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FBI Chief To Testify On Wiretapping Claims As Trump Double Down; Trump Blames Fox News For U.K Wiretap Report; Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Gets Set To Testify; House Votes On Embattled Health Care Bill Thursday; GOP Congressmen: Trump Should Apologize To Obama; Secretary Of State Meets With Chinese Officials; Top Intel Leaders To Testify On Russia Meddling; Comey To Face Tough Questions On Russia At Intel Hearing; French Prosecutor Investigating Paris Airport Attack; Trump On U.K. Wiretapping Claims: "Talk To Fox". Aired 11a-12p
Aired March 18, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We got a busy afternoon. You all get out there and enjoy it. Thanks so much. Good to see you.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: You too.
WHITFIELD: All of that wrap into one way.
PAUL: No, no.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much. It's 11:00 Eastern hour. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. Newsroom starts right now.
All right. Hello everyone, the pursuit of definitive proof. Monday the director of the FBI will raise his right hand and tell members of Congress if there is any evidence that Trump Tower was wire tapped by President Obama. Even as the Department of Justice and members of both Intel Committees are rebuking Trump's claims, the President is not backing down, but he is shifting the blame for where he got that intel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Monday's hearing will kick off one of the most crucial weeks of the Trump presidency. His Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch begins a confirmation process that could be clouded by tough questions from Democrats and Trump's party's health care plan. Very much in peril. Going to a vote on Thursday. The President says he is confident it will pass on the first try.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I also want everyone to know that all of these nos or potential nos are all yeses. Every single person sitting in this room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. The President is in Mar-a-Lago this weekend where he will be working with his staff. Let's go now to CNN's Ryan Nobles in Washington. So Ryan, the House Intelligence hearing on Monday will be a pretty significant deal for the Trump presidency. Do we know what Trump is focusing on this weekend while in Mar-a-Lago?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know right now he is at his golf course in South Florida. His staff not saying whether or not he'll actually go out and golf today. They say he may hit a few balls, but we know that he's already tweeting this morning about the response to that meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But this is ahead of, Fredricka, as you mentioned an enormous week for the Trump administration.
In addition to the vote on the health care bill in the House. You've also got the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and then of course this House Intelligence hearing on the alleged Russian hack of the American election. And, you know, Trump is the one that added this wrinkle about the potential of the Obama administration wiretapping Trump Tower, but his administration is increasingly on an island when it comes to this claim.
More and more Republicans are refuting the idea that this actually happened and in saying that it's going to be the White House that's going to have to come up with some form of evidence. Listen to these Republican lawmakers pushing back on that claim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I would retract the words if I were in his shoes. I think you should retract those words. For me, I would apologize. I think it would be appropriate to do so.
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: It never hurts to say you're sorry. And I think that goes for this situation. It goes for the situation with our British friends. Our intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and the British is one of the strongest that we have and it never hurts to say sorry to your friends.
REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: Unless you can produce some pretty compelling proof, then I think the President, you know, President Obama is owed an apology in that regard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Keep in mind all three of those lawmakers are Republicans. So these are people who are in the same party as the President and they're not just asking for the President to deliver evidence of his claim. They're actually pointing out that there is no evidence and it's now the job of the President to stand up and say that he was sorry to the former president. No sign of that happening anytime soon, Fredericka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much Ryan. I appreciate that.
All right. Let's talk more about this with Lynn Sweet. She is the Washington Bureau Chief with the Chicago Sun-Times, CNN political commentator, David Swerdlick also and assistant editor at "The Washington Post." All right, good to see both of you.
All right. So David, in your view, you know, what is it going to take for Donald Trump to retreat and eventually apologize? Especially as these hearings get under way this week and right now, you know, the reporting is there is no evidence.
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. Fredericka, I think it was -- you know, two Saturdays ago I think both Lynn and I were here with you when this news was first breaking. And, you know, the initial strategy of the White House in the week following the four tweet tweetstorm was to say look, we're tossing this to Congress. Congress can investigate. That didn't work so well.
So last week the strategy was more of a misdirection, right? Changing the meaning of quotes and meaning of air quotes around the word wiretapping and then, you know, going back to some of these news reports from Fox and Head Street and other outlets that didn't add up to the allegation that the President was making about the former president.
