Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Claims Nunes Memo Vindicates Him; Critics Says Nunes Memo Could Be Used to Discredit Russia Probe, Fire Rosenstein; FBI, DOJ Leaders Speak Out on Nunes Memo; Interview with Rep. Tom Garrett; Schiff: Big Trouble for Trump If Nunes Memo Used to End Russia Probe; Democrats Work to Release Own Memo; Pentagon's New Assessment on Nuclear Threats to U.S.; What It Takes to Get a Surveillance Warrant; Man Behind Hawaii False Missile Alert Talks; U.K. Police Investigate New Allegations Against Harvey Weinstein. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 3, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The memo is out. The assessments are under way. What does this mean? What divisions might have it created between the White House, Congress and top law enforcement? The president of the United States now in his Mar-a- Lago, Florida, home, claiming today the memo proves his innocent, tweeting this: "This memo totally vindicates Trump in probe, but the Russian witch-hunt goes on and on. There was no collusion and there was no obstruction, the word now used because after one year of looking endlessly and finding nothing, collusion is dead. This, is an American disgraced." That from the president.
The White House declassified the controversial three-and-a-half-page document, allowing the memo to go public, despite strong objections from the FBI and Justice Department, calling the memo misleading. The Republican document alleges leaders of the FBI and DOJ abused surveillance laws to spy on former Trump campaign official, Carter Page. Democrats claim the memo is incomplete and partisan. Critics of the memo worry the White House will use it to discredit the Russia investigation. And use it as an excuse to fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is live for us in West Palm Beach, the president's Mar-a-Lago estate.
So, Boris, the Democrats are warning the president may face a constitutional crisis if he were to use this memo as a reason to fire the Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, so what is the White House saying about all this?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Fred. Yes, the president actually fueled speculation about the fate of the deputy attorney general yesterday when he was asked by reporters if he had confidence in Rod Rosenstein, and the president saying, quote, "You figure that one out." He was asked about the Nunes memo, and he said it was a disgrace and said a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, further fueling that speculation because the deputy attorney general is named in the memo.
We did hear from deputy press secretary, Raj Shaw, on CNN last night. He kind of walked back the president's comments and said that there will likely not be any changes coming to the Department of Justice. Here's more from Raj Shaw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJ SHAW, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I'm saying it on behalf of the White House, and that's that no changes are going to be made at the Department of Justice. We fully expect Rod Rosenstein to continue on as the deputy attorney general.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now, Fred, that confirms what sources familiar with what the president's thinking are telling CNN, that at this time, there's no considers of firing the deputy attorney general. In part, because the president fears firing him would prolong the Russia investigation.
We should note that this administration has voiced confidence numerous times in White House officials who have then, shortly after, been shown the door. Ultimately, this illustrates where the president's thinking is on the Russia investigation through a number of his actions, whether it was firing James Comey or reports that he was aggravated by the Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the investigation or reports last week that he was trying to fire Robert Mueller but, ultimately, relented at the advice of his attorneys. It's clear that the president is frustrated by his inability to influence this investigation and he wants it over immediately. In part, because it's been a cloud over his agenda and his administration.
Despite the ongoing probe, his approval numbers are rising. And the president tweeted about that earlier today. Here's that tweet. He writes, quote, "Rasmussen just announced that my approval rating jumped to 49 percent. A far better number than I had in winning the election and higher than certain sacred cows. Other Trump polls are way up also. So why does the media refuse to write this? Oh, well, some day."
Fred, I reached out to a White House official to ask for insight into what the president meant by "sacred cows." I have yet to get a response -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: OK. Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.
All right, so this Republican memo, very critical of the leadership of the FBI and the Justice Department. And in an effort to boost morale, perhaps, leaders at both agencies are speaking out.
FBI Director Christopher Wray strongly objected to the release of the memo prior to it happening. And now that that memo has gone public, Wray is telling his staff to stay focused and not be swayed by the political fallout.
CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, joining us now.
