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Four People Killed in London Terror Attack; GOP Congressman Defending Trump Wiretapping Claims?. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired March 22, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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KEVIN SHORFIELD, EYEWITNESS: I assume that was the armed police who patrol Parliament all hours of the day and night taking out the attacker.
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BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: People ran for cover, of course, as the sound of gunfire was erupting there as British Prime Minister Theresa May was evacuated from Parliament.
We're told a counterterrorism investigation is under way. And President Trump has been informed of the situation, has been on the phone with the prime minister.
Let's go straight to London and Christiane Amanpour, CNN chief international correspondent. We have also have Nic Robertson, our CNN diplomatic editor.
So, Nic, let me go to you.
The Metropolitan Police just held a press conference updating everyone on where we are right now. I mentioned four dead, including the attacker. What more do we know?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We know one of the dead was a police officer, a policewoman.
We don't know who the other two dead are. At this stage, one would have to assume that they were innocent passersby at the time. Also, of the 20 people that the police have now reported injured, they tell us that among those, three were police officers.
BALDWIN: Sorry, Nic, got to go really quickly.
House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes, we were just talking about, in front of the White House.
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REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: ... with this investigation. Today, I briefed the president on the concerns that I had about incidental collection and how it relates to president-elect Trump and his transition team and the concerns that I have.
As I said earlier, there will be more information, hopefully by Friday. The NSA is cooperating very, very well. And, lastly, I will say that the reports that I was able to see did not have anything to do with Russia or the Russian investigation or any tie to the Trump team.
And with that, I will take a couple questions if you have them.
QUESTION: A quick question. Why is it appropriate for you to brief President Trump, given it's his own administration or campaign associates that are a part of this investigation?
NUNES: Because what I saw has nothing to do with Russia and nothing to do with the Russian investigation, has everything to do with possible surveillance activities. And the president needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there. And I have a duty to tell him that.
QUESTION: Will you be drawing conclusions before it was completed, Chairman?
NUNES: I'm not drawing any conclusion. I'm just telling the president what exists in intelligence reports.
NUNES: It appears so. I don't want to get too much into details. But these were intelligence reports.
And it brings up a lot of concerns about, you know, whether things were properly minimized or not. But I will tell you, I have only seen some. It's in the dozens. But I don't have -- we don't have the full scope of all the intelligence reports that were produced or who ordered the unmasking of additional names.
QUESTION: Are you saying the surveillance, if it wasn't related to Russia or anything like that, are you saying that it was political surveillance of political opponents, as the president has suggested in his tweets?
NUNES: What I -- what I have read bothers me. And I think it should bother the president himself and his team, because I don't -- I think some of it seems to be inappropriate.
But, like I said, until we get all the information to the committee, it's hard to -- it's hard to really say until we see it in...
QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, we knew that there was some incidental collection because Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was caught up talking with Sergey Kislyak. Does this go beyond that, and does this qualify as the sort of
wiretapping that the president was tweeting about?
NUNES: Well, it definitely goes beyond what happened to General Flynn.
Now, of course, we don't actually know yet officially what happened to General Flynn. We just know that his name leaked out, but we don't know how it was picked up yet. That's one of the things that we asked for in our March 15 letter, was for the NSA, CIA and FBI to get us all the unmasking that was done.
I will tell you, NSA is being cooperative. But so far the FBI has not told us whether or not they're going to respond to our March 15 letter, which is now a couple weeks old.
QUESTION: Again, does this seem to describe what the president was talking about, talking about -- quote -- "wiretapping," which they then said was broader surveillance?
NUNES: What I have read seems to me to be some level of surveillance activity, perhaps legal, but I don't know that it's right, and I don't know that the American people would be comfortable with what I have read.
But let us get all the reports and...
NUNES: It is possible.
QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, the president that President Obama tapped his phones.
NUNES: No, no, no. That didn't -- that did not happen. I have said this for many, many weeks, including the day -- the day after, a couple days after in front of the press. That never happened.
QUESTION: Did President Obama order any kind of surveillance of the president, president-elect?
NUNES: Well, we don't who sent the taskings, if the taskings were changed into what went into these intelligence reports, but we're going to try to find that out.
NUNES: The Justice Department doesn't have anything to do with this.
(CROSSTALK) NUNES: This is information that was brought to me that I thought the president needed to know about incidental collection, where the president himself and others in the Trump transition team were clearly put into intelligence reports that ended up at this White House and across a whole bunch of other agencies.
