Return to Transcripts main page


FBI Investigating Computer Connection Between Trump Organization, Russian Bank. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 10, 2017 - 07:00   ET


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: ... are asking was there collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians?

[07:00:05] MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're well on our way to a better healthcare future.

SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITOL (R), WEST VIRGINIA: The expansion of Medicaid is tremendously important.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is a once-in-a- lifetime community.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: We told them we were going to repeal Obamacare. This bill is not that.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Active duty Marines and veterans accused of sharing explicit photos of their female counterparts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could conceivably lead to service members being court-martialed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's embarrassing to our corps. I don't think such behavior is that of true warriors.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: All right. Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY.

Up first, FBI Director Jim Comey meeting behind closed doors with eight powerful lawmakers known as the Gang of Eight, because they have access to the nation's most sensitive data. That information, dealing with Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. election, is also expected to be shared soon with the entire Senate intel committee.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, CNN is learning that federal investigators are continuing to examine whether there was a computer server connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. One U.S. official calls it, quote, "odd."

And meanwhile, all of this is unfolding as the healthcare battle on Capitol Hill shifts into high gear. So we are entering day 50 of Donald Trump's presidency, and CNN has every angle covered, beginning with Joe Johns, live at the White House. Good morning, Joe. JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Lawmakers have clearly picked up the pace in their investigation into Russia's interference in the last election. Questionable contacts with the Trump campaign and, of course, leaks. But the question is the extent to which the FBI director is willing to tell them all he knows.


JOHNS (voice-over): FBI Director James Comey heading to Capitol Hill as tension builds between the Justice Department and lawmakers over President Trump's unsubstantiated wiretapping claims.

The Justice Department under pressure to deny or provide evidence of the president's allegation. Comey meeting with the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group of lawmakers cleared to receive access to the nation's most highly classified intelligence.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: As part of the Gang of Eight, we want to be informed on a periodic basis.

JOHNS: This intelligence now said to be extended to all 15 members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Prior to the meeting, the House Intelligence Chairman and the committee's top Democrat both taking issue with Comey, saying he hasn't been forthcoming with intelligence regarding Russia's interference in the election.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: Clearly, we have some questions about whether or not last year we were read into everything that we should have been read into.

SCHIFF: There's no way that we can discharge our responsibilities if the FBI isn't willing to cooperate with us and tell us about any counterintelligence investigation that is going on.

JOHNS: Congressman Adam Schiff accusing Comey of stonewalling in a briefing last week.

SCHIFF: There were very large areas that were walled off, and those walls are going to have to come down if we're going to do our job.

JOHNS: But the Justice Department continues to decline comment on whether President Trump is or is not the subject of an investigation, once again, leaving his press secretary, Sean Spicer, spinning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Justice Department is saying, though, that they never gave you the assurances that you gave us.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: OK. What the assurance I gave you, Margaret, was that I'm not aware. And that is 100 percent accurate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when you said no reason to believe, it was "I'm not aware..."

SPICER: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "... there's an investigation"?

SPICER: I mean, I don't know that they're not interchangeable. I'm not aware; I don't believe. Look it up in a thesaurus, and find some other ways, but I don't know that there's a distinction there.


JOHNS: The president meeting today with his homeland security secretary and his CIA director. And journalists could have an opportunity to toss a couple of questions to the president. We'll see him for the first time this week at a pair of photo ops -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much for that.

CNN is reporting some new information there -- this is about a possible link between computer servers belonging to a Russian bank and the Trump Organization. CNN correspondent Pamela Brown and Jose Pagliery broke this story. So let's go first to Pamela. She's live in our Washington bureau with all of the details.

What have you learned, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we've learned the FBI probe remains open into a possible computer connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank called Alfa Bank. This is according to several sources familiar with this investigation.

Now this is the same server mentioned in a Breitbart article that a White House official said sparked President Trump's series of tweets last Saturday, accusing investigators of tapping his phone. And we were told that there was no FISA warrant on this particular server.

