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Peter Strzok Co-Wrote Draft Letter to Open Clinton E-mail Probe; Interview with Representative Jim Himes; First Woman to File Complaint to MSU on Nassar Speaks Out; Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 1, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The integrity of the premiere law enforcement agency in the United States, perhaps in the world. And an undermining of the rule of law. And for Donald Trump to be demanding these kinds of loyalty pledges, call them what you will, is I think reflective of a contempt for the Department of Justice and law enforcement.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much. Nice to have you in the studio.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We have a big CNN exclusive this morning. The agent at the center of allegations of bias in the FBI against the president played a key role in reopening the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.

Now what will this mean to critics attacking him? Well, so far they're ignoring it. Why? We'll tell you next.


CUOMO: All right. Now to a CNN exclusive. Sources tell CNN the FBI agent whose text messages have led to allegations of bias in the Mueller investigation played a key role in reopening the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe just days before the 2016 election.

Peter Strzok was part of that gut shot to Clinton. He helped draft the letter that Comey made public about looking at those e-mails that they found on Anthony Weiner's laptop. Remember, they wind up being largely duplicative and illustrious of nothing new.

Joining us now, CNN national security commentator and former House Intelligence chairman, Mike Rogers.

Now why this is so relevant is because this guy is being painted as a patsy. He is a Clinton favorite. He was trying to help her. He is exhibit A of this fogazy (PH) deep state that people on the right are trying to construct. So what does this reporting do to that notion?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: A couple of things, Chris. First of all, you know, the reason that Strzok and Page were in trouble, the general counsel and this specific special agent, and went to the attention of the IG was not because of their investigative work. It was because they were in an inappropriate relationship and they were using government --

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: You know, services to do that. And so there's some notion that that -- taking the personal e-mails of those conversations that anybody might have either at the bar at night or after work or at home or on the patio or whatever, and try to stretching that back in the investigation. I would argue was inappropriate.

What they would need to have done is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt and I think both of them should get some due process here, is that their attitudes reflected their work in the investigation.

CUOMO: Right. Right.

[07:35:10] ROGERS: And clearly what these texts are showing is it didn't.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: Yes, they had -- they were not happy with what sounds like to me with either candidate but they went through and did their job, or at least he did his job on this particular piece.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: Now there's 50,000 of those texts we don't know what's in there. By it's certainly --

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: By all appearances they got caught doing something they shouldn't be doing.

CUOMO: Sure.

ROGERS: It didn't impact their investigative work, or his investigative work.

CUOMO: The missing texts that were used as proof of a deep state cover-up and then the FBI gave them, and there was no correction of that. The same texts where one of them mentioned a secret society that elected lawmakers from your party jumped on as proof of a deep state. And then when the context came out, there was no back off of it.

I mean, Mike, you were loyal to your party and you are loyal to this country. Is there any question about the motivation for what's going on right now? These people haven't even seen the FISA application they're saying was wrong and unjustified. They haven't even seen it, Mike. How is this not about politics?

ROGERS: Yes. Yes. I'm a little bit disturbed by what they haven't seen and the fact that members didn't read the supporting materials before they went on to vote. I will say, Democrats have been equally bad about this. This is a messy --

CUOMO: But not right now. Got to deal with the instant situation.

ROGERS: I'm hearing you. But there -- they haven't been pure on this either.

CUOMO: Nobody is pure.

ROGERS: And here's --

CUOMO: That's why this is -- but, Mike, just so you understand.


CUOMO: The one reason this is going to be so effective, and this is my suggestion. When this comes out, I don't care what the basis for it is. People are going to read and see what they want to see in it. And one of the reasons they'll do that is because they don't trust anybody down there. Left, right, middle, center, any label you want to give yourself. They don't trust you guys because of stuff like this.

ROGERS: You guys?

CUOMO: Well, no. You're one of us, Mike. You look better already.


ROGERS: Yes, exactly. So I wanted to say this --

CUOMO: But -- tell me. Tell me.

ROGERS: I am concerned as well about the fact that through this process it appears to me that even their investigators haven't seen the FISA application. And listen, I've done what's called a Title 3, which is -- when I was an FBI agent, the criminal version of what they did in the -- an intelligence version in the FISA court. A criminal version in the regular court, Title 3 Court.

They're really hard. Very complicated. Lots of information goes in there. They are multiple, multiple pages. And so I hope what they have not done is taken a few pieces, the affirmation of the information that they liked and put it in this memo because it will be probably a distortion of what really happened.

