is contrary to his instinct. >> interesting how he has handled this issue of domestic violence, they ushered the press in for prepared remarks and what they were was praising rob porter. nothing about the alleged
victims. nothing about domestic violence in general and now the white house has sarah sanders out there saying the president is relaying a message that he cares greatly about domestic violence and about due process. those remarks have not come out of the president's mouth. >> it is a stunning thing. and he filters all including what is going on in the news through himself. when he hears somebody has been accused of a crime, domestic violence, he recalls his own 16 accusers, and those are people he detests. he has empathy for himself and for this other male who has been accused. and i don't think he goes to any concern about the women who are making the accusations and have clearly suffered. >> do you think it is a political calculation that that is not something that his base
needs to hear from him and the notion that him seeming to be strong as he defines strong and others may define as weakness by not apologizing that that plays well to his base. >> i think that is something to that. cnn has reported that many in his base even women are standing by him. a certain pose that he can take, this tough guy and everything is about winning. when you are president, not all problems are about winning. there are problems that require empathy, opening up to a variety of perspectives but if you look at the white house, he has hired so many people who have so much like him. this is not going to yield the result that he needs. >> thanks very much. i appreciate it as always. coming up next, the top intel
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as we've been reporting, fbi chief christopher wray is offering a different time line from the white house about when his agency first briefed administration officials about the background check on rob porter. wray appeared before the senate intelligence committee along with all the nation's intelligence chiefs to tell congress they view russia as a threat to the 2018 midterm elections. the director of national
intelligence dan coats saying, quote, there should be no doubt, unquote, that russia sees the elections as a target. cnn's jessica schneider squloins us now. the intelligence agencies were asked if the president's directed them to take action to stop interference from the russians. >> they all either said flat out said, no, the president has not directed them to take any actions or they danced around the issue saying the president has only indicated they should fight all foreign threats. but it was quite clear that despite this uniform response from all six intelligence chiefs that russia has meddled and continues to meddle. the president has not been directing a fight to combat this huge issue and, in fact, anderson, tonight cnn has learned from multiple sources that the president is still unconvinced that russia interfered in the 2016 election. and those sources say that he views any notion that russia meddled as his opponents way of undermining his victory. and lawmakers in today's hearing were so frustrated by this, that
the president hasn't acknowledged this, that they actually pressed the intelligence chiefs to persuade the president that russian interference is still a real and present threat, saying that really the time is now to do something about this with the 2018 midterm primaries really right around the corner, anderson. >> they also talked about how russia considers the efforts they conducted in 2016 incredibly successful. >> yeah. it was director of national intelligence dan coats. he said exactly that. he said that there was, quote, no doubt that russia perceives its past efforts as successful. and really all of them agreed that the sights are now set in the midterms this year and then on to the next presidential election in 2020. and we know that this russian interference campaign, it really does extend far beyond the elections themselves. we've seen this repeatedly. russian bots have been targeting social media. they've made up fake accounts, fake events. we saw this in the election. even just recently, we know that russian-linked twitter accounts, they were found to have been pushing that release the memo
hashtag all across social media. of course that was part of that effort to get out of the republican memo that was eventually released that accused the fbi of abusing surveillance court warrant processes. so of course we know that in the end, that release the memo hashtag, it was successful in some ways. president trump approved the memo for release just about a week and a half ago. but these russian efforts, they really purveyed all outlets and all platforms. it's elections and social media too, anderson. >> appreciate the reporting. the senate is debating immigration this week, a contentious issue coming to a cross roads with big questions about daca as well as the wall that the president wants. leyla santiago went to mexico's southern border with guatemala to see if the people are still determined to make the trek to the u.s., and here's what she found. >> reporter: mexico's southern border with guatemala. you will not find a wall here. for many, this is the gateway to the u.s./mexico border thousands
of miles away. some use this river to transport goods. others use it to migrate north. just 20 minutes here, we find ronnie cardona's family crossing. so he made it to the u.s. and then was deported back to honduras, and now he's trying again? ronnie is heading north to escape violence and performerty in honduras. they once feared trump's talk on immigration. not anymore. he says he's going to get there with or without a wall. every day, people cross the river. this is not part of the challenge for those fleeing violence in central america. it only costs about $1.50 to go from guatemala into mexico. but once you get to that side, the risks can be deadly, forcing many to hire a smuggler.
this is a coyote, i huma human smuggler. he would only speak to us if we concealed his identity. he says he's brought in 3,000 to 4,000 people. to the united states. he charges about $6,000 per person and works with a network of smugglers. he's saying it's easy to get from guatemala to mexico, but what about mexico to the u.s.? [ speaking foreign language ] he says that one's a little more difficult. he noticed the flow of immigrants slowed down when president trump took office. but numbers on the u.s.-mexico border have shown an uptick since may. mexico's southern border has seen a similar trend. business for smugglers has picked up again. [ speaking foreign language ] immigration, he says, is unstoppable. it doesn't matter what president trump says. some people are just determined to get to the united states.
so when you get to the u.s.-mexico border, will you be using a smuggler there? >> yes, that's correct. >> reporter: we found darby -- we aren't using his last name for his safety -- outside of one of mexico's immigration offices, where so many are waiting for permission to be in mexico as they travel north. >> it's a just a hole, a fulfilling of loneliness. >> reporter: darby tells us he was deported from the u.s. in may. he's worried about the dangerous trek back where he has no defense against cartels that extort vulnerable immigrants. many are robbed, kidnapped, killed, and still he says it's worth the risk. staying in honduras could mean gangs will carry out threats to kill him and his family. >> so the only other choice that i have at this time is to go back to the u.s. and try to make an entry, an illegal entry again. >> so you know this is illegal? >> i know it is illegal. >> why not do it the legal way? >> it's very, very difficult.
>> reporter: he doesn't have enough time or money to get back to the u.s. legally, he says. he's desperate. >> i still have a dream. >> reporter: no matter what the u.s. president may say or build -- he said trump can't build a wall in the ocean. they all agree they will find a way north. leyla santiago, cnn, chiapas, mexico. stay with us. next, the latest from the white house as the differing time lines collide over who exactly knew what over the rob porter resignation. tough choices. jim! you're in! but when you have high blood pressure and need cold medicine that works fast, the choice is simple. coricidin hbp is the #1 brand that gives powerful cold symptom relief without raising your blood pressure. coricidin hbp.
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thanks for joining us in the second hour of 360. on the table tonight, day eight of the white house cover-up of the rob porter scandal. the white house changes its story and tries to blame a new office. russia threat ignored. the country's intelligence chiefs agree russia is targeting this year's elections as well. is the white house turning a blind eye? the president said he hires the best people, so why one out of three of them left in the first year? a lot to get to in the hour ahead. we begin at the white house with cnn's jim acosta. jim, explain what sarah sanders said today about what the white house knew and when about rob porter. >> reporter: well, there have been shifting explanations as you know, anderson, for the past week. today was a new one.