Questions about the connection between the server and the Russian bank were widely dismissed four months ago as an attempt by Alfa Bank to block spam. But we have learned that the FBI's counterintelligence team, the same one looking into Russia's suspected interference in the 2016 election is still looking into it.

One official I spoke with said the server relationship seems odd, and investigators are not ignoring it. But the FBI still has a lot more work to do to determine what was behind the unusual activity and whether there's any significance to it.

[07:00:13] The FBI declined to comment, and the White House did not respond to our request for comment -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, let me bring in Jose -- Jose, the relationship seems odd, as Pamela just said. What was particularly odd?

JOSE PAGLIERY, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: So what's odd about this is this is technicality, nothing nefarious. What's odd is that communication that this Russian bank had was repeatedly looking up the unique Internet address of a particular server in the U.S. And this server was being used by the Trump Organization.

In this computer world, this is what it's like. It's equivalent to looking up someone's phone number. You keep looking it up over and over again. And so why there isn't necessarily evidence of a phone call, it usually indicates an intention to communicate. That's what several computer scientists are telling us.

Now one group of computer scientists who obtained these leaked Internet records, records that were never, ever supposed to be made public. These were private records. They were puzzled as to why a Russian bank would be doing this. Their guess was maybe it was trying to send an e-mail to the Trump Organization, but they couldn't tell.

Now last summer -- just remember when this was -- during the presidential campaign, the Russian bank looked up the address of this Trump corporate server 2,800 times. Two thousand eight hundred times. That's more lookups than the Trumps have received from any other source. The only other entity for doing so many Internet lookups for this server was Spectrum Health, a medical facility chain led by Dick DeVos, the husband of Betsy DeVos, who was later appointed as U.S. education secretary by President Trump.

Those two entities alone made up a whopping 99 percent of the look- ups. Just those two. Now computer scientists we spoke to found that very weird.

All the corporations involved of course, said they never communicated with the Trump Organization by e-mail, and they have different explanations for why this might have been happening. But they haven't provided any proof, and they don't agree on what the story is. For example, the Russian bank thinks it was receiving Trump e-mail marketing from their Trump Hotels. But last summer, it hasn't provided a single e-mail to back that up. In that time period, they can't find an e-mail that explains that.

Meanwhile, the American marketing company that would have been sending those e-mails from the Trump Organization said it wasn't doing that at the time. Alfa Bank has stressed that none of its executives have had any affiliation at all with President Trump or the Trump Organization. So what we've got left is a mystery. Not nefarious activity, just questions and no answers.

CAMEROTA: So obviously, this is going to require more reporting. We're very glad that you're on top of it. Thank you, Jose and Pamela, for sharing your reporting with us this morning -- Chris.

CUOMO: So we have these very heavy political questions about contact with Russia, and you have very heavy policy questions going on right now. The healthcare battle on Capitol Hill is heating up.

Sources tell CNN the White House is privately backing an earlier rollback of Medicaid expansion. That would be a major win for the most conservative members of Congress.

Let's bring in one of them: Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, the co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, opposed to the healthcare bill as is. He met with the president yesterday. Congressman, always a pleasure to have you on the show.

JORDAN: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: All right. So let me give you a little refresher on sound by the speaker of the House about where he sees this moment sir.


RYAN: This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare. The time is here. The time is now. This is the moment, and this is the closest this will ever happen. It really comes down to a binary choice.


CUOMO: Speaker Ryan, channeling Macklemore there: "Tonight is the night. We'll fight until it's over. So we put our hands up." The ceiling line not as relevant from that song to this current situation, but he's trying to make you guys feel like you can blow this. Get on board with this plan. It's better than what's there now, and if not, you are with Pelosi and Obama. Do you accept that?

JORDAN: No, we're with the American people. We're going to do what we told them we were going to do. And just set this up as a binary choice. We just got this bill 72 hours ago. The American people first saw this bill 72 hours ago. And to say that we can amend it, change it and make it right, that just doesn't make sense. That's not how the legislative process works.

I represent three quarters of a million people in the 4th District of Ohio. They want me to weigh in. I'm not on the Energy and Commerce Committee. I'm not on the Ways and Means Committee, and I'm not on the Budget Committee.

