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Senate Intel Committee Makes Little Progress on Trump/Russia Ties Investigation; Barack Obama Speaking for 1st Time Walks Fine Line on Criticizing Trump; Grave Warning on North Korea at Homeland Security Invites Senators to Briefing. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 24, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS; REPORTER & EDITOR-AT-LARGE: What's difficult here is -- let's just take China and North Korea. What you're having to do at this point is take President Trump's word broadly speaking that his couple days at Mar-a-Lago was illustrative. The relationship built there means that China is going to help us more with North Korea and their nuclear ambitions they did under President Obama. But it's hard to extrapolate out that far. That seems to be what President Trump is doing.

One other quick point. Movement does not equal accomplishment. You can run around and run around as much as you want on the soccer field. But you have to put the ball in the goal, right?


CILLIZZA: They are doing a lot of movement. There's no question that this is the most active White House. Every day there's a thousand things being thrown at the wall. That doesn't mean they are accomplishing things. It's important to distinguish the two.

BALDWIN: It sounds like the headline for your next piece, Chris Cillizza.


Chris, thank you as always.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And Shelby and David, thank you as well.

In the meantime, we're are talking today about the president's predecessor, making his first public remarks since leaving office. Hear what former President Barack Obama said just a little while ago there in Chicago and how he's walking his fine line of criticizing Trump or not.

Plus, a grave warning from the head of Homeland Security. He says President Trump will be dealing with North Korean missiles capable of hitting the U.S. in his first term. More on North Korea, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:35:56] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Now to the latest in the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's election interference. And the latest is actually not so much at all. More than three months after the committee banded together and agreed upon the scope of the investigation, the panel hasn't gotten far with digging into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Apparently, patience is waning.

Jim Sciutto is here with some reporting, CNN's chief national security correspondent, with some reporting.

What are you hearing as far as the committee goes or any frustrations?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEDF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, to start, remember, the Senate Intel Committee was supposed to be the leader on this. In the House, you had this public disagreement, the Devin Nunes case, his recusal. The Senate committee, a much closer mix between Democrats and Republicans, was supposed to be the bipartisan model for this Russia investigation. But we're hearing now, three months in, frustration from some of the leading Democrats on the committee. Some were unfamiliar with Mark Warner's thinking on this, I've spoken to, he's the ranking Democrat, and he says he's unhappy with where they stand now, particularly on the witnesses that they have called to testify in public. They have only had had one public hearing so far. That's been largely going over the ground of what the Intelligence Committee already found on the Russia investigation. I spoke to another Democrat on the committee who had similar frustrations. When is there going to be public testimony? When are they going to start to call on some of these key Trump advisers, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, et cetera? They haven't seen that yet.

To be fair, I should say some Republicans pushing back. And I have spoken to some Democrat who say it's too early for us to say this is all getting wrapped up in partisanship, et cetera, but there's clearly some frustration there from some of the leading Democrats. That's bubbling over into the public now.

BALDWIN: You mentioned some of those names. I know even though no one has testified, Jim, has there been any contact with the former Trump associates.

SCIUTTO: They haven't made the official request for that testimony. That's really -- they are kind of keeping the powder dry for here. I have spoken to people on the committee who say, listen, we're going to have one shot at these guys, let's do it when we're ready. That's a fair point to make. And they will, they say. Both Republicans and Democrats call these key players to testify in public. What you're hearing now though is a frustration, particularly among Democrats, saying, why aren't we there yet, we're three months in, we have to get to that point to keep the fires burning on this.

BALDWIN: Jim Sciutto, thank you for the update on that.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, so what has former President Obama thought of President Trump's first 100 days? He has been silent so far, until now. President Obama's first public remarks since leaving office just this morning in Chicago. Hear what he said, next.






OBAMA: Thank you. Hey!


BALDWIN: A warm welcome for former President Barack Obama there in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. After three months of a little R&R, the former commander-in-chief is back in the spotlight. He just wrapped up his first public remark at an event at the University of Chicago where is he talked to young people about getting involved in this country. The former president's comments ranged from the growing trend of fake news to a couple of "I'm getting old" jokes.


OBAMA: What's been going on while I have been gone?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In eighth grade, which was your first election, in Social Studies we were told --


OBAMA: Can I just say --


-- I'm old.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was -- it was two -- My last name is Patel. There's not a lot of Patels in office. I just feel like --

OBAMA: There's a lot of Patels in India.


(CROSSTALK) OBAMA: I'm just saying, there are a lot more Patels than there are Obamas. I want to be clear.


Sometimes people think if you're not running for office or it's not election day, there's no other ways of getting involved. The PTA is a perfect example of the kind of thing that we want to encourage.

The statistics show that people are less likely to be involved with various organizations in their community than they used to be. And what that means is then people don't have some of the same habits of being together on a common project that they used to. We've become a more individualistic society.

It used to be everybody kind of had the same information. And we had different opinions about it, but there was a common baseline of facts. And that the Internet, in some ways, has accelerated this sense of people having entirely separate conversations.


[14:45:21] BALDWIN: Let's talk about the president with Joshua DuBois, a former religious affairs director during the president's first term. He also has been dubbed by "Time" magazine as President Obama's pastor-in-chief.

It's so nice to see you again. Welcome back, Joshua.


