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Families Flee as Iraqi Forces Try and Retake Mosul; GOP Senator Graham Wants to Probe Trump's Business Dealings; Interview with Senator Amy Klobuchar; Warriors and Cavaliers Could Meet in Finals. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 9, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Afghan forces even now to fight more after 15 years, would that number of troops really make a difference? But, you know, the goal is to pressure the Taliban enough to get them to come to the negotiating table for a long-term solution in Afghanistan. But this is Afghanistan, and a long-term solution at this point still may be a very tall order.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon. Barbara, thank you so very much.

The new questions raised by the one-time acting attorney general, Sally Yates. Why did the White House wait 18 days to fire Michael Flynn? We will hear from a senator in this hearing, a senator who maybe, just perhaps, could be possibly considering a run for president. That's next.


[10:35:07] HARLOW: So as the president considers the next steps in Afghanistan, we know he's doing that right now because he's meeting with his National Security adviser, H.R. McMaster, Iraqi forces are continuing their push against ISIS in that key city of Mosul. This comes after weeks of resistance. The battle there could be ending soon.

BERMAN: Hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped in that city right now.

CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has the story.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barely able to see through the blinding dust, western Mosul residents trudged to safety. Thousands have fled in the past days.

"We've escaped from death," says this man.

Three-month-old Meriam was carried out by her uncle. Miserable is how he describes life in the city under siege now for months.

"God save us from that rotten gang," Abu Hussain tells me, referring to ISIS. With little food or medicine left, hundreds of thousands remain

trapped in the city. Iraqi Forces have established what they call safe passages for fleeing civilians. Safe, however, may not be the best way to describe them. On the hill above, soldiers fire rockets over the civilians' heads into the city. And this is what has become of Mosul. An ISIS car bomb goes up in flames at the edge of the Mushairfa neighborhood.

Iraqi forces launched this latest operation last Thursday morning from the north and the northwest.

"Be careful," Major Mustafa Al-Azawi warns his troops. "Watch out for booby traps."

The lone black banner of the extremists flutters in the hot wind. The bombardment is unrelenting.

(On camera): This is a final push in the battle for Mosul, a battle that began in the middle of October last year. At the time, Iraqi officials said it would be over by the end of 2016. Now it's well into its seventh month.

(Voice-over): In a nearby operations room, Iraqi officers and American advisers directed drone over the city. Unlike in the past, the Americans on the ground, like Lieutenant Colonel Jim Browning, can now direct airstrikes without waiting for approval from senior officers in the rear.

LT. COL. JIM BROWNING, U.S. ARMY: All it requires is me to be able to see it, with my partner. And once we are able to kind of communicate and say, yes, that is emphatically enemy, and we are under threat, let's deliver a strike and let's deliver it quick.

WEDEMAN: Iraqi leaders are hoping to regain full control of Mosul by the start of the month of Ramadan in late May. But Lieutenant General Qassim Nazzal of the Iraqi's Army's Ninth Armored Division, which is leading the fight, is more cautious.

"Timetables and conventional warfare are possible," he says. "But this is guerrilla warfare with a well-trained enemy using snipers, booby traps and car bombs."

And as always, civilians are caught in the middle struggling to survive, struggling to escape.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Mosul.


BERMAN: Remarkable pictures. Thousands of people struggling for their lives right now. Our thanks to Ben for that.

All right, this just in to CNN. We just heard from a key U.S. senator, who said that the testimony yesterday on Capitol Hill from Sally Yates and James Clapper was so intriguing, this senator now wants to look at a new aspect of Donald Trump, then the candidate, now the president, his business dealings. And much more, next.


[10:43:26] BERMAN: All right, this just into CNN. Moments ago, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told our Manu Raju that he wants to investigate President Trump's business dealings.

HARLOW: I believe -- do we have Manu on the phone? All right, we don't have him on the phone.

BERMAN: We don't have him on the phone, but we're going to talk about that, because it's just one of the things that came out of the hearings yesterday. New questions this morning from those hearings, foremost which, why did the president wait two and a half weeks to fire former National Security adviser Michael Flynn?

BERMAN: Former acting attorney general Sally Yates said she warned the White House not once, not twice, three times about Flynn, a key reason why, this.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: If a high-ranking national security official is caught on tape with a foreign official saying one thing in private and then caught in public saying another thing to the vice president, is that material for blackmail?



HARLOW: All right, before we bring her in, we do have Manu on the phone now to go through some of that important reporting that he's gotten on Lindsey Graham. This is significant. This is a Republican senator telling --



HARLOW: Hey, Manu, it's Poppy. Can you hear us?

RAJU: Hey.


RAJU: Yes, I can hear you.

HARLOW: All right. So this is -- this is significant because this is a Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, telling you that because of something, a question that former DNI James Clapper could not answer yesterday, he wants to know more about the president's business dealings, is that right?

