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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Would Love To Talk To Mueller Under Oath; Trump Is Open To DACA Citizenship Path. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 24, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:14] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ACNHOR: OUTFRONT next breaking news, President Trump says we wants to talk to Bob Mueller do it under oath. And Republican talking point that the FBI is bias against the president, new reporting tonight pouring water on that conspiracy theory. Plus Trump says he's open to pathway for DREAMers, but really does this mean the immigration deal is in sight? Let's go "OUTFRONT."
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, President Trump making major announcement just moments ago call it, walking into a room full of reporters answering questions saying he is willing to sit down and talk to the Special Counsel Bob Mueller. He says, he'll do it under oath.
Trump saying this just before leaving for the Global Elite Summit in Davos, Switzerland. He surprised that room full reporters, they were actually being briefed by immigration reform by other members of the White House. The president just opened the door and walked in.
You're going to hear all that he had to say, because he took quite a few questions but here he is when specifically asked if he would be willing to speak with Mueller's team.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it, all right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to you.
TRUMP: Yes, yes. Just say, OK, there's been no collusion whatsoever. There is no obstruction whatsoever. And I'm looking forward to it. I do worry when I look at all of the things that you people don't report about with what's happening. If you take a look at, you know, the five months worth of missing texts, that's a lot of missing texts.
And as I said yesterday, that's prime time. So you do sort of look at that and say what's going on. You do look at certain texts where they talk about insurance policies or insurance where they say the kind of things they are saying and their concern, but I would love to do that and I like to do it as soon as possible.
And good luck everybody, they don't come up -- so here's --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have a date that --
TRUMP: I don't know. No, I think I was just talking about two or three weeks, but I would love to do it. You know, again, I have to say, subject to my lawyers and all of that but I would love to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you do it under oath (inaudible)?
TRUMP: You mean like Hillary did it under -- who said that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said that. You do it under oath?
TRUMP: Oh, you say, you say a lot. Did Hillary do it under oath?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know.
TRUMP: I think you have an idea. Don't you have an idea? Wait. You do not have an idea? Do you really not have an idea? I'll give you idea. She didn't do it under oath. Listen, but I would do it an you know she didn't do it under oath, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would do it under oath.
TRUMP: If you didn't know about Hillary, then you are not much of a reporter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So based on my understanding, you would do it under oath.
TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath, yes, absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So there's a lot of other questions to come. But let's talk about this. Obviously, the big caveat is Trump says, he will do it under oath., absolutely if his attorneys agree. Trump's unexpected announcement comes a day after we learned Mueller is speaking to interview the president, specifically about the firing of Michael Flynn and Jim Comey, and about a possible pattern in his behavior.
Trump just two weeks ago waiver when he was asked the same question. He did not answer directly like tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to meet with him without condition?
TRUMP: I'll speak to attorneys. I can only say this, there was absolutely no collusion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But again, would you be open to it?
TRUMP: Let's see what happens. I mean, certainly I'll see what happens. But when they have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT tonight at the White House, all right.
So, Pam, I know you were in the room. There were plenty of topics talked about. We're going to be talking about them all and playing this audio. But this -- the president had to say about Bob Mueller coming at crucial point in the Russia probe. You have been covering that from the beginning. You are now covering this president. What more did he have to say tonight in that room?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he wanted to make it clear, Erin, that he's not afraid to go face to face with Robert Mueller, because as you heard him say, he said, there is no collusion, there is no obstruction of justice. But he also added the caveat that he would only do so in the advice of his lawyers. So I can tell you, Erin, from sources that his lawyers do not necessarily want him to have a face to face interview with Robert Mueller.
One of the said publicly, the concern is that, it would open them up to perjury, a fishing expedition with the president as you heard him say. He said, he's not afraid to do that, sources say Robert Mueller wants to question him on his decision to fire James Comey, the former FBI Director as well as the former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
He sort of left it open-ended when he was asked would he do it with no condition, an interview with Robert Mueller, he sort of left that open-ended. And also talked about willing to do it under oath and he said as you heard in that tape, unlike Hillary Clinton.
Now, for our viewers, Hillary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI. It was a voluntary interview, not under oath. But it is a federal crime to lie to the FBI. He said a couple of weeks, it could happen in two to three weeks, this potential interview with Robert Mueller.
[19:05:03] I can tell you, Erin, sources tell us there is no date set for such an interview. They are in the early stages of negotiating the terms of any potential interview with the president. And what that interview might look like is still unclear, but you heard him say there directly, he would love to do a sit down interview with Robert Mueller, special counsel.
BURNETT: So -- and now, in terms of how all of this happened, right, because he also talked here about the FBI, corruption at the FBI as he sees it, immigration, a whole lot of other topics that we're going to be playing out through the hour.
The back story, though, to why he was even there because I know he is headed to Davos tonight. Very interesting, you are sitting in a room hearing about immigration policy, right, and then what happens?
BROWN: That's right. I was actually fortunate enough to be sitting right next to the door. We were about five minutes in or so to this background briefing on the immigration plan, and in comes the president of the United States. And, of course, all of the reporters jumped up and immediately started asking questions.
And a couple of times he acted like he was going to leave, and then we'd asked other questions and he would stick around to answer them. He was seemingly in good spirit, Erin, and seemed to be jovial. He seem like he wanted to be there answering reporters questions.