And I just don't think that's -- it's not fair to the bureau, it's not fair, I think to other members of Congress who don't sit on those committees, to not have the full picture and sure they can run around and say this shows exactly what I want you to see.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: And by the way the Democrats are talking about doing the same thing. They got one that will show something different and I'm sure that they are putting their own spin on these things.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: And it really is messy. This is the one place none of that was supposed to happen, the Intelligence Committee.

CUOMO: Right. I mean, look, Trump's own cleansing agents, Christopher Wray at the FBI, Rod Rosenstein at DOJ, Steven Boyd at DOJ under Rosenstein. They're all telling the president this isn't the way to do it. We think stuff in there is wrong. And he's not listening.

That takes us to other headline this morning, Mike. The idea that the president asked yet another top official for loyalty, asking Rod Rosenstein, when Rosenstein came in in December to prepare for his House testimony, Trump said to him, are you on my team? Relevant?

ROGERS: You know, to me it would be all about context. You know? If you came in and you're in sort of gregarious moment, say, hey, are you on team America, you're on my team, that would be really, really different. If there was some other motive there. And I think that's what probably the special counsel is going to have to decide in each of these cases was there a pattern where it was suggestive of something versus hey, that gregarious moment of, hey, you know, we're doing great things for the country. And so I think just isolated, really, really hard to tell.

CUOMO: Understood. It's all about how they put together the context. The perfect point to make. And that's why you're the perfect guest. I trust you, Mike Rogers. I trust you.

ROGERS: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: It's good to have you -- Alisyn.

ROGERS: Thanks.


CAMEROTA: He's been waiting for that assurance. House --

CUOMO: You know what? He's going to sleep a little easier tonight, I guarantee you that.

CAMEROTA: I can see. I can tell that. He looked very relieved.

CUOMO: I felt it.

CAMEROTA: House Republicans altered the Devin Nunes memo, and why? That's what Congressman Jim Himes wanted to know so he asked Devin Nunes directly about it. Congressman Himes joins us next with the answer he got.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [07:43:25] REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R), OHIO: The only thing I was aware of we're making some grammatical changes and making sure that we did not describe someone's job, if it was a matter of national security, but the content wasn't changed.


CAMEROTA: All right. Republican House Intel Committee member Brad Wenstrup on NEW DAY this morning denying that Chairman Devin Nunes made any significant changes to this controversial memo before sending it over to the White House. But Democratic member Jim Himes had worried that changes could happen. He tweeted about it. He says, "In a formal meeting I asked Chairman Nunes not once but twice if his memo would be released precisely as we reviewed it. He said yes. Then he altered it."

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jim Himes.

Good morning, Congressman.


CAMEROTA: Do you know what changes have been made to this memo?

HIMES: No, I don't. And neither does my friend Brad Wenstrup. And I think, you know, if you listen to his comment that you just ran he said the only thing I was aware of -- look, we committee members only learned last night that the memo had been altered before it was sent to the White House. And because we've all been out of --

CAMEROTA: And how did you learn that?

HIMES: Well, we learned it because Adam Schiff discovered it and wrote a letter to the chairman saying, hey, what's up with this? This is different -- a different memo than the one we approved.

Alisyn, it's -- at the end of the day, it doesn't even really matter how big the changes were. This is very serious stuff. When a committee votes to release an explosive memo that many of us believe is founded on falsehoods and is designed to tar the FBI, you don't then get to alter the language particularly when you now have read a Democratic memo which rebuts the allegations that are in that memorandum.


HIMES: Can you imagine if Congress started, you know, changing the language on bills after they were voted on the floor?

[07:45:03] CAMEROTA: Well, I hear you. But I mean what if it's just grammatical changes?

HIMES: Well, so if you read Adam Schiff's letter, and Adam Schiff, whatever you think of him being a Democrat in this -- in what unfortunately has become a partisan fight is an attorney, he's very careful. He is not bombastic. He does not bend the truth and the words he used were that there were material and substantive changes. So I think it's now on Devin Nunes and others on the committee to show us exactly what those changes were.

CAMEROTA: I just want to read the exact exchange that you had with Devin Nunes because I do think that it is telling. So on Monday you asked him this very question if there would be changes. You say, "Is the intent to make the memo as presented to this committee and as shown to members of Congress that precise memo available to the public or will there be a process of redaction before it's made available to the public?"

