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Investigating the FBI; Questions about Trump's Potential for Conflicts; Obama Ending "Wet-Foot, Dry-Foot Policy"; Rudy Giuliani to Advise Trump on Cyber Security; More than 500,000 Homeless in U.S.; Andy Grammer's "Fresh Eyes" Song Evolved into Commentary on Homelessness. Aired Midnight-1a ET

Aired January 13, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour --

Investigating the FBI, Director James Comey now in the spotlight for his role in the U.S. election. Did he break policy and protocol?

Asking the American people for their blind trust -- some are calling Donald Trump's plan to separate his business from the presidency meaningless.

And Andy Grammer's love song for his wife that will have you seeing homeless people -- bright guy (ph).

Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. We're now into the first hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

FBI director James Comey coming under new and intense scrutiny; the Justice Department's inspector general announcing it has opened an investigation into the FBI's handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server.

Comey sent a letter to Congress 11 days before the election to say the bureau was looking into additional e-mails which could be relevant to the Clinton case. It's a move Democrats insist may have contributed to their loss.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I think steps were taken by the director of the FBI near the election which were not precedented. It had not ever happened before. His statement about whether there was going to be an opening of an investigation, a closing of an investigation, I don't think was fair, professional, or consistent with the policies of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


VAUSE: Attorney Randy Schoenberg joins me now here for more on this. So Randy -- we'll get to your particular part in all of this in a moment but I'd like to get you reaction to this investigation which is now under way by the Inspector General.

RANDY SCHOENBERG, ATTORNEY: Yes, I think it's a terrific development and a good move. We'll have to see how it develops. It just happened today and there are a lot of people speculating whether the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, whether he is even going to last past the inauguration next week and what will happen with the investigation.

But assuming it goes forward I think it has the potential of answering a lot of the questions that have been raised.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, let's get back to some of the questions because --


VAUSE: -- and this is complicated so we need to sort of backtrack here to October 28th. That's when Director Comey wrote the letter to Congress saying he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail and the reason for that was what?

SCHOENBERG: Well, it's, again, hard to say what exactly happened.

VAUSE: But officially he was saying?

SCHOENBERG: Right. He said that there had been new e-mails discovered on a laptop owned by Anthony Weiner, Hillary Clinton's assistant Huma Abedin's estranged husband, who was being investigated on completely separate charges.

They found e-mails between Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin on Weiner's laptop and Comey said they couldn't tell whether that might be new information concerning Hillary Clinton's handling of private or confidential e-mails while she was secretary of State.

VAUSE: Ok. And they gained access to those e-mails because they were issued a warrant.

SCHOENBERG: Well, so after Director Comey announced on Friday, I think it was October 28th, they were going to look at this and they couldn't tell which, by the way, I think is not true. I think they could have told at that stage that these were duplicate e-mails.

VAUSE: We'll get to that in a minute, yes.

SCHOENBERG: On Sunday then, it was leaked that the FBI had obtained a search warrant. And it was at that time that I thought well, that's strange. This is the first time in all of the investigations regarding Hillary Clinton's e-mail server that anyone has obtained a search warrant.

To get a search warrant in the United States under our constitution, you have to show probable cause that a crime was committed. You'll remember this was never about anyone complaining about a crime. It's not like there was a dead body and the FBI was investigating. So this was the first time there was any hint that they had evidence of a crime.

VAUSE: Ok. So you sued for this warrant to be released and it was released a couple of weeks ago.

SCHOENBERG: Right. So I, after the election, I filed an action in New York where we thought the warrant might be filed by the FBI under seal. And we asked the court to unseal it and the judge did that just about two weeks ago.

VAUSE: Ok. So you look at this warrant and you're looking for probable cause because that is what is legally required.

SCHOENBERG: right. That's what they said they had.


SCHOENBERG: I didn't see anything. In other words, the FBI had already closed the investigation in July saying there was no evidence that any crime had been committed and all they did was sort of repeat that evidence. As a matter of fact, they left out evidence that would indicate that these e-mails were duplicates.

