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AT THIS HOUR
Source: FBI Used British Dossier for Trump Associate FISA Warrant; Tillerson: Iran Complying with Iran Nuke Deal; Sen. Joni Ernst Says Trump Florida Trips "Bothering" Me; Georgia Senate Race a Wake-Up Call; Trump Signs Veterans Bill. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired April 19, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have said the U.S. investigators did their own work separate from the dossier to support their findings that Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election. As you'll remember, their assessment in favor of Trump. Comey has not mentioned the dossier in all of his briefings to lawmakers.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm sure they got more questions on that one when they returned from their recess now.
Good to see you, Jim. Thanks so much.
SCIUTTO: Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Joining me to discuss, Pete Hoekstra, a former Republican Congressman from Michigan and former chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, great to see you. Thanks for coming in.
PETE HOEKSTRA (R), FORMER MICHIGAN CONGRESSMAN & FORMER CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Hey, good to be with you. Good morning.
BOLDUAN: Good morning.
What is your reaction to this, this new reporting from Jim Sciutto?
HOEKSTRA: I find it all very, very fascinating that, if the reporting is accurate, that the FBI is using opposition research that was paid for by opponents for Donald Trump to, you know, former British intelligence officer. And the media, I believe, last fall and the end of last year, excuse me, didn't really want to touch it because they couldn't verify the results. But the FBI seems to have thought it was good enough to include in a FISA application. I'm assuming that, and I'm hoping that the FBI would have verified anything they used in this dossier to take to the FISA court, that they would have verified it independently. If they had verified it independently, the question would be, why use the dossier? I don't know. It's very, very confusing.
BOLDUAN: To one of your points, according to officials, the FBI -- the FBI obviously took the dossier seriously, at least parts of it and according to individuals the FBI had to have corroborated information from it through their own investigation in order to put it in the application for the FISA warrant.
I remember pretty distinctly that you supported President Trump's criticism of this dossier when it came out. With that in mind, the fact that the FBI would have had to have corroborated these -- some of the details, we don't know what in the dossier, in order to put it in the application. Do you want to dial back that criticism now?
HOEKSTRA: No, not necessarily. Like you said, we don't know what the FBI verified and what they didn't verify. Maybe what they demonstrated was not accurate in the dossier. We don't have any of that kind of information. So the bottom line is, do I want to dial back? No. I think let's take a look at where this whole investigation goes, whether it's what the FBI has verified, you know, where it goes in terms of what Russia did in this election.
I'm also very, very interested in finding out what Director Comey and others had -- what role they played in unmasking Americans. There are all kinds of aspects to this investigation that need to move forward and hopefully they'll move forward in a non-partisan way and very much a law enforcement way.
BOLDUAN: I don't think there's any investigation -- as far as I'm concerned, I don't think there's any investigation into the role that James Comey played in unmasking of individuals. The FBI -- I mean, who knows where the committees will go with their investigation. But what I'm hearing from you, are you questioning the credibility of the FBI, by and large, in their investigation so far into Russian meddling in the election?
HOEKSTRA: No, I'm not questioning it at all. We're talking about the dossier.
HOEKSTRA: Elements of the dossier seemed to have been verified by the FBI. We don't know what elements have been verified and which ones have not. And we'll see where this plays out. Obviously, Republicans and Democrats, on the larger picture, all have had questions about the FBI's role from last summer, on, in terms of whether you're talking about disclosing an investigation into Hillary Clinton.
HOEKSTRA: Then, you know, when other parts came up a week before the election, they find a new computer and those types of things. The FBI -- you know, I think that the FBI has a lot of things that it has to answer for in terms of what --
BOLDUAN: Do you trust Comey, Congressman?
HOEKSTRA: -- in the political realm.
I've met James Comey. At this point in time I don't have any reason to not trust him, and you know, I want to see where this investigation goes and what he actually produces.
BOLDUAN: Can I ask you real quick about the Iran deal? Donald Trump ran saying that it was -- it was a bad deal, a horrible deal. You agree with that, but his secretary of state just told Congress that Iran is sticking to the terms of the nuclear deal. They do want to review sanctions. They want to start continuing reviewing sanctions, though. But the fact that Tillerson is saying they're sticking to the terms of the deal, the deal is still in place, does this make it harder to rip it up eventually if Republicans wanted to do so, as they promised they did?
HOEKSTRA: I think you have a couple of issues there. Number one is are they sticking to the terms of the deal and it appears that the secretary of state, the U.S. government believes they are sticking to the terms of the deal. The second point, was it a bad deal, I still think it was a bad deal especially when you see what's going on with North Korea. Iran and North Korea have been linked for years. The release of funds through the weakening of sanctions, the release of impounded funds and those types of things really have given an infusion of cash to terrorist groups and some of that money. Who knows? Some of that money may have made it and will make its way to North Korea. And so, yeah, I still think it was a bad deal.
