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Was Lee Harvey Oswald A CIA Agent?; Ravens Roll After Flacco Concussion; Kellyanne Conway Discusses Gag Order Lifted On FBI Informant. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired October 27, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We have New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He'll be talking about the president's opioid commission and much more with us.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right.
And coming up next, one of the new JFK documents released ends in a cliffhanger. Was Lee Harvey Oswald an agent of the CIA?
We'll discuss that and many more of the new revelations, next.
BERMAN: One of the newly-declassified JFK assassination documents ends on a major mystery. Was Lee Harvey Oswald an agent of the CIA?
Let's discuss with CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, and Philip Shenon, author of "A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination."
Phil, let me start with you.
That document I'm talking about was an interview with Richard Helms who was the director of the CIA during the 1970s. He was asked is there any information involved with the assassination of President Kennedy which in any way shows that Lee Harvey Oswald was in some way an agent -- a CIA agent or an agent -- and then it just goes dot, dot, dot, and ends.
That's part of what wasn't released overnight. That's an unbelievable cliffhanger.
[07:35:00] PHILIP SHENON, CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICO, AUTHOR, "A CRUEL AND SHOCKING ACT: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION": Well, that gives you a sense of the problem you've got now which is that apparently, the government is going to continue to hold back for months and months and months the super-secret documents about this turning point in American history.
I kind of doubt that Mr. Helms acknowledged that Oswald had any involvement in the CIA. I think the CIA has been adamant over the years that there was no tie to Lee Harvey Oswald.
BERMAN: Clearly, there's something in that answer they didn't want released overnight. Maybe it comes up in April. That's fascinating.
Doug, to you. There was a lot new that we did learn overnight, some interesting nuggets. And one of them has to do with warnings that the FBI gave about Lee Harvey Oswald being at risk after the Kennedy assassination.
Let me read this to you right here. This is from J. Edgar Hoover on November 24th.
"There's nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead. We received a call in our Dallas office from a man talking in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald."
That's J. Edgar Hoover talking about essentially being angry at the Dallas Police Department in the days after the assassination.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, HISTORY PROFESSOR, RICE UNIVERSITY: And I believe Hoover was angry, but that memo there, that's really what -- you know, covering yourself, right? Don't blame the FBI.
I had a call, it was odd, and I did due diligence, reported it to do Dallas and something went amiss down there. And clearly, something did.
That footage that we see over and over of Ruby coming and shooting Oswald up close, you constantly say how did the Dallas police let that happen?
You also want to know when Oswald was apprehended, why wasn't he tape- recorded? Why don't we have records from him?
And I think this new release of documents is starting to put all roads lead to Mexico City. If we could ever -- you know, there's one document that's just come out where we're following Oswald's journey to Mexico City and people that he's meeting, what they're wearing.
If we could ever figure out exactly what Oswald did in Mexico City and who he met with -- and CIA was very busy in Mexico City --
BRINKLEY: -- in the late fifties-sixties.
BERMAN: Well, as a matter of fact, we do have something in these documents which does get to that Phil. It's a phone call.
According to an intercepted phone call in Mexico City, "Oswald called the Soviet Embassy on one October, identifying himself by name and speaking in broken Russian, stating the above and asking whether there was anything new concerning the telegram to Washington."
This really does start to fill in the picture of Lee Harvey Oswald and what the intelligence agencies knew about him before the assassination, Phil. SHENON: Oh, absolutely. And I've always thought this Mexico City incident is really the secret chapter of the Kennedy assassination drama, which is Oswald goes to Mexico City. We know he's meeting with Cuban spies and Russian spies, and other people who at the height of the Cold War might have wanted to see John Kennedy dead.
BERMAN: You know, and it's fascinating to me also is you look back on this and how many steps they took from the very beginning in this investigation after the assassination, which only raised new questions and fueled new conspiracy theories, Doug.
Because I go back and read again this statement from J. Edgar Hoover on November 24th talking about being concerned about what he's going to say to the American people.
He goes, "The thing that I'm concerned about, and so is the deputy attorney general, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin." You hear that from J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI.
