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Horowitz to Meet with Democrats; Ryan Comments on Memo; Putin- Linked Elite List Unveiled; Hero Officer to Sit with First Lady. Aired 9:30-10:00a

Aired January 30, 2018 - 09:30   ET



[09:34:12] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, a very intriguing possible meeting between the Justice Department inspector general, Michael Horowitz, and Democrats on the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Horowitz has been investigating -- he's been investigating what went on during the 2016 election, both in the Hillary Clinton e- mail investigation and the early stages of the Russia investigation.

CNN has learned that FBI Director Christopher Wray hinted to staff in a memo that the investigation played a role in Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's sudden departure.

Joining me now is Congressman Ted Deutch. He's a Democrat from Florida who is on the House Judiciary Committee.

Greetings, congressman. Thanks so much for being with us.

REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Good morning.

BERMAN: We're -- we -- there's a little bit of confusion about whether in fact Democrats will or will not meet with the inspector general today. Is this meeting going to happen?

DEUTCH: Well, there is going to be a meeting with the inspector general because the inspector general wanted to have it when he learned that the first meeting was a Republican only meeting.

[09:35:05] But, John, that just shouldn't be surprising because it's consistent with the way this entire effort has gone on the part of Republicans in the House to distract and attack our institutions and sew discord. That's what we've seen.

And, yesterday, John, there's this new approach where they've decided that they're going to selectively release intelligence. That's the kind of thing that the Russians do. And here it came on the same day that we decided not -- the president decided not to impose sanctions on Russia. And in the midst of the investigation into Russia's attack on our elections. It's very, very troubling.

BERMAN: All right, you just said a whole lot right there all at once. Let's try to piece it together just a little bit.


BERMAN: First on the meeting with the inspector general. Christopher Wray, the FBI director, and I don't believe you're counting the FBI director in that partisan bucket that you just included right there.

DEUTCH: Of course not (ph).

BERMAN: The FBI director hinted to his staff that the inspector general's report may be a reason why he may have applied pressure to have Andy McCabe leave. Do you have any information about what's in that report? Do you have any information that McCabe may have acted in a way that was improper during the investigations in 2016?

DEUTCH: No, I don't. I don't have any information. And certainly we're looking forward to having the meeting with the inspector general. It's an important meeting to have. We've spent, however, the entire day today -- if you think about the distraction here -- we've spent this entire day talking about the decision of the Republicans on the Intel Committee to selectively release this classified information when we were talking about the fact that the president of the United States ordered the special counsel to be fired back in June. I think that my Republican colleagues ought to be worried about that. We should all be worried about that and the potential constitutional crisis that it could lead to.

BERMAN: We did talk about the fact that the president -- and our reporting is the same -- he wanted the special counsel fired. It did not happen. The special counsel was not fired. So the crisis you're talking about did not happen. And he says now he has no intention of firing the special prosecutor. I understand your argument, though.

On the memo, have you read the Republican memo?

DEUTCH: I haven't -- I haven't read the memo. The Republicans authorized members last night to be able to review it. But we've all been talking about the memo. We know that this is the selective -- the decision to selectively disclose classified information without the benefit of the Democratic analysis.

BERMAN: Oh, I understand. I --

DEUTCH: And that's what we'd like to see and the American people should see.

BERMAN: And it's not -- OK, so -- OK, so if they say, the Democratic analysis, if a deal were reached where they said, hey, let's release the Democratic analysis at the same time, would you be OK with that?

DEUTCH: I think that what we ought to do, and this is what's so troubling about this, John, is, we ought to pay heed to law enforcement and the FBI. And when the Department of Justice expresses grave concern and the FBI asks for the ability to review this memo because their fear of possibly releasing sources and methods, I'm not -- there's no explanation about the rush to disclose this, other than an attempt to distract and for purely partisan political gain. The Republicans on that committee should be worried, first and

foremost, about protecting the investigation into Russia's attack on America. And, instead, their focus is to protect the president with the support of the Russian bots to go ahead and publicize it.

BERMAN: A couple things. A couple of things. Number one, Christopher Wray, the FBI director, ultimately did look at the memo. He has looked at the memo. The Democratic chair of the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, says that Christopher Wray then wanted to talk to the whole committee. That was not permitted according to Adam Schiff.

