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Massachusetts Corrections: Aaron Hernandez Commits Suicide in Prison; Sources: FBI Used Trump Dossier to Help Get Secret Wiretap Warrant on Associate in Russia Investigation; Interview with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired April 19, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Now, this includes approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act known as FISA to monitor Page's communications.
[06:30:04] Now, to obtain court permission to target Page, the FBI and the Justice Department would have to present probable cause that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power, including possibly engaging in clandestine intelligence gathering for a foreign government.
Now, Comey and other top Justice Department officials would have had to sign off on this application. Last year, Page was identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser on national security, though they have since said that he had very limited interactions with the campaign as a volunteer.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So, Evan, give us context. I mean, how surprising is this?
PEREZ: Well, it's actually quite surprising. Comey's briefings to lawmakers stands in contrast to efforts in recent months by the FBI and by the intelligence community to try to distance themselves from this dossier. U.S. and law enforcement officials and intelligence officials have repeatedly told us that investigators did their own work separate from the dossier to support their findings that Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.
I should note that Comey hasn't mentioned the dossier in all of the lawmaker briefings.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Page himself would not be aware that this was happening, right?
PEREZ: That's right. But you'll recall that Page has been scrutinized before by the FBI. There was a 2013 investigation of a Russian spy ring that included descriptions of interactions that he had with at least one alleged spy. Now, Page denies that he knew that he knew these guys were Russian agents.
But last year, he gave a speech in Russia that drew the attention of the FBI. Page says that he took the trip independently. He says he expressed his own views. Overall he has disputed that anything was illegal in his interactions with Russia.
He sent us a statement that says in part, that he plans to file a privacy act lawsuit that he says he is going to respond to several rights violations by Obama administration appointees last year. And, you know, what he is pointing to, Chris and Alisyn, is simply the point that promote the President Trump has made and other Republicans have made that this entire scandal is really about the Obama administration spying on Trump incoming administration.
And so, we'll see where that goes. But, you know, so far, the FBI is still working on this investigation.
CAMEROTA: Evan, thank you for that reporting. It does seem as though we're getting further along in terms of steps about the source and all of that, but we are not yet at the bottom of it.
So, ahead, we will dig much more into that new reporting on the surveillance and the dossier.
But, first, confusion over the whereabouts of the USS Carl Vinson. The White House said it was headed to the Korean peninsula, but it wasn't. How did they get that one wrong?
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[06:37:45] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CUOMO: All right. The Massachusetts Department of Corrections confirming to CNN that former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in prison just hours ago.
CNN's Coy Wire joins us now with the breaking details.
Obviously, a shock. He was in there doing life for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a first degree murder conviction. But he had just gotten an acquittal, right?
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was the killings of two other men. That was from Boston nightclub shooting, a drive-by shooting. He was acquitted of that just a few days ago.
You mentioned Odin Lloyd. This was his girlfriend's brother. They were friends. So, there was a lot of drama surrounding that case. So, you can imagine already knowing the life sentence. Now he is on trial for the killings of two other men.
But the Department of Corrections found dead in his cell, Aaron Hernandez. The Department of Corrections confirms. This Massachusetts at 3:00 a.m. is when this occurred. Hernandez was taken to the hospital where he died.
Hernandez used a bed sheet and attached it from a window tried do block the door so the correction officers could not get in. This is all we know right now. We'll keep you up-to-date as the morning progresses, obviously, but stunning, startling.
I have the chills right now. This is one of the NFL brethren. He was obviously lost his way, but he was still a guy that was in those locker rooms, and his life took a turn for the worse. So, hearing this news is just shocking and stunning.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. I agree. Even as somebody who is not a sports follower, everybody knew this case, obviously.
It's just the latest tragic turn in this case. It was just so tragic. He was this up and coming star, as you can tell us, and then the fact that something weird and mysterious happened that night with his friend.
WIRE: His friend, yes.
CAMEROTA: And nobody could figure out what that beef was about and then he got life without parole, and now this suicide. It's just all horrible.