Shouldn't he be concerned about getting the actual facts and the truth to the American people, not trying to convince them that Oswald's the lone assassin before he knows whether or not that's the case?
BRINKLEY: Absolutely. I agree with that completely.
However, once Lyndon Johnson got sworn in, everybody in government was trying to get the Kennedy assassination behind them. They were worried about what this all meant internationally in the Cold War.
How was Russia looking at this? Were people thinking that America was in chaos? How did it play out with Cuba? We felt a loss of prestige from it.
And from the very top, not just J. Edgar Hoover, but Lyndon Johnson said let's get the Warren Commission done, get it quick, find the gunman, and get this behind us. And Hoover was just part of a larger apparatus trying to do that.
BERMAN: Phil, your big takeaway from these overnight documents? You've spent the last several years investigating this. Did you learn anything new that jumps out to you?
SHENON: You know, keep in mind that we've seen most of these documents -- the 2,800 that were released last night. We've seen most of those documents before -- that we've seen them in part. Now, I guess, we're seeing them in full.
But, you know, the super-secret documents are still super-secret. Most of the documents that we've been most eager to see are still secret and we may not see them until next April, and we may not see them at all, I fear.
BERMAN: We will have you back in April to discuss what new we learn then or not, and why.
Phil Shenon, Doug Brinkley, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it -- Alisyn.
SHENON: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK, John. A frightening hit on the field. What happened after the whistle blew on this play? That's next in the "Bleacher Report."
[07:44:03] BERMAN: All right. Listen up, Miami fans. The Ravens dominated the Dolphins last night but the win came with a price as Joe Flacco knocked out of the game after a brutal hit.
Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, John.
You know, it has not been a good month for NFL quarterbacks. Joe Flacco the latest to have to leave a game due to injury. And went out in the second quarter after what was a brutal hit by the Dolphins' Kiko Alonso.
Flacco sliding on this play when Alonso lowers the shoulder and just drills him. Flacco gets up dazed. His ear was actually bleeding. Now, the Ravens said after the game that he suffered a concussion.
Alonso was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play but he was not ejected from the game.
It was a frustrating night for the Dolphins as the Ravens won big, 40 to nothing.
All right. J.J. Watt helped to raise more than $37 million for Hurricane Harvey relief and yesterday, he announced how he was going to be using that money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.J. WATT, DEFENSIVE END, HOUSTON TEXANS: I apologize it's been a bit since my last update. I didn't anticipate breaking my leg so that threw a bit of a wrench into things.
[07:45:05] We're going to rebuild homes, we're going to restore childcare centers and after-school programs, we're going to provide food for those who need food. And we're going to provide professional and medical services, both physical and mental health for those affected by the hurricane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: And Watt says he's giving the money to four nonprofit organizations to accomplish his goals.
And, Alisyn, he's going to be on the field tonight for game three of the World Series throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. I'm going to be there as well, and I guarantee you that place is going to be rocking when he comes out to throw out that first pitch.
CAMEROTA: I bet you're right, Andy. All right, thank you very much. We'll be watching.
So, did President Trump cross the line when he reportedly asked to lift a gag order on an FBI informant?
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway will be here live on this and so much more, next.
CAMEROTA: Sources tell CNN that President Trump directed his senior staff to push the Justice Department to lift a gag order on an FBI informant. That informant, a key player in the FBI investigation into Russian efforts to gain influence in America's uranium industry during the Obama administration. But the DOJ has strict rules limiting the White House's involvement in criminal law enforcement matters.
Let's discuss this and more with Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump. Kellyanne, nice to see you.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good morning, Alisyn. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Long time, no talk. Great to have you here.
So tell us why this was important to the president to lift this gag order on this informant.
[07:50:00] CONWAY: Well, I've been watching this morning.
I did want to correct the record on one thing and it looks like CNN's own reporting by Gloria Borger, Evan Perez, and Mary Kay Mallonee also indicate this, that is was Chairman Grassley of the Judiciary Committee that, last week, made this request and that's the proper channel here.
