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Rosenstein: Mueller Probe "Not A Fishing Expedition"; Sen. Tillis: No Evidence To Suggest Mueller Conflict; Christie: Special Counsels "Have Felt The Need To Produce"; Russia Probe Expands Focus To Possible Financial Ties; U.N. Passes Tough New Sanctions Against North Korea; Pence Slams Report He's Planning 2020 Presidential Bid; FBI Monitored Social Media Sites On Election Day; Princess Diana's Private Tapes To Air In U.K.; History of Comedy Airs Tonight 10 E.T./P.T. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired August 6, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- billion dollars annually. And this coming just hours before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attends a crucial meeting with his North Korean counterpart in Manila.

Tillerson also meeting with Russia's foreign minister, whose country is still grappling with new punishments for meddling in the U.S. election. A tense yet critical conversation.

CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

Hello again and thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start this hour with the ever widening Russia investigation. Federal Investigators are following the money trail and Special Counsel Robert Mueller had issued grand jury subpoenas. The man who appointed Mueller to lead the investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spoke out today insisting it's not a fishing expedition. He also downplayed the subpoenas.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: In general, Chris, it doesn't say anything about the likelihood of indictments because we conduct investigations, and we make a determination as some point in the course of the investigation about whether charges are appropriate.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY HOST: And what's the advantage in terms of an investigation to taking a case to a grand jury?

ROSENSTIEN: Many of our investigations, Chris, involve the use of the grand jury. It's an appropriate way to gather documents. Sometimes you bring witnesses in to make sure that you get their full testimony.

It's just a tool that we used like any other tool in the course of our investigations. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The subpoenas are widely seen in Washington as a big step forward in the case. Here's what a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said earlier today.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D) RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Instead, if these allegations are true, it's moving into a new phase with the impaneling of a grand jury so that special counsel can subpoena witnesses and documents. That wouldn't be taking place if there was really no evidence, no evidentiary basis to move forward.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Boris Sanchez has more on this and the latest on the senators' effort to protect Mueller from being replaced force. The Trump supporters are downplaying as well. What are you hearing?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, there are as many different perspectives on these investigations as there are investigations. Seemingly you had Rod Rosenstein this morning, the deputy attorney general, saying that this is not a fishing expedition. And as you heard, that the convening of a grand jury and the issuing of subpoenas is not an indication that the special counsel is going to recommend charges against anyone.

He also had New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on State of the Union with Jake Tapper this morning saying, that this is just the natural course of events for an investigation, saying that the media is blowing this news out of proportion.

Then you had Adam Schiff essentially saying that the fact at this investigation is not been dropped is an indication that there is something there, and the fact it's moving forward is an indicator of something.

Of course, they all have expressed at least a vote of confidence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller. You have those that haven't explicitly done that, those supporting the President including Kellyanne Conway, who have said that this investigation is a witch hunt and a complete fabrication, these allegations against the Trump campaign.

Here's more of what Kellyanne Conway said this morning on ABC.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELLOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The entire Russia investigation is a hypothetical. The president has called it a fiction, total fabrication to excuse the colossal and unexpected, unwanted defeat of Hillary Clinton in last year's election.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: So, you have disagreements not only on whether or not this investigation is valid but also on the scope of it. Whether or not Robert Mueller has the legal ability to look into the president's finances, if that falls into the scope of this investigation. The deputy attorney general was asked about that this morning.

He said that he believes that Robert Mueller knows the limits of his ability as special counsel, and that if he feels he must exceed that to recommend charges against anyone, he would have to then go seek the approval of the acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Fred?

WHITFIELD: So, Boris, on the flip side, there's a movement in Congress to protect Mueller in his investigation. What exactly is happening there?

