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NEW DAY SATURDAY
New Tell-All Threatens To Overshadow Key GOP Meetings; FBI Investigating The Clinton Investigation; North Korea And South Korea To Hold Face-To-Face Talks Tuesday; Marijuana Legalization Controversy. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired January 6, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:00:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: So somebody out there is waking up $450 million richer today. The winning ticket was sold in Florida according to lottery officials. We don't know who won the jackpot or where in Florida this winning ticket was sold.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: The jackpot lasted 23 straight drawings with no winner until last night. Mega millions pot maybe relatively empty now. There's still a shot at $570 million with power ball jackpot though. The next drawing for that game, tonight 11:00 p.m. Eastern. I was sitting there thinking do I know anybody in Florida, and do I know anyone who would share?
BLACKWELL: I know a lot of people in Florida. I'll be making calls. Next hour starts now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bombshell book that's raising a question loud and clear: is Donald Trump fit to be president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, have you read the book "Fire and Fury."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is extraordinary that a president of the United States would try to stop the publication of a book.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not psychologically unfit. He's not lost it as he claimed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a guy in the White House that is unstable and not fit for office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not suggesting that he's not capable of doing the job, I just hope that he'll do it.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have recused myself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A source close to Attorney General Jeff Sessions says President Trump tried to stop Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that we are in a neighborhood where I hope Mueller is looking at this very seriously for obstruction of justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it may be time for him to step aside.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The attorney general is going to continue showing up to work this week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After months of the president clamoring for an investigation into Hillary Clinton, CNN has now learned that one does exist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's very suspicious that the closer and closer we get to President Trump or his inner circle, we see all of these distractions.
ANNOUNCER: With Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: The president is waking up at Camp David this morning for a weekend of really important meetings but there is this explosive new tell-all that's threatening to at least overshadow some of those plans.
PAUL: Yes, the White House released this photo of the president dining with top Republicans last night. They're set to layout their 2018 strategy today. Will the president be able to shake the scathing claims about his administration in the meantime? He did lash out last night, slamming the new book as made up, really boring, and untruthful, and attacking the author as a "total loser". But the damage, to some degree, may be done with some people as his administration is forced to defend the president's fitness for office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a guy in the White House that is unstable and not fit for office.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I've never questioned his mental fitness. I have no reason to question his mental fitness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: We want to get straight to CNN's Abby Phillip live in Washington for us there. Abby, Republicans have a lot to get done this weekend, certainly, but how much a part of their discussions might be what's in this book?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE: Well, Christi, the president overnight has been spending the last couple of hours and will spend today in meetings with Republican congressional leaders and also with members of his cabinet, but while all of this is going on, the president is clearly still focused on this book that he dispatched his lawyers to try to stop from being published. Despite that, it was published anyway, and that the revelations are so damaging that the president is still out there attacking its author. He wrote on Twitter overnight: "Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used sloppy Steve Bannon who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now, sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad."
Now, the president is referring there to the fact that Steve Bannon has actually been abandoned by his biggest donors, the Mercer Family after the president spoke with Rebecca Mercer on the phone following some of these revelations about what Bannon said about him in the book. And also, Christi, at Camp David this weekend, the president is spending time with members of his cabinet. One member of his cabinet who is not attending those meetings is Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, someone who has been in and out of the president's good graces for several months now.
The White House, pushing back on the assertion that Sessions was excluded intentionally saying that not all the cabinet members are invited to participate in these meetings, and Sessions was just simply not on the agenda as one of the things that they're talking about. This -- these meetings are all about 2018, about the legislative agenda including infrastructure, this border wall, and DACA. And the White House says, DOJ, the Department of Justice is just simply not one of the things that they are planning on talking about this weekend.
PAUL: It's not. OK. Well, to that point though, in the Russia investigation, we have been learning overnight that there were multiple White House officials involved in the effort to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the investigation. On the list, we know Sean Spicer, for instance, and Reince Priebus, what else are you learning?
