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Is House Intel Committee Russia Probe Compromised?; 112 Civilian Bodies Pulled From Airstrikes Site In Mosul; Dow Riding An Eight-Day Losing Streak; Trump's Conflicts Of Interest; Dems Introduce "Mar-a-Lago Act" To Track Trump's Visitors. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired March 28, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Up next, we have two former members of that committee to share their insights on what should happen next.
CAMEROTA: Well, we just heard from a current member of the House Intel Committee who thinks that Chairman Devin Nunes should step down entirely from the committee that he now leads. Is that Russia investigation compromised?
Joining us now are two former members of that committee, Jane Harmon, one-time democratic congresswoman from California, now director, president, and CEO of the Wilson Center and Pete Hoekstra and former Michigan Congressman and chairman -- republican chairman of the Intel Committee, now president of Hoekstra Global Strategies. Great to have both of you here with all of your vast experience in congress and on the Intel Committee. Congressman, (INAUDIBLE) do you think Devin Nunes can still do his job?
PETE HOEKSTRA, FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Oh, absolutely. And it's great to be on with Jane. Not only were we both in congress, we were there at the same time And Jane was the lead democrat when I was chairman of the committee. And so it's good to be with Jane but, you know, absolutely. Devin Nunes is going to stay as chairman of the committee. You know, there were times where I might have gone and had some meetings that Jane wasn't a part of. Jane would have done the same thing but we always had a great relationship, a personal relationship together that enabled us to do our professional work.
CAMEROTA: I hear you but if you had gotten some sort of information that Jane wasn't privy to, would you then have run to the president, who may have been the subject of your committee investigation?
JANE HARMAN, DIRECTOR, PRESIDENT, AND CEO, WILSON CENTER: No.
CAMEROTA: To tell him about that information?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I'm not sure that this investigation is about the president. This may be things that happened to the president and they would demonstrate and I think listening to Devin's comments, these demonstrate abuse by the intelligence community in the way that they handled certain types of information and the masking of American individuals. And if it were misbehavior, potentially illegal activity by the intelligence community, I probably would have taken -- I probably would have taken the step and briefed the president because these people work for him.
CAMEROTA: Sure. I mean, let's be clear, Devin Nunes said that he didn't see anything illegal. Congresswoman, what do you see transpiring here?
HARMAN: Well, couple of things here. Pete and I were and are close friends. And we together co-authored the intelligence reform law that created the Director of National Intelligence, DNI in 2004 and that was a heavy lift for each of us and we worked closely together. And I think that was when the committee was great and it was great after that under Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger. Now it's fractured.
I think Nunes made a terrible mistake by not sharing the fact that he -- that he was told about information with Adam Schiff. I had Adam Schiff's old job back in the -- back in the day. And I think Pete would have shared it with me and I would have shared it with him. And I think that the better move forward is for him to recuse himself. He can do it voluntarily. And for someone else on the republican side of the committee to take over this investigation.
I agree with Pete that it ought to be about leaks as much as it is about Russian ties. It ought to be about everything. But for it to be credible and our investigations were pretty darn credible, both sides have to trust each other and I don't see how it can happen into that secret meeting.
CAMEROTA: Well, there you go. Congressman, how do you get past that? How do you get past the idea he did not share the information with his democratic counterpart and instead went to the press and the president?
HOEKSTRA: I think what Devin has done is Devin has seen the information. I don't believe that Devin has access to the information. I believe that the NSA is actually today or the next couple of days going to be delivering those materials to the committee when the information comes to the committee, the republican staff and the democrat staff will have equal access to that information. They will go through it. There will be-- there will be times when they're going through it separately. There will be times when they are going through it together.
CAMEROTA: So, you don't think he had the responsibility to share it with his democratic colleagues?
HOEKSTRA: I don't think at the point in time, I don't think Devin ever -- actually ever had possession of the documents that he could have shared it. He could have shared the overall outline of what was in those documents. And I think he's done that with the democrats and with the rest of the committee.