As you mentioned, he's going to be heading out to Davos tonight to the world economic forum. And he didn't seem to mind to stand there for 10 to 15 minutes or so talking to reporters answering our questions on a range of topics from immigration to the special counsel.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Pamela. And as I said we're going to play this for you, as this audio comes in. In was unexpected right, the reporters happened to be rolling audio because they were briefed on immigration. So when the president came in they were already rolling and that's why we have all of this.
OUTFRONT now, John Dean, former Nixon White Counsel, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, the New York Times White House Reporter, Mark Preston, Senior Political Analyst and Tim Naftali of the Nixon Presidential Library and our Presidential Historian.
John Dean, so you heard the president, I'd love to do it. Again, I have to say subject to my lawyers. Is it he really looking forward to it and would love to do it? Or is all that matters here is, he is giving that impression buy saying subject to my lawyers?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE COUNSEL: That is it a big caveat he's put in front of this. His lawyers are probably not going to encourage him to go under oath and going to negotiate a deal where he won't be under oath. They know he's often truth-challenged and they want to protect him.
But I think this is a good show on his part that he doesn't mind mixing with Mueller. And I don't think he's looking forward to it. But I hope he's better prepared than he usually is when it happens, otherwise he's going to find himself on the wrong side of the law.
BURNETT: Right. He said, of course, Tim, in other depositions, "I spent no time preparing, you know, with pride." But what's your takeaway from what he said today?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I agree with John. I think this is great public relations. And this is actually has to be as public stance. Because he's been saying it's been a witch hunt, right? If it's a witch hunt he shouldn't be afraid to be questioned, right?
So this is perfectly consistently with his description of this entire inquiry. I think the caveat is huge and I would be very interested in seeing whether he goes actually goes through with this given that his lawyers are likely to tell him he shouldn't. But it's great PR and it's absolutely the right thing for him to say.
BURNETT: And, you know, Julie, I want to play again part of Pam just pointed out. You know, this whole discussion about him trying to say, "Look, Hillary didn't do it under oath." Let me say play what he said there of course, he would air as well. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You mean like Hillary did under -- who said that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said it. Would you do it under oath?
TRUMP: Oh, you said it. You did say it -- you say a lot. Did Hillary do it under oath?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea.
TRUMP: I think you have an idea. Don't you have an idea? Wait. You do not have an idea? Do you really not have an idea? I'll give you idea. She didn't do it under oath.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, of course, the point is Pamela was making as -- it's a federal crime to lie to the FBI. So he's right she didn't do it under oath. It would have been a crime had she lied. The big question of course for this president is whether will testify under oath himself.
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, right. And, I mean, it wouldn't necessarily have to be under oath. When you speak to federal investigators, it is not always under oath. In fact, usually in the context that Hillary Clinton was interviewed it is not under oath.
There was some confusion I think in that room about whether the president was saying that he was willing to testify in front of a grand jury. Because that's the scenario in which he would be testifying under oath. But I think what he was trying to remind people of was that that interview wasn't under oath. And once again remind people that, you know, he had a rival who was accused of some wrongdoing as well and sort of muddy the waters a little bit around this question.
I don't think he's gotten too far down the technical rabbit hole probably with his lawyers about what the details are of whether he would be under oath or not under oath. But, I mean, I agree with everyone saying that I think what he was trying to get out there was that I'm willing to do this. I'm eager for these questions.
[19:09:57] And in fact, even though he may be -- being advised that, you know, you don't -- this is a perjury trap, you shouldn't do this. There's also a school of thought in the White House I think that if you want to see this thing ended, this may be the only way to do that. And so I think that that has stuck in his head. And the president is -- part of him really would like to see this over with. And if this is the way to do it, he wants to signal he's up for it.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, whether he meant to do this strategically or not, it was incredibly smart strategic move because he's going out there. He is saying I want to do it. And as we're discussing here, "But my lawyers may not allow me to do it. My lawyers may tell me I'm not allowed to do it".
But yet, everyone certainly his supporters are going to hear those words. I'd love to do it. I want to do it. You know, I have nothing to hide. There is no obstruction. So not very many things that Donald Trump does is strategic, and I would say that this is probably not one of them but it certainly is going to work well for him.
BURNETT: And, John, what about the fact that, you know, he's putting this timing out there two or three weeks. You know, we had said the reporting was in the coming weeks, you know, it was unclear. That could two or three weeks or eight weeks. But he's putting a time frame on it, two or three weeks.
Does that mean that we are that close to this whole thing being done? I'm simply going under the layperson's assumption that you would not interview the person at the top of the whole pyramid if you had not investigated every single brick below him?
DEAN: That's a correct assumption and the correct assumption. For sure, Mueller will have done all the underlying investigations. He feels necessary to undertake this interview, because he's not going to get many shots, if any, other shot at the president. So he will be prepared.
That signals at least one phase of this investigation, maybe towards the end, and this is the last person he'll need to talk to. And what's interesting, also, the fact that Trump has so many existing outstanding conflicting statements, it's going to be really interesting to watch how he handles that when he is questioned, whether it be under oath or not. Because he is going to be asked which statement is true. And as I say, he's got many conflicting statements on most of the issues that he'll be confronted with.
