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President Trump's Pick For Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch Will Be On Capitol Hill For The Start Of His Confirmation Hearing; Top Republicans Who Have Been Critical In The Past Of The President's Health Care Plan; Secret Service Investigating Another Security Scare At The White House; Revised Healthcare Plan For Vote on Thursday; White House Security Breaches. The Cost Of Protecting The First Family; British Wiretapping Claims. Chuck Berry, Dead at 90. Aired 4:00-5p ET
Aired March 19, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:00:00] REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: He have not seen evidence of any wire that you just described.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Did you know of any evidence to support that allegation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jake, not that I have seen and not that I'm aware of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Also happening this week, the President's Supreme Court pick faces his first test tomorrow. Neil Gorsuch begins his confirmation hearing.
And then on Thursday, House lawmakers will vote on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. But the question remains, can Trump court reluctant members of his own party? Just yesterday, three of those holdouts met with White House senior staff at Mar-a-Lago. House speaker Paul Ryan insisted this morning that he is not worried about the bill passing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: The President is being - bringing people to his table. And I'm very impressed of how the President is helping us close this bill, making the improvements that we have been making getting the votes, and so we feel very good where we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Let's begin with CNN Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles.
So Ryan, what are lawmakers saying about alleged ties between Trump campaign and Russia ahead of tomorrow's hearings with James Comey.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is no doubt, Fredricka, that all eyes will be out here in tomorrow morning. And there are really no guarantees that the high profile witnesses who will (INAUDIBLE) in front of the House intelligence committee will reveal all that much about what they know about the attempted Russian hack. Keep in mind, this is still an ongoing investigation.
But there's still some hope that they will at least provide clarity over the accusation that the Trump campaign was working with Russia to help influence the election. This is something the Trump administration has forcefully denied where the Republican chair of the Intel committee, Devin Nunes has said that he is not seen of any evidence to suggest that there were collusion that his Democratic counterpart, Adam Schiff is not so sure. Listen to them both.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you seen any evidence of any collusion between what I will call Trump world, associates of campaign officials, Trump world and the Russians to swing the 2016 Presidential election?
REP. DEVIN NUNES, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I'll give you a very simple answer, no.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There was circumstantial evidence of collusion. There was direct evidence of I think deception. And that's where we begin the investigation. Now, I don't want to prejudge where we ultimately end up. And of course, there is one thing to say there's evidence. There is another thing to say we can prove or prove beyond all reasonable doubt or there is enough evidence to bring to a grand jury to purposes of criminal indictment. But there is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And this divide could be where the congressional investigations breaks down. If the findings of the committee breakdown over party lines, that is where there is real danger. The whole probe could just be written off by critics as being too political. And what Republicans and Democrats don't seem to be on the same page about Russia's influence on the election, both parties have been clear about one thing, no one has been able to provide any evidence to support President Trump's claim that President Obama wiretapped Trump tower and that point could be emphasized during tomorrow's hearing -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: So Ryan, we know this hearing tomorrow will be on the House side. What about the status of the investigation on the Senate side?
NOBLES: Yes. It's important to point out that there is a companion investigation happening on the Senate side. They are going to hold a hearing of their own on March 30th. And what's interesting about the Senate intelligence committee is that you do have some prominent Republicans on that panel who are not afraid to be skeptical of Donald Trump and his administration including Florida senator Marco Rubio who has said many times that he will not put his name on the results of any investigation that he doesn't feel really seeks to find the truth and isn't one that is just rammed through for political reasons.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.
All right. Meanwhile, major questions on President Trump's credibility after his unfounded wiretapping claims. Now it's been two weeks, multiple lawmakers speaking out today saying there's simply no evidence to back up the accusations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUNES: A President doesn't go and physically wiretap something. So if you take the President literally, it didn't happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No evidence of any wiretapping of Trump tower.
NUNES: No. There's no FISA warrant that I am aware of wiretap Trump tower.
