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House Intel Wants Wiretap Evidence By Monday; GOP Lawmakers Sells Health Care Bill At Town Hall; Undocumented Immigrants Stand Up To Trump, Risk It All. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired March 11, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We're following breaking news, a source says the high profile U.S. attorney for Manhattan, Preet Bharara, has indicated that he will not submit a letter of resignation and will instead make President Trump fire him.
CNN justice reporter, Laura Jarrett, joining us now on the phone with more on this as well as CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, also joining us. So first to you, Laura, what do we know in terms of why Bharara, has said, fire me, I'm not quitting.
You there? No? We're going to try and get that connection again. This information, we are just now receiving. He's a widely respected prosecutor known for prosecuting high profile cases and coming down hard on public corruption and Wall Street crime.
Paul Callan, we know that by way of the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, 44 of the remains 46 attorneys general were asked to resign, this coming abruptly for many of them on Friday. He, Preet Bharara among them, and now today, coming out and saying no, you're going to have to fire me. Why do you suppose that is, Paul?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's very strange, Fred. We have a backdrop. It's not unusual for a new president to put his own U.S. attorneys in place. Bill Clinton fired all 93 when he came in. What's unusual here is that President Trump went to Preet Bharara and said to him, I'm going to keep you, and it was a highly publicized story here in New York.
And I have to tell you that here in New York, he is a charismatic, sort of sound bite a moment U.S. attorney with enormous influence, and he had a reputation as a fearless fighter of corruption whether it's Democrat correspondent or Republican corruption.
WHITFIELD: Paul, can I just ask you to take pause right there because we have that moment in November when Preet Bharara came out of Trump Tower after meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump and this is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PREET BHARARA, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: President-elect asked because he's a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that (inaudible) to discuss whether or not I'd be prepared to stay on as United States attorney to do the work as we have done it, independently, without fear (inaudible) for the last seven years. We had a good meeting.
I'd say I would absolutely considering stay on. I agreed to stay on. I have already spoken to Senator Sessions, who is, as you know, the nominee to be the attorney general. He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect I'll be continuing the work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, so Paul, pick up where you left off, you are about to describe why he is so widely respected.
CALLAN: Yes, you know, as you can see, he's a very charismatic, television friendly, U.S. attorney. I like to refer to him as the sound bit a minute because anytime he gives a speech, he was front page in all the New York newspapers.
But he also although he was appointed by a Democratic president, has been fearless in fighting corruption, political corruption, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. He got into a dust up with Governor Cuomo because there were thoughts that maybe Preet had a secret investigation going of Cuomo's top people.
And as a result of that, I think it was no surprise when Trump decided to keep him. Maybe he's an honest guy, can fight the establishment, so now, for him to turn around and say you're being fired along with the rest of them, it's shocking.
WHITFIELD: So Paul, quickly just as you said, it's unusual for a new administration to clean house, but usually, the method is different. Many have been critical saying this one is very abrupt. Is there any correlation between the abruptness, the release of these attorneys general, the ongoing shake up of the Justice Department, in correlation to the widening investigations involving Trump related personnel, campaign personnel, their ties to Russia, et cetera? Do you see any correlations?
CALLAN: There may be, but of course, we'd be speculating here. Now remember that Preet Bharara is in charge of the southern district of New York, which is kind of the most prestigious U.S. attorney's office in the United States. He does a lot of foreign intelligence terrorism, type investigations.
So, it wouldn't surprise me if the southern district were front and center in any of these important investigations that are now ongoing. And of course, Trump Tower is located in the U.S. southern district. So, if this wiretapping controversy, the president says that Obama was wiretapping him, well, such a wiretapping request would necessarily have gone through Preet Bharara's office probably.
[12:05:09]So there's going to be time and I think it's going to be very interesting because now Bharara says you're going to have to fire me and it's going to be very public (inaudible). You can be sure of that.
