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Lawmakers Involved in Train Crash; Interview With Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon; Another Republican Congressman Not Running for Reelection; FBI Opposes Trump Over Republican Memo. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired January 31, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Let's get to the breaking news. The FBI has released this rare public statement, saying that it has -- quote -- "grave concerns" about the accuracy of this memo that alleges FBI misconduct.
We're now learning a second group of officials from the Department of Justice and the FBI, they went over to the White House Monday night. And they went because they wanted to urge the president to keep it classified.
The first group, which included FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who we were just talking about here, they made their case to the White House chief of staff Monday.
However, after those meetings, the president was overheard saying this at his State of the Union speech. Listen closely because it's pretty quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's release the memo.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't worry, 100 percent. Can you imagine it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: One hundred percent. You heard that.
Devlin Barrett heard that. He covers national security for "The Washington Post."
Devlin, thank you so much for joining me.
Reading your reporting today, adding to it this real concern, both privately at the White House and now this public statement from the FBI, what do you make of this? What are your sources telling you?
DEVLIN BARRETT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, basically, this disagreement that was private as of -- was semi-private, I guess I should say, as of two days ago, is now fully out in the open.
And you have the amazing situation of the FBI publicly at odds with the White House, with the Trump administration over an issue of national security.
I mean, that's pretty unusual. And that's why this is a fairly intense time for the Justice Department and the FBI.
BALDWIN: In your reporting, when you're talking about this last-ditch effort on behalf of Wray and Rosenstein, you had written that Rosenstein was the one who did most of the talking. What are his deepest concerns if this memo went public?
BARRETT: Well, the first order of concern is that it would reveal some classified information and that could make future collection of classified information more difficult.
The other issue -- and this is the one that the FBI statement today really speaks to -- is this idea that by putting out certain facts, but not others, the FBI says it creates a misleading and incorrect impression. And they say they have grave concerns about that.
You know, there's a trick here for the folks who don't want this information out there. And that's that they're not going to be able to rebut the release of classified information with the release of other classified information.
So, within law enforcement, they feel a little handcuffed if this memo comes out, and they can't say things, certain things, because those things are classified.
BALDWIN: And this is all happening as the future of Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee, let's remind everyone, is being called into question.
You have now got a situation where the Justice Department and Rod Rosenstein in particular are essentially on record opposing something that Trump, in his own words, says he 100 percent wants to do.
There's not a ton of Trump appointees who survive, by my count, in open opposition to the president. Obviously, people are very concerned about Rosenstein's position in the Justice Department and what any change in his situation could mean for the ongoing Russia investigation.
BALDWIN: All right, Devlin Barrett, "Washington Post" thank you so much for coming on and setting this hour up.
Let's now analyze all of this.
I have CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
Jeffrey Toobin, just to you first. Despite these FBI warnings, as we were talking about, semi-private meeting, public statement, it seems that the president has made up his mind to get this memo out there without even seeing it first.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That certainly seems like where things are headed.
And the question is, how many law enforcement officials may go out the door with this memo? Will Chris Wray, the new FBI director, quit in protest? Will he be fired? Will Rod Rosenstein quit in protest? Will he be fired?
Given how the Republican base has become fixated and obsessed with this memo, even to the point where they have not let the Democratic response be released, I just don't see any way that this memo is not being released, regardless of what the law enforcement community wants.
BALDWIN: Right. That's when it would actually make news, if the president decides not to release it.
Gloria, you have this Rosenstein-Wray last-ditch effort Monday night over at the White House talking to General Kelly, which was a semi- private meeting, but now doubling down, the FBI putting out this public statement, again, expressing these grave concerns, which puts Chris Wray directly at odds with President Trump.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, it does.
It's kind of like the waving a red flag in front of a bull. The president wants to release this memo. The tape you played before just showed it. And Chris Wray has just put himself out there waving that red flag saying, no, I don't think you can do it.
And I think Rosenstein made the same case. And both of them now, I believe, are in the president's sights. And the question I have, and I think Jeffrey probably has too, is, particularly with Chris Wray right now, if the president countermands his request, which was that we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact this memo's accuracy, if the president then knowing what he knows from Chris Wray releases a memo that his FBI director believes gives the wrong impression, omits important facts...
BALDWIN: Shares our intelligence. Talking to former FBI folks, sharing intelligence to our...
BALDWIN: To the good guys and bad guys around the world.
BORGER: Endangers sources and methods, et cetera, et cetera.