SCHIFF: I hope we can put an end to this wild goose chase because what President said was just patently false and the wrecking ball it created now has banged into our British allies and our German allies. It's continuing to grow in terms of damage. And you need to put an end to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's discuss with our political panel now.
Joining me right Brian Morgenstern, a republican strategist. Good to see you. And political analyst Ellis Henican. Good to see you as well. OK. Thanks so much.
So Brian, you first. What do you want to hear from James Comey tomorrow?
BRIAN MORGENSTERN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It would be nice if we could separate fact from fiction and figure out where things actually stand here. And if he says, like, I think some people expect him to say, that there is no evidence of any collusion with Russia, that Russia maybe had some sort of, you know, this PR war, I guess, against the Democrats in some way, but it didn't have anything to do with the Trump campaign. And we don't think there is any reason to believe that it had any influence on the outcome of the election. That would be nice to be able to put that to bed.
In terms of, you know, any wiretapping or anything else, there are reports of the servers interacting with a Russian bank, maybe some clarity on that. You know, I just think people have been speculating an awful lot. And so I think just getting some clarity would be great.
WHITFIELD: Yes, there is a lot. You know, very pivotal week ahead. We are talking about hearing about Russia, wiretapping, you know, the Supreme Court nominee this week as the GOP health care plan to vote on Thursday.
So Ellis, what do you want to hear this week? And among all of those things, which is, I guess potentially the most consequential issue for the President?
ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Well, you are right. It's a little bit of an embarrassment of riches here is in this week as we gaze into the following week. I guess if you are talking consequential, you always have to go right to the Supreme Court nominee because that is the big gift that keeps on giving for decades to come.
I want to watch what the Dems are going to do. How stringently they are going to oppose this, right. Because so many Democratic activists do feel like this is stolen property, right. This was a nomination that belonged to the Democrats and President Obama and Merrick Garland. And that, you know, Dems say, hey, why should we help the thief drive over to the pawnshop to sell this thing? We ought to fight it. Let's see whether that happens.
WHITFIELD: At the same time, you know, Brian, does it appear to be an uphill battle for the Dems to feel like they could block that confirmation?
MORGENSTERN: Yes. They are not in an enviable position here, because Gorsuch is a very well-qualified candidate, you know, according to all the organization, the bar association, the federal society, and the other outside groups that sort of, you know, vet candidates and give them ratings. He has sterling credentials. He is an utterly an offensive person that everyone seems to get along with very well. So they don't really have pressure points in terms of torpedoing his nomination. If they decide to filibuster, Republicans could change the rule and do the nuclear options which means that if a liberal justice retires, then the Republican get Gorsuch on the court but they get whoever they want for that seat as well. So the Democrats I think really don't have a chance here.
HENICAN: Brian, let him. I mean, Merrick Garland was terrifically come a bit absolutely as the equal of the current nominee. He never got a chance. He never got a vote. I see a lot of Dems, really, just go drag your feet for a while. Let this thing go. Maybe we should wait until the midterm elections, and let's see what the people think. Wasn't that the argument that was made last time?
WHITFIELD: All right. Still probably perhaps the most highly anticipated is that hearing and testimony from James Comey tomorrow, from the FBI director, if he says definitively there is no evidence that pertains to the wiretapping that President, you know, Trump still alleges and believes was largely responsible by President Obama, if he says that's it, done.
Brian, do you see the President using this moment in which to apologize or to say, OK, it's time to move on. I was wrong?
MORGENSTERN: Those are not very Trumpian terms, I wouldn't think. I don't know, you know, part of the beauty of Donald Trump is not being able to predict what's going to happen next. So, you know, there are a number of avenues you can take here, including, as he has, pointed out in the "New York Times" report from January 20th, from the heat state investigating that there was something, some kind of surveillance going on, and he has already said those things. So I wouldn't expect a full scale sort of backtracking, even if Comey says there's no wiretaps, I think he still is going to say, look, I have these reasons to have this belief and I think he will stick to his guns.