[11:35:33] BOLDUAN: Do you think at this point the Iran deal is here to stay?
HOEKSTRA: I don't know whether it's going to stay or not. We'll have to see and move forward. Obviously, that's something we've got to talk to our allies and Europe about and NATO about. We can't make a decision on this alone.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Congressmen. Thanks so much.
HOEKSTRA: Good to be with you. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up next, President Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago aren't just getting expensive, they're bothering even Republican lawmakers. And that's according to Republican Senator Joni Ernst speaking at a town hall. Her constituents asking about it. She says she doesn't like it either. Her words just ahead.
[11:40:30] BOLDUAN: A reliably Republican House district in a reliably Republican state nearly turning blue. Republican Senator in a red state saying the president is flawed and should spend less time in Florida, more time in Washington. What is going on in the political world right now?
I ask and have wonderful people to come help me figure it out, Democratic strategist and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse; and the one and only Rick Santorum, CNN political commentator, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania and former presidential candidate. Gentlemen
BRAD WOODHOUSE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST & FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Whew!
BOLDUAN: I know, I speak fast, but I want more time to you.
Senator, Joni Ernst is back at home, talking to constituents and she had an interesting take when asked about the president and his travels. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JONI ERNST (R), MICHIGAN: I do wish that he would spend more time in Washington, D.C. That's what we have the White House for. And we would love to see more of those State Department visits in Washington, D.C. I think it's smart that he does business in Washington, D.C. So I've had those same concerns myself.
I have not spoken to him about the Florida issue yet, but that is something I think that has been bothering not just me, but some other members of our caucus. So I think that is going to be a topic of discussion that we have when we get back to Washington, D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Constituents are asking her, and she also said this president has a number of flaws. She's a Republican Senator who stood by this president in the election. One of the only -- one of the few female Senators that did stand by him. What do you make of this? Why is she breaking from him now?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know if it's breaking from him, but --
SANTORUM: Yes. It's a recognition that the president, his numbers are low, and the base is against him is energized. And you see this with every president. You saw it with Barack Obama. You see it with every president. When the presidential numbers go down, members of his party back away a little bit. That's why it's important for the Trump administration to get on a good roll here, to get some things passed here in the Congress, to -- to do some things through executive orders, to show that progress is being made. He needs to get these numbers up or you're going to see a lot more of these hedging. I wouldn't say defections, but hedging because you have a president who is again, not as popular as they'd like him to be.
BOLDUAN: Yeah, but to the Senator's point, Brad, does this kind of criticism within the party of the president, does it create an opening for you guys, and she's not going to change your vote and she's all for Obamacare.
WOODHOUSE: It speaks to the bigger issue. 28 percent of Donald Trump's presidency has been spent at Mar-a-Lago. (CROSSTALK)
BOLDUAN: Why does it bother constituents so much?
WOODHOUSE: Well, one thing, it's opposite of Donald Trump's brand. He spent years criticizing President Obama for driving across town at a military base. He has golfed almost every weekend that he's been president. And it's been expensed. This is a president that said he would take control of the budget. And we'll spend $100 million to and from these weekend vacations at the current rate and that will be more than in all of President Trump's presidency.
BOLDUAN: People would care less about his travels if maybe he was getting more done --
WOODHOUSE: -- and his poll numbers.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the south, Senator. Georgia, Georgia, Georgia. Lindsey Graham says this special election is a wake-up call, should be a wake-up call for Republicans, especially in the south, that things are a-changing there, more in the moderate direction. Do you agree?
SANTORUM: This is a suburban Atlanta district. You look at suburbs of every major city in America and you see the suburban areas getting less Republican and more purplish, if you will, and Atlanta is no different than that. This still is a Republican state. I spoke to Karen Handle (ph) this morning. She's a terrific candidate. She's a terrific conservative. And she'll be a great Congresswoman. And she'll win this seat.
BOLDUAN: Does she want Donald Trump to run with her?
WOODHOUSE: Good question.
SANTORUM: No, I don't think she would have any concerns about that whatsoever. She didn't express concerns to me when we talked about it. She's a Republican and supports the president. She mentioned that she wants the president to come down to campaign for her. For her, it's about energizing the base and getting people out in a runoff. And as everybody knows, that's not an easy thing to do. So she needs the Trump voters to come out and she needs her voters to come out. And she's run statewide a couple of times and she's always run well in that district. She's not won statewide. But she's run well in that district. She's known there. She's represented that area. She will do very, very well. They had a chance to win it. Yesterday --
[11:45:25] BOLDUAN: Let me get the last word, Brad. Your chance is better or worse at pulling it off. WOODHOUSE: They'll be better if Donald Trump campaigns there. Let's
look, the candidates on the Republican side that ran as Trump "Mini Mes" fared the worse. Karen Handle (ph) is the establishment candidate. Ossoff ran as a referendum on Trump. And Ossoff would have an even bigger contrast.
BOLDUAN: Politics in April, May and June, can't wait.