And I thought it was important for the president to know this. That's why I briefed the speaker this morning. And I came down here as soon as I could.
QUESTION: How many people are you seeing in these reports? And do any of them currently work at the White House for Mr. Trump?
NUNES: Yes, it -- I don't want to get into the specifics of it, because, look, we only have -- I was only able to see a few dozen, of which I think a lot of it does have foreign intelligence value.
So, let's not...
NUNES: There were dozens of reports that I was able to see that we're hoping the NSA, FBI, CIA will provide, because I know they exist.
So I want them to provide them to our committee so that all the members have an opportunity to see what I have been shown.
QUESTION: What did the president tell you after you briefed him about this?
NUNES: I think the president is concerned, and he should be. I think he'd like to see these reports.
Hopefully, when we get them, hopefully, they will get them to the White House also.
QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, do you believe the president appropriately used the word wiretapping? Was it used correctly in his tweets, based on the information that you have seen?
NUNES: Well, look, I think the wiretapping, if you use it generally, like the president has said, you know, he clearly -- you know, he used it differently than what I think a lot of people took it, which was, did Obama actually wiretap Trump Tower, which we know didn't happen.
I think the president has been pretty clear on that.
QUESTION: But the physical act of wiretapping, did you see anything in the information...
NUNES: No. No. No. And I said that on day two, after....
QUESTION: Mr. Chairman, can you rule out the possibility that senior Obama administration officials were involved in this?
NUNES: No, we cannot.
QUESTION: Given that you said there was a FISA warrant which would have approved by a judge, are you concerned that essentially you're saying members of the Trump team were in contact with people who were the target of a counterintelligence or some form of investigation?
NUNES: No, I think you would be -- no. This is -- this would be -- I think you're reading too much into that.
What this is, this is normal intelligence reporting. This is just normal intelligence reporting. The question is, is, should he himself or others, should they have been put into these reports? And I don't know the -- I don't know the answer to that yet, but we're going to try to get to the bottom of it.
QUESTION: So, your issue is the unmasking, not that there was this monitoring?
NUNES: Well, there's two issues here. OK?
There's the -- there's additional unmasking of names, which I think is totally inappropriate. But we have to get to the -- I don't know how many names were unmasked, but I know there were additional unmaskings that occurred.
And then you have the issue of these -- of the names that were put into these intelligence reports that we have to get to the bottom of. And this is why we sent the letter two weeks ago and we need a response to it.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Are you suggesting that Mr. Trump's communications are in those reports, first?
Second, are you saying that you're concerned enough that this would trigger a different, separate investigation? Third, why did you not discuss this with the ranking member before you came to the White House?
NUNES: So, yes, no, and I'm going to be meeting with Mr. Schiff at some point to talk about where we go with this investigation.
But I had to brief the speaker first. And then I had to talk to the CIA director, the NSA director, and I'm waiting to talk to the FBI director, because he still has not told us how he's going to get us this information.
Then I went and talked to all of you, not you yourselves, but those of you who exist over at the Congress, and then I voted, and then I said I was coming here to brief the president. And I will be glad to talk to...
QUESTION: Just to clarify, Mr. Trump's communications, you believe, are in the reports that were...
QUESTION: ... by FISA? You're concerned enough about it, but you're not calling for additional investigations?
NUNES: Well, we are investigating it.
QUESTION: You just said no.
NUNES: No, no, incidental -- well, because we're already investigating. We're not opening a new investigation as part of...
QUESTION: ... has nothing to do with Russia and you're folding this into...
NUNES: Well, because it has to deal with the unmasking of names and whether or not all this was gathered properly.
QUESTION: So, an ongoing investigation, you thought it was appropriate to come and talk to the president about?
NUNES: Just remember, we have had an ongoing investigation into Russia for a very, very long time and all of their activities.
So, we have the scoping document of the Russian investigation. And we will continue to investigate anything and everything else that might be caught up in this, because, clearly, we are concerned about what ends up in intelligence products, why, and whether or not there was unmasking.
NUNES: I'm going to have to get back to the Capitol here.
QUESTION: Can you say what he was communicating about or who he was communicating with
NUNES: No. No, I can't get into that. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: You also said that somebody brought you this information very recently. Can you tell us who brought you this information and...
NUNES: Well, I can tell you this, that we have been asking for people to come forward.