For example, they didn't say in that application for a search warrant that Huma Abedin had voluntarily handed over all of her e-mails that she had on her other laptop to the FBI. So they already had Huma Abedin's e-mails. All they had to do was look at the headers and compare and know that they were the same.

They obviously didn't do that. They didn't tell the judge that. They suggested these were new e-mails, that was false. The judge granted a search warrant. They spent a week looking at them, of course, didn't find anything different.

[00:05:03] VAUSE: And then we had the announcement which came nine days later saying we haven't found anything.


VAUSE: And that was a couple of days before the election.

SCHOENBERG: On Sunday afternoon, so after everybody came home from church, they announced that there was -- that there was nothing.

VAUSE: It was over. It was done.

SCHOENBERG: There was nothing and that was about 36 hours before the election.

VAUSE: Ok. So the question is, why did they ask for a warrant if -- you know, if you're looking at the warrant, there's no real evidence of probable cause and why did the judge give them one?

SCHOENBERG: Yes, I think the judge was put in a difficult situation because there was so much publicity and also he wasn't presented with all the evidence that the FBI had with regard to their prior investigation; evidence, by the way, that they had put on their own Web site and publicized about two months earlier. But they admitted that in the warrant application to make it seem a little bit more nefarious.

So I think the judge felt that he didn't want to interfere with what was going on, didn't want to be maybe accused of holding back this he investigation. So he let it go forward. Of course, they found nothing.

Now you have to turn back to James Comey and say, why 11, 12 days before an election did you seek a search warrant and say there is probable cause to believe that we're going to find evidence of a crime and find nothing. This is absolutely unprecedented in U.S. history that a presidential candidate would be accused essentially of a crime.

VAUSE: And this is breaking of protocol, getting involved in the politics, going public so close to an election.

SCHOENBERG: Right. There's even something called the Hatch Act which is sort of an administrative rule that says they're not supposed interfere with elections.

I think James Comey, just in the last week, issued another statement saying he has sort of a clear conscience about the whole process. I think he sort of felt that because he personally didn't feel that this would impact the election that what he did was fine.

But there is no doubt that it changed the outcome of the election. And I think we have a right to know exactly what went into this.

VAUSE: Ok. Very quickly here, because the incoming president could easily shut down this investigation because the Inspector General is a political appointment, there is nothing in law. There isn't tradition and protocol which says he should continue but legally he could be fired January 21.

SCHOENBERG: I guess the Inspector General as an appointee could be fired. The question is would they get a replacement in, right? So it's the staff of this office, the Inspector General's -- the DOJ that is doing the investigation. So when you take off the person in charge or even the deputy, who might be political appointees the staff can still function.

VAUSE: I mean the Attorney General can shut it down. That is likely to be Jeff Sessions. If it's not Jeff Sessions, it could be his deputy.

SCHOENBERG: So that I don't know.

VAUSE: Right.

SCHOENBERG: I don't know whether the Attorney General really could issue an order to the Office of the Inspector General and order them to shut down. There's a new law that was passed I think December 16th and signed by President Obama that's called the Inspector General Enabling Act that actually expanded the powers of the inspectors general in the various agencies of the government. So I'm not quite sure whether the --

VAUSE: It's a gray area.


SCHOENBERG: We really don't know.

VAUSE: Ok. So clearly, you know, it does whiff of a lot of political maneuverings here, at least on the surface.

SCHOENBERG: Well, yes. I mean from my perspective, I would prefer there to be an independent counsel, right, something like James Comey when he worked on the White Water investigation back on the first Clinton administration -- something where it is really independent and can't easily be dismissed by the President.

I think this warrants a special investigation whether it's a special prosecutor or the Inspector General. I really do think we need to get to the bottom of this. And if for no other reason that to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again that a search warrant is sought against a presidential candidate while voting is going on two weeks before an election.

VAUSE: Randy -- thank you for coming in. Thanks for explaining it all.

SCHOENBERG: Thank you. Thank you very much.

VAUSE: Appreciate it.

Ok. We are learning more about the dossier which CNN exclusively reported on Tuesday that intelligence officials gave to Donald Trump. It contained unsubstantiated allegations that Russian agents had compromising information on the President-Elect.