There's also a source in CNN's own reporting that says that the Justice Department made this decision independently. But it is not unusual --
CAMEROTA: But, I mean -- but, hold on, hold on just a --
CONWAY: It is not unusual for a president to weigh in.
CONWAY: This president, as you saw from everything with the JFK files to this particular ongoing investigation, Alisyn, is for transparency. And he believes as many others do frankly, that the FBI informant should be free to say what he knows.
But this was made -- let me repeat. The Judiciary chairman in the United States Senate, Chuck Grassley, made this request to the Justice Department last week. CAMEROTA: Sure. I -- we appreciate that but we also have reporting that the president pressed for it, so he was interested.
CONWAY: Well, he is -- we're all -- I think we should all be interested in it. I certainly am and I'm not the president. We should all be interested in knowing what this person is.
I mean, we've spent -- we've wasted a lot of time. I don't know how much you guys pay for your graphics but, boy, you've had some doozies out there with the Russia, Russia, Russia for almost a year, still talking about the last election, looking for collusion where it doesn't exist.
And yet, now we are faced with the possibility, and it looks like the very real probability, the DNC and the Clinton campaign paid a foreign agent for information to try to smear a Donald Trump -- a political opponent.
CAMEROTA: Meaning --
CONWAY: I want to say it is what -- it is what that's to be --
CAMEROTA: -- a British intel officer, which is different than Russia, right?
CONWAY: I didn't say he was Russian, I said he was foreign. Britain, the last time I checked, counts as that.
And even Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, on a different program yesterday, indicated that he didn't think it was appropriate.
So let me just say, using public sources to look at the records --
CONWAY: -- of your political opponent, I guess people do that all the time. But using a foreign intelligence and assets to create a dossier that they've still discredited, that can't be verified --
CONWAY: -- and frankly, it was paid by -- for the millions.
I have to credit you. I saw you on earlier this morning on a panel situation saying that how in the world could they pay millions of dollars and nobody knows that it happened?
CONWAY: That's a great question.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
CONWAY: I know that the Clinton campaign and the DNC wasted a ton of money --
CONWAY: -- on their major loss.
CAMEROTA: I hear you.
CONWAY: But nobody takes responsibility for millions of dollars?
CAMEROTA: Well look, I mean, as you know --
CONWAY: Let's hear what the guy has to say.
CAMEROTA: As you know, we've been covering it a lot. It was our own Manu Raju who has been, you know, leading the reporting on all of this, so we've been covering it.
But I do want to ask you on that front. That brings us to, of course, Cambridge Analytica, which was your data collecting -- data analytics firm during the Trump campaign that was -- reached out to WikiLeaks of all places. So reached out to WikiLeaks which, as we know, has a direct tie to Russia. So that is also a foreign entity, of course, and wanting their help with this data collection.
So, square those two for us.
CONWAY: I only know what I read in the press on this which is that he made that entreaty and Julian Assange says that he rejected it -- never happened.
CAMEROTA: But, the Trump campaign reached out.
CONWAY: And the Trump campaign has since spoken on this. The Trump campaign -- no, Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica did.
But the Trump campaign has since spoken on this. There were a number of data firms involved. We relied heavily also on the RNC.
CONWAY: They were great partners in this effort.
Cambridge Analytica was paid by the campaign and you know Brad Parscale --
CONWAY: -- was the digital director.
We also know --
CAMEROTA: But would you be uncomfortable -- if you knew that it was true -- OK, so as he testified to that he did reach out. I shouldn't say testified -- quoted. Are you uncomfortable with trying to bring in WikiLeaks to help?
CONWAY: Let me just tell you what was totally unnecessary. Any of that was completely unnecessary for a very simple reason. We beat Hillary Clinton fairly and squarely. Russia did not tell her not to go to Wisconsin and Michigan. She came up with that all by herself.
And they didn't tell -- we didn't tell them to spend millions of dollars on some phony baloney dossier to try to smear a political opponent, rather than beating him on the issues because she couldn't --
CONWAY: -- beat him on the issues any more than the --
CAMEROTA: Right, understood. But are you --
CONWAY: -- Democrats could beat us on the issues now because they're veracit (ph) issues.
