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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
North Korea: Missile Test A "Gift" To Late Leader; Source: Pence Wants Answers; Kept In Dark Over Flynn Deceptions; President Trump Dodges Questions About Russian Contacts; Source: Flynn's Access To Classified Information Could Be Reinstated; Russian Spy Ship Lurking Off Connecticut Coast; Trump's Choice For Labor Secretary Drops Out; Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 15, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, north Korea.
WOLF BLITZER, THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER HOST: Will, thanks very much. That's it for me. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, breaking news. Vice President Pence demanding answers and names. Who decided to keep him out of the loop on General Michael Flynn?
And more breaking news at this hour. An undocumented immigrant, mother of four, holed up in a Denver church tonight. ICE Agents want her deported right now. We are live outside that church.
And Trump and Rubio after their nasty campaign battles, dining together at this minute at the White House with their wives. Let's go OutFront.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news. Pence fights back. Vice President Mike Pence demanding answers on who misled him about ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. An administration source tells CNN that Pence wants the name of the adviser who decided, "maybe we shouldn't tell the guy who went on the record as the face of administration." This as Flynn's access to classified information has been suspended tonight.
You might think, well, of course, it has. But here's the thing. That access could actually be reinstated if a review finds that there was no wrongdoing on his part. And tonight, leading senators are asking the justice department for a briefing on what led up to Flynn's resignation. And it could be bigger than Flynn. Flynn is not the sole focus of the investigations. Multiple sources tell us that several high-level advisers and then-candidate Trump were in constant communication, constant communication with Russian officials, during the campaign. Among them, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone. Trump today dodging multiple questions from CNN about just that.
JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President, are you answering questions about your associates' contact with the Russians during the campaign?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Do you have comment on the report that there was contact between your senior adviser and suspected Russian operatives during the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump? President Trump, no comment on that?
BURNETT: And you just heard Sara Murray's voice there at the end. She is OutFront tonight at the White House. And Sarah, the president and his team not wanting to talk about this at all. I hear your voice and you see Donald Trump staring just sort of staring off into the distance and completely ignoring your question.
MURRAY: Erin, this is certainly not something President Trump was eager to discuss today. As you see, he rebuffs multiple attempts to ask him this question. But in what was sort of a bizarre twist today, he didn't take pains in a press conference today to heap praise on the national security adviser he fired just two days ago. Today, President Trump is lashing out about the news that his top advisers were in constant communication with suspected Russian operatives during the presidential campaign.
But rather than address the substance of those communications, Trump is lampooning the press, slamming the coverage of ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the man Trump fired just two days ago for misleading the vice president about this has conversations with the Russian ambassador.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media. Things are being leaked. It's criminal action -- criminal act. And it's been going on for a long time before me. But now it's really going on.
MURRAY: He president airing his grievances after multiple current and former intelligence officials told CNN that communications between Trump advisers and Russian officials could be cause for alarm. Between cry of fake news, the president took to Twitter to say, the Russian connection nonsense is merely an attempt to cover up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign. He also took aim yet again at the intelligence community.
Tweeting, the real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by, "intelligence like candy. Very un-American." Throughout the day, the president ignored repeated questions about communications between Russians and his campaign advisers. And top administration officials have repeatedly denied any contact.
JOHN DIKCERSON, CBS NEWS FACE THE NATION ACNHOR: Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, of course not.
DICKERSON: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election? KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely not. And I
discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened.
MURRAY: Trump often spoke glowingly about Russia during the presidential campaign. Even in the wake of intelligence findings that Russia attempted to meddle in the U.S. election, Trump predicted U.S. and Russian relations would improve under his presidency.
TRUMP: Russia will have far greater respect for our country, when I'm leading it.
MURRAY: He still insisted to reporters in January, though, that there was no contact between his campaign and Russian officials.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ANCHOR: Did you or anyone in your campaign have any contact with Russia leading up to or during the campaign?
MURRAY: And as recently as Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he had no reason to revise the record.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Happy Valentine's Day.
MURRAY: Now, the Trump administration may not be interested in discussing this today, but there are members of congress on the Hill, both democrats and republicans, who want answers. The senate intelligence committee was already probing Russian cyber hacking attempts, trying to meddle in the U.S. Election. Now they're expanding that probe, not only to include Michael Flynn, but also to look into these reports, of contact between Donald Trump's campaign advisers and suspected Russian operatives. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Sara, thank you very much. And tonight there is new information about that contact. The contact between Trump's team and Russians during the campaign. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is OutFront.
