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President Donald Trump Talked About General Michael Flynn; Alabama Voters Will Decide The Faith Of The Candidates Running In The Contentious Race There For The U.S. Senate. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 2, 2017 - 16:00   ET



[16:01:08] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for staying with us as we continue to follow breaking news here on CNN.

President Trump's day goes from one celebration to accusations. Suddenly changing after just a few words from the President himself. This morning in New York, President Trump leaving a cheer for the pass his tax plan for the Senate. Then, these words popped up on twitter. I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the President and the FBI. He had pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing hide.

Now the president is talking about General Michael Flynn, his national security advisor for all of 24 days and who admitted to federal court yesterday that he lied to the FBI that contact with Russian officials.

But that tweet sets off new shock waves from key member of Congress who are now saying the President is in fact admitting to a crime of his own. To knowing that Flynn lied to the FBI the same time asking James Comey who was FBI director at the time to left the Russia investigation die.

Take a look at this from California Democrat, Ted Luke. Quote "this is this is obstruction of justice. Potus now admit he knew Michael Flynn lied to the FBI, yet Trump tried to influence or stop the FBI investigation on Flynn."

I want to bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez who is here with me in New York.

Right now, you of course, were followed the President, covering his event here in New York today. Now, this tweet obviously really making a turn of event for the President who is just cheering on his tax form plan. What other reactions are we getting from them?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are getting a lot of lawmakers that are weighing in. And specifically Democrats that are tied to investigations into connections between a Trump campaign and Russia. But specifically, it is surprising because of what you mention, Ana. This idea that President Trump apparently knew that Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI before he fired him. It raises a series of questions specifically because the White House has tried to distance themselves from Michael Flynn. Yesterday going as far as calling him an Obama era official and seeing -- making the claim that President Obama authorized Michael Flynn's contact with Sergei Kislyak and other Russians during the campaign.

It is surprising that in a series of denials that have gotten closer and closer to the White House, we have seen how that the story unravel in a multitude of ways. And as you said Ana, it raises questions just to why the Trump administration did not add sooner if the President had this information specifically when the acting attorney general Sally Yates approach the White House soon after the inauguration and say that she feared that the Russians may be able blackmail Michael Flynn.

We want to show you now a tweet from the ranking Democrat on House intelligence committee Adam Schiff who yesterday on CNN said that the President consistently had been less and forthcoming with the investigators and the American public.

He writes in response to the President's tweet, quote "if that's true Mr. President, why did you wait so long to fire Flynn? Why did you feel to act until his lies were publicly exposed? And why did you pressure director - former director James Comey to let this go?"

The White House does not want to be talking about this. They want to be talking about the legislative victory that they had yesterday in tax reform. We should know the President is now headed back to the White House. He will likely be shouted questions from reporters when he arrives. This maybe the closest that we get to an explanation from the President until then but it is certainly does raise eyebrows, Ana.

CABRERA: So nothing from the President since that tweet or from the White House explaining what he exactly was saying in that tweet?

SANCHEZ: Not yet. As I said before, it raises a series of questions. And we may see the White House again trying to distance themselves from Michael Flynn as they did yesterday, but nothing.

CABRERA: I know you are on top of it. Thank you Boris Sanchez. Appreciate it.

Let's head to Washington now and CNN Kara Scannell.

Kara, let's go back to February when the President fired Michael Flynn. Remind us of what the President said about all this then.

[16:05:10] KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, it all did begin in February when the President fired Flynn. It was after a "Washington Post" story revealed that Flynn had the conversation the transitions with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. He was asked at the time if he directed Flynn to have the conversation.

Let's take a listen to what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss sanctions with Michael Flynn? DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn't. But Mike

- excuse me. No. I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence, very simple. Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So it certainly would have been OK with me if he get it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he was not doing it. I didn't direct him. But I would have directed him because that's his job. And it came out that way. And in all fairness, I watched Doctor Charles the other night saying who is doing his job? And I agreed with him. And since then, I have watched many other people say that, no, I did not direct him but I would have directed him if he did not do it, OK?