Jessica, what more did Director Wray have to say? How important is the feeling that he did that?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, the FBI director defending the rank-and-file, you know, somewhat discretely though. He put out a video message to the 35,000 members of the FBI yesterday, just right after that memo was released. It was Director Wray's way of showing support for the bureau that has really come under constant attack from the president. And Wray's words, they were somewhat symbolic. Director Wray wrote this or actually said this in a video message. He said, "The American people read the newspapers and watch TV, but your work is all that matters. Actions speak louder than words."
So implying there that it's the actions of the FBI agents that matter more, perhaps, than the president's words or tweets. Wray did continue in that video saying he knows it's been a tough unsettling time, but he is inspired by the men and women of the FBI and all they do.
And when it comes to defense, that also seemed to be the mode of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Again, as this memo came out yesterday, Jeff Sessions was at the Department of Justice here in Washington, leaving an unrelated symposium. And here's what Attorney General Sessions had to say about Rod Rosenstein, along with Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:05:36] JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Rod's had 27 years in the department. Rachel's had a number of years in the department previously. And so they both represent the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: So the attorney general there coming to the defense of his deputy, after really what has been a rocky week and a rocky year for the Department of Justice, as well as the FBI.
Fredricka, we've seen the attorney general, as well as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein now come under fire from the president, sometimes directly, sometimes in tweets, sometimes behind closed doors. But it seems the law enforcement community and the intelligence community really rallying together here to kind of push back -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right, Jessica Schneider, in Washington, thank you.
Release of that memo is also pitting members of the Trump administration at odds. President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as you just heard, both with very different views on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does it make you have confidence in - (INAUDIBLE) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You figure that one out.
SESSIONS: Rod's had 27 years in the department. Rachel's had a number of years in the department previously. And so they both represent the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's zero in on that contrast. Here to discuss, Republican Representative Tom Garrett Jr, from Virginia.
Congressman, good to see you.
So Attorney General Sessions has great respect for Rod Rosenstein, but the president says, you know, "You figure it out." Where do you stand on this?
REP. TOM GARRETT JR, (R), VIRGINIA: Well, I think that's a Trumpian way of saying "no comment." But, ultimately --
WHITFIELD: Yes, but he could have said he has nothing to worry about, he's doing a good job, and he didn't do that. Because he has done that before for other people.
GARRETT: Well, he also said he's going to fire him. But let me be clear, I'll echo the sentiments of the director. I've worked with the FBI as a prosecutor. It is replete with fine women and men. However, most law enforcement professionals are good, too. That doesn't mean there are bad ones, right? I think the nuance being missed here is the FBI is good. There may be some bad folks who have done bad things inside of it.
WHITFIELD: OK, so where are you on whether Rod Rosenstein should be worried about his job?
GARRETT: Ultimately, I have to flesh out the information I'm given and arrive at conclusions. I don't have anything that rises to that level yet. I would certainly suggest, based on what I do know, having read both the Republican and Democrat memos, that there's certainly smoke there. I think this is appropriate circumstance for an independent investigation as it relates to the alleged activities that would fly in the face of due process and privacy rights of Americans.
WHITFIELD: So does the memo reveal there are some real problems that need to be addressed as it pertains to FISA court or does this memo reveal something about how the Mueller investigation is not being conducted fairly? I mean, what was the primary objective of this memo? How do you interpret it --
WHITFIELD: -- walk away with here? GARRETT: I think the American public needs to know if there's an incident where the levers of political power has been leveraged against U.S. citizens. I think it transcends this memo and goes back to the things like the IRS scandal. It goes back to, say, for example, the George W. Bush memo that said he didn't show up to his Reserve National Guard training that was never, to my knowledge, investigated, that we never got to the bottom of. And people try to influence our elections --
WHITFIELD: What do you want people to understand about this --
GARRETT: -- don't be surprised when it happens again, right?
WHITFIELD: But right here we are today, this memo, with the investigation about Russia and its interference with U.S. elections, what do you want people to grasp from what just transpired yesterday, that this memo was released? What do you want people to know, understand, have clarity on?
