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AT THIS HOUR
House Intelligence Committee Could Vote Today To Release Nunes Memo; Trump Turns Frustration Towards Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein; Ex-Clinton Campaign Chief Addresses Harassment Scandal. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired January 29, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: AT THIS HOUR" starts now.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan.
It is a controversial four-page memo that has put President Trump on the opposite page of his own Justice Department. The House Intel Committee could vote today to release a memo spearheaded by Committee Chairman Devin Nunes claiming the FBI abused the surveillance law as it sought a warrant for former Trump Campaign Foreign Policy Adviser Carter Page.
Democrats say the memo is just an effort to undermine the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Nunes having served on the Trump transition team.
Now, while some Republicans say the memo shows the FBI is biased against President Trump and they want to see -- they want the public to see that, so does the president. The Justice Department does not.
CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill with more on this. Manu, is there a sense that Republicans are going to actually vote today to release this memo?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: It is a very likely possibility that there could be a vote as soon as tonight. The Republican Chairman Devin Nunes is not saying one way or another what will happen. Keeping members of his own committee and aides guessing about exactly what will happen.
In fact, he just ran into our colleague, Deirdre Walsh, in the capital who asked whether or not there would be a vote tonight and his quote was this, "I don't talk about committee business."
So, really keeping members guessing ahead of a key meeting tonight at 5:00 p.m. Now, Brianna, this comes as there is a sharp divide between House Republicans and Senate Republicans about whether or not to release this memo.
A number of senate Republicans urging caution, siding with the Justice Department, saying this should not be released quote yet at least until the Justice Department is reviewing the matter. But the House Republicans on the other hand are pushing forward. There is a lot of support within the Republican conference on the House side to move forward and release this memo. The Speaker Paul Ryan, his office, in fact, is making it very clear, they also are supporting whatever Devin Nunes ultimately decides to do.
A spokesperson for the -- for Ryan's office just told me moments ago that they're deferring to Nunes about this, not the first time they deferred to Nunes in his ongoing dispute with the Justice Department.
So, Brianna, a lot of questions ahead of this key meeting tonight about whether or not there will be a vote, but if there is one, very likely there will be enough support to send it over to the White House, which ultimately makes the decision about whether to object to its release or allow its release. We know that the president himself is inclined to allow it to be released -- Brianna.
KEILAR: There is -- you mentioned the divide between Democrats and Republicans, there is another divide between Republicans within the party, right? And this has to do on the heels of learning last week that the president had wanted to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Tell us about this divide.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. There are two bills in the Senate aimed to protect the special counsel from interference from political pressure within the White House. Those bills deal with it in slightly different manners.
There is growing push among some Democrats and some Republicans on the Senate side to see this legislation through and to resolve those differences, even the Judiciary Committee chairman on the Senate side, Chuck Grassley, told me last week, he's open to considering if those two measures are reconciled.
Well, on the House side, different story, some resistance, including from some top Republicans about moving forward on this, shows the difficulty ahead. Here's what some Republicans had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It probably wouldn't hurt for us to pass one of those bills.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think my job among others is to give him the space to do it. I intend to do that. I have legislation protecting Mr. Mueller and I'll be glad to pass it tomorrow.
REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't think there is a need for legislation right now to protect Mueller. Right now, there is not an issue so why create one when there isn't a place for it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And the other question, Brianna, where does the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stand on this? Before he's thrown cold water on this legislation, we have not heard from him since the reports last week of Mueller, the president seeking to fire -- wanting to fire Mueller last June. We'll see what he has to say this week when he's asked about this legislation now going forward -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Manu Raju for us on the Hill, thank you.
We're also learning that President Trump might be itching to fire the man who oversees Mueller, that would be deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. I want to go to CNN's Kaitlan Collins live at the White House. Kaitlan, what are you hearing?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Let me give you the state of play here, Brianna, because this memo according to new "New York Times" reporting specifically names the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the person who signed off on the extension of surveillance for that former Trump campaign aide and foreign policy adviser, Carter Page.