BURNETT: So this issue, as I mentioned, obviously he talked about Bob Mueller. He also talked about why he thinks that there is something deeply amiss, deeply perhaps corrupt at the FBI. I wanted to play that entire exchange with reporters. Here is the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I'm going to say, I mean, I am very disturbed as the general, as everybody else that is intelligent. When you look at five months, right, this is a large scale version. This is -- that was 18 minutes, this is five months. They say it's 50,000 texts and it's prime time. That's disturbing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should McCabe go, Mr. President? Should McCabe go, Mr. President?
TRUMP: Well, McCabe got more than $500,000 from essentially Hillary Clinton and is he investigating Hillary Clinton --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So should he go? TRUMP: Do you remember -- did anyone hear many of my speeches where I talked about McCabe? He was the star of my speech. This is enough. And I said a man who was more or less in charge of her gut, the wife got $500,000 from Terry. Terry is Hillary. And yes I may --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you regret having him as your acting FBI Director then?
TRUMP: You know what, I keep out of it. You find that hard to believe. I keep out of it. That's the way it fell. He's been there, it's one of those things. But he was the star of many of my speeches. Because he got from $500,000 to $700,000, whatever the number was, got that money for the wife.
And, you know, in Virginia, in Virginia -- wait, in Virginia, you don't have to spend the money. So I never checked as to whether or not they spent the money on campaign. How much of the money did he spend on the campaign, do you know? How much was it? Wait. How much of the money was spent?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask McCabe who he voted for? Did you ask him?
TRUMP: I don't think so, no. No, I don't think I did. I don't know what's the big deal with that because I would ask you, who did you vote for? I don't think it's a big deal. But I don't remember that. You know, I saw that this morning. I don't remember asking him that question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible you did?
TRUMP: I don't remember asking him the question -- I think it's also a very unimportant question, but I don't remember asking him that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. So you just heard that entire exchange, all right. Let's just start here, Mark, with the facts. There are many that are amiss in the thing what he is saying there.
For example, the texts that he says are missing, 50,000 of them. We have no idea how many texts are missing. We know that there are 50,000 texts they have recovered, OK. We don't know how many are missing. He has now said in a tweet, he has now said it here, you know, he paddling a number that we just don't know what the real number is.
[19:15:01] That's just one of many issues here.
PRESTON: Well, yes. I mean, look, also it's not, from what we're understanding now is that, this could have been a computer glitch right now that is affecting many phones right now from FBI, officials from that time period. And, of course, everybody wants to see the texts. So hopefully they can go back and get them. So you're absolutely right about that.
He also said when he's talking about the money that was given to his wife, this is before McCabe became or at least took over the FBI. And it certainly was before he was overseeing the Hillary Clinton investigation.
You know, what's interesting is that Donald Trump will just grab on to a little bit of news, little bit of information, and then he'll blow it out and put he'll the narrative around it. And then he pushes it around, and then he pushes it out and his supporters eat it up. That is what fuels President Trump. And we just saw that right there.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, Julie, we certainly did. You know, we have, you know, a letter today from the assistant attorney general, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd who is a Trump appointee, worked before with then Senator Jeff Sessions, who came out and said this is a technical glitch affecting about 1 in 10 FBI phones. And they are trying to run this down.
So when you are trying to feed into the idea, it's a conspiracy theory that it only affected two phones in "prime time" as the president says, that this does not fit with the facts.
HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Well, right. I mean, what we do know is that there are 50,000 texts total. So the idea that there are 50,000 texts over the period he's talking about is certainly not the case. But bigger issue is here that, you know, you just heard him say in that tape oh I stay out of it. I stay out it.
He's not actually staying out of it and he is imposing this narrative about a conspiracy at the FBI and who knows what these missing texts say. And about political motivations by high ranking officials at the FBI, and we now know that he actually asked McCabe what his political affiliation is or who he voted for in 2016. Even though he just said that he doesn't remember doing that. White House officials have told us that in fact he did ask.
And so what you have is the president who generally does try to stir clear of these things, these investigations for fear it even appearing to trying to swaying the outcome, really wading into the details here and trying to weave this conspiracy theory that, you know, supposedly about people who are out to get him within his own FBI.
BURNETT: All right. All of you staying with me as our coverage of these breaking comments continue as she says. Extremely unusual for this level of detail and minutia, and we are now getting it and it's really important.
Next, more of the Trump audio, the president with new message tonight as well, and that question and answer for DREAMers. Plus the breaking news, the Justice Department with the stern warning about possible release of the Nunes memo, their words, it would be reckless. And more breaking news, Trump leaving any second for Davos, how will the America first president tell his message to the global elites who despise it?
[19:21:54] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump speaking to reporters moments ago in a surprise question-and-answer session. And he talks about a whole lot of things. You just heard a little bit of it talking about McCabe, the Deputy FBI Director, and whether he asked him who he voted for, talking about immigration, talking about how he wants to testify to Bob Mueller, talking about collusion.
Now, we're going to be playing all of this. And I want to talk about McCabe, this is a very crucial point there. But first, just in, the newest audio with the president with some breaking details on. Well, Republicans listen up, you've been saying you don't know where he stands on immigration, guess what, he is talking about it tonight. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you're going to get a deal on immigration, Mr. President?
TRUMP: I think so. Yes, I think so.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think it's going to look like?
TRUMP: We're going to get the wall, we're going to get great border security. In fact I just wrote something out, and you might talk about it chief if you want, otherwise we'll do it tomorrow, but I just wrote something out, what we're looking. We want great border security, we want to do a great job with DACA, I think it's our issue. I think it's a better issue for that Republicans than for the Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want citizenship for DREAMers?
