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Investigations Into Possible Trump-Russia Ties Continue. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired February 27, 2017 - 15:00   ET



QUESTION: Maybe it would be problematic because they were illegally released before Congress actually gets their hands on them?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Whether -- whatever the leak investigation finds out in terms of who leaked information about what Flynn said, that's one thing.

But nothing in that should prevent the Congress doing Times Square investigation from finding out exactly what was said in that conversation. And, again, I can't go into any of the specifics about how that conversation may or may not have been recorded.

But I would not leap to any conclusion that there's -- there was illegality involved on behalf of the intelligence agencies. But, again, whether it was leaked or not leaked doesn't inhibit us from doing the necessary investigation we have to do.

Go to this gentleman, and then you.

QUESTION: Earlier, you said that the committee can't do the work of the FBI. So, are you investigating the FBI's investigation? And if that is the case, why wouldn't you wait until the FBI finished its investigation?

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, we can't do everything the FBI is doing, because we don't have the resources. And, frankly, we shouldn't attempt to do everything the FBI has done.

Indeed, when we look at the intelligence community's analysis of the Russian hacking, we're not going to be starting from scratch. We're going to look at the conclusions they reached, the raw intelligence they looked at. And, among other things, we're going to be trying to determine, did each of the conclusions they reach, were they supported by the actual intelligence?

We will go beyond that, but that's certainly an important part of what we're going to do. So, why shouldn't we wait until the FBI is finished? We have our own responsibility to the public to investigate what the Russians did, what impact it had, whether there were U.S. persons involved.

And we ought to conduct our investigation if the FBI is still doing one, contemporaneous with anything they're doing. But I don't think we can afford to say, oh, we will simply wait until you have concluded, run down every lead.

But I think we should, as a way of making our own investigation far more efficient, find out what's already been done.

QUESTION: But aren't you concerned that if there's an ongoing investigation which appears criminal in nature, that it could potentially influence the serious work of the law enforcement agency to kind of continually brief your oversight?

Not to say that you shouldn't do oversight of it, but it's if ongoing, wouldn't facts change, leads change, they get some information, they thought they knew one thing, something else, and then they're giving you periodic updates? Wouldn't that be the same problem that Comey ran into when he was talking to Congress about the e-mail stuff with Hillary Clinton?

SCHIFF: That is a concern.

And if I were in the bureau right now, the concern that I would have in terms of Congress doing its investigation from the perspective of our ability to prosecute people is, is Congress going to be leaking information and saying things that are going to be inhibit our ability to do our investigation, or are they going to bring in witnesses that may contradict what the witnesses have already told us?

I understand that concern. And, frankly, Congress can help by not talking about the facts as we're learning them. But the FBI has a responsibility to do its investigation for criminal justice purposes. We have our responsibility in the Congress to do our investigation for the purposes of determining, how do we protect our democracy? How do we defend our country?

And those can and will have to be done contemporaneously. But I'm sure that that is part of the concern driving the FBI. And, you know, we just need to be mindful of it. We have that same dilemma, frankly, when the House is involving ethics issues involving people, and Justice is doing their investigation.

And, in some cases, those investigations give the FBI more time to finish its work, and sometimes they don't. Here, the Congress cannot afford to wait, in my view.


QUESTION: Congressman, you said that the committee lacks all of the resources that it needs in order to -- or, rather, it doesn't have as many resources as other national security committees on the Hill.

Doesn't that handicap the investigation from the start, given the complexity of this matter? But, secondly, what has been the stated reasons as to why the Senate would not join up with the House (OFF- MIKE) committee to do this (OFF-MIKE)

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, does it pose a handicap to us? And the answer is yes. Now, on a bipartisan basis, we're trying to remedy that in part. And,

as I mentioned, the chair and I have asked for more resources for our committee. Frankly, though, those are resources that we would need even in the absence of this investigation, because when you consider the size of the agencies we oversee, and the level of our staff to begin with, it is very paltry by comparison to other national security committees.


So, even in the absence of this investigation, we would need more resources. With this investigation added on, it's all the more challenging for us, which is, you know, again, why I feel that it would be much more efficient for us to be working jointly with the Senate.