[07:05:17] PHILLIP: That's right. Overnight, a senior administration official tells CNN that it wasn't just the White House Counsel, Don McGahn, who went over and talked to Jeff Sessions about the choice to recuse himself and try to convince him not to do it. It was also the then-White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer; the then-Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, who made those calls as well. Now, it's important to note that Priebus did respond to a request for comment, but Spicer did, however, respond and said that the call that he made over to Sessions' office was about the conference call, not about this issue of the recusal. Let me read you a little bit of Spicer's response here. He said, "For eight months, the narrative was that I was out of the loop. Now, I'm part of it? I don't think so. So, Spicer pushing back on the suggestion that he was part of an effort to get Sessions to stay on top of this case, however, this story is clearly not going away, Christi.
PAUL: All right. Abby Phillip, so appreciate the reporting. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right. Here to discuss, CNN Politics Senior Reporter, Stephen Collinson; Former U.S. Attorney, Michael Moore; and Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub. Gentlemen, good morning to you.
So, let me read from a bit of "Fire and Fury" here. I have been working through this, and I just want to read from the author's notes here. I think we have it. We can put it up on the screen. Michael Wolff writes here: "Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn, allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances, I have, through a consistency and accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true." So, Stephen Collinson, first to you. I mean, it's fair to question the accuracy here of the author saying well, some of this is just what I think.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: That's true. And that's been seized upon by the White House and President Trump's allies as they try and hit back against Michael Wolff in this book. But at the same time, gathering facts and interviews and arriving at a version of events that you believe to be true is in some way the essence of journalism as well. But it certainly opens up avenues for the White House to try and debunk the credibility of this account and that's what they're doing. And they're also, at the same time, really going hard after Steve Bannon.
You saw in that tweet from the president last night. So, we've got a sort of, double-pronged attack here. What the president is trying to do, it seems, is destroy Steve Bannon as a political force in the Republican Party. It's an epic showdown and I think it's something that we haven't seen. It's difficult to think of a parallel between a strategist and a staffer who leaves the administration having this open confrontation with the president who he once served.
BLACKWELL: Michael, there was Washington Post reporter that tweeted out a page of the book that suggested that he was at breakfast at the four seasons with members of the Trump Family and later tweeted that actually, it was a lobbyist with a similar name who was there. Some of the -- as some could, I guess, describe it as sloppiness, there are, as I've read through a couple of words missing in sentences, improper tense, was this rushed and does it lead to the question of credibility overall?
MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You know, I'm not here to be a defender of the book and there may be some credibility issues, and I've heard them back and forth on various shows, but let me just sort of put this out there. A lot of the facts in the book seem to be corroborated by things that we've learned before. And so, for instance, we're talking about whether or not Don McGahn was sent to try to kill off Sessions' attempt to recuse himself. That seems to be in pattern with what the president did when he got rid of Comey and that is to try to have some influence as this Russia investigation moved forward. He wanted to make sure his man was in place. He wanted some amount of loyalty.
So, if we just take parts of it out, I think you can find that there are various pieces of the book -- and I've not read the book at this point, but certainly from the excerpts that I've seen, that it's being corroborated by other things we've seen in the news and that tells you something. When things start to happen, some smoke and you usually know there's fire there to back some of it up. We've heard too, there are tape recordings. Let's see if there are tapes out there that certainly that'll come to be, but another thing you can look at too is this is a case of the kicked dog barking, and that is if you can tell from Trump's tweets that something's gotten under his skin. And again, experience tells me that people don't carry on like that, and don't make these wild outlandish tweets like he did apparently early in the morning unless something there that's caused to jump a little bit.
BLACKWELL: Yes. I want to move on to what you just mentioned, this attempt to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in just a moment, but Walter, I want to come to you on this element of the book and not the book itself but the White House's reaction to some of the claims made and the publishing of it. We saw those two cease and desist letters go out earlier this week. What's the line here and has the president crossed it here from the perspective of your former position and your advice to the White House on trying to tamp down this book?
[07:10:25] WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: Well, this is straight out of the White House playbook is to bluster, discredit, question, threaten, whatever it takes. In the end, they're just drawing more attention to the book. I don't think any of the conduct they're engaging in right now actually violates any of the ethics rules. It's not something that the ethics rules would cover that somebody would object to a book about them that someone else wrote. He's certainly not endorsing the book, although he's going to cause its sales to go through the roof.
Unfortunately, for him though, whatever the ultimate conclusion is about the veracity of any individual passage in the book, it furthers a narrative that's already out there. He's already given us ample evidence through his strange tweeting about buttons and the Court of St. James, and sloppy Steve, that this is an individual who at a minimum doesn't behave like presidents behave, but he's raising the kind of questions that would pretty much lead any family to sit down and have a conversation about an elderly family member about where they are at this point with this kind of behavior.