[11:05:02] I think after we get past this hearing if there's not any significant new news that we hear from FBI Director James Comey or someone else, I don't anticipate that the President will "back down" or apologize. I think they'll just try to find a way on to move on from this because that is the style of President Trump. Not to apologize but to just find a new way to go.
WHITFIELD: And Lynn, this might be different to just move on. I mean, so far the DOJ hard copy report is classified. So as far as we know, with Comey's testimony, how detailed can he get?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, if nothing happens, you don't have a lot of details, so this is interesting, Fredricka. You're trying to disprove something that did not happen. So you can go and say there's no paper trail. There's no audio trail. There's no human intelligence trail. There's no witness you can bring in from the American side.
But we have seen this time and time again where you have what to some people would be common sense conclusive proof not being accepted by Donald Trump and some of his staffers, so we have -- we're not in new uncharted waters. We remain in uncharted waters.
One of the things that lawyers sometimes say to juries in trials is that you're allowed to take in part your part your common sense and sometimes there is a point where there is an abundance of evidence that nothing happened. And when the President said something happened, I just want to keep reminding people is you do in everyone else does that he has access to every tool in the box to reveal what he knows and how he knows it. But the bottom line, I do agree with David, I don't think you'll see any backing down.
WHITFIELD: He has all the tools, but David as we saw, you know, he never utilized those tools that we could see. And then when asked about it while he was standing alongside Angela Merkel, he still made reference to Fox News as being the source. So how politically damaged is this President not just on the domestic, the U.S. stage, but now in the world stage as well?
SWERDLICK: So domestically I think it remains to be seen, Fred. In the Fox News poll that came out on Wednesday, he was down five points in approval rating from the previous month in that same poll, but in the Gallop daily tracking poll over the past week, it's kind of see sawed back and forth. It's gone from I think 44 to 45 to 39, then back up to 42. I think he's at 41 now.
I think there's sort of a floor there in the high 30s or the low 40s for the President where his core supporters are sticking with him partly because in my view they like to see this sort of combative never say -- never quit, never back off style that the President has. Across the world, though, I think it's a little different. By throwing the British Intelligence under the bus yesterday, by, you know, sort of going out with some of these news reports, unsubstantiated so far, that our allies may have contributed to what he accused President Obama of. I think he's putting our relationships with key allies in a very precarious position.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Then you run the risk of all these definitions of tone deaf, weak leader --
WHITFIELD: -- or, you know, Carl Bernstein said, you know, he's a compulsive liar. You know, this is a former CIA Chief Michael Hayden who had this to say this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: I suspect if there is any example of a U.S. identity being unmasked that has any relationship to the Trump campaign or Trump Tower, and again, Michael, very normal, very correct, very legal, I think at that point the White House goes "aha." I told you so. I think this is where it's going.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO HOST: Do I understand, General Hayden to be predicting that perhaps the next step of this is that the Trump White House seeks to criminalize the incidental collection of U.S. Intelligence? Is that what you're saying?
HAYDEN: Yes. Mischaracterize and criminalize. And Michael, very tellingly, Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff, chair and ranking of the House Intelligence Committee within the last 36 hours, has actually asked the American Intelligence community, was there any incidental collection? Were any identities unmasked? And who requested the unmasking? So I do think we are going to that point, again, which I think at the end of the day will be mischaracterized and there will be an attempt to claim that that's some sort of violation. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So David, you first. Incidental collection is nothing new. But why would it be treated potentially different this time?
SWERDLICK: Well, I think there's two things. If I heard General Hayden right, one is that, you know, from the point of view of the Trump team, if they're trying to defend themselves now and they're in a defensive posture about these allegations that President Trump made.
[11:10:07] They may sort of latch on to any kind of collection of any kind of surveillance information as evidence or at least, you know, a suggestion that what President Trump alleged about President Obama was true even though there's a far cry from what General Hayden was talking about and what President Trump alleged in those four tweets two Saturdays ago.