Devin Nunes says only, "Yes. It is to make the content available, is what we will do." And you say, "Is that memo word for word to be made public or will it be redacted or altered in any way?" And he says, "Well, as the gentleman knows, we will send the content over to the White House, the president has five days to agree with us that it should be made public, or the president could say he does not want it to be made public."

He's not exactly answering your question.

HIMES: Well, no. But I mean, if the intention has been to make any changes at all, look at my wording. Exact. Word for word. There would have been a pretty easy way to say, hey, we may clean up misspellings. We may, you know, change people's job titles. But of course that's not what he said.

But, look, Alisyn, this is indicative of the process that led to this memo's existence. As you know, all but two of the members who voted for this memo's release, it's laden with classified information that only two members on the committee had reviewed. You know, there was a vote to prohibit -- to prohibit -- the FBI and the Department of Justice to come in and talk to us about these allegations.


HIMES: You know, I have been in Congress a while. And when you have a problem with an agency, you invite them in.


HIMES: You don't start issuing press releases and that sort of thing.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Wenstrup, we had him on this morning. He says that the head of the FBI did approve of this memo. Let me play it for you. Listen to this.


WENSTRUP: Christopher Wray saw the memo and said everything in it was factual. But I want you to keep in mind one thing. We have subpoenaed the FBI and the DOJ for months. And they have stonewalled us. We requested specific information and they were not turning it over. As a matter of fact, there's some information they said didn't exist. Then we found out that it did.


CAMEROTA: Your reactions, Congressman?

HIMES: Well, sadly, the first thing that Brad said, and Brad is a good friend of mine. And by the way I honor what he did yesterday in helping the people who were wounded in that crash. The first thing he said is simply inaccurate. The fact of the matter is that FBI --

CAMEROTA: When he says Christopher Wray saw the memo and said everything in it is factual. That's not true?

HIMES: That is very simply the opposite of the truth. Christopher Wray, by the way, who's a Trump appointee to that directorship, reviewed it late on Sunday night, the -- you know, 12 hours before we voted on that memo's release. And he did not say that everything was accurate. In fact this is a matter of public record. He then came out and said, I have profound misgivings. The Department of Justice said it would be extremely reckless. So no, of course, he did not sign off on it. And, you know, that has been the way this process has run from moment one.

CAMEROTA: Is it true that the FBI has stonewalled all of your requests for information?

HIMES: Well, you know, I think first of all it's very hard to know that because, although Devin Nunes maintains that there is a committee investigation into the FBI and the Department of Justice, that is very simply not true. There was never an investigation of the Department of Justice and the FBI set up by the committee. The ranking member, which is, under the rules required, was never informed that there was -- none of us had participated in that investigation.

Devin Nunes has fought a one-man war. This goes all the way back to, you know, President Obama wiretapped Trump, it goes back to Susan Rice and Sam Waters -- Sam Powers' improperly unmasking, allegations that were proved not just to be false but proved ridiculous.


HIMES: This is the latest installment of that. So guess what, maybe the Department of Justice and the FBI is saying, with our most highly classified stuff we're going to be a little careful about how fast we put it into Devin Nunes' hands.

But, no, they -- as far as I know they have been fully cooperative in what the committee has asked them for in the duties of our oversight.

CAMEROTA: OK. Congressman Jim Himes, we appreciate you coming on with all of your position on what's happening this week. Thank you.

HIMES: Thank you, Alisyn.


CUOMO: Another story of great importance. More victims of abuse are going to come forward against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. There is a second sentencing hearing. The first woman who filed a complaint with Michigan State is speaking to CNN. What she said and what the university did, next.


[07:53:01] CUOMO: So to this point, at least 265 women have come forward with detailed sexual abuse allegations against disgraced USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor, Larry Nassar. Convicted is more like it. Not just disgraced. That's according to the judge overseeing the case.

Dozens of those women are expected to come face-to-face with Nassar at his third and final sentencing hearing.

CNN's Jean Casarez sat down with the first woman to file a complaint with Michigan State against Nassar. Jean joins us live now from East Lansing, Michigan.

And Jean, you and I know, we've done a lot of these types of stories. I've never seen this volume of victimization, but to be the first is often the hardest.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To file the formal complaint. Amanda Thomashow says she knows exactly what she wants to tell the special prosecutor in Michigan and now investigating MSU.


AMANDA THOMASHOW, LARRY NASSAR VICTIM: They came to know that I was sexually assaulted in that examination room, and I somehow got the courage to talk about it. And instead of taking me seriously, MSU did everything they could to cover that up.

