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White House Requests Probe Into Obama Administration; North Korea Fires Projectile Into Sea of Japan. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 5, 2017 - 18:00   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: You are looking at pictures of the president arriving at Joint Base Andrews after a weekend in Florida, a weekend that included him accusing President Obama of wiretapping his phones during the campaign, an allegation President Trump provided no evidence to support.

[18:00:06] Both his predecessor and former director of national intelligence say it's simply not true.

But the White House wants an investigation. Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying this morning, quote, "Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling. President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016. Neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted."

All of this amid new reports of rising frustration between the president and his staff over the continued talk about ties to Russia.

I want to bring in, CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones. She is live near the president's Mar-a-Lago estate.

So, Athena, what are you hearing about those conversations between President Trump and his team regarding their handling of these Russia reports?


Well, this is interesting. There was an animated discussion in the Oval Office on Friday. This was captured on camera. You could see the president's chief strategist Steve Bannon, he's also a top adviser, speaking animatedly to several people in the Oval Office.

And we've been reporting since yesterday that according to multiple sources, the president was angry on Friday, as he prepared to leave the White House and come down here to Florida. He was described as showing increasing flashes of anger over his senior staff and that includes also his press team and his communications team and their handling of all these stories about Russia ties or about Trump aides having ties or contacts with Russian officials. Particularly angry about the fact that the stories about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his contacts, his meetings with Russia's ambassador overshadowed what he saw as rave reviews from his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, that speech to a joint session that was well-reviewed. A lot of people saying he acted presidentially and it garnered some good headlines.

And he was also mad about nonstop leaks that he feels are undermining his administration. One source speaking of the president on Friday said that he, quote, "nobody has seen him that upset."

Well, just the last few hours, we have new reporting from my colleague White House producer Kevin Liptak who said the president's angry mood followed him down here to Mar-a-Lago, according to two people who have spoken with him at his resort in the last 24 hours. They say that in conversations, in casual conversations, the president has continued to express his frustrations with his team and his frustrations with their handling of the Russia story. Now, the president didn't direct that anger at any particular aid, but he griped that his staff had failed to contain the Russia story.

The president also angrily raised the wiretapping issue unprompted in his conversations with friends at the club. He didn't specify what information he was basing his accusations on, but he told those members what you said in the lead in to me. He told those members he expected an investigation to prove him right.

So, a very frustrated president right now. We are also seeing -- we have confirmed reports of staff members feeling -- facing intense moments. Some people leaving meetings in tears -- Pamela.

BROWN: And we see here on the other side of the screen from where you are, Athena, we see Marine One leaving with the president, as well as Steve Bannon, en route to the White House.

Athena Jones, thank you so much for your latest reporting there.

And I want to bring in my panel now. Kimberly Dozier is CNN global affairs analyst and senior national security correspondent for "The Daily Beast." Also with us, CNN political analyst Josh Rogin, he's also a columnist for "The Washington Post." And Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" and our senior media correspondent.

Great to have you all on.

Brian, first to you. You have some brand new reporting. What are you hearing?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Following up on what Athena was sharing about President Trump's mood this weekend, I was just speaking via e-mail with Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax. It's one of the conservative news outlets that's been covering Trump. Ruddy is a member at Mar-a-Lago. So, he was with Trump twice on Saturday.

According to Ruddy, he's never seen the president this angry, at least not in a long time. He described the president's mood this weekend as pissed. So, that's backing up the reporting from Athena Jones and Kevin Liptak about what the president has been saying to his friends and associates this weekend in Mar-a-Lago.

Now, he said, where is the president getting this information about this idea of a wiretap against him? There's no evidence for it at all. So, Ruddy said he does not know for sure. Trump wouldn't say what the source was.

But what he was describing lines up exactly with what Breitbart published on Friday. You know, our own Jeff Zeleny, Jake Tapper, others have said that it seems that the president's source for this was the conservative radio host Mark Levin, and then a Breitbart news story about these wiretap ideas and about this broader idea of the administration undermining him.

[18:05:09] So, here's what Trump said to Ruddy, quote, "This will be investigated. It will all come out. I will be proven right." So that's what Ruddy wrote for

Now, following up with me tonight, Ruddy was saying Trump seemed, quote, "so confident it was true and seemed to know the whole trails of the FISA actions and was recounting them to me."