RAJU: Yes, that's right. I mean, it was a question of late in the hearing yesterday in which Lindsey Graham had asked Mr. Clapper about any connection, if he had any concerns about President Trump's business interests with Russia.

[10:45:12] First, Clapper said, no, no, he did not. And then Graham followed up, because Clapper said, no, not at the time of them putting together the intelligence committee assessment. And then Graham said, well, what about just more broadly, no time frame at all, do you have any concerns about Russian ties with Trump business interests? And then Clapper said, well, I can't comment on that. It could be a subject of an ongoing investigation. And as a result, Lindsey Graham now is very interested himself in learning more about that.

When I had a chance to talk to Senator Graham this morning, he said, look, that's something that I would like to look into. I want my committee to look into this. And I asked him, well, how are you going to do that? And he said, well, I'll see how the FBI is doing its own investigation, see how that may coincide with anything that I'm going to look at.

And I also asked him, are you interested in getting President Trump's tax returns as part of this? Would that be helpful? He said it would be helpful. And I said, well, will you subpoena for those tax returns? He said, well, we're just not there yet. So that is one area of this investigation that Senator Graham wants to get into. And he also wants to learn more about how Sally Yates came across this information that led her to warn the president's staff that Michael Flynn may have been compromised by the Russians.

So it was all part of a broader conversation that I had with him this morning, but clearly, he wants to dig a little bit deeper into those business ties to see what, if any, connections made this between the Trump campaign, Trump associates, and Russia itself.

BERMAN: Fascinating reporting from Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill. Senator Lindsey Graham, who chaired that subcommittee hearing yesterday and the Judiciary Committee on Sally Yates and James Clapper, now wants to investigate business dealings by Donald Trump, the president of the United States.

Let's get reaction to that from another senator, a member of that committee, Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Thank you so much for being with us, Senator.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

BERMAN: I don't know if you heard that report. Lindsey Graham wants to investigate Donald Trump's business ties. Your reaction?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, it doesn't surprise me. I think one of the things that we've learned in looking at Russia's conduct over time is that this isn't just about trying to influence elections, which we know they just tried to do in France, and they clearly tried to do in our country. They've also tried to influence people in business and the economy. You look at the cyber attacks, Yahoo, things like that, but you also look through time. And one of the things I asked at this hearing was about the fact that

50 percent now of homes that are over $5 million that are sold are done through shell corporations, OK? So we're not even able to trace. We know there's a lot of Russians that are in real estate. And so we don't know a lot about Donald Trump's dealings. We just have reports and things that have come out. But certainly, the tax returns would be helpful, and I think the most significant thing from that report that you just made was that you now have a Republican senator saying, look, we need to look into this as well.

HARLOW: And Senator, you also have a Republican senator not dismissing the possibility that your committee might subpoena the president's tax returns. He didn't say no to Manu when Manu asked him that question.

Let me get you on this, because Manu's reporting is also that Lindsey Graham was talking about, you know, why it took these 18 days between when Sally Yates made this first warning to the White House and then the "Washington Post" piece came out, and then the president fired General Flynn. And what Lindsey Graham says is, look, the president himself is very loyal. That's a quote, very loyal to Flynn, and the White House needed to build this case.

What's your read on that?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, I have a lot of loyal friends, too, from high school and everything else. It doesn't mean I put them in as national security adviser, OK? So I don't think there's any excuse for leaving him in for 18 days, and most specifically, two days after they were formally warned three times by the acting attorney general, including two formal meetings. They put him on a call with the president and Vladimir Putin for an hour.

And so it makes no sense to me when you see a foreign power that is trying to influence our democracy, our intelligence agents have told them this. We've heard that President Obama, there have been reports yesterday, warned him about this at the meeting. So there is this loyalty, but sometimes you have to put your country in front of the loyalty to your friends and your supporters, and this certainly is one of those times.

[10:50:02] BERMAN: So the president of the United States was tweeting shortly after this hearing. He gave a review of it. One of the things he said was that Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media, already knows, there is no evidence of collusion with Russia and Trump.

Is that the message you got from Director Clapper at hearing yesterday, Senator?

KLOBUCHAR: I just was glad that Director Clapper, former Director Clapper, and former attorney general Yates were there, because I thought they gave one of the more interesting open hearings, and it didn't surprise me when he said that. He said it before, right? And he made it clear that when he was preparing this foreign intelligence report that he didn't have that kind of evidence. But yet, he quickly said that he is not part of the ongoing FBI investigation or any of the investigations. He can't be. He's now a private citizen.

So I think we knew that already. It's fine to bring it out there, but the point is, there are ongoing investigations from the Senate Intelligence Committee, a bipartisan investigation, as well as an FBI investigation and we're awaiting those results.