Now, this is noteworthy because Rosenstein is also overseeing the Russia investigation after the Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself. Now, critics say if this memo is released, that Republicans are using it specifically to undermine the investigation as a whole.
[11:05:04] That is why they say some Democrats say the Republicans should not advocate for its release. As far as over at the White House, no one here at the White House has seen this memo, not even the president himself, according to some White House officials.
But we are told by sources that the president would be OK with the releasing this memo if it is declassified. Another twist to this is the president's attitude towards Rosenstein in recent weeks.
Not only because he's trained his ire on him, saying he should be fired, we should let this guy go, he thinks of him as another government official who is out to get him. We have to point out here that Rosenstein was nominated by the president last spring to be the deputy attorney general and he's a life-long Republican.
So, there are multiple twists, multiple caveats here as far as the release of this memo. But right now, our sources are telling us the president is advocating for the release of it.
KEILAR: All right. Kaitlan, thank you so much for that.
Now one congressman who wants to see the Nunes memo released is Republican Rodney Davis of Illinois. He has tweeted, "I read the classified memo related to the DOJ, FBI, and FISA, and possible Russian collusion in the 2016 elections. I was disturbed by its content and it should be released to the public. I signed a litter with 63 of my colleagues to the chairman, Nunes, calling to #releasethemo."
Congressman Davis is joining me now from Capitol Hill. Sir, thank you so much for being with us.
REPRESENTATIVE RODNEY DAVIS (R), ILLINOIS: Thanks for having me on, Brianna.
KEILAR: Why do you want to see this released?
DAVIS: I'm always for more transparency in government. Let's let the American people decide what should and should not be done with the memo, and let's give them a chance to see it. I saw it. I signed a nondisclosure act, agreement, so I can't discuss what was in the memo, but I can tell you the American people need to see it and need to know what is.
KEILAR: The top Democrat on the Intel Committee, who has been able to see the memo and also the underlying intelligence, he said the report is profoundly misleading. Then the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, said this about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Suffice it to say, the document is extremely misleading as compared to the underlying documents and very dangerous for the Republicans here to say, oh, we have got this document that is terrible, but we can't tell you what's behind it, can't show you the evidence, because that's secret. If you only knew what we knew, you would know things were terrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Have you read the -- I see you shaking your head there. Have you read the four-page memo as well as the underlying intelligence that backs it up, like -- you're saying you are in -- you want full transparency? Democrats are making the case that's full transparency. Have you read the underlying intelligence or just the four-page memo?
DAVIS: Well, the only thing we're offered to read is the four-page memo and I would urge you to ask Chairman Schiff and Chairman Nadler, how many of their -- how many of our Democratic colleagues have taken the time to go over in top secret setting, sign a nondisclosure agreement and read that four-page memo.
Because I think it would be pretty telling if they're interested in putting this information out, or actually stopping it from getting out to the American public. And, remember, Leader Gowdy, Chairman Gowdy, said this weekend, this memo is a compilation of thousands of pages submitted by the DOJ.
Again, I can't get into what is in that memo, but that's why I want you to see it. I want your viewers to see it. I want Chairman Nadler and Chairman Schiff to stop stopping us from doing that.
KEILAR: But if this is a memo that is extrapolated from the intelligence that you're talking about, I mean, you can see how full transparency would be to release more than the full-page memo and also the complications of releasing all of that classified information.
DAVIS: Brianna, I'm for more transparency. Let's start with the four pages. Let's stop Chairman Nadler and Chairman Schiff from stopping these four pages from being released, and then let's talk about releasing more.
There is a process you have to go through and frankly what disturbs me is that some of the discussion of what may or may not be in that memo. There's a limited amount of people that have seen that memo within the House of Representatives and the nondisclosure agreement I signed, I believe it is a felony to release that information without going through this process.
And this process was put in place by previous administrations to protect the American people, to protect government officials and to have a better process in place for releasing top secret information rather than through media links.
KEILAR: Why are you comfortable releasing the four-page memo if you haven't seen the underlying intelligence that the memo purports to be based on?