SCIUTTO: CNN has learned that high-level advisers to Donald Trump were in constant contact during the campaign with Russian officials and other Russian nationals known to U.S. intelligences. This according to multiple current and former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials. Officials tell CNN then President Obama and then President-elect Trump were both fully briefed on the extent of the communications, between the Russians and people in and around the Trump business empire and presidential campaign. In January, Trump denied having any knowledge of contacts with the Russians. This only five days after he was briefed on the matter.
VEGA: Did you or anyone in your campaign have any contact with Russia leading up to or during the campaign?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
SCIUTTO: Occasional contacts between presidential campaigns and representatives of foreign governments are not unusual. However, both the frequency of the interactions and the close ties to Trump of those involved raised alone. The discussions coinciding with evidence that Russia was hacking democratic institutions in an effort to undermine the U.S. election. Among the Trump advisers communicating with Russia were then campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Manafort strenuously denied to CNN that he was in contact with Russia's government. Flynn has not responded. Law enforcement officials tell CNN that additional concern stems from intercepted communications between Russian officials, both before and after the election, discussing what they describe as special access to Trump. All of these communications were intercepted as part of routine U.S. intelligence gathering, and no Trump associates were targeted, this according to U.S. officials.
We learned today here at CNN that general Michael Flynn -- retired general Michael Flynn's access to classified information has been suspended now, pending review. This related to those questions about his communications with the Russian ambassador around the time U.S. sanctions were imposed. That said, our Evan Perez reporting tonight that the FBI will not pursue charges against Flynn for those calls, pending new information. They say he was, Erin, truthful in his communications with the FBI.
BURNETT: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you very much. And OutFront now, the Republican Senator, James Rich, who sits on the foreign relations and ethics committees. Good to have you with me, Senator. I appreciate your time. You just heard the reporting, we now know high-level Trump advisers, were in constant contact with suspected Russian operatives throughout the campaign. How worried are you about this?
SEN. JAMES RICH, (R) INTELLIGENCE AND FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, obviously, there's going to be an investigation on this. And what we've reviewed all the administrative reports and really, there's a lot more that needs to be known about this. We -- all of us, are very interested to hear what the details of the communications were. I don't know what constant means, I want to see exactly a timeline on that. We'll get to that, I'm sure.
BURNETT: Is there any contact with suspected Russian operatives that would be OK in your book? I mean, if the word constant is removed, are you OK with it? If it was sporadic?
RICH: Well, it depends on what it was about. Again, if indeed they have transcripts of this, we're going to want to look at the transcripts and see what they contain. I'm, you know, whenever you have these kinds of things going on, they cause concern to those of us that deal with intelligence matters, and we're -- it's going to be looked at, I'm telling you, it's going to be looked at very carefully.
BURNETT: I want to get at this though. Isn't it more than concern, right? These are suspected Russian operatives. This is a campaign for President of the United States. If this was happening, this could be deadly serious, right? I mean, would you -- would you agree with that? Would you use a stronger word than concern? RICH: No, I absolutely agree with that. The superlatives that you
use are appropriate. There's no question about it. If, indeed, the worst is obtained, from those transcripts. But again, before we go -- before we get ahead of ourselves on these, we really need to see what the contacts were all about.
BURNETT: So, there's the issue of what they talked about, which you raised then there's the issue of -- and this seems to be the case often, with the Trump administration. Is the cover-up worse than the crime? And again, we -- you say, we don't yet know what the "crime was or was not." We do know that they deny that there was this contact that we are now reporting, U.S. officials are saying that there was. Trump himself directly denied any contact between his campaign and the Russians, you just heard in Jim Sciutto's piece, that was on January 11th at a press conference.
Since then, of course, U.S. intelligence says there had been, again, the words we're using, constant contact. Today, CNN asked the president three times about it, Senator. Three times, he ignored the question every single time. And I want to play the questions for you.
SCIUTTO: President, are you answering questions about your associates' contact with the Russians during the campaign?
VEGA: Do you have comment on the report that there was contact between your senior adviser and suspected Russian operatives during the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump? President Trump, no comment on that?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT BASED IN THE WASHINGTON, D.C.: What's nonsense about Russian contacts with your campaign?
BURNETT: So you heard him -- well, you didn't hear him, right? He completely ignored that question three times. But on January 11th, he had said, point-blank, no, that there was no contact. Do you think he was unaware of this on January 11th when he said no or do you think it's possible he lied?
