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Trump Set To Approve Release Of House GOP Memo; Source: FBI Still Has "Grave Concerns" About GOP Memo; Dow Drops Despite Strong Jobs Report. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 2, 2018 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan. On this February 2nd, the Groundhog could be overshadowed by a document that few people have read, but everyone seems to have an opinion about.

Today, President Trump is expected to ignore the warnings of his FBI chief and Justice Department officials and green light the release of a classified and partisan memo alleging FBI surveillance abuses.

The memo was written by the GOP head of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes who also served on the Trump transition team. The president throwing some extra shade on law enforcement this morning, tweeting, "The top leadership and investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans. Something which would have been unthinkable a short time ago. Rank and file are great people."

Now, he failed to mention the top leadership are his appointees and life-long Republicans. I want to get right to CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House. What is the latest there, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, good morning. President Trump as you said is positioning himself to square off fight with the top ranks of the FBI and the Justice Department. In terms of the timing of the release of this memo, White House officials are still saying it is likely to be released later today.

But it will be coming, of course, from the House Intelligence Committee. So, we are likely only to see the president simply sign off on this, he may not even speak about it here at the White House.

He's likely to send a letter to the House saying he approves the release of this, and then it is likely to be released by the House Intelligence Committee. Again, likely later today but the timing is still a little bit up in the air here.

Brianna, in terms of the tweet this morning, the president clearly putting politics in this, saying that the top ranks of the FBI have been prejudiced against him. It is part of his ongoing argument he's been making privately and publicly that he hopes this will discredit the Russia investigation. This is exactly opposite from what Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said just yesterday. He said this should not impugn the Russia investigation. Now, in terms of the top ranks of the FBI, the president talked about that this morning, let's take a look at those men who are in those positions.

They are all Republicans as you said. Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, he is Republican. James Comey, of course, the fired director of the FBI, Republican. It is simply down the line here as well as Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI, Republican, and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general Republican.

So, all these four men at the top of the top echelons here of the Justice Department and FBI, all Republican appointees here. So, it simply does not square with what the president was saying this morning. It is a partisan attack here.

So, Brianna, some context there as we go forward, the president planning on doing this, then he's going to Florida later this evening to spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago retreat. Between now and then, several hours here, that confrontation with the FBI likely to get under way -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Sure will. Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thank you so much.

Now, a source familiar with the FBI's position says the bureau still has grave concerns about the memo and that any edits do not change its, quote, "overall false narrative." CNN's Jessica Schneider is joining me now. What have you been learning, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brianna, I've talked to an official familiar with the FBI's stance on this. They tell me even if there are redactions from this memo, there are still grave concerns over the release. Of course, the phrase grave concerns that was the phrase that was used in that rare statement released by the FBI, pushing back on this memo on Wednesday.

So, the source described it to me this way, they said, well, there may have been editing of the text of this memo, but that doesn't change the overall false narrative of the memo itself.

And then when presented with the possibility that the White House had made some accommodations, maybe made some changes, redactions, my source put it - this way, they said that just sounds like spin to justify the release.

So, it is clear here that there is still this face-off between the FBI director and the White House, the president, and his chief of staff, and, of course, our team has been reporting that the White House aides, they're concerned that Director Wray of the FBI could quit if this highly controversial memo is released here.

So, a lot of concerns still from the law enforcement community, the intelligence community, that a lot could be compromised if this memo is released and even if there are some changes made here, Brianna, that still wouldn't satisfy the FBI. Back to you.

KEILAR: Jessica Schneider, thank you so much. Joining me now is CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent and now a lecturer at Yale, which is where she joins us from.

Also, with me, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and former associate White House counsel under President George W. Bush, Jamil Jafer. Thank you so much to all of you for joining me on this Groundhog's Day.

[11:05:13] I won't even make the joke. All right, you know what I'm thinking. Gloria, you have a source who is pretty close to this process of clearing this memo, and they're concerned about all of this buildup, you know, the bar has been raised pretty high by this.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It has. And the way it was described to me is that the drum roll is getting a little bit long here. And what we're seeing is that it is continuing today and, of course, the White House is going to hand the football over to the House and part of the reason for that, aside from the fact that that's the process, is that it seems to me maybe the White House is trying to distance itself a little bit from all of this. There is a question --

KEILAR: Good luck.

