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House Intel Chair Sets off New Political Controversy; ISIS Claims Responsibility for London Attack; Russia Cloud Hangs Over Trump White House; Nunes Briefed President; GOP Struggles to Unite on Health Care. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired March 23, 2017 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Read. We recommend everybody read it. And Douglas Brinkley, as always, thanks for the context.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's an odd mix, equal parts untrue and successful. Maybe only in politics.
All right, we have breaking details for you in the terror attack in England. We have a live report. There have been arrests, next.
CAMEROTA: House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes revealing to the media and the president a story about the communications of President Donald Trump's associates that may have been picked up on fairly standard, we believe, surveillance by U.S. intelligence. Congressman Nunes, the president and the press -- he told the president and the press this before telling his fellow committee members. So is his congressional investigation now compromised?
Let's discuss with CNN contributor Jason Kander, CNN political commentator Jason Miller, and Mike Rogers, former congressman and Intel Committee chair, now a CNN national security commentator.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here. We have a lot of news coming in fast and furious this morning.
Mike Rogers, I need to start with you. You are the perfect person to speak to about this. You were the chair of the House Intel Committee. Devin Nunes replaced you in that role. If you got some sort of sensitive information about the president while you were investigating the president's associates, would you have gone to the president to tell him that?
[08:35:17] MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, I have to tell you, it is time for an adult-only swim at the hotel pool here. This is a little bit concerning to me on both sides. This dueling press conference deal to try to get to the bottom of this is no way to answer a very serious investigation. So if that material was pertinent to the investigation, then I think you needed to stand with the committee's investigation and do it through the regular order of that. Two things here that -- the two things that Nunes --
CAMEROTA: Yes. So why didn't he do that?
ROGERS: I'm not sure, but he said something pretty interesting. One, it had nothing to do with Russia. That's new information. That's going to raise a lot more questions too that it was legally obtained and likely proper and had some intelligence value. All of those raises more questions, it doesn't answer questions. So I was scratching my head a little bit on why he took this particular tact to do it.
CAMEROTA: Yes. So -- so --
ROGERS: And, of course, now they're both being partisan about it and I worry about the voracity of the investigation (INAUDIBLE).
CAMEROTA: Very quickly, Mike, I just want to stick with you, is that committee's work now compromised and, in fact, is it time for an independent commission because Devin Nunes did this?
ROGERS: Well, you have the FBI investigation ongoing. That should be -- that should be allowed to move forward. It's not too late. If they get this thing put back together, stop the dueling press conferences, get to the seriousness of the matter of what are Russian activities in the intelligence world, what kinds of things they are doing, I think they can still do that. But they need to do it now. As I said, it's adult-only swim time now. This is pretty serious. Any time you have U.S. citizens' names involved in an investigation, this is not something you play politics with. They need a serious investigation to get to the facts and then present those facts to the American people. You don't have to leak this out over months. You need to do your investigation and then provide your conclusion and your findings. Not too late --
ROGERS: But as long as this looks as -- the way it does with these dueling press conferences -- the Hatfields and the McCoys are not going to solve this problem.
CAMEROTA: Jason Miller, your take?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, my take, I was glad to see that the chairman came out and brought this news forward. I wish we had had this on Monday when they were having the hearing with Director Comey.
CAMEROTA: But, again -- but, Jason, just -- just -- I just want to stop you right there because of what Chairman Rogers just said. Why not do this the regular way, share it with his committee colleagues. They're doing the investigation. Why are you happy that he brought it forward in a press conference?
MILLER: Because effectively the entire hearing that came up on Monday was one big effort questioning the credibility of the president. And the fact of the matter is, just as you discussed in your previous segment, the president -- here's another example of where the president is right. The president was right that he was being surveilled and that's exactly what this information that came forward yesterday --
CAMEROTA: Is it?
CAMEROTA: Hold on a second, is --
CAMEROTA: Wait, Devin Nunes -- hold on a second. Devin Nunes --
MILLER: No, absolutely.
CAMEROTA: No, wait a second. Devin Nunes just said that it could have been -- they could have been swept up in the practice of listening, or something, surveilling, foreign agents, and that happens. So that's not surveillance of the Trump team or Trump Towers.
MILLER: Well, whether -- well, whether it was -- but if it was -- but if it was incidental collection of information and he was getting swept up through back door surveillance, then surveillance is surveillance. If his information is getting picked up, then that's -- and it's being -- Americans are being unmasked, I mean, that's illegal.
MILLER: I mean you're not supposed to do that.