SCANNELL: So the key word here that the President is saying that he did not direct Michael Flynn to make the call. Although what we learn in Michael Flynn's plea agreement yesterday which is the version of events at the Mueller investigation is now putting out in the public as what they believed to be the truth. That Michael Flynn was directed by a very senior member of the transition team which CNN has learned is Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law. This only adds to more questions of where this direction comes from. Was it coming - further then about Kushner to Trump. And as part of Michael Flynn's cooperation agreement, he is going to essentially have to show all his cards to Mueller. And from there, we will see where Mueller sees that this direction came from and whether in fact they find it illegal.

It could violate a very obscure 218 hero lock of the Logan Act which prohibits civilians from engaging in foreign policy disputes. But it has not been used successfully so we will see where that ends up.

CABRERA: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you.

I want to get more insights now on this from a former top ethic official in Washington, Walter Shaub. He is the former director of the office of government ethics under the Obama administration.

Walter, thanks for being with us. You say the President's tweet today on Flynn's firing would have ended any other presidency. Why do you think this tweet is so damming?

WALTER SHAUB, FORMER ETHICS DIRECTOR: It is just stunning tweet because of the different ways it can be read. And I think there are two ways to be read - that you can read it. One is that he is lying now which is a terrible thing to have to think about a President. And the other is that he knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI, he sat on that information and did nothing with it until the facts are exposed and the newspaper and February and then fired Flynn. But shortly after that, I think a day later talked to Comey and asked him to back off on Flynn. And asking Comey to back off on Flynn, Comey is in the role of the criminal investigator looking into the very facts of the President now claims he knew.

CABRERA: So you are saying this could be an obstruction of justice. It smells a lot like it.

SHAUB: It sure smells a lot like it. If it is not obstruction of justice, it is obstruction of justice adjacent.

CABRERA: What do you think Mueller is doing with his tweets?

SHAUB: Well, I certainly think that it is one more piece in the puzzle, you know. You got initially the sound we heard of the President saying that nobody knew what Flynn was up to and saying if I had known I would have authorized it but we didn't know and he lied to Mike Pence.

The implication is that no one in the White House had any clue that Flynn was running around doing these things. And yet in the materials we saw yesterday with the plea agreement, it turns out there is evidence that a senior White House official knew. And I think we don't know for sure but someone close to the investigation has said to the press that it maybe Jared Kushner.

CABRERA: If you are --. Go ahead.

SHAUB: That gets close to the President. So it gets harder and harder to believe that the story that Mike Pence did not know that Flynn was lying to him. And the fact that the President had not been involved. All of this gets harder to believe when the stories keep on shifting and new information keeps oncoming out. So this is one more piece in that puzzle.

CABRERA: If you are Trump's lawyer then how do you defend this?

SHAUB: I can't even imagine. I mean, I am sure what they told him repeatedly is stay off twitter. Don't say things about the Mike Flynn issue on twitter. It would be malpractice not to cancel your clients to stop talking about this manner.

The problem is, the President does not seem to have the discipline to be able to reframe from tweeting these kinds of things, Ana. We have seen that time again when there are things that any attorney would have told him don't talk publicly about. He stays quiet for a while and then it just eats at him and he cannot resists and he tweets out the very thing that we should talking about.

[16:10:25] CABRERA: The thing that we keep hearing not just from the President and his tweet but he lose to these tweets. We also hear from another White House officials that Flynn was in charge with any improper action during the campaign. Again, the charge was for lying to the FBI. And we hear the President today saying there is no evidence to collusion. Is the fact that Flynn was only charged with making false statements actually a good thing for the White House?

SHAUB: No. It is a terrible thing. There is so much potential and ability out there from the various news reports. And of course, we don't know for sure what Mueller may have on him. But to get such a light charge relative to what is suspected, certainly leads you to believe that he has got something very valuable that Mueller would have traded for that. And it just - it defies reason to say that that is good news for anyone in the administration.

CABRERA: Walter Shaub, we really appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for your perspective and your expertise.

SHAUB: OK, thanks.

CABRERA: The President's latest tweets raised the questions about what Trump knew and when concerning his former national security advisor's statement to the FBI not to mention Jared Kushner's role in all of this. We will discuss it all next in the panel.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:15:47] CABRERA: All these developments in the Russia investigation can be difficult to follow. So I want to try to make it simple.

