Return to Transcripts main page


Republican Memo Alleges FBI Abused Surveillance Powers; Wall Street Sees Worst Day of Trump Presidency; Advertisers Gear Up for Super Bowl. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired February 3, 2018 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The Republican memo is out and everyone is fighting over what it means. The document says the FBI abused its power when it got authorization to spy on a former adviser to Donald Trump's campaign.

Plus, markets stumble. The Dow suffers its biggest drop since President Trump's inauguration.

And Super Bowl weekend is upon us here in the U.S. With that, comes the battle of the brands, companies spend big to reach the millions that will be tuning in.

Hi, I'm Cyril Vanier live from CNN HQ here in Atlanta, thank you for joining us.


VANIER: So let's get into it. Congressional supporters of U.S. president Donald Trump are being accused of trying to discredit the Russia investigation by alleging the FBI improperly obtained a warrant to spy on one of Mr. Trump's former associates.

A controversial memo released Friday by House Republican Devin Nunes claims the proof is in the congressional testimony of then FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. The memo's contents are highly disputed and officials in the Justice Department had warned against making it public. CNN's Jim Sciutto has the details.



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the president and Republicans leveling a new broadside at the FBI with a four-page memo alleging the bureau abused its surveillance authority in seeking a warrant to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page during the 2016 election.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: It has been a tough fight. SCIUTTO: The disputed memo authored by the staff of House Intel Chairman Devon Nunes claims that former FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the committee the Page warrant would not have been sought by the FBI without a dossier compiled on President Trump's possible connections to Russia.

Three Democratic members of the committee, however, dispute that account, telling CNN that Nunes, quote, "mischaracterizes" what McCabe said.

The memo reveals that the warrant to monitor Page was approved and renewed by the court three separate times. The former Republican chair of the Intel Committee, Mike Rogers, says that would not happen without other U.S. intelligence to backup the application.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If this is all they used, well, the judge ought to get in trouble too. And I doubt that happened. I think there is a lot more information that supplanted of the information that they provided. In addition, they went through separate renewals. And each renewal, according to the law, you actually have to reconfirm probable cause, meaning you had to get something off of that wire.

SCIUTTO: The memo also alleges that the FBI and Justice Department did not inform the FISA court that former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who compiled the dossier, was funded by the Democratic Party.

Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said that it is, quote, "not accurate" that the secret court was unaware of Steele's political motivations. He claims the court knew of, quote, "a likely political motivation" behind Steele.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: What it ended up delivering is criticism of a single FISA application involving Carter Page and its renewals that cherry-picks information that does not tell the reader the whole of the application and is, as the DOJ and FBI have said, deeply misleading and factually inaccurate.

SCIUTTO: While the memo attempts to portray the FBI as relying on outside information to launch the Russia investigation, it notes that a counterintelligence investigation was actually opened months before the Page application based on a stream of intelligence separate from the dossier.

This includes information from the Australian government, which learned that another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had been offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton from an individual with ties to the Russian government.

With these accusations swirling, Christopher Wray addressed FBI employees today via video, this reported by Shimon Prokupecz, and he said times are tough but went on to give a bucking-up speech to the rank and file, saying that the American people read the newspapers and watch TV but your work is all that matters. Actions speak louder than words -- Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: And the main allegation in the memo, the Justice Department misused the FISA court to spy on Carter Page, a former campaign Trump official.

What is the FISA court and how does Carter Page fit into all this?

Tom Foreman breaks it down.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the long investigation into possible Russian meddling in the U.S. election, Carter Page has become a --


FOREMAN: -- flashpoint, not because this one-time adviser to Donald Trump has had a long relationship with Russia or because he traveled there during the campaign, although that is true, but instead, because some Republicans believe the Justice Department improperly used a FISA court to wiretap Carter Page.

Now FISA stands for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And this is what is used when investigators want to spy on, essentially, somebody who is actually on U.S. soil. They go to FISA court, they present information explaining why they believe this person is a suspected agent of a foreign government and the FISA court would then give them permission, if it's all approved properly, to then go forward with this.

The FISA court did that in this case. Not only that but they approved an extension three different times. And analysts say that's probably because there was something coming out of this or most likely something coming out of this that gave them reason to keep approving this.

But some Republicans are saying the real problem here is that there was a secret political hand at work that the court was not told about, that the original information on Carter Page, some of it at least, came from an investigation that was partially funded by Democrats out there. And those Democrats were feeding it into the Justice Department; FISA court didn't know about it.

Now if that's the case, then why doesn't the Justice Department just come out and say, look, maybe we have got other sources, other things we can tell you about.

The reason that would not happen, according to many intelligence analysts, is that there may indeed be other sources. There may be other avenues out there they're proceeding that they do not want to make public because that could somehow imperil the further investigation of all of this.

Whether or not that's true, we don't know. The very secretive nature of the FISA court is the reason that it may be hard for investigators, the Justice Department to come forward and say, here is what's happening and why they think the memo is wrong.


