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FBI Went To The Department Of Justice And Requested And Asked Them In Conversations To Refute President Trump's Claim; Mexican Government Is Stepping In As Immigrant Citizens Here In The U.S. Grow Increasingly Fearful Of Deportation; Growing Concerns About Trump's Ties To Russia; North Korea, Just A Short Time Ago, Fired Several Unidentified Projectiles Into The Sea Of Japan. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 5, 2017 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: -- as press secretary officially calling on Congress to investigate saying in a statement 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 committee exercise their oversight committee 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 reports that the President spent the weekend incredibly frustrated that his staff had failed to contain reports about ties to Russia.

CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones is live near the Presidents Mar-a-Lago estate. Also with us CNN crime and justice producer Shimon Prokupecz.

First to you, Shimon. You have this reporting. What more are you hearing about this report from the FBI that the justice department came forward -- asked the justice department to come forward and knock down the President's claims.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Yes. Probably has never happened before, Pamela, as you know from covering this. It's a pretty extraordinary development. So sometime over the weekend, the FBI went to the department of justice and requested and asked them in conversations to refute basically President Trump to say, hey, this did not happen. These allegations that he's made that President Obama was involved in some sort of wiretapping of his phone.

By extension, I think the director was concerned that the FBI would somehow be blamed for this. And quite frankly, by this request, the FBI is saying this did not happen. We did not wiretap his phones. Yesterday we spoke with a former senior law enforcement official who had direct knowledge of the investigation from the department of justice. They, too, confirmed this never happened.

So today we are learning it's a pretty significant thing for the chief law enforcement officer to basically now ask for the department of justice to refute what the President is saying. BROWN: Right. So this is certainly not something that the President

wants as a headline. I imagine, Athena, and it comes on the heels of the reporting that you have that there has been frustration between the President and his team. The President expressed that frustration regarding their handling of these Russian reports. So what are you hearing?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Pamela, you are right. This is another bad headline for the White House. But I can tell you that since yesterday we have been reporting that the President was angry on Friday when he was preparing to leave the White House to come down here to Florida. He was angry at his senior staff, also with his communications team, his press team. He was described as showing increasing flashes of anger over their performance, particularly -- in particular he was angry about the handling of the story -- the reports around attorney general Jeff Sessions and his conversations with the Russian ambassador and the fact he had to recuse himself from the investigation into all of this. And he is concerned that those -- the focus on those stories overshadowed what he saw as very good reviews from his speech Tuesday night before joint session of Congress.

The President was also mad about nonstop leaks that he feels are undermining his administration. One source describing the President on Friday said quote "nobody has seen him that upset."

And now just today a few hours ago we have learn through my colleague White House producer Kevin Liptak that the President's angry mood followed him down here to Mar-a-Lago. This is according to people who spoke with him at his resort over the past 24 hours where he continued to express frustrations with his team and handling of Russia -- these questions about Russia ties.

They said his anger was not directed at any particular aide but he did gripe that his staff had failed to contain the Russia story. These sources also say that the President angrily raised the wiretapping issue unprompted in his conversations with friends and acquaintances. And while he didn't say what the information he was basing these accusations, what that information was, he did tell these members, these friends that he expected an investigation to prove him wrong.

So we are getting a little bit of information, a little bit of color about the President's mood over the last several days and it hasn't been good -- Pamela.

BROWN: It certainly has not. Athena Jones, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much.

This report no doubt helping his mood at all. And I want to talk about this with our panel, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen. He was an adviser to President Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. Also with us former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes.

So Tom, this request from the FBI to the department of justice to knock down this claim by the President, is this unprecedented? [19:05:09] TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I can't remember

another time when something like this happened. So I think yes, as far as I can tell it is unprecedented. But I think that, you know, it's interesting that what seems to be a request of the department of justice has actually knocked down the story. So it doesn't matter now that the department of justice concurs or not, and I'm not sure who would. Because if we have the attorney general Sessions recusing himself on matters related to the campaign investigations and all this related to the Russian investigation, then who is the request going to go to in the department of justice.

This is similar to what happened last July when attorney general Lynch at the time said that she will go with whatever recommendation the FBI makes. So yet again, we have a situation where we don't have a fully on board attorney general with regard to this case.