WHITFIELD: All right, as it pertains to the wiretapping, still no evidence, even members on the Hill are now demanding any evidence being handed over by Monday. We'll get to that later on too. We got a whole lot of breaking news. Paul Callan, thank you so much.
The other breaking news item that we're following right now coming from the White House. An intruder scaling a fence at the White House making it all the way to a residential entrance while President Trump was inside.
Officials say a man carrying a backpack was arrested by the south entrance to the executive resident just before midnight last night after being discovered by a U.S. Secret Service officer. The White House was placed under security condition orange, one of the highest levels of security for the U.S. Secret Service.
Let's discuss all of this now with CNN's Ryan Nobles in Washington, and CNN senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny also with us, but on the phone. So, Jeff, I understand you have new information, what do you have and then we'll get to you, Ryan.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Fredricka, this is still being investigated by the Secret Service, how this intrusion could have happened late last night. The concern that they have that we are hearing from officials is that this intruder made it so far on to the ground of the White House indeed to near the South Portico entrance of the White House.
So, it wasn't simply a fence jumping incident. Those are somewhat routine that the Secret Service has to deal with, but this is the -- the gravity of this is -- the thing that concerns the service the most is just how far this intruder made it on this property.
But look, this is one of the things that as you've been talking about all morning that the White House and the Secret Service have been dealing with for a long time, but this, of course, the first one in the Trump administration.
And it certainly raises all types of questions about security at the White House and protecting this president in particular. But again, the senior administration official I talked with this morning said the president, of course, you know, was not harmed.
He appreciates the service and he has grown quite fond of his agents and his detail, and vice versa here. So this is something that you can be sure will be reviewed come Monday certainly by Congress as well -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And Ryan Nobles there at the White House. You mentioned when you came in this morning, it didn't seem as though anything were awry at the White House, but then you received an informal statement from U.S. Secret Service and what now are they willing to publicly reveal?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We can take it a step further, Fredricka, because we now have a copy of the arrest report from the Metropolitan Police Department. So this individual was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service, but then processed by the Metropolitan Police Department here in Washington, D.C.
And in this arrest report, the suspect said, quote, "I am a friend of the president. I have an appointment and I jumped the fence." So this is the first kind of insight that we're getting into the motivation of this individual to jump the fence as Jeff said, and then try and gain access to the White House.
It doesn't appear to be malicious intent, at least based on this quote. His hope was to have a conversation with President Trump. It reminds me of back in the summer when that young man tried to scale Trump Tower, with a similar intention of trying to just get an audience with the then Candidate Trump.
So we're still learning all the information, but that still doesn't down play at all the significance of this major security breach for him to be able to get over a fence on the south side of the White House, get across the White House lawn, and gain entrance.
Get close to that South Portico entrance, which we should point out would put him only about 200 feet from the president's window, his bedroom window, and the president was in the residence at the time.
This is certainly something that Secret Service is going to have to take a very close look at and perhaps further changes in reforms will be made to the security situation here.
WHITFIELD: You know, and Jeff, for obvious reasons, it's so alarming because there are so many perimeters when you talk about security at the White House, it's not just within the confines or along the fence. It's outside of that, along the fence. It's within the property and then of course, within the White House. There are many layers is my bottom line, in which this person was able to bypass.
ZELENY: Exactly and as Ryan was just saying, we are getting our first look here at this police report from the Metropolitan Police Department and it gives a bit of a narrative to what happened. As Ryan was saying, the person is reported to have said, no, I'm a friend of the president. I have an appointment.
[12:10:02]And this officer asked him how he got there and the suspect reportedly said, quote, "I jumped the fence." Fredricka, the interesting part about this is he was not seen jumping the fence by all of the layers of security.
He simply bumped into by an officer on the south side of the White House. And this police report also confirms for the first time that White House security footage shows that the suspect jumped the northwest courtyard fence of the Treasury building adjacent to the White House.