So, the message from Ruddy, the takeaway from his conversations this weekend was that the president truly does believe that he was the victim of this attempt by the Obama administration to tap into his phones, that he believes it will come out eventually and that he is pissed about what's going on.

BROWN: And so, all of this still, you know, you have the question of where was he getting his information from to tweet out this accusation and White House staffers have been asked that. Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about the president making such serious claims without citing any evidence. And here's what she said.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: As you're always telling us to take the media seriously -- well, we are today. We're taking the reports that places like "The New York Times," FOX News, BBC, multiple outlets have reported this. All we're saying is let's take a closer look. Let's look into this.

If this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC/"THIS WEEK": The president of the United States is accusing the former president of wiretapping him.

SANDERS: I think that this is again something that if this happens, Martha --

RADDATZ: If, if, if.

SANDERS: I agree.

RADDATZ: Why is the president saying it did happen?

SANDERS: Look, I think he's going off of information he's seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential. And if it is, this is the greatest overreach and the greatest abuse of power that I think we've ever seen in a huge attack on democracy itself and the American people have a right to know if this took place.


BROWN: Josh, we should point out it's not true that "The New York Times" and other outlets reported that Obama wiretapped Trump. So, what do you make of this what you just heard there?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president is clearly very upset about the ongoing investigation into his campaign and administration ties with the Russians. He's latched on to this report as evidence of the conspiracy between the FBI and the Obama administration, and he's demanding -- he's put together a bunch of dots that it have not been supported by any evidence or proof and he's going with that. And he's -- now, he's created a situation where we all have to sort of figure it out.

And the first people that are going to figure it out are the House Intelligence Committee who are investigating the underlying accusations of collusion and now have to sort of investigate the investigation. So, in one fell swoop, the Trump White House has taken these unsourced, sort of anonymous, piecemeal reports, brought them to the fore, forced us all to sort of deal with them and then muddied the waters because no matter now what the investigation comes up with, they will be able to sort of point back to this and say, well, this was some sort of conspiracy between the Obama White House and the FBI.

And again, that's not really based on anything, but it creates doubt and that maybe the point of this.


STELTER: -- confusion benefits people in power, creating confusion.

But this is a complicated story no matter what. There were news reports months ago from "Heat Street" and "The Guardian" and BBC that perhaps some of Trump's associates, several Trump associates were going to be ensnared in a FISA order, so that perhaps their communications or their bank records were obtained by the U.S. government, at that time the Obama administration.

Trump, of course, going several steps further, saying that Obama was personally listening to Trump's own phone calls. There's nothing ever reported to indicate that. But because there are those reports from months ago that it sounds are going to Ruddy, Trump had heard about it, you can understand sort of a sick game of telephone how this has become confused, where, yes, there has been an investigation going on and, yes, the Obama administration was looking into this, and maybe some of Trump's associates were pursued in months ago. But then, it becomes something different, it's translated by Trump this weekend into something that has no evidence whatsoever. ROGIN: And we should also note that James Clapper denied today that

there were any FISA warrants and there's also reporting that by some outlets that FBI Director Comey is asking the Justice Department to publicly state that what Trump is claiming was true.

BROWN: Right, we're trying to get that. We don't have that reporting confirmed here on CNN yet.

But, Kim, I want to read this tweet from Congressman Ted Lou, a Democrat from California. He says, "Mr. President, if there's a wiretap at Trump Tower, that means a federal judge found probable cause of crime, which means you are in deep blank."

And so, essentially, what the congressman is saying is either the judge thought there was enough evidence to have your phone wiretapped, or the other option, the other alternative would be that Trump was simply wrong in making this accusation against the former president of the United States.

[18:10:10] Does he have a point?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it does raise the question as to whether President Trump understands how the process works, understands what it takes to get a wiretap on an American citizen.

But what this has effectively done is change the scandal from did the Trump campaign collude with Moscow against a sitting president to did a sitting president repeat the sins of Nixon and try to keep Trump from taking the White House. And that is going to work with his base and that's going to be something that we in the media have to chase, deal with and try to smack down, and ultimately the documents that would prove this isn't true are classified or don't exist and it would be up to Donald Trump to unclassify, declassify them because he has the ultimate declassification authority as the president if there's any sort of resolution to this.