CAMEROTA: Congresswoman, go ahead. HARMAN: He could have said, no, I'm not taking this meeting solo.
I'm going to alert my democratic counterpart. And it could have been in reverse if Adam were the chairman. And he could have called Devin and said I want to do this together. And I think Pete or I would have done it that way. And that would eliminated the doubt here. It's not just the possession of possession, it's a question of a preview given to one side of classified information.
And I'm glad the full committee or at least the leadership of the committee is going to be briefed on this whatever it is but I think that going to the White House and then going public before you've even told your ranking member it makes it impossible for him to persuade the American public including a lot of republicans in congress and outside that it's impartial.
CAMEROTA: Pete, is Jane right? Would you have gone to her first and said, let's go over there together?
HOEKSTRA: The --
HARMAN: Yes, he would. Yes, he would. I know him.
HOEKSTRA: People have told me and says I've talked about this. We just had the discussion yesterday with someone. Jane wasn't there and they would have said, Pete, you would have had a huge price to pay if you would have gone somewhere and you hadn't told Jane about it. And they're absolutely right. But it's the kind of -- it's the relationship that Jane and I had built over years. Congress is a different place in 2017. It's different than, you know, than how Jane and I worked and how congress worked in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
CAMEROTA: And that's a crime shame. I mean, we're all talked about this. That's too bad. However, Congressman, one more thing, Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes had said that they had had a very good working relationship before this. They had done lots on a bipartisan level. But this was out of character and it makes people think that Devin Nunes' allegiance lies with the White House and not with his committee.
HOEKSTRA: Well, I think -- I know Devin pretty well. I -- and he and I have talked. I know that his allegiance is to the committee. I'll tell you, being chairman of the committee, the intelligence committee is probably one of the best jobs in congress. You're put there because your leadership has selected you to be there. And you know that this is not a responsibility to a political party, to your caucus, this is a responsibility to the American people because, you know, as chairman at the ranking member, you're part of the gang of eight. You see stuff that very few people in the country ever see.
CAMEROTA: So Congresswoman, just the final point, 10 seconds, you believe that he should step down as chairman?
HARMAN: I think he should voluntarily recuse himself from this investigation. It's up to the house leadership whether he stays as chairman. But there are very good alternatives on the committee, the second in line chairs a different committee. So I don't think he can do it. Third in line is Pete King who used to chair House Homeland Committee very fairly. I served on that committee with him as chairman.
CAMEROTA: OK. Thank you very much. Thank you for having this old home week here on New Day. Great to see both of you.
HARMAN: Thank you.
HOEKSTRA: Thank you.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ACNHOR: All right. So you have political warfare at home but you have real warfare abroad. And the battle for Mosul is claiming hundreds of lives. Many of them civilian lives in just the last month. CNN's Arwa Damon in the danger zone. You're going to get to see the reality of war next.
CUOMO: All right. So the toll of a U.S. led coalition airstrike is still growing. Latest count over a 110 bodies have been recovered. Civilian bodies. Both the U.S. and the Iraqi military are investigating trying to determine what went wrong but this is active warfare going on in Mosul. A place that has been historically very difficult to control. That reality brought to you in very sharp ways by Arwa Damon, caught in the crossfire of a dangerous situation on Mosul. She filed this report just moments ago.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're a couple of neighborhoods away from where the majority of the incidents that are being investigated by both the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqis took place. But just being here, you get a little bit of an idea of the intensity of the battle but also the widespread destruction. That crater right there presumably caused by an airstrike. It could possibly have been caused by suicide car or truck bomb.
The fighting here much more intense and it's densely packed part of the city. The destruction in western Mosul a lot more widespread than it was in the east. You also have a lot of narrow alley ways that the vehicles cannot go down which it means that ISIS fighters were able to deeply entrench themselves in these areas. Now, a lot of the civilians here and this is specially a chilling to think about, when we look at the destruction, they weren't able to leave even though the Iraqi government did on the one hand encourage them to stay, had they chosen to leave, they wouldn't have been able to because ISIS has been using the civilian population as human shields.