HARLOW: All right, Senator, we've got to ask about you, because you have been making some trips south across the southern border into the great state of Iowa. You were at a Polk County fundraiser recently. You've got a 72 percent approval rating in your home state of Minnesota and you've got a lot of people buzzing about 2020. Is a run for president for 2020 on your mind?

KLOBUCHAR: What's on my mind is representing Minnesota in the United States Senate and all of the work that we're doing right now with the investigation of Russia and our economy, which I think still needs a lot of work, clearly. And so --

BERMAN: Senator?

KLOBUCHAR: As you know, Poppy, I can see Iowa from my porch, and I often have gone down there to help out friends and that's what I was doing.


HARLOW: Yes, but, yes, but --

BERMAN: I have been to Iowa many times to cover people.

HARLOW: You have. Are you running for president?

BERMAN: To cover people -- well, no. But the thing is, I'm a journalist, you're a politician. Politicians don't just happen to go to Iowa. It doesn't just happen. I've never met one of you who just happens upon Iowa.


KLOBUCHAR: OK. I've also done events in Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and you weren't talking about those.

BERMAN: We don't care about those. We're talking about Iowa right now. Don't change the geographic message.

KLOBUCHAR: Oh, you are going to be in so much trouble with your viewers in those states right now.

BERMAN: So, no, no, I care about those states. I care about your trips to Iowa.

HARLOW: I didn't say -- for the record, I care about all of you in the Midwest.

BERMAN: Senator. Senator, are you -- is it possible that you could run for president? KLOBUCHAR: I am focused on the United States Senate and what we're

doing there right now. That is what I'm doing.

HARLOW: But in all seriousness, Senator, let me read you a quote from my favorite paper, "The Star Tribune." Quote, "There are so many people on TV all the time who are from the coast and I think we need a voice from the Midwest, especially in a state like Iowa, where not only did Democrats not fare well in the presidential election, but also on the local level."

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. And I said that because I --

HARLOW: Were you just opining on what you think is important to folks?

KLOBUCHAR: What I'm talking about is people who are willing to go out there and speak out. Clearly, the Midwest was not pleased with votes last election. They felt forgotten. They felt left out in the middle of the country. And I think it's really important that we have different voices in the Democratic Party and really in both parties that are speaking out, and that was why I went down there, to help them out at their fundraiser in Des Moines.

BERMAN: Well, Senator Klobuchar, we will see you in New Hampshire. Thanks so much for being with us today.

HARLOW: Thanks so much for that.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: See you later.

BERMAN: All right. Still to come for us, this was a pretty scary moment for one of hockey's biggest stars. But now this crash is causing even more controversy around the league. Find out why, next.


[10:0570350] BERMAN: Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, they are good at basketball. They just swept the Utah Jazz. Four wins away now for a possible rematch with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

HARLOW: Coy Wire has more in today's "Bleacher Report."

Good morning. We have just learned that Steph Curry is good at basketball. What other breaking news do you have for us?


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I love it. You know it, Poppy, good at the basketball, John. Both Warriors and the Cavs absolutely rolling, both perfect 8-0 in the playoffs thus far. Golden State and Cleveland have been so good that some fans and commentators are saying that they're winning too easily and that the NBA Playoffs are boring. Well, after last night's 121-95 win over the Jazz, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant let it be known how they feel about this boring talk.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Basketball playoffs are boring and these two dominant teams on a collision course. What do you think about that?

DRAYMOND GREEN, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


WIRE: Been listening to that all morning. The Warriors will face the winner of the Rockets-Spurs. Next game five of that series is tonight on TNT.

Nothing boring about the Penguins-Capitals NHL playoff series, but a scary moment. Game six, Penguins' Sidney Crosby had that violent head-first crash into the boards, clearly showing signs that he's not completely OK. This is just one week after a concussion forced him to miss game four. His competitive nature's not going to let him leave the game, but many unable to understand how the league spotters and the club didn't force him to be immediately removed to be evaluated for a concussion. Capitals win this one, 5-2, tying up the series at three games apiece. Game seven is tomorrow night.

Let's go to the Madrid Open, Maria Sharapova on her so-called comeback tour after serving her 15-month doping suspension, facing Canadian Jeannie Bouchard. Thrilling play on the clay, made more riveting by the back story. Bouchard has called Sharapova a cheater, has said that she should be banned from tennis forever. Bouchard beats Sharapova for the first time in her career. And then there was this anticipated awkward handshake moment when it was all over.

After the match, Bouchard says she's had tons of support for speaking out the way she did.


EUGENIE BOUCHARD, TENNIS PLAYER: I had a lot of players coming up to me privately, wishing me good luck, players I don't normally speak to and getting a lot of texts from people in the tennis world that were just rooting for me.


WIRE: Big words by Bouchard, backed by a big win, guys. Back to you.

HARLOW: All right, Coy Wire, thank you so much.

Thank you all for joining us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" with Brianna Keilar today starts right now.