Multiple sources say FBI Director James Comey, who was the one to brief Trump on the dossier. He did that during a meeting last Friday. Officials say Comey pulled Mr. Trump to one side in a private conversation described as cordial.

At the same time, Donald Trump is still facing a lot of criticism over his plans to separate his business from the presidency.

CNN's Jim Acosta has details.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Add Vice President Joe Biden to the list of critics who don't think Donald Trump is going far enough in his plan to separate himself from his real estate empire when he becomes president.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think he's done enough and he may sink in the swamp.

ACOSTA: Biden's comments come one day after the head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics took the rare step of criticizing the incoming president's proposal turning his vast holdings over to a trust run by his sons, instead of a blind trust that would have completely shielded Trump from his businesses.

WALTER SCHAUB, U.S. OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: A plan the President has announced doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the past four decades has met.

ACOSTA: Today the transition team brushed off those comments.

SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President by law doesn't have conflicts. I mean it's somewhat of a silly discussion. And the steps that he did take are frankly extraordinary. What he did was go above and beyond.

[00:10:06] ACOSTA: But in an interview with NBC, Biden zeroed in on Trump's own admission at his news conference yesterday that a businessman in Dubai just offered him a multi-billion dollar deal.

DONALD TRUMP (R), U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai --a number of deals. And I turned it down. I didn't have to turn it down.

BIDEN: I found it bizarre to talk about, well, I could have made a $2 billion deal. I could have done both but I've decided not to -- as if you're doing me a favor, I mean the country a favor.

ACOSTA: The President-Elect raised more eyebrows when he tweeted his support for the family member of the LL Bean clothing brand whose base calls for a boycott over a donation made to a pro-Trump political group. Trump tweeted, "Thank you to Linda Bean of LL Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy LL Bean."

LINDA BEAN, LL BEAN: I never back down. If I'm sure I'm right and I do feel that they are bullies.

ACOSTA: There are other questions coming out of Trump's news conference one day after the President-Elect suggested Republicans in Congress could repeal and replace Obamacare on a single day.

TRUMP: It will be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments -- you understand. But will most likely be on the same day or the same week, but probably the same day.

ACOSTA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to tamp down expectations.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The next step then will be legislation to finally repeal Obamacare and move us toward smarter health policies. The repeal legislation will include a stable transition period as we work toward patient-centered health care. ACOSTA: As for those reports that the Russian government may have

compromising information on Donald Trump, a transition spokesman was asked by reporters whether he wanted to sue over those stories. The response -- trump would like to move on.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: Joining me now is Ted Johnson, he's the senior editor and political writer for "Variety". Ted -- thanks for coming in.

This issue is a common thread when you look at the business plan which Donald Trump has put forward. It's basically don't worry, we'll do the right thing, we'll follow our own rules but there just won't be any transparency. There won't be sort of any independent evaluation of what's going on. It seems like they are asking the American people for a blind trust.

TED JOHNSON, "VARIETY": Yes, yes. It is pretty much a kind of trust me. They'll argue that there is going to be this compliance officer. There's going to be this independent ethics officer.

But what we don't know, though, is, you know, are they going to be delivering reports, you know? What type of transparency will these people have? Will they have quarterly reports? Weekly reports so we know whether they are in compliance with what should be kind of a wall between Donald Trump, the President and Donald Trump's businesses.

VAUSE: There's this sort of part of the plan which is don't worry when we all get together we won't even talk about the business. We'll all have dinner together but there will be no mention of, you know, between Eric and Don with Donald senior about what is happening. That just seems unrealistic.

JOHNSON: Well, also -- and this came up during the press conference and not a lot of people picked up on it -- and I believe this was said that Trump will still get profit and loss statements from his businesses.

So, you know, there is still going to be this kind of involvement even though he's turning it over to his sons and as you said, you know, how much can the public expect that none of the business activity will actually come out in these routine family conversations?

VAUSE: The other thing too which I thought was interesting about the news conference is that he said that if they do a good job that's great, if they don't they'll be fired. So clearly he has an ongoing interest in what happens at Trump Corporation.