SANCHEZ: Yes, Fred. Believe it or not, there is some bipartisan consensus when it comes to the Russia investigation. There was a bill introduced that would limit the president's ability to fire Robert Mueller without just cause. Here two of the Senators sponsoring the bill, Thom Tillis and Chris Coons. Listen.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: I think we've already heard strong interest from colleagues on both sides of the aisle in supporting this legislation. Senators Graham and Booker also introduced a similar piece of legislation before we went out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Senator Tillis, have you seen anything in this investigation show further or suggest that Robert Mueller has a conflict?

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: No, I haven't. I sit on the Judiciary Committee along with Chris or Senator Coons and I have not seen any evidence to suggest that. And, that's why I want this investigation to just follow through to an expedient conclusion.


[15:05:07] SANCHEZ: Now, Fred, Kellyanne Conway has come out and pointed out again that some of the attorneys that Robert Mueller has hired on his investigative team have donated to Democrats in the past. She actually went on to say that the president hasn't even discussed potentially firing Robert Mueller.

But the fact that Congress, at least some members of Congress are taking it as a serious possibility that the president may pursue that course of action, is interesting, to say the least, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez in Washington, thanks so much.

All right. So now to the money trail in the Russia investigation. The special counsel exploring Trump's campaign and possible collusion with Russia has now expanded into the president and his family's financial ties.

CNN's Jake Tapper asked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a friend and supporter of the president about that.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Bob Mueller would be crossing a red line, if Mueller were to delve into his or his family's finances. CNN's reporting is that Bob Mueller is doing exactly that looking into the finances of the president, his businesses, his family, his associates. As a former U.S. attorney, is that fair game to follow the money?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, listen I think Jake, this part of the problem with a special counsel and if you'll recall that before it happened, I was saying you should be very cautious about this. And that I thought we had the professionals necessary already inside the Department of Justice to do this kind of investigation. Because special counsels at time historically have felt the need to produce something in return for their appointment.

And so you're always concerned about that. In the end, though, Bob Mueller is a good man in my experience, and dealing with him when he was Director of the FBI and I was U.S. attorney. And I trust that he'll be very careful to try not to go on a fishing expedition. There's always a temptation to do that.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk more about all of this. Let's talk with Craig Unger, contributing editor for Vanity Fair and author of "Trump's Russian Laundromat". That's in the new republic. Also, Matthew Whitaker, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic trust. Good to see you both of you.

All right. So, Craig, you first, you know, you wrote in the New Republic that, you know, back in the '80s at least one Russian who purchased six, you know, Trump Tower condos was later arrested and the properties were seized for money laundering. But you also write that there was never been any indication that Trump knew anything about money laundering schemes.

So, why do you think he has drawn this red line on Mueller and investigators looking into his and his family's finances?

CRAIG UNGER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, VANITY FAIR: Well, I think it's exactly where Mueller has to go. I tried to find out when Trump was first compromised by Russia and I went back to 1984 when a man named David Bogatin went into Trump Tower. This is a guy who has ties to the Russian mafia, specifically to the crime family of Semion Mogilevich, who's the most powerful, he's the boss of bosses for the Russian mafia.

And he sat down with Trump and bought five condos. And the state attorney general ruled that that was money laundering. And I tried to go forward from there and I found at least 13 people who appeared to have ties to the Russian Mafia who either lived in Trump Tower, or worked in Trump Tower, or had some dealings with Trump at one way or another. WHITFIELD: It's a fascinating article, really is. And Matthew, you know, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said this morning that the president, you know, was assured under oath that he was not under investigation, but Mueller, you know, does have wide discretion. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein actually talked about that today. Listen.


ROSENSTIEN: The special counsel is subject to the rules and regulations of the Department of Justice, and we don't engage in fishing expeditions. Now, that order that you read that doesn't detail specifically who may be the subject in the investigation, because we don't reveal that publicly. But Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation. And so, no, it's not a fishing expedition.


WHITFIELD: So Matthew, what's your reaction to that, and how does that -- you know, how was that interpreted now by the White House?

MATTHEW WHITAKER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FOUNDATION FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND CIVIC TRUST: Well, my understanding of the scope is that it is limited. And this is one of the discussions I've been having with lots of people. And in fact, in writing an editorial piece that should be up on soon about, that there is a red line.