BLACKWELL: So, let's talk now about the new reporting that in addition to White House Counsel, Don McGann, which we learned earlier in the week, Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and the Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were part of some effort to try to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. And because I have a former U.S. attorney, and because I have the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, I want to split this to a question of ethics and a question of illegality, and let me stay with you, Walter, the question of ethics here to send the White House staff to try to pressure the attorney general.
SHAUB: Well, of course, the president himself is not strictly covered by most of the ethics rules; certainly, Don McGahn and others are. Again, I'm not sure that there's a specific ethics rule being violated here. What we do have though is a violation of the principle that pretty much every president has honored, which is that there needs to be a separation between the White House and the Department of Justice, and this type of interference is just astonishing. What really sends me through the roof is the fact that there's no question that Jeff Sessions needed to recuse. He was legally required to recuse. And you have the president's chief law enforcement officer, the
counsel of president, his top advisor on legal matters who's supposed to be reigning in his worst impulses going out there and actually pressuring the attorney general to violate one of the laws he has sworn to uphold, to me that's just astonishing. And the fact that he was trying to bully White House -- Department of Justice officials, so we're now hearing it wasn't just McGahn, just -- it's the missing piece of the puzzle for me, because I thought they seemed rattled when I was trying to tell them he needed to recuse and I couldn't figure out why.
BLACKWELL: So, this answers the questions for you. Michael, to you, questions of illegality in the context of this obstruction of justice investigation.
MOORE: So, I think one mistake that we make as we're looking as these things unfold, we're looking to find out the one particular act that would prove obstruction of justice, but none of this is happening in a vacuum. And really, what we're looking at is more the cumulative effect of the actions that Trump has taken through his administrations and his officials to try to influence the investigation, and that's where we start talking about obstruction.
Now, what's the -- what are they trying to cover up? What's out there? Well, that's probably in his tax records, we're probably going to find out at some point that we're talking about Russian money. But what he's done both by getting rid of Jim Comey or by asking Sessions to step aside -- the president has great latitude; nobody questions that. It's the cumulative effect of doing these things.
Now, is one particular act on its own, on its face purely illegal? I don't know that there's certainly enough to prove that at this point. But when you look at all of it together, and you look at what the intent was and what the purpose was behind those acts, and I think probably Bob Mueller already has some of that information, then I think you start to get much, much, much closer to an obstruction case.
BLACKWELL: Stephen, finally with you, what the president wanted here, protection, comparing his relationship or what he wanted from Jeff Sessions, what from his perspective President Obama got from Eric Holder, or the president believed JFK got from his brother -- protection.
COLLINSON: That's right, and that's been a theme throughout this presidency and it raises questions about whether the president understands completely the ideal relationship between the White House and the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice is there to administer the law, to be faithful to the constitution, not necessarily to protect the president himself in a personal capacity.
[07:15:17] We've seen that the president has said he wishes he could wield more influence over the Department of Justice. On another occasion, he said he had the absolute right to do what he wanted. So that does raise questions; all these issues about the Sessions recusal, the FBI investigations, now the investigation into the Clinton Foundation are going to raise all these questions of whether the president is keeping the right distance between himself and the neutral and independent administration of justice.
BLACKWELL: All right. Stephen, Michael, Walter, thank you all.
PAUL: Well, the president has called for it over and over again, and now a U.S. official says the FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation for allegations of corruption.
BLACKWELL: Plus, landmark talks between North and South Korea just a few days away, could this be a sign that their relationship is thawing now? Could the U.S. relationship with North Korea be next?
PAUL: Well, for months, President Trump has called out his own Justice Department with tweets such as this one: "Everybody is asking why the Justice Department and FBI is not looking into all of the dishonesty going on with crooked Hillary the Dems?" Well, there is an investigation that's now open.
The U.S. officials tell CNN, several authorities are looking at the Clinton Foundation specifically. They're looking into whether donors were promised special access to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillips, back with us now, as well as CNN Senior Politics Reporter, Stephen Collinson. Thank you, both for sticking around for us. Stephen, I want to start with you. What prompted this latest investigation? This is an investigation that had been looked into, people thought it was over before the 2016 election. Is there new information that has come to light?