BROWN: And it's unlikely something like this would happen without the approval of the FBI director James Comey. So what do you make of this remarkable rebuke, essentially, David Gergen, from the nation's top law enforcement official, basically questioning the truthfulness of the President?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Remarkable, historic, never seen any of this before. You know, we saw early in the week with his speech to Congress that Donald Trump has the capacity to hit new highs in his presidency. But we are seeing at the end of the week that he can also sink to new lows.

He made history at the end of the week with these tweets. We have never had in any American history I can recall a sitting President accuse a former President of a crime. And doing so without a shred of evidence being presented to the public. And then the President essentially sneaks off the stage and says he won't take any questions about it. He doesn't want to talk about it and we are left hanging with this very bizarre story in which there seems to be no hard evidence so far that President Obama or any -- tapped Mr. Trump's phones or there was taps on Trump tower. Instead Brian Stelter said just in the last few minutes in your last report, Pamela, what we have is a President who makes something up or reads it from Breitbart and essentially throws it out there without evidence and asks Congress and demands the Congress to investigate. We have never seen that either.

BROWN: So director Comey, Tom, has not shied away from basically going solo without the support of the justice department we saw. And a couple of examples of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. So in this case, why wouldn't he just come out and say this is simply not true. The FBI was not wiretapping his phone.

FUENTES: Well, in a way he has. I think that's, you know, the essence of what's coming out.

BROWN: And he has because the media reported the request was made. But why wouldn't the FBI put out a statement? Why wouldn't James Comey come out and say something?

FUENTES: Because of what happened last summer when he was, you know, chastised for single handedly saying he wouldn't recommend charges, when that's really the purview of the department of justice. And technically, he would normally confer with the attorney general.

But as I mentioned, when the attorney general -- yet again we have an attorney general being removed, you know, by themselves from being in the decision making. So now who does he ask and where it go? You know, there's no indication? He doesn't have a deputy attorney general to confer with or seek permission. So I think that's interesting, you know, that he would just go ahead with this and put the request in a way that, you know, ensured that it would come out publicly within a matter of a day or two, which it has done.

BROWN: Of course the FBI would know if there was a wiretap, a FISA warrant on then Presidential candidate's phone. David Gergen --

FUENTES: I can clarify that, Pamela?


FUENTES: The FBI is the only federal agency authorized to conduct FIFA wiretaps, the only one.

BROWN: Exactly, which is what I'm saying. They would absolutely know. That's what I'm saying. The FBI would know.

So David Gergen, why wouldn't the President do, perhaps, a little bit more investigating? Why couldn't he see something like this happening where he makes an allegation like this and then, you know, his own agency, the FBI could knock it down. Because, of course, the FBI knows what the reality is?

GERGEN: Yes. And as Jake Tapper has been reporting from his contacts at the White House. They seem to be -- the aides of the President seem to be saying to him, listen, he picked this up from Breitbart. What a conservative radio commentator said, he hasn't picked this up from official government sources.

And so, you have you to wonder, Pamela, to your very good question. My sense is this is only an interpretation, that he was so frustrated and so angry that he has been looking for a way to go back on offense in terms of PR. He wanted to move the focus away from Jeff Sessions. He wanted to get away from what he thought was a bad story. He was angry at his people. And he came up with a way on Saturday morning to invent a whole news story.

BROWN: But is this the kind of news story? I mean, if this is an intent to distract from the past headlines, is this any better?

GERGEN: No. I think it is worse. I think it does no honor to him and does no honor to his office. I'm just astonished that we are here. I mean, we have never seen a situation like this.

What I do think is we are going to now have - we are going to have deeper investigations and intelligence committees. What's been interesting is the Senate intelligence committee is out front in terms of conducting an examination ahead of the house. And the senators saw on that committee so far have seen - they have seen no evidence of anything like this. They want to inquire about, but they don't know what like Marco Rubio says. I don't know what he is talking about.

BROWN: Well, I have to ask you this, Tom Fuentes, because as we have seen the President is not afraid to fire people. He fired Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general after she basically went against his travel ban. So it makes you wonder what's going to happen now in this relationship between the President and FBI director, James Comey. Do you think there will be any relationship left to salvage, Tom?

FUENTES: Good question. Again, this is uncharted territory. So it's a good question of what's going to happen in the days ahead in terms of all of this. And to David's point about the fact that there are numerous investigations, if they are going to be investigating whether there was a FISA wiretap on President Trump or his people, that's going to be a quick investigation if, in fact, there wasn't any and the director is about ready or has already stated there wasn't any. So quick investigation.