And it was -- and they came through the proper channels. They had the proper clearances. And I'm just going to leave it at that, because we have to protect people who came forward in the right manner and got the information.
NUNES: I'm not even going to say it's one person.
QUESTION: Sir, you talk about this being collected incidentally, but you said it has nothing to do with Russia. Are you suggesting that these communications could have been collected incidentally as part of a criminal investigation, a criminal warrant?
QUESTION: So, how do you believe...
NUNES: No, because I know -- because I read -- what I -- in the dozens of reports I was able to see, I was able to determine that it was -- it looks like it was legal collection, incidental collection that then made itself into intelligence reports.
It has to deal with FISA. And there's multiple number of FISA warrants that are out there, but there's nothing -- nothing criminal at all involved.
NUNES: Hold on. I am going to take one more question. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Was it information that was looked at in real time or was it information that was collected, held, stored and then allowed to be looked at later?
NUNES: It was -- it was -- it was fairly quickly, from what I from what I have seen.
But, you know, we have to -- once we get the reports, then we can ask more questions of the agencies that produced the reports.
QUESTION: If it was legal collection, what is it that you find inappropriate about it?
QUESTION: And are you attempting to give the president political cover for his wiretapping claims?
NUNES: Because we -- the reason that we do this and we have all these procedures in place is to protect American citizens who are incidentally collected.
And so there's certain thresholds that have to be met to make it into foreign intelligence products. If something else happened where it appears to me like there were things that maybe they didn't meet the minimum qualifications, I don't know.
But there are things to me that don't reach the level of foreign intelligence value. And if that's the case, you have to ask yourself, why did those end up in reports?
QUESTION: But just to clarify, this is not intentional spying on Donald Trump or anybody in his...
NUNES: I have no idea. We won't know that...
QUESTION: But you have said this is incidental collection.
NUNES: We won't know that until we get to the bottom of, did people ask for the unmasking of additional names within president-elect's transition team?
QUESTION: But you said legal and incidental. That doesn't sound like a collective effort to spy.
NUNES: I would refer you to -- we had a similar issue with members of Congress that were being picked up in incidental collection a little over a year ago.
We had to spend a full year working with the DNI on the proper notification for members of Congress to be notified, which comes through the Gang of Eight. And that's -- I would refer to you that, because it looks very similar to that. So, that would be my -- the best way I can describe it.
QUESTION: Was his name unmasked?
NUNES: I'm not going to get into that, but I have every indication that it's clear who's in these reports.
I'm going to have to get going, guys. I have to get to a vote. Thank you.
QUESTION: Who would have access to those unmasked names, just to be clear? Would it just be people within the intelligence community or...
NUNES: That's -- we need to get to -- we don't know that yet. We don't know who did the unmasking and then it would it would have been disseminated to.
All right, thank you, guys.
NUNES: I don't know. I assume -- I'm going to be fine with the health care bill, so I probably don't have to talk to him for a while. He gets to talk to others. All right, thank you.
BALDWIN: All right. They're letting him go now.
That's Devin Nunes. We've been talking a heck of a lot about him in the last couple of weeks. He's significant for a number reasons.
But, first and foremost, he's the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. We were talking about him earlier, because he was speaking to press earlier today and made news. He said, as he was going through some of these intel reports, that he discovered that the president himself is what he initially said, that through surveillance, some of the president's personal communications had been picked up and incidental collection.
And then, so, Manu Raju, you're up with me now.
Manu, he was saying he had just come out of the West Wing, he just briefed President Trump, who said -- he said the president is concerned. We just heard a lot.
Can you just tell me what was the headline of all that that jumped out at you?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the headline is what he said earlier, that some of Donald Trump's campaign contacts, contacts between Trump transition officials after the elections and with foreign officials were picked up incidentally by surveillance by the U.S. intelligence community.
That is the upshot of what Devin Nunes is saying, that those conversations, those contacts were actually picked up incidentally by the intelligence community.
Now, we don't have a lot of details. Devin Nunes not really revealing anything more than he discussed earlier to reporters at a press conference that I was at a couple hours ago, where he said that these communications had nothing to do with the issue of Russia, which is what's part of the broader investigation that both the FBI is conducting and the House Intelligence Committee is conducting.
Now, he also would not say specifically whether the president of the United States himself, whether those communications from him with a foreign official were also picked up.