In terms of the Senate's perspective on it, you know, I would have to imagine one of the concerns -- and I'm just speculating here -- that the Senate may have is, if they feel their investigation is proceeding very much on a bipartisan fashion, and they're concerned that maybe the House isn't, they may have concerns about combining the two.

But I would hope both investigations can be done in a bipartisan way. And, again, getting back to your question earlier, Eli, we're going to be bringing in a lot of the same witnesses.

And for those who are in the I.C. doing foreign intelligence, it's not as if the day job has gone away for them either. You know, they only have so many resources to do counterintelligence. And they're going to be spending a lot of their resources coming into brief us. And I think it would also make their job a bit easier if we did it jointly, rather than separately.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you are watching there Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the ranking member on the House Intel Committee.

I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Brooke Baldwin.

And I want to bring in Evan Perez. He's our justice correspondent.

As we look at this, Evan, we also were looking at the White House briefing, where we heard Sean Spicer talk about this. We are hearing very different stories. But Schiff is saying that the committee has made no conclusion about contacts between the Donald Trump campaign back when it was the campaign and Russian officials.

Sean Spicer said there is nothing to investigate. The Republican chairman of the House Intel Committee, Devin Nunes, saying there is no evidence that would warrant an investigation, or there's no evidence that there's been contact backed up by this investigation.

Let's start -- why don't we do this? Let's start with what we know about what happened and the outstanding questions here.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this like one giant word game here is what we are hearing, if you listen to briefing, the press briefing this morning from Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and then the one at the White House by Sean Spicer, and the one done -- the one that just concluded with Adam Schiff.

Here's what the bottom line here is. There is a lot we don't know. And that's what the FBI, that's what the intelligence community are trying to get to the bottom of. Let's take what Sean Spicer says, which is, he was asked whether there should be a special prosecutor.

Frankly, it's a lot early to even be asking that question because the investigations are still ongoing. We don't know. There is a lot of questions that are unanswered. Sean very smartly said, well, what is there, what is there to see here? There is nothing to see here, let's move on.

That's pretty much the same question from Devin Nunes, which is, he says that there is absolutely nothing he has seen that indicates any contacts that are of concern and that he thinks there is no there there.

Now you hear from Adam Schiff. He says there are still a lot of open questions, and so the investigation should continue before anybody makes any conclusions. And I think that's the most important part of this, Brianna, because here's what we do know at this point.

We know, and CNN has reported, that there are contacts that have been found by investigators in the intelligence community. We know that it's being looked at. These were contacts by people who were outside the Trump campaign or people associated with the Trump campaign and people who are either Russian nationals, people who are connected to the Kremlin.

Some of them are people who are known to U.S. intelligence. Now, we have not reported that there were any Russian intelligence people in touch with the Trump campaign. That is not known.

That is very much what the FBI is trying to get to the bottom of. That's what the intelligence community is trying to get to the bottom of, whether or not anybody inside the Trump campaign knew about these contacts. We don't know. And so there's a lot of parsing of the language that's going on.

And I think certainly the White House would just like this to go away. That's one reason why last week after "The New York Times" reported some aspects of this and CNN did also, that they pressed Devin Nunes, they pressed Senator Burr on the Senate side, and the CIA director, Pompeo, to talk to reporters on background to try to help knock down some of these stories.

It didn't really work very well, because in the end there's a lot of questions that are still unanswered, and they could not answer these questions. And that's one reason why this story is still going to keep haunting them.

KEILAR: And, David Chalian, let's listen to how Sean Spicer described what was this orchestrated White House pushback on this concept where they were trying to enlist some allies on this. Here's what he said during the briefing.



QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) something strange about -- or something odd about the White House press secretary getting the CIA director on the phone to knock down a story about an investigation?


See, respectfully, using words like knock down, there was a story in a newspaper -- hold on. No, no, there was reporters coming to us saying there is a story out there, what's your take on it? And our answer was, we don't believe it's accurate. We don't believe it's false.