GERGEN: Is it possible there could have been anybody else who could have wiretapped, I mean, without authorization illegally? Is that possible?

FUENTES: Well, everybody under the sun illegally. Private investigators. And you know, you have people that could have done it, but that's a serious felony to engage in a wiretap illegally. Now, you know, it was alluded to by former director of national intelligence Clapper this morning made a comment about you could have other agencies. What he means is criminal wiretaps don't go to FISA court. They go to the chief judge in each judicial district. And those kind of wiretaps if it's based on criminal probable cause can be conducted by the FBI, DEA, several other federal agencies can conduct criminal wiretaps. But FISA is only exclusive domain of the FBI.

BROWN: And you know, to be clear, we don't know if there's FISA warrants on any associates during the campaign or if there was an investigation on someone who is living in Trump tower. But what we do know is that the President claimed in his tweet that Obama had ordered a wiretap of his phones. And now you have the former head of the DNI, James Clapper, saying that he wasn't aware of this. And now we have this new reporting from Shimon that the FBI asked DOJ to knock it down because it simply wasn't true. So a fascinating development in this story that developed as of Saturday morning with that tweet.

David Gergen, Tom Fuentes, thank you so much for your analysis. We do appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: And ahead this hour, breaking news. What may be another missile test by North Korea, the second in the past four weeks?

And another potential crisis for President Trump.

Plus frustration firestorm, the President venting anger at his Florida resort this weekend, after seeing the Russia story dominate the news cycle. New details on frustrations with his closest staff.

And later, leap of faith, CNN takes you on a curious journey into some of the world's most unorthodox religions. A sneak peek at "Believer." Don't miss this. You are live in CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:18:25] BROWN: And we are back with our breaking news in the CNN. North Korea, just a short time ago, fired several unidentified projectiles into the Sea of Japan. That's according to the South Korean military. This comes four weeks after the North tested a ballistic missile. That missile traveled some 300 miles before falling into the sea. And you can see the range on this map right here.

I want to bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks. She is joining us from Seoul, South Korea.

So Paula, what more can you tell us about these projectiles.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, we are learning that there are a number of projectiles. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has just commented on it saying there were four. And saying three of the four actually landed in Japan's economic exclusive zone. So this is waters that are controlled by Japan. They say they are gravely concerned by this. And it shows that North Korea is posing a new threat.

We also know from the South Korean military, the defense ministry official telling us they flew around 1,000 kilometers. Now, what we don't know at this point is what the trajectory was. We don't know exactly what kind of missile this was but certainly the military is looking into it and will update us shortly.

But the timing, of course, is always crucial with North Korea. Nothing happens by accident. It's always highly choreographed. And just last week we had U.S.-South Korean military drills starting. They are every year. They are lasting around two months. And every single year they anger Pyongyang. They see them as being a potential dress rehearsal for an invasion. The U.S. and South Korea said they were defensive in nature. But this is in keeping with what you would expect this time of year - Pamela.

[19:20:05] BROWN: All right. Paula Hancocks, thank you so much from this latest from Seoul, South Korea.

And coming up on this busy Sunday on the defensive Mexico formally opens immigration defense centers in the U.S. following President Trump's immigration crackdown. Live to Mexico City up next.


[19:24:35] BROWN: The Mexican government is stepping in as immigrant citizens here in the U.S. grow increasingly fearful of deportation. At the direct request of the Mexican President more than 300 workers will be hired to staff so-called immigrant defense centers inside Mexico's embassy and its consulates across all 50 U.S. states.

CNN's Layla Santiago is in Mexico City.

So how exactly would this work, Layla?

[19:25:01] LAYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. You need to think about this as the Mexican government kind of rallying all its supporters and putting it in one exclusive spot for immigrants who may need legal aid, who may just need support, need to know what to do in the event of a deportation or to look at their case in particular. And this is something that if you talk to the consulates, which I have talked to several of the really big ones in the United States, they say this is needed after President Trump's election. They have seen an increase not only in the demand for the consular services, but also if you just take a look at the number of calls. I mean, many of them have set up call centers to be able to answer questions, the questions that are coming in are what do I do if I'm deported, do I need to come into the consulate, things of that nature. And they are seeing quite the rise in demand at those call centers and at the consulate themselves.