RICH: You know, I don't know. We're going to have to see if there's evidence that, in fact, he lied. It is entirely possible that there were people on his campaign that were talking with people that had -- may have been inappropriate to talk with. And he didn't know it. On the other hand, maybe he did. But we -- there is no evidence, one way or the other, so I'm reluctant to criticize at this point, until I've got all the facts in front of me. We will get to this.
BURNETT: And again, I want to get to this point too because it's not just Donald Trump who's denied it. His top campaign officials, right? People who may or may not have known about it, point-blank deny what U.S. intelligence now say is a fact, the Vice President of the United States, then campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, now White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, here is how they have answered this question again and again and again.
DICKERSON: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election? CONWAY: Absolutely not. And I discussed that with the president-
elect just last night. Those conversations never happened.
DICKERSON: Did any adviser or anyone in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
PENCE: Well, of course not.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Today, can you still say definitively that nobody on the Trump campaign, not even General Flynn, had any contact with the Russians before the election?
SPICER: My understanding is that what General Flynn has now expressed is that during the transition period -- well, we were very clear during the transition period, he did -- he did speak with the ambassador --
KARL: I'm talking about during the campaign.
SPICER: I don't have any -- there's nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period.
BURNETT: So, senator, obviously it's possible none of the leadership in the Trump campaign, people senior now in the administration had any idea, right? I guess there's that possibility. Then there's the other possibility, which is that there's a lot of lying going on. How big of a problem would that be?
RICH: It would be a big problem, if all the lying was going on. Erin, I can tell you, I've run 33 times for public office. Lots of times, I've had many, many employees working for me. They go off on their own and do things that you don't find out about until quite a bit later. Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending this, I'm just saying, we don't know at this point. None of the people who just denied that, is there any evidence that they knew otherwise.
Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. That's the purpose of an investigation. Look, on the intelligence committee, we are very, very good at this. We have a protocol for how we will go about it, as far as what we gather, the kind of people we interview, the people that come before us that we have testified before us. We will get to the bottom of this but until we do that, there's obviously, people can look at this and be very suspicious about it. But until we do that, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Senator, I appreciate your time.
RICH: Thank you.
BURNETT: Next, a Russian spy ship just 30 miles off the coast of the United States in Connecticut. What is the message from Putin tonight? Plus, breaking news on Trump's pick for labor secretary. Out. Gone. Did this Oprah appearance take Andrew Puzder down? And on a lighter note, Trump and Rubio sitting down to a White House dinner at this very moment. Will it be bottled or tap? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Tonight, a Russian spy ship off the coast of Connecticut. At this moment, about 30 miles from American shores. The ship designed to intercept U.S. intelligence signals. The defense official telling CNN the U.S. Military is keeping a, "close eye on the situation." Our pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr is OutFront now. And Barbara, just off the coast of Connecticut, a provocative move by the Russians.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is a provocation, Erin, especially because Connecticut has a U.S. Navy Submarine Base, of course. Provocation, yes, and also somewhat of a nuisance in all candor, to the U.S. Military. They've seen the Russians do this before. The Russians are making a statement. We're here, we're off your coastline, we're staying in international waters, but we're watching you and in fact, the U.S. Military is watching the Russian ship.
It has happened before. Normally, the Russians go up and down the East Coast and when they get somewhere around Virginia, as they come up from the south, they usually turn around and go back. Now, it's as far north as Connecticut. And this comes as there have been other Russian provocations in recent days. So it's certainly getting the attention of U.S. Military. They are watching what the Russians are doing. Unduly upset, unduly concerned? No. But they want to make sure this nuance stays just that and doesn't become anything more. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Barbara, thank you very much. It is the context, of course, to this, that is so crucial. OutFront now, Colin Kahl, the former national security adviser to Vice President Biden. David Urban, former campaign strategist for president Trump, West Point Graduate, David Gergen and Jamie Gangel, thanks to all. Thanks to all. Let me start with you, Colin. The spy ship, not the only provocative move by Russia and of course the crucial context here this is all since President Trump took office.
COLIN KAHL, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes. I think that's right. As Barbara alluded to, there have been a number of provocations last Friday. You had several Russian fighter aircraft buzz one of our U.S. Navel Vessels in the black sea. And you also recently had the Russians deployed for the first time, a ground launch cruise missile that violated the intermediate nuclear forces treaty that was signed in 1987.