CAMEROTA: Yes, we're clear on all of that. But are you comfortable that the Trump campaign, through the Cambridge Analytica, had a connection to WikiLeaks?
CONWAY: They didn't have a connection to WikiLeaks.
CAMEROTA: They reached out to WikiLeaks to help with the data.
CONWAY: That's what I mean -- no, not to help with the data. It's something about releasing the e-mails.
I know nothing about that because I was the campaign manager and I can't be bothered with any of that. And the reason is --
CAMEROTA: But, Kellyanne --
CONWAY: -- we wanted to beat her fairly and squarely on the issues. We had three debates. CNN was heavily involved.
Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton on the issues.
CONWAY: He had a better economic plan. People want their taxes lowered. They want Obamacare repealed and replaced.
CAMEROTA: Right, but as the campaign manager surely you were interested in the data collection and if they were pressing --
CONWAY: Intimately involved with it.
CAMEROTA: Hold on a second. If they were pressing WikiLeaks to help unearth more e-mails, you're OK with that? You're comfortable with that?
[07:55:04] CONWAY: The campaign -- the campaign was not doing that. The --
CAMEROTA: The data firm that you were using and paid $6 million to did do that.
CONWAY: No. That individual reached out to Assange. We've already covered this and I think CNN's covered it.
And, you know, I do want to say --
CAMEROTA: But we'd like to get the answer. Are you comfortable with it or not?
CONWAY: I've already told you it's completely unnecessary because --
CAMEROTA: But you did it.
CONWAY: -- we beat her on the issues and continue to.
And I do want to say something else because people now are writing about our discussion, and earlier in your broadcast two people mentioned -- two commentators mentioned that oh, gee, we just like to talk about Hillary. We can't stop talking about Hillary.
CONWAY: You're still talking about Hillary. I'll make you a deal. I never have to say a word again --
CAMEROTA: OK, good, so let's move on with this interview and not mention her because I do want to ask what happened with your campaign.
CONWAY: No, no, no. If you're going to keep talking about the campaign, she was the last straw. She was the loser so you have to keep talking about her.
CAMEROTA: Let's not mention her. Let's not -- I agree.
CONWAY: And you treat her book like it's not fiction --
CAMEROTA: Let's --
CONWAY: -- and everything else. She gets a platform on CNN plenty.
And you allowed people from her campaign on your network for the last year to sit there and never admit they paid millions of dollars for this phony dossier work -- millions. They sat there and --
CAMEROTA: It seems hard for you guys not to talk about Hillary Clinton.
CONWAY: -- lied about it. No, you brought her up.
CAMEROTA: Kellyanne, actually you just brought her up.
CONWAY: We're fighting -- we dispensed with her a year ago. She lost a year ago.
CAMEROTA: But if you want a pact right now that we're not going to talk about her for the rest of the interview, let's do that. CONWAY: Awesome.
CAMEROTA: OK, so let's move on.
One last point on WikiLeaks. Are you saying that you knew nothing about the data -- the Cambridge Analytica trying to get WikiLeaks help with unearthing the e-mails to the DNC?
CONWAY: The first -- the first I learned of that was this week through the news.
CAMEROTA: OK. And you would be uncomfortable or comfortable with that?
CONWAY: Alisyn, I've answered your question many times now. Uncomfortable with what? I told you it wasn't necessary.
CAMEROTA: With WikiLeaks.
CONWAY: We'd be -- I was focused on the issues. The data that I collected as a pollster of 20 years had everything to do with the forgotten man and forgotten woman.
The undercover Trump voter that I detected in July and was excoriated by CNN commentators and elsewise, that's a big joke. They're not undercover.
Who are they? These are people who had never voted Republican or hadn't voted Republican -- hadn't voted in years --
CONWAY: -- and they were there for Donald Trump because of his superior message. And frankly, he was just a much better messenger and communicator than she was.