But I think General Hayden provided a valuable service there explaining to folks that look, whether you like it or not, whether Americans like it or not, collecting surveillance data is fairly routine. The question is, is it was kind that President Trump suggested, that President Obama directly ordered spying on him.
WHITFIELD: And Lynn, you may have been with us two weeks ago when, you know, those tweets first came out from the President. And we talked about the incidental collections and the masking or unmasking of those who may be Americans who fall in the sweep of, you know, foreigners who, you know, are being surveilled. Do you see this White House as potentially kind of trying to change the equation here? Changing, you know, turning the table on the idea of incidental collection?
SWEET: Of course I do because that's what they do. There is a track record, Fredricka and David, of changing the subject or answering a -- finding an answer to a question that hasn't been asked if they can't provide an answer to what they asked. And that is the four tweets that started all these two weeks ago stand for themselves.
And I don't want to buy into the notion that we're not supposed to take them literally. I think we're all capable of taking things literally and symbolically and in a broader context and in a narrow context. And I also think let's do one thing at a time. Let's look at the four tweets, the two with quotes, the two without, and hold the Trump White House accountable to say is that true.
Changing the subject is a tactic. I understand that. It's a strategy that you use when you can't win on front one. Let's move the conversation to two. I want to be bit of -- maybe a hard-liner here. Let's stick with conversation one and keep on that because I don't know how many times the Trump White House needs to -- how many avenues they need to go down to show that what they alleged had not happened.
WHITFIELD: Yes. I think most people are on to the strategy now, even if there is deflection, I think people are now able to keep an eye on all the balls --
WHITFIELD: -- but then still focus, you know, on that singular issue. All right Lynn Sweet, David Swerdlick, see you again soon. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.
All right. As North Korea readies for another missile test, the U.S. says military options with the country are now on the table. Next, we'll go live to Beijing where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is meeting with China's top leaders on their roll in helping to solve the Korean nuclear threat posed by North Korea.
[11:17:38] WHITFIELD: All right. China is urging the Trump administration to be cool headed in its approach to nuclear armed North Korea amid rising tensions. That message delivered to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Beijing. It comes one day after Tillerson warned North Korea that no option was off the table including military action if provoked. But this morning, Tillerson appears to be softening his tone after talks with his Chinese counter part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We share a common view in a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now. And that things have reached a rather dangerous level. And we've committed ourselves to do everything we can to prevent any type of conflict from breaking out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now from Beijing, CNN International Correspondent Matt Rivers. So Matt, why is it so important to get China involved in a North Korea solution?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPODENT: Well, simply put because China is the only major ally that North Korea has on the world stage. China is responsible for a vast majority of North Korea's food and fuel. It is the only way the North Korea really makes hard currency to allow it to continue this weapons development program. And that is something that the Trump administration is very well aware of and part of the reason why the message of the secretary of state took here with him to China is that China should be doing more. China should be using that leverage to get Pyongyang to reign in its nuclear development program.
Now, for China's point of view, they say the real solution to this problem is going to be -- if the United States is willing to negotiate directly with the regime in Pyongyang. But even if that were to happen, China would have to be arbiter between both sides. Chine would play the middleman role to get both sides together at the same table.
And then the third option here, if you're the kind of person who believes that it sanctions from United Nations that could potentially force the Kim Jong-un regime to stop what its doing, well you'll going to need China there too. China has veto power on the U.N. Security Council. And so if there are sanctions put forward, China has the power to veto them every single time.
So no matter which option you think is the right option, in order to try and stem the tension or ease the tension in North Korea right now, you're going to need China no matter which option you choose.
WHITFIELD: All right, Matt Rivers in Beijing. Thank you so much. All right, let's talk more about the rising tension over North Korea.
[11:20:02] I want to bring in Balbina Hwang. She is a former special adviser to Ambassador Christopher Hill who was the assistant U.S. Secretary for East Asia.
So when the Secretary of State Tillerson was in South Korea, he said, "The policy of strategic patience end quote with North Korea was over". So what's the message received when translated?
BALBINA HWANG, FORMER ADVISER TO AMBASSADOR CHRIS HILL: Well, the policy of strategic patience, the Obama administration has consistently said that was actually not their official policy. But of course, that is essentially the outcome.