There is a very specific scope to this investigation and anything that is outside of Russian coordination or the 2016 campaign would be outside of the scope of that investigation. I think Rod Rosenstein, who I served with in the Department of Justice agreed with me.

WHITFIELD: Where did you learn that or who determined that? Because even Senator Collins was asked that and we heard her sentiments on Friday. And she said as far as she is concern there really are no limitations. He can go wherever he need to go?

WHITAKER: Yes. And that's just not what I heard Rod say today as I watched his interview on Fox News. I heard him say that there are specific subjects on the investigation and that there is a scope and that it cannot be a fishing expedition.

[15:10:05] And Chris Christie, who also served with Rod and I as U.S. attorneys in the Department of Justice, in the 2000s, feels the same way. I mean this is the danger, and this is kind of a constitutional question and brings in things like the Fourth Amendment that there has to be a limitation to prosecutors, and what they can do and where they can go --

WHITFIELD: Well, (INAUDIBLE) what happened with Whitewater? It didn't happen to with Whitewater. The probe was there but then it went off into, you know, the personal, you know, (INAUDIBLE) of the president of the United States.

WHITAKER: There's two distinctions of Whitewater. One is that it was an independent counsel under a different law than what Mueller's currently operating. And second, Ken Starr did go back and get additional authority once this investigation continued. And that is I think the key piece here.

As I think, we should watch for Bob Mueller, if he's really going to go down these paths of unrelated financial transactions to the election or to Russian coordination with that election. That he's going to go back to Rod and get that additional authorization.

WHITFIELD: So, Craig, also in your article in the New Republic, you know, you wrote that, you know, after a -- I'm quoting now, a review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern. Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia over the past three decades. At least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties.

So you believe, or is it your belief that when investigators say they're following the money, those two are threads that they will be looking into? I mean, this was information that you quote in your article based on court records, so not accusations that you're making?

UNGER: Right, absolutely. You know, I think one thing a lot of people don't get is that the Russian mafia is in many ways an adjunct of the Russian government. It's not like the American mafia or anything like you might see on "The Sopranos."

It's a -- so you had people in Trump Tower, in the home of the president of the United States who were part of the Russian mafia and in many ways they were functioning as an adjunct to Russian intelligence. And if you look at the company Bayrock, which is a real estate development company that partnered with President Trump, they were there for about eight years, and a number of people there who were part of Bayrock do have ties to the Russian mafia. And there's some very serious questions that come out of that.

WHITFIELD: So, Matthew, do you believe that this is off limits or should be off limits for Mueller?

WHITAKER: Well I read -- you know, I read Craig's article and it's a very interesting history of some of those folks and what they did. But to suggest that somehow they were clairvoyant enough to know that Trump would ultimately be president of the United States and that somehow that is compromised him going forward. I think is very dangerous.

I've tried many cases and sometimes you want to dirty up somebody with all sorts of innuendo or things like this that are kind of unrelated facts that are very salacious. And I think it's just very dangerous and I think the president of the United States is completely beholden to I guess the Russian mafia or Russian government base on this, you know, 30-year-old business ties from 1984 and beyond that.

WHITFIELD: All right. You want a last word? UNGER: Yes. No one suggested it began what they thought in 1984 he was going to be president. I think it started off in the beginning as money laundering pure and simple.

But in '02, he was down on his heels, he was $4 billion in debt. He owed 70 banks money. Those are not the kind of credentials that help you get elected president of the United States.

And (INAUDIBLE) and said, we will put up a billion dollars roughly, to do all of these projects with you. You put up zero and you get 18% of it. So Donald Trump was deeply, deeply compromised by them.

WHITFIELD: But still curious is, the common denominator that we're talking about whether 30 years can ago or in 2016, it's that word and that place, Russia. That's the common denominator and that's what makes us so curious.