Here is what we have learned about Michael Flynn's dealings with Russia and who knew what, when. We have learned that Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law directed Flynn weeks before the inauguration to contact the Russian ambassador specifically about a U.N. security council vote and Israeli settlement. This is according to sources familiar with the matters spoke in the CNN.

Now, there is a time line of Flynn of no contact with Russia. December 22nd, 2016 according to court documents, General Flynn asked Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to postpone that security council vote.

December 29th, a week later, President Obama announced new sanctions against Russia and Flynn asked Kislyak not to retaliate.

On December 30th, Russia President Vladimir Putin says he won't retaliate against those U.S. sanctions.

And then on January 20th, 2017, President Trump is inaugurated. Four days later, Flynn lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

January 26th, then acting attorney general Sally Yates warned the Trump White House that Flynn was lying about calls with Kislyak in his conversation with the vice president.

Now, January 30th is when the President fired Sally Yates. This was after he refused to defend his initial travel ban.

But it wasn't until February 13th that Flynn resigned after misleading vice president Mike Pence about his calls with Kislyak.

And now, new to this timeline, the President tweeting today that he had to fire Michael Flynn because Flynn by lied to the vice President Mike Pence and the FBI. One day after that firing on February 14th, we know President Trump met privately with FBI director James Comey inside the oval office. Comey said he testified under oath that that is when the President asked him to drop the FBI investigation on Flynn. So how problematic is this? Let's bring in our panel with us to discuss. Chief investigating

correspondent for Yahoo! News Michael Isikoff. Also, CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor Paul Callan and senior columnist at "the Daily Beast," Matt Lewis.

So Paul, the President's tweet today, I want to read it again. I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the vice President and the FBI. He had pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide.

So two big questions, legal questions for you. One, is the President writes that Flynn's actions were lawful and the only crime there was lying? And two, did the President in that tweet admits he knew Flynn lied to the FBI when he asked James Comey to drop the investigation?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, as to question number one, you know, you were talking earlier about this thing of Logan act which was passed in the 1700 actually in the United States. And it is really, it is never been enforced. There is only been two cases in history of the (INAUDIBLE) and both were eventually dropped. So it is kind of a dead law.

But that law says that you cannot tamper with the foreign relations of the United States as a private citizen. And under the Logan act, if that were being applied, and it is still on the books, where did Flynn get off calling the Russians to negotiate a position that they were going to take with respect to Israelis settlement that was adverse to the position taken by the Obama administration. And also he did warn - he did basically say to them, hey, listen, on sanctions, why don't you back off because when we get into office, we are going to ease off on these sanctions. That was the message we sent to Russians.

So I think probably the sanctions message was legal. I think the other message because it was an ongoing situation. It was being debated at the U.N. at the time. You can say it violated the Logan act. But that's not going to be prosecuted because it is a dead statues to all.

So that's where we are at this point. We really are only at the point where there is a provable line to the FBI account and that's where he has pled guilty to. Now Mueller obviously has other stuff on Flynn that we don't know about that he is using his leverage to get them to corroborate.

CABRERA: So the second point there though about the president's tweet today when he says I fired Michael Flynn because he lied to the vice President and the FBI. And then we know the next day after Flynn was fired, he had a conversation with James Comey who was then FBI director and he asked Comey according to his testimony to let go of the investigation.

[16:20:20] CALLAN: That's right.

So that's - and that's a great question, Ana. And that's a real problem for the President because there is a possible claim here of obstruction of justice. He knew the President that Flynn had major problems and probably of a criminal nature. He goes to the head of the FBI and says hey, can you cut him a break when Comey does not indicate that he is going to help out, Comey is summarily fired.

Now many people would look at that and say that firing of Comey was an obstruction of justice. It was a deliberate effort to help Flynn by firing Comey and bringing somebody else to handle the investigation. Of course, it backfired on the President in a terrible way because Mueller is a relentless investigator and has not only made a case against Flynn, but he is getting closer and closer to the President.

So it was a strategy that backfire. But he could be looked at as an obstruction of justice depending on what other facts are developed.