I think it's actually very good that Secretary Tillerson was setting a very clear tone and message about what this administration is thinking and what future policy is going to bring. Unfortunately, it was a little bit misleading because the idea that use of force is, you know, not off the table or it's on the table now, that has always been the case.
In fact, U.S. Policy towards North Korea has been remarkably consistent ever since 1953 with the armistice. And so I fear that unfortunately in South Korea, which is undergoing political turbulence right now, that perhaps this might send the wrong message of anxiety in South Korean public about U.S. intentions.
WHITFIELD: So China, you know, let's talk about its potential influence meaning that it accounts for some 70 percent of North Korea's trade. They're the main conduit for North Korea's currency. So, is this how China can flex its muscle with North Korea?
HWANG: Well, Secretary Tillerson was right about one thing. The last 20 years of U.S. policy has not worked. But I think we should also remember that part of that policy -- actually for 25 years -- was to essentially out source this problem to China.
And I think the last two decades have made very clear that China is not willing and will not ultimately cut off everything that is needed to pressure North Korea. It simply will not do so. So I think it's time that we stop relying on China. The road to Pyongyang does not go through Beijing.
And in fact, what we should focus on is stopping -- first of all, North Korea's proliferation of these dangerous technologies, but North Korea's acquisition. North Korea's intention to pursue these weapons will not end. We have to cut off its supply and access to all the materials and technology that is required.
WHITFIELD: So --
HWANG: And China is one of the conduits.
WHITFIELD: OK. All right, but you said that it does -- all roads do not necessarily go through Beijing, so what are the other countries you're talking about in which the U.S. should be intervening or leveraging in order to cut off or somehow impact that supply?
HWANG: Well, here's the point. Nothing will ultimately get North Korea to stop its ambitions and its programs of weapons of mass destruction. I don't think outside pressure is ultimately going to work. The only thing that will work, frankly, is regime change. I am want condoning regime change. I am not saying that's what we should pursue, but that is ultimately the only solution.
So, it completely depends on what our goals are on the Korean Peninsula. Do we want stability? Do we want to reduce the threat of North Korea or do we want to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction? Those are not necessarily. They're not the same goals and they're not the same policies.
WHITFIELD: And what could potentially happen if Tillerson does indeed raise the prospect of financial penalties to Chinese companies that may do business, you know, with North Korea?
HWANG: No, I think that is a very smart policy and I think that we should have been doing this much sooner. The consequences will be on these Chinese companies and Chinese actors. And ultimately this may cause the Chinese government to change some of its policies towards North Korea. Those are all very good objectives and very good goals.
WHITFIELD: All right. Balbina Hwang thanks so much. Good to see you.
HWANG: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, live pictures from Capitol Hill where the nation's top intelligence officials are getting set to testify on Monday. But all eyes will be on FBI Director James Comey. What lawmakers hope he may reveal, next.
[11:28:32] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So Monday will be a whirlwind day for lawmakers investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The House Intelligence Committee begins a hearing loaded with questions for the nation's top intelligence officials. FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director, John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and NSA Director Mike Rogers will all testify before the committee.
Director Comey will likely take the most heat. Lawmakers want to know if they agency is conducting any criminal investigations into Trump campaign aides for potential collusion with Russia. Just take a look at the various Trump aides with ties to the Kremlin either through meetings with the Russian ambassador or business interests.
Let's bring in CNN international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, David Swerdlick, CNN political commentator and assistant editor to "The Washington Post". Lynn Sweet, Washing Bureau Chief at the Chicago Sun-Times, and Tom Fuentes, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director. That's a mouthful. Welcome to all of you. Appreciate it.
All right. So Nick, to you first. Russia, you know, back in the spotlight as if it has never really left. So, what's the reaction coming out of Moscow about what's anticipated come Monday?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As always, a bit of distance to play down the scope of this inquiry. Remember this is probably the first time that James Comey, the FBI director is going to sit down and publicly face demands for real concrete details to back up the brutal claims of collusion here.