So this is confirming what our sources were telling us and CNN -- Peter Morris was reporting earlier this morning that he jumped the fence between the Treasury building and the White House. It's kind of all part of the same complex, but there's a bigger fence there, but it's so interesting here that it appears at least from this police report that this Secret Service officer essentially bumped into this suspect on the grounds of the White House and was not detected until that moment.
WHITFIELD: And so Tom Fuentes back with us, senior law enforcement analyst, and former FBI assistant director as well as Jonathan Wackrow, CNN law enforcement analyst.
So when you hear that kind of detail, Tom, you first, how concerning is it to you that it would be penetrable. You know, that big Treasury Department office building is quite sizable.
It's massive. It's huge, but one would think that all law enforcement in and around the White House would know about any openings between that building, that property and the White House property.
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. That's what concerns me the most here, is that if that story is true, that's put in the report then that means that he came over the fence, wasn't detected. That he got inside the lawn area of the White House, wasn't detected.
Sensors didn't go off. Cameras didn't go off, at least at that time to send a warning. And he bumped into somebody on the grounds like accidentally? This sounds rather bizarre to me and I would like to hear more about exactly how he was detected and what they knew. And if hadn't bumped in to this one individual, what would have happened then, how far could he have gotten?
WHITFIELD: And Jonathan, you're a former Secret Service, to hear that kind of detail from Jeff that someone, you know, patrolling would bump into this suspect, can you envision that?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, listen, this is really troubling. If someone came over the northwest fence of the Treasury Complex, what that indicates is that they didn't go over one fence, they went over multiple fences.
Even though it's considered part of the 18 acres of the White House complex, there are multiple gates and fences that separate both the Treasury and the White House grounds.
So, this has the potential to be a catastrophic breach of the White House complex just by the fact that he came in from the northwest section, worked his all the way to the south grounds, got on to the south grounds an then proceeded up towards the diplomatic reception room entrance, the South Portico area.
This is really disturbing. Just the amount of real estate that this intruder was able to gain or bypass on the complex. So the Secret Service has to really take a very hard look very quickly as to why weren't other defensive measures were alerted through all of that real estate that this individual covered? WHITFIELD: So Jonathan, it's been a real changing of the guard with the head of Secret Service, long time, you know, head of Secret Service departing. Would that kind of transition also create these kinds of gaps that could arise that would allow someone to be undetected in that fashion if those details that we are hearing now from Jeff are exactly that?
WACKROW: No, you know, with Joe Clancy, the director of the Secret Service retiring, there's no correlation directly to this incident. But where there is a connection is that Joe Clancy was brought in to mitigate this exact problem.
You know, in 2014, the Secret Service had, you know, a very embarrassing breach off the north fence line and actually had an intruder enter into the White House. Joe Clancy was brought in to resolve that and fix that.
And one of the very first things we talked about in 2014 was raising the level of the fences around the White House. Joe Clancy just retired in 2017. The fence is still the exact same height.
So what does that speak to you in terms of the ability for the Secret Service to get funding and drive initiatives not only through Congress, but through a bureaucratic DHS structure?
WHITFIELD: And Ryan, you're there on the White House grounds. Any rumblings, anyone within Secret Service or otherwise, who has expressed that kind of concern that there's been seemingly a reticence to promote some changes?
[12:15:05]NOBLES: You know, not specifically, Fredricka, and I really have to point out how mundane things were here this morning when I got here at about 8:45. It's as quiet as this White House has been since I've been covering the Trump administration and since he's taken office, we've obviously had a lot of interesting weekends to report on here.
So I was actually surprised at how quiet it was and I should also point out that you may be able to see them here behind me. There are people exiting the White House, taking public tours.
Those public tours were back up and running in relatively short order despite the fact that Secret Service was still investigating the grounds. I think it's also important for us to emphasize the fact that this suspect was only 200 feet away from the president's bedroom window and he had a backpack with him.