But, obviously, that's our take on it. And reporters were saying to us, well, is there anybody that you can point to that would substantiate this claim?

Now, remember, this all started with the FBI coming to us, bringing it to our attention saying that the story in "The Times" was not accurate, in fact, it was B.S. And all we did was simply say, that's great. Could you tell other reporters the same thing you are telling us?

All we sought to do was to actually get an accurate report out. And, again, I think Chairman Nunes this morning over and over and over and over and over again made it very clear that no evidence that has been brought to his attention suggested that reporting was accurate.

Respectfully, I think it's interesting that I'm being asked what is appropriate, when what we are doing is actually urging reporters to engage with subject matter experts who can corroborate whether or not something is accurate or not.

QUESTION: Should there be a special prosecutor? Darrell Issa has called for a special prosecutor to look into this.

SPICER: Right.

And my question would be, a special prosecutor for what? You know as I do that the intelligence community has looked at it as well. There's a big difference. I think that Russia's involvement in activity has been investigated up and down.

The question becomes at some point if there is nothing to further investigate, what are you asking people to investigate?


KEILAR: All right, David Chalian, you are listening to that. And, also, of course, there are guidelines that the FBI should not be in discussions at all, no matter which direction this went, with the White House.

What's your reaction to Sean Spicer giving that description and saying there is nothing the matter with what we did?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think a couple of things are going on in this story today, pretty important things, Brianna.

One, what Sean Spicer basically said there, two different things. One, he says there is nothing to see here, there's absolutely nothing to see here. He certainly hopes that that's how it plays out. That is not something he can definitively say right now, because there is not a conclusive investigation into all of this yet.

So, that may sort of come back to haunt him, that posture. The second thing he's trying to do is sort of just defend himself and the White House from collecting these validators in government to get on the phone with reporters and say, hey, can you help validate our take on the story?

I don't think that's as problematic necessarily, Brianna, for Sean Spicer as it is -- and you see the Democrats are now trying to take advantage of this -- for some Republicans on the Hill.

Look at what Dick Durbin said today, the number two in the Senate on the Democratic side, calling for an independent special prosecutor. Look at Chuck Schumer going after Senator Burr today, saying that Democrats on the Intelligence Committee are putting Senator Burr on notice.

And then what we all just watched here with Congressman Adam Schiff, who is saying there is no way basically that Chairman Nunes can say that there is no evidence, because not everything is in evidence yet and the investigation is ongoing.

I think you see here sort of a White House saying nothing to see here and Democrats really trying to ratchet up the heat on Republicans for either an independent or completely bipartisan, thorough investigation, and that it is too soon for anyone to sort of declare where that will lead.

KEILAR: And, Gloria Borger, when it comes to the FBI, you heard Adam Schiff there. He was pretty much questioning the impartiality of the FBI.

And you even heard a warning over the weekend from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was saying to congressional Republicans, essentially, be concerned about the perception of whether you are impartial here. Even if you are, the perception of this is very important about whether you weighed in to back up the Trump administration on this before there are conclusions.


And there was that moment that Sean Spicer described and has been written about with Reince Priebus after a meeting being pulled aside by the deputy director there of the FBI, saying the story is B.S., and then Priebus later on asking, well, how can we get that word out?

And the question is, of course, was that appropriate? Adam Schiff believes it was not. Was that appropriate for anyone from the FBI to give a heads-up in any way, shape, or form about an investigation that is ongoing, saying, oh, by the way we think this is garbage.

Many times, the FBI -- and Evan knows more about this than I do -- can be asked to sort of give guidance on where investigations stand, et cetera, et cetera.


But this is a little different. And not only does Schiff think that the FBI was compromised in some way, shape, or form, but also he believes that the new CIA director, Pompeo, whose name he raised, might be compromised, because he was asked by the White House to make these calls saying that there is no there there.

What Schiff is saying is, how do you know there is no there there? We don't know there is no there there. Have you concluded your investigation? So, you know, Schiff is trying to make the point that these agencies are getting ahead of themselves before the Congress, which does oversight on this, has been even able to start its own investigation.