GARRETT: Somebody doesn't care about getting a prosecution. They're more concerned with getting a political outcome. And I'll tell you why. Delaware versus Franks, for the attorneys watching, would preclude the use of anything gathered by virtue of the false statements or lack of statements before the FISA court in court. They wanted to get the information in a hurry. But any prosecutor understands Delaware v. Franks, and that obviously has shot the opportunity to use any of this in the foot. It begs the question why. Again, we know FISA courts, "The Washington Post" reported, has been weaponized against American citizens before. We should be --
WHITFIELD: That's what we hope will be grasped from that memo, gleaned?
[13:09:58] GARRETT: I sure hope so. I think the real danger here is that regardless of your political affiliation, you should be fearful of the government leveraging power against private citizens, contrary to their reasonable expectation of privacy and due process. And that's what I think has happened here.
WHITFIELD: You don't believe the FBI or an entity like it should be able to investigate any American who may have some interaction with an adversary? Because isn't that what's at the core of the Carter Page/FISA warrant request, application?
GARRETT: Not at all. I do believe, however, that due process and a duty of candor before the court undergirds our legal system, and that's not here. So that's the problem. We've sort of omitted information as convenient as it relates to the facts supporting probable cause, thrown it before the court, and gotten surveillance permission against American citizens. That's draconian, at best, and really, really Big-Brotherish frightening, at worse. WHITFIELD: OK. So Congressman Adam Schiff weighed in on this. And
he seems to believe that if this memo release is to be used to help get rid of the Deputy A.G. Rosenstein, that really it would spell big trouble for the president. This is Adam Schiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), CALIFORNIA: But his statements today are very concerning about Rod Rosenstein. The fact that he's sort of dangling Rod Rosenstein's job. The firing of Rod Rosenstein, in my view, would be an act of obstruction of justice, just as firing Bob Mueller would be. It would be further evidence that what happened with James Comey was not an isolated act. So, to me, that would be a very definite part of a pattern of obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Do you think that this memo release was kind of a prelude to, you know, Rosenstein or justification for his firing --
GARRETT: I would direct Schiff to Article II of the Constitution of the United States and ask him what part of executive authority is difficult for him to grasp. Ultimately, this is within the purview of the president, right?
WHITFIELD: My question is, was this -- is it the feeling that this memo release is a prelude to some justification for the removal of Rod Rosenstein?
GARRETT: I think Rod Rosenstein should be removed, if he should be removed. I don't have that information yet. But what's important here is, regardless of your partisanship, we need to understand that the levers of government power are being leveraged against American citizens outside the realm of due process and our inherit rights to privacy under the Fourth and Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment. That's the scary thing. And we saw that with the IRS scandal --
WHITFIELD: If there were some real violations, the way in which these four judges went about granting a warrant for FISA, there is already a mechanism in place to investigate that. There has been since the '70s when this FISA court came about. Why do you not trust that there isn't that investigation under way or a sound investigation that could be trusted if, indeed, there were some violations or due process not met or the FISA warrant not taking place correctly?
GARRETT: We know the information was withheld. We know that. There's no allegation against the judges on the FISA court. The allegation would be against the presenters of the evidence in order to --
WHITFIELD: How do you know that?
GARRETT: It's in the memo.
WHITFIELD: Why do you feel so confident about that?
GARRETT: It's in the memo.
WHITFIELD: The memo doesn't include all of the information.
GARRETT: But it's --
WHITFIELD: It's just an extrapolation of there is just some permitted information.
GARRETT: Right. But understand probable cause standard would be more likely than not and then your guilt phase would be beyond a reasonable doubt. The information in the memo gets us to probable cause. That's not any dispersion on the FISA court judges. That would be on the presenters of the evidence. You have a duty when you're an officer of court, which means any lawyer, a local ambulance chaser or somebody with the DOJ, of candor before the tribunal. That means you have to give them all relevant information. There's no excuse for, oh, gosh, I forgot or --
WHITFIELD: But you haven't seen all the information and the American public hasn't seen all the information, and potentially will never see all the information.