There is a lot of concern and it's coming from, you know, the highest levels. We heard it in Jim's piece, the director of government ethics said it was meaningless, yet the President-Elect and those around him, they have this kind of different view of it. They say not only is it fine, not only is this the best plan ever, this is an extraordinary plan. The President-Elect has gone above and beyond anything that he is required to do.

I mean, these two viewpoints could not be further opposed. How do you explain the disconnect between, you know, what all these people are saying on the one hand and what the Trump people are saying?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all I think the government ethics people have never faced quite a situation like this. Have never quite faced a situation like this where you had this billionaire come in with these huge amounts of assets and set up their own plan and as this ethics officer is forced to evaluate it and on their terms this is entirely insufficient.

I find it kind of ironic that Trump's -- some of Trump's cabinet picks are selling their assets. Rex Tillerson, Steven Mnuchin who's going to be his secretary of the Treasury is -- he's divesting himself of essentially his entirely portfolio.

[00:15:07] VAUSE: And these are very, very wealthy people.

JOHNSON: Very -- yes, that's right -- very wealthy people, very complicated number of assets that they have to extricate themselves from. And they've even said, you know, it's going to take us 90 days, maybe 180 days and they've even set up a plan for, you know, what happens during that period. They'll have to have this compliance period then.

So the question is why are your cabinet officials if they are forced to this, why shouldn't you do this as well?

VAUSE: Yes. One thing I thought -- when the President-Elect team they sort of -- when they're challenged on the facts there is this huge pushback. I mean not just on the business plan but, you know, on our reporting on the information --

JOHNSON: Oh sure.

VAUSE: -- which we got about, you know Russian intelligence had this unverified information which was compromising for Donald Trump. We put it out there and we got this huge pushback, you know, from the Trump surrogates and from, you know, the Trump team.

This is Kellyanne Conway, let's listen to her, 24 hours ago on CNN.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Anderson, your sources are not correct. And the fact is --


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So you're saying in that intelligence -- you're saying in that intelligence briefing there was no information in any of the documents that's -- of that two-page summary?

CONWAY: So two things on that. Number one, we don't discuss the classified information that is presented in intelligence briefings. That's why they're closed-door --

COOPER: Well, you just said it wasn't true.

CONWAY: Excuse me. Anderson if you just -- if you want me to talk, I know CNN is feeling the heat today.

COOPER: I think you guys are feeling the heat.


CONWAY: But I was gracious enough to come on and discuss it -- what heat do we feel? That you've got this raw information -- this complete ridiculous fake news, actually it's just fake, it's not even news.

COOPER: That's even backed up by not only multiple sources but other news agencies.


VAUSE: And you fast forward 24 hours and we're being told now by the Vice President Joe Biden that he was briefed, that President Obama was briefed.


VAUSE: We're being told by multiple sources that James Comey had this verbal conversation with Donald Trump, that he was briefed last Friday. So our facts are right. Their facts are wrong but we don't get this reasoned rebuttal from the Trump people.

What you get is sort of this attacking of the source of the information as opposed to going after the information itself.

JOHNSON: Yes, and I tend to think that the press conference and that interview with Kellyanne Conway is somewhat of a preview of what is to come with the Trump White House. It's a little disconcerting, especially in the way that they've had this push back.

I mean, the strategy seems to be not just to challenge the facts but to actually try to discredit the news organization and use that as a way of saying, hey listen, they're going down an entirely wrong road of questioning here. Don't pay attention to this.

I think -- it's a little bit of sowing confusion. And this was a story given that CNN first broke it and then you had the Buzz Feed story -- two very different approaches to how it all shook out. And they've kind of capitalized on the confusion and what they probably expect will be public confusion over this.

VAUSE: Yes. It is sort of a very different world of political reporting right now with the Trump team coming into the White House.

Ted -- thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you. VAUSE: Ok.

Well, the Obama administration is shelving the long term practice of allowing Cubans who managed to reach U.S. to stay and become permanent residents. Senior Cuban officials say Havana has been informed that Cubans entering the United States illegally will now be sent back.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more from Havana on what is a sudden change in policy.