DAVIS: Again, the DOJ has been submitting thousands upon thousands of pages of intelligence and details to the department -- to the Judiciary Committee, to the Intelligence Committee, to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
I think all of us would want to see something that was compiled from those documents. But, again, Chairman Schiff and Chairman Nadler want to create a distraction and this is taking us away from some of the good things that are happening right now.
[11:10:08] Historic low unemployment, we are seeing 4 percent sustained growth, economic activity in this country, more money going into the pockets of so many families.
KEILAR: I hear what you are saying. I do want to zero in on this memo. That's why we wanted to talk to you today. The FBI, the DOJ, they have not seen this classified memo. The DOJ says -- the Trump Justice Department says it would be reckless to release it. Should they get a chance to see it?
DAVIS: If you told me they haven't seen it, how would they determine whether or not it would be reckless?
KEILAR: Then so they would know, right? You said they have sent in the information, so they're aware of what it could be from, although, you're saying it is based on thousands of documents. So, presumably they could know what it would be, but they don't actually know unless they see it. So, my question is, should they be able to see it?
DAVIS: Absolutely they should, which is why -- which is why I hope there is a vote today in the Intelligence Committee to release it to not only the DOJ, let's release it to the American people.
KEILAR: You know what I'm asking, Congressman. Should they be having a chance to see it before it is released wide? Because if they're saying it is reckless to release it, it can be reckless to release it broadly, shouldn't they have a chance to see so they can access it? I mean, isn't that what they do? DAVIS: Certainly, my judgment after seeing the memo is that it is not reckless to lease it to every single American including them. That's what I'm for.
KEILAR: OK. The Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he's supposed to oversee all things Russia since Jeff Sessions recused himself from these issues. He, according to the "New York Times," is in the crosshairs in this memo that you want released. I know you cannot comment on exactly what is in the memo, I wonder, though, do you have concerns that Rosenstein has abused his power?
DAVIS: I certainly wish I could discuss what was in the memo, which is why it is important to get it released, but I cannot do that. Anyone who has and signed the same agreement that I did is committing a felony.
And that is wrong, which is what leads to false speculation in many cases to where somehow now there is a distraction that the president wants to fire Rod Rosenstein. These distractions are keeping us from actually moving into some good bipartisan issues.
KEILAR: But not commenting on what's in the memo, do you worry that federal officials have abused their power?
DAVIS: I worry that -- I worry that federal officials always abuse their power, which is why we have to have transparency at all levels. Not only at DOJ, we have to have transparency in the House. I led a reform effort a year and a half ago that actually now every single dollar that is spent by the House of Representatives is searchable and sortable.
That information, that transparency is not in the U.S. Senate, it is not in the executive branch at DOJ, it is frankly not even at the Supreme Court level and it should be. That's why transparency matters rather than distractions that Chairman Nadler and Chairman Schiff are trying to throw out there right now.
KEILAR: Do you think the president needs to address the Russia investigation when he gives his state of the union address tomorrow night?
DAVIS: I think the American people want the president to address bipartisanship. You know, we were talking before I got on the air, Brianna, the last time you and I were together was here at Statuary Hall, and I stand by what I said there that day. We have got to have more bipartisanship.
We have got to have less of these partisan bickering, distractions, that try and stop transparency. Let's let Republicans and Democrats in middle America decide what is best because they get a chance to see it rather than politicians here in Washington, D.C. That's going to lead to more bipartisan solutions and that's what I want the president to address tomorrow night.
KEILAR: I will tell you that did stick with me that day, Congressman Davis, when you said that. That's probably one of the things that stuck with me the most of that incredible day after that softball practice. Thank you so much. It is so great to see you again. Thank you.
DAVIS: Great to see you too, Brianna. Thanks for having me on.
KEILAR: Of course. Coming up, Hillary Clinton under fire for letting a former campaign aide keep his job after he was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young woman. We're going to talk to Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager from that time who actually called for this aide's firing. She's going to join us next.