So this is sort of a response to what could be more deportations or at least the fear of more deportations in the immigrant community. They are going to have attorneys there to provide legal aid. And if the Mexican government saying, hey, we don't want any human rights violated for our people in the United States.

And let me put this in perspective for you, Pamela. Just a few days ago the Mexican foreign minister is at the U.N. and said if there is any violation of human rights for all immigrants in the United States, we will seek justice. This something that has been a priority for the Mexican government not only the foreign minister but something that the President Enrique Pena Nieto has talked about in speeches, has tweeted about, has been very vocal as a priority for the Mexican government right now given some of the changes in the administration and White House.

BROWN: All right. Layla Santiago in Mexico City. Thank you very much for that, Layla.

And still ahead on this Sunday right here in the NEWSROOM, Democrats call it yet another President Trump conspiracy. Many Republicans meanwhile simply skeptical over wiretapping claims with Marco Rubio, one of the Republican senators leading the investigation told our Jake Tapper.

You are live with CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:31:18] BROWN: Welcome back. Republican Senator Marco Rubio did not answer when CNN's Jake Tapper asked him is Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak a spy, the same ambassador who is at the center of controversies surrounding attorney general Jeff Sessions. Well, Senator Rubio did open up to Jake Tapper about the role of foreign ambassadors in Washington. Take a listen to that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: We learned this week attorney general Sessions was in contact with Russian ambassador on at least two separate occasions during the campaign. This is the second time that somebody close to President Trump has spoken with the Russian ambassador and they have not been forthcoming about it. The other person, obviously, was General Michael Flynn, the national security adviser who had to resign as a result.

Why do you think senior officials in the Trump administration keep failing to be forthcoming about their communications with the Russians?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, I don't know about the others that you have mentioned, because I just don't know about who they met with and who they talked to. I can tell you about senator Sessions and I can tell you about ambassadors.

That's what ambassadors do. I mean, I meet with dozens of ambassadors a year and I run into them all the time. That's what they do. I mean, they are out there trying to reach to people and talk to them. And so, it is not unusual for a member of the Senate to meet with an ambassador.

Now, obviously, he in a Senate committee said he had not been in contact with anyone. That turned out to be inaccurate. And that I think was what became problematic in terms of the way he answered that question in committee.

I don't believe it was intentional in any way because at the end of the day it was not the kind of thing that Jeff Sessions does and it is not the kind of thing that would be easy to hide, nor would there be any reason to.

But again, I think we have gotten to the point of hysteria here. Lots of ambassadors try to meet with people all the time. I mean, I literally meet with dozens of ambassadors and so do most senators, especially those on committees that touch upon foreign affairs and foreign relations.

TAPPER: But as you point out the issue is not forthcoming about not the actually meeting. Have you ever met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak?

RUBIO: Well, I haven't that I remember now. But I really - but again, I'm the probably not the kind of person that they reach out to. But I have met with other ambassadors from other countries including countries that from time to time we may have strong issues here.

It happens. I mean, that's what they are here to do and that's what they try to do. And in fact, often when a new ambassador is appointed or a new senator is elected or if you get appointed to a committee they try to reach out proactively and meet with you. We haven't had a lot of connections with the Russians. But I imagine that some of that is a probably think I'm a lost cause in terms of talking to on some of these issues, but we meet with dozens of ambassadors every year.

TAPPER: U.S. intelligence officials, of course, say that Kislyak is not just an ambassador, he is also a spy and a recruiter of spies. You are on the Senate intelligence committee. Is that your understanding?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not going to get into what the intelligence committee assesses on anything. Suffice it to say that it's not a mystery to anyone that, and I'm not talking about him in particular, just in general, that virtually every embassy in Washington D.C. has some intelligence components associated with it. And that's just the nature of diplomatic facilities not just in Washington but all over the world.

But in the end, again, I go to reiterate the point I made earlier and it's this. Ambassadors try to meet with senators and congressmen and people on the Hill all the time. It is what they spend a significant amount of their time doing. That is their job. It is not unusual that an ambassador would meet with a senator on both side of the aisle as has been the case here by the way.


BROWN: Republican Senator Marco Rubio there suggesting that President Trump may have information that is not yet available to members of the Senate intelligence committee or to the public for that matter. But now we are getting this news that the FBI says it's wrong and asks the justice department to knock it down.