Now, what is alarming Mr. Nunes is what he believes is the -- quote -- "unmasking" of individuals who are having these conversations with people overseas. The reason why that's a concern for Mr. Nunes is, those people should be protected as part of the broader surveillance efforts.
Instead, they're being unmasked, he said, and potentially their identities being revealed and leaked to the press, when these things are classified. So, that is part of the -- this is why he believes this ties to the investigation that is happening right now.
But two important things also jump out to me. One, this does not back up what President Trump tweeted on March 9 on that Saturday morning saying that President Obama ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower. Nunes once again saying that's not true, this is much different than that, this is broader surveillance efforts or picked up those, as well as he did not talk to Democrats on the committee before he briefed the president of the United States. So watch for Democrats to really go after him as they do this bipartisan investigation, Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, Manu, thank you so much for that.
And just, Bob Baer, let me pick your brain, CNN intelligence and security analyst and former CIA.
I think we're throwing around all these terms, and I can't assume everyone understands exactly what unmasking and incidental collection means. Explain that for me.
BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, let's say you call Putin and ask for an interview. You say you would like to come to Moscow and you want to talk about whatever subjects.
You will be picked up by the National Security Agency. There will be a transcript. In the transcript, rather than identifying you, Brooke, they say U.S. person.
The unmasking would be if the National Security Agency actually inserted your name in the place of U.S. person and disseminated around the government.
The fact that Trump Tower was picked up in incidental intercepts doesn't surprise me at all. It's absolutely certain, whether he's talking to Russian partners, whether he's talking to foreign countries that you get picked up.
Most of these intercepts are just thrown away. They're not disseminated. They're ignored. The people who read them read them, and that's it, one or two people.
What the president is objecting to is the demasking of General Flynn, that normally he shouldn't be. It should have been left as a U.S. person, called the Russian ambassador, had the following conversation. So he does have a legitimate grievance.
Now, the person who leaked it, the plain conversation, probably was worried this would be buried, covered up.
BALDWIN: And let me just jump in, because you used the example of Vladimir Putin.
And again, this is Chairman Nunes saying this has absolutely nothing to do with Russia. So, are you giving -- this could be Xi Jinping. This could be any kind of world leader. And because this is a man who just got elected to be the president of the United States, you would have this sort of surveillance with another world leader, just so I'm crystal clear?
BAER: No, it's the telephone that is tapped is the Russian telephone, not Trump's. It's when he makes the call. The tap will pick up Trump, instead of Putin or you or anybody else.
I have seen incidental collection on CNN, where a CNN correspondent has been asking for an interview, and we picked it up not because we're listening to CNN, but because we're listening to the foreigner who is of concern to us.
Again, the CNN correspondent was identified as a U.S. person. I only knew who it was because I called up the National Security Agency and asked. It was of interest.
BAER: In effect, that person was demasked.
But all these phone calls in Russia -- if somebody from the KGB calls a Trump adviser either in the campaign or in the White House, they're going to be picked up by the National Security Agency. There will be a transcript. It's just a given.
BALDWIN: I got it.
BAER: I'm sure there's incidental collection with me all the time, because I'm always talking to foreigners. But the National Security Agency generally doesn't care.
BALDWIN: So, Bob, is it appropriate to have Mr. Nunes briefing the president, briefing the White House, as he is this subject precisely this?
BAER: Well, the president, I think what we're forgetting here is, could call the National Security Agency and tell them, order them, say, give me all incidental collection on the Trump Tower in these years, and it would have been done.
The National Security Agency works for the president. It's unclear to me why the president would go through the House Intelligence Committee. It makes no sense at all. He's the president. He can ask for this stuff and it can be given to him.
I think, the way I'm looking at this, is a diversion. They're going to drag out this incidental collection. And people who don't understand it are going to say, oh, the president was being spied on, which is not the truth.
BALDWIN: OK. OK.
Bob Baer, thank you so much.
I have got two more gentlemen with me, Colonel Cedric Leighton, who knows all about intel, and also Bob Cusack.
So, Bob Cusack, let me just begin with you, editor in chief at "The Hill."
And part of the back and forth there with Devin Nunes in front of the West Wing was, he was asked, can you rule out whether or not senior Obama administration officials were involved in that? He said, I cannot. He was asked whether there was evidence that members of the intel community who would have done the surveilling were political opponents of Trump. And then his answer was, I'm bothered by what I see.
What did you make of that?