GARRETT: I hope we do.
WHITFIELD: It will only be this portion and then what portion the Democrats put out in their memo.
GARRETT: No, I really hope we do. Because I think that's the thing here. Again, really trying to take away from the partisan angle. The American public should feel secure in their personal effects, papers
GARRETT: -- their privacy, due process, due exercise.
WHITFIELD: You do not really believe all of the information would ever be publicly released in a FISA court?
GARRETT: Let me say this. Let me say this. I'm privy to information I can't discuss.
WHITFIELD: All the classified information would be declassified, all of it?
GARRETT: I would like to see more information be classified on everything from private servers to IRS scandals. WHITFIELD: OK --
GARRETT: Anywhere where there's an allegation of --
WHITFIELD: What you want and what's realistic though are very different --
GARRETT: I think the real danger to national security and who we are as a nation is that the levers of power can be leveraged against American citizens without their knowing.
GARRETT: So more truth sooner.
WHITFIELD: All right. We're going to leave it right there.
Congressman Tom Garrett Jr, thank you so much.
GARRETT: Thanks so much. Fred, thanks to you. Have a great day.
[13:14:58] WHITFIELD: OK, you, too.
All right, straight ahead, Democrats say this memo is the Republican's way of undermining the Russia investigation. This, as they work to release their own memo to combat what they call misleading information put out to the public.
WHITFIELD: All right, less than 24 hours after the highly disputed GOP memo's release, President Trump declares himself vindicated in the Russia probe. Some Republicans, including Trump, have said the memo shows the FBI abused its surveillance powers.
Democrats, meanwhile, are fuming. The chairman of the DNC, calling the nearly four-page document, quoting now, "a sham."
Joining me now to discuss, Michael Blake, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Good to see you, Michael.
MICHAEL BLAKE, VICE CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Good to be here.
WHITFIELD: So how much more complete do you believe this Democratic memo will be that perhaps might eventually be released next week?
[13:20:13] BLAKE: Substantially, Fred. When we think about that Trump seems to be more worried about vindication rather than getting to the truth, that's the exact reason why we should be concerned here. When we have the intelligence community, has repeatedly asked to not release this memo, because they indicated it would be reckless and dangerous. When we see that within the memo itself, from Nunes, at the bottom of it, it actually communicated that the investigation began because of the information from Papadopoulos, which discredits the core impact of this memo. That's why we need the Democratic memo out there. Let's have the true facts that are out there and then let the people decide from there.
WHITFIELD: What in your view was the damage done by the release of this GOP memo?
BLAKE: It's clear, it's intended to try to undermine an investigation. You know, when President Trump is communicating that it's a disgrace that this is happening, the real disgrace is he doesn't want to get the truth out there. The real disgrace is he's not helping the people of Puerto Rico still without people, the people of the Bronx without heat, by making sure the people in our country understand what's happening here. When they try to communicate that this is some sort of Democratic farce, let's be clear, five entities in the justice community, as well as four judges, were the reason that not just once but three additional approvals of this warrant to move forward. It's clear trying to undermine the investigation.
WHITFIELD: If the intent behind the memo, releasing it is to undermine the investigation, A, do you believe that happened, that it has undermined the investigation? And then, B, what would be the intent of the Democrat's memo?
BLAKE: One, it has not. We know Mueller and his team are going to continue to do their job by finding out was there collusion, coordination and now, obviously, looking at obstruction of justice potentially.
Secondly, to your question around the memo, on the Democratic side. Not just on our end. The intelligence community and others are communicated there were facts that were omitting from the Nunes memo, a memo that still as of today cannot communicate he actually read the classified material associated material. He is supposed to be recusing himself. It seems he's only trying to protect himself and Trump.
So, all we're saying is let's have a fair conversation. As we know, the investigation continues. Look, my oldest brother, Fred, served in the U.S. Army for 29 years. Anyone who is in service in any aspect, whether it be FBI, the Justice Department, et cetera, we have to give them the responsibility of helping our country. And what President Trump is doing today is a continual disgrace in attacking those men and women in uniform.