All right, Craig Unger, Matthew Whitaker, thank you so much gentlemen.

WHITAKER: Thank you.

UNGER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, Russia calls U.S. sanctions, quote, "unfriendly and dangerous." What this could signal.

Plus --


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: This was a gut punch to North Korea.


WHITFIELD: -- how the international community is reacting to fresh U.N. sanctions just slapped on Kim Jong-un's regime.

And while the president of the United States is on a working vacation, Vice President Mike Pence is squashing a report claiming that he's planning to make a run for Trump's job in 2020. We'll discuss that, straight ahead.


[21:18:58] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. For the very first time, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and North Korea's foreign minister are in the same place at the same time. The two are attending a major international summit in the Philippines.

This comes on the heels of the U.N. Security Council's harsh sanctions on North Korea imposed for its continued missile tests. This morning the President's top adviser Kellyanne Conway reiterated President Trump's praise for the sanctions bill. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONWAY: A unanimous rebuke of North Korea. The greatest economic sanctions package ever levered against and will cost them about a billion dollars. Even allies in the region like China, Japan, South Korea, all agreeing with the United States that North Korea and its nuclear capabilities must be stopped.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott joining me now. So Elise the administration is really touting this a harsh sanction. Are they prepared for a response from North Korea?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you can expect some kind of response, Fred. What will -- it probably start with some very fiery rhetoric from North Korea as it always does, but I think it's pretty logical to expect if history is any indicator that there could be some kind of missile test or missile launch.

[21:20:12] Take a listen to Ambassador Haley taking about what the U.S. would do in the event of some kind of military propagation.


HALEY: We're prepared to do whatever it takes to defend ourselves and to defend our allies. And the ball is in North Korea's court. They now have to decide where they want to go from here. We hope that they will go the route of peace and security.


LABOTT: Now, obviously, Ambassador Haley, very tough in that interview you did with her. But at the same time, I think this bolsters Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's case when he goes to Manila and he's trying to find some kind of diplomatic solution.

Obviously, the U.S. is prepared to defend itself and its allies against some long-range missile from North Korea. But at the same time you know earlier this week, Secretary Tillerson did say that the U.S. would be willing to talk to North Korea. So it just give a sign that it's ready to have a diplomatic solution.

WHITFIELD: And talk about meeting up and talking, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meeting up with his Russian counterpart. Earlier today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the U.S. sanctions on Russia are unfriendly and dangerous, his words. What else was said because Tillerson at least had an established, you know, cozier relationship with his Russian counterparts until fairly recently.

LABOTT: Yes. It was a very good relationship while he was the CEO of EXXONMOBIL. But now this relationship between U.S. and Russia in Secretary Tillerson's words that an all-time low and foreign minister Lavrov talking about these sanctions, saying how much they're an impediment to the relationship.

He said that the "U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia became another link in the chain of steps unfriendly and dangerous for international stability, and struck a powerful blow to the prospects for bilateral cooperation. At the same time we're ready to normalize the dialogue if Washington stops the confrontational approach."

And, Fred, I think that Secretary Tillerson does feel that he had argued against these sanctions. He thought it would hurt his flexibility with the Russians and he wants to work with Russia on issues like North Korea, on issues like Syria, and issues like Ukraine.

But this kind of elephant in the room, these sanctions on Russia and the whole idea of Russia meddling in the U.S. election is something that these two countries can't get past in their effort to cooperate.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott in Washington, thanks so much.

All right. Straight ahead, a former Trump adviser says the Trump factor is behind the reason of jobs' numbers. Could the current state of the economy help bring more support his way?


[15:27:03] WHITFIELD: All right. The White House is issuing a stern rebuke to the New York Times today after the paper proposed that Vice President Mike Pence might launch a 2020 presidential bid should Trump not seek a second term. The Times report noted Pence's aggressive political schedule and fund-raising operation.

And in an official statement from the White House, the vice president called the story, quote, disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration.