And I just also want to make clear, the scenario that I offered, the Democratic memo released at the same time, apparently isn't happening. The republicans don't want that to come out.

But just to make the Republican case here, they say, you know, sure, they care about the Russia investigation, but in their view this memo raises questions about whether that investigation was fair at the beginning.

DEUTCH: Well, let's take a -- take a moment when you -- when you suggest that perhaps this investigation isn't fair. Are they alleging that it's unfair that the highest levels of the Trump campaign and Trump's former national security adviser have all been either indicted or have taken guilty pleas? Are -- is that unfair? Are they suggesting it's unfair to have uncovered this meeting at Trump Tower between the president's son, Jared Kushner, and agents of the Russian military? I mean, please.

The real issue here is not to call into question the fairness. It's to look at the facts and to protect the special counsel so that he can continue and follow this through to wherever it takes him.

BERMAN: Congressman, we have some breaking news here. We have Speaker Ryan weighing in now on all of this. And I'm going to read you from our reporting that's just in from Dana Bash, Jake Tapper, Jim Acosta and Phil Mattingly. Speaker Ryan was meeting with reporters. He is in favor of the public release of the Nunes memo. I don't think that's news because without Ryan's support from the beginning, this would never be public.

[09:40:15] But he's telling House Republicans there needs to be a separation between the allegations in the memo and then the special counsel investigation in itself. He goes, I think because all of the loose political rhetoric floating around here, we need to make sure that we explain that there's a separation between these things. And then asks if he was delivering that message to his conference, some of whom have pointed to the memo as a reason to disband the probe altogether, Ryan answered, yes. He's saying release it but separate it from trying to discredit the special counsel's investigation. Is that possible?

DEUTCH: I don't know, John. I don't know what the speaker said at -- over the past week or so. I don't know if the speaker commented on the president's efforts to fire Mueller. But instead of trying to please the conspiracy theorists who have suggested, among other things, that there a coup d'etat being waged from within the Justice Department, what the speaker of the House should do is to stand up and say, it is imperative that we protect this investigation, that we allow the special counsel to continue to do his work until the end, until we have all of the facts. And he should remind his members and the American people that really what this is about is ultimately the Russian attack on our elections and demanding accountability. It doesn't sound like, from that quote, that he did any of those things.

BERMAN: It is not in the version of the reporting we have. And he also said that there's no need to wait for the Democrats to release their version of the memo.

Congressman Ted Deutch, I do want to note that tonight for the State of the Union you are bringing with you Christine Levinson, the wife of Bob Levinson, who has been a hostage in Iran since -- 11 years ago. And I know you're working in bipartisan form to try to get him released. So we all appreciate your efforts there.

DEUTCH: John, thanks. And at the moment, when there's so much partisanship, when an American is being held, we all have to come together. That's why Christine is coming tonight, to remind us that he's still missing. When he's not home, it's something that we should all feel personally.

BERMAN: Right.

DEUTCH: But thank you for bringing that up.

BERMAN: Congressman Ted Deutch, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

DEUTCH: Thank you.

BERMAN: The Trump administration holding off on new Russia sanctions, but it did release a so-called Putin list. And that has triggered a warning from the Russian president himself. We're live in Moscow, next.


[09:46:38] BERMAN: President Trump blindsiding critics and lawmakers by deciding not to impose new sanctions on Russia. The administration says a law passed last year to punish Russia for election meddling is already doing the job and no sanctions -- no more are necessary. But as required by that same law, the White House has released at the last minute a sweeping list of oligarchs and top Russian politicians linked to Vladimir Putin. And now the Russian leader is speaking out.

Our senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen live in Moscow this morning.

And the Russian leader doesn't like this one bit, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, he doesn't like this one bit. And a lot of other senior Russian officials also don't like this either, which seems a bit strange, John, because this bill doesn't actually put in place any new sanctions, or this list, so why would they be so angry? Well, it appears as though a lot of oligarchs especially who are on this list, some 96 of them, they fear that simply by being on a U.S. government list, that they could have trouble banking internationally, doing business internationally and that they could potentially be sanctioned in the future. And that's why you have these big reactions.