So we want to -- we want to influence this bill, change this bill, make this bill consistent with what we told the voters we were going to do. I bet there's a lot of members, in fact, I know there's a lot of members who don't want this binary choice. They want a way in and be part of the legislative process.

CUOMO: Well, look, the other thing that Ryan is saying is again, he seems to be carrying water for the White House on this, is you had your chance. We've been looking at this for a year. Everybody was asked to weigh in. We took everybody's ideas. This is what we agreed on, and now you are not on the team.

[07:10:00] JORDAN: And nowhere in the Better Way does it say we are going to repeal Obamacare, but we're going to take the Medicaid expansion and extend it. And nowhere in the Better Way did it say we're going to repeal Obamacare, but we're going to keep some of the Obamacare taxes for another year, and we're going to keep the Cadillac tax.

Nowhere did it say that. So why don't we do what we said we were going to do? Why don't we saw what we voted on. That's what I introduced two days ago. Clean repeal. The exact same legislation we put on President Obama's desk. Let's put that on President Trump's desk. We know we can pass that. We know we had agreement with that. This idea that, oh, we're doing something -- we're doing what we did

before. That's what we introduced. And then we can get to those other issues that are critically important that are going to bring down the cost of health insurance for the working families and middle- class families of this country. That's our plan.

CUOMO: All right, Jim. They're going to yell at me about time, but we're going to talk about the substance of whether these changes are right or not. But I want to ask you one more political question.


CUOMO: I don't understand what' s happening here. It seems like, you know, you were supposed to be on the same page. This rollout was supposed to go out as "Here's what the GOP wants. Let's fight with the Democrats."

And then this happened, where I heard from you, I heard from Steve King and other guys on the conservative side of the GOP, saying, "I never signed up for any of this. This wasn't supposed to be in here. You know, President Trump didn't say that this was what he was going to do. He said he was going to repeal this our way." Where's the disconnect?

JORDAN: Well, I think the thing we have to focus on is what I keep saying. Let's just simply do what we told the voters we were going to do when they sent us here.

CUOMO: But Ryan says that's what this is, and President Trump says that's what this is.

JORDAN: No, this keeps -- I think this keeps way too much of the structure of Obamacare. This, as I said, keeps some of the taxes. This has a 30 percent penalty for people who don't have insurance and them go get insurance.

CUOMO: Right, I guess it was in there, but why is it such a surprise to you guys? If the speaker of the House is saying, "This is us," and the White House is saying that "This is us," what happened with you guys?

JORDAN: It shouldn't be. That's why we offered a plan. Look, we said if we can't agree on this, let's do what we agreed on last year. After all, all the Republicans voted for it just 15 months ago. We were able to put it on President Obama's desk. Of course, he vetoed it. We know President Trump won't do that.

So we want to help the president do what we all campaigned on. That's what conservatives are focused on accomplishing, and most of all, we want to bring down the premium costs, bring down the cost of insurance and bring back affordable insurance.

Our goal should not be to sign more people up for government healthcare. Our goal should be to put it in place market forces that actually bring back affordable insurance for the working-class and middle-class families across this country. That's what I promised the voters in the 4th District of Ohio. That's why I'm fighting so hard to actually accomplish that.

CUOMO: Let's talk about that as a fair premise here in terms of the substance of the matter. Healthcare costs are going up. That was true before Obamacare. That was true after Obamacare, but it was less true after Obamacare. And yes, you can cherry-pick different income levels and different dispositions and families and find data on both sides. but healthcare costs are a problem, period. The premiums are not going up as much as they were before Obamacare. They're still going up. So is it misleading to say to people Obamacare is the problem?

JORDAN: Well, it's certainly a big problem. Yes, it is the problem, and it wasn't perfect before. We've forgotten what a marketplace looks like. But the premiums aren't going up as much as they were before it.

JORDAN: Well, Chris, deductibles -- if you can afford the premium, you can't afford the deductibles, particularly in you're in an individual market or if you're in the small group, you can't afford the deductibles if you can afford the premiums. You have fewer choices all driving it up, so what we're saying is never forget what Obamacare did.