WHITFIELD: I've talked to a couple lawmakers today. And two lawmakers, Congressman Brad Wenstrup and Tom Garrett, are arguing it's an issue of transparency and the American people need to know fully about the FISA court, the process of applications, of surveilling Americans who happen to be interacting with, you know, adversarial countries, et cetera. And that is at the root of why this memo was put together and why it was released.
BLAKE: It's pretty comical listening to them about their arguments here. Let's be very clear. For days, they've been communicating, the Republican leadership and the Republicans in Congress on this committee, that the reason we have to share this is for transparency. Because this will show the core impact of what's happening in the investigation.
WHITFIELD: Are the American people owed that kind of transparency?
BLAKE: Absolutely. People are absolutely owed the transparency. Let's be clear. The end of the memo indicated that because of the research and what happened with Papadopoulos is the reason the investigation should move forward.
Secondly, why then would the Republicans not release the Democratic memo? Why then, number three, would they push back on the intelligence community saying don't release this because this is an inappropriate process, that would be reckless. And so --
WHITFIELD: Wenstrup argued earlier today Democrats didn't want their memo released simultaneous.
BLAKE: There seems to be a lot of shifting conversations that are happening here. But the reality is, look, we're all communicating. Why would there be a rejection from the Republicans in Congress to say let's not move forward on this memo? Why would you not share what the Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr, the information you have, if it's truly about helping the country, other than undermining an election? When people are wondering, here and now, today, why should we still care about this? Because Russia is still trying to undermine our elections currently. It's not just about 2016, it's about moving forward as well.
WHITFIELD: Michael Blake, we'll leave it right there. Thank you so much.
BLAKE: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.
First, CNN Money takes a look at a rather unique way to grab a bite and then soak up some local flavor when you're traveling.
[13:24:52] VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Food is a big part of any city's culture. So why not experience it with new friends and in a unique location?
Companies like Outstanding in the Field host pop-up dinners like this one in some of the most breathtaking places across the country.
We're on Anna Maria Island in Florida where 200 travelers and locals are coming together today for family-style dinner. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, on the menu, we have a lot of seafood, of
course. We're on the water.
YURKEVICH: Did you catch all of the fish for tonight's dinner?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am. I caught the stuff right out there.
YURKEVICH: Right out there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's right here on the table now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's --
YURKEVICH: That's not farm to table. That's ocean to table.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
YURKEVICH: So we're in Florida.
Where did you travel from to get here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came from Nashville.
YURKEVICH: All the way from Nashville?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
YURKEVICH: Just for this event?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just for this event. I'm here with my six best girlfriends from college.
YURKEVICH: One of my favorite parts about today, besides the delicious food, is meeting new friends, like these ladies.
So cheers, to new friends.
[13:30:33] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The Pentagon is out with an alarming new assessment of the threat of a nuclear strike against the United States, not just by North Korea, but by Russia.
CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has detailed.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While President Trump navigates the political mine field of the Russia investigation --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's been no collusion. There's been no crime.
STARR: -- Pentagon and State Department unveiled the toughest line yet against Vladimir Putin's military in a report on nuclear threats and the Trump administration solutions.
ANITA FRIEDT, ACTING ASSOCIATE SECRETARY FOR ARMS CONTROL, VERIFICATON & COMPLIANCE: Russia has increased its reliance on nuclear weapons and its capabilities and, as we pointed out, it's building a large and diverse nuclear arsenal.
STARR: The Pentagon detailing 2,000 Russian nuclear capability weapons that could hit Europe, including missiles, bombs, depth charges and torpedoes. And for the first time, confirming Russia is developing an underwater drone that could potentially travel thousands of miles and strike the U.S. coastline.
Russia, just one headache for Defense Secretary James Mattis, as he begins the second year on the job. The U.S. nuclear deterrent also aimed at North Korea, which the report says may only be months away from the capability to strike the U.S. with nuclear-armed missiles.