WIRE: It's horrible for anyone or anything. And it's just -- you know, obviously, it hits home being a former NFL player, thinking about, what if I was a teammate? Why couldn't I have gotten through to him? And so many questions.
You mentioned him being a great player. He was a really great player. This was like the next guy before Gronk became their superstar tight end. He was that guy.
CUOMO: He was a big deal. He was known as a kid who had a hard past. He was known as a tough guy.
But let's just be clear. The victims in the story of Aaron Hernandez, the family of Odin Lloyd, and Odin Lloyd himself.
[06:40:07] It was a cold-blooded murder. That judge wanted to see Hernandez in his jail cell for the rest of his natural life.
So, let's not forget the victim in that case. We're going to learn more about the circumstances surrounding Hernandez life in prison, how he may have gotten to this point. We'll have you back. Thank you very much, Coy, for bringing us the news.
Let's take a quick break. Stay with CNN.
CAMEROTA: There are some new developments into the investigation into Russian ties to the Trump campaign. U.S. officials tell CNN the FBI used certain parts in the now infamous dossier to obtain a secret wiretap on the Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
Let's bring back David Gregory. We also want to bring in CNN counterterrorism analyst Phillip Mudd for what this means.
Phil, I want to start with you.
This is the controversial dossier that CNN has never reported on the contents of this dossier because CNN has want been able to confirm what is included with this dossier. We know it exists, but we haven't reported on its contents because they are, you know, sort of -- well, sensational.
[06:45:08] So, how did the FBI get a judge to agree to this FISA warrant based on the contents of this?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This smells to me. Let's step through this. A judge has got to have probable cause to do something that the FBI regards as one of its intrusive investigative techniques. I'm going to listen to your phone, I'm going to read your e-mail. You got ways to do that.
I can intercept Russians, for example, who are talking to you. That might be information I use. I can have a human source next to you that talks about what you say.
Let's look at what we have here -- a retired British security official presumably has a source or sources in Moscow. They might have what we call sub-sources. We are now in this game of phone a couple of lines down. That information going back to the FBI, another line down.
You want to tell me we went to a judge and a judge says, we're going to be that intrusive to listen to your phone or read your email based on about four steps removed. I think there's got to be more information here, either intercept that implicates you or human sources that led a judge to say that. I can't believe this is a primary source.
CUOMO: Well, nobody has said that was the primary source. They say it was helpful. Two --
MUDD: Helpful? What the heck is that?
CAMEROTA: They say based on portions of it.
CUOMO: Right. Well, but -- no, no. They say that -- the FBI says that they used parts of the dossier if making their case to the judge. They didn't say it was all --
CUOMO: We've heard that they believe this guy to be a credible source, this British agent.
It's always been that some of the stuff is fanciful, or unsubstantiated and other of it isn't. I wouldn't be call it infamous dossier because if there's stuff in it that's legitimate, then it's much famous than it is infamous.
The point of it comes to, though, that, David, getting the warrant and, you know, brother Mudd knows this better than any of us here, is not easy. You have to articulate what is recognized as fact to a judge that they used to find probable cause, which means they have a reasonable belief the crimes that you are selling them on may be true.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, how many times have am kegs to the FISA court have been denied? Not very often.
I think in this particular case, a couple of things, we have a fact, right, that the intelligence community has confirmed its belief that Russia attempted to manipulate our presidential election and took steps do that that were verifiable. And in support of that, trying to figure out then what happen if they work backward. And they have information which at the time they said about the dossier, they couldn't confirm the contents, but as you say, Chris, there was a reputable source who was bringing these claims forward.
So, it would make cents to me that it was part of the information base to go to the judge to say we need to do more here given what we know the outcome was, which was manipulation of the election.
CAMEROTA: That makes sense to you, Phil?
MUDD: No. One of the questions I have here is you talk about the British official as a reputable source. That's not the individual who is providing the reporting for Moscow. If I'm going an intelligence professional, I got to go a corroboration process.
CAMEROTA: You mean he did you not see it with his own eyes.
MUDD: That's -- who got the information?
MUDD: That's right. Who got the information? We don't know.
CUOMO: But don't you use intelligence, these circumstantial things all the time that come from other sources?