BORGER: What does Chris Wray do? Does he have to quit? I don't know the answer to these questions. But this is a showdown that we're headed to. And I don't know where it leads, honestly.
Go ahead, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: What makes this showdown even more difficult to resolve is that it's not just a question of the memo releasing too much classified information.
You could envision a compromise where certain words or certain lines are crossed out. What Wray is saying is that there are omissions from this memo that change the meaning. He's not just saying X, Y and Z is released too much. He's saying this, that the memo is fundamentally misleading. And that's harder to resolve than simply taking out a few words of classified information.
But I agree with Gloria. I don't see how this gets resolved without perhaps more people leaving the Trump administration.
BORGER: And all of this, Brooke, is geared to exposing, if you will, what Republicans consider to be the political bias of the investigators in the Russia investigation.
If they're not attacking Bob Mueller himself, and the president has been quiet about that because his lawyers have sat on him about that, then you do the next best thing, which is you attack the investigators who work for Bob Mueller. You muddy the waters so that whatever Mueller does is now seen as questionable, at least by his supporters. And I think that's clear that's what's going on here.
BALDWIN: But let me just hammer this point home, because FBI directors -- let's remind everyone -- they have tenure and they have tenure for a reason, right?
They go through administrations on the left and on the right and are supposed to remain apolitical. And the notion that this is so rare that you essentially would have an FBI director in a position that would be pitted against the president, and, well, we know what happened with the last FBI director.
BALDWIN: Jeffrey Toobin, I'm not quite sure how the movie ends.
TOOBIN: Neither am I.
And if there's one thing I have learned in the year of the Trump administration is that norms of behavior have changed. The idea that the FBI director has a 10-year term because he's supposed to be insulated from politics and insulated from the day-to-day pressures of what the president wants, well, that's already out the window, because James Comey got fired.
Could he fire another FBI director? Absolutely. Could he fire the deputy attorney general? Absolutely. That's why we're in a different world than I thought we were in, in January. So, you know, I'm out of the prediction business. I have no idea how this will be resolved.
You mentioned the deputy attorney general. Let's go there. Rod Rosenstein. Right? This memo apparently targets him and his whole role in overseeing aspects of this Russia probe.
I think we have to remind on Rod Rosenstein as well. Because Sessions recused himself, he's the guy -- whenever Mueller comes out and determines his findings from this whole probe, it's Rosenstein who is essentially the gatekeeper who determines how to make it public. Do I take this to Congress? What do I do with the findings?
And is putting all of this out there on behalf of the president, is this his way of undermining Rod Rosenstein?
And don't forget that if the president wanted to fire Bob Mueller, he would go to Rosenstein, because Rosenstein is Bob Mueller's boss. He would have to go to Rosenstein and say fire Bob Mueller. If Rosenstein refuses to do that or if Rosenstein is fired himself, then what happens?
Then who goes in that job? Who gets that job? Does Rachel Brand move up to that position? Would she fire Bob Mueller if he were -- who knows if -- if you peel the layers of the onion here, who knows -- we don't know what's going on, really, as this affects the fate of Bob Mueller or Bob Mueller's investigation.
BORGER: And what does Bob Mueller do if Rod Rosenstein is fired? I presume he just goes on with his work.
BALDWIN: Don't know.
TOOBIN: That's right, but, you know, Rosenstein, in his testimony before Congress has been consistently saying, I see no basis to fire Robert Mueller. I am not going to fire Robert Mueller.
If Rosenstein gets fired, presumably, President Trump will want a more compliant figure in that job.
TOOBIN: And someone who he is not going to have to -- you know, who will do his bidding. And that becomes a -- you know, that nomination, if there is a nomination for that job -- I don't want to get too far ahead of things.
TOOBIN: Would be extremely contentious.
Am I the only one who feels like this like is a real-life TV drama, cliffhangers at the end of every episode, all the characters? And this is real. It's real time, real life. Jeffrey Toobin, Gloria Borger, none of us know how this movie is going
to end. Thank you so much. Thank you.
We are following some breaking news out of Virginia, where a train carrying these Republican lawmakers to this retreat crashed into this garbage truck. We know at least one person was killed. We have reports of some lawmakers who were injured. We will have an update for you on that.
Also breaking today, South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy announcing he's not running for reelection. We will explain why he is joining this stream of Republicans getting out of Washington.
BALDWIN: We are back to our breaking news out of rural Virginia, where a train carrying Republican members of Congress and their families to this legislative retreat hit a garbage truck.