But the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov very clear that they wouldn't even be watching this as it comes out on Monday, didn't expecting new details, and quote, "They consider the constant allegations against them interfering in that 2016 vote to put Donald Trump in the White House, but that is basically a broken record, quote, "with futuristic songs."
They don't really recognize what they are seeing in there as part of the present day reality, but there is a light problem here for Moscow. They are in the spotlight, fine, and perhaps Vladimir Putin nostalgic for the soviet era relishes that sort of sense of being the grand puppet master although he'll deny actually interfering in the election.
But at the same time, too, Donald Trump was always pretty reticent to criticize Russia during the electoral campaign and after wanting a good relationship with Vladimir Putin. His back's really against the wall now.
Perhaps you might say any bit he did have to try and sing off the same sheet as Russia over complicated policy issues like fighting ISIS, other things too, that's not complicated because the massive controversy.
You saw that flow chart there. The link between his team and Russians generally. That controversy makes it very hard perhaps for a softer approach toward Moscow to emerge from the Trump White House.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It is incredible. In fact, you know, Lynn, I want to ask you look at this flow chart. You've got Jared Kushner on there. You know, among others you've got, you know, Michael Flynn on that list. We know that Comey, you know, among other national intelligence heads will be called to testify, are scheduled to testify. Do you see somewhere down the line any number of those aides or associates, those within the orbit of Trump would also be called to testify and have to say more? LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": I think sooner than later sure, it's possible, because the Democrats have every incentive to want to bring in these other figures. Now one of the things that has happened historically is that sometimes it's very difficult to get White House aides, top staffers in to testify before a congressional committee.
What will make this different is that President Trump has invited the House and the Senate to look into the allegations that he raised so then it would be look interesting if his own staffers would refuse to testify.
WHITFIELD: That makes it very (inaudible). You're right. White House inviting congressional review and now it would be very strange if the White House would say no, our participants cannot be involved. So David, if that were the case, how damaging to the White House and its allegations? How much more damaging would this be?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Fred, I think a couple things. One, Lynn just made a great point. If the administration doesn't go along with cooperating with or sort of at least accepting the results of this investigation it will look bad because President Trump called for it.
To your point, yes, if Director Comey comes in on Monday and doesn't have some bomb shell or some major new piece of information that puts the puzzle pieces here together, then President Trump as we were talking about earlier is really left with allegations that he made about his immediate predecessor that have not, you know, been borne out with any kind of visible evidence.
He is the person as we've all been saying for two weeks now who is in the best position to get and if he wants declassify any information that would back up his claim. So I think once we get past Monday, it's going to be maybe not a fatal point or an inflection point for President Trump, but it's going to be a marker in the first 100 days that sets the tone for what comes next as we go through this year.
WHITFIELD: So then Tom, about James Comey's testimony now, do you expect that there could potentially be this bomb shell to hospital support these allegations or if so much has been reported to indicate that there's nothing there that Comey would simply underscore that there's nothing there.
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think more likely, Fredricka, the latter. I don't see this as being the setting where a bombshell would be revealed. Normally for the FBI director to testify about anything that might or might not be occurring in terms of being an active investigation now for the results of it if there were positive results, he would ask for a closed session. He would not be doing this in public. So in the past these type of hearings when held publicly are more theater than substance.
WHITFIELD: And then what about, Tom, the fact that DOJ report is classified? If there's that and that James Comey is going to be, you know, publicly testifying, could there be a real conflict in the kind of information revealed?
FUENTES: Well, possibly. Don't forget you also have information from (inaudible) Clapper from the past administration. President Obama ordered the investigation into whether there was Russian involvement in our election. He wanted the results to be delivered before the January 20th inauguration and former Director of National Intelligence Clapper did deliver those results and said there was no involvement that they had found.
[11:35:09]So I would be just as curious about their testimony now as former members of President Obama's intelligence team of what did they in fact discover to repeat that claim? If that was true in January, is it still their belief today that nothing was found and that it was no involvement? That's a very important element that it's almost as if they didn't say it.
WHITFIELD: And then Nick, you know, former NSA Michael Flynn paid over $30,000 by Russian TV according to top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, so if there is that, in your view, how much does that help corroborate or indicate that Russia did play great influence in any -- in those who were in the circle of a Donald Trump? There's even that photograph showing Michael Flynn sitting right alongside, you know, Vladimir Putin right there.