BOB CUSACK, "THE HILL": A couple things. I think that's the big question. Was this political? Was this a backdoor way?
And, obviously, as Nunes stressed, this has nothing to do with exact wiretapping. But we don't know a lot here.
But what we've written on is, there is an executive order that President Obama expanded.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And with that, let's get going. And thank you all very much. Appreciate it.
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you feel vindicated by Chairman Nunes?
TRUMP: I somewhat do. I must tell you, I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found. But I somewhat do.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
BALDWIN: I know that is kind of jumpy, but we just -- it was really significant to be able to hear what the president had said in the wake of Devin Nunes briefing him for what he says he heard in the surveillance.
But, again, even talking to Manu and listening to Devin Nunes, Bob, that he said this doesn't -- actually, this doesn't back up the president's tweet on wiretapping from a couple Saturdays at all. He's talking in fact about broader surveillance, the chairman is. Go ahead.
CUSACK: No, no doubt about it, that it's not wiretapping. But at the same time...
BALDWIN: So he shouldn't feel vindicated?
CUSACK: That's exactly right, unless this is what he was referring to, and he got it totally wrong as far as the wording of it.
CUSACK: The other thing, just on what Bob said, Bob Baer said about the NSA, I think, politically, this actually works better for -- whether it's intended or not -- the intel community -- committee -- to look into this, as opposed to Trump ordering the NSA to give him information, because then it could look like he's bullying them.
There was something here. It was not wiretapping, but there could be some type of back doorway that they surveilled Trump and his people through an executive order that President Obama signed right before he left -- it's a very secret executive order -- that gave the intelligence community more power.
But the big question, is what we were talking about before, is whether this was political. And the fact that Nunes is saying he's bothered suggests it is. But we don't know a lot. And I'm very interested to see what Adam Schiff, the ranking member on Intel, says after he's been briefed on this.
BALDWIN: The Dem, that's right. We've had no comment from him so far.
Bob, stand by.
Colonel, you were listening to all of this. You were listening to even Devin Nunes a second ago. You kept saying, this is premature, this is premature. How do you mean?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Brooke, basically what we're talking about here is, when you do intelligence collection, you're always going to get extra stuff.
There's always going to be extra material that may not pertain at all to an investigation that's being conducted or to any other intelligence targets that you're looking for. That's the stuff that you have to get rid of when you're the NSA or some other agency like that.
So, for Chairman Nunes to go up to the White House and to actually brief the president on this, a president who has not spent very much time with the intelligence community, that really creates a situation where this snippet of understanding becomes a greater misunderstanding.
BALDWIN: Snippet of misunderstanding between whom?
LEIGHTON: Basically, the snippet of understanding that the president has of how the intelligence community works.
LEIGHTON: That then gets changed by revelations like this, where the information is not complete, where the information is in the process of being collected potentially, and it may not be completely accurate.
So you're going into the president with, look what I have got here. And it is a very strange situation for the White House to be in, for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to be in and certainly for the NSA to be in. This kind of collection happens a lot. The reason it does is because there's a lot of stuff out there. And what they have to do is, they have to find that proverbial needle in a haystack in order to find the right information that they're really looking for.
BALDWIN: How much of this -- and I know you're not a politics guy. you're the intel guy. But knowing intel and sniffing out politics, how much of this might be -- one of the questions to Nunes was about political cover for the president's tweet. What is your sense?
LEIGHTON: My sense is that this could potentially provide political cover for the president.
And the reason it can do that is, it gives them just enough information that something was going on, that something can be interpreted as...
BALDWIN: Thus the vindication.
That's why the president just said, "I feel somewhat vindicated." So, he somewhat is actually smart in saying it that way, because it's fairly accurate in his mind. He's thinking that this is exactly -- OK, I have been talking about this. Aha, I knew something was up. And, therefore, I can now go in and in essence mold the intelligence community in the way that I want them to be molded.
BALDWIN: Right. Wow. I'm sure this is just the beginning of more fallout from this. Of course, we will stay on this story.
Manu Raju is our go-to guy in Washington on this.
Thank you so much. But don't go too far, please, sir, because we have so much more coming up, including the breaking news out of London, Parliament apparently still on lockdown after this car plowed through innocent pedestrians blocking across beautiful Westminster Bridge over the Thames on his way to Parliament. He had a knife and he was taken down by the police officer.
In total, four people now have been killed, including that attacker, dozens more injured -- what we know live from London when we come back.