The impact, we're told, tossed lawmakers out of their seats and left one person dead. It is unknown who that person is. But it's believed to be someone on that garbage truck.
Senator Jeff Flake, along with Congressman Brad Wenstrup and Senator Bill Cassidy are among those who have administered aid to those injured.
Senator Flake speaking on the aftermath just a short while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Brad Wenstrup was in Iraq, I believe, and obviously a trauma type guy. He has the skills, as did certainly Dr. Cassidy was right there the whole time giving some instruction to others who were assisting this individual.
Those two -- if this man survives -- played a big role in it, obviously. And he was, like I said, breathing, but having a hard time clearing his windpipe, and there was a lot going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to Phil Mattingly. He's live there in Charlottesville at the Amtrak station where the train was towed.
Phil, at least two lawmakers were taken to the hospital. Can you tell me about what happened?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's exactly right.
We're still told minor bumps and bruises. One of those lawmakers, Congressman Jason Lewis, was taken due to a concussion, going through a concussion protocol. He's already responded saying he is OK. As you heard from Senator Flake, the most attention was being paid attention to the individuals who were in the garbage truck. And just to give you a sense of what actually happened, the investigation, Brooke, is ongoing.
But what told basically is the belief is that the garbage truck was taking a left into kind of the intersection of the railroad tracks and either stalled out or got stuck. And in terms of how much time the train deduct conductor had to react, Brooke, Senator Flake said there was no brake. In other words, the impact went straight thing.
The first thing everybody felt was the impact itself. When it hit, lawmakers were tossed across the aisles. Senator Flake said it took him 10 or 15 minutes to find his phone, bottles of water flying everywhere.
But I think the most interesting element, Brooke, is what you heard from Senator Flake talking about what the lawmakers did in the aftermath.
I'm told the Capitol Police who were on the train told lawmakers to stay on the train, do not get off the train. The lawmakers decided to get off the train, those with medical training. The doctors that were immediately got off.
As you noted, one individual did die. Another individual, I'm told, was seriously injured, dealing with head trauma and some other injuries as well.
You talked about some of the doctors that were there. Senator Flake pointed out Brad Wenstrup. He's a congressman from Ohio. He's a combat surgeon who served tours in Iraq. And, Brooke, I think you probably remember this quite well.
He's also the individual widely credited with saving Congressman Steve Scalise's life at the congressional baseball practice when he was shot. Both Senator Flake and Congressman Wenstrup were there providing aid at that point in time.
I'm also told Father Pat Conroy, the House chaplain, immediately got off the train as well to tend to those who were injured. Right now, we're still waiting to see the condition of that individual that Senator Flake was talking about.
But no question, you talk to lawmakers, I have been texting with them throughout the day. Everybody is very shaken up. It was a very jarring experience. What Just happened a couple of minutes ago behind me is the train came in, the lawmakers were transferred to buses. They're now headed to the retreat they were originally supposed to go to.
The train just departed that had been towed here as well. But I think there's no question about it, lawmakers are very shaken up, trying to figure out what exactly happened and definitely trying to cope with the tragedy of what happened to those who were in the garbage truck. Obviously, no one was expecting this to happen, and clearly some
pretty heavy hearts as they paid attention to what actually occurred on what was supposed to be just a pretty leisurely train ride down to the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Let me stay with you, Phil.
And then we're going to talk to a congressman in just a second. We're about to hear from the president.
But where is every -- you're there in Charlottesville by the train station, just 60 seconds, is everyone safe, and on buses and headed on down to the Greenbrier? Or is everyone OK?
MATTINGLY: Yes, that's exactly right. Everybody is safe and on buses.
As you noted, at least one congressman, perhaps another one, went to a hospital just to get checked. Both of those individuals said they're OK. There are no major problems.
What I was told is it was more people were just stunned and unsettled by what occurred. Bumps and bruises, people thrown across aisles. As you noted, family members were with them, no family members were injured.
I think, more than anything else, everybody was just shaken up, and more than anything else, everybody very concerned about the individuals who were in the garbage truck.
Obviously, the one individual that died, but also the other individual who they were administering care to, who I'm told was very seriously injured, people trying to keep that individual in their thoughts and prayers.
But in terms of lawmakers and staff and the individuals who were on the train, just about everybody that I saw got on to the buses. Now headed to that retreat. The vice president speaks tonight at 7:00. The president is supposed to come and speak tomorrow.
BALDWIN: All right, Phil, thank you. Let me cut you off.