MUDD: That's not evidence. That's intelligence. There's a big difference between the two --
GREGORY: Right, we don't know, but -- Phil, we don't know. We don't know the complete picture, though, of what they might --
CUOMO: This was just one part of it. You know, it's interesting that this dossier came up again, and it's not the first time we've heard the things in it were demonstrable.
Let me ask you something else, David, while we have you. Just give us a quick take on Tillerson saying, hey, Iran seems to be following most of the agreement, but it's still a bad guy when it comes to sponsoring terror.
GREGORY: Right. Nobody disputed there were bad guys supporting terror, supporting bad guys in Syria, but this is a big deal -- the fact that the administration has backed off. Oh, don't forget, candidate Trump said, oh, yeah, we tear up this deal on day one. Now, he is looking at it, saying, well, why don't we leave it in place?
Another sign that you have got more mainstream thinking, even from hardliners on Iran like Jim Mattis, defense secretary, and now the new secretary of state saying they look like they're compliant. Let's let it ride out. I think that's a significant development.
CAMEROTA: Very interesting.
David Gregory, Phil Mudd, thank you very much.
So, this might be the Twitter equivalent of dropping the mike. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released his taxes publicly and took a swipe at the president at the same time for not doing so. The mayor joins us next with why he is doing this.
[06:53:11] CAMEROTA: President Trump still refusing to release his tax return despite growing calls for them to be made public even by some Republican lawmakers.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took his own position yesterday. He released his taxes online, and he is calling for greater transparency from the president.
And Mayor Bill de Blasio joins us now. Great to have you in-studio, Mr. Mayor.
BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Why did you make your taxes public?
DE BLASIO: Because we're supposed to do that as public servants. It is part of the obligation you have when you go into public life. And by the way, Democratic and Republican candidates for president, for decades, have considered this their obligation to the public.
CAMEROTA: I mean, it's not a law.
DE BLASIO: It's not a law.
CAMEROTA: It's your prerogative.
DE BLASIO: It's not a law, but in today's day and age, first of all, it's real easy to do. That was part of my point to the president yesterday. Look, you can put it online, everyone can see it. It's really easy.
CAMEROTA: You said that it's not that hard.
DE BLASIO: It does not hurt. It's not hard.
But here's the thing, what's in those tax returns? When you give them to the public you're showing them if you have any business interests that might affect your judgment. If you have any connections to foreign countries that might affect the way you go about your business.
With this president obviously we have a question: did Russia influence our election? Is he beholden to Russian business interests or banks in some way? Does he have business interests that could affect his judgment on issues like the environment, climate change? You know, what happens to sending jobs overseas that Americans need here?
All of that will get revealed if we see where his money is, where his investments is, who he owes money to, who owes him money.
So, it's unconscionable to not allow the American people to understand who you really are if you're going to be making decisions that affect their lives.
CAMEROTA: You know, President Trump's argument seems to be -- I won. I won and the voters knew this about me and I didn't release my taxes during the campaign so obviously there's not that much interest in them.
DE BLASIO: Look, he won with 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, so let's be careful here.
[06:55:02] This is the first time in the history of the whole American people and republic that we've had a skew in election of 3 million votes and the one with 3 million fewer took office. Let's put this in perspective.
But secondly, unlike any other president, every president we've had previously have either been a public servant or a military leader. This president is a business man with interests around the country and obviously exceptional interests in Russia which is a country that's been very antagonistic to us in many ways.
We need to know, does Russia have something over him? Is there information in those taxes he doesn't want out because it would lead to controversy, it would compromise him in some way? How can he hold that back from the American people?
And then, again, as he's talking about tax reform, well, I've said for a long time his tax reform is going to provide big tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. But we don't even know about his own business interests. We don't know if some of that would benefit him and his family interests too.
CAMEROTA: OK, so that's the party line the Democrats, that's just yourself, are now taking. How can we cooperate with you on tax reform when we don't know what would benefit you?
So, is that what Democrats are going to do? They're going to say -- I mean, in other words, that's not really thinking of necessarily the American people.