And some of his colleagues, he believes, are just jumping to conclusions to clearly please the White House.

KEILAR: Brian Stelter, what -- and this is the case Sean Spicer is making? What is the problem with the White House putting reporters in touch with people who are in the know who can back up what the White House believes to be true, which is that this story is a nothing burger, whether or not, of course -- I mean, we should mention there are outstanding questions when it comes to that reporting. Evan has outlined that.

But what's the matter? Sean Spicer is saying, look, we are just doing our job as communications professionals trying to give reporters the truth.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Clearly, he doesn't believe anything inappropriate happened.

But the fact that this communication leaked out shows that someone somewhere does think it was inappropriate. Ultimately, as Gloria was describing, in the grand scheme of things, this is about how weak or strong the legislative branch is going to be as a check on the executive branch.

We know the legislative branch can be strong when it wants to be, but it doesn't always choose to be in these situations, so, clearly, a very big story that we are seeing developments on, even as it's incremental, hour by hour on this.

I just -- one thing Spicer said does not hold water. He said nothing new has come up on this story we have run for six months. He said, you all keep asking, but there's nothing new that is being reported. It's the same stuff we've heard over and over again.

With all due respect to Mr. Spicer, six months ago, we are in the dog days of August. The WikiLeaks stolen e-mail from Podesta hadn't come out yet.

KEILAR: Hey, Brian, I'm to interrupt you.

Let's listen to House Speaker Ryan and the Senate majority leader, just met with Donald Trump at the White House.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: ... in his speech tomorrow.

We're excited to have the president in the Capitol. We have got a lot of work to do, because we have to get on with solving people's problems. The goal of what we're trying to achieve is to improve people's lives. We have got a bold agenda ahead of us. And the president is going to lay it out and why it's going to make a difference in people's lives. And that's why we're excited to have the president come tomorrow.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think, for virtually all Republicans, the chance to actually do things that we felt would move the country in the right direction and have the president sign them into law is a pretty exciting prospect, so we're looking forward to a positive, upbeat presentation tomorrow night, and then proceeding with our agenda, which is exactly the same as the Trump agenda.


RYAN: Hang on. How about a hand? That was nice and patient.

QUESTION: A quick question on health care.

You have seen the town halls, a lot of frustration, a lot of fear out there. Can you promise and assure Americans covered by Obamacare that they will not lose their coverage? And when are we going to see your plan?

RYAN: Yes.

So, obviously, we are going to be rolling out our plan very soon. That's the legislative process.

Let's remember one thing. Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight right now. Plans are pulling out right now. Obamacare, to quote an insurance -- head of an insurance company, is in a death spiral. This is a rescue mission.

We have to step in and prevent Obamacare from getting worse, from collapsing. And we will replace it with a law that's better, that's more durable, that lowers costs, improves access to more affordable plans. But, more importantly, we're not going to sit in the government and

force people to buy something they don't want to buy. We are going to give people choice and freedom. And that's what a patient-centered health care system does. And that's one of the reasons why we must repeal and replace Obamacare. And that is top of our list this spring.


MCCONNELL: Maybe even more important than what the insurance companies think is what Bill Clinton called it during the election last year. And Bill Clinton said Obamacare was the craziest thing he'd ever seen.

Eight out of 10 Americans want it either entirely replaced or dramatically changed. The status quo is not an option. And what we will be doing is not the status quo.


RYAN: Dude, stop yelling.


QUESTION: Darrell Issa, as you know, has called for an independent prosecutor to investigate the issue of Russian interference in the campaign.

Do you think at the very least that the attorney general needs to recuse himself from decisions on this? And should there be a special prosecutor?

RYAN: I can't speak to that part of it, with the attorney general.

But the proper place, in my opinion, is the Intelligence Committees, because they're the ones who have access to methods of intelligence- gathering.


This is sensitive information that involves how we collect intelligence. That is why we have an Intelligence Committee that goes through the clearance process, that gets access to that information, which is conducting an investigation.

Both of our Intelligence Committees have been investigating all of these issues. And that's the proper place for that investigation.