[07:20:22] COLLINSON: We don't know exactly if there's any new evidence that has come to light to suggest that this -- the reason why this investigation was opened. It's being conducted by the FBI out of their Arkansas office. CNN was reporting back in 2016 about this preliminary probe into the Clinton Foundation. So, the FBI does have the ability to reopen an investigation that has been shut down if some new evidence emerges, but it's not clear exactly if that's the case.
And that, of course, is going to start all sorts of accusations given the president's rhetoric on the score. The reason the investigation has been opened is for political considerations, and, you know, that's the danger when you have this kind of commentary flying around by the president and his subordinates that the Clintons should be investigated, any investigation. And we don't know at all if this is done for political reasons, is going to get pulled into the political arena.
PAUL: You know, it's a very good point. And on that point, Abby Phillip, is there any indication we're going to hear from the White House regarding this new investigation?
PHILLIP: No. Christi, it's not clear at all that we'll hear from the White House. And, in fact, it would be rather unusual for the White House to comment on this whatsoever in part because usually, we don't even know that investigations are underway. I mean, one of the things about the Justice Department is that typically, ongoing investigations are kept quiet and that's been the exception when it comes to the Clinton-related investigation that those have often been in the news, leading to some of these calls, as Stephen mentioned, that the entire thing is politicized in nature. That being said, we're sitting here talking about it on the news, and as you know, the president is an avid watcher of cable television. He reads, you know, the front pages of the newspapers, and undoubtedly, he is going to be seeing some of this coverage, and we can't predict what he's going to say on his Twitter feed, and he's clearly been tweeting this morning quite a bit.
PAUL: He has, yes. Stephen, is there any indication or would you suspect that the Clintons will be interviewed or that they would -- that the FBI will want to talk to the Clintons again?
COLLINSON: I mean, I think there's some way from that. This is a preliminary investigation as I understand it, which would then, sort of, decide whether it's necessary to go further. But I think what it shows this whole episode is one of the legacies of the 2016 election campaign is now only becoming clearer and it's the way in which the FBI and the Justice Department was sucked into the politics. And whenever you get to a situation when that happens, that raises a lot of questions. I mean, we're getting to the point now where people don't believe on both sides of the political spectrum, that investigation is warranted or is independent unless they agree with the politics of the people that are conducting the investigation. And when you get to that point in a Democratic society, you're in quite a lot of trouble.
PAUL: So, Abby, let me ask you, is there anything from the prior investigation before it kind of fizzled out and went away? Was there any stone left unturned? Were there any question marks left at the end that still need to be answered that might have prompted this?
PHILLIP: Well, it's a little unclear. I mean, one of the things that they -- that we know that they're possibly looking into is whether there were any special favors given to donors; policy favors in exchange for donations to the foundation. Now, one of the reasons this is a little bit of a black box here is because we don't know how far down the road they got.
And now that we're back in a position where we're hearing about this investigation, it's unclear what prompted them to sort of restart it or reopen the active inquiry, whether it's new information or whether they're simply going back over old things. And also, parallel to all of this is the open question of how much, if any, political influence is being affected here.
The president has been talking about this as you pointed out so often on social media, it's been very public. We don't know whether this has been private pressure as well, but if it has been, that's one of the questions a lot of people have: is this investigation back because the president wants it to be?
PAUL: But, Stephen, how likely is it that the FBI would open an investigation that they have looked at before and it seems to have been closed out? How likely is it they would open it up just because the president said do so?
[07:25:02] COLLINSON: I don't think it's likely unless there was something very nefarious happening and it was coming right from the top of the Justice Department. There's actually no indication at all that that is the case. So, it doesn't seem very likely at all, but that is the fact that the question is out there, gets to the politicization of justice and the FBI that we've seen over the last two years, and that's why it's such a -- sort of -- you're really getting to a legal and a political morass. And I think we're only a short way into this, and it's going to take a lot of -- a long time to get through it.
PAUL: Stephen, I want to ask you really quickly what I asked Abby. Do you are recall anything in this investigation the first time around that may have been a question mark that is still out there, that wasn't answered, that truly closed this case once and for all? What was missing to do so?