WHITFIELD: Ellis, at the same time, this is different because this President said he wanted Congress to get involved, Congress has gotten involved, bringing the FBI director, you know, his -- the director's, you know, word has to matter, if indeed he is able to reiterate what we have heard from a lot of the, you know, lawmaker leadership that there's nothing there.
HENICAN: Of course, Fred. You're right. I mean, he is probably not going to do it. But the evidence is pretty strong here. And every time they come up with another explanation, oh, my goodness, maybe it was British intelligence that did it. It just digs the whole deep. I wish he would stop.
WHITFIELD: Well, to use the President's words, you know, what does he have to lose, Brian, if he doesn't, you know, acquiesce if indeed there's no evidence there you hear from Comey and the investigation shows, you know, that there was nothing to these accusations? What does he have to lose?
MORGENSTERN: I mean, like I said, I think he will stick to his guns in terms of, you know, the reason why he believed that. I don't think there is all that much to lose, because this issue, I mean, he is just so masterful at stealing the press cycle back when if something adverse is going on in terms of his agenda. I think this accomplished that goal no matter what. And I think he has got his talking points down that, you know, he feels like he has some firm ground to stand on that there with "the New York Times" reporting that history input (ph) that there was some sort of surveillance going on.
So I mean, just in terms of like turning tail and running away, I just don't see that happens at all.
[16:10:23] WHITFIELD: Credibility?
HENICAN: I thought credibility, that's the word I was thinking of. Yes. It's dripping away by the day and it's going to keep dripping until he stands and just says, listen. I was wrong about this thing, but I'm not holding my breath.
WHITFIELD: All right. Brian, Ellis, thanks so much. Stay with us.
HENICAN: Good word.
WHITFIELD: Straight ahead this evening, ahead of tomorrow's all important hearing on Capitol Hill, CNN brings you a special preview tonight 11:00 p.m. eastern time hosted by John Berman. You don't want to miss it. And tomorrow, President Trump's pick for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will be on Capitol Hill for the start of his confirmation hearing. He could be in for several days of intense questioning President Trump tapped the Colorado appellate judge to replace the late conservative judge Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch's confirmation would be a big win for the White House particularly after a rocky start to Trump's presidency with delay in conformation and with stop and restart of his travel ban. So Democrats are skeptical of Gorsuch and they may try to block him with a filibuster. Republicans are confident Gorsuch will eventually be confirmed.
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SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I think it's 50/50 whether the Democrats will filibuster. They don't have any good arguments against Gorsuch, but they are furious that would going to have a conservative nominated and confirmed. I tell you this, judge Gorsuch will be confirmed. He will either get 60 votes and be confirmed or otherwise, whatever procedural steps are necessary, I believe within a month or two, Neil Gorsuch will be an associate justice of the Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now to discuss this is CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vague.
All right. So Ariane, will this be a cake walk for Gorsuch?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: No, this won't be a cake walk, Fred. This is really the Senate's only chance to grill this candidate ever before he gets like ten years. So it will do its job. The Republicans are going to take the opportunity to talk in general about the court, and then they will look at his opinions. They really like, for instance, his opinions on religious liberty.
But you know, the Democrats, they are in a tough spot. They are still furious about the fact that the Obama nominee, Merrick Garland did never got a hearing. But they also recognize that Gorsuch is well qualified and they know that Trump is replacing a conservative with a conservative. They may choose at the end of the day to save some firepower, particularly if they think Trump down the road might be able to get another retirement, say for a justice who is more liberal, that could be the real fight.
WHITFIELD: So this nominee, Gorsuch, if confirmed, you know, will place the late Antonin Scalia, how similar or different are the two?
DE VOGUE: Well, the Republicans know that Gorsuch hasn't rule directly on some hot button issues like abortion, immigration, gay marriage. But they are taking a lot of comfort in the fact that he shares the same conservative judicial philosophy as Justice Scalia. So they think that even though he may not have ruled on these tough questions like Roe v. Wade, they take comfort that at the end of the day, they will come to the result that they like. They put a lot into the fact that he has said he agrees with Scalia's general overall judicial philosophy.