Plus, President Trump taking aim at Jay-z after he criticized his s- hole countries comment and more. Trump bragging about the black unemployment rate in response. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY-Z, HIP-HOP LEGEND: It's not about money at the end of the day. Money doesn't equate to happiness. It doesn't. That's not -- you're missing the whole point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Hillary Clinton is under fire for protecting a man accused of sexual harassment during her 2008 presidential bid. Clinton's faith and values adviser, Bern Strider, was accused of repeatedly harassing a young woman with whom he shared an office.
The woman complained of inappropriate kisses and suggestive e-mails among other things according to this reporting, and instead of being fired, Strider was sent to counseling. He was told he had to go to counseling. He never actually completed that counseling according to these reports.
And his accuser was moved, she was reassigned. Clinton addressed these reports via Twitter saying that she was, quote, "dismayed when the harassment occurred but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed."
Clinton's then campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle has not spoken publicly about this until now. She is a CNN political commentator. She's joining me for her first live tv interview on this issue. Patti, thank you so much for talking to us about this.
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. Thanks for having me, Brianna.
[11:20:03] KEILAR: You recommended to then-Candidate Clinton, Senator Clinton, that she fire Bern Strider. Tell us about how this information came to you about what had happened, and the case that you made for him to go and ultimately what Clinton decided. DOYLE: Sure. So, a young woman made a complaint to our head of operations about sexual harassment against Bern Strider (inaudible), who is now the CEO of the DNC, against Bern Strider, who she reported to. The incident was brought to my attention and, you know, I did my due diligence.
I interviewed all the parties involved, looked at the evidence, some e-mails he sent, looked at other documents, and came to the conclusion that there was sexual harassment involved, that the young woman was very credible, and my recommendation to the senator was to fire him. And I was overruled.
KEILAR: You weren't the only one who recommended -- who believed this was the right avenue to take?
DOYLE: Correct. Well, you know, there were a few people involved in the investigation, so to speak, but the people involved in it believed he should not be working with our campaign.
KEILAR: So, she overruled you personally?
DOYLE: I was overruled, yes.
KEILAR: What was the reasoning behind not taking your recommendation on that? You know, I really don't want to divulge my private conversations or my private counsel to Hillary Clinton, suffice it to say I believe in a zero-tolerance sexual harassment in the workplace, I believe it now and I believed it then.
But I also want to say, you know, it wasn't an easy call. None of these calls are easy and especially in a presidential campaign, we were just a few months away from voting beginning to start with the caucuses and the primaries, firing a high-profile person on the campaign would have certainly made news and caused a distraction, so it wasn't an easy call.
But, you know, as a campaign manager, when this was brought to my attention, when you run an organization, you really -- your first instinct is to protect people, you know. I wanted to protect my team. I wanted to protect this young woman. I wanted to send a message that this kind of behavior is not OK.
I wanted to make sure that other women and men for that matter could feel comfortable and free to speak up if something were to happen to them, if there were another incident. And it certainly wasn't lost on me that I was the first Hispanic female campaign manager for presidential campaign.
And that I was working for who I thought was going to be the first woman president of the United States, and I didn't want to just be good on this issue. I wanted to be better than anybody else.
KEILAR: To be clear, few weeks later, after the Iowa caucuses, you were pushed out as campaign manager. Ultimately, Strider didn't even go to the counseling that had been a part of his docked pay, pay commensurate with the demotion, has to go to counseling. In the end, he didn't go to counseling.
You didn't have to do with that because you were gone at this point in time. But who made the decision on what, instead of him going, that these things were going to happen. That he was going to have face these consequences of counseling and --
DOYLE: You know, I said we -- I wanted our campaign to be better and I believe we were. There was an "Axios" item today where campaign staffers are being interviewed and they laughed at the idea there was an -- there is an HR process. But in our campaign, you know, I went to the lawyers, we had --
KEILAR: This was lawyers who were looking at --
DOYLE: Lawyers and operations people and me, senior management, we came up with the process, and we did everything I believe but fire him.