WALSH: You could possibly back when he made that appearance and that speech not really have directly predicted that Michael Flynn would have gone on to become the national security adviser of the United States. So you have to possibly give the kremlin a little bit more foresight than is credible to think they may have been able to see that far into the future.
But I think possibly the question around that appearance, which was pretty public, there was no real secret made about it and Michael Flynn talked about it at the time. I think the question has been the level of clearance or declaration he made around receiving that money.
There are broader optics too. If we're talking now about many leading figures in Washington perceiving Moscow as the key foreign policy adversary of the United States and Michael Flynn did take a large amount of money, some money he didn't actually declare in terms of the amount, that raises the broader suspicions of the suspicion between these aides and Russian officials.
Is that just of the course of doing business because they are part of the world and want to appear and give speeches at important events inside Moscow or is that point to a broader sense of collusion perhaps particularly given this broader notion that somehow the 2016 electoral campaign Russia was behind the scenes trying to intervene in Donald Trump's favor.
WHITFIELD: So then David, just looking at that graphic, the association, so many people on the Trump team in different phases and these potential connections to Russia or indeed connections to Russia, does the White House, regardless of how this investigation goes, does the White House not owe the American people some sort of explanation? Because this can't, you know, just be a coincidence even though the White House and many different fashions have said other administrations have had contact with the Russian ambassador or have had, you know, contact with Russians, period. But does this White House feel more compelled to explain better what's going on here?
SWERDLICK: I think the way you phrased it a moment ago, are the American people owed an explanation? I think yes. Will we get it? Will the American public get it? I'm not sure. Because I think that's been the whole problem all along throughout the transition.
And throughout the first now 60 some days of the administration that the administration has not been able to get out from under this cloud of murkiness or maybe not wanted to get out from under it about ties between various members of their -- President Trump's inner circle and Russia.
Take General Flynn for example, I think it's completely right that analysis that it would be hard to impute that level of foresight to President Putin or to the Russians in general that Donald Trump would win the election and that Flynn would wind up as the national security adviser.
But even at that time when that photo was taken of General Flynn sitting next to Vladimir Putin, General Flynn was the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, that he was just seated right next to him at that banquet and then we later learn just a few days ago that he was paid for that appearance to speak.
That he had that relationship with RT, which our intelligence sources say is a Russian propaganda network. The administration has never been able to square the circle with the public on why they think that wasn't an issue going into the transition and into when President Trump installed General Flynn as his national security adviser.
WHITFIELD: All right, pretty comprehensive, it's going to be a pretty powerful week. Thank you so much for being with us this weekend. Nick, David, Tom, Lynn, appreciate it.
All right, next, we take you to Paris, major scare at one of the city's airports. Police killing a man who tried to seize a soldier's gun. Anti-terror prosecutors have now opened an investigation into the attacker. Details next.
WHITFIELD: All right, new this morning, a shooting at the second busiest airport in France has now triggered a terror investigation. A man over powered a soldier at Paris Orly Airport and tried to take her gun. Security forces shot and killed the attacker. Authorities say he was involved in another shooting at a traffic stop just hours earlier.
CNN international correspondent, Melissa Bell, joins me now from outside the Orly Airport there. So where does this investigation go?
MELLISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For now we're waiting to hear from the Paris prosecutor, Fredricka. He's going to speak in a couple of hours. We should learn a lot more. He really has become the voice of reason in these times, these terror times where we've become all too used to these sorts of events sadly here in France.
[11:45:01]What do we know happened this morning? The man's rampage began just before 7 a.m. local, when he was stopped in a car at a police check. He fired at the policeman, wounding one of them before fleeing the scene in the car, dumping it later, carjacking another, and making his way here to Orly Airport.
That was when about an hour and a half after that he tried to take this weapon from this female soldier by being -- before being shot by two of her colleagues. At Paris airports what you see regularly are these sorts of patrols.
Paris, all of France remains in a state of high alert as a result of the terrorist threat that continues to remain extremely high. That's what the French president confirmed --
WHITFIELD: All right, we lost Melissa Bell. We'll try to resume that reporting when we get back.