We're going to listen to the president.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you very much.
I just want to start by saying I spoke with Speaker Ryan just a few moments ago. And they are doing pretty good. The train accident was a tough one, a tremendous jolt. And they are proceeding to their conference. We don't have a full understanding yet as to what happened. But it
was a train hitting a truck going at a pretty good speed. And we will have a full report as to what it looks like. The driver of the truck was killed. And it is very sad to see that.
But they are going on to the conference, and I will be going to West Virginia, a great state. I will be going there. I will be going tomorrow. And we will be together. But it was a pretty rough hit. That is what they all tell me. I spoke to a few of the folks. And they say it was tough.
Joining me today are some really great Americans. And I have been talking about reaping the rewards of the big tax cut bill and reform. But the big tax cut bill, and these are people who have the -- they have worked hard, they have businesses. In some cases, they are they are making tremendous percentage amounts more than they were going to before, or before the plan.
And we thought we owe bring some of them up just to stay in front of the media and in front of the press to say a few words.
We have Sue Wagner.
Thank you, Sue.
Sue Wagner is the Bank of Colorado, Fort Collins, Colorado, a great place, $1,000 bonuses awarded to all full-time employees. That's great. That was nice, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was great.
TRUMP: It was a gift all of a sudden. But it was a gift for somebody that works very hard.
BALDWIN: We want to stay on the train story. You heard the president say he talked to the speaker of the House, who is OK.
I have got someone else on the phone, Congressman Larry Bucshon, who is also an M.D.
Congressman Bucshon, I'm glad you and so many of your colleagues are all right. Just hearing from Phil Mattingly, it sounds like Congressman Wenstrup was a saving grace. And I'm bet you were as well.
Can you tell me what you did and how you're doing?
REP. LARRY BUCSHON (R), INDIANA: Well, first of all, I would like the focus to be on the thoughts and prayers for the gentleman who was killed and the other gentleman who was injured. And we're all of us thinking about those individuals at this point.
We heard a big noise and a loud jar. And my wife is an anesthesiologist and also a physician. All the physicians went out to the scene, Congressman Wenstrup, myself, my wife, Kathryn, Dr. Burgess, Dr. Roe, Dr. Cassidy, Dr. Marshall and others did what we could for the gentleman who was severely injured.
But it was traumatic experience for all. And we did what we could to help him. And I'm just praying for him.
BALDWIN: How just absolutely awful. Of course, our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to that family. We've been talking about them today as well.
Do you understand exactly -- were the guardrails down when the truck was trying to make the turn? Did you see anything out the window?
BUCSHON: Well, when we went by on our way -- when they pulled our train back, the guardrails were down, and I think everyone said that they were down.
And so we don't know exactly what happened. That will be up to the NTSB to determine. But all I know is that a lot of members, their families and staff were thrown around the train a little bit. We had some minor injuries, as I know you have described.
But ,you know, again, from a physician's perspective, getting to the scene, it was pretty awful. And we did what we could for the gentleman who was still living. Unfortunately, we couldn't do anything for the other gentleman.
And we're just hopeful that the one that is injured recovers. I tell you, this could have been much worse. We did have apparently a minor derailment of the first car. But I'm also thankful that the rest of the cars did not derail and that we don't have serious injuries on the train.
I think just last quick question. We're looking at video. Of course, in addition to you all, the M.D.s on board, your wife, we're looking at pictures of the firefighters, just giving a little love to the first-responders who, I'm sure, were there quite quickly.
BALDWIN: How helpful were they?
BUCSHON: Absolutely. The first-responders responded very quickly.
My wife, who is an anesthesiologist, attempted to establish an airway for the person who was injured, but could not because of his injuries.
But that equipment was supplied by the EMS, who were there very quickly, and did a fine job. And we ultimately got the gentleman on to a backboard and got him transported to a hospital.
And they were very helpful. They were there very quickly. And that is very much appreciated. And it's honestly very consistent to what you see with first-responders around our country... BALDWIN: It is.
BUCSHON: ... that are out there every day doing their job.
BALDWIN: It is. They are absolutely incredible human beings.
Congressman Bucshon, thank you very much for hopping on the phone. We wish you and your wife all the best and safety as you head on.
BUCSHON: Thank you.
BALDWIN: More on our other breaking news. We're getting word that the FBI director clashed with President Trump over the release of the controversial Republican memo, apparently attacking law enforcement agencies.
Stand by. Huge standoff unfolding right now, as the president gets ready to release it.