So even though there are all those additional layers of security, had he gained access to the White House, it turned out that that backpack did not contain hazardous materials, but if it did and if he were able to do something nefarious with it, we would have had a very serious incident here.
That obviously didn't happen in this case, but as we've talked about all day, going down the road when you talk about increasing security, it's pretty remarkable that someone was able to get that close to the president's window with a backpack in his possession.
WHITFIELD: And Jeff, this too happening just a few days away from we saw some of the first images of President Trump interacting with people who were there at the White House. This is a weekend that is also appearing to be a rare occasion in which President Trump is at the White House. He's been spending many weekends at Mar-a-Lago. Are you seeing correlations or concerns here?
ZELENY: It certainly is interesting that it did happen on a weekend when the president was at the White House. We don't know if that was by accident that this suspect who we're also seeing now on this police report as we read through it had a California driver's license.
We don't know if he was living in the Washington area or came from California, but again he said I am a friend of the president. That is obviously not how most friends of the president go visit him, by jumping the fence at almost midnight.
So obviously, that is not the situation here, but Fredricka, we do not know and it will be interesting to find out if the suspect new that the president happened to be home so that's why he did it on this day, but it certainly is well publicized and announced when he is home and when he is not.
But the big difference to me, that is different from the incident during the Obama administration of someone coming in on the other side of the White House, is that the president was indeed home. At that point, the Obamas were not home.
At this point, the president was home and he certainly had a nice evening out. It was cold. It was about 25 degrees or so, so the president wouldn't be outside. But had it have been a warm evening, he could certainly be outside on that lawn. That is part of the secure facility here so that's why this is a big deal -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Yes, it is a very sizable deal. All right, thank you so much, Jeff Zeleny, Ryan Nobles, Tom Fuentes, and Jonathan Wackrow. I'll check back with all of you.
Meantime, coming up, Vice President Mike Pence hits the road to sell the GOP health care bill as Republicans remain divided over it. What will it take to get the legislation passed? That's ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Vice President Mike Pence just wrapped up a speech in Louisville, Kentucky, pushing the GOP's harshly criticized bill to repeal Obamacare to business owners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Most importantly of all the top priority the president gave us, to work with members of Congress and make sure that the Obamacare nightmare is about to end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now is Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky who was at that event. Good to see you, Congressman. You support the new plan, but you do admit that it's not perfect. So, what adjustments do you believe should be made?
REPRESENTATIVE ANDY BARR (R), KENTUCKY: Well, I think it's a good first start, Fredricka, and we were very happy to welcome the vice president here to Kentucky today to talk about what Republicans and millions of Democrats in this country are united about and what we're united about is that Obamacare is a failed law and it's hurting the American people.
Right here in Kentucky even though Kentucky has been cited as an example of Obamacare success, the truth of the matter is that many Kentuckians have fewer choices. Premiums are skyrocketing. Deductibles are skyrocketing and people with are losing their health insurance plans.
The largest insurer that's headquartered right here in Louisville, Humana, signaled that they're going to pull out of the exchange here in Kentucky. So what we're united about is that we need to keep our promises --
WHITFIELD: Sorry to interrupt, but the argument being made by those who are advocates of the Affordable Care Act say that enrolment is still high. So how can you call it a failure when there are large numbers of people who are still signing up to get particularly because they're worried about what may happen right around the corner.
BARR: Well, you know, expansion of coverage is a good thing, but nominal coverage is not the same thing to access to meaningful health care. For example, many doctors and health care providers are not participating in the Expanded Medicaid.
And so access to a waiting line is not really access to health care especially for people with pre-existing conditions and chronic diseases. If you can't get access to the kind of specialists that actually treat those conditions, then nominal coverage is not good enough.
So for those individuals who have health insurance -- just to finish the thought, for those individuals who have coverage for the first time in their lives, that's a great thing, we applaud that.