QUESTION: Do you have a problem with the White House reaching out to the chairs of the Intelligence Committees and having them knock down stories on this?

RYAN: The White House should be talking with our members on a daily basis.

And our Intelligence Committees have been looking into this. Remember, the DNI under the Obama administration did a government-wide search on what happened with Russians' involvement. We know that Russia meddled in the election. No one is disputing that.

And this last government gave us that information in the first place. No one is alleging that some American was in on it beforehand.

QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, do you support the top-line budget numbers that came out today?

RYAN: Just heard -- the budget numbers. We just heard the budget numbers this afternoon.

The new OMB director, who is a former member of the House Budget Committee, just gave us the numbers today. We just processed them. We haven't even processed them yet.

As you know, with a new president coming in, you get top lines and then you get the budget later on. This is exactly how the system is supposed to work. We're very excited that they are actually giving us these numbers this early in the process, so we can move forward with processing our budgets.


QUESTION: Mr. Speaker (OFF-MIKE). Listen, you have talked about the need for entitlement reform in the past. The president has made clear he doesn't want to touch these entitlements. Are you comfortable with a budget that doesn't do that?

RYAN: Repealing and replacing Obamacare is fundamental entitlement reform.


QUESTION: ... an opportunity with this president for bipartisan relationship? We have had gridlock for so long.

MCCONNELL: Yes, I think so. And we haven't seen much of it in the Senate yet, but I'm hopeful the fever's about to break.

We will confirm the secretary of commerce today with a bipartisan vote. And I hope we will begin to move in the direction of getting back to some semblance of normalcy.

KEILAR: All right, you are watching House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell there walk back into the West Wing.

They just met with President Donald Trump. They were talking quite a bit there about Obamacare and about the budget.

But I also want to revisit this issue with Jim Sciutto now, talking about Russia and contacts, potentially, between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian officials back before Donald Trump came into the White House. Jim, you have been very busy going to various press conferences there

and pressing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about this issue. You have spoke to Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee earlier.

And you also were there talking to Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member of the committee. Break down for us where this issue stands.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, really, a tale of two realities in press conferences just a couple of hours apart on the Hill between two senior lawmakers who ostensibly are working together on the Russian investigation.

But this morning, we hear the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee say that a key question, a key suspect of these investigations, whether there were communications between Trump advisers and Russian officials and others known to U.S. intelligence during the campaign, that key question, Nunes says there is no there there, and he has been told that and really there is no need to investigate it further.

Then you have Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on this committee, call the press briefing just behind me a few minutes ago to say the opposite, to say, in his words, they not have reached a conclusion, and, again, in his words, that they could not have reached a conclusion on that key question because they haven't seen all the data, they haven't seen all the intelligence, the documents.

They haven't had key figures in this investigation, including law enforcement and intelligence officials, testify. So, you have the Republican chairman this morning saying there is no there there, and he has been told that.

You have the Democratic ranking member a couple of hours later saying we have not reached a conclusion and could not have reached a conclusion. That is a pretty glaring contradiction between the two leading members of what should be a bipartisan negotiation.

And one other point I would note, Brianna. Nunes this morning, and we were asking him about communications, the question of collusion, that's a farther step down the line. Just were their communications between Trump advisers and Russians during the campaign?

Adam Schiff used the word collusion. He didn't say any conclusion has been reached there, but leaving the open the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. That is remarkably significant. And it really raises questions about how this investigation is going to proceed in a bipartisan way if you have the two top members of this bipartisan committee contradicting each other even before that investigation has really started.

A remarkable couple of hours on this story and up here on the Hill.

KEILAR: It was, especially, as Schiff said, in order for this investigation to be successful, it has to be bipartisan and then essentially laying down a marker that made it clear it was not. [15:25:03]

Jim Sciutto, stay with us.

I want to bring in CNN political commentator Rick Santorum, as well as CNN political commentator Hilary Rosen with us now.