So I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem, our national security analyst. Also political commentators Maria Cardona and Jeffrey Lord.

More about reviews and comments in just a moment. But this is more pressing right now. Just in to CNN, what I mentioned there, the FBI reportedly demanding the justice department probably reject President Trump's the claim that his phones were ordered tapped last year by then President Barack Obama.

Juliette, how significant is this demand from the FBI?

[19:35:24] JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's significant and it's unique. I mean, obviously, FBI director Comey could do it himself, as he did last summer, and discuss whether an investigation is or isn't occurring. But I think what you saw over the course of this weekend is a real concern by the intelligence and law enforcement agencies that regardless of the substance or veracity of what Donald Trump said that it's legally impossible for a President to direct wiretaps. I mean, it's just a falsity and we just need to call it that.

And so, FBI director Comey wants to make it clear that such a wiretap exists only with approval by the department of house and surveillance (INAUDIBLE). I served at the department of justice. I know that court, the rigorousness of that court. And so, in some ways it was just sort of a legal fact check because it is quite disturbing for the FBI, for a President to think that not -- that the previous President used it, but also possibly maybe a little bit of a gut check to President Trump that the FBI will not be used like that in this administration.

BROWN: But to be clear, I mean, beyond just the fact that the last President couldn't order a wiretap, we are reporting this that the FBI wanted justice department to knock down the notion that then candidate Trump's phone was wiretapped at all, beyond President Obama.

So let me ask you this, Jeffrey Lord. Given the fact the FBI, which would know if President Trump's phone was wiretapped and saying it's not true, does President Trump owe President Obama an apology for making this outlandish claim?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think it's outlandish. And I don't think he owes them an apology. I think what we need is an investigation. Everybody is clamoring for an investigation, I'm there. I'm looking at a "New York Times" story.

BROWN: But Jeffrey you have the FBI saying it's not true.

LORD: Wait, wait. A "New York Times" story, "New York Times" that says intercepted Russian communications part of inquiry into Trump associates. Well, now, why in the world is the Obama government investigating Trump associates? Those are their political opponents. How does that happen? I want to know.

BROWN: There is a big difference between the FBI investigating associates for reasons. And we are not -- we don't see everything behind the scenes of the FBI. And the FBI wiretapping a Presidential candidate's phone, which is what he alleged.

LORD: Pamela, (INAUDIBLE) opponent, period.

BROWN: That is not true.

KAYYEM: That's not what they did, Jeffrey.


BROWN: Go ahead, Juliette.

KAYYEM: I just want to clarify the scope with foreign intelligence surveillance act. I understand why Jeffrey needs to say what he is saying, but I think it is very, very important that people understand the legal framework by which very important national security cases are investigated.

And so to make an allegation that simply because Trump associates who may have been, may have been part or communicating as a course of a foreign intelligence surveillance wiretap is actually regardless of your politics, it actually would have had to have been approved by a court. So either you believe Jeffrey's or the Republican theory, which is any Republican doing anything, right, would never be allowed to be investigated, which is, I think, the sort of logical conclusion.

LORD: Why does the --? KAYYEM: This is where we'll agree, that there has to be a thorough

investigation. And if you want to throw in to this investigation this notion, like, you know, out of nowhere that somehow the President directed the foreign intelligence, let's go ahead. Let us do it because I have quite major confidence in the national security and intelligence process to know that Trump will be the one sinking based on these allegation, not a question about the foreign intelligence surveillance court. So I think there, Jeffrey, and I would agree.

BROWN: Jeffrey? And I will get to you in a second, Maria. I want Jeffrey to respond, though.

LORD: There has to be an investigation here. But to say that the President knew nothing here, this is published in the "New York Times." And there are other stories as Marco (INAUDIBLE) has noted in the "Washington Post" that suggest that the President of the United States and his communication staff -


BROWN: Let me be clear, there's a big difference. We have to deal with facts. There's a big difference between the President being aware of something because it's in the "New York times" and the President ordering a wiretap of a Presidential candidate's phone which is what --.

[19:40:05] LORD: I'm saying if the "New York Times" and "Washington Post" were not dealing with facts.

BROWN: No, no, no. What "the Washington Post" and "New York Times" reported is fundamentally different from the allegation that President Trump made on twitter yesterday. He is alleging not only the former President ordered a wiretap of his phone but that his phone was wiretapped.