But we want something better for them. We want them to not only have nominal coverage, but when they need to see a doctor, they can go see a doctor for that can help them.
WHITFIELD: All right, my apologies for interrupting, so, at 31 states accepted funds from Medicaid expansion and this plan is saying in large part that kind of funding needs to go. What is the alternative, what happens? BARR: Right. Well, two things, first of all, we're not pulling the rug out from under anyone. This is a smooth and stable transition to a new and better system. And for those individuals who had Medicaid before, we're going to provide them an alternative to choose from and that would be these tax credits.
So that it is not help plans that are mandated by the federal government instead it is empowering patients to choose a health plan that's right for them. So that they can take these tax credits and go into the market.
They can go on an exchange, shop across state lines and find a plan that's best for them, that meets their particular health care needs and their particular cost sensitivities.
So we think a patient centered approach, a personalized approach instead of a top down one-size-fits-all mandated health care from Washington is a much better strategy to help people.
WHITFIELD: So, Congressman, if this sounds so rosy, then when why do you have groups like the American Medical Association, AARP, among others who are saying we don't like this plan.
BARR: Well, I can't speak for them, but what I can tell you is what many Kentuckians and Americans across this country are asking us to do, which is to definitely move away from Obamacare, which is actively hurting people.
So 25 percent increase in health insurance premiums last year alone, nearly a third of all Americans have only one choice of a health care plan. That's not something that anyone wants to defend.
Here in Kentucky, almost 50 percent of Kentuckians only have one choice. So we want more competition and more choices. We think that in the long run that will be better for millions of Americans.
WHITFIELD: So here's your fellow Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, who says this new plan is not the way to go. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: We're with the American people. We're going to do what we told them what we're going to do and to 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 doesn't make -- that's not how the legislative process works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So essentially Representative Jordan is what is the rush? What's your response?
BARR: Well -- well, just a few months ago, they were saying what was taking you so long. Now they are saying what's the rush? Look, I agree with Jim. Jim is absolutely right. There should be an orderly process where an open regular order process where we can amend and improve the bill.
Look, this is the first draft of a step one in a three step process to repeal and replace Obamacare. It's a good first step. It's not perfect. So I agree with my colleagues who say there should be an open process.
In fact, I'm working with some of my colleagues on amendments to improve the bill and I do hope that through the Rules Committee, we will be able to offer amendments to improve the legislation.
But to suggest that this is Obamacare Lite I think is wrong. This is a dramatic improvement of Obamacare. It cuts a trillion dollars in Obamacare taxes such as the medical device tax, the health insurance tax, the Medicarepayroll tax.
It repeals the individual and employer mandate, which Republicans have been advocating to do for a very, very long time. It expands and doubles the amount that you can contribute it to an HSA.
WHITFIELD: The cornerstones that make it particularly possible --
BARR: No, I wouldn't say that at all.
WHITFIELD: No, I mean, in terms of preexisting conditions and children up to 26 being able to stay on, I mean, those are cornerstones that have made Affordable Care Act so popular and those remain is your point and the point of other advocates.
BARR: They will remain and Republicans believe in those principles as well. This is definitely different than Obamacare. We're doing some of the reforms. We're including some of the reforms that Republicans have been advocating for years and many Democrats to move to a more patient centered reform.
To return health care decisions away from Washington to where they belong, with patients, the doctors, and their families. So I just disagree respectfully with anyone who would characterize this as Obamacare Lite.
At the same time, I certainly agree we need to go through a process where we can amend the bill to improve the bill and that's in stark contrast from the way Obamacare was passed.
Remember, you had to pass the bill in order to find out what's in it. That's not the approach we're taking. This is the first of three step by step phases, and I do believe that we're going to have the opportunity to amend the bill and improve it.
WHITFIELD: We're going to leave right there. Not because I'm pushing out the door, but apparently the people there where this is in with the Vice President Mike Pence is taking place, they're ready to push you out the door. All right, thanks so much Congressman Andy Barr --
BARR: All right. Thanks.