The statement went on to say, quote, whatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president's agenda and see him reelected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd, end quote.

So CNN's Athena Jones just joined me now from Bridgewater, New Jersey, near where the president is vacationing. So Athena, any word on how President Trump feels about this report and the statement?

ATHENA JONES, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Well, I've reached out to a couple of White House sources to find out more about the president's thinking on all this, but we have seen multiple White House officials pushing back on this story from the New York Times on Twitter and on television.

Listen to what White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway had to say about that this morning on ABC's This Week.


CONWAY: It is absolutely true that the vice president is getting ready for 2020 for reelection as vice president. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So no concern he's setting up a shadow campaign?

CONWAY: Zero concern. That is complete fiction. That is complete fabrication. And I know that his advisers who had (INAUDIBLE) have pushed back very strongly (INAUDIBLE) of the vice president and as I am right now unequivocally. Vice President Pence is a very loyal, very dutiful, but also incredibly effective vice president, active vice president, with this president.


JONES: And I think the operative word there Fred is "loyal," or the phrase "very loyal" that we heard from Kellyanne Conway. These officials who are pushing back on the story line want to make it absolutely clear where the vice president's mind is on this. And his mind, they say, is on continuing to work with President Trump to have it, to help him succeed, and to help him get reelected in 2020.

But this is highly unusual to see this sort of pushback to a specific story. Number one, in an official White House statement like this. We also saw some of Pence's aides pushing back, including his chief of staff, who was cited in or mentioned in the New York Times piece.

And we should remind our viewers as well, Fred, that President Trump has indicated very strongly that he plans to run again, and that he hopes to be an eight-term president. He filed the paperwork to do so very early in his term, and he's held numerous campaign rallies already.

And so you have these officials wanting to make it very, very clear that Vice President Pence has no designs on President Trump's job at the moment. Fred?

[15:30:07] WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones, thank you so much.

All right, let's talk more about this with Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein, who's also the senior editor at the Atlantic, and Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. Good to see you both.

All right. So Ron, your reaction because it's not just pushback but pushback very quickly as a result of this New York Times' reporting.

RON BROWSNTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I feel that the gentleman protests too much. Does anybody doubt if Donald Trump does not run for president in 2020 for one reason or another that Mike Pence will? And that if Donald Trump does run for president, Mike Pence isn't going to challenge him.

I mean, that's kind of a binary reality, you know. I mean is all of this pushback --

WHITFIELD: So why these ruffling feathers.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, is this all pushback supposed to mean while he doesn't run. I will run -- you know, I won't run in 2020? No. I think we all have a pretty good sense of where the vice president is. If the president, who is, you know, has been a mercurial figure in his political life for whatever reason, whatever obstacles come in his way decides not to run in 2020, it would be shocking if the vice president did not try to run, and it is inconceivable that he will challenge him.

So, you know, there's kind of a narrow boundary here. More interesting is the possibility that someone else might challenge Donald Trump if he chooses to run for re-election, in the Republican primary. Particularly John Kasich who might be strong among the Republicans precisely where Trump is weak as (INAUDIBLE) but still would face a very uphill climb to deny him the nomination.

WHITFIELD: So then Lynn, is it conceivable that perhaps this statement or this quick pushback came as a result of somebody else's, you know, feelings kind of being hurt or feeling, you know, that this is sending the wrong message? I'm talking about the president. That this statement came at his urging?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, the statement seemed to me to be intended to have an audience of one, President Trump. And otherwise the protestations, this is absurd. Then finally, if you're not going to run, you say, I am not running.

The statement is, I am going to -- I'm doing all of this travel in support of the Trump/Pence ticket. But to underscore what Ron said, Fred, there's -- it would be political malpractice Vice President Trump didn't set himself up to be a frontrunner if for some reason Trump did not run.

And it's not a forgone conclusion that he will be in political shape to run for a second term. There's a lot to unfold yet. So the protest, I thought, was not calibrated in a way to tamp down speculation which now is going to be there from now until they declare a Trump/Pence ticket for 2020.