LORD: Investigation into a potential President, are you kidding me in this is what is arguably --

BROWN: Right. And the FBI is saying it is not true. The FBI are now reporting and saying it's not true. So I just want to make sure.

LORD: Is that what you're saying/

BROWN: For the President's phone. I can't speak for anything else. But our reporting is that on the President's phone there was no FISA warrant. We can't speak to his associates.

LORD: FISA request? Yes or no. There were.

BROWN: Our reporting is that all of this is not true, Jeffrey Lord.

Go ahead, Maria, I want you to jump in and get a word in because he is saying that President Trump does not owe President Obama an apology. What do you think about that? And do you think President Obama needs to personally speak out about this? MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think President

Obama spokesperson has said very clearly that it is just simply false. I don't think President Obama needs to get involved in this childish, ridiculous, reckless behavior that Trump is now engaged in, which frankly goes to exactly why the majority of Americans believe this is not a man that is fit for the presidency of the United States.

And to Jeffrey Lord's point in the "New York Times" January 19th story, that talked about intercepts of phone calls between Trump aides and Russian officials. Well, guess what, Jeffrey, did you ever think that the United States was actually tapping Russian officials because that's what they do in the intelligence community? And so therefore -- and so therefore the conversation -- they picked up conversations between Trump aides and Russian intelligence officials.

And so what this goes to, though, what this goes to, Pam, is clearly this is yet another in a long string of blatant outright lies that Trump has got to say publicly when he feels squeezed, when he is feeling with his back against the wall, when everything Russia gate is clearly bothering him. He didn't get a bump out of his so-called Presidential speech this past Tuesday, because just a day later he realized that his own attorney general had lied under oath and was under scrutiny and was going to have to recuse himself and perhaps resign.

BROWN: We say lied under oath, because he says that's not -- we don't know that.

CARDONA: We actually do because we have his words -- we have his words and we know that the words under oath --


CARDONA: We know that the words he uttered under oath aren't true. That's called lying.

BROWN: -- his testimony tomorrow.

So let me just bring you back in, Juliette, because we now have this extraordinary development in this story that began yesterday morning with President Trump's tweet where the top law enforcement official is essentially asking the justice department to publicly knock down what the President is saying. What are other countries around the world thinking about this?

KAYYEM: It is so funny, I just got off of CNN international. And let's just say your allies at CNN, your international hosts are, I think, somewhat dumbfounded both by what's going on.

And I would say CNN international, just to remind people, CNN international is leading actually with the North Korea story. That this for international, there are real things going on in the world which, you now.

Look, this is a crisis this weekend that was generated by tweets. This isn't a real crisis. I mean, it's a crisis in a sense, you know, who knows where this investigation goes. But most of us in national security and homeland security are sitting here saying, something will happen. It happens to every President. And you know, sometimes it's no one's fault, a hurricane even, a natural disaster, let alone a North Korea event or terrorism event. And so, just to remind us, the world is looking at this -- I think the host object CNN international used the word incredulous I think to describe global --

CARDONA: It is embarrassment what we should feel in the United States about how President Trump is behaving in office.

BROWN: All right. Wow, what a discussion with the three of you all.

Thank you as always, Juliette, Maria, and Jeffrey.

[19:45:05] LORD: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: We appreciate it. Have a great rest of your Sunday.

And coming up right here in the NEWSROOM, it appeared to be an increasingly cozy relationship, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. But new signs indicate this honeymoon is over. Our Nic Robertson takes us to Moscow up next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:49:34] BROWN: A bright person, very smart and a great leader. All words we have heard President Trump use to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin. But now with growing concerns about Trump's ties to Russia, could the country relationship between the two be on the rocks?

Here's CNN's Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on the phone): Around the U.S. election Donald Trump fever hit Moscow. Matryoshka dolls in his likeness on sale at the shadow of the Kremlin and plenty of face time on Russian media.

[19:50:05] DMITRI TRENIN, CARRAGIE INSTITUTE: He ordered, Putin, ordered the tone of the state-controlled media, particularly television in Russia to be more friendly toward the Trump administration.

ROBERTSON: Veteran commentator Dmitri Trenin says Trump's popularity in Moscow was overdone.

TRENIN: I think there was a lot of hype in the U.S. media about the relationship about the bromance. I don't know where people got that from.