COLLINSON: Since we don't know circumstances and exactly what the investigation turned up, it's difficult to say there was a lot of people on the Republican side, conservative activists, who have long said there are serious ethical questions about the sort of nexus between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's position as secretary of state. If you recall, there was a huge debate at the start of the Obama administration when Secretary Clinton was chosen to be the Chief U.S. Diplomat, and those questions have been rumbling. It was an undercurrent of the 2016 election campaign; conservative enemies of Hillary Clinton raised these question, and it was a huge deal on conservative media. But we just don't know exactly what was uncovered in that first preliminary investigation and why there was grounds to reopen it.
PAUL: Abby, we know that spokesman for the foundation has come out and said look, this is just a sham, this investigation. Any indication of how the foundation itself has been affected by this?
PHILLIP: Well, toward the end of the 2016 election, the Clinton foundation actually really shrunk dramatically in size and in scope in anticipation that Hillary Clinton was likely to win, but also in response to the politicization of their mission, you know, despite the fact that Bill and Hillary Clinton said that this foundation is a charitable foundation that's done all of this good work; they shrunk the largest part of the foundation. They shut down the Clinton Global Initiative, which was that conference in New York City that Bill Clinton would preside over every year, bringing world leaders from all over the world. And so, the Clinton Foundation right now is already kind of a shell of what it once was, and I think that this, this -- being in the news again is only going to make that issue worse for what remains of that institution.
PAUL: All right. Abby Phillip, Stephen Collinson, thank you so much for your perspectives and the information.
BLACKWELL: New this morning, South Korea says it has spoken by phone with North Korean officials again. Seoul has given Pyongyang a list of delegates who will attend the talks between the two countries on Tuesday. This will be the first high-level face to face discussion between North and South in two years. Now, the question is: could this pave the way for a future sit down with the United States? CNN spoke exclusively with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; he says, still too early to tell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: Some are speculating that this, this may be their first effort to open a channel. But as you know, we've had channels open to North Korea for some time and so they do know how to reach us if and when they're ready to engage with us as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Well, Secretary Tillerson is also now the latest Trump administration official to condemn the Iranian government. He tells CNN the White House backs Iranian protesters in their calls for a peaceful transition of power. The secretary also says the U.S. is also additional sanctions on Iran if they do not change their behavior.
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings has been hospitalized. His office says that he has a bacterial infection in his knee. He's being treated at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We don't know yet what caused the infection. They've not made that announcement, but we know also that Cummings' wife, Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings, announced that she is suspending her campaign for governor of Maryland due to personal considerations. She was one of several candidates trying to unseat the Republican Governor Larry Hogan.
[07:29:34] PAUL: Well, President Trump claims, the "Fire and Fury" author got his information from "sources that don't exist". We're talking to a President Trump's historian, wondering how this book is different from the usual presidential biographies.
PAUL: 30 minutes, plus the hour right now. So good to have you with us, I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, good morning to you. Lies, phony, untruthful. That's what we're hearing from the President in describing this explosive tell all book by Michael Wolff. In his latest tweet, the President's calling Wolff a total loser. Now, it's not the latest tweet, we'll read a few in just a moment that you have to hear from the President. And he's claiming also that sloppy Steve Bannon, cried when he got fired and begged for his job.
PAUL: Now, this is all coming after Wolff's claim that people around President Trump question his fitness for office and that's exactly what the President is talking about this morning.
The New Yorker had this cartoon, take a look at it. Those are copies of Fire and Fury raining down on the White House. In between, it looks like snowflakes,
PAUL: So, you know, we know that people up in the northeast, though.
BLACKWELL: I'm defining.
PAUL: They're dealing with it but they're making the point that the White House is dealing with something completely different and this morning, the President is tweeting about it.
BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Timothy Napftali, our CNN Presidential Historian, and former director of the Nixon Presidential Library. And Timothy, in just the last few minutes, the President has sent out some remarkable tweets. And I just have to read them, because I almost can't believe them.
Now that Russian collusion after one year of intense study has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lap dogs, the fake news main stream media are taking out the old Ronald Reagan play book and screaming mental stability and intelligence.
PAUL: Actually, he goes on to say, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being like really smart.
BLACKWELL: And he literally writes like really smart.