MILLER: And I think the -- you know, what my bigger, kind of broader frustration here is, it really seems like the rapid response effort of the Democratic Party has now shifted over to folks, career bureaucrats and the people in government who seem to have an agenda of trying to tear down the president --
MILLER: And it seems like they're outsourcing that function.
CAMEROTA: Jason Kander, is surveillance always surveillance, because I've heard that argument made, well, then the president was right, there's surveillance, or are there important distinctions here?
JASON KANDER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the most important distinction is that this is all one big theater act that they're doing in order to try and save face politically. We are living through a Tom Clancy novel right now and these folks are acting like it's just politics as usual. I mean all of this stuff about trying to switch it over to what Congressman Nunes had to say, I mean this is Paul Revere coming through on a horse saying the British are coming and people saying, that's not how you ride a horse. This is just a whole bunch of smoke to try and get away from the fact that there's a real problem here. And what the Republicans in Washington need to do is stop focusing on party politics and start standing up for their country. CAMEROTA: And just spell it out for us --
MILLER: Well --
CAMEROTA: Hold on. Jason Kander, spell it out for us, what is the real problem that we're being distracted from?
MILLER: Oh, well the real problem is nothing less than the fact that Russia has clearly tried to, and it seems, had quite a bit of success with infiltrating a campaign that was going on for president and then actually having a ridiculous amount of access and influence within this administration. And that's what everything in Congress should be about right now.
[08:40:08] I mean last year the Republicans were doing nothing but saying that because there was an FBI investigation going on with Hillary Clinton, that therefore she was disqualified from being president. Jason Miller said it on this program at one point the day before the election.
Guys, we have so much to talk about with you, but I have to cut it short because we have breaking news coming out of London. Thank you very much. Obviously, we will continue the developments in the story.
CUOMO: All right, so on the London terror attack, there are arrests, and we're learning more about the attack and who is taking responsibility. We go live to the U.K., next. Stay with CNN.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CUOMO: All right, ISIS is now claiming responsibility for the deadly terror attack in London. Eight people are under arrest so far. Authorities say the attacker was known to investigators.
We have CNN's Nic Robertson live in Birmingham, England, with all the breaking details.
They had said ISIS-inspired. Now the terror group comes out and owns it.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They do. They say that he was a soldier of theirs, a soldier of ISIS. We've heard this sort of language from ISIS before claiming attacks. This has come through Amak (ph) news agency. The news agency that's loosely affiliated with ISIS. They did this around the Nice attack last year in France. Now they're doing it again here in Britain with this attack that followed a very similar style.
[08:45:05] Arrests behind me here overnight. Three people taken away during an armed raid police. Very unusual for an armed raid in Britain. Police went in using battering rams. We have heard from the British prime minister today giving us details about this attacker. British-born, she said, known to the intelligence agencies, known to MI5. They pulled him in for questioning before relating to another incident several years ago. They decided at that stage that he was periphery to the investigations. They had decided more recently that he was impertinent to any ongoing reasons to surveil him or have closer -- to have cause to keep a closer eye on him. But right now, we don't have an identity. The police not giving that. But British-born. ISIS now saying he was one of their soldiers.
CAMEROTA: Oh, Nic, I mean you just proved the point, investigators only need to be wrong once. That's how big their challenge is every day. Thank you very much for that reporting.
Is the cloud of Russia affecting President Trump's ability to govern and push through his agenda? We get "The Bottom Line," next.
[08:50:11] CAMEROTA: Congressman Devin Nunes called Russia a dark cloud hanging over this administration earlier this week. Is it stalling the president's agenda? Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's political director David Chalian.
I mean isn't that to be determined? We don't know yet if the Republican health care bill is going to pass tonight. So do we know if all of the Russia cloud is affecting the president's agenda?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We don't know that yet. I agree with you, Alisyn. We do know it is a distraction that has interrupted their desired sort of messaging strategy because I'm sure they would be rather -- thy would rather be talking about sort of selling this health care bill, getting out there, pointing to what comes behind this health care bill, tax reform, other big initiative items. But every Sean Spicer briefing and every interaction the president has with the press for the last few weeks has been dominated by this Russia stuff, his tweets, the surveillance and the wiretapping. So clearly it's a distraction. But to your point, we'll learn tonight -- and I -- you know, I -- not that you can directly tie it, but we'll learn tonight if indeed his agenda is stalled.
CUOMO: No small irony in the fact that Nunes saying it's a dark cloud, Russia, and then he tried to be a nice ray of sunshine, didn't he, David Chalian. He goes around his committee, he goes with information that is uniquely helpful to the White House. He said it was important to them.