ROBERTSON: If there was a bromance, the last 40 days have called the ardor. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love to negotiate

things. I do it really well and all that stuff, but it's possible I won't be able to get along with Putin.

ROBERTSON: Then came the tumult over who in the Trump camp met the Russian ambassador and why media vandalism say officials in Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop spreading false news.

ROBERTSON: And some hardline comments by U.S. officials on Russia's seizure of Crimea and its meddling in Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia.

ROBERTSON: A quick scan of the newspapers here reveals a lot less Trump and a lot more Putin and reflects frustrations at the Kremlin of what officials describe as an emotionally charged atmosphere in Washington and mixed signals from the new administration.

But also full of questions. The increase President Trump wants in U.S. defense spending $54 billion, that's as much as the entire Russian defense budget. Moscow also wants an understanding over Syria, but doesn't know what it's going to get. Some expect old rivalries to win out.

PAVEL FELGENHAUER, DEFENSE ANALYST: The difference is the invested interest between Moscow and Washington are too important especially with the military industrial complexes on both sides.

ROBERTSON: Maybe expectations were too high.

TRENIN: What the Russians wanted from the U.S. ideally would have amounted to a foreign policy revolution in the U.S., something not to be had.

ROBERTSON: The history of the relationship has always been one of twists and turns, but the view from Moscow looks less than euphoric.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Moscow.



[19:56:36] BROWN: Well, tonight CNN debuts a new original series called "Believer." For this series, Reza Aslan heads to India and he learns about a religious sect called Agori. They are groups seeking to transform India into a caste-free society. Here is a look.


REZA ASLAN, CNN HOST, BELIEVER: Dr. Prabhal Pratap Singh is a second- generation Agori and a doctor at this clinic.

DR. PRABHAL PRATAP SINGH, LEPROSY CLINIC: Before Baba, the leprosy patients, they were kind of untouchables. They were a condemned lot. People think they are not curable. So they were abandoned by the family members and they would ultimately die. So when Baba came by treating those patients and giving them self-respect and they are a human being and he said that leprosy is not untouchable. By just touching a leper patient you cannot contaminate infection. He gave this concept and then he started treating.

ASLAN: Well, it's not just the fear of infection. It's just a fear of pollution, as well. They were seen as unclean and pure and there, of course, the foundation of Agor philosophy is there is no such thing is unclean and there is no such thing is un-pure.

SINGH: In the agor system there is nothing called untouchables.

ASLAN: You feel like agor philosophy can actually change Indian society.

SINGH: I sincerely believe because here everybody is equal. We are trying to convert the society into a caste-free society.

ASLAN: It's funny. Everybody talks about putting their faith into practice that religion is supposed to be not just the things that you believe, but the things that you do. You want to know what putting your faith into practice looks like? This is what it looks like.


BROWN: And the host of CNN's "BELIEVER" Reza Aslan joins me now.

Great to have you on, Reza. So what was the most striking thing you learned about India's caste system about working on this?

ASLAN: Well, the most striking thing is the fact that Hindus, very devout Hindus on both sides of the aisle are using their religion to prop up the caste system or to tear it down. And I think that tells you a lot about religion in general. You know, there are so many misconceptions about religions these days and a lot of demonization of people of different kinds of religious traditions based on the actions of a few to extremes. But I think what I'm trying to show with this episode is that beyond all that external stuff there is a lot about our faiths that we hold in common and the agori which may seem scary a little bit have at the heart of their faith something that I think anybody, regardless of whether you are religious or not can latch on to which is the equality of all human beings.

BROWN: And what do you hope this will -- this series will teach viewers?

ASLAN: I think each one of these episodes will introduce you to a religious community that may at first seem a little bit frighten, a little bit scary, maybe a little bit exotic. But through my immersion into these community, through my journey as I get to know more about them, you are going to suddenly discover that you probably have a lot more in common with these people that you thought were so different from you than you actually thought. And I think especially nowadays that's not such a bad lesson to learn. If you can do it for a 44- minute TV show then maybe you can do it in your life and in your communities.

[20:00:01] BROWN: Yes. Well, that is certainly a fair point.

Reza Aslan, thank you so much for that.

And CNN's new Original Series "BELIEVER" airs tonight at 10:00 eastern.

And the next hour of NEWSROOM starts now.