WHITFIELD: We appreciate it. BARR: Thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: All right. So this Wednesday night join Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash for a live town hall with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. He will answer your questions about the new GOP health care proposal and everything else. That is Wednesday night, 9:00 Eastern time only CNN and we'll be right back.
[12:35:05] WHITFIELD: All right. The clock is ticking for President Trump to back up his explosive accusations one week ago today against his predecessor via tweet, the House Intelligence Committee wants proof by Monday that supports the President's claim and former President Barack Obama wiretapped him during the campaign. That means the Justice Department must turn over any relevant documents.
CNN's Athena Jones is at the White House, covering this for us today at the White House. So, as it pertains to this evidence, Athena, who is being charge with providing the evidence? Who does this encompass?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Well, so far -- I mean, the House Intelligence Committee wants to get that evidence from the Department of Justice. What's so interesting here is that as you know, this White House has so far shed no light on -- or that provided no evidence whatsoever to backup the President's claims in the seven days since he woke up early last Saturday morning and started tweeting before sunrise, the series of tweets that included this explosive and unsubstantiated accusation against the former president, President Obama.
The White House has been asked repeatedly to provide evidence and they have continued to duck and dodge those questions, including direct questions. We know, of course, that President Obama through a spokesperson has vehemently denied that he had any involvement in wiretapping, the former candidate Trump's communications in Trump Tower. Former intelligence officials have told CNN that did not happen.
And we also know that the FBI director -- this is according to my colleague's reporting -- the FBI director James Comey reached out to the Department of Justice last week and asked them to publicly refute the President's baseless claims. The DOJ has not done that. And it's interesting that they are the ones who are being tasked with providing evidence that at least according to -- it seems according to Comey, just doesn't exist because this didn't happen.
And, you know, you mentioned the House Intelligence Committee, the Democratic Ranking Member Adam Schiff, the congressman, said that he hasn't seen any evidence or whatsoever to substantiate the President's claims. He also interestingly said that when FBI director James Comey testified before Congress in just a few days, before one of the committee just to say - in this committee in just a few days, Congressman Schiff believes that Comey is ready for the question about whether there's evidence and then perhaps he would even welcome being able to answer that question publicly which is to say that there is no evidence to substantiate the President's claims.
WHITFIELD: All right, very complicated, isn't it? Athena Jones, thank you so much. Lots of moving parts there. Thanks for sorting it out for us. Let's talk more about this. Joining me now, Sarah Westwood, who is the White House correspondent for the Washington Examiner, Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau chief for the Chicago Sun- Times and also back with me CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes. All right, good to see all of you.
So Sarah, let's begin with you. We're talking about the House Intel Committee that says President Trump's proof of wiretapping must be provided as of Monday. We know the Justice Department is being tasked by the White House with providing anything but it's White House, President Trump that kind of got the ball rolling in the first place. So is this kind of passing the buck as long as President Trump himself is able to evade giving up the evidence? Where did this come from in his tweets?
SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Right. We don't know and the fact that President Trump have let the sensational allegation dangle our there. For now, more than a week without backing it up is problematic for him on a couple of levels. One it fed (ph) this perception of him that he is not particularly committed to facts that he has conspiratorial tendencies but, two, and perhaps more significantly, he throw the spotlight back on his alleged personal connections to the Russian. So at a time when his administration was finally getting into a position where they could put this whole controversy behind them.
Mike Flynn had been dismissed from the National Security Council so his ties no longer posed a serious liability. We had Jeff Sessions, the attorney general recused himself from potential campaign related investigations, that eliminated what critics viewed would be a conflict of interest and we have James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence admit last week that up to January 20th, he did no believe evidence existed to backup the allegations of campaign contacts with Russians. But Trump is essentially guaranteeing now that this Russian controversy will get a second win that we will see these sensational congressional hearings and as largely his own making.