JOHN ROOD, UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENCE FOR POLICY: If North Korea would hypothetically launch a ballistic missile tipped with a nuclear weapon at the United States that we intercepted, it's not the sort of thing that we would say, oh, well, that's the end of the story.
STARR: But because of current tension, the Pentagon may delay a routine test of a U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile until after the Olympics, CNN has learned.
Along with the Joint Chiefs, job number-one now for Mattis is to convince President Trump to not conduct a limited strike against North Korea, hoping sanctions work before a missile is fielded.
Job number-two, Mattis still has to have credible military options to back up the diplomatic effort.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: He's got to present it in a way that leads up, that manages his boss, so that his boss, who has never seen combat -- unlike General Dunford and Secretary Mattis, he has never experienced the kind of conflict they have seen -- they have got to make him understand the catastrophic consequences of making a decision on the use of military force.
STARR (on camera): Critics say all of this lowers the threshold for President Trump to decide to use nuclear weapons. But advocates say, in today's world, this strong deterrence is necessary against America's adversaries.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
WHITFIELD: Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.
But first, television is a major part of our lives, but could the way you watch television soon change?
Rachel Crane has this look at what it may be like living in the future.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: So we're surrounded by screens. They're how we entertain ourselves. But how we'll watch them, the form factor, is changing too. The size, the shape and even the idea of needing a screen at all is evolving.
Keecker, a French start-up, thinks your future entertainment system will look like this. It's a projector sound system and security system rolled into one.
(on camera): So it's kind of like an obedient dog?
PIERRE LEBEAU, FOUNDER & CEO, KEECKER: That's right.
LEBEAU: Just really useful. It can be there to give you your music, your TV, and it can be away if you don't want to see it.
CRANE (voice-over): Keecker is designed to do a lot, but it isn't perfect yet.
(on camera): Hey, Keecker, come to the living room. Keecker, stop moving, please.
It's like a petulant version of the Amazon Echo.
You think there may be a day when Keecker replaces the TV?
LEBEAU: I think the TV has to be replaced by something.
CRANE (on camera): Turning TVs into something more than just a black box is a challenge lots of companies are tackling. Some are making screens more flexible or getting rid of them entirely. Others are designing screens to blend in. But what if your screen could actually talk to you?
[13:34:55] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest advances we're going to see in home entertain are going to be augmented reality systems and then also artificially intelligence characters that start to become part of games and other experiences. Just like A.R. is going to replace some screen applications, screens are going to survive and hang in there.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Two dueling memos, but only one made public thus far. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have released their assessment of how the FBI used the FISA surveillance program during the 2016 campaign. But, the committee and President Trump have yet to OK the release of the Democrats document.
As for the GOP memo, it claims the FBI abused the FISA program to spy on Trump campaign former foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, who also had multiple contacts with Russians.
So what exactly is the FISA process all about? And what does it take to actually get a surveillance warrant?
All right, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor in Cleveland -- we called in the best, per usual
-- and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney, joining us from Las Vegas.
Good to see you both.
WHITFIELD: All right. So, Avery, you first.
This is going to be almost like a FISA 101, but a real truncated version because it is really complicated. Here we are. We've got the GOP memo that's been released. It's very critical of the process. First off, Avery, tell us what the FISA court is generally used for, what exactly is required in order to get a surveillance request approved.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Well, usually, if you're -- and 99.999 percent of Americans have never seen a FISA application.
FRIEDMAN: Ordinarily, you have 50 to 100 pages, you have affidavits, you have an investigation of substantial evidence in which the Justice Department merely has to establish, merely, probable cause. That is a very low standard. Ultimately, a judge, a panel of foreign intelligence surveillance judges, and it's a private, a secret court, needs that evidence. And while they don't automatically grant necessarily a warrant, ordinarily they do. But it is substantial evidence, which a FISA judge requires. I guess that's the point here, with a three-and-a-half-page memorandum, there is no possible way that you can really understand what the court did in this case.