CASAREZ (voice-over): In 2014 Michigan State graduate Amanda Thomashow was the first to file an official complaint against Dr. Larry Nassar with the university under Title IX. She says the decision to come forward was agonizing.

THOMASHOW: If I didn't say something and protect possible victims, I wouldn't be OK with that.

CASAREZ: First step, Thomashow was interviewed by MSU Police.

THOMASHOW: They kept apologizing to me and they were disgusted by what happened. I thought that I was being taken seriously.

CASAREZ: Next she was told police would be talking with Nassar. In his 2014 police interview obtained by CNN Nassar said he's been doing medical manipulation treatment since 1997, saying, "I had no ill intent," calling himself the body whisperer, telling police, use the force, you feel it.

[07:55:16] Thomashow heard nothing from the university for weeks, finally getting a call to come to MSU.

(On camera): What did she say? THOMASHOW: She told me she was so sorry, there was nothing more --

that there wasn't anything else that she could do, but they found that his medical procedure was or his procedure was medical and it was not sexual.

CASAREZ: So when you walked out of that room --

THOMASHOW: I didn't walk out of that room. I stormed out of that room and I slammed the door. I could not believe that they weren't taking me seriously.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Thomashow received a copy of the Title IX report, the conclusion was three sentences long.

THOMASHOW: "We cannot find that the conduct was of a sexual nature. Thus, it did not violate the sexual harassment policy. However, we find the claim helpful in that it allows us to examine certain practices at the MSU Sports Medicine Clinic."

CASAREZ (on camera): Pretty short.


CASAREZ: So when you read that?

THOMASHOW: I just felt so dumb. I man, after that I ended up spending years not knowing what really -- I kept going back to the same details, I just relived them over and over again. The way that I said no, and he told, I'm almost done. And then I pushed him off of me and he hid in the corner and he was clearly aroused. I just kept coming back to these same details knowing this isn't right, this is not right.

CASAREZ (voice-over): For two years she lived knowing her alma mater didn't believe her. Then in 2016 she got a call from university police, another woman had come forward and Thomashow's investigation could be reopened.

(On camera): What did that do to you inside?

THOMASHOW: It was like winning and losing at the same time because finally what I knew that my truth was being listened to.

CASAREZ (voice-over): But just months ago, Thomashow discovered a second version of the Title IX report, one the university never shared with her. That version had a different conclusion.

THOMASHOW: "We find that whether medically sound or not, the failure to adequately explain procedures such as the invasive sensitive procedures is opening up the practice to a liability and is exposing patients to unnecessary trauma based on the possibility of perceived inappropriate sexual misconduct."

CASAREZ (on camera): So when you read this conclusion that gives you a little credibility. THOMASHOW: If I had gotten that full conclusion instead of the three-

sentence paragraph conclusion that I originally received, I would have felt so much more heard.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Then two months ago, a representative for MSU sent a letter to the state attorney general saying no MSU official believed that Nassar committed sexual abuse prior to summer 2016. Now with the announcement of an independent investigation into MSU that could become criminal, Thomashow's Title IX complaint may come front and center. She says she still has many questions.

THOMASHOW: I think that the way that my investigation was handled was not in a way to bring out the truth, but instead it was performed in a way to conceal and protect a pedophile.


CASAREZ: We have reached out to MSU several times on Amanda's case. They have yet to get back with us. And tomorrow, Larry Nassar's third sentencing hearing in Eaton County, Michigan, will continue -- Chris.

CUOMO: Jean, thank you so much for that interview.

You know, when it comes to these kinds of allegations, one should be enough for a major institution to look, not to jump to conclusions, but to look. They shouldn't need numbers to find the situation significant.

Jean, appreciate it. Thank you for the reporting.

All right. This morning there is just a fact-first feast going on. So let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're getting ready to release a memo which Chris Wray says is fundamentally misleading.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I've read the memo. This is earth shaking. And it does go deeper than Watergate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted transparency and they did it with an extraordinarily flimsy memo.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Adam Schiff charging Devin Nunes sent a different version of that memo to the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is really the definition of using intelligence information for political purposes.

NORM EISEN, ETHICS LAWYER: The Department of Justice is not on any president's team. It's another part of the mosaic of corrupt intent to obstruct justice.

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If they were doing something really nefarious, the last thing they would have done was to handle it the way that it was handled.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The president lied to the country about a meeting with Russians. That is a big deal.