Great to see you, guys. Thank you so much.
Coming up for us, three people gunned down in Fresno, California. The shooter shouting, "God is great" in Arabic. Details on why the police say the deadly rampage was not terrorism.
[11:50:10] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning. We're honored to join and be joined today by some absolutely tremendous people and great veterans.
Thanks, as well -- and I have to thank them dearly -- but, as well to Representative Phil Rowe. Where is he?
Phil, come here. What a job you've done.
And all the members of Congress who worked on the bill that we're about to sign. Such an important bill.
I especially want to thank Senators John McCain and Senator Johnny Isakson. They have been incredible in working with us.
Let me also welcome my good friend, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Navy veteran who is here with us to represent more than a million veterans from the state of Florida.
We're also joined by the leaders of a number of veteran's groups. I want to thank all of them for being here and all after the tremendous and important work that they do. We would not be here if it weren't for them, I can tell you that.
Finally, I want to thank our secretary of the V.A., David Shulkin, who, by the way, was approved with a vote of 100-0. That's shocking, right?
100-0, Rick. You wouldn't get 100-0.
We met earlier today at the Oval Office and Secretary Shulkin updated me on the massive and chronic challenge he inherited at the V.A., but also the great progress that he is making. He's got a group of people that are phenomenal at the V.A. It's one of my most important things. I've been telling all of our friends at speeches and rallies for two years about the V.A., how we're going to turn it around, and we're doing that. Actually, next week, on Thursday, at 2:00, we're going to have a news conference with David and some others to tell you about all of the tremendous things that are happening at the V.A. and what we've done in terms of progress and achievement.
The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long, and it's time that they're recognized, and it's time that we now take care of them and take care of them properly. That's why I'm pleased today to sign into law, the Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act. So this is called the Choice Program Improvement Act. Speaks for itself. This bill will extend and improve the Veterans Choice Program so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice. You got it? The doctor of their choice. And don't have to wait and travel long distances for V.A. care. Some people have to travel five hours, eight hours, and they have to do it on a weekly basis and even worse than that. Not going to happen anymore.
This new law is a good start but there is still much work to do. We will fight each and every day to deliver the long-awaited reforms our veterans deserve and to protect those who is have so courageously protected each and every one of us. So we've made a lot of strides for the veterans. These are like the most incredible people we have in our country, as far as I'm concerned. And they have not been taken care of properly.
I want to thank David.
You've done an incredible job.
And you're going to see some of that on Thursday.
So thank you all very much.
And we're going to sign this. And I think I'm going to have to give this pen the way. The way I look at it, we should probably give it to Phil. What do you think? Does everybody agree? I think you agree with it.
TRUMP: Congratulations, everybody. Really fantastic. Thank you very much.
BOLDUAN: Right there, you're seeing President Trump at the White House signing a bill into law that has to do with veterans' care. It's an extension of a program that was established in 2014. It allows vets to opt for private medical care. It's a focus of this White House and focus of obviously the Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Administration.
President is also, according to the report announced in the bill signing, he's going to be speaking much more. We'll have a news conference to talk about veterans' issues next Thursday. So much more to come on that. Coming up for us, the White House press briefing just moments away. Will they face questions about the armada that was on the way to the Korean peninsula but, in fact, going in the opposite direction first? We'll be right back.
[11:57:55] BOLDUAN: The series premiere of "Sound Track, Songs that Defined History," airs tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. The CNN original dives into music's impact into iconic moments in history.
I had a chance to talk go that with five-time Grammy Award winning artist, Norah Jones. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: When you say that you think the world is falling apart right now, do you think music plays a role in putting it back together?
NORAH JONES, SINGER: I think music can play a role, a different role for everybody. So some people lean on music to get through things and it's really important to them. And I mean, I just know from being an artist, I know music has helped me through things. People have told me that my music or any music has helped them get through things that have saved their life. But you know, everybody has a different intensity I think. Music as a movement is important. I think art as a movement is important. And for people to connect on that level, that energy and to connect on something and they're all feeling the same way and maybe a song comes out and captures exactly how they're feel. That can be really important.
BOLDUAN: When it comes to -- as you said, you want everyone top kind of take care own message from your song and from an album. Do you ever shy away from a political theme or a political or social issue for fear it would turn off a fan?
BOLDUAN: Is that ever a consideration?
JONES: No, I mean it's something to think about for sure, but I think, for me, when I'm writing it's important. If there's something that's too intense and you don't want to actually put it out there, you can massage it. But I don't think I've ever actually done that because if I'm moved enough to put something in a song, that's my favorite part of the song.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Great speaking with Norah Jones. Thanks for that.
Thank you all for joining us AT THIS HOUR.
"Inside Politics" with John Berman starts right now.
[11:59:57] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John Berman, in today for John King.
We're 90 days into the Trump administration, and just moments away from the White House briefing. Press Secretary Sean Spicer, he will take that stage any minute.