So, clearly, the Russians are testing, pushing, probing. It's not clear what they're up to, but this is exactly the type of crisis that I'm not sure -- or not even crisis but a series of events but I'm not really sure that the Trump administration is well postured to manner right now.
BURNETT: Well, when you talk about the broader context here, David Urban, there are some big things being said right now. The head of U.S. Special Operations Command, four-star General, Tony Thomas, has come and spoken about the broader situation and what he had to say frankly, unprecented, rare. I mean, this is shocking. Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil, he says. I hope they sort it out soon, because we're a nation at war. This is the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, talking about our government being in unbelievable turmoil.
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Erin, I think General Thomas was -- wasn't criticizing the president. General Thomas, a patriot, a great soldier. What he did say was that things like what happened today with the -- with the ship and the Russian aircraft buzzing the fleet is something that is cause for concern amongst the U.S. Military --
BURNETT: But who is he talking about? Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. This is an incredible thing to say, this is the sitting the head of U.S. Operations command.
URBAN: Well, you're right. It is -- it is unprecedented, and it's something I'm sure that the general isn't meant -- I believe he's not meant to be criticizing the president. I have not spoken with him. But I've read some further elaboration of his remarks and they're not -- they were -- they were much more focused than it seems and what you're sayings. So, I think he's talking about perhaps, you know, what's going on the national security council right now with General Flynn's departure and we're waiting to see who's getting appointed, so --
BURNETT: Right. And we obviously are awaiting on that. Jamie, obviously you have that comment by General Thomas. You then had John McCain who came out and said the current situation in our government could be putting American lives at risk. Here's exactly how John McCain put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: My concern is also that with now know national security adviser and the turmoil within the administration, makes it very difficult for us to exercise responsibilities as to defend the nation. There is turmoil as far as national security is concerned within the White House, and that needs to be fixed as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Same word, turmoil. John McCain.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's not an accident. And we're seeing more republicans actually speak out for the first time. Look, privately, every republican I speak to says that national security and the turmoil in the White House is their number one concern. But you're also seeing people like Senator Roy Blunt, senator Corker come out today, talking about the Russian links. These are people who have not broken with the White House but really haven't spoken out before.
There is a big difference here. And you're going to see, I believe, a senior republican source, see the senate intelligence committee do a very serious investigation into all of this. They are very concerned. They also say, they say -- they said, who are you looking towards? They still call him General Mattis, Defense Secretary Mattis, they're really hoping, if there is --
BURNETT: They're banking on him.
GANGEL: They're banking on him.
BURNETT: But, you know, it's interesting, when you say, more people are coming out. And David Gergen, there may be, but yet not leadership. I mean, John McCain is obviously very vocal, very respected but not technical leadership, right? We're not hearing it from Speaker Ryan, we're not hearing it from Senate Majority LeaderMcConnell.
GERGEN: We're not. They have to keep their flock in line. So I -- it's understandable why they're cautious about it. But I do think it's very significant when people like Senator Corker begin to break away. Because he is someone who's respected in the senate. He's respected on both sides of the aisle, frankly. And that's what -- I think the erosion is occurring there more than the leadership. The leadership on this tends to be a little bit form of followership because they want to -- they want to know where the center to have gravity is, in their -- in their caucus.
But I have to tell you, this is -- this is -- this is all getting much more serious. Even though we've had some distractions today. And the Netanyahu story, you know, these other things that are going on, that, you know, that are very newsworthy, the fact is, this is threatening to the administration, it's threatening to its credibility, it's threatening to its capacity to govern. But very importantly, what these senators are increasingly saying, Erin, is look, the White House is not well enough organized, should there be a serious provocation.
We're having these minor provocations now, but if there's a serious provocation, can these guys really handle it? Are they up to having an organized, thoughtful, deliberative response, or are we going to have the kind of confusion we saw there in Mar-a-Lago, you know, where people sitting around a dinner table and the flashlights. And that's not the way to handle a national security crisis. Other countries see America struggling now and there are people out there who are not our friends will try to take advantage of it.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much. Sobering, sobering discussion. Next, the breaking news. Trump's pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder. He says he's out. Coming up, what Oprah had to do with his demise?
And this undocumented immigrant and mom won't be there when their kids get home from school today. She's holed up inside the church. We will tell you her story. ICE Agents. Will they deport her to Mexico? We're live at that church.