TRUMP: We do -- we're going to morph into it it's going to happen at some point in the future.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean?
TRUMP: Over a period of 10 to 12 years, somebody does a great job, they've worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job. But they've work hard. They've done terrifically, whether they have a little company, or whether they work, whatever they're doing. If they do a great job, I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive of, after a period of years, being able to become a citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many years, Mr. President?
TRUMP: We're looking at 10 or 12.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. My panel is back with me. Mark, first let's parse this out. Obviously the word morph is very important, but he is talking clearly about path to citizenship, but 10 to 12 years and you do a great job. And a whole lot of room in there to see this as something Democrats could get on board with or not.
PRESTON: Well, they can get on board with what the path to citizenship, but there is several other things that they are not going to be able too get on board with that. But even before we get to that, Erin, think about some his supporters are thinking right now. When he said, you know, we're going to send home everyone that came here illegally. They shouldn't be here illegally.
And then morphed into, you know, this DACA recipients, OK, they were brought here. They didn't know anything, they were kids, but they shouldn't become citizens. Well, now he's opening this great big door, right now, for the path to citizenship.
But what he's going to run into in the buzz are on Capitol Hill and Julia knows this all too well, you know, for spending many up there, is Democrats are going to fight back on the $25 billion that he wants from the wall, the $5 billion that he wants for other security measures. And Democrats are not going to go for the end of "chain migration" or the end of the visa lottery program.
[19:25:00] BURNETT: And, Julie, what's also crucial here is the president does understand the strategy here, that this is good for Republicans. And indeed it is. It can be, you know, the Republican Party can't move forward without somehow doing a bit better with Hispanic vote and DREAMers is a way to do that.
HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Well, that's absolutely true. And he's seen the polling I assume just like we all have, saying that, you know, overwhelming majorities in both parties is actually have a lot of sympathy for this population, and would like to see them gain citizenship.
The problem, though, is and this is what's hamstrung the negotiations in the last few weeks over this, is he does have a large Republican contingent on Capitol Hill who does not want to see these people gain citizenship in any scenario. They say, well, we are willing to deal with them. We're willing to give them some legal status if we get all of those things that Mark just laid out that Democrats will never go for including an end to what they call chain migration. All of this money for border security, way over and above what most Democrats think is appropriate, and the end to the visa diversity or visa lottery.
But they don't want to give these people citizenship. They consider that to be amnesty and a bridge too far. And by the president coming out now, when the White House has just said earlier today they'll come out with legislative proposal for this on Monday, and saying, "Hey, I want a pathway to citizenship for the DREAMers", that is going to really complicate the chances here of getting a consensus on the Republican side to go forward.
BURNETT: And, Tim, I want to ask you something about McCabe in a moment. But, first, he also said something here I saw catch your attention. He said, I just was writing something down about this. Sort of like, when I came into the room, he was writing something down specifically on immigration. NAFTALI: Yes. Well, that surprised me. It's great. We want presidents to write things down. You know, this is so interesting, when the president is not next to Steven Miller, how he speaks about immigration. It's very interesting.
This is likely the kind of sentiment that he shared with Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin, before that famous difficult meeting that he had. The president is laying out a path to citizenship. This nearly tore the Republican Party apart when George W. Bush was president.
George W. Bush wanted comprehensive immigration reform and it didn't happen because House Republicans couldn't swallow a path to citizenship. Now, that was for a much larger group of people. But the issue for many Republicans is the same here. And President Trump is on the side of those who would like DREAMers to become citizens. That's huge and is going to be a major problem for Republican leaders.
BURNETT: And now, of course, you have him on tape saying it, you have him on tape at a timeline. I mean, did that -- that's very significant, OK.
John, I want to play part of what the president said about the Deputy FBI Director McCabe when -- the conversation about the president asking him who he voted for. Something very important in here, let me play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask McCabe who is voted for? Did you ask him?
TRUMP: I don't think so. No. No, I don't think I did. I don't know what's the big deal with that because I would ask you, who did you vote for? I don't think it's a big deal. But I don't remember that. You know, I saw that this morning. I don't remember asking him that question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible you did?
TRUMP: I don't remember asking him the question -- I think it's also a very unimportant question, but I don't remember asking him that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Mark, again, let's make the point here, he says I don't know what the big deal with that, it's unimportant question. It's a very important question. You know, obviously, he asked specifically who he voted for. A federal employer is not allowed to ask a federal employee their party affiliation. So asking a specific question about who you voted for would at least seem to be highly inappropriate. And as the president saying it's not a big deal, he clearly thinks it's a big deal because using it to make a whole case about why he thinks McCabe is bias against him.
PRESTON: You know, it all comes down to one world is loyalty. And let me pass it to John, right, because John would know this having actually been in that position. But the fact of the matter is, Donald Trump loves loyalty and that's why he asked that question.
BURNETT: I mean -- and, John, that's a crucial thing. By the way, just to point out the facts here. We checked. Andrew McCabe did not vote in the general election. And in a primary he voted in a Republican primary in Virginia.
DEAN: And apparently not for Trump, he might have conceded that. I think he's off base in pressing this. His faulty memory now shows this is probably been told, this was highly appreciate statement or question he posed to McCabe, and it's really none of his business.
These people are able to go to work every day in the FBI and across the government and they're of all persuasions. And if you start having this kind of pressure from the top that they'd be of the right party, our government won't function.