WHITFIELD: Ariane de Vogue, from Washington. Thanks so much.
DE VOGUE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. This week the fate of the GOP's health care plan is also on the line. The Republicans' bill heads to the House floor on Thursday, will the holdouts come around and vote yes? That's next.
[16:18:07] WHITFIELD: President Trump and House speaker, House GOP lawmakers, that is, are making a hard push for the American health care bill. The vote is Thursday on the plan to replace and repeal key parts of the affordable care act. Some critics say the proposal gives states little flexibility when it comes to Medicaid. The program is one of the more contentious parts of the legislation.
Vice President Mike Pence detailed some of the Medicaid changes to conservative critics.
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MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have actually added a number of great amendments just in the last 24 hours. Beginning with, we are going to stop more states from expanding Medicaid by ceasing the expansion for states that did not expand Medicaid under Obama care immediately.
PENCE: Because of the voices of conservatives in Congress, we are going to be amending the house bill to give states the option for a Medicaid block grant in its entirety, so states can reform Medicaid in the way that they see fit.
PENCE: And thanks to the leadership and the collaboration of many of the great conservatives in this room, we are going to have an amendment to allow states to include a work requirement for able- bodied adults on Medicaid so we can ensure the program is there for people who actually need it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Defenders of the plan say there is flexibility to help older Americans afford coverage on the individual market but others are not so convinced.
Athena Jones, CNN White House correspondent, is in West Palm Beach where the President soon departs to return back to Washington. So Medicaid is a major obstacle threatening this bill's pas passage, is the President's team optimistic?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Well, the White House has certainly put on an optimistic face. You
remember a few days ago, the President said he was 100 percent behind this bill. Now, of course, that was before these proposed amendment that the vice President was talking about having been discussed and settled on just in the last couple of days. He said 24 hours, but it was yesterday, so in the last couple of days.
It's also notable that the President said during his press conference with Germany chancellor Angela Merkel, when he was asked is there anything that is non-negotiable about the health care repeal bill and his answers was I will let you know when we are done which suggest that he is open to all sorts of changes.
What's very unclear here, Fred, as we have been reporting, is whether there is going to be a not support from Republicans to get this bill through the House. And the issue with making changes that will please conservatives is that you could then alienate moderates, certainly in the house and also in the Senate where a lot of Republicans have warned that the bill in its current form is dead on arrival, but the bill in a more conservative form would face an even bigger uphill climb. So that is a challenge that is facing the White House right now as they lead up to Thursday.
[16:21:07] WHITFIELD: All right. And then we also know that there were three top Republicans who have been critical in the past of the President's health care plan. They met at Mar-a-Lago, with some of the staff members, what can you tell us about what happened?
JONES: That's right. We are talking about Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and congressman Mark Meadows. These are three conservatives who have been pretty vocal about their opposition to the plan as put forward by House speaker Paul Ryan. They say it doesn't go far enough to undo Obamacare, which is of course what Republicans have been running on for years, and what a big campaign promise of the President's.
And so, they met yesterday at Mar-a-Lago, with several White House officials including chief strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus for some three hours to discuss their concerns. We are told it was an intense and productive meeting and that Bannon was pushed was said he was open to changes - the White House was that conservatives were pushing for.
Meanwhile Reince Priebus was with pushing for the plan that speaker Ryan is advocating. So it's pretty sure there is more work to be done to make sure they are having a support for this bill -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones, thank you much in West Palm Beach.
And also, in West Palm Beach, we are looking at live pictures right now of the departing air force one. The President heading back to Washington for a very busy, potentially pivotal week. You have got hearings to begin for his Supreme Court pick. He has got the FBI director who will be testifying on the hill about the wiretapping charges made two weeks ago via tweet from the president as well as Comey testifying on whether there was any Russian collusion with the U.S. elections. All of that for a very busy week ahead. And of course, Thursday's vote on the GOP health care plan.