BURNETT: Breaking news. The first to President Trump's cabinet nominees to withdraw, Andrew Puzder has taken his name our of consideration for labor secretary after some republicans pulled their support. And a tape of a 1990 episode of Oprah resurfaced that OutFront has obtained. Manu Raju is OutFront.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Tonight, a revolt in the republican party. Claims President Donald Trump's nominee to be labor secretary. Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination after republicans privately told the White House that dissent was growing in the ranks. At least four republicans vowed to vote against him. And GOP leaders warned they could lose up to a dozen, leading to Trump's first loss in congress over a cabinet nominee.
LAMAR ALEXANDER, (R) HEALTH EDUCATION, LABOR AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Andy Puzder would have made a really good labor secretary. He has the experience and background to do that. I respect his decision, however. I understand it.
RAJU: Puzder's liabilities began to pile up, with criticism over his record running a fast food empire. But also baggage from the past, like his hiring of an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper and a newly unearthed decades-old tape from "The Oprah Winfrey Show," where Puzder's ex-wife alleges she was physically abused when they were married.
The tape obtained by OUTFRONT shows Puzder's ex-wife Lisa Fierstein, in disguise, talking about her allegations.
LISA FIERSTEIN, ANDREW PUDZER'S EX-WIFE: But, that was the most frightening thing, was leaving. Because once I made that break and once I made it public, and remember, my ex-husband was a public figure, everyone knew him and knew what he was doing. And once I made that public, he vowed revenge. He said, "I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this."
RAJU: Senators privately reviewed the tape and some were alarmed.
(on camera): You saw the "Oprah" video. What did you think of that?
SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: I think it's very troubling.
RAJU (voice-over): But Fierstein strongly came to his defense, noting that she long ago dropped her domestic abuse allegations. And in a letter obtained by CNN, she told senators that Andy is not abusive or violent and he is a good, loving, kind man.
She said she only appeared on the "Oprah" show to get a, quote, "free trip to Chicago."
One of Fierstein's friends, however, had a different take.
CHARLOTTE FEDDERS, FELLOW GUEST ON OPRAH: I don't think the reason she was on the Oprah show was just to get a free trip to Chicago. Because you literally go, stay in a hotel, go to the studio, and leave. So -- and I just -- I don't believe that at all.
RAJU: But Republicans believe that the bigger problem was his hiring of an undocumented immigrant. SEN. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: Here's a guy who ran a business that
had tens of thousands of employees while he was running it and apparently no problem there. But one employee that gets paid to help you at the house and you don't ask the right question, and suddenly, you have the same problem that other people have had.
RAJU: Now, Erin, Andrew Puzder is not the only nominee of Donald Trump's facing some resistance among Republicans. Scott Pruitt to leave the EPA got his first Republican defector just hours ago. Susan Collins of Maine announced that she would vote against him.
And also, Mick Mulvaney, the choice for Donald Trump to head his Budget Department in the White House, John McCain of Arizona saying he will vote against Mulvaney's nomination. But if there are no more than two Republicans who will vote against him, they both will eventually get their jobs, Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you, Manu.
And OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
And, Congresswoman, good to have you with me.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: Democrats have tried and failed to stop several of President Trump's nominees. Puzder's the first to fall, withdrawing, because of his own past, lack of Republican support, also part of it. What's your reaction?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you know, it's not surprising. There's a history of Congress, United States Senate, rejecting the nominees of presidents when they are revealed to have employed undocumented workers. It's particularly egregious, almost like a Keystone Cops, when you have nominated a labor secretary, who has violated labor laws.
So, that, I think, was really, ultimately, a complete nonstarter, even for Republican senators, who have, unfortunately, walked in lockstep, for the most part, to support his nominees. Who have, in at least recent history, have been the most unqualified collection of nominees for cabinet that we've seen.
BURNETT: When it comes to Puzder, though, undocumented workers, obviously an issue here. But you just saw the video of Puzder's ex- wife talking about allegations that her husband had abused her. We know she later wrote in a letter that Puzder was not abusive.
But today, Senator Warren brought those allegations up on the floor as a reason he opposed her nomination. Was that fair?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think there was enough even without that to warrant rejecting his nomination. I mean, he was -- is, an incredibly anti-worker business leader. Not someone who as treated employees well, not known for being easy to work for and on top of that, you know, had employment problems with his own personal life.
You know, I -- it's not for me to comment on whether or not his ex- wife was, at the time, you know, being truthful or not, but overall, there was a pretty massive cloud hanging over Puzder's head, and in addition to that, not being qualified and really not earning the respect that you need or -- and really across the line, particularly, since he was nominated to be the secretary of labor.