All right, coming up, President Trump and his wiretapping claim what's also now being called an international incident. More on this coming up.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. This morning, President Trump blamed the media for the awkward perception around his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He tweeted this, "Despite what you have heard from the fake news, I had a great meeting with Angela Merkel."
In Friday's joint press event with Merkel, Trump was asked by a German reporter about his unsubstantiated claim that President Obama used a British intelligence agency to surveil Trump Tower. Trump pinned the claim on Fox News analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox and so you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in our senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter. So Brian, Fox rather quickly responded and separated itself with its analyst's comments. So very interesting given what has been a rather cozy relationship lately between Fox and Trump.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The president's favorite network, but it's not often you hear any president say go talk to that cable channel. This is their issue, not mine. Here's the deal, Fred.
Judge Andrew Napolitano, the network's top judicial analyst, apparently had heard this information from unidentified sources that he has. He went on the air a few times during the week and talked about this as if it was fact. Apparently, he stands by the story but Fox does not. The news room at Fox says it cannot corroborate it. Here's what Sheppard Smith said on the air on Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEPPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS: Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Full stop. Can't get any more clear than that. Did you notice how Sheppard Smith referred to commentary? He was saying the judge was just talking about his own opinion or his own analysis, wasn't actually reporting.
The thing is, Fred, the judge shared this information on both Fox talk shows and straight up newscasts and he presented it as if Fox News, the news room had gotten this information from really powerful anonymous sources.
He said it repeatedly Monday and Tuesday, and then the White House repeated it on Thursday and that's what caused this international incident.
WHITFIELD: Right. And then you know, this morning with his tweet calling it fake news, but then clearly he does watch something other than Fox because he doesn't equate fake news with Fox, but he knows that there has been reporting globally especially on the dynamics between he and Angela Merkel yesterday.
Whether it be examining the body language, whether it be his response to these comments or these questions coming from German reporters. Can you also help kind of set the stage why there are some viewers who don't understand how it is that the German reporters went for the jugular on the wiretapping questions and not the U.S. reporters who are usually picked by you know the president and their camp on whose questions will be entertained in that kind of setting?
STELTER: You're right about that. It was the two German reporters who asked tougher questions in this joint press conference with Merkel and Trump. American reporters asked about health care. Important topics but I think the wiretapping issue is what made the most news in the press conference and those questions where is asked by German reporters.
Now I think what this ultimately comes down to is that President Trump, you know in some ways is a Fox News presidency. He watches Fox a lot. He tweets about Fox. He gives most of his interviews to Fox. He hires former Fox staffers. He peddles information from Fox.
So he's in this feedback loop with one particular outlet. He's especially getting information from the opinion programs on the network which clearly skew to the right. They skew conservative. You know, I think it's the same advice we would share with anybody. The same advice we would share with our viewers.
If you hear something and you're inclined to believe it because it sounds true and backs up your point of view, that's when you want to double or triple check and find out if it's actually true. In this case, the White House was promoting something from the judge that it sort of wanted it to be true because it boosted the president's position maybe he was wiretapped.
[11:55:03]And in fact, Napolitano was quoting intel sources presumably the kind of intel sources that now work for President Trump. This all comes back to the question you asked two weeks ago. Why hasn't the president tried to declassify these reports that try to prove him right?
He hasn't done that because there doesn't seem to be any evidence that he's right. Here we are two weeks later still wondering why he tweeted those things about former President Obama and why there's no evidence to back it up.
WHITFIELD: Why he wants to come across as not having access to information and instead relying on selective reports?
STELTER: Selective, that's the right word. He's choosing. He's picking and choosing. By the way, I want the politicians here to be watching cable news. This channel, Fox, all of them. But President Trump has access to the best intel in the world. That's not going to be on television. It's going to be secret private information that only he has access to.
WHITFIELD: All right. Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Of course, we'll be watching more of you, Brian, tomorrow on CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" beginning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
All right, coming up, President Trump is confident his health care bill will pass. Why even his allies in Congress are having their doubts. That's straight ahead.