PAUL: This are not from -- like really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from very successful businessman to top T.V. star to President of the United States on my first try. I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius and a very stable genius at that.
[07:35:19] BLACKWELL: The President says, he's like really smart.
PAUL: Timothy, your reaction.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I -- don't you remember in elementary school and high school that if your parents didn't tell you this, your teachers did. The people who repeat things about themselves are not always to be believed. I find it bizarre that the President of the United States needs to tell us that he's smart.
After all, we determine -- I say we, I'm came at Presidential Historians, those was who observed Presidents. We evaluate Presidents by their conduct, by their actions, by their legislative achievements, by the way in which they conduct foreign policy and keep us safe.
Let others tell you you're smart. You don't have to tell us that you're smart. This shows as a number of many people have been noting in the last couple of days that this book has gotten under the President's skin. What I find remarkable is that a pro shouldn't show that something gets under their skin. The President is very, very emotional at this point and I don't understand why he thinks it's in his interest to show that. PAUL: So, talk to us, you've got a quote that you want to read from the book and I want to get to talk about the book that started this whole thing, Fire and Fury.
BLACKWELL: Because I've been reading for this book and the access is what I'd like you to address here. He writes a sort of level of formal access to the White House. Something of a plan wall status that the President himself encouraged the idea, but given the many thieves things in the Trump White House that came into open conflict from the first days of the administration. There seem to be no one person able to make this happen. Equally, there was no one to say go away. Hence, I became more a constant interloper than an invited guest, something quite close to an actual fly on the wall having accepted no rules nor having made any promises about what I might or might not write.
Is that typically the degree of access that he can just plop down on a sofa and get whatever he wants?
NAFTALI: No. And in fact, Bob Woodward, created a model for delivering or writing what one would call the first draft of history of the administrations. In -- for the Clinton that's Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and finally the Obama administrations, Bob Woodward was giving -- was given various levels of access. And he was able to talk to Presidents, he was able to talk to their closest advisors and as a result of he produced books which gave us a sense, a tick tock of the internal workings of those three administrations. Somebody very high up made the decision to let Bob Woodward come in.
It looks from at least initially from, from Wolff's reporting and from the way in which the Trump administration is handling the Wolff book. That the Trump team is so unorganized that there didn't have been to be a checkoff by the guy at the top for Wolff to be walking around the Oval Office, that's amazing.
PAUL: Michael Wolff was interviewed by the BBC overnight and I want to review something that he said, because I don't think we have the sound ready here. But he said, "One of the interesting effects of this book so far is a very clear emperor has no close effect. The story that I've told seem to presents this Presidency in such a way to says, he can't do his job, the emperor has no cloths. And suddenly, everywhere people are going -- oh my god, he has no clothes. That's the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end this, that will end this Presidency.
It sounds as though, he is saying this book will end at the presidency of Donald Trump. Do you believe this book has the power to do so?
NAFTALI: No. I don't believe any -- well, look, our system of government is set up such that it is very difficult to change the President, and that's what our founders wanted. I don't believe one book -- I don't believe one piece of evidence, really. With the exception of the smoking gun transcript of -- that's came out in 1974. That one piece of evidence can overturn an administration.
What this book does is it adds more pieces to the puzzle. And remember, it's just -- it's just the book and it's a book based on sources of various power and credibility. But it doesn't -- what makes it so powerful, I believe, is that it's confirming pieces of evidence that actually have come from the President's own tweets. That's the ranting, the thin skin ness, the obsession with Comey, the unwillingness to deal with the truth of the hacking issue, let alone the question of collusion. All of that we've seen before. What Wolff has done, it seems, from the excerpts, I haven't read the book yet, has pulled this together into a very damning portrait, but it's just a book.
We have more evidence to see, we have Mueller's investigation that's going to produce real evidence in addition to things that have been, you know, sourced by a journalist, however strong or good a journalist, Wolff might be.
So I see this as more very important pieces to the puzzle but they're just pieces. We have a lot more to learn.
[07:40:32] PAUL: And we should point out there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle in the book that people have come out and disputed and said just are not true.
BLACKWELL: Yes, this are question and --
PAUL: Including from Washington Post journalists and what not. So just to be fair there. Timothy Naftali, we appreciate you being here so much. Thank you.
NAFTALI: My pleasure, good morning. Thank you.
PAUL: Good morning.