BORGER: Right. But there is a question about whether all the hype is really going to live up to the -- what the real memo is, and whether it kind of may fall flat. So, I think you're going to see this ball passed to the Hill. It will be released from the Hill and, you know, people will see it the way they want to see it.

KEILAR: That is really interesting reporting, Gloria. Asha, CNN's Evan Perez is reporting that White House officials are concerned, Wray might actually resign over this. Do you think that that could happen?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think it would happen and I don't think he should. I think the FBI needs someone who is going to stand up for them and I think that he's doing that. He's also there to protect the integrity of the investigations.

And, Brianna, I want to take a zoom back and not forget what the FISA is about. Carter Page was on the FBI's radar as far back as 2013. He was warned by the FBI that the Russians were trying to target him to be a spy.

So, it is not at all surprising to me that the FBI would have kept tabs on that, and would have been concerned if he ended up working for the Russians and then being a part of the campaign. So that is the kind of context that I think if it is excluded from this memo would be -- would make it incredibly misleading to the American public.

KEILAR: Jamil, it is even logistically hard to know exactly how all of this is going to proceed. It is really unchartered territory to release a document this way. You worked in the White House Counsel's Office, you've been at DOJ, worked for a congressional committee. Do you have a sense of how this would roll out?

JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER ASSOCIATE COUNSEL, GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE: Yes, look, under the House Intelligence Committee's rules, I worked there under Chairman Mike Rogers and the way it works is the committee decides it wants to release the memo, sends a note to the president, the president can decide to object. If he doesn't object, the committee can just release the memo after five days.

So, it is only the president objects they need a full House vote. So, what is really challenging here is the president could approve it with changes, but also could just do nothing and allow the committee as it stands today.

KEILAR: It sounds like there may not be changes to your point there, Jamil. Gloria, you have a great column today about how Donald Trump is using blunt force against Robert Mueller, explain what you mean by that?

BORGER: Well, this is all he knows. In talking to people who are kind of familiar with what is going on in his head and what his legal thinking is, Donald Trump this is his way of attacking Mueller without attacking Mueller. He's attacking the investigation. He's trying to destabilize the investigation.

People who know Trump say he's willing to escalate and escalate and escalate in a way that people aren't used to in Washington. And he will take on institutions like the FBI, like the Congress, whatever it takes, because he got elected, busting norms, and he has no loyalty to any of these institutions. His loyalty is to himself.

So, whatever he needs to take down, in order to make sure that he's cleared in his fight with Mueller, or that he could go toe to toe with Mueller, he will do. He will do that. And so, you know, it is going to be some kind of a challenge when he and Mueller, if they ever sit down together, what happens there, or he uses this as a way to challenge Mueller and say, you know what, why should I sit down with you?

Your investigation has been tainted. You folks have been out to get me, and I don't see any reason that I ought to sit for an interview with you.

KEILAR: Asha, a tweet from the president today going after top leadership and investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department. His own picks in those posts we should point out. He also though says the rank and file are good people. He's clearly trying to drive a wedge or make a distinction between the two. Does that matter?

RANGAPPA: No. At this point, he's attacking the FBI and either he misunderstands kind of how investigations work or he's being disingenuous because, you know --

KEILAR: What do you mean by that how it works? I think what you're saying is that the rank and file is driving some of this?

[11:10:11] RANGAPPA: Yes. I mean, listen, when you have an investigation, you have agents on the ground who are doing the investigative work. You have leads going out to field offices across the country who are doing part of the investigative work. All of this is, you know, this is one big apparatus.

And you cannot pluck one person out and pin the blame on them. That's just not how these investigations operate and, you know, they go through a lot of layers of both internal approvals, DOJ, and ultimately the judicial branch.

So, he's being disingenuous. I believe that the FBI feels that it is an assault on them, you saw the statement from the FBI Agents Association yesterday, and I think that this is being seen as an attack on the entire FBI for sure.

KEILAR: Jamil, if we see this memo, you're flipping through this for the first time, this three plus pages, what is the first thing you're looking for?