BROWN: So, clearly, Brian, he has not been happy with the Russia headlines that followed his State of the Union Address that was widely praised. But does a tweet like that, or do these tweets basically accusing the former president of wiretapping his phone, which would have been part of this FBI investigation hypothetically into Trump associates, does it keep Russia in the headlines essentially, opposite of what the president wants?

STELTER: Right, you're right. It sort of does keep this entire issue in the headlines. But I think Kim is on to something really crucial here. We can't underestimate the potency of this story that President Trump has presented and that Mark Levin presented on the radio on Thursday, saying this was a silent coup, and then Breitbart advanced on Friday, and that the president himself on Saturday.

The idea here, the story line here that it's Obama's fault, that this is all Obama's fault. That you should blame the former president for trying to take down Trump. That is a very compelling story line. I mean, look at the millions of page views for those stories on conservative websites this weekend. That's incredibly compelling as a story if you are inclined to buy into it. If you want to believe that the former president is trying to hurt the new guy.

So, yes, it does keep Russia in the news, but it presents a really compelling talking point for Trump loyalists who believe their candidate, their man is being torn down right now.

BROWN: All right. Brian Stelter, Kim Dozier, Josh Rogin -- thanks for breaking it down for us. We appreciate it.

ROGIN: Thank you.

DOZIER: Thank you.

BROWN: And coming up on this Sunday, this father and his son's tragic story may present the president's best argument against sanctuary cities.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who do you blame besides the actual person who killed your son for the death of your son?




[18:17:04] BROWN: Well, there's plenty to watch out for tomorrow out of the Trump White House. We will be closely monitoring Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he submits testimony to a Senate committee. Back in January, Sessions told that panel under oath that he had not met with any Russians during the campaign even though he had met with the Russian ambassador at least twice.

Also on the radar, President Trump is expected to sign a new revised executive order that will try again to restrict immigration into the U.S.

So let's discuss all of this with the former Republican lieutenant governor of South Carolina, Andre Bauer, and CNN commentator and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona.

Thank you both for coming on.

Andre, let me start with you. Many Democrats see Sessions amending his testimony as admission he did not tell the truth. How do you see it?

ANDRE BAUER (R), FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Well, I don't know that a particular circumstances, but I don't think he would have lied a about it intentionally. It was an open forum. There was no need to lie about, were many people present, including news media in some occasion. So, it wasn't something he was trying to hide a secret meeting. This was a public forum in a government office.

So, there was no reason to. So, I don't know exactly what transpired, but it seems like he just may have forgotten about the meeting or didn't think this was actually a meeting on behalf of the campaign.

But again, I wasn't there. I don't know. I haven't talked to Jeff Sessions.

BROWN: So, Maria, as a Democrat, Sessions is amending his testimony. He's recused himself from Trump campaign-related FBI investigations. Is that enough for you?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that the fact that he recused himself and he's amending his testimony is proof that he didn't tell the truth the first time around. Let's look simply at what he said under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee, to the American people. He said that he did not have any conversations with any Russians, period.

He didn't say whether that was as a surrogate of the Trump campaign. He didn't say whether that was as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which by the way no other member of the Senate Judiciary Committee had a meeting with the Russian ambassador during the same time. Plus, it happened, Pam, during the time when Russia and possible connections between Trump and his campaign and Russian officials was front and center in the news. In fact, three days after Sessions met with the Russian ambassador and other purported Russian officials at the Republican National Committee, three days after that, Pam, Trump called on Russia to purport what is an act of war, which is to hack into a United States citizen's e-mail, Hillary Clinton, in this case, and release her e-mails.

So, this is way too close for comfort.

[18:20:02] I'm glad that Sessions recused himself and that he's amending his testimony. I think he should go under oath yet again to the Senate Judiciary Committee. And if the answers are not satisfactory, I think he needs to step down.

BROWN: So what do you have to say to those who argue, well, look, you know, Democrats have said they didn't meet with any Russians, in fact, they had? Nancy Pelosi as one example of that. Claire McCaskill initially came out and said she hadn't, and then it turns out that she had based on a tweet she put out.

So, what do you have to say to that argument?

CARDONA: So what I would say is, first of all, when they were asked about this, they were not under oath. They were not a part of the process to become a cabinet official where they are under oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And so, you know, what Pelosi situation was and I saw the picture of the meeting she had had, she wasn't meeting with the Russian ambassador per se. She was meeting with a bunch of other people with the press present, by the way, because there's a picture of it. And there was no reason for her to tell a lie. So the situations are -- (CROSSTALK)

BAUER: Nor was it for Sessions.