It said we're going to have all these mandates, all these taxes, all these regulations, drove up the cost of insurance and mandated that you had to get it, and if you didn't, you got penalized. Never forget that.

So let's get rid of that. Sure, there were problems before, so let's fix that, too, but we think the answer is a marketplace, not more government intervention. Not more government control, particularly from Washington, D.C.

CUOMO: But you also can't forget how it was done, which lead to you having 20 million more people covered and rates not as high, in terms of their rate of increase, as it was before.

You cherry-pick Arizona, saying look at the premium spike. That's because that state didn't put the law into effect. So it shrunk its own pool. It made it uncompetitive.

JORDAN: Chris, this is the fundamental difference. You're viewing -- you're viewing success as signing more people up for government healthcare. I view success as bringing down the cost of insurance. So that's what I'm fighting for.

I would much rather have families be able to go in the private market and say that policy fits my needs versus this one-size-fits-all Medicaid or this one-size-fits-all and the few and limited choices people have in the Obamacare exchange. I would much rather say -- I want families to go say, "This is the plan that fits our needs. I want to be able to buy that plan," and they we need to be -- we need to be able to bring costs down so they can afford that plan. That to me is choice and freedom; and what's actually going to help families.

CUOMO: Right. JORDAN: So let's get to a marketplace and make sure we can accomplish that. I don't believe this bill does that.

CUOMO: You use -- you use "government" as if it's a bad word in this context but to be fair, there is no place that you'll find that has this kind of marketplace when it comes to health insurance.

JORDAN: Not now. That's what we've got to be able to create.

CUOMO: I know. But you're saying it like it's something that should be understood. It's never existed anywhere else that you can point to. And remember, you have to be OK -- you have to be OK with less people having health insurance to get some people to have it cheaper. Are you OK with that?

JORDAN: I want all people to have better insurance. I want...

CUOMO: But they will lose coverage. They will lose coverage.

[07:15:29] JORDAN: Paying $5,000 a month in premiums for a 6, 7, 8,000 deductible policy. I don't think that's acceptable. And I've talked to those families in our district, and they don't believe it's acceptable either.

CUOMO: You could...

JORDAN: That's what we're trying to focus on.

CUOMO: While you're fixing it now, millions of people may lose their coverage. You need to own that.

JORDAN: No, look when we repeal this, even the bill we put on President Obama's desk, there was a two-year wind down. We understand this can't happen overnight and you need some kind of transition.

CUOMO: But when they're going to lose coverage doesn't change the fact that they will lose coverage. That's all I'm saying.

JORDAN: And when that day happens, there's going to be -- a replacement plan is wanted, there will be affordable policy in place where they can go by that policy and meet their family's needs. That's what we want. At that affordable rate.

Right now we've lost sight of all that. That's what we've got to bring back.

CUOMO: It works for some, not for all. The devil is in the details. We know that better than ever now.

JORDAN: As in every other industry.

CUOMO: But this industry is different. You're always welcome on to discuss what's going to happen next. I appreciate it. Best of you for the weekend -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what the Democrats are doing, because after 27 hours of debate, a second House committee OKed the GOP Obamacare replacement bill. Well, Congresswoman Debbie Dingle was part of that marathon session. She tells us what happened in there and what's next.


[07:20:47] CAMEROTA: It took 27 hours of debate for the House Commerce and Energy Committee to pass the House Republicans' plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The vote moves that bill now to the House floor.

One of the people who sat through that marathon session is Democratic congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and she joins us now.

Good morning, Congresswoman.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D): Good morning.

CAMEROTA: What were you doing for 27 hours?

DINGELL: Paying attention. It was an intense mark-up. It was a bill that we only got on Monday night, so by the time we started considering it, we even hadn't had it for 48 hours. Now we have got it in the public domain for 72 hours, and it was really important to try to bring transparency to what was in that bill. I'm not sure many people were watching us at 3 or 4 a.m. but were asking a lot of questions and making sure that we were putting a microscope on what the consequences were going to be to the American people.