JAFFER: Well, I think you're trying to figure out what is the evidence to support the claims that there was an unlawful or illegal behavior by the FBI. Because that's the underlying claim here, that the bureau, the Justice Department did something wrong.

The problem, of course is that if you don't have a fair and even handed sort of airing of the issues, don't have the Democrats' response to that, it is only going to be seen as political. Even if there was malfeasance, which we don't know, it is going to be undermined by the way the committee is carrying out the approach. It is really unfortunate.

KEILAR: What are you curious about, Gloria, when you get your hands on this thing?

BORGER: I guess, I'm curious to know how they make the case that this FISA warrant was not appropriate. With Carter Page, you have somebody who had been investigated for years, and they're going to make the case that it depended solely on this so-called dossier by an agent that they believe is not credible. And, you know, the question is, how are they going to say that Carter Page, who, you know, again, was on their radar --

KEILAR: Someone had tried to recruit him, a Russian agent had tried to recruit him.

BORGER: When you renew a FISA as James Clapper has pointed out on our air, when you renew a FISA, it has to be because there is some belief that the FISA was valid and working and that you can therefore get more information. So, I'm just curious as to how they would say that this wasn't anything that was warranted. How you make that case?

KEILAR: It is going to be fascinating either way. We will see. Gloria, thank you so much. Jamil, Asha, thank you so much for your insight.

Coming up, you know, it is not just Democrats accusing Devin Nunes of carrying out a partisan attack with this memo. A former Republican colleague of the House Intel chairman is slamming Nunes in a new op- ed. Former Congressman Joe Walsh will join us next to talk about that.

Plus, the Dow dropping triple digits despite a better than expected jobs report. So, what's going on here?

And the father of three girls abused by Larry Nassar, rushing the former USA Gymnastics doctor in court, calling him a demon, security tackling him to the ground. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:17:26]

KEILAR: We're waiting the release of that classified memo on the FBI's Russia investigation. Democrats calling it a partisan hit job and now some Republicans are speaking out against it, including former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, who has worked with the memo's author Devin Nunes.

Walsh says in a "Washington Post" op-ed that, quote, "Nunes is acting like a partisan hack." Joe Walsh joining me now to talk about this. He's now a syndicated talk radio host. Sir, thanks for being with us.

JOE WALSH, RADIO HOST: Good to be with you, Brianna.

KEILAR: So, Congressman, you write in this op-ed, these are your words, "It doesn't surprise me to see Nunes today acting more like the chairman of the president's re-election campaign than chairman of the Intelligence Committee. He wants to please whomever he sees as the person or people running the show. Back then it was House GOP leadership, now it is President Trump." So, explain some of this backstory to us.

WALSH: Hey, Brianna, Devin Nunes is a partisan animal. In my experience in Congress, he was one of the most partisan Republicans we had. His job back then was to protect the party. Sadly, Brianna, his job today is to protect Trump, and not protect the country.

I mean, putting out -- let's be clear about what this is. Everybody wants to release the memo, be honest about what it is, it is a Republican memo. This is a partisan memo written by Nunes and Republican staffers.

If he was serious, Brianna, about finding out what the FBI might have done, he wouldn't be acting so partisan. But he's decided, I think he decided a while ago, his job is to protect Trump no matter what.

KEILAR: You call his inquiry here a farce. You know, we have seen these texts from Peter Strzok, inappropriate, even people who are critical of Donald Trump say, God, it was the wrong thing to do, why was he doing that?

You see this Republican talking point about the political donations of people participating in the special counsel and you hear other people who say why do they do that? It just muddies the water. There is no indication from any of that that this has affected the investigation, that the investigation is biased, but the things don't look good. I wonder if you were at least concerned about a perception of political bias at the FBI and on the special counsel.

WALSH: Brianna, I feel like I'm in Bizarro world. I'm concerned about what Russia did in our election, I'm concerned if any American colluded with or helped Russia and, yes, Brianna, I'm concerned if there were any FBI surveillance abuses that went on and swayed the election.