And in an effort to protect themselves, a lot of families would cram into homes that they believe would be the sturdiest. But as the fighting pushed forward and airstrikes were called in, there have been significant civilian casualties. The U.N. Human Rights chief just putting out a statement saying that more than 300 people were killed from the 17th of March to the 22nd of March. One woman we spoke to in this particular neighborhood and that sound if you can heart, mortars being fired by the Iraqis going overhead fired, fire towards the frontline that's deeper inside Mosul at this stage.
But as I was saying, the civilians aren't able to leave. One woman and we haven't see many of them around here but one woman who we did see was telling us that she stayed behind because the day before this neighborhood was liberated, she said that ISIS came and took her husband away. Now she's just waiting hoping he's somehow going to come back home. The tragedy of all of this is not just in the destruction, the physical destruction that has been caused to this city, it is also even more so in the unspeakable tragedies being suffered by the civilian population. Arwa Damon, CNN, Mosul, Iraq.
CAMEROTA: Arwa's reporting is so critical for our understanding of what's going on in Mosul even though it is dangerous and dicey where she is. So she is taking precautions.
CUMO: Right. I mean, that's the nature of covering war. But many people aren't aware of how real and every day the circumstances are there. And you're only hearing whispers of the reality of American boots on the ground, a little bit more in Syria, a little bit more in Iraq to help them fight but only in a support category. People at war, they are going to be in a field of fire, there's going to be negative outcomes and people have to get ready for it.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Switching gears, it's time for CNN Money now. Wall Street is keeping a close eye on Washington. And investors appear to be growing nervous. Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans is in our money center with more. What are you seeing, Christine?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like an ugly losing streak could continue this morning. Global markets mostly higher but U.S. futures are down. They just turned lower after some slim gains earlier this morning. Less than two hours to go before markets open here. The Dow down eight days in a row. That's the longest streak, losing streak, since 2011. That's when a debt ceiling spike spooked investors. The worries this time too are coming right out of Washington.
Stocks soared to record highs after the election on prospects of tax reform and deregulation so the failure of the healthcare bill through Trump's legislative -- President Trump's legislative agenda. The question and hit the pause on what has been stellar gains since the election.
There's some perspective for you. The Dow is up 12.5 percent since November. (INAUDIBLE) 2300 points, NASDAQ up 13 points, the S&P 500 up about nine percent. The only story on Wall Street is Trump agenda, will congress cut corporate rates first, by how much, will they get relief to middle class taxpayers and how much. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he's been working on a complete tax overhaul for the past two months. We'll see how similar that is to the republican plan in the house, Chris.
CUOMO: It will be interesting to see if that same part of the GOP will give Trump tax cuts without going after entitlements. Christine, thank you very much. You'll be answering that one for me in a couple of weeks. So, what was speculation is now reality. Trump's conflicts of interest between his businesses and the presidency are on display. Golf outings, visits to Trump properties, boosting their popularity for these clubs. Chances for access to the president, chances for compromise security. How bad are these conflicts? Next.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But if I were in the White House, I don't think I'd ever see Turnberry again, I don't think I'd ever see Doral again. I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off and make great deals, right? Who's going to leave?
CUOMO: Yes. Wrong. President Donald Trump consistently called out President Obama for playing golf while in office. But so far, President Trump has visited his golf courses 13 times since inauguration day. He has spent 21 of 68 days visiting Trump branded properties. By comparison, Obama -- and again, that's because always targeted Obama for being, you know, captain vacation, right? Obama played golf more than 300 times in eight years, that's no small number.
His first round didn't come until late April of his first term. So the point is Trump is on pace there to go much more. But it doesn't matter.