CAMEROTA: OK, so I mean, that's great but beyond dissecting it and diving in and asking questions, what can Democrats do? What are Democrats doing? I mean, this thing is being fast-tracked through the House, and Democrats don't want to repeal Obamacare. So what's your plan?

DINGELL: You know, I don't -- what I want to do is make sure that every American has got access to affordable quality healthcare. So what we had to do, we offered a number of amendments which got in the way of the Republicans who are never going to support a Democratic amendment and actually bother people.

Like I had a simple one. Let's say it doesn't go into effect if seniors are adversely affected and don't have access to long-term care. And nobody was going to support that. And I don't think it was a coincidence that Speaker Ryan arrived in the room against the wall as the vote began on the Republican side.

What we have to do is make sure over the weekend and next week -- it's not quite clear when it's going to go to the floor, next week or the week after. You're seeing group after group after group. A very diverse group, AMA hospitals, the Episcopalian church, AARP, children's groups, all coming out and saying this bill is going to adversely impact those they care about.

And when member are home, these groups have to tell their members how they feel: go into it, dig in and find out what they think is going to impact them and why it's bad and communicate that to their members. So when this bill hits the floor, they know how their constituents feel. And if they're worried, if they're worried that, if you're a senior, they're going to get a double whammy. And you're going to pay five times what somebody younger has to pay and not have access. They're going to pay more and get less. And that's what the next ten days is going to be really important about.

CAMEROTA: And just very quickly, when you're haggling with your Republican colleagues over this, and you're telling them this is going to hurt seniors, what's the response?

DINGELL: You know, I get an exchange in the wee hours of the night with a Republican colleague that's a really good friend and just asking him, I don't get the math here and talking about the math.

One of the things we're worried about is what's going to happen to Medicaid expansion. And now, as you were reporting earlier, we're hearing rumors that they're going to accelerate it and move it up even more. And people are claiming that it protects people.

Well, our Healthy Michigan plan reduced our unainsured in Michigan by 50 percent. Almost 700,000 people who didn't have insurance have it now. So we're going to protect them. OK, that means that they're going to be freezed now, 219. If they're going to get out of the plan, they get a job that can't go back into the plan.

And what are we going to do about seniors who are 10,000 a day are turning 65, who are going to need to access that care. How are we going to make sure when they need long-term care, which people do as they get older? The math isn't adding up, and I think some of the Republicans are just -- they can't -- they can't answer the math questions, quite frankly.

CAMEROTA: While I have you, let's talk about some of our new reporting in terms of the alleged Russian meddling into the election or any sort of alleged Russian ties to the Trump Organization.

Yesterday the Gang of Eight, that's the lawmakers who have access to the most highly classified or sensitive information. They had a meeting with Director James Comey. I know you were not part of that meeting. What have you heard, and what questions do you have that you want answered about this?

[07:25:04] DINGELL: So I'm not a member of the House Intelligence Committee or the Gang of Eight, and I think it's very important that they not share what they learned. They need to respect those very tight rules.

But I am concerned, like every other American, about what we keep hearing on what the ties are to Russia. It's very clear that we were hacked by Russia last summer. Nothing since then has given me any comfort.

We need an independent investigation. I'm very happy to hear that both the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Nunes, and Schiff are working very closely together. They said that they're going to finish getting the research part of this done by the 17th and start open hearings on the 20th.

We need to do this for the American people in a bipartisan way. The most recent accusation that he was tasked is deeply disturbing, although nobody, other than the president himself, is willing to -- President Obama has flat-out denied it. You know, you've got two presidents. I deeply respect President Obama.

We need the facts, and we need an independent investigation. Give us the facts, and members of Congress, we are a third branch of the government, and we need to have the responsibility, and we need the facts.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Debbie Dingell, thank you very much. Always nice to talk to you.

DINGELL: Great talking to you.


CUOMO: All right. Some drama within the government. The new EPA chief is causing an uproar saying carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate change. What does this mean for the future of America's environmental policies? We'll look into the science, next.