Of course, first and foremost, from Vladimir Putin. He went on an event earlier today and he said, I'm going to quote him here, what's the point of this? He's talking about this list. I don't understand. But this, of course, an unfriendly act. It complicates already complicated Russia-U.S. relations and harms international relations in general. He also said -- one of the things that the Russians try to do is they'll criticize U.S. policy but sort of try to take President Trump out of it. He says that the point of this list, he believes, Putin believes, is to try and damage President Trump and his efforts to make Russia-U.S. relations better in the future.

However, the Russian leader also said, John, that there would be no reaction from Moscow, no tit for tat retaliation. Nevertheless, I can tell you from having monitored this on the ground over the past couple of days, there are a lot of very rich Russians who are quite concerned about this list, John.

BERMAN: All right, Frederik Pleitgen from your new post, great to have you. Thanks so much, Fred.

It's a story you first saw on CNN and its impact reached all the way to the White House. Tonight, a police officer who gave a child and her mother a second chance heads to the State of the Union.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a message you'd want people to take away from your story?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is redeemable.



[09:53:17] BERMAN: Tonight, Ryan Holets will attend the State of the Union Address. One of 15 special guests invited by Melania Trump. The Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officer, he has been hailed as a hero and appropriately so after adopting a baby born to a homeless heroin addict. It's a story CNN brought you last year. While on patrol, Holets body camera was rolling when he encountered the woman in the process of shooting up.


OFFICER RYAN HOLETS: How far along are you?


HOLETS: Oh, my gosh. Why are you going to be doing that stuff? It's going to ruin your baby. You're going to kill your baby.


BERMAN: Our Ed Lavandera is here.

And, Ed, you covered this story from the beginning. It's just an amazing story of compassion.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unbelievable. And that's one of the messages that Ryan Holets hopes to kind of use this platform of this day to kind of express to people just the conflict and the torment that many of these people are going through. Just to kind of recap the story, as you mentioned there, Ryan Holets, in that situation, came across Crystal Champ. And, in that moment, offered to adopt the baby without really having the initial conversation with his wife. The baby is doing well, as you see there in the video. They've arrived. Rebecca Holets will be at the State of the Union as well.

Ryan Holets described this entire episode. I told him jokingly when we met a couple of months ago that, you know, maybe people will see this story, you'll get on -- you'll get invited to Ellen's show, right? He didn't quite expect that he'd be on this stage and he's described it as kind of entering the twilight zone.


CRYSTAL CHAMP, RECOVERING HEROIN ADDICT: I don't know where he came from, but I'm really happy. I'm really happy he's here. And I couldn't have like prayed for a better situation. He basically adopted us too.

OFFICER RYAN HOLETS, ALBUQUERQUE POLICE: Everybody is redeemable. Tom and Crystal had value. Hope had value. And by following that, look where it's led. It's led to wonderful things happening.


[09:55:13] LAVANDERA: So that was Crystal Champ that you heard from. That's the birth mother. Ryan Holets always said it wasn't enough just to adopt this baby, that he wanted to get help for the birth parents. Crystal Champ and her partner Tom Key (ph). They are -- because of the first story we did, there was a Florida treatment facility that reached out to us and helped offer them the opportunity to go into rehab. And that's where they are now. After a couple of attempts that failed, they are there. They've been there for a little bit more than a month and Ryan Holets talks to them every day. And he hopes that this is the initial steps of the long road to sobriety. So we'll see where it goes.

BERMAN: What an unbelievable story of compassion. And while they won't be up there in the gallery, I know that everyone associated with this --

LAVANDERA: Well, they will be. They will be.

BERMAN: Crystal?

LAVANDERA: No, no, no, I'm sorry, Crystal --

BERMAN: Crystal, yes.

LAVANDERA: The birth parents, no. But Ryan Holets and his wife, yes, yes.

BERMAN: I guess what I'm saying is, Crystal, the birth parents, everyone -- you know, everyone that's a part of this will be there I think symbolically and feel, you know, the importance of what's going on here.

Ed, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

All right, just minutes from now, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, will speak. And this amid the breaking news that he wants to release the controversial House Intelligence memo, but somehow keep it separate from the Mueller investigation.