KEILAR: OK. I want to ask you about how Hillary Clinton has responded to this because it is something that really sticks out to me. She says, "A story appeared today, about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed."
She doesn't admit that she messed up. She doesn't admit that especially in light of the fact that at the time you were recommending he go. Not like no one was saying he shouldn't go and we're now in an era where people look back and say, duh, he should have gone.
KEILAR: Why doesn't she just look back and say, this was the wrong call?
DOYLE: You know, I don't know. I was disappointed by that tweet, that response. It was a wrong call. I wish she had said it was a wrong call.
[11:25:11] I wish she had said, you know, having to do it over, I would have fired him. I think that's actually true. I believe that she thinks that if I had to do it over again, I would fire him.
KEILAR: But she doesn't say it, right? And the reason I think it seems reasonable that she would think that is because Strider publicly suffers nothing from this incident, right? This is all kept internally.
Then he goes on and ahead of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and I know as a reporter who covered Hillary Clinton for I think it was over a year and a half before she ran, he goes on as the guy in charge of something called correct the record.
This is key because this was essentially the response effort prior to her campaign launching, if you needed information, you went to correct the record as a reporter. They set themselves up as this was the pro Hillary Clinton PAC on messaging and this was a key position.
So, he then goes on, he's in charge of correct the record, and he ends up being fired for workplace issues, according to "Buzzfeed" and "The New York Times," for harassing at least two other women. When you look back on that, does it strike you that allowing him to stay in the campaign gave him a platform to then go on and harass other women?
DOYLE: Yes. I mean, I feel a great deal of regret that I didn't fight harder, didn't push harder for him to be fired. I read the "Buzzfeed" report and what the young woman said, one particular statement of a young woman who said she felt she need to quit because she felt she wasn't strong enough or tough enough to work in politics because she couldn't endure sexual harassment.
And the idea that Bern Strider made her feel like she was the one that something was wrong with, like she was inadequate is just really infuriating. But having said that, Brianna, I want to say this about Hillary. Look, people are complicated, and Hillary is no exception.
And she definitely made a wrong call here. But I worked for her for 17 years and I feel like I know the totality of her as a person, as a politician, as a public servant. And this is a woman who allowed me to put a crib in my office in the White House, and bring my 3-month- old baby to work every day because she knew I was struggling with balancing my early motherhood with a rising career.
This is woman who hires women at the highest levels in her orbit, promotes women, gives them raises, who is dogged in her advocacy for the issues that she cares about, and I believe then and I believe now still that she would have all those characteristics would have made her a great president. Would she have made mistakes? Yes.
KEILAR: Was Bern Strider her faith adviser, faith very important to Hillary Clinton, was he a confidant? What is the blind spot with Bern Strider that she couldn't say, you need to go?
DOYLE: I don't know. I think that's a question for her.
KEILAR: When her husband, Bill Clinton, obviously accuse of sexual misconduct on various occasions, he's pushed back on those occasions, do you think that was a blind spot for her, did that make her more skeptical of how you might accept an accusation or respond fully to an accusation like this?
DOYLE: I've spoken about this before, she loves her husband. There is a real mutual respect and admiration and a lot of love in that marriage. And I think in that instance this was about a wife wanting to keep her marriage together and that --
KEILAR: You don't see a connection with this?
DOYLE: Again, I have seen them both together up close and they love each other and I --
KEILAR: But you don't see a connection with how she relates to that and how this Bern Strider event? You wouldn't extrapolate anything from that, that she has a blind spot on how to adequately deal with some of these issues?
KEILAR: Strider right now is the president of the American Values Network. It is a group that organizes Americans of faith toward progressive causes. Does he need to go?
DOYLE: He does. He needs to go.
KEILAR: Do you think he'll go?
DOYLE: I hope so. If I could do anything to help him go, I'm more than happy to do that.
KEILAR: Do you think looking at how he responded to these reports "Buzzfeed" report, great report by Ruby Cramer, great report in "The New York Times," do you think looking specially because he did speak to Ruby in that report --
KEILAR: Do you think he gets it?
DOYLE: No, not at all.