OK, Senator, weigh in on that and also this idea -- we certainly heard Adam Schiff raising the question of impartiality on the part of congressional Republicans and also on the FBI. And he even pointed out that when it came down to what we have seen Chairman Burr and Chairman Nunes do, which was talking to the media, he was saying, look, confirming or denying reports about this topic, whether there was Russian contact with Trump campaign officials, and he said that is revealing classified information.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think that's revealing classified information.

But let me just make a couple of points. First off, I would disagree with Jim in this respect. What Representative Schiff did was not contradict Devin Nunes. That wasn't the opposite of what Devin said. What Devin said there is no there there. That's true. He said there is nothing there.

What Adam Schiff didn't say, there is a there there. That would be a contradiction. What he said was, we don't know. And, by the way, we want to find out more. And we need more information.

But he didn't say that there is any evidence. In fact, he was pretty clear in stating that, so far, we don't have any evidence. But we need more. So, that's not a contradiction.


KEILAR: If Nunes was saying we cannot conclude that there is something, he was -- or if he was saying we haven't been able to conclude that there is something there, in a way, I guess you could argue they were saying the same thing, that this was sort of a process situation, because you had Nunes saying there's nothing...

SANTORUM: We have no evidence to date.

KEILAR: ... there is no evidence today.

SANTORUM: To date.

KEILAR: And you have Schiff saying that doesn't mean anything because we haven't actually done anything.



SANTORUM: But my whole point is, they are contradicting each other. It's sort of this -- they are saying the same things. They're just putting different spins on it.

One is saying, wow, yes, we haven't found out anything yet. But we need to find out more because we believe there is something out there.



KEILAR: Go ahead. Jim Sciutto, weigh in. Jim Sciutto, weigh in.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I take the senator's point, and he is a fair arbiter here, the senator's point being that neither side has reached a conclusion. That's true.

But the message from Nunes -- and I pressed him a number of times, as did my colleague Manu Raju and others, on this point -- was, he gave a clear indication that, based on his conversations with members of the intelligence community, that he was assured that there was no there there as far as these communications are concerned, really almost answering a question one of the key subjects of this investigation before that investigation has been completed.

That's Adam Schiff's point. Adam Schiff doesn't say -- certainly doesn't say, I have given any indication that there is no there there. In fact, he makes the opposite point, saying, we haven't seen the evidence or heard the testimony to make any such conclusion.


SCIUTTO: You could have a bigger contradiction, conceivably. But on that issue of whether it is an open question or a closed question, the Republican chairman virtually closed the question. The Democratic ranking member said, we have got a long way to go, not just on communications, but on establishing whether there is collusion.

And that's not just spin, in my view. It is a pretty remarkably different view of where the investigation stands before it gets under way.


HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and a different view of their responsibility. That's really the key issue.

SANTORUM: I would agree that there is a difference as to whether one believes it is an open decision or not and that there is a contradiction there.

But my point was that Adam Schiff, who has seen evidence -- let's be honest. He hasn't not reviewed a lot of evidence and been given a lot of counsel already by the intelligence community. But he did not say anything contradictory that in fact any evidence has been found.

In fact, all he said is, we don't know yet and we haven't heard anything as of yet. And that to me is very significant.

KEILAR: All right, Hilary, weigh in on that.


First of all, Congressman Schiff said that he hasn't seen the full report and he hasn't seen all the evidence.

SANTORUM: The full report.


KEILAR: He said he doesn't have documents, there haven't been witnesses, and there hasn't been FBI testimony.

ROSEN: That's right. Right. They have had a few conversations.

Now, here's the big issue, which is, the people who are politically aligned with the White House are trying to encourage people to move along.

And we haven't heard from Jim Comey, the head of the FBI, which is, I think, one of the most surprising things. His name hasn't come up all day today. We have seen Jim Comey in the past, when people have tried to short-circuit investigations, when people have tried to speak for the intelligence community, for conclusions around investigations, jump out there and say, no, no, no, let me give the full panoply of our evaluation and our conclusion.

Until Jim Comey does that here and does that forthright with the American people, we are probably not going to get a conclusion.

The second thing is, Democrats are simply saying to the Republicans on the Hill, do not be the White House's mouthpiece. You are elected separately to evaluate --