We will continue to watch air force one as it takes off and we will be right back in the NEWSROOM.
[16:27:28] WHITFIELD: All right, the secret service investigating another security scare at the White House. Late last night, a man drove up to a White House check point, claiming to have a bomb in his car. Authorities shut down the area then search the vehicle for more than four hours but ultimately found nothing. This is the latest in a string of recent White House intrusions and attempted security breaches.
Earlier yesterday another person was arrested after jumping over a barrier right outside of the White House fence. The man said he had a document that he wanted to deliver.
And last week, one week ago, a man was on the White House grounds for 16 minutes before being apprehended. He was found just steps away from the main door to the mansion on the south lawn carrying mace.
Joining me right now to discuss this is Anthony Chapa. He is a former secret services assistant director.
Anthony, good to see you. So how concerning is it to you that we are talking about three security incidents in a weeks' time in the White House area perimeter.
ANTHONY CHAPA, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Well, absolutely, the mitigation of the security is something the secret service is working every day. Every day, it is a review of policies and procedures, actions and reactions, and that's happening every day. With the incidents that took place, you know, as you have mentioned, the bicycle racks out front, remember that was an enhancement and that worked, because that rack was there, and the immediate response from the men and women at the uniform division stopped that individual. So, you know, that as an example that some of the measures that were taken some time ago that has stopped one person. But you did mention there were several. And all of that is going to be reviewed.
And from my time in the secret service, and I remind viewers that I'm retired, so I speak only for myself. But everything is going to get a formal review. That's the risk mitigation, from the vehicle showed up, the work that was done by the uniform division in the metropolitan police in Washington D.C. was phenomenal. That was the plan. That is what we prepared for.
WHITFIELD: But is it you are feeling though that the secret service would be, you know, particularly on edge or their concerns heightened particularly because you are talking about three incidents in just a week's time.
CHAPA: The secret service is always at a heightened sense of preparedness, you know. This is what they are prepared for. These incidents happened and they are operated for it.
WHITFIELD: Except there was a lot of criticism about last week that this person could be on the grounds for 16 minutes before bumping into a secret service agent, was the reporting, bumped into that suspect. So yes, there's always going to be assessment, as you said, after something happens, but will they be looking at this as particularly unusual that you have three incidents, all of them very different, but all around the same vicinity, the White House?
[16:30:10] CHAPA: One thing that is not shared a lot is that there are individuals who show up almost on a daily basis who believe that they have a document or a need to speak with the president. And to them, it doesn't matter whether the president is a Democrat or Republican, male or female. They have to be there. And there is a whole team of agents from the Secret Service who are there just to work with these individuals.
Unfortunately, a great many of them like the people who have breached security have mental issues or they believe that indeed the president has called them. And so, kudos to the agents and Uniformed Division officers who confront these people every day because that doesn't make the news, that information isn't shared with the public, on the great work that these guys are doing to help people with mental health issues. They're the ones that are jumping the fence or trying to.
WHITFIELD: What does that indicate to you in terms of what it will be like for U.S. Secret service, and law enforcement as a whole, charged with protecting the president, this day forward?
CHAPA: OK. Well, I'm glad you brought that up. You know, the Secret Service is very involved in what was called National Special Security Events, and if we look back just in the recent past of the work that the agents and officers did with the Democratic Convention, the Republican Convention, the Pope's visit, the 2016 election, the nuclear summit.
These are great huge events that require a lot of planning and preparation and the Secret Service not working not just with the Uniformed Division but the outer perimeters are all of the local law enforcement. So there has to be a great team there. Just like we're watching the president arrive now, the agents are working, the Uniformed Division guys were there as part of the advanced team, and the local law enforcement, and in this case, the military police are part of the many rings of security that provide and mitigate the risk to the president.