BURNETT: I want to ask you about the other big story tonight. General Michael Flynn, obviously, lost his job due to misleading comments about his conduct with the Russian ambassador.
[19:35:02] We know tonight that he was not alone in contact with the Russians. Intelligence officials tell CNN that there were others close in the Trump orbit, in constant communications with Russians known to U.S. intelligence.
You, of course, lost your job as chief of the DNC during the Russian hacking scandal. How deep do you think the contacts between team Trump and the Russians go?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, at the very least, we need to get to the bottom of that through an independent bipartisan investigation, so that we can make sure that it is thoroughly examined in, you know, the most forensic and deep way possible. That is not possible through just a review by the intelligence committees in the United States Congress.
With every passing day, it gets more and more disturbing, and more and more evidence that there was collusion, and a relationship between the Russians' desire and successful outcome --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, collusion. I think -- I think that there are -- and it does not make any sense, Erin, that there would be that much communication between a presidential campaign and its staff and Russian intelligence officials. I mean, look, when I was DNC chair, I know Reince Priebus did this as well, I met with international parliamentarians about the presidential election, I was chair for two presidential elections. That happened a couple of times.
But regular, consistent communications with foreign intelligence operatives, for a nation that is not our friend, and who clearly now has -- did everything they could to successfully affect the outcome of our presidential election in favor of their candidacy, this requires, it begs, it cries out for an independent bipartisan investigation.
BURNETT: So --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And Donald Trump should be the first person asking for one. But since I think he likely was part of it. It's not surprising that -- BURNETT: When you bring it up and you say he likely was part of it, I
want to ask you, understand exactly how far you're going here tonight, Congresswoman, because some Democrats are up in the ante on President Trump, on this issue. Here are two of your colleagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: This man is questionable. We have to find out more about him. And some of that, I think leads to the possibility of impeachment.
REP. MARK POCAN (D), WISCONSIN: Mr. President, it's time for you to fix this. One, divest your building holdings, two, show us your tax returns, and three, get rid one of your unconstitutional executive order. We'll have to get rid of resolutions of disapproval and even explore the power of impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Others have mentioned impeachment as well, including Congressman Joaquin Castro. He's talking about the executive order.
Are they going too far, throwing this word around, impeachment?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What I think right now absolutely has to happen is Republicans and Democrats in Congress need to come together and agree that there should be an independent bipartisan investigation, so that we can make sure that the investigation and the review happens in public, similar to the 9/11 Commission.
I mean, there is -- it is very disturbing that weeks went by where President Trump knew about Michael Flynn's conversations with the foreign minister of Russia and knew that the vice president was lied to and not told the truth about those conversations, and he was sent out, on the news, to defend him, when it was indefensible.
BURNETT: But to be clear, I want to make the point here, others are using that word. And you're purposefully not using. I want to make it clear, you're not comfortable using that word or talking about it, at this time?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You mean impeachment?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, I mean, I think we don't call for impeachment until you have an independent bipartisan investigation and we can get to the bottom of the possibility of high crimes and misdemeanors being committed, collusion between a presidential campaign and a foreign enemy, essentially, who was found by our own united intelligence community, to have intentionally and successfully, put their thumb on the scale and helped elect Donald Trump as president of the United States. BURNETT: So, constant contact is what we're reporting. You're using
the word "collusion" and you're also saying evidence of Donald Trump himself. Do you have any evidence of actual collusion as opposed to just contact? Do you have any evidence that Donald Trump himself was having contact?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, what I would say, and that's why we absolutely need this independent bipartisan investigation, is that because the constant contact reeks of collusion -- I mean, I can't think of what reason you would need to have that much communication between presidential campaigns in America, and a foreign essential enemy, that has attempted many times, to do harm to the United States and has certainly been not only not our friend, but harmful and an enemy. It makes no sense. And it begs for an independent investigation.
[19:40:00] I'm willing to say the word "collusion," because I think that the public evidence that is there at the moment certainly, to me, predicts that it would lead to that. That likely outcome or discovery and an independent bipartisan investigation is what is absolutely essential to get to the bottom of it.
BURNETT: Congressman Wasserman Schultz, thank you. Appreciate your time.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you. Thanks so much.
BURNETT: And next, immigration officials want this woman, mother of four, out of the country. Now, though, she is holed up inside a church, seeking refugee at this moment. We are going to take you there live tonight.
And new details about the woman arrested in the bizarre murder of Kim Jong-un's half brother. Did the North Korean leader himself order the assassination of his own brother?