CARDONA: Completely -- so why did he?

BAUER: Think about that, Maria.

CARDONA: It's completely different here, Pam.

BROWN: Andre?

BAUER: They are not.

CARDONA: Yes, they are. She was not under oath. She was not under oath when she was asked the question.

BROWN: OK. But I mean --

BAUER: He was meeting as a member of the United States Senate. He had something to hide, it'd be different.

CARDONA: Well, maybe he has something to hide and that's why he lied.

BAUER: I guess that applies to Pelosi too whether she's under oath or not.

CARDONA: She wasn't under oath.

BROWN: Even if you're not under oath, I mean, is it acceptable?

BAUER: Exactly, my point exactly.

BROWN: Andre has a point.

CARDONA: She wasn't. She wasn't. She talked about this during her interview with Jake Tapper this morning in the "STATE OF THE UNION". She was in a huge group of people where the Russian ambassador happened to be. She -- it wasn't a one-on-one meeting with him. You know, again, it's completely different.

When Session was under oath, Pam, right, the oath goes do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It isn't, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and buy can tell us alternative facts if it you want to. That's now how it goes.


BAUER: But why would a guy --

BROWN: Quickly, because I want to go on to another topic before we wrap up.

BAUER: If a guy is under oath in front of his colleagues, being confirmed, there would be no reason to lie for this. I think he probably just slipped up. It wasn't like he had a special secret meeting. This was a meeting doing his fiduciary responsibilities as United States senator, meet with an ambassador and those are customary done all the time.

I mean, he knew this -- if he thought about this, he knew it would come back up and I can assure you, there would be no reason to negate not telling a congressional hearing this.

CARDONA: Being under oath and during the process of being confirmed is one of the biggest processes of your political career. I'm sorry, I don't buy that he wasn't prepared, that he didn't understand the question. Of course, you prepare for this. You know very well about that. And Sessions is much smarter than what you're giving him credit for.

BAUER: There would be no reason for him.

BROWN: Guys, I got to wrap it up. Thank you both. We have breaking news to get to. . Thank you both for that lively discussion.

We do have some news come into CNN. What appears to be another missile test by North Korea. The second test in the past four weeks and another foreign crisis for President Donald Trump to deal with. More on this right after this break. Stay with us.


[18:28:18] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROWN: Breaking news just into CNN. South Korea news agencies are quoting the country's military as saying that North Korea has fired an unidentified projectile into the Sea of Japan. And this comes almost exactly four weeks after the north tested a ballistic missile. That missile traveled some 300 miles before falling into the East Sea. You can see the range on this map right here.

I want to get right to CNN's Paula Hancocks. She's joining us on the phone from Seoul, South Korea.

What can you tell us, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Pamela, we have confirmed from the defense ministry officials that this, in fact, took place just about an hour ago. There was a projectile fired from North Pyongyang province, so it could be a land- based -- a land-launched missile, which then went into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

Now, we don't have details at this point on what kind of projectile this was, what was the range. This is what the defense ministry officials are trying to figure out now.

But what we do know is this is very likely to be in response to these joint military drills that the U.S. and South Korea are holding right now. These are annual drills. They go on for a couple months. Every year, Pyongyang is angered by them and quite often fires off a number of projectiles to launch their complaint about what they see as a dress rehearsal for an invasion.

Now, the U.S. and South Korea says these military drills are defensive in nature, but we are seeing this response from North Korea this morning -- Pamela.

BROWN: And just for context, Paula, I mean, how significant is this?

HANCOCKS: Well, this is still only the second projectile we have seen launched from North Korea since Donald Trump became U.S. president. There was relative restraint from North Korea just before the U.S. election and shortly afterwards as well. There were no projectiles, there were no missiles, and North Korea was really quite quiet. They were really trying to figure out what the North Korean policy of the new U.S. administration was going to be.

We heard officials saying, potentially, they wanted a different relationship with President Trump, potentially a negotiation. But now we see, after that missile on February 13th and now today, that it is been business as usual for North Korea. These projectiles are continuing.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And we see video here, moments ago, of President Trump on the lawn there at the White House, just landing on Marine One. We will have to wait and see how President Trump responds to this latest news.