WHITFIELD: So, the New York Times, you know, talked about these shadow campaigns, that there are members of the Republican Party that have begun this shadow campaigns, maybe about Mike Pence and maybe somebody else.

But Senator John McCain, you know, has said that more Republican lawmakers, you know, are seeing a weakness. His words, you know, in the administration, and they are trying to coalesce and they maybe challenging him in 20. So, already, you know, Ron, are there certain, you know, stars that are, you know, being groomed, or -- you know, behind closed doors are people talking about potential frontrunners?

BROWSTEIN: I don't think anybody will be surprised if John Kasich challenge Donald Trump in 2020. Both because he has set himself up as a critic of specific policy decisions but also of the broad policy direction of the administration where they have worked with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell essentially on a partisan-only strategy on legislation on health care, coming now on tax care. And he's basically aligned himself with a number of Democratic governors as well as other Republican governors saying this is a misguided way to try to govern the country.

He has a logical base and as I said there more white collar suburbanite voters who are resistant of Trump in the primaries and with whom he is polling incredibly poorly now for a Republican president with over 50% of college educated whites saying they strongly disapprove of his presidency in the Quinnipiac poll last week.

So there's an opening there. You have Ben Sasse of Nebraska also kind of, you know, doing some traveling, and again, as kind of, you know, anti-Trump.

Look, it's hard to unseat a sitting president in your own party. Even Ted Kennedy couldn't do it in 1980. But there is some opening there and that would reveal, I think, if we get to this point in three years, would reveal some of the general election challenges that a President Trump would face in re-election because it would show some of the voters that he's having trouble consolidating.

WHITFIELD: So for all the unease Lynn, those positive job numbers on Friday, more than a million jobs, you know, added since Trump took office. Might those things help turn things around for this president?

SWEET: Well, it helps shore up. It helps maintain where he's at, Fred and Ron. I don't think it is yet proven that the good economy we have is attributable strictly to Trump and that the momentum he inherited from now former President Obama.

[15:35:02] So he needs these numbers just not to have a spiral given that, look, we're in August. Everyone's done stories about how the Republican-led Congress hasn't any major accomplishments and they're going into the fall with big budget debt ceiling battles, et cetera, and a president who's chaotic to say the least. That administration may or may not turn around with a new chief of staff, John Kelly.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it right there. Ron Brownstein, Lynn Sweet, good to see you always.

SWEET: Good to see you Fred.

WHTFIELD: Sunday, any day. Thanks so much.

All right, straight ahead, CNN has learned the FBI monitored social media sites on Election Day to track a Russian disinformation campaign. And now, the question investigators want answered, did the Trump campaign participate in that effort?


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. The investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. election is focusing among other things on the spread of fake news on website.

[15:40:05] Well, now, lawmakers are looking at how fake news spread on Facebook and who was involved. CNN's Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin has details.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's no question according to the FBI that Russia used fake news to try to influence the 2016 election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They also pushed fake news in propaganda and they used online amplifiers to spread the information to as many people as possible.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): What Democratic congressional investigators wants too know is whether Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to spread false information about Hillary Clinton through Facebook.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee has traveled to Facebook headquarters in California. While he won't discuss specifics of the meeting, he tell CNN he wants to know whether the Trump campaign helped Russians to target fake news to specific Facebook users.

WARNER: I'd like to look into the activities of the Trump digital campaign. I will point out this, Facebook which basically denied any responsibility around our elections by the time the French elections took place this spring, they actually took down 30,000 fake sites.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Fake sites spreading fake news mostly negative about Hillary Clinton. The Democratic theory, somehow the Trump campaign and Russians colluded to do it.

So go ahead and tell me what we're seeing right here.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): This is why it matters. Look at this program that tracks social media. You can clearly see the explosion of completely fabricated stories. Fake news, in the months just before November's election.