CAMEROTA: OK, so let's just talk about --
CONWAY: So, I just think she -- and I know -- I know I was brought up --
God, I hope that's a squirrel and not a rat.
CAMEROTA: It's a squirrel.
CONWAY: I was a -- it's better than the lawn mower that's always back there.
CAMEROTA: That's right.
CONWAY: But, Alisyn, seriously speaking, I also -- I was hoping -- I mean, it's your show. You can pick what you want to talk about, but I was hoping we could talk about the opioid epidemic a little bit.
CAMEROTA: Yes, we want to. Oh, for sure. CONWAY: There was a major speech yesterday and, I mean, I just start to feel that we're ignoring issues that affect a lot of Americans -- 64,000 dead last year.
CAMEROTA: Oh, no way. No way, Kellyanne. We --
CONWAY: The president was making a major policy speech yesterday --
CAMEROTA: Listen --
CONWAY: -- and there were lots of Democrats in the audience which made me very happy. It's a nonpartisan issue in search of bipartisan solutions.
CAMEROTA: And it's a universal issue and I do want to get to it in one second.
But one last thing on Russia. What is that worries the president about the uranium deal? And the Russia thing is confusing because, as you know, this president has talked a lot about how Russia can be a good friend, we should move forward with Russia, Russia can help the U.S. with world peace, Vladimir Putin is not to be feared.
So why now the fixation on the Uranium One deal?
CONWAY: Well, first of all, the president's not worried about Uranium One. The people should be worried about Uranium One are the people who benefitted from it.
His spouse didn't go make a half a million dollar speech in Russia while he was secretary of state and then turn around and be part of the decision-making process for them to get 20 percent of our rights.
He didn't -- he wasn't secretary of state or president at the time when Russian folks were trying to infiltrate the State Department and get an advantage for this particular deal.
CAMEROTA: Right, but --
CONWAY: That's all -- but that was reported in "The Hill" last week and I really hope --
CAMEROTA: But, let me --
CAMEROTA: Is Russia an enemy or friend?
CONWAY: We're not worried about uranium and we're not worried about Russia. That's a different question.
CAMEROTA: But, he wants the informant --
CONWAY: This president --
CAMEROTA: He wants the informant to be able to testify so clearly, he has some interest in what went on with the Uranium One deal.
CONWAY: Shouldn't you? Shouldn't we all? I mean, CNN is so vested in Russia, Russia, Russia.
Don't you want to hear from everybody now or are we just going to drop the word Russia forevermore now --
CAMEROTA: Well --
CONWAY: -- because it gets just a little too close --
CAMEROTA: I mean --
CONWAY: -- to the woman who ran last time -- I won't say her name -- and the DNC who paid millions of dollars for it?
CAMEROTA: Oh, I don't know. You might be breaking the rule there. You might be breaking our moratorium there, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: Well, you brought up -- you brought up Russia again, which is the campaign in the last year of those who can't accept the election results --
CONWAY: -- which are a lot of people.
CAMEROTA: Hold -- well --
CONWAY: But let me just say this.
CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead.
CONWAY: This is an -- this is a very important point. We have talked about this for the last year so let's at least close the loop, can't we, and look at what the Clinton campaign and the Democrats did.
Now, on Russia, you're asking me a very different question about the President of the United States and Vladimir Putin.
You know that he sat down with him for a very long visit when he was -- one of the last times he was abroad this past spring and summer. That's a very important visit. They discussed a long range of issues. The media, I hope, have covered that at length.
The president has said many times as a candidate and now, as president --
CONWAY: -- if there is something to work on with Russia, if we can work together to defeat ISIS once and for all, he is there.
CAMEROTA: Yes, so he's opposed to the Uranium One deal? So then why is he uncomfortable with the Uranium One deal? CONWAY: He's not -- listen, you're saying the president's worried, the president's uncomfortable. He didn't make a half a million dollar speech in Russia. He didn't -- he wasn't the president when Russians were trying to get an advantage.
CAMEROTA: Because he's been talking about it. Your White House has been talking about it a lot.
CONWAY: We're not worried about it.