Thank you so much, Paula Hancocks. We appreciate it.

And coming up on this Sunday, the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes region, and another place. What do these three areas have in common? They could all be targets for environmental spending cuts as the EPA faces the chopping block.


[18:35:17] BROWN: President Trump said this week that his first proposed budget will, quote, "make the government lean" just as Trump the candidate pledged. So what could be on the chopping block? The Environmental Protection Agency could see significant budget cuts, and that can mean layoffs and less money going to the states.

CNN's Rene Marsh reports.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's proposed budget could slash state grants aimed at enforcing environmental laws as well as regional programs that address specific pollution problems. A double whammy for some states.

Under the proposed EPA budget, some regions could get additional cuts. On the East Coast, grant money used to clean up the badly polluted Chesapeake Bay, the country's largest estuary, could be slashed 93 percent, with funding dropping from $73 million down to $5 million.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: OK. So we're having technical issues there for our report from our colleague Rene Marsh, but I want to discuss these potential cuts with the EPA as well as other topics with Republican Congressman Buddy Carter. He is also a member of the House's Energy and Commerce Committee.

And you represent the Georgia coast, of course, Congressman, so when you hear potential cuts to initiatives aimed at improving water and air quality, what is your reaction to that?

REP. BUDDY CARTER (R), GEORGIA: Well, first of all, understand that we're all in favor of clean air, of clean water, but the EPA is a blow to bureaucracy. I mean, you said, just a second ago, that President Trump is delivering on campaign promises. And that's exactly what he wanted to do and what he promised to do and he's doing that.

He promised that he would increase defense spending. And in order to do that, he's also, at the same time, cutting the budget of the EPA and trying to get them back to what is their core mission. And that's very important. Instead of them going out and trying to regulate mud puddles on farms or drainage ditches, they need to be focusing on their core mission.

BROWN: But there are other projects they have beyond what you just listed that do, you know, improve water, improve air quality. Are you concerned at all that that could suffer as a result of these cuts?

CARTER: I am confident the EPA can perform and deliver on what their core mission is with less bureaucracy than they have right now. They need to really be leaner than they are right now and do a better job. There's no question a about that.

And again, all of us want clean air. All of us want clean water. We're going to make sure -- and I would also hesitate to jump on this right now. This is the beginning. Let's be calm here.

I don't know that there will be as much cut as being proposed, but certainly, this is the beginning of it.

BROWN: And you have faced questions, some tough questions, at town halls recently about these cuts. Constituents are clearly concerned. So how do you think the people you represent will react if these proposals come to fruition?

CARTER: Well, I think they will understand. Listen, the coast of Georgia is my home. It's where I was born and bred. I love the area. I'm never going to do anything to harm our environment.

I'm going to make sure that we're protected, but at the same time, how fair is it for us to leave $20 trillion in debt to our children, to our grandchildren? We have got to start cleaning up this mess in Washington, D.C. and cutting these agencies and getting them to focus on what their original mission was. And part of that is to start with the EPA. I don't think there's any better place we can start than with the EPA. BROWN: OK. Congressman, I want to change gears and turn to another

topic we've been speaking about on the show, the President's unsubstantiated claim that President Obama wiretapped his phone during the election.

The Chair of the House Intel Committee, Congressman Devin Nunes, says this claim will be investigated. What is your reaction to all of this?

CARTER: Well, certainly, Chairman Nunes and the Intelligence Committee in the House, and I suspect the Intelligence Committee in the Senate, I know that they will do their job. I have the utmost confidence in them. The past session, I served on the Oversight Committee and we looked into a number of these things.

So, you know, it's a committee process in Congress, and when this type of things come up, I think that we owe it to our constituents to look into them. And I'm sure that the Intelligence Committee as well as the Oversight Committee will do just that.

BROWN: Let me ask you because the DNI former leader, James Clapper, came on one of the morning shows with Chuck Todd and said that there was no FISA warrant on Donald Trump's phone.

[18:39:59] If it turns out that this, you know, is certainly unsubstantiated, which is what James Clapper said and other U.S. officials we've spoken today, and the President made these allegations based on right wing media reports, in that alone, would that give you pause for concern?

CARTER: Well, of course, that's to be determined. I mean, we can get into speculation about what might be, what might not be. I don't think the President would have made this statement unless he had reason to believe that it was true.