CABRERA: Michael, I really wanted to have you of part of this discussion because you have that exclusive report back in May about Flynn still being in touch with the President. And you and your report talked about how they were very close. They are loyal to each other. Do you know when the two men last spoken? Are you surprised Flynn made this deal?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, we know in the report you referred to, there was dinner on April 25th that Flynn had with a number of his friends. This is well after he has been fired. And he tells them that he just gotten a text from President Trump saying stay strong. So that seems like a message that Flynn should not buckle under and cooperate in the investigation and that they were still in touch.

Now obviously, with Mueller closing in and using the leverage of the possible prosecution of Flynn's son, that weighed very heavily on him. And he chose at the end of the day to cut the deal with Mueller. But, I just want to say one thing about, you know, the President's tweets today about which a lot of people are jumping on as evidence that he knew that's what the tweets said that Trump lied to the FBI. It is not all clear that Trump would have known that at the time. If you go back to the testimony of Sally Yates, the acting attorney general.

Remember, she brings Flynn situation to the attention of Dan McGahn, the White House counsel right after the FBI interview. And she tells him that Flynn has been interviewed by the FBI. And according to her testimony, McGahn then asked her how did Flynn do? And I just checked the transcript in her response, in her testimony was, Mr. McGahn asked me how he did and I declined to give him an answer to that.

So she did not tell him that Flynn had lied to the FBI. She was talking about his overall conduct that he had the conversations with Kislyak and that was contrary to what the nature of the conversations were contrary to had vice President Pence had said.

But the FBI - the White House knows at that point Flynn is under the FBI investigation. They don't know that there has been any conclusions that Flynn had lie. So I think Trump's tweet today has to be taken with a little bit of a grain of salt that is perhaps not the evidence of obstruction that some people are suggesting.

CABRERA: OK, but I suppose it is also possible. You have reported how they were like almost like family members because they got so close during the campaign. It is possible Flynn could have told the President I lied to the FBI. That's possible, right?

ISIKOFF: I think that's very unlikely.



CABRERA: Matt, what do you make of the President's response so far of these new developments of the past 24 hours?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Michael is probably right. My guest is based on this that Donald Trump fired Flynn because this was becoming a political problem. And the good reason was that he lied to the vice President Mike Pence. It feels like he has just now retroactively introducing this admission against the interests, as it turns out, that he lied to the FBI.

So I think that Trump is getting himself in trouble and maybe he is not even guilty of it, right. But, he may not have known about it and now he's introducing it and this is a pattern. Donald Trump's tweets, remember the Muslim ban, right? Donald Trump says that and that causes him legal problems. And lower courts actually cites that when he says, no, it is not a religious test. No, of course not. They cite his tweets. What about the other terrorist in New York City who killed those pedestrians recently. Donald Trump takes to twitter and says I think this guy should get the death penalties. A lot of people say that makes it less likely that will be able to give him the death penalty. So this is the latest example of Donald Trump hurting his own cause I would argue with his tweets.

[16:25:50] CABRERA: Gentlemen, I wish we had more time. Paul, just a quick last word, go ahead.

CALLAN: You know I want to jump in and say that saying something on twitter can be a confession to a crime and usable against anybody who publicly says it. The President have said that his statements on twitter are presidential pronouncement. It is official pronouncements. So the twitter thing is going to give him great problems going forward.

CABRERA: And gentlemen, we are getting some new reporting about how the President's attorney is reacting. For now, I will let you all go. Thank you very much for your time for joining us with those thoughts.

So this, again, new reactions from the President's attorney following the President's tweet this morning over what he knew about Flynn's untrue statement to the vice President and the FBI.

Abby Phillip is joining us now from the White House.

Abby, what are they saying?

ABBY PHILIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, we are hearing from the President outside attorney John Dowd today clarifying some of what the President has to say on twitter. John Dowd is saying that the President was simply paraphrasing a broader statement that was issued by another Trump lawyer yesterday about the Flynn guilty plea.

Now, John Dowd is not saying a whole lot more than that, but that the paraphrase idea is that perhaps, the President was being imprecise in his tweets and he was simply reiterating what we already know which is that Michael Flynn lied to the vice President and subsequently lied to the FBI.