PATRICK OPPMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John with just days left in office, President Barack Obama has made a major change to U.S./Cuban relations. The so-called "wet-foot, dry-foot" law, this was a policy that allowed Cubans arriving in the United States to stay.

Cubans who were intercepted at sea were generally sent back but if Cubans made it to a beach in Florida or across the border from Mexico, they were essentially allowed to cut the immigration line and given a special status that people from no other nation in the world receive.

The Cuban government was very critical of this. They said it led to more illegal immigration, it led to more people smuggling and it emptied the island of young people and some of the most educated Cubans like doctors and engineers.

Other Cubans that I have spoken to said that they saw the change coming as the U.S. and Cuba have normalized relations. And we have seen an uptick in Cubans leaving either by sea or making the land crossing from countries like Mexico in the last two years.

Other Cubans I spoke to said that they were very concerned that this will lead to an increase in unrest because for years this policy has worked as something of an escape valve that people who were desperate enough, who wanted more personal freedoms, that were unhappy with the sorry state of the Cuban economy, that they were able to leave more easily or able to arrive in the United States more easily than many other people.

[00:20:07] And that essentially that the people who were going to effect change or might protest against the government would leave. And now that doorway has been closed. But certainly an era of Cubans receiving a special treatment of leaving by the thousands appears to have ended -- John.

VAUSE: Patrick, thank you for that.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, Donald Trump's cabinet picks have been taking a ton of heat on Russia, even from Republicans. We'll find out how the nominees for the AG responded. That's in a moment.

Also ahead, he was once talked about as a potential secretary of State. Now the former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has a different job -- not as good.

Back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Well, Donald Trump is turning to a long-time ally for advice on cyber security. Trump's transition team says former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will share his expertise and insight on the subject. He told CNN Trump plans to have a cyber security council made up of CEOs and experts from the private sector.

Well, for more on Trump's approach to cyber security, I'm joined now by Hemu Nigam, he's an Internet security analyst and he's the founder and CEO of the SSP Blue advisory firm.

I can't talk tonight. I'm having one of those nights.

HEMU NIGAM, SSP BLUE: Ok. I'll talk for you.

VAUSE: That's right. It's good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

It was interesting with the confirmation hearing today for Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA. He was asked by Republican Senator John McCain exactly about how he plans to deal with cyber security. Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: What do you think is going to take to deter Vladimir Putin's continued interference, not just in our elections, but attempts to have access to our most sensitive and classified materials, secret stuff? It's a long, long list of offenses in cyber.

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I don't know that I can answer that question comprehensively today but I can tell you it is going to require an incredibly robust American response.

Our response to this -- a security related response that is we have to get better at defending against these and then a response that holds actors accountable who commit these kinds of actions against the United States of America.


VAUSE: You know, it was just -- there was no details there. I mean basically the answer is we don't have a plan, isn't it?

NIGAM: Well, I think he didn't probably expect a question that specific. But even that said he should be rattling off the tip of his tongue things like we need a very holistic approach that looks deeper at how we've been doing things in the last 15 years. Trains our employees, increases resources -- all those kinds of things that we know we have needed to do for actually 15, 20 years now.

So hopefully he's going to be bringing the right-hand experts to make that happen. I would expect him to do that.

VAUSE: Ok. We have Giuliani who has been tapped to lead the cyber security team. What's the upside of this decision?

[00:25:00] NIGAM: Well, one of the most interesting things about this decision is the President-Elect has appointed one of the most politically-active supporters and protectors of him in an area that has been the most political in the last six months and that is cyber security in an area that actually should be the most nonpolitical.

VAUSE: Ok. So that's a downside. Is that a problem?

NIGAM: Well, that may not be -- it appears to be a problem when you first hear it and say what's going on here? But the reality is this. The industry who has not been a Trump supporter actually needs the White House in the cyber security space so there will be a natural alignment between the industry in the tech side as well as the White House and cyber security.