BURNETT: I think that's it, well said and very true, all right.
All stay with me. We have more that the president said and the note to Devon Nunes from the Justice Department, which is just breaking this hour. The Justice Department, President Trump's Justice Department, saying don't even think about releasing the controversial memo until they've seen it
They said to do so would be reckless, and more breaking news, the president heading to Davos in just a few minutes. So why is he going to something that he ostensibly turned his nose at for so many years?
BURNETT: And more breaking news, the Justice Department tonight warning the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that it would be, quote, reckless for him to release his controversial memo before they review it. Nunes is alleging FBI abuses of surveillance laws in his memo.
The Department of Justice is concerned about classified information in the memo.
Jim Sciutto is OUTFRONT.
And, Jim, look, this letter, it's very harsh. It uses reckless. What exactly is the Department of Justice saying?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've got to tell you, Erin, it's an extremely stern rebuke of the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee by the Republican-run Department of Justice, of course, run by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an appointee of the president, saying and it's listen to this language here.
We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the committee to disclose such information publicly, it says, without consulting the department and the FBI, without giving them an opportunity to review the memorandum to address the risk of harm to national security. Going to national security issue here and ongoing investigations. It goes on to challenge Devon Nunes in effect for his evidence here.
It says in the letter, we assume that the House Intelligence Committee members want to provide evidence of any specific allegation of misconduct. It goes on to say, though, we are currently unaware of any wrongdoing to the FISA process.
So going after with this memo not only releasing it, but also the underlying allegation here, which you alluded to, Erin, it is saying, and you hear this not just from Devin Nunes, but you hear it on Fox News, you hear it from the president at times, saying that the Department of Justice, the FBI, misused the FISA process to surveil a Trump or Trump campaign aides during the election, in effect, they say in effort to undermine him, to keep him from winning that election, which is remarkable allegation to make without the evidence here, and it's remarkable to hear the Department of Justice attempt to knock that down.
BURNETT: Right, and, Jim, just be to clear, Republican Department of Justice, it was Stephen Boyd, Trump appointee, right, who signed the letter, right?
SCIUTTO: Exactly. He's the assistant attorney general who signed it, and, of course, his boss, the attorney general himself, Jeff Sessions, also a Trump appointee and a long time Trump surrogate during the campaign.
BURNETT: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.
And let's go straight now to the Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy. He's the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and he also sits on the crucial intelligence committee we are talking about right now, as well as Judiciary Committee.
Congressman Gowdy, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.
I want to give you a chance, by the way, to respond to this memo sent by the assistant attorney general to Devin Nunes, the chairman of your House Intelligence Committee. It says it would be reckless to release that memo without showing it to Department of Justice for them to review it.
What do you say?
REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, Erin, thank you for having me on.
Let me say this at the outset, I have tremendous respect for the Department of Justice and FBI. I worked and with them for 18 of my professional years. So, there is no member of Congress that holds that department in higher esteem than I do.
I have concerns about what was done in the spring and fall of 2016. And I'm not a critic of the department. I'm not someone who alleges the department is corrupt. I'm a fan of the department. And I have concerns about what they did in 2016.
So, I would say this to my friend Stephen Boyd, let's lower the rhetoric. I don't care if you see the memo.
But let's be clear about this, Erin, the memo was derived, distilled from information that the department gave us. So, it's not like there is new information. Everything in the memo they already have.
GOWDY: What they don't know specifically is, what are their complaints. And I'm fine to share them with them, but you can't possibly say a memo was reckless if you haven't read it.
BURNETT: So let me ask you a crucial question here. Have you seen the underlying intelligence, classified intelligence that this memo, right, because this is summary written by the Republican chairman, have you seen the actual intelligence that it is based on? And is it 100 percent consistent with the memo as you have seen it?
GOWDY: The answer to your first question, Erin is yes. I may be the only member who has read it all. I went to the Department of Justice.
BURNETT: Jerry Nadler, Democrat, told me yesterday that he had as well.
GOWDY: All right. That would be two. Well, Jerry is not on Intel. Jerry is on judiciary. More power to him.
I think everybody ought to go down there and read it. It's really hard to have a conversation about what's in the documents when you haven't read those documents.
GOWDY: Glad Jerry did it. I've read it all.
I have concerns about the process, about representations that may be made in court pleadings. I have concerns about the duty of government to provide complete full accurate information. You know, FBI agents and prosecutors are not advocates of the state. We are representatives to the courts.
So, there is an obligation to present accurate, full, complete information.
GOWDY: And that's true in every criminal case or every counterintelligence case. They don't get the scrutiny that this one does.
BURNETT: OK. They are saying, though, and then, again, I just want to make the point. Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general who signed this letter that I'm looking at right now, it says, among other things, not only do they think it would be reckless to release Nunes' memo, but they have seen no evidence of any wrongdoing to the FISA process. And the reason that this is so crucial -- again, let's make the point,
Stephen Boyd is Donald Trump's nominee. He is saying to you all that he does not see any evidence of what is being alleged.
GOWDY: Yes, well, I mean I would say this again. I like Stephen. I work well with him. It's really difficult to say a memo is reckless when you haven't read it.
To the extent he says that they've seen no evidence of any impropriety or untowardness or inappropriate conduct during the process, we just respectfully disagree, and that happens from time to time. Lawyers can look at the same pattern and draw two different conclusions. I'm sure Adam Schiff is going to do a minority memo where he doesn't see any problems.