Let's discuss what the real issue is here with CNN Contributor and Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, CNN Contributor and former White House, Ethics Czar Ambassador Norman Eisen. Who cares? President's golf. But it's where he's golfing, Fahrenthold and what goes on now that it's common custom to show up at Mar-a-Lago who wants to have dinner there. What's going to happen to club bees, you know, what kind of access will people get, what kind of security concerns are. That's where the conflicts come in, right?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. I mean, the question will be the people that he's interacting with in these golf clubs are people who are already paid him money. People who pay him money in the future to be in his presence. So we'll be looking to see if those people are getting special deals, if their companies are getting government contracts, if they're lobbying of President Trump produces the results their companies want.
It's also as you say a huge security concern, not just physical security for the president that these people are coming and going but also a spy question. So many people are around the president at all times when he's doing this sort of -- having these sort of discussions about national security. Who are they? Have they been compromised? There's so many questions he creates by doing this.
CUOMO: And we remember the photos of him there with a dignitary looking at documents about the North Korean missile launch and people were taking picturing of it. They were right there. Norman Eisen, the question is there for we want to know who's going to Mar-a-Lago. We want to know who's on the list at dinner. And the push back is it is a private club. You get nothing. What do you say? AMB. NORMAN EISEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: Chris, good
morning. Thanks for having me. It's not right that Donald Trump is using his properties as an extension. It's like he's is doing a giant infomercial at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers and the taxpayers are entitled to know who's coming and going from Mar-a-Lago. Look, he hasn't even put up the White House visitor records yet, Chris. There's a holding page. Obama put up millions so people could know who's coming and going from the White House.
Trump himself calls Mar-a-Lago, the winter White House. So, let's have the visitor records. His abuse of the presidency at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to the American taxpayer to subsidize Donald Trump's advertisements for his clubs is like nothing we've ever seen before in the presidency. And I think it's a part and parcel of the contempt for law that's got him into all this Russia-gate trouble.
CUOMO: But there's a different take, right? Dave, which is the ambassador is right. We've never seen anything this before. But that is also the justification for it. he is a big businessman. He owns these places or has ownership slices in them. He has interest in them. And he lives differently. People knew this. They voted for him in part because of his largeness and his celebrity. And this is what they got. It's baked in.
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, now we're talking about a political question, rather than ethical question and I think you're right. People understood this is how he lived, these are his golf clubs, either way he feels comfortable but I think politically this is more palatable for voters, the expense of all of this, the time and distraction of all of this. If he was doing what he said he would do. If he was out there accomplishing all the great deals, he said he was going to do it if he's making all the changes he promised, helping people get their jobs back, I don't think anybody would care if he was going to Mar-a- Lago every weekend. But if he's not doing those things, he's instead spending all this time and taxpayer money at his golf clubs, I think that has a higher political cost.
CUOMO: So, you get into these conflicts. And Norm, it's a fair enough point to say there is by logical extension what leads into this Russian inquiry. Interestingly, the president has been trumping about --President Trump has been tweeting about that some obvious modes of distraction. You should be focusing on the Clintons and Uranium One, and Podesta. Those are the real questions for Russia when it comes to Congress. Do you buy that?
EISEN: I don't, Chris. And I think the media now has caught on that we can't chase the latest Trump bright shiny object. He's in the White House, except for a fact about a third of the time he's in one of his properties. He's the president. He's got to be held accountable. And we need to ask the question. And again, it comes back to the conflicts. We can't vet his conflicts because we don't have his tax returns. So, we need to keep a laser-like focus on what did the president know, when did he know it about these Russia events and what are his own financial ties to Russia. That's an unimportant unvented conflict because we do not have his tax returns. And it is not just political although there is an important political element. It's legal because the constitution prohibits a president, fearing just this situation. It prohibits a president from getting any compensation beyond his set salary.
Well, at some point, these millions of dollars that the United States are spending for President Trump to advertise his properties, he's so blatant about it, Chris.
CUOMO: Sticky questions.