VAUSE: Ok. So Giuliani brings this sort private industry security expertise. He's got this firm that does security but the reality is when it comes to cyber security, the plan in the past has been leave it to the market forces to do it. The reality is there are only things the government can do.

NIGAM: Right, if you leave it to the market forces we're all going to fail. And that's because enemy nation states in the past like China, like Russia have actually attacked the private sector. So this has to be built, engrained inside of the White House and the government has to do its part, the private sector has to continue to do its part.

But no question, right now the White House needs to make their White House cyber security czar a household name. And I don't know if most people even know this, your viewers may not even know it. There is a sitting White House cyber security czar for the last eight years --

VAUSE: No idea.

NIGAM: -- whose name begins with Michael, whose last name I actually don't remember. Unfortunately, I'm not even joking.


NIGAM: I don't remember his name.

VAUSE: I've never heard of the guy.

Trump said he can come up with this plan in 90 days. And he'll have, you know, at least a report ready to go.

They haven't been able to do it since Clinton. Can you do it in 90 days?

NIGAM: I think he can do it if you get the right tech industry, the right resources inside the government aligned with all heads down. I mean literally all heads down saying we have to deliver something. I don't think you're going to get all the answers in the 90 days but you should be able to, in the 90 days, get the direction that needs to go, the resources that need to take you there and the commitment that you're going to put the resources behind it whether it's legislatively or through the executive branch.

VAUSE: 90 days -- we shall see.

Hemu, good to speak with you. Thanks.

We'll take a short break.

When we come back, musician Andy Grammer -- I'll talk to the singer/songwriter about why he shot the music video of a love song to his wife on L.A.'s Skid Row.



[00:30:10] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The Justice Department inspector general is investigating how the FBI handled the Hillary Clinton e-mail case. FBI Director James Comey says he welcomes the probe and wants the results shared with the public. The email controversy was a major issue in the 2016 presidential election. Many Democrats believe that's why Clinton lost.

U.S. officials tell CNN it was FBI Director James Comey, who briefed President-elect Donald Trump on unsubstantiated claims that Russian operatives have compromising information on him. Vice President Joe Biden says he was also briefed as well as President Obama.

And the U.S. president is ending the long standing policy of granting asylum to Cubans without visas, who make it to the United States. The so called "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy has been in effect for more than 20 years, but effective immediately Cubans wishing to resettle in the U.S. must go through the same process as immigrants from other nations.

And Barack Obama visibly stunned the U.S. Vice President by giving him the nation's highest honor. Mr. Obama awarded Joe Biden the presidential Medal of Freedom during a White House ceremony. Biden says he had no idea he was receiving the award just days before the Trump administration moves in.

Right now as temperatures plunge across much of the U.S. and parts of Europe, there is growing concern for the hundreds of thousands of people who are homeless. More than half a million in the United States alone. While worldwide, the U.N. says more than 100 million people just don't have adequate shelter.

There are different ways to deal with this crisis. Last month, for example, Pope Francis invited eight homeless people to the Vatican to celebrate his 80th birthday.

While in Denver, Colorado, the city's police chief defended his officers who confiscated blankets and tents from homeless people because they were technically camping illegally.

And then there was the much derided open letter last year to San Francisco's Mayor from tech entrepreneur Justin Keller, which read in part, "I shouldn't have to see the pain, struggle and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work, everyday."

As much as Justin Keller, entrepreneur, did not want to be confronted with the reality of homelessness, singer Andy Grammer wants you to take another look.




VAUSE: That's Andy Grammer's latest song "Fresh Eyes." A big hit which started out for his wife. Instead, it's now shedding light on the plight of homeless people.

Andy joins us here in Los Angeles. Thank you for coming in. It's nice to meet you.

ANDY GRAMMER, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

VAUSE: It's good to see you.


VAUSE: How did this go from being sort of an ode to your wife, if you like, to essentially being social commentary?

GRAMMER: Me and my wife have been together for a while so the song is really just about rediscovering love with someone that you've been with for a while. And when it came the time to make a video, we thought what a cool idea to take a population that is often misunderstood or sometimes not seen at all and try to rediscover some love with them.

So we have this video where we kind of gave them makeovers and it was powerful.