[13:40:09] WHITFIELD: So, Richard, in the case of Carter Page, former, you know, Trump campaign adviser, it has been stated that the FBI had been looking at him for a very long time. It goes back as far as 2013. But this GOP memo is kind of zeroing in on 2016, and the interaction that this adviser had with the Trump transitional campaign, and even how the surveillance continued of Carter Page, even after he left the campaign.
So I'm saying all that to say there were many renewals for Carter Page. And the renewal comes up every 90 days. The Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein signed off on a warrant renewal, as did his predecessors. So the GOP memo is trying to establish that, you know, Rosenstein and others unfairly targeted, you know, Carter Page.
So help people understand, you know, what it means to get a renewal. It's not clearly just a stamp of approval, but there's a lot that's entailed.
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: There's a few things to digest here. Number one, there were four applications made on Carter Page to suggest that either he was a spy, or he was a foreign agent working against the United States. They base that on a lot of information, including the Steele dossier, which substantial portions of it were corroborated. The Republicans claim the Steele dossier is a fake document made politically by the Democrats which, by the way, began by conservative Republicans. A billionaire conservative Republican funded it initially.
But the point is this, Fred, an application for a warrant, the source of the information doesn't matter. The credibility of the information is all that matters. And --
WHITFIELD: But they were already looking at Carter Page. There were other things. But the dossier came kind of late in the game.
HERMAN: This is nothing more than a propaganda machine to lay the foundation to fire Rod Rosenstein. That's all this is.
HERMAN: For the president today to get on and tweet that this four- page memo by Nunes, this opinion letter by him, for which he never even read the 400 pages of underlying documents, which supported the FISA application, he cherry-picked and put this together with no knowledge of criminal law, no knowledge of criminal procedure --
HERMAN: -- no knowledge of the FISA application. He puts this together. For the president to say this totally exonerates him, it's scary, Fred, because it shows a complete lack of intellect, of knowledge of criminal procedural, of knowledge of criminal law, and of common sense. It's absurd. We're on the level of absurdity right now, Fred.
HERMAN: This Devin Nunes, in our lifetime, could well be the most corrupt, dishonest -- (CROSSTALK)
FRIEDMAN: Oh, now, wait. That's not fair. That's not right.
HERMAN: -- congressman we have ever seen.
WHITFIELD: Avery, if the memo -- some worry that the memo might undermine the Mueller investigation. Is it your view or concern that the memo in anyway undermines the FISA, you know, process? Does it potentially jeopardize other cases down the line because of what was released in this memo?
FRIEDMAN: Well, it might, but -- and that's why the Department of Justice said that there are material omissions. And that's very important.
But at the end of the day, let me explain this in a little bit different way. My colleague and I disagree on things, but I bet we'll agree on this. In any kind of legal proceeding -- forget the political part. In any legal proceeding in a courtroom, a judge always says to the jury, Fredricka, you've heard some of the evidence and the judge admonishes, don't make a decision you're not permitted to render a decision until you hear all the evidence. So, yes, there's a lot of evidence. I don't understand, if the president wants the truth, why would you hide one interpretation by the Democrats and release the Republican version? The fact is, that information -- look, Americans are good and righteous people. And they want the truth. Let's get as much evidence as we can out so Americans can understand this.
WHITFIELD: All right, Richard, last word.
HERMAN: Yes, to answer your question on that, this is an issue of national security, Fred. It revealed to the public and to the Russians and a lot of other people the inner workings of the FISA court. That is national security. Just like when the president invited the Russians into the White House and breached national security with them.
[13:45:00] HERMAN: Think about in your lifetime, how many presidents have breached national security. This was a complete waste. This is a propaganda machine on predicting, Fred, within 72 hours, the president will terminate Rosenstein, put a political hack in there, in an attempt to curtail Mueller or fire him.
AVERY: Won't happen.
HERMAN: That's the sole purchase of Nunes piece of garbage -- (CROSSTALK)
WHITFIELD: Even though Jeff Sessions, the A.G., came out, last night --
WHITFIELD: -- sending out a video message saying actually that he backed, you know, Rosenstein. He actually said his quality and leadership is what we want in the department.