At the same time, you know, yes, we need to get to the bottom of it. We need to understand it and make sure that we do everything we can to vent this and to vet it to make sure that nothing has happened. But at the same time, before we go into speculating what might be or what might not be, let's let the process run its course.

BROWN: All right. Congressman Buddy Carter, thank you very much.

CARTER: Thank you.

BROWN: And more breaking news just into CNN. The FBI pushing back against the White House and the President's accusation that his predecessor wiretapped his phone at Trump Tower. Fascinating new details about that, right after this break.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.


[18:45:04] BROWN: Welcome back. We have some breaking news on President Trump's unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor wiretapped his phone during the campaign. I want to bring in my colleague, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN's "CRIME AND JUSTICE" producer.

So what are you learning, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, quite a stunning sort of development here. It seems that, over the weekend some time, we don't know exactly when, but the FBI reached out to the Department of Justice, we're told by two senior officials, and asked the Department of Justice, refute these stories, refute the allegations made by Donald Trump that there was any sort of wiretapping of his phone during the campaign by the Obama administration.

Keep in mind, you know, the FBI and its Director Comey is very mindful of how his organization, how the FBI is being perceived through all of this. And the idea that, somehow, the FBI, working with the Obama administration, would illegally wiretap his phone concerned him.

And so over the weekend, he went ahead -- and we don't know if it was him specifically or someone else at the FBI -- called the Department of Justice and basically told them, we need to do something about this, and we need to refute this.

We don't know who in the Department of Justice the FBI spoke to. Remember Sessions, the Attorney General, you know, had to recuse himself from this investigation because of his meeting with the Russian ambassador. So we don't know who he spoke to.

We don't really know a lot details about the conversation. But keep in mind, I mean, this is a pretty big development, for the FBI to go against the President and to ask the Department of Justice to tell the President basically, like, we need to knock this down.

BROWN: Right. And as we know, rarely anything happens in the FBI without Director Comey's approval. He has not shied away from going solo without the support of the Justice Department, like when it came to the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. He came out and held that press conference and didn't tell the Justice Department about that. And then he went against the wishes of the Justice Department in reopening the case.

An indication why, Shimon, the FBI didn't just go ahead and put out its own statement saying that these claims are unsubstantiated. Have you gotten any sense from your sources on that front?

PROKUPECZ: Well, yes. I mean, no one really knows what Comey was thinking, at least they're not relating that to us. But I think, knowing Comey and as you know from covering this beat, he likes to keep himself out of sort of investigations.

He doesn't like to comment about investigations. He doesn't like to confirm. He doesn't like to deny investigations, even when he goes through for Congress. So he's very careful in terms of how he treads in these matters, and he certainly has been very careful how he's dealt with the whole Russia investigation and certainly with the people around Donald Trump.

I've gotten the sense from some of the officials that I've talked to that, politically speaking, he wanted DOJ to handle this because they have access to the President. Sessions was with the President over the weekend, but he couldn't have commented on this. So it's more politically, and I just think that it was because DOJ would have access to the President.

BROWN: OK. Shimon, thank you so much for bringing us the latest reporting there. So let's discuss all of this with CNN's senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes. Also with us, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter.

So, Tom, I mean, just your reaction to this. How significant is this, that the FBI asked the Justice Department to refute this claim by the President?

TOM FUENTES, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Well, I think it's very significant. And I've never heard of a situation similar to this ever actually. Thirty years in the FBI and, you know, dealing with the FBI in the eight years since retirement, I have not heard of a similar situation.

I think what's interesting here is the nature of the way that Director Comey sent the request to DOJ. In essence, the FBI has made a public statement that there's been no wiretap. So that's what you now have, the result of this. Whether it was intended or not, that's the main result of it, the FBI is saying, wait a minute, there's no wiretap.

BROWN: And I'll pose the same question to you I just asked Shimon. Why don't you think the FBI just went ahead and put out a statement saying that there was no wiretap?

FUENTES: Well, after the commentary with the FBI statements made back in July in relation to the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation where Comey received severe criticism for announcing that his recommendation would be no charges, everybody said that should have gone to DOJ for decision-making, including me at the time. But we had a unique circumstance of the Attorney General at the time saying, I'll go with whatever recommendation the FBI makes, and he made the recommendation.