DE BLASIO: Oh no, I think --
CAMEROTA: If everybody wants tax reform, shouldn't the Democrats get on board to work with Republicans or are they going to stiff on this?
DE BLASIO: Listen to what his version of tax reform. We already know, quote/unquote, "reform" we know, he said it out loud in his platform "means tax breaks for corporations, tax breaks for the wealthy." Now I think that would be bad for the economy, bad for the American people.
I think we have an income inequality crisis to begin with in this country, a lack of opportunity for so many people. That was what the election was about. People felt left behind. Especially in those rust belt states, they felt they weren't getting opportunity for themselves and their children. A tax reform that makes it worse is actually against our interests. But there's a second point here. We don't know what he's thinking, who he's serving. Look who he put in his cabinet. He put in his cabinet millionaires and billionaires. Is that the group that's going to benefit from this tax reform?
And how can he tell the American people he wants to change their tax code without even showing us how it affects him?
CAMEROTA: On the topic of money, let's talk about how much it has been talking to protect the president and the First Family. Obviously, the First Lady and Baron, their son, are still living in New York City. Is it true that it costs about $500,000 a day?
DE BLASIO: At the high point, which was between the election and the inauguration, it was costing almost $500,000 a day because the president was in residence, president-elect at that point, in residence there. Huge staff. Major, major anti-terror concerns we had to take into account.
CAMEROTA: But now it's less on a daily basis?
DE BLASIO: It's less now. It's still a major expense.
NYPD has done an amazing job protecting Trump Tower and everyone in it. It's ridiculous in my view that a city like New York or even our friends in Florida and New Jersey that are bearing huge expenses anytime the president's there. How can you ask a locality to add all this expense when it's really a national priority?
CAMEROTA: Well, who is paying for this?
DE BLASIO: So far, we're paying for it, trying to get the money reimbursed through the Congress. And here's the bottom line that money's coming out of the NYPD. That money is coming out of the efforts of the NYPD to keep New York City safe and to fight terror, because money that would have gone to work day-to-day is tied up with that security work.
CAMEROTA: Is Congress saying, no, they won't reimburse you?
DE BLASIO: No, to be fair, Congress is going to treat this in the continuing resolution which is coming up in the coming days. We're very hopeful we can get a good resolution now and a path forward. Again we have two other states; Florida is feeling it really big now with --
CAMEROTA: Because of Mar-a-Lago.
DE BLASIO: Mar-a-Lago.
CAMEROTA: Right, because they have to provide all sorts of extra Secret Service protection there. You know, President Trump is a billionaire.
DE BLASIO: Yes. CAMEROTA: Have you asked President Trump to pay for some of that protection for example?
DE BLASIO: You know what's interesting? I, as people said, have you asked him to pay? Have you asked him to not come back? I think he has a right to be in his home city and sometimes have encouraged him to come see what the impact of his policies would be on New York City.
I've said to him, look, you know, there's a lot of things you're doing that are actually going to have a negative impact on the people of the city you come from. Come see for yourself. Understand how you're actually affecting the people that you should know best.
I don't begrudge him the right to come back. And I think the expense is a public expense. I'm not asking him to pay for it personally. But I do think there should be fairness. If you ask any town in this country to pick up the expense for a president, well, that's by definition, that should be a federal responsibility.
CAMEROTA: Last, do you think that President Trump will ever release his taxes?
DE BLASIO: I think the pressure's mounting. I think it's very interesting in the campaign, it did not. There were so many things going on in that campaign. It really wasn't the focus compared to a lot of other controversies.
Now, with more and more Republicans coming out, and I want to express my admiration for those Republicans who have broken with the orthodoxy and said, wait a minute, this is common sense. I think the pressure's mounting. And if he wants to really try for a tax reform he's going to actually tie one hand behind his back if he doesn't release his own taxes.
CAMEROTA: Mayor de Blasio, thank you.
DE BLASIO: You're very welcome.
CAMEROTA: Great to have you here in-studio.
DE BLASIO: Always.
CAMEROTA: Thanks to you our international viewers. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, we will have the latest reporting about Bill O'Reilly's future at FOX News in our next hour, as well as all other sorts of breaking news right now.
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