VAUSE: That was one of the parts of the clip, which I thought was so incredibly moving because you saw this transformation of all these people, these homeless people -- GRAMMER: Yes.

VAUSE: And what it said to me is that kind of really is the only difference between us, it's a haircut and a clean set of clothes.

GRAMMER: Yes. And even more powerful being there was seeing how they saw themselves.

VAUSE: Right.

GRAMMER: All right. So I think that was the most powerful part of the video by far was when they saw themselves dressed and clean, you could see some dignity come back into the way that they were standing or the way that they would talk to you. You could feel it while it was happening.




VAUSE: In your early days, you spent a lot of time doing street, I would call busking in Australia. You are out there performing. You're trying to earn some money. And you actually spent some time with homeless people.

GRAMMER: Yes. There's a lot of homeless people in Santa Monica. And it's kind of hard to ignore it. And when you are spending eight to ten hours out there, the homeless guy is no longer just like homeless, it's Dave.

VAUSE: Right. So they have a name.

GRAMMER: That's Dave.

VAUSE: Right.

[00:35:05] GRAMMER: And one of them would like teach me all the quirky things about being out there. Like yes, yes, yes, you are a little bit earlier. You want to get the good spot by McDonald's. So they become people to you.

And I think what really good in this country just like saying that they are homeless and therefore they're like don't exist.

VAUSE: So you label them as group as a --


GRAMMER: Yes. These are brothers, sisters, mothers. These are like people in our society.

VAUSE: So you became friends with.

GRAMMER: Oh, yes. I have a lot of friends out there. And especially, I mean, the people when I was making this video. I want to go -- I haven't gotten to go see them again but I really need to. I feel a strong desire to go back.

Loretta, there's like sweet people that you are hanging out with that are no longer invisible and you can see them come alive to you. I just game them a little bit of attention.

VAUSE: There's a lot of reasons for homelessness. You know, some people have psychiatric issues, some people just can't afford a home.

GRAMMER: And then some people are just down on their luck, too.


GRAMMER: Like I would talk to these people and go, how, you know, how are you? What's up? And there are a lot of wide-ranging reasons that's why they were there and they weren't just crazy. Like none of the people that I've talked to were crazy.

VAUSE: Right. So what that says to me is that there but for the grace of God goes I. I mean, that could be any one of us. A turn of bad luck, something happens to you. And, you know, if you look at just the cost of housing in Los Angeles, for example, a lot of people just can't afford a place to live.

GRAMMER: They can't afford it. And, you know, there's a lot of us that are very privileged and I know this video is not going to make a huge dent in homelessness by any means. We do -- we are raising money if you watch the end of the video, where it goes to the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles which is doing incredible stuff.

But what I wanted to do more than anything was just raise some compassion. If someone saw this video and then they go about their day and they pass someone who is homeless and take an actual look and maybe say hi and maybe give them something or just start up a conversation with them and be able to break through this film that our society has of who those people are, then it would be successful.

VAUSE: This is a different view, because, you know, you are the happy guy. You're the guy that does the happy songs.


VAUSE: You're not really the social issue guy, are you? Is this --

GRAMMER: Well, around this I'm 100 percent am.

VAUSE: So --

GRAMMER: It just makes you so, it makes your heart so happy.



(END VIDEO CLIP) GRAMMER: Even just like talking about it. Any time I get to go talk about it, I get psyched up. And the more that you pay attention to them, the more that you find yourself around them, it's really -- I mean, it's an incredible bounty to be able to serve these people.

VAUSE: It's all about choices for all of us isn't it?

GRAMMER: It really is, yes.

VAUSE: OK. You are going to stick around.


VAUSE: And I think you're going to perform "Fresh Eyes" for us.

GRAMMER: Totally.

VAUSE: Which is a great song. My family love it. They've been listening to it a lot.


GRAMMER: Fantastic.

VAUSE: Thank you so much for coming in.

GRAMMER: Thank you for having me, man. I really appreciate it.

VAUSE: It's been great. We appreciate it.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, Andy will perform for us. Stay with us. You are watching CNN.