BURNETT: Breaking news: An undocumented immigrant and mother of four is holed up in Colorado church tonight, defying ICE officials who wanted her deported. Jeanette Vizguerra is seeking refugee in the church, vowing to stay as long as it takes.
Ana Cabrera is OUTFRONT there tonight.
And, Ana, this drama is plague out right where you are at this moment.
[19:45:03] ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin.
Essentially, Jeanette Vizguerra is now living inside this church. It has been an incredibly emotional day for her and her whole family. She has a small room here. She's got a microwave and a bed.
But she believes, if she stays here, she'll be protected from immigration enforcement officials. There are no guarantees, however. So, she is hugging her children, just a little bit tighter, and clinging to hope for a future here in the U.S. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CABRERA (voice-over): Demonstrators outside the immigration office in Colorado supporting a mother of four from Mexico, Jeannette Vizguerra, scheduled to check in with ICE.
Unlike other check-ins, her attorney and pastor entered without her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to talk to immigration and we'll be back in a second.
JEANNETTE VIZGUERRA: My intuition is, it's bad.
CABRERA: Vizguerra chose not to show up, instead taking refuge inside a church, where she received the bad news by phone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They denied her stay?
CABRERA: Her request for a temporary stay denied, despite six previous stays that were granted. Vizguerra, first, speechless, then in tears. Her nightmare coming true.
We talk with her prior to the check-in about her fear.
VIZGUERRA: It's difficult. My kids are my life. My family is my life.
No, it's my country. It's my house. It's the house of my kids. It's the country of my kids.
CABRERA (on camera): So, this is your home?
VIZGUERRA: Yes, it's my home.
CABRERA: This country.
VIZGUERRA: I'm living more years here than my country.
CABRERA (voice-over): Vizguerra came to the U.S. in 1997. She has three children, ages 6, 10, and 12 who are citizens, born in the U.S. Her oldest, Tania, is 26, with three children of her own. She has legal status through DACA, an Obama administration policy that protects immigrant youth from deportation.
TANIA BAEZ, JEANETTE'S ADULT DAUGHTER: She's basically the backbone of my family. Without her, my kids would not know their grandma anymore and they wouldn't see grandma.
CABRERA: This family's future in limbo since 2009, when Vizguerra was arrested following a traffic stop. She had a fake Social Security number on a job application in her car. She's been fighting deportation ever since.
(on camera): Did they give you specific reasons for denying the stay this time?
HANS MEYER, VIZGUERRA'S ATTORNEY: When you have a blanket deportation policy, you don't feed to have specific reasons. You just say no. And that's exactly what they did.
CABRERA (voice-over): The local ICE office provided the following response, saying, "Jeannette Vizguerra-Ramirez from Mexico has two misdemeanor convictions. On November 18th, 2011, a federal immigration judge originally issued her final orders of deportation to Mexico. Based on these factors, Vizguerra-Ramirez is an ICE enforcement priority."
CABRERA: The news triggering a protest in D.C. Meantime, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis has filed a private bill in the House of Representatives, hoping to help plead her case. For now, she's moved into this Denver church basement, an informal sanctuary, where immigration officials have not yet dared to go. She addressed supporters through a translator this afternoon.
VIZGUERRA (through translator): So, I know that my fight will continue, even though I'm still -- even though I'm inside these walls. There's much that I can do to continue organizing and to continue to support my community. And by my community, I don't just mean the Mexican immigrant community, I don't just mean South Americans, there are people from all over the world that are in the exact same situation as I am.
CABRERA (on camera): How long are you prepared to stay here?
VIZGUERRA: I don't know. It's possible, days, months, or years.
CABRERA: Let's be clear here, there are no laws that prohibit immigration enforcement officials from coming and arresting Jeannette Vizguerra inside this church. But ICE has had a policy in place that essentially says they will not conduct enforcement operations inside sensitive places like churches or schools unless there is an imminent danger.
Now, Vizguerra knows that could change under the Trump administration. So, everybody here is kind of on edge and they're preparing, should ICE come knocking, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Ana, thank you very much for that reporting.
And next, a woman arrested in the poisoning death of Kim Jong-un's half brother. Did the North Korean leader order the assassination of his own brother?
We're on the ground in Pyongyang tonight.
And Jeanne Moos on Trump and Rubio -- at this moment, they are there together in the White House together. [19:50:00] Can you believe it? Their wives are with them. Could the
conversation take a turn, like this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't worry about it, little Marco. I will.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: All right. Well, let's hear, big Donald.