GABRIELE BOLAND, CONTENT STRATEGIST, NEWSWHIP: In the fall, it just became so much of a problem.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Gabriele Boland, a content strategist with NewsWhip, a social media analytics firm, says fake news spiked astronomically in the months before the election. Mostly fabricated stories about Hillary Clinton or Democrats, with headlines like, "Donald Trump Protester speaks out: I Was Paid $3,500 To Protest Trump's Rally."

The story is from a fake news site that is made to appear like the real ABC News. It was created by Paul Horner, who told CNN he writes fake news to make money. But that didn't stop his completely fake story from spreading through conservative media. And there's this story, "FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary E-mail Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder/Suicide." This story was 100% made up. Released on a made up news site called the Denver Guardian.

Nothing about it was true. The author admits that to CNN. Yet it had nearly 570,000 shares, likes, or comments on Facebook and was published just four days before the election.

The questions Democrats want answered are, how did fake stories from fake websites become so popular so quickly? And did someone pay to boost the fake news?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Decades of lives, cover-ups and scandals --

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Facebook was a massive part of the Trump campaign's online advertising efforts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I went to Wall Street.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Ninety-five percent of Trump's fund-raising ads were placed on the platform according to the campaign officials.

(on camera) But the Trump campaign has flatly denied any Russian collusion whatsoever. And though not appearing on camera, the Trump campaign official who oversaw all of the Trump campaign's digital advertising is going on record at CNN to say it simply didn't happen.

GARY COBY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Trump's followers got an amazing kind of engagement.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Gary Coby, former director of advertising for the Republican National Committee and the Trump for president campaign told CNN by phone, "We never put money behind someone else's Facebook page or source." And added, "We did not back any of Hillary's stories. Had nothing to do with fake Hillary stories or any Hillary stories that weren't our own."


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Brad Parscale, who was a lead contractor on Trump's digital campaign, has also denied any involvement with Russia. Parscale has been called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee to swear to that under oath.

Facebook has done its own internal review and has reported, it did find malicious actors with fake accounts spreading misinformation during the campaign. But says in a statement to CNN, "We've been in touch with a number of government officials including Senator Warner, who are looking into the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We will continue to cooperate with officials as their investigations continue. As we have said, we have seen no evidence that Russian actors bought ads on Facebook in connection with the election."

Drew Griffin, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: Coming up, "In Her Own Words", Princess Diana reveals how she feels about her marriage to Prince Charles. That is next.


[15:49:14] WHITFIELD: They were supposed to be private but some of Princess Diana's intimate and candid tapes are being made public right now in the U.K. to mark 20 years since the death of the princess.

A British broadcaster is airing a documentary that features videos seen in the U.S. but never before seen in Great Britain. CNN's Max Foster explains why so many of Diana's friends and family pleaded for the tapes to be concealed.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These were supposed to be her private moments. Diana, Princess of Wales rehearsing with her voice coach. Relaxed, (INAUDIBLE) sharing some of her most intimate thoughts.


[15:50:05] FOSTER (voice-over): The tapes recorded by her voice coach, Peter Settelen in 1992 and 1993 at Kensington Palace, a never before seen in the U.K. A part of the upcoming Channel 4 documentary, "Diana: In Her Own Words".

But they're also a source of great controversy, with family and friends saying that the airing of these moments in Britain amounts to a betrayal. The tapes were first discovered in 2001 at the home of her former butler, Paul Burrell. He too is speaking out against the broadcast.

PAUL BURRELL, PRINCESS DIANA'S FORMER BUTLER: It's almost like reading her diary. That's wrong. That shouldn't be.

It can only upset Prince William and Prince Harry. I understand it's a first for new information but I think it's a step too far.

FOSTER (voice-over): Marcus Rutherford, attorney for Settelen defended the release of the recordings in a statement saying, "He was not her priest, doctor, therapist or lawyer."

Channel 4 says it made the decision to broadcast them as they're important to the historical record saying, quote, though the recordings were made in private, we carefully considered all the materials used in the documentary and though, the recordings were made in private, the subjects covered are a matter of public record and provide a unique insight into the preparations Diana undertook to gain a public voice and tell her own personal story.