WHITFIELD: Right. It's quite the coalition, I mean real bringing together of so many levels of law enforcement. All right, Anthony Chapa, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
CHAPA: Well, thank you. Thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: All right. It's not just the white house that requires protection. Trump Tower and Mar-A-Lago are fully staffed with security as well. Up next, the price tag of keeping the president and the first family safe around the world. But first, We want to introduce you to the very first CNN Hero of 2017. After losing her 8-year-old son to leukemia, Leslie Morissette transformed her heart break into action. She's using twenty-first century technology to keep kids battling life-threatening illnesses connected to their everyday lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLIE MORISSETTE, CNN HERO: It's really difficult for kids to spend a lot of time in the hospital. They get so disconnected from their family and friends and schools and when we bring them this technology, they're able to dial in and be right in the classroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Phillip.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/FEMALE: Hi Phillip.
MORISSETTE: You can just see their face light right up. It brings them such joy.
WHITFIELD: Wow, very inspiring to see the robot in action and watch Leslie's full story, go to CNNHeroes.com. We'll be right back.
[16:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right, moments ago, President Trump left Palm Beach, headed back to Washington after spending the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort. It's the fifth time by the way that he has been there since becoming president. And the president was seen driving a golf cart really quickly if you look right there yesterday in Palm Beach. Watch the trees.
Residents there are raising concerns about paying their share of his security cost while at the resort. And with the first lady and his youngest son living in New York, well the cost to protect the first family is adding up. Here's CNN's Sarah Ganim.
SARAH GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We want our money back. That's what the New York City Police Department and Palm Beach County officials are saying, asking to be reimbursed for millions of dollars, the cost of protecting the president, his family and their homes.
In a letter to New York Congressional Members last month, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill wrote, "Funding will be critical to ensure New York City can allocate the personnel and resources that are necessary to keep the city and all its residents safe." Mayor Bill de Blasio talks about these challenges back in December.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: We have never had a situation where a president of the United States would be here on such a regular basis.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GANIM: During the transition period from Election Day to Inauguration Day, O'Neil says the cost of securing Trump Tower and the area around it, added up to $24 million. Palm Beach County officials say they spend an estimated $60,000 in overtime every day Trump spends in Florida, protecting Trump while he's at Mar-a-Lago. That's a bill local taxpayers will have to pay if the federal government or Trump himself doesn't reimburse.
Supporters of the president say he's often working during his trips to Mar-a-Lago, even calling it the winter White House. But the president himself had harsh words for his predecessor's trips, back in 2011 tweeting this, "The habitual vacationer Barack Obama is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 million." During the election, Trump also told the publication "The Hill" quote, "I would rarely leave the White House because there is so much work to be done.
So far, Trump has spent more than a fourth of his time in office at Mar-a-Lago. There are more moving parts for the Secret Service when it comes to the first family.
[16:40:00] Trump has multiple homes. His adult children frequently travel and his wife Melania and their son Barron live in New York City, a decision the NYPD says costs the department up to $146,000 a day. Sara Gannon, CNN, New York.
WHITFIELD: All right. I'm glad to bring back Republican strategist Brian Morgenstern and political analyst Ellis Henican. Good to see you guys again. OK, so CNN estimate is that this weekend's visit alone is costing Palm Beach more than $1 million. This is money being spent by local taxpayers and police saying resources being used for presidential security as you saw in Sarah's piece. There are a lot of, you know, folks in that city who are not happy with it. So Brian, you know, the president just presented a budget to Congress that calls for a massive cuts so, is there an optics problem now?
BRIAN MORGENSTERN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's the same optics problem I think that every president has in varying degrees. I mean, this is a fun political football to throw around that the president costs a lot to protect. The fact is, that is just about -- maybe the most essential function of the federal government, protecting the people and protecting our president.