So, but what that advocates for, though, Erin is the release of non- classified material, release it, in an appropriate form, and let the public decide. That's what that advocates for.
BURNETT: But how is that consistent with you are saying how can anyone talk about this and the implications of it if they haven't seen the underlying information? From what I understand, nobody is advocating to release the underlying information from what is a partisan memo that's coming out of it, because it's so classified. Are you saying the underlying information that you read, the top secret information should also be released so everyone can read the source data?
BURNETT: And then decide if they think the summary is fair or not?
GOWDY: No. I don't. The president can declassify it. My counsel to him is, don't do it.
Do nothing to jeopardize sources and methods. Do nothing to jeopardize the women and men in the intelligence committee. But you and I are having a conversation about it right now without divulging classified information. People do it all day, every day.
It can be done. You have to do it adroitly and you have to do it carefully. But you can have a conversation.
I mean, we'll do it right now. Do you think information should be vetted before it's included in a court proceeding? That would be a question I have for you.
If a hypothetical source is being paid by a political opponent, do you think that should be shared with a court or with a judge?
[19:40:03] See, you and I just did it. And I think the answer is, yes, that should it be shared with the court. if it's not shared with the court, then you got to tell me why it wasn't important enough to do so.
BURNETT: Chairman, I want to ask you about a couple of other things tonight. One is the other news that has been breaking over the past few hours, regarding the text messages exchange between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page. Thousands of FBI issued phones we are finding out today were affected by this technical glitch, all right? It resulted in five months of missing text data.
And we are now told law enforcement is telling CNN about one in ten FBI phones were affected. So, it's not just these two. It's thousands, it's one in 10 phones were affected that has this data outage.
Do you accept this was a technical glitch or do you think there is some sort of conspiracy theory here?
GOWDY: I'm not a conspiracist. And I have no reason to impeach or under cut what the department is representing and what the FBI is represented.
It puts those of us who are fans and supporters of the department and the bureau in an awkward position. There's a five-month gap that's really important. But I have no reason to not believe them.
I hope my Michael Horowitz or someone else will verify it. But I'm not a conspiracist. I'm ever bit concerned about the texts we do have as the five months worth that we don't. And the ones that we do have evidenced a level of bias that I have never seen before from any law enforcement officer and it is troubling.
And I am imminently more interested in discussing the texts that do exist that theorizing what's in the ones that we don't.
BURNETT: All right. So, let's talk about what we have. First of all, I just want to point out for the record, of course, that special counsel Bob Mueller last summer, when he found out about the text messages, which did indicate bias by senior agent Strzok, he removed him from the team, OK? He removed him immediately upon finding that out.
But let's just share one of them that I know that have talked about as well as you are -- your Republican senatorial colleague, Senator Johnson. This one is from May 19th of last summer, so right after the five month glitch.
And in it, Strzok text page referring to the Russia investigation ostensibly. You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I would be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there is no big there there.
OK. Assumption being made they are talking about his willingness to join the Russian investigation. But my question to you is, congressman, doesn't this show you whatever his personal political believes is, what he's saying there, I thought it was likely I would be there no question, but didn't have a bias against Trump on Russia. He's saying there is no big there there. I don't think there is anything there.
GOWDY: You know what, Erin, respectfully, it tells me the exact opposite, because just above that text is a conversation about impeachment. And every single FBI agent I know would look at what Bob Mueller is doing right now in saying, you are performing a national service from a counterintelligence standpoint and from a criminal standpoint. It's not just how many pellets you can tack up again the wall in terms of guilty please and convictions. Bob Mueller is also doing a counterintelligence investigation about a foreign adversary that attacked our country in 2016.
And if that doesn't get a FBI excited enough to participate in an investigation, that's heartbreaking. So, I read that text exactly differently. If it's not going to result in a conviction against the president of the United States, I'm not interested in participating. I don't know another bureau agent that would take that approach.
BURNETT: All right. But I'm making the point he obviously didn't think there was a there there. So he didn't go into the Russian investigation, which he then subsequently joined before Mueller removed him. He didn't go into it thinking the president was guilty. He went into it thinking the opposite.
So as much as the guy you are pointing out hates the president, he didn't see any there there. He wasn't going in thinking he was going to find anything.
GOWDY: Well, the only thing I would say in response to that, Erin, is the morning after the election, they are discussing impeachment. So if they are open-minded, objective, facts-centric FBI agent, what are they doing discussing impeachment when the ink isn't dry on the ballot confirmation yet?
This is the morning after and they are talking about impeachment. So, look, I have a lot of respect for you. You're going to have a hard time convincing me that Peter Strzok should have been on this investigation.
BURNETT: OK. So let me ask you, by the way I'm pointing to because I need to for the record that Bob Mueller did remove him when he found out about the texts.
GOWDY: He did. Kudos to Bob.
BURNETT: Just to make sure everyone knows. He didn't stay on this investigation for some period of time after it was discovered.
GOWDY: You never heard me criticize Bob Mueller.
BURNETT: And you have said that you have seen the texts which exist, ones we know about personally, one that was sent the day after the election which you are referring to impeachment.
[19:45:03] But one of the ones you talked about, you quoted it as saying, quote, perhaps this is the first meeting of the secret society.