CAMEROTA: And he became a lightning bolt.
CUOMO: Right. It's surveillance, proves the president right, but not about Russia, and no proof about what it is about. A little convenient or just the facts?
CHALIAN: I mean he basically said, here, Mr. President, here is something for you to now say you feel somewhat vindicated on, for your troops and supporters to say, see what the media is talking about. They have no idea what they're talking about. So get that all ginned up, go ahead and get the troops rallied on this. But it didn't actually resolve any of the questions that we've been asking. Certainly not --
CUOMO: It made new ones. I made news ones because if --
CHALIAN: Yes, it -- it -- exactly.
CUOMO: If it's not Russia related, which, again, we don't know that it wasn't relation -- Russia related. We know Nunes said it.
CHALIAN: We don't know what the content is, Chris. Yes.
CUOMO: But if it is something else, let's take Nunes at his word for a second, what else are the Trump people caught up in that required surveillance? I mean that's a troubling question in and of itself, isn't it?
CHALIAN: And, again, remember, it's not the Trump people that were being surveilled here, right? So they were caught up in -- in that (ph) collection.
CUOMO: Right. They weren't the target. They weren't the target.
CHALIAN: Right. Exactly. But we don't know. And so these questions will need to be answered. He raised a lot more questions. He completely undermined the independence of a House Intelligence Committee exercising its oversight over the administration. That is out the window now. So he is going to have to rectify that. That's mission number one for the chairman.
CAMEROTA: So, David, let's talk about this vote tonight. If it passes, that is a huge win, obviously, for President Trump because there were so many reluctant people still on the fence and does -- can we conclude that he won them over if it passes?
CHALIAN: Yes, I mean, listen, this has been, as we've been reporting every day on this health care battle, an uphill climb for the administration. If he merges, getting this bill through the House today, if indeed they are able to have the vote today as planned, that is a big victory for President Trump, for Speaker Ryan. There's no doubt about it. And, obviously, it still has a huge uphill mountain to climb in the Senate, if it happens, but he could absolutely rejoice in a really big victory and a really big statement that he can do this job, that he can apply his salesmanship expertise, that he can get the deal done and that he can move his agenda forward. That is huge. He might be on the precipice of a really big victory.
But if it goes down, Alisyn and Chris, it is going to be such a severe body blow to this presidency that he is going to have to work three times as hard to get things back on course.
CUOMO: You know --
CHALIAN: This is a definitional day of this young Trump presidency.
CUOMO: Jim Jordan, he's one of the holdouts right, he said, look, I'm going to do what's right at the people and take him at his word. But you have to believe that under that intense pressure and how bad it would be optically for the president, based on what you're saying, he may get the House on board for this because they don't want to be responsible for the demise. But will it come at the cost of a bill that the Senate GOP won't even consider?
CHALIAN: Well, we know that. We know the bill is absolutely going to change in the Senate, if it gets there, and then you're going to have a lot of House members who walked the plank to protect the president on this that are going to need political cover. That's why part of his salesmanship has been, I'll have your back. We'll see about that.
CAMEROTA: David Chalian, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line."
CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.
CUOMO: All right, so we have some extras for you after "The Bottom Line." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ON SCREEN TEXT: College student saves man from train tracks.
FBI honors man who helped paralyzed officers.
Chance the Rapper headlines Lollapalooza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[08:55:13] CUOMO: All right, how about some "Good Stuff" on a Thursday? You up for it?
CAMEROTA: Let's do that.
CUOMO: Of course you are. Next.
CUOMO: Time for "The Good Stuff." This is going to tug at the heart strings and that's a good thing. Meet Terry Lavar (ph). OK, this is a veteran, paralyzed after being hit by a car in the Middle East, walking for the first time since 1984.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.
CUOMO: He was fitted with a motorized exoskeleton. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's practice, but, you know, if I can do it, anybody can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just unbelievable just to see him upright after all those years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Thirty years. Terry's son also overcome with emotion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can be even half the man that he's been to me as a dad when I one day have kids, I think I'll be doing a pretty good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Never quit. That's the lesson we all try to teach our kids.
CUOMO: He's living it.
CAMEROTA: And also, I mean, technology, the idea that that wouldn't have been able to happen 30 years ago --
[09:00:03] CUOMO: True.
CAMEROTA: But now it is happening.
CAMEROTA: That's a win for everybody
Thanks so much for joining us. Time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, guys. Thanks so much.
A lot of news this morning. Let's get right to it.