[11:20:07] I'm concerned about it all, Devin Nunes should be too, which is why it demands a serious nonpartisan, bipartisan investigation. Not what Nunes is doing. Brianna, if he were serious about finding out the truth, he wouldn't be sending out, releasing to the public, some partisan Republican memo that nobody will understand, without any background, without any context, without the underlying surveillance. I go back to it. The Republicans have decided our job is to protect Trump and not the truth. That's a shame.

KEILAR: The president attacked the FBI and the DOJ this morning, Congressman, on Twitter, for politicizing the investigation. When you saw that, what did you think? What is your reaction?

WALSH: I slapped myself. These are his own people. Think about this, Brianna, he's attacking the people that he put at the FBI and the Justice Department, and then he throws a faint to the rank and file. This won't end well for him.

He -- he is working with Nunes and they're doing what they can to discredit the FBI and Mueller and I think that's an absolute shame because we want to know the truth about what the FBI did. We want to know the truth about what Russia did. This is all a distraction.

KEILAR: You talked to Trump's supporters on the radio every day, I wonder how they're responding to your defense of Robert Mueller and his investigation? How is that going?

WALSH: They're probably turning me off, Brianna. They're not real happy.

KEILAR: I'm sure they tweet you and e-mail you. Are you hearing that, they're unhappy with you for what you're saying?

WALSH: Yes, cut it out, Joe, release the memo. The FBI, the deep state, look, they were out to get Trump. I hear all of that. And my answer, Brianna is, yes, there may be some truth to that, so let's, as adults, investigate it all. Investigate the FBI, investigate the Trump campaign, investigate Russia.

Unfortunately, you know, we have all gone to our partisan corners and there are too many Trump supporters out there who only want to go after the FBI, but they don't want to go after Russia or anything that the Trump campaign might have done. It is partisan, and it shouldn't be partisan.

KEILAR: Former Congressman Joe Walsh, hey, we really appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

WALSH: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Coming up, a father's rage boiling over in court. This is the father of three girls abused by the former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar. He called Nassar a demon, rushed toward him in court, security there tackling him to the ground. We're live from this courthouse next with what happened just moments ago.

Plus, the Dow dropping more than 300 points, despite a better than expected jobs report. What is going on here?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:27:16]

KEILAR: So, we're keeping our eye right now on a triple digit drop in the stock market, despite what was a strong jobs report out this morning. I want you to look at the board here, the Dow down more than 300 points.

CNN's Alison Kosik joining me now. What is going on, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So, this wound up being a very strong jobs report. I'm talking about the January jobs report, but the way Wall Street sees it, the good news is actually bad news. Let me explain.

One of the things in this jobs report, it showed the biggest jump in wages that we have seen in eight years, so, yes, Americans got a big raise in January. Part of the reason for that is the Trump tax plan.

A lot of companies, dozens of companies, wound up giving raises and bonuses in January. Also, higher minimum wages took effect in 18 states across the country. So, that helped as well. All right, so main street is thrilled about it.

The American worker is thrilled about higher wages because wages have literally been stuck in pause for years. So, it is about time. Wall Street sees it differently. They see flashing signs of inflation ahead.

And that could possibly mean the fed could get more aggressive in raising interest rates at a faster pace and that could wind up slowing the economy down, a little bit, because it becomes more expensive to borrow money and people begin spending less money.

But overall, you look at the jobs report, this was a strong one, 200,000 jobs added in January. The unemployment rate holding steady at a 17-year low at 4.1 percent. If you want to get out your comparison marker, about the Trump first year in jobs and the Obama last year in jobs, under the first 12 months for President Trump, there were 2.1 million jobs created.

If you look at the last 12 months, President Obama, 2.5 million jobs were created, so actually job creation for President Obama was stronger in his last year. But here is the big caveat, because with President Trump, we're getting closer to full time employment.

Meaning that 4.1 percent unemployment shows we're getting close to everyone sort of having the jobs that they want to have, so inevitably you're going to see fewer jobs being open. That's the comparison for you -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, thank you so much, for putting all of that in context for us. Alison Kosik, have a great weekend.

You know, we have to show you this really shocking moment, this happened a short time ago inside of a Michigan courtroom, the father of three girls who were abused by Larry Nassar, so three of his daughters, abused by this former USA Gymnastics doctor, who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing young athletes under his care, the two came face to face and watch what happened next.