You didn't give any context, OK? What was the context? Did they elaborate? What are we talking about secret society? GOWDY: It's right after they were lamenting the fact Trump won North
Carolina and that he won Florida. And they're really disappointed in the way the election turned out. And then about an inch down from that is a conversation about perhaps this is -- should be the first meeting of the secret society.
And then about two texts down, they say let's talk about it with Andy. I don't know if that's Andy McCabe and I'm not going to allege that it is. But it's eerily similar to that what they said about the insurance politics.
BURNETT: By saying it right now, you are kind of are, you're throwing it out into the ether. I mean --
GOWDY: Well, Andy McCabe is mentioned throughout their text. I don't know if there is another Andy. So, I don't know if there is or not. So, I'm not going to malign McCabe. I actually asked him about the insurance policy text and he denied it. I take him at his word.
But take him out of it. Here are two bureau agents talking about secret society. I don't have any -- I don't have a clue what they are talking about. I don't know whether one existed but you know what, Erin, it's not my responsibility to prove that. They are the ones who used the phrase. They are the ones that should explain it.
I can't tell what you they meant. I can only tell you what they said. And talking about a secret society right after they were talking about how depressed they were that Donald Trump won.
BURNETT: All right. Let me ask you one question before we go here, since we're out of time. This is important.
The president saying he doesn't recall whether he asked Andrew McCabe who he voted for. Just to put the facts out there, we have confirmed Andy McCabe did not vote in the general election, and in the primary, he voted in the Republican primary in Virginia, Chairman. But obviously the report is which the White House did not deny, the president asked Andrew McCabe, the FBI director, directly in the Oval Office who he voted for.
Do you think that is appropriate in any way shape, or form for a president to ask that of a deputy FBI director?
GOWDY: I don't think it's appropriate for any one to ask that. Any time there is a curtain involved, that tells me supposed to be private. There is a curtain at the voting booth I vote in. No one should ever ask anyone else who they voted for.
I don't want to ask my wife whether she voted for me in part because I'm not sure what the answer is and I'm not sure I want to hear it. But it's none of my business who my kids vote for, who my wife votes for. I never asked a cop in my entire life, are you a Republican or a Democrat? It doesn't come up in the law enforcement context.
So, I hope Mr. McCabe was not asked that question and I hope he didn't answer it, because it's nobody's business. BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Chairman Gowdy. I
appreciate your time. Good to have you back.
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next breaking news, the president heading to Davos in just moments. Is he flying into a trade war?
And the religious right making excuses for Donald Trump amid the Stormy Daniels scandal. Jerry Falwell Jr. is my guest.
[19:50:30] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump will be leaving in the next few moments. He will be going to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.
Here's what he had to say about his trip during that surprised Q&A moments ago with reporters. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The economy is doing very well. I'm going to Davos to get them to bring back a lot of money. They're going to invest a lot of money in this country. I made the statement that if we didn't do the regulation cutting, which I think is actually maybe more important than even the tax cuts, but the regulations, I think, it would have a much different situation. But our people are very happy especially with our 401(k)s.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, and Stephen Moore, former senior economic advisor to the Trump campaign and informal advisor to the White House on tax policy.
Steven, Davos is not a society the president has wanted to be a part of, nor is it a society that has wanted him to be a part of it ever before and now here he is going over there with a whole bunch of global elites that frankly probably despise him, what kind of welcome is he going to get?
STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER, 2016 TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, you know, it's interesting, Erin, because last year, I went to Davos for the first time. I was invited as a kind of representative of the Trump administration, and I showed up. And I'll tell you there were two things that nobody at Davos likes: they didn't like Donald Trump and they didn't like Brexit. So, it had been a bad year for them.
And even -- I mean, some people would come up to me and say that you know Donald Trump was Adolf Hitler. And now, I think Trump when Trump first announced he was going to go I thought it was a bad idea. As you said, these are people who don't like him very much and they certainly are against his agenda. But the more I think of it, I think it's a good idea he is going to
take a victory lap here and say, look at what's going to happen -- look what's happen to the economy. Look at this, you know, incredible job market all the companies coming back to the United States and the jobs, and he will lecture these people to do what the United States is doing to deregulate, to cut your taxes to be pro-business.
And one last thing, you know, he talks about putting America first. It's not America only, but this, you know, putting your own country's economy first and Trump has done that and I think it's a lesson a lot of these other leaders should learn.
BURNETT: You know, he never adds that that nuance, not inclusive nuance, it's not America only. You do, he doesn't.
Robert, to this point, a year ago, he was their representative the Trump administration. He's saying some people were saying at that point Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler. He's back. He's going to come visit those same people this year and you heard the president, he said he's going to get them to invest in the United States.
Can the world change that quickly? Will they do it and he be proven right?
ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Erin, look, this whole thing, this entire trip, this is not about convincing any of the global leaders at Davos about anything, or as Steven Moore says, make them pro-business. I mean, they're already pro-business. I mean, Donald Trump is doing this for the folks back home, he's doing it for his base back home, he's doing it for people -- working class people in America, he wants to appear as the populist hero the working-class American hero and that is the reason he is there.
The big fraud however is that Donald Trump is a global business leader, Donald Trump has staffed his entire White House with Wall Streeters. He has put lobbyists into every major position in his departments and he has also passed the biggest tax cut for corporations in American history. So, he is not a populist. He is not a working-class populist and this entire thing is just for show.
BURNETT: So, is what he's very good at.