So the White House is trying to really down play this idea that the President, as you were discussing with your panel, that the President was somehow admitting that when he fired -- the time that he fired James Comey, he knew that Flynn had lied. At the same time, it is not exactly clear how this statement from the President is in any way a paraphrase of Ty Cobb's statement yesterday. They are not very similar. And the question is why would the President tweet this if they could then be misinterpreted later as the White House seems to believe it was? Ana.

CABRERA: And I am just looking at that statement that he put out there yesterday saying this false statement involved mirror the false statement from the White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this. He write, nothing knowing from the FBI.

Thank you very much, Abby Philip from the White House. We appreciate it. We will of course continue to follow the latest from there.

Meantime, a new poll shows the Alabama Senate race is headed for a photo finish perhaps. Ti is looking like women maybe be the key voting winning block that was sent either Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones to Washington. We will talk to some of them straight ahead live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:32:56] CABRERA: In just ten days, Alabama voters will decide the faith of the candidates running in the contentious race there for the U.S. senate. And there is apparently a new frontrunner. Here is a look at a new "Washington Post" poll out today among likely voters.

Democrat Doug Jones is leading with 50 percent to Republican Roy Moore's 47 percent. And these findings in the survey revealed that the allegations of improper sexual behavior made against Moore in recent weeks are a factor.

Here is why. Among the one and four voters who say the candidate's moral conduct will be the most important factor in their votes, Jones leads, 67 percent to 30 percent.

Now CNN senior national correspondent Alex Marquardt has found it maybe women who decide the winner of the race that the Democrats can flip the seats in the deep, red, state.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Ana. Well, this race is more divided than ever heading now into this final stretch particularly in the wake of the allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse by Judge Roy Moore.

Now women are going to be absolutely crucial in this race. If he is to stands a chance of winning, the Democrat Doug Jones needs women to come out in large numbers for him and he needs to peel away Republican women from Roy Moore. So we set out to listen to what the women of Alabama are saying now just over a week from this crucial election.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): If there is any middle ground left in this race, anyone who still on defense, it is quickly disappearing in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore particularly it seems among women. Kim Dowdle is a lifelong Republican who has never voted for a Democrat. Now she is not just voting for one, but actively campaigning against the Republican.

KIM DOWDLE, REPUBLICAN NOW SUPPORTING DOUG JONES: I never questioned the allegations.

MARQUARDT: When you heard them, you knew right away they were truth?

DOWDLE: Yes. I figured, yes, because it is hard for a woman to say that. It is hard anywhere in the country but especially in the south.

MARQUARDT: Dowdle says she was raped when she was 16. So when the allegations came out, she could not bring herself to keep supporting Moore.

DOWDLE: And that surprise me. I was very big and I like the guy going against the grain. I really like the guys who go against the grain, but there is a limit. And when you abuse your power in the way that he abused his power, you cannot continue to support that.

[16:35:11] MARQUARDT: Now, as she goes door to door with her signs, Doug Jones is hoping there are many more of Kim Dowdles out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conservative voices.

MARQUARDT: He sees on the allegations, putting out an ad quoting president Trump's daughter, Ivanka, saying there is a special place in hell for people who prey on children.

Moore has denied the allegations calling them absolutely false and dirty politics. President Trump himself is standing by the former judge and so are many, if not most of his female supporters.

Cindy Skanda just moved to Birmingham. And for her, like so many of Moore supporters, allegations with no hard evidence are not enough.

CINDY SKANDA, ROY MOORE SUPPORTER: I'm just really suspect that these allegations were come out 40 years later after the man has ran for office 68 times. So I would not call it a conspiracy. It makes - makes me question.

MARQUARDT: Was there a moment that you question your support for Roy Moore?

SKANDA: No. I am very much align with his values and his principles and his some policies that he talks about. A secure border, lower government, the repeal of Obamacare.

MARQUARDT: The Moore campaign has put its female supporters front and center. His own ad and on the campaign trail, including Anne Eubank who told it was a different time when these allegations took place. And even if they are true, there are bigger priorities.