In the tapes, some of which have already as part of a U.S. documentary in 2004, Diana talks openly about her marriage to Prince Charles.

DIANA SPENCER, PRINCESS OF WALES: We met 13 times before we got married. I was brought up --

FOSTER (voice-over): Diana speaks freely on the recordings about their dull sex life, and hints about the prince having an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. She also candidly reveals her attempts to get the queen's help concerning the marriage difficulties.

The royal family has declined to comment on the recordings. Almost 20 years have passed since her death on August the 31st, 1997. But no matter which side of the controversy surrounding the release of the documentary people may fall, one thing is clear.

The Diana in these videos is so very vibrant, her essence so real, it's almost impossible not to be taken back to the time when her every move seemed to captivate the world.

Max Foster, CNN, London.


WHITFIELD: Still ahead, the president of the United States launches a video series on his Facebook page called news of the week from Trump Tower. What's behind this?

Then the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt upset, beat by his rival, American Justin Gatlin.

Next hour, we'll be talking with Gatlin about the race and what's next.


[15:57:04] WHITFIELD: CNN's Original Series "History of Comedy" airs tonight. Here's a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are there newspapers all over the place?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political satire, crazy characters, sketches, it was anything that was fun that you wanted to try that a network would never put on.

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, BETWEEN TWO FERNS HOST: I would like to welcome my first guest, Jessica Chastain.


BRAD JENKINS, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, FUNNY OR DIE D.C.: With "Between Two Ferns", you have a program that it's a (INAUDIBLE) of talk shows. So it's a satire of talk shows.

GALIFIANAKIS: We're interested in the work you've been down in Haiti, and tell us a little bit about that. Is there a six flags down there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is not, you know. And --

GALIFIANAKIS: We can move on.

KEEGAN -MICHAEL KEY, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: The new media have especially sited that are just for comedy. I think that they're good thing for the business. Especially (INAUDIBLE) which is great because there is a democratization there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey there, you want to play mahjong?

JENKINS: The things that succeed on the internet, it's happening organically. Look, I'm seeing a really hilarious video, it's largely because someone shared it.


WHITFIELD: All right, watch the "History of Comedy" tonight at 10:00, right here on CNN.

The fifth Sharknado movie airs this weekend. And new reports has producers of the third film nearly cast Donald Trump as president before he launched his campaign. To see how that role could have played out, here's Jake Tapper's State of the Cartoonion.


TAPPER, (voice-over): It must have been a hard choice to actually run for president of the United States, or --

TRUMP: I'm a fighter. And I am now going to fight for you. I'm not fighting for me anymore, I'm fighting for you.

TAPPER (voice-over): Take a spin as a fictional president battling shark-filled tornadoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sharknadoes has now been reported all up and down the East Coast.

TAPPER (voice-over): In Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's sharks, they're scary, no one wants to get eaten.

TAPPER (voice-over): We learned this week that Donald Trump was reportedly excited to play the commander-in-chief in the cheesy movie franchise.

TRUMP: When you're growing up in New York City and you're dealing with some of the great sharks of the world, it's not very good.

TAPPER (voice-over): Though producer's first choice was former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor, Sarah Palin.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I'm too old for this, come on. At this stage of my life, my career, I'm actually really too prim and proper for all of that.

TAPPER (voice-over): She turned it down and the role eventually went to Trump nemesis, billionaire Mark Cuban.

MARK CUBAN, BILLIONARE: Nobody attacks my house. This time, it's personal.

TAPPER (voice-over): We can't help but think though that battling great whites in Washington, D.C., might seem like a walk in the park compared to facing the subpoenas swirling around Washington from Bob Mueller.


WHITFIELD: All right, the next hour of the NEWSROOM starts right now.

Hello again everyone and thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with the two top diplomats for the U.S. and North Korea embassy placed at the same time.