MOORE: Robert, we're almost up to 3 million workers -- we're almost up to 3 million workers now who have gotten bonuses, pay raises, increases in their benefits. You know, it's hard to say today that this is a tax cut for corporations.
REICH: Wait a minute, that there is all the real money from that is going to be saved from the tax cut is going into corporate buybacks, buybacks of shares of stock. Every analyst on Wall Street, everybody else knows this. It's the biggest a kind of unkept secret in corporate America, all of the businesses about bonuses, bonuses for workers, that is completely -- that's another for show. BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And as we said the president boarding that plane going to be taking off in the next few minutes. Thanks to you both.
And more breaking news this hour, Stormy Daniels speaking out. The porn stars sitting down for an interview with "Inside Edition", amid reports of an alleged 2006 affair with Donald Trump, as well as allegations of a payoff just before the election to be quiet about it.
In a clip of the interview, she talks about the attention she's been receiving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever think that you'd be able to turn on CNN or Fox News or MSNBC and your name and the president's name together in the same sentence over and over and over?
STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: No.
Does anyone? No one ever looked twice at me before. Now, suddenly, everyone's looking at me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Jerry Falwell Jr. He's the president of Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world and has been a long and staunch Trump supporter.
Jerry, good to have you with me. Glad to have you back.
JERRY FALWELL, JR., PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Good to be here, Erin.
BURNETT: You know, Stormy Daniels obviously doing an interview now. She confirmed this alleged affair to "In Touch" magazine, all the way back in 2011, in which she spoke in great detail, including details about members of the president's inner circle, that it would be hard to imagine anyway --
FALWELL: And this year in Canada, completely, 2011, she denied it happen. She denied it again 2016, 2018, so did the president. And I believe both of them.
BURNETT: OK. She -- just to be clear, at the time, she took a polygraph test and she passed it. So --
FALWELL: OK. So, I don't know, I couldn't -- polygraph tests are bad. No, she denied it happen three times in three different years, so did the president.
And I think what the press misunderstands about evangelicals so often is that our whole faith is based -- and I'm not a pastor, I'm an attorney, I was a commercial real estate development before I became a college president. BURNETT: Right.
FALWELL: But what they don't understand about evangelicals is our whole faith is based on the theology of forgiveness, on the fact that we -- I mean, we believe Jesus taught also that all of us are sinners, we all sin every day. And that's why evangelicals supported Trump so strongly because that's their theology and he supported the policies that they thought were important protecting the borders, cutting taxes, all the -- appointing the Supreme Court justice justices that are strict constructionist, all those things. Just like the average men and women.
And so, I just don't think it's fair just to look at evangelicals as a bunch of judgmental more or less, when Jesus said, judge not, lest you be judged.
BURNETT: I understand that. You know, you don't want to be seen as judgmental. But I think what confuses me and many others is, you say you're about forgiveness but when someone has more than a dozen women who've accused them -- accuse him of assault unwanted touching, he's admitted to it on tape, even putting aside this porn star which would have been a consensual affair if it happened, everyone keeps saying forgive.
And my question to you is how many times -- I mean, if you stand for the issue of, well, familial fidelity and integrity --
FALWELL: All these things --
BURNETT: -- how many times does it take before you say this is a person who lacks character?
FALWELL: All these things were years ago, he apologized, he's -- it's not, those things that I hear about from years ago --
BURNETT: He's not apologized.
FALWELL: -- even if they happen, he --
BURNETT: He apologized for the tape.
FALWELL: Right, that's what I'm talking about. But he's not -- he's not the same person now that he was back then. I believe he's changed. And Jesus said that if you lust after a woman in your heart, it's the same as committing adultery, it's -- you just as bad as a person who has and that's why our whole faith is based around the idea that we're all equally bad, we're all sinners, we all need Christ forgiveness, and that's why evangelicals are so quick to forgive Donald Trump when he asked for forgiveness for things that happened 10, 15 years ago.
BURNETT: So, you think all manners as bad have done as many bad things as Donald Trump.
FALWELL: I think Jesus said that it's all the same, it's all -- it's all -- they all have the same hearts if and he taught that he said let him who is without sin cast the first stone, he forgave the thief on the cross, he forgave the adulterers, he did not forgive the establishment elites. Those were the ones that he said we're a generation of vipers, hypocrites and they were the ones that he came down hardest on the religious elite of his day.
And I think that's where we need to understand -- evangelicals, if they're anything, they're anti-establishment. That's why the Protestant Reformation, they split off the Catholic Church.
FALWELL: That's why they left Europe to come to the United States.
BURNETT: I guess --
FALWELL: That's why they fought the Revolutionary War.
BURNETT: I understand, but I guess I'm surprised. I would think if you say evangelicals or anything, it wouldn't be anti-establishment. It would be for goodness and kindliness among people. He was for morality and character.
BURNETT: I just want to pick them closer to you, Jerry, the RNC -- former RNC chairman Michael Steele, before we go. He says, I have a very simple admonition to evangelical leaders like yourself, just shut the hell up and don't preach to me about anything ever again.
FALWELL: The left wants to impose their morality on everyone else. Jesus said, I'm here to help the poor --
BURNETT: He's a Republican.
FALWELL: No, no, the poor -- the left wants to impose their morality by take putting in government officials who take money from their neighbors and give it to the poor, instead of doing it themselves like Jesus taught. That's what the left in Christianity is all about.
BURNETT: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time. Jerry, good of you back.
Show's over. Anderson's next.