ANNE EUBANK, ROY MOORE SUPPORTER: Roy Moore we know will stand on conservative principles and Doug Jones is a far left liberal Democrat who will vote like the Democrats tell him to vote and we do not want that.


MARQUARDT: And Ana, the latest controversy that Judge Roy Moore has been attached to was a course that was published in 2011 by a men's only evangelical group that argued that women should not have the right to run for office. In fact, that people have the moral obligation to vote against women who do run for office. This was first reported by I think Progress.

Now of course, the Doug Jones campaign quickly counts calling this a part of a larger and disturbing pattern against women. The Moore campaign responded soon after that saying that of course, women do have the right to run for office and that women suffrage and women's right to vote is in fact a good thing. Imagine that in 2017, the campaign having to respond saying that they do in fact support women running for office. But hey, that is the kind of race that we are dealing with here in Alabama -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Alex Marquardt, thank you.

Coming up, we are learning more details about the conversations between Michael Flynn and former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. What they spoke about in their conversation next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:42:03] CABRERA: The downfall of Michael Flynn centers on his conversation with a Russian ambassador named Sergey Kislyak. And now CNN is learning brand new details on the content of those conversation specifically what the Russian ambassador told Flynn during those same phone calls, Flynn later lied about to the FBI.

Our Brian Todd reports.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, there is at least one critical piece of information on the Russian probe not known before Friday's guilty plea by Michael Flynn. That Russia's ambassador to the U.S. told Flynn that Russian would not retaliate immediately to U.S. sanctions leveled last year. And the ambassador said that specifically as a result of a request Flynn made to him. We have been digging on the deals Flynn made with the Russians during those critical dates. And we have new information on the motives for those deals, Flynn's motives and the Russia.


TODD (voice-over): On Russian state sponsored TV and recent days, Sergey Kislyak, Russia's former ambassador to Washington, the man at the center of Michael Flynn's legal troubles had some great laughs with this host as they mock the Mueller investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (though translator): If it is not difficult, can you list of those who you met and speak to on the phone so that we know who will soon be going to jail or at least be summoned for questioning, Flynn, Sessions, who else?

SERGEY KISLYAK, FORMER RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S. (through translator): There are two problems here. First, I will never do this. Second, the list will be so long that I won't be able to tell you in 20 minutes.

TODD: It carries a sting as we get new information of court filings about Flynn's urgent back channel calls with Kislyak last November. President Obama had just ordered sanctions to retaliate for Russia's meddling in the elections. After Flynn consulted with a top Trump aid at Mar-a-Lago, he called Kislyak and asked for Russia not to escalate the situation.

A source told CNN, Flynn told Kislyak that the Trump administrations would revisit U.S. sanctions and look favorably on Russia if it didn't retaliate. A key question now, what were the Trump's team and Flynn motives and reaching out to Kislyak?

SARAH MENDELSON, FORMER SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The larger Trump team wants a better relationship with Russia. I think that for Flynn, his motivation had to do with what he saw is the main threat against the United States which is not Russians interfering in our elections and trying to undermine or democracy but a world view that sees Islam as the real threat. And I think that Flynn thought he could make some kind of bargain or arrangement with the Russians on this.

TODD: Soon, Vladimir Putin's surprised respond to Flynn's overture no retaliations at least for now.

Trump tweets his appreciation.

Great prove on delay VPutin. I always knew he was very smart.

What was Putin's motive for making that deal?

MENDELSON: One is he wants to see whether or not there is possibility of having a better relationship. Two, sanctions are hurting Russia. They are biting. And they biting at an entourage around Putin. And three, Putin hates Kislyak and for sure that is a piece of trying to figure out if there is as strategy to roll back. [16:45:09] TODD: The Magnitsky act is an American law which sanctions

individual Russians close to Putin. Putin is furious over it. In these deals, Michael Flynn was the perfect messenger for both sides. U.S. intelligent intercepts found Russian intelligence bragging that they had cultivated a strong relationships with Flynn and believe they could use him to influence with Trump.

BEN JUDAH, AUTHOR, FRAGILE EMPIRE: We know that Flynn was present at (INAUDIBLE) sitting next to Vladimir Putin and was certainly friendly enough with him to be seen joking and laughing with him in that context.