WHITFIELD: So then, Lynn, is it your belief that the White House keeping this alive by not giving up the goods, there by continues to erode the credibility of the President?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, I don't think the credibility of President Trump can be eroded because it would have been by now because of his constant non-fact based assertion. This is just the latest.
[12:40:09] What I -- this is a question with an answer. There is a paper trail in our nation that will be there for the legal system demands. Congress has laid out a process form wiretapping and they have a paper trail. This is not a big investigation there for can be concluded by Monday. Now, the declarative nature of Trump's choice just been told, digs the question that he's been invading (ph) who told you what and when. Here is what I think is the most important thing to watch for on Monday. So far, President Trump has never taken an answer hat he didn't like. So if it does turn out as we all think it will that there is no fact-base for his assertion will he accept it and move on. His history shows he won't.
WHITFIELD: OK. So, you talk about that paper trail. How easy would be to reveal right or for --
SWEET: If one in and two.
WHITFIELD: Right, if one in and two. So Tom, is this is easy as the President being able to declassify information -- find out whether indeed there was any kind of, you know, by the order or some other type of order, et cetera. Why do you suppose that is not happening?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think in this case, Fredricka, you know, the FBI Director, James Comey, is not going to allow this controversy to put him in a position of breaking with the normal protocol of revealing or not revealing the existence of a wiretap as sensitive as a FISA. So, if there was FISA coverage, it's not going to be his job or see -- not going to see this as his responsibility to clean up what the President may have started with his tweet more than a week ago.
And I think that even though we've heard the leaks that James Comey was incredulous when he heard or read the tweets put out by President Trump, but those were multiple statements in those tweets. Was he incredulous that people think President Obama could order the FISA coverage wiretap and the FBI carried it out or that secret information like that, if it was being conducted was put out, so there are a number of aspects of those tweets that would make an FBI director incredulous, whether there was or was not FISA coverage on the President.
WESTWOOD: I think you can't expect that March 20th hearing to be pretty sensational. I mean, obviously, if James Comey is going to be appearing before these lawmakers who have had questions for him to answer now for weeks just building up waiting for that moment. But right now, President Trump is pretty much in a lose-lose situation. Because if it comes out that he essentially fabricated this claim that Obama ordered a FISA on him, that would obviously really damaging to his credibility to make allegations about anything in the future.
But if it comes out that he did have wiretapping on his communications that were ordered for legitimate law enforcement purposes, that's also really not good for him. And so even if that aspect of his claim was substantiated, that's still damaging to him. WHITFIELD: Right. So probability -- yes, probably cause would have to be established in order to get that. But quickly Lynn, do you want to rethink that or do you still believe there would be no credibility problem?
SWEET: I just think from birtherism until today to his -- the flip- flop on the credibility of the jobs numbers, President Trump so far has been immune to any kind of fact checking. I don't have any sense that this will change come Monday if there's no evidence that surfaces to back up his claim.
WHITFIELD: All right. Lynn Sweet, Sarah Westwood, Tom Fuentes, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.
SWEET: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
[12:48:18] WHITFIELD: All right. A very emotional town hall just wrapped up in California. Congressman Darrell Issa held his first major town hall since House Republican lawmakers released their new health care bill. Crowds are also gathering outside that location event.
CNN National Correspondent Kyung Lah is joining me now. So Kyung, it was very passionate and seems like it continues to be outside. What's happening?
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. It's contentious crowd in the very first town hall. What you're seeing here, Fredricka, is the second town hall that is just beginning to get checked in. You have to have a ticket in order to get in, but you can see from the size here, the crowd size out here, it is very passionate. A lot of questions in this first town hall that the congressman held last about an hour, lot of questions about health care, whether or not it would actually be affordable to people in this crowd.