So, some federal lawmakers are fuming over State marijuana legalization. We're going to look at how the government may try to kill the high for Colorado and California.
PAUL: Well, a policy war seem to be brewing between the government and states that sell marijuana legally.
BLACKWELL: So, this week the Justice Department rescinded an Obama- era policy that erased enforcement of federal marijuana laws. Now, this is after California started this year with the legalization of recreational marijuana use. It's Scott McLean, takes a closer look for us
[07:45:00] SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN DENVER CORRESPONDENT: This is a family company?
ANDY WILLIAMS: It is.
MCLEAN: Nine members of your family.
WILLIAMS: Three generations.
MCLEAN: Andy Williams, owns a growing marijuana enterprise. A business that exists because Colorado legalized pot and because of a handful of Obama-era memos.
WILLIAMS: I give him credit, we would not be here without President Obama right now.
MCLEAN: Pot maybe legal in Colorado, but federal law puts in the same category as heroin and LSD. The Obama administration never changed the law but essentially told Colorado that it would look the other way.
But this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, wrote his own memo to U.S. attorneys rescinding those guidelines and putting the multibillion dollar marijuana industry back into a legal gray area.
WILLIAMS: I had an employee come up to me today worried about her job. I have investors calling and say, oh, what's going to happen with our investment?
MCLEAN: Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner, called the news extremely alarming, and accused Sessions of going back on his word. Sessions deputy didn't offer much clarity.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, UNITED STATES DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: What the intention has done is simply to say that the Department of Justice has full discretion to enforce the law.
MCLEAN: Those decisions will be left to U.S. attorneys, like Colorado's Bob Troyer, who promised there will be no changes in enforcement. In conservative leaning Greeley Colorado, where a marijuana dispensaries have been out lawed, police Chief Jerry Garner is no fun of legal pot. And he likes Sessions law and order approach, but even he is in no rush to crack down.
JERRY GARNER, CHIEF, GREELEY POLICE: I've got other things that are more important, quite frankly for my officers to be doing than chasing this guy down with a joint. I don't have enough time for my officers to be federal drug agents.
CYNTHIA COFFMAN, ATTORNEY GENERAL, COLORADO: We didn't have any warning that it was coming.
MCLEAN: The news came out of the blue for Colorado's Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, for now, she says the status quo will remain but maybe not forever.
COFFMAN: That's true because it's not in the hands of the State attorney general. It's in the hands of the - give us attorney general.
MCLEAN: She's promised to defend the growers and dispensaries that make up the industry even in court, but she can't guarantee the outcome. COFFMAN: These folks didn't go into business with marijuana lightly, I don't think, or without the realization that things could change. But the reality of it is still a shock.
MCLEAN: Andy Williams agrees, but despite the news, he's not bracing for impact, he's planning for expansion.
MCLEAN: If you don't have a high risk tolerance in this industry, you probably shouldn't be in it.
MCLEAN: Scott McLean, CNN, Denver, Colorado.
PAUL: And when we come back, David Crouch, a trial lawyer who authored the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment that was approved by the voters last November is with us talking about this controversy.
BLACKWELL: All right, first this week, this "STAYING WELL" segment looking at how music is used as therapy. It all makes us feel good. Take a look at how it helped a teen deal with the death of her father several years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jordan was 11 years old when her father died from lung cancer.
JORDAN KAREM, PARTICPANT, MUSIC THERAPY: I was really, really close with my dad. Coming home after school and not having him here is a very, very hard time in my life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes her feelings would come out in anger or frustration, and I would ask her what's wrong and she couldn't tell me, because she just couldn't put it into words. I knew music might be a way in to help her.
JAMIE GEORGE, MUSIC THERAPIST, THE GEORGE CENTER FOR MUSIC THERAPY: Music therapy is the use of music to attain therapeutic and rehabilitative goals. We find that people are able to share things through music that they may not be able to share in talk therapy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, go, go, good morning.
GEORGE: So we may use things like lyric analysis, song writing, playing instruments, singing.
KAREM: We decided to write a song with all the memories that I had of him. I got to put my own emotions into it.
I remember feeling at home when you wrapped me in your arms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She got more confidence in herself. She definitely was able to trust other people and feel OK, sharing her feelings. And today, she's a theater major, I would have never dreamed that for her.