So, it's a necessary evil. It's something that every president goes through and every time a president takes vacation, the opposition party, you know, goes bananas. So I don't think this is really anything unique to Trump. I think it's something every president goes through.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ellis, is that it? I mean, you know, it does cost money to protect the president and it's the opposition party that doesn't like how much it costs. Is that the issue or is it the issue of what's, you know, excessive spending versus what's normal spending for a president's protection?
ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I have been trying to get a lot of sympathy up for the poor suffering folks in Palm Beach. It's a little tough in that specific case. Listen, let me see if I can put it to rest. Yes, it's the federal government's responsibility to protect the president.
WHITFIELD: Well, some New Yorkers are complaining too, how about that?
HENICAN: I guess you're right. The folks in Fifth Avenue --
WHITFIELD: On Fifth Avenue.
HENICAN: -- they don't really suffer so much either most of the time. Yes, we need to protect the president of whatever party (ph). The feds probably ought to pay for it, not the locals. But you know what, the Trump family could pitch in a little bit, and not be so darn difficult to protect.
WHITFIELD: Would that be fair?
HENICAN: -- all over the place. Yes, they should know.
WHITFIELD: I mean, are there first families has been asked to pay for their own protection?
HENICAN: Well, no, what I'm saying is this. I'm not saying they necessarily should even pay for it but be sensitive to the fact that we're paying for it, right. Don't fly all over and have the kids go into foreign countries all the time. Melania lives different place from her husband. I mean, it is pretty expensive.
WHITFIELD: Because you're talking about there's also Secret Service detail for Eric and Donald Jr. when they go abroad even though, you know, they are conducting the business of the, you know, of the Trump Incorporated, that end of the family business. And even there's also detail, you know, for Ivanka and her husband too. Ellis, is you know -- I'm sorry -- and Brian, is Ellis making too much of it?
MORGENSTERN: Look, it's probably the first time that I can think of where we've had a president whose family was running a closely held international real estate conglomerate. So I think these circumstances are somewhat unique. And with -- you know, just because their father was elected president, doesn't mean that the Trump kids have to forego their livelihood and stop traveling the Trump properties and all those things and carrying out their normal functions.
So, you know, I guess there are some things around the edges where maybe he stays home one weekend a month or something, instead of going to Mar-a-Lago. I guess there are some ways they could kind of alleviate it. I just think securing the president is an essential function and every president gets criticized for traveling and running up the bill a little bit. It's just something they do and it's a necessary political hit that they always take and I just don't think it's really unique to Trump.
WHITFIELD: OK. And Ellis, is it really just about the travel or is it that sometimes, you know, the American people want to see the first family on the property of the White House, claiming it home, showing that it is, you know, the people's place, no matter what administration?
HENICAN: Ye, I guess. It's a pretty nice public housing, isn't it? I would just say, show us a little mercy, Trumps? I mean, we want to protect you. We don't want anything bad to happen, but try not to rub our noses in it too much.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ellis, Brian, always so good to see you. Thank you so much gentlemen.
HENICAN: Nice to see you guys.
WHITFIELD: It is going to be a busy week. We will all be engaged.
All right, meantime, it has been two weeks since President Trump tweeted that President Obama was behind the wiretapping of Trump Towers, being (ph) which is being called an international incident. It has reached another level.
On Thursday, when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer cited false claims that a British spying agency, through the orders of President Obama was behind those wiretaps. Spicer quoted Fox News analyst judge, Andrew Napolitano.
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[16:45:01] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: On Fox News on March 14th, Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement, quote, "Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn't use the NSA, he didn't use the CIA, he didn't use the FBI and he didn't use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ. What is that? It's the initials for the British intelligence spying agency.
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WHITFIELD: A day later alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Trump said this.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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, so you shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.
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WHITFIELD: And late today we've learned former CIA officer and former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson had a hand in the British intelligence agency rumor. Brian Stelter talked to him.
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BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Let me ask you about this thing. LARRY JOHNSON, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Sure.
STELTER: So, my sense is that on Monday, Napolitano says this on TV, he says he has intel sources who believe this is true. You're saying you were one of those sources, but you didn't know Napolitano was going to use you like that?