And there was also a question about immigration. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: What we have to do as Americans and I'm speaking to every American here, but also within (ph) American, we have to figure out our east (ph) undocumented immigrants and jobs of Americans will do that Americans are being displaced by system that's going to act (INAUDIBLE). Anyone who says everyone here is hard working replaced by rules has been through our common jail (ph), you can't say everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: What you're seeing here outside is a make Russia great again. There are a lot of questions within these town halls b about investigations about accountability.
[12:50:06] The congressman did say, Fredricka, that he does support special prosecutor that is certainly covering (ph) that this crowd seems to appreciate but at the same time they want to make sure he follows through, Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right. Kyung Lah, we'll check back with you now as part 2 now, town hall number two gets underway momentarily. We'll check back with you. And we will be right back in the newsroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, millions of undocumented immigrants are emerging from the shadows to take a stand against President Trump's plans to fight illegal immigration. And many are risking at all.
Just approve, they belong in America. Here's Nick Valencia.
BRENDA LIRA, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: This is the text message that I sent to my friend last night.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Last night, Brenda Lira did something she thought she would never do. She came out to her friends and told them she was undocumented.
LIRA: I've been living in fear not only for myself, but for my family, for people that I know. Fear that my parents will be ripped away from, that I'll be ripped away from them, ripped away from the land that I've home for the past 19 years.
VALENCIA: The 21-year old says simply, she was tired of being scared.
LIRA: I think it's time for us to be united, to present a strong front, to actually fight for what we want.
VALENCIA: And she is not alone. Lira is part of a growing chorus of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who are coming out of the shadows. People like Valeria Zamora who lives with her family in New Orleans. Five years ago, she immigrated to the U.S. illegally from Honduras to work in manual labor. She doesn't like it when people tell her she should go back.
VALERIA ZAMORA, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS (through translator): This is my country. This is my country. I came here and I helped to rebuild it.
VALENCIA: Valeria and her husband are in the U.S. illegally and took a big risk of being on camera with us. But like Brenda, they said it sends a message to President Donald Trump, we are not afraid. Ironically, they Thank President Trump for giving them a reason to stand up.
JONATHAN RAMIREZ, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: I honestly think he's kind of supporting us in a way.
VALENCIA: They're joined by people like Jonathan Ramirez, a 22-year- old who's in the U.S. illegally. We met recently outside of Atlanta. He, too, is empowered, he says, to fight.
RAMIREZ: He's coming against us, but the people of the community, they're coming more united in a way, you know, to come towards a plan or towards action of what's going to happen.
So this is you as a little girl?
LIRA: Yes, that's me.
VALENCIA: Back in Tennessee, Brenda Lira knows she's a little more safe than her counterparts in Atlanta or o New Orleans. She's a dreamer and has deferred action or DACA, but she's still nervous about her future. She worries about those who will find out from t his interview that she is undocumented. She hopes one day that they see her as American.
LIRA: I think I am the definition of being American. I'm an immigrant. I work for everything that I want. I pay my taxes. A lot of us pay our taxes. We find our way to not do anything illegal. We try to follow all the laws except of course coming to this country illegally.
VALENCIA: Unfortunately to her critics, that's the one thing they may never get past. Nick Valencia, CNN, Tennessee.
WHITFIELD: We've got so much ahead in the Newsroom and it starts now.
Hi. Hello again everyone and thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right. We're following two developing stories this hour. A federal attorney refusing to leave his post until President Trump fires him. Just one example of the anger and frustration boiling over after attorney general Jeff Sessions gave zero warning before asking dozens of federal attorneys to resign.
And we have new details in the midnight security breach at the White House. A fence jumper making it all the way to a residential entrance with the President inside. The intruder reportedly telling a secret service officer, "I am a friend of the President. I have an appointment."
First, let's stat with the U.S. attorney general from Manhattan, Preet Bharara who is refusing to step down after he was given no warning to leave his job. Let me bring in CNN legal analyst Paul Calian in New York.