TODD: Did Vladimir Putin get what he wanted from those early dealings with the Trump's team? Well, in some ways, he has not. Sanctions against Russia are still in effect and another round is about to kick in. The Magnitsky act is still in place. But on the other hand, Putin has not been punished by President Trump as much as he may have been by Hillary Clinton. And analysts say, since Trump took office, America's image abroad has been tarnished its leadership of Europe and beyond thrown into questions. All of those developments they say are victories for Vladimir Putin -- Ana.

CABRERA: Brian Todd, thank you.

A mother's plea to learn more about his son's death after he was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer. What a year's long CNN investigation uncovers, next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:50:55] CABRERA: Chicago police are reporting progress when it comes to the city's staggering homicide rate. They say staffing investments and other strategies have led to a 14 percent decrease in the number of killings. So as you can see that number is still alarmingly high. Now police superintendent Eddie Johnson says while they are making progress, (INAUDIBLE) officer know there is a lot of work that needs to be done.

Now a deadly officer involve shooting have dominated the headlines around the country including Chicago in recent years. But long after the protest end and the TV cameras still a ways some families are left with many unanswered questions. And 19-year-old Rashad McIntosh was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in 2014. His mother reached out to CNN to help get answers to some very painful questions. And our Rosa Flores spent the past year investigating this case, a police shooting in a three-part series called "Beneath the Skin." She is joining us now from Atlanta.

So Rosa, why is this particular case is controversial?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana, there was no controversies when we started looking at this case. It was closed administratively by the organization that used to investigate officers involved shootings in Chicago. And criminally, the Crook County's lead attorney's office did not plan to file any criminal charges at all.

The reason why we got involved is because this mother called me up and said that there were graphic, graphic photographs of her son post mortem. And that she was haunted by this photographs and that she wanted to share them with me so that I could see and she was asking, CNN, for help. She was hoping that we would look into this case.

And you know, here we are more than a year later. Where this story actually started is not where it ends. We started looking at the pathology of the cuts on his body. And we ended up looking at the officer involves investigation in a three-part series that we are calling "Beneath the Skin."

Take a quick look and a glance of what we did.


FLORES (voice-over): About a year ago, I got a phone call from a woman who asked me to investigate the story. This happens all the time where I work.

Good morning, this is Rosa from CNN. How are you?

The woman's name is Cynthia Lane. And in the summer of 2014, her son, Rashad, were shot and killed by an office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice for Rashad.

FLORES: But this story does not begin when the shots were fired. This story begins a few days after. At the funeral home, it is about 5:30 and Cynthia is just --

CYNTHIA LANE, MOTHER OF TEEN KILLED BY CHICAGO OFFICER: Tired, just exhausted. It is hot outside.

FLORES: She had asked for an open casket for her son and had been shopping all day for a short sleeve shirt for him to wear, but the funeral director tells her.

LANE: He cannot wear a short sleeves shirt, baby. He say, I don't know what the hell they were looking for on your baby. They say they butchered him like he was an animal.

FLORES: Cynthia says the funeral director was so worried about there. He wouldn't let her take a look at her son's body. He would only let her sister take photos.

Before you see them, I have to warn you, they are extremely graphic.


FLORES: And to watch all three episodes, all you have to do is go to -- Ana. CABRERA: Rosa Flores will look into that. Thank you for sharing some

of your reporting with us. We do appreciate it.

Again, if you want to see the whole series on And again, it is called "beneath the skin." Twenty-four hours of extreme high and lows for the White House.

Now, just a day after former national security advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his talks with the Russian ambassador. The President is tweeting that he knew about Michael Flynn's untruthful testimonies to the FBI. And that was the reason for his dismissal.

And new reporting calling into question whether Michael Flynn acted alone. We will bring that to you, next.


[16:59:50] CABRERA: 5:00 eastern here in New York. Two in the afternoon out west. I am Ana Cabrera. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We have breaking news here on CNN where Trump - President Trump today shaking the political ground making some key members of Congress wonder if the President knew more than he claimed or even committed a crime himself. The President now saying in a tweet, he knew Michael Flynn lied to the FBI and that is partly the reason he fired him as national security advisor.