ANNOUNCER: Staying well, brought to you by Bayer Aspirin. Learn more at BayerAspirin.com
[07:52:34] PAUL: You know, it's unclear how far the federal government will go to override marijuana legalization in States. CNN Political Commentator Jack Kingston, with us now. As well as Trial Attorney David Crouch, he is author and sponsor of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment that was approved by the voters last November. Also, he's a board member of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association, which is dedicated to protecting and promoting the medical marijuana in Arkansas. And with that said, David, your reaction to what's happened in the last 48 hours?
DAVID COUCH, BOARD MEMBER, ARKANSAS MEDICAL MARIJUANA ASSOCIATION: We know, I think that it's really interesting what Jeff Sessions did. I mean, he really attacking more of the recreational marijuana states than the medical marijuana states. I think that it really -- if Arkansas were a recreational state it would be more important because of the rule back our amendment that allows us do medical marijuana.
But, you know, there are several U.S. district attorneys in all the States, and so, you could have conflicting results in each State conflicting tax work enforcement provisions. So, I think it's pretty much of a horrible thing that he's done because he's removed this federal overview of a consistent policy throughout the United States.
PAUL: So, with that, there are maybe questions this morning, but the intention of this jack. I mean, President Trump, vowed to overturn Obama regulation. He didn't necessarily put parameters on it but a lot of people might look at this and say, is this shift really about marijuana or is it about erasing Obama's legacy?
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: yes, I think it's -
COUCH: I do believe --
PAUL: That's to jack, I'm sorry, Jack, go ahead.
KINGSTON: I think it's more about enforcing existing laws. We as Republicans often complain that DACA was a prerogative of Congress, not the executive branch. And now, it's interesting that so many Republicans are pushing back on this. And yet, we have been the party is saying, you know, the Legislative Branch, controls the laws. The Executive Branch enforces the laws. So, a Legislative Branch makes the laws.
David is right that the 29 States that have medical marijuana are actually protected under a federal law called the Rule of DACA, Blue Manhauer Amendment, which by the way expires, January 19th. I think, while the federal government is dealing with medical marijuana laws, under the Rural of DACA Amendment, they ought is take a look at what you do about the eight States that have recreational laws.
PAUL: Well, but the President, I believe as a candidate came out in an interview saying, I believe it should be up to the States. So, how do you reconcile what Jeff Sessions has done with what President Trump has said in the past about this because they don't match, Jack.
[07:55:10] KINGSTON: Well, I agree -- I agree that they don't match and I do will say that the President isn't the first politician to not have a completely consistent policy that matches campaign rhetoric. But Jeff Sessions' position is, his job is to enforce the law and he plans to enforce the law of President Obama, even in the 2013 memo did have exemptions in terms of U.S. attorneys looking into marijuana- related crime. And that there were some exceptions in that.
But I think that what A.G. Sessions is saying is, look, Congress has to make these changes and just like with DACA, and I think it's the right approach.
PAUL: So, David, there are a lot of people watching this thinking, can I go buy marijuana in my State? Is that legal? To that you say what?
COUCH: Well, it's always been illegal federally. And the Sessions memo gave, you know, some comfort level to businesses that they were not going to be raided overnight. And I think that's the wrong. I mean, the federal government still has the right to enforce federal laws but I think the problem with Jeff Sessions in removing this called memo, is that it gave the businesses from protection.
You know, it prioritized the federal enforcement, we should be looking at terrorism, we should be looking at things like that and not picking on a certain boutique industry. But I think one thing that Jeff Sessions' memo has done and will do is that a lot of Republicans that were on the fence on this issue, especially in western States and States that have medical marijuana like Arkansas, all six of our members of Congress, are Republicans.
I think the fact that he's lit a brush fire on this issue and it's going to cause Congress to be forced to do something. So, I do think that the important thing of this thing is that it's going to cause this issue to be resolved in Congress sooner or later.
PAUL: Well, yes, and it's going to be interesting. This is a billion dollar industry in Colorado alone. And then you also look at the fact that there are finite resources of the DOJ in how much -- how much man power can they really put on this. Gentlemen, I'm sorry, we've run out of time. Thank you so much for being here.
COUCH: Thank you, Chris.
KINGSTON: Thank you.
PAUL: We'll be right back.