WHITFIELD: So that re-endorsement by Sessions, perhaps that helps protect Rosenstein --
HERMAN: Sessions, not true.
HERMAN: That's not --
WHITFIELD: All right. Avery, Richard, always a pleasure. Appreciate it.
HERMAN: See you soon.
WHITFIELD: Thank you.
Up next, the man behind the false missile alert in Hawaii is talking. Why he thought the drill that sent the state of Hawaii into sheer panic for more than 30 minutes was 100 percent real. That's what he thought. Stay with us.
[13:51:06] WHITFIELD: Hi. Welcome back. A stunning admission from the man responsible for sending out that false, missile alert last month in Hawaii. He's now saying he was 100 percent sure the missile alert was the real thing and that is why he sent is out more than half an hour of panic in that state, and really beyond that.
Our Polo Sandoval is following the developments.
Polo, what's his account of what happened?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, first off, he is saying that he is the subject of civil death threats so he's not willing to show his face, but he is willing to share his part of the story of what took place, saying that he was simply following protocol when he issued the false missile alert. The man, again, who has not identified himself, an employee who spoke to CNN saying that he is feeling terrible what took place that day, prompting that panic, however, he was simply doing what he was trained to do.
According to his version of events, on January 13th, the phone rang, and he did not hear the word "exercise" repeated, so he went to the computer and issued the alert.
This is how he described it for a CNN affiliate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The protocol is that the person answering the phone presses the speaker phone button so that everyone in the office can hear the message. But that didn't happen. Someone lifted the receiver, so the message, the beginning of the message was not being able to be heard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: The man says that when he heard this, "This is not a drill," that is when he went to the computer and issued the alert about a minute later. We should mention, the state of Hawaii fired this man this week saying that, after the investigation, there they were able to determine that he, in the past, had trouble or at least confusing real-life events with drills. And that the day of the incident, he apparently froze and did not know what to do, prompting another employee to step in and resolve the issue. However, the man you just heard from disagrees with that version of events, Fred, saying that there was nobody else in the room on that day that indicated that this was the drill. That seems to be his story, and it's something that he is sticking to.
WHITFIELD: OK. Polo Sandoval, thank you for bringing that to us. Appreciate it.
We will be right back.
[13:57:43] WHITFIELD: Actress Uma Thurman is detailing attacks that she says she suffered at the hands of disgraced movie producer, Harvey Weinstein. And this, as Weinstein is facing more assault allegations in Great Britain. CNN has learned the U.K. police are investigating two new allegations from the same woman, one in 2010 and the other in 2011.
Meanwhile, Thurman is revealing several incidents in an article released today in "The New York Times." And in one case, Thurman says that Weinstein pushed her down and tried to shove himself on her and expose himself, but then she was able to kind of wriggle away.
Thurman nearly broke down talking about Weinstein last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UMA THURMAN, ACTRESS: I have learned that I am not a child. I have learned that when I have spoken in anger, I usually regret the way I express myself. So I have been waiting to feel less angry. And when I'm ready, I will say what I have to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And a statement from Weinstein's attorney says that his client "acknowledges making an awkward pass 25 years ago at Miss Thurman in England after misreading her signals after a flirtatious exchange in Paris, for which he immediately apologized and deeply regrets. However, Thurman's claims about being physically assaulted are untrue."
We have so much ahead in the NEWSROOM. And it all starts right now.
All right. Hello, again, everyone. Thank you for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
The memo is out. The assessments are underway. What does this all mean? What divisions might have been created between the White House, Congress, and top law enforcement?
The president now at his Mar-a-Lago Florida home, claiming that the memo claims his innocence. Tweeting this: "This memo totally vindicates Trump in probe, but the Russian witch hunt goes on and on. There was no collusion and there was no obstruction, the word now used because after one year of looking endlessly and finding nothing, collusion is dead. And this is an American disgrace."
That's the president via tweet.
The White House declassified the controversial three-and-a-half-page document, allowing the memo --