[18:50:09] Now, in essence, you have a similar situation. You don't have an Attorney General that you can deal with on this topic because Attorney General Session's recused himself on matters relating to the investigation of Trump campaign people being involved with the Russians. So in essence, who is this request going to go to?

BROWN: That's right.

FUENTES: Because you don't have the full staff at the Department of Justice yet. So it's a good question, who are they going to ask now?

BROWN: So then, Brian, I mean, how do you think this is going to play out? Because, you know, there is the fact that Tom pointed out and I mentioned earlier, that Director Comey was very forthcoming when it came to Hillary Clinton probes and actually didn't tell the Justice Department he was going to hold the press conference initially back in July and then went against the Justice Department when it came the reopening the case.

So how do you think the way he is handling these two matters is going to play out?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: What are leaders in other countries thinking when they're hearing about this tonight? They've just heard the reporting you were sharing about this North Korean missile test. Then a few minutes later, they hear the head of the FBI was trying to get the Justice Department in this country to correct the President's misstatement.

It must be worrisome to leaders in foreign capitals. And you know, as we've seen developments transpire since 9:00 a.m. when Sean Spicer said that the White House is going to have no further comment on this matter until Congress investigates. You know, essentially, the White House was saying, we're going to ask Congress to find out if what the President said on Twitter is true or not.

It reminds me, in one way, Pamela, of President Trump's claim about voter fraud, when he claimed that 3 to 5 million people had voted illegally in this country on Election Day. That claim had absolutely no evidence because it's not true. And that bogus claim, you know, the White House then said it would have an investigation and will look into the issues. We haven't heard a lot about that investigation since.

Now, on this case, it's different. Leaders in Congress have said they are going to investigate what Trump said, in this case, on Twitter about this issue. But they are similar in one way.

When President Trump makes up claims about voter fraud or when he says these kinds about wiretapping, it actually affects people inside the government. In this case, it affects the FBI Director. It affects the Justice Department. When he says things about voter fraud, it affects the people who are in charge of enforcing and insuring and securing our voting system.

So his tweet, his sloppy or random or misleading tweets, they actually have effects. They actually have impacts. And I think what we're hearing Tom say, that he's never seen this before in his career is an example of how the President's tweets -- which can be really casual, right? We get our phone, we post a tweet, we think nothing of it.

BROWN: Right.

STELTER: Well, we're seeing the power of his tweets right now.

BROWN: And one thing is for sure, the FBI would know if there was a FISA warrant on Donald Trump's phone. I mean, that is for sure.

And so, now, you have the FBI wanting to knock down what the President tweeted and, you know, have the Justice Department say that it was wrong. And you have the former head of the DNI, James Clapper, also say he was unaware of any such wiretapping on the President's phone. So we'll have to wait and see how the White House responds to all of this, if they do respond. Brian Stelter, Tom Fuentes, thank you very much. We'll be right back.


[18:57:49] BROWN: And welcome back. The Trump stock market rally continues to steamroll with huge gains last week. So how long will it last and what's ahead for this week? CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans has a preview.

Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Pamela. What a week for the stock market! The big question now, can the rally keep going after the big gains and the high hopes we've seen since the election in November?

We're starting to hear some doubts from Wall Street pros about the recent gains. Goldman Sachs, in a research note, citing maximum optimism in the market right here. Also, the stock market has a big time birthday this week. Thursday, the bull market in stocks turns eight years old.

Some perspective, on March 9, 2009, the lows of the financial crisis, the Dow slipped below 7,000. Today, it has crashed above 21,000 -- 14,000 points in eight years. The blue chips have more than tripled in value.

The other major event this week comes on Friday with the first full month of jobs data since President Trump took office. We've seen steady job gains over the past few months, 227,000 jobs added last month. The White House is taking credit for that, even though it was mostly under President Obama. In any event, these new stats will be under President Trump.

And this Friday, we'll start that uphill battle to create 25 million jobs over the next decade. That's the promise President Trump has made. We'll need to see a huge economic boost to get there -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Christine Romans, thank you so much for that.

Top of the hour now, you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. We have a very busy Sunday.

Breaking news. Sources tell CNN the FBI asked the Justice Department to publicly refute President Trump's assertion that President Obama wiretapped his phone during the election.

This, as Donald Trump doubles down on those claims while still providing zero evidence. The President telling conservative website, Newsmax, quote, "This will be investigated. It will all come out. I will be proven right."