BALDWIN: So you know the president pretty well. The entire time watching him have these substantive conversations with young people, would you have liked to have him seen aggressive in criticizing the current president?

DUBOIS: I don't think so. I think the most important thing about this appearance, first and foremost, was that President Obama is back. He's rested, recouped, he has a great tan going on, and ready to have a conversation about American democracy. But the message itself was the exact right one. He was saying I am going to be involved, but I'm not going to do this for you. He was telling young people I need you to step up and run for office and get involved in politics and to advocate for the issues that you care about. He's going to be encouraging them and creating a platform for them, but he's not going to be a solo actor out there engaging in a tit-for-tat with the administration. That's the right posture to have.

BALDWIN: I ask you the question only because President Trump is trying to dismantle President Obama's legacy. You look at what he's done in office in the first 100 days in rolling back regulations, I'm just curious -- we can't climb in the heart of the 44th president. But does that upset him or is he just taking it in stride?

DUBOIS: I imagine he sees it as a challenge. First and foremost, there are many things that President Obama accomplished that President Trump will not be able to rollback. They are set in stone. Things that have already taken police. There are lots of folks who have health care, whose diseases have been addressed, and so forth. So I think that's an important thing in and of itself. But he also sees it as a challenge to mobilize the people not to fight, no on his behalf, but on behalf of these accomplishments. It's not President Obama versus President Trump. It's President Trump and what he's trying to do versus millions of people who care about these accomplishments. It's more about creating platforms for those people to become engaged.

BALDWIN: In this platform today, you have these pretty impressive young people talking about their own accomplishments and talking to the president, and here he's talking about that the future generation of leaders. Why, Joshua, do you think that that is the president's focus, the youth in this country rather than maybe older, more established voters?

DUBOIS: Maybe because they are a little less cynical than other folks. Maybe because they still can see a future where there's no red state/blue state divide, but that we're all working together in the process of American renewal.

I also think it was important he did this event in Chicago. He was sending a message to folks that that's where he started and that's where he's coming back to. He's still going to be involved in the local conversation. He hasn't forgotten where he's come from.

The other thing that was important -- this is not something he said explicitly -- but if I was the president's former opponents, I would be worried. This was a low-key event, just with the president sitting around some college students, and it still galvanized American attention. It was still the number-one trend on Twitter. So he's going to have a megaphone, a platform whenever he wants one.

BALDWIN: What does his next act looks like?

DUBOIS: I can't say for sure. I imagine he'll continue to pour into men is and boys of color through the My Brother's Keeper initiative. I'm looking forward to his conversation with Angela Merkel and wondering whether he's going to get into some of the foreign policy debates that are at the forefront of our conversation today. I hope he continues to get a little more rest. He's had some, but after eight years, he deserves plenty of it.

And I'm looking forward to this book as well. I imagine we're going to have a window into some moments that we have all wondered about the Obama administration. He's going to have a lot on his plate. I'm excited about what's to come.

BALDWIN: Joshua DuBois, I will see you in Washington. Thank you so much.

DUBOIS: Thank you. You, too.

[14:49:23] BALDWIN: Thank you.

Next here on CNN, all 100 Senators asked to attend a special briefing at the White House this week. We will tell you why, next.


BALDWIN: We are getting news from Capitol Hill that all 100 U.S. Senators have been asked to the White House for a special briefing on North Korea.

Let's go to Capitol Hill to talk to Phil Mattingly.

All 100? Tell me why exactly.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. That's it right. This is rare, Brooke. It's not rare for the administration to send officials to Capitol Hill for a briefing, but having all the Senators pile into vans or buses and head to the White House, that's different.

What I'm hearing right now, when I talk to Senate aids, it it's underscoring the seriousness. All the Senators that have been invited will be briefed by Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson; secretary of Defense, James Mattis; director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats; and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford.

The purpose is to get everybody here, particularly in the wake of a two-week Congressional recess where all the lawmakers were back at home, to get everybody on the same page on what has been an escalating situation. A lot of rhetoric tossed back and forth, a lot of threats, and mounting concern inside the White House among U.S. officials both on the defense and intelligence side about missile tests and possible nuclear tests as well.

As we know right now, there's no clear kind of intent or purpose to this briefing other than letting everybody know what's going on in the White House and looping everybody in.

Again, to underscore this point, Brooke, it is very rare for all 100 Senators to be invited to the White House at the same time for a classified briefing. That's exactly what's happening as this situation escalates around the world -- Brooke?

[14:55:03] BALDWIN: I suppose they have a room somewhere in that big house to handle all 100.

Phil, thank you so much.

So you have that news from Capitol Hill.

You also have this. Will the president demand his border wall funds be included in this government spending bill to avoid a government shutdown by the end of the week? What the White House is saying on that.

Also ahead, new details on the president's cable news obsession. And why the president says he will not fire Sean Spicer.


[14:59:46] BALDWIN: We continue on, on this Monday. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. You're watching CNN.

Moments ago, the White House would make no promises that the government, which is under full control of Republicans, can avoid a shutdown. If it does, it's because to this big budget impasse, and it would happen just as the president hits his 100th day in office this coming Saturday.

Here is White House press secretary, Sean Spicer.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How confident are you that there will not be a shutdown?