TRUMP: Don't worry about it, little Marco.
BURNETT: Tonight, an urgent international manhunt after the mysterious murder of North Korean leader's Kim Jong-un's half brother. Two women suspected of killing Kim Jong-nam.
It was a brazen attack. It took place in the middle of a packed international airport, a packed international airport in Malaysia. According to officials in South Korea, Kim was just about to board a flight. He was murdered with poison, as I said, in the airport. He actually even went to get help.
One official telling "Reuters" that Kim felt someone grab his face from behind and he fell ill and died on his way to the hospital. The airport's thousands of cameras helped officials track down one woman carrying Vietnamese travel documents.
But as we speak, there are two more women on the run that officials want to speak with. It's a stunning story.
And Paula Hancocks is OUTFRONT live in Seoul, South Korea.
Paula, I mean, this is incredible. I mean, one woman carrying Vietnamese travel documents arrested. Now, others. What is the working theory as to who was behind this murder?
[19:55:01] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, right now, officials are trying to find anything they can about this 28-year-old woman who was arrested. We know that she was on her own at the time that she was picked up. We don't know if she was trying to leave the country, but she was at the international airport with her travel documents on her.
And officials are also trying to see if there's any connection between her and North Korea. Now, the reason for that is Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of Kim Jong-Il. He was also at one time the favored successor.
Now, that all changed back in 2001, when Kim Jong-nam reportedly was caught trying to sneak into Tokyo with fake travel documents, so that he could visit Disneyland. He went into semi-exile shortly after that. And since then, he's been haunted by fears of assassination. That is
according to intelligence officials here in South Korea. They say that there have been a number of attempts against his life since Kim Jong-un took power in North Korea.
And they also claim that after one attempt in 2012, Kim Jong-nam actually wrote a letter to his half brother, begging for his life. Here's part of it, "I hope you cancel the order for the punishment of me and my family. We have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, and we know that the only way to escape is committing suicide."
Now, Erin, Kim Jong-nam also told a Japanese murder, he's never even met Kim Jong-un. He has never met his half brother. He says he doesn't believe he will ever secede as North Korean leader. In fact, doesn't even want to. Let's listen to more of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM JONG-NAM (through translator): Personally, I opposed the hereditary secession for three generations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: And as we speak tonight, we are expecting that woman who is in custody to appear in Malaysian court in the coming hours -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Paula. And, of course, as we know, two other women, perhaps on the run tonight, as we continue to cover this stunning story after North Korea's provocation with that ballistic missile test.
You are now looking at a live picture of the White House at this hour. President Trump at this very moment, having dinner with campaign rival, Marco Rubio. The wives are there.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Guess who's coming to dinner at the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sooner we get it over, the better.
MOOS: It's the former rival Donald Trump used to miniaturize.
TRUMP: I call him Little Marco, Little Marco.
RUBIO: He's always calling me Little Marco.
TRUMP: Little Marco Rubio.
MOOS: Better not call him that when Rubio and his wife join the president and his wife for dinner in the Blue Room. There is no orange room, yet.
RUBIO: Donald is not going to make America great. He's going to make America orange.
MOOS: And wait until President Trump has to hand over the salt.
RUBIO: And you know what they say about men with small hands. You can't trust them.
TRUMP: Look at those hands? Are they small hands?
RUBIO: Have you seen his hands? They're like this.
TRUMP: Little mouth on him. Bing, bing, bing.
MOOS: Little hands, little mouth? Both would be hard to ignore while eating dinner.
Rubio says this is mostly a social occasion. And after their ugly primary fight, Rubio did eventually endorse Trump.
Lately, the senator has been tweeting peaceful quotes, like this one from Lincoln. "We must not be enemies, though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."
RUBIO: He's a con artist.
MOOS: And what if Senator Rubio got thirsty and asked for more water?
Remember the last time Rubio famously reached out to wet his parched lips, and then Trump did this.
TRUMP: It's Rubio!
MOOS: His guzzling Rubio imitation.
But that's water under the bridge.
TRUMP: He referred to my hands, that they're small, something else must be small.
MOOS: At Wednesday's dinner, the only size that matters is the size of the entree.
TRUMP: I guarantee you, there's no problem. I guarantee you.
MOOS: Bon appetit.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: To be a fly on the wall.
We'll be back in 60 seconds.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Thank you for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night. Anderson's next.