JOHNSON: Well apparently what happened is I communicated -- when Donald Trump tweeted what he did on Saturday two weeks ago. The next day, I was interviewed on Russia today. Now, I had known about the fact that the British, through GHCQ were passing information back channel. This was not done at the direction of Barack Obama, let's be clear about that. But it was being done with the full knowledge of people like John Brennan and Jim Clapper.
And I have been told this by two different people I know within the intelligence community, you know, in January. They were very concerned about this because they saw it as an unfair meddling in the politics, but it was a way to get around the issue of American intelligence agencies not collecting.
STELTER: To be clear, you had this secondhand? So you didn't get this information directly, you're hearing from others.
JOHNSON: I'm hearing it from people who are in a position to know, that's correct.
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WHITFIELD: All right. Catch "Reliable Sources" every Sunday 11:00 a.m. eastern and of course all of that will be a centerpiece of testimonies on Capitol Hill this week. We'll be right back.
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WHITFIELD: That was "Roll over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry. Last night, the musical legend passed away at the age of 90. Condolences have been pouring in for the often called "Father of Rock N' Roll." This morning, former president Barack Obama tweeted this, "Chuck Berry rolled over everyone who came before him and turned up everyone who came after. We'll miss you, Chuck. Be good."
Mick Jagger also tweeting, quote, "I'm so sad to hear of Chuck Berry's passing. I want to thank him for all the inspirational music he gave to us." Michelle Turner takes a look back at the life of the musical legend that was Chuck Berry.
(MUSIC PLAYING) MICHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of Rock 'N Roll. His powerful guitar licks fueled hit songs such as "Johnny B. Goode," "Maybellene," and "Roll over Beethoven."
During the '50s and '60s, Berry's music signaled a new era in rock 'n roll. The singer's ability to seamlessly blend R&B and rock music made a strong impact on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to name a few.
KEITH RICHARDS, MUSICIAN: It's very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry because I lifted every lick he ever played.
TRUNER: Berry experienced a career resurgence in the mid '80s and '90s. His music re-entered pop culture in films such as "Back To The Future" and "Pulp Fiction." In 1984, Berry received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a year later, he became the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame's first inductee.
RICHARDS: Mr. Berry.
CHUCK BERRY, MUSICIAN: Dynamite. Dynamite! Thank you.
TURNERE: From the heels of his induction, the "Stones" Keith Richards invited a roster of great musicians to celebrate the rock icon's 60th birthday. Then in 1987, Berry was humbled to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
BERRY: I cannot describe -- I don't have the voice, I don't have the wind, I don't have the spirit, but believe me, I'll remember it the rest of my life.
TURNER: The married father of four repeatedly had trouble with the law. He was behind bars three times for charges ranging from attempted robbery to tax evasion and convicted of transporting an under-aged girl across state lines. However Berry's career was not derailed.
BERRY: That margin of glory is not too high. That margin of defeat then is also not too low, so I lived right through it without any pain.
TURNER: Berry received the Kennedy Center Honor Award in 2000 and continued to perform well into his 80's. His remarkable contribution to music will forever remain a part of rock 'n roll history.
[16:55:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)
WHITFIELD: All right. On the eve of a big week, tomorrow all eyes on Capitol Hill as FBI Director James Comey testifies of Russia, the 2016 election and President Trump's wiretapping claims. Catch a preview of what you should expect tonight in a CNN special with John Berman. That's it, 11:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. Thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We have much more of the "Newsroom" straight ahead with Ana Cabrera.
ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: Its 5:00 eastern, 2:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York and you are live in the CNN Newsroom. Great to have you with me. The countdown tonight is on.
[17:00:00] Tomorrow will be extraordinary. In less than 20 hours, we will finally hear from the director of the FBI on Russia's election meddling, President Trump's wiretapping claim and any significant conversations between Moscow and then candidate Trump's associates.