VANIER: And many have been saying, well, look at who the messenger is, the person who's been driving this memo is Devin Nunes, chairman of the House intelligence Committee, a close ally of the president. He's come in for criticism.

Some say he's overly partisan and hurting his committee's investigation as a result. The first interview he gave after the memo came out was to conservative FOX News, that had been pushing for the release of this memo. And Nunes slammed the Democrats on his committee.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIF.: These are not honest actors. They know they are not honest actors. And I get tired of playing whack-a-mole every day with the Democrats on this committee, who never wanted to start this investigation in the first place.

So there's clear evidence of collusion with the Russians, it just happens to be with the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee that the news media fails to talk about or fails to even investigate.


VANIER: All right, let's discuss this with CNN political commentators Dave Jacobson, John Thomas.

How you interpret today's memo, at least in Washington, depends very much on what side you're on, Democrats or Republicans.

Dave, during the presidential election, the government used dirt produced and paid for by the Clinton campaign to obtain surveillance on a former Trump adviser. And the spy who put that dirt together we know hated Mr. Trump.

Does that in any way trouble you?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, Cyril, at best, today's release of the memo and the hype leading up to it was nothing more than Republican fearmongering.

At worst, it is a public smear attempt against the FBI, our premier law enforcement association, and the Justice Department and an attempt to further obstruct justice and provide a potential opening.

Obviously as a Democrat I believe it's not justified but a potential opening for a narrative for Donald Trump to further obstruct justice by potentially firing Rod Rosenstein.

(CROSSTALK) VANIER: You talk about a narrative for Mr. Trump. Do you understand that an ordinary American citizen looking at this will say, well, there's something untoward. The FBI shouldn't have been using information that had been paid for by the Clinton campaign to obtain the right for surveillance on a former Trump guy.

JACOBSON: But here's the challenge right now. We don't have all the facts. If we want to talk about being transparent, then the Republicans and Devin Nunes, who is chair of the Intelligence Committee, should allow the Democrats to disclose their memo and unveil all of the facts, because the challenge right now is, we don't have all of the information.

Republicans are refusing the release of them from the Democratic perspective.

VANIER: Yes, that's a fair point we have to tell our viewers and that's what makes this conversation so difficult. We don't even know what we don't know here. We don't know what our blind spots are. Remember, the FBI said that there are --


VANIER: -- we don't know the context here. The facts have been cherry-picked. The Democrats obviously are saying the same thing, they agree with this assessment. And the FBI has grave cause for concern, grave concerns about this memo, saying that it's inaccurate.

John, do you feel ultimately this memo is what the Republicans had announced it would be?

They said there was unconscionable abuse of power by the FBI.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think the memo was overhyped, but there's some really concerning things here and I don't think this is the end or is this is the start of much more information to come.

What I learned today from the memo was pretty simple, is that a Democratic funded, unverified dossier was the main and potentially, according to Andrew McCabe of the FBI, the fundamental justification to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page. If not for that dossier, they probably would not have had the warrant.

VANIER: Let me insert a caveat in that. You're repeating what the Republicans say, that this comes from Andrew McCabe's testimony.


VANIER: But we don't know.


VANIER: Not only do we not know, the Democrats say that is not accurate and that is not what he said.


THOMAS: That's why we need to release these transcripts. But here's what we do know, we do know, at least according to the Nunes memo, and I want to see the counter Democratic memo, I think that's fair to look at.


THOMAS: -- according to the Nunes memo, it's not the issue to me that the FISA court was presented with the dossier. That's not my problem. My problem is, they weren't told who funded the dossier, that the FBI knew that the Democrats paid for the dossier and neglected to provide that information to the FISA court. That's a problem.

VANIER: Now the FISA court by the way is supposed to look at reams of evidence, an entire stream of evidence. So neither I nor neither of you are able to guarantee that the FISA court looked only at the dossier before granting the authorization to carry out this surveillance. We don't know that again.


THOMAS: But we do know, Dave, that nothing has been filed against Carter Page. So I don't know what they were surveilling. Looks like they didn't find anything at this point. I don't know why they kept going back and back. There's a lot of questions here.


VANIER: The Russia investigation's not over. If they have found something, they wouldn't necessarily have made that public.

THOMAS: Well, low-level people like Papadopoulos and others, they seem to have gone after him, after these people at some point. Unless Carter Page is the mastermind, the top get, I think we would know by now that Carter Page was implicated.


VAUSE: Dave, I want to go back to something you mentioned. Mr. Trump was asked after the memo was made public, whether would fire the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: You figure that one out.


VANIER: All right. Mr. Trump very noncommittal about whether he would fire the deputy A.G., the man who is currently overseeing this whole Russia investigation. I have to say, the caveat here, a lot of caveats in this conversation White House -- several voices from the White House have been saying, no, that's not on the cards; we're not going to fire Rosenstein.

How do you feel about that, Dave?

JACOBSON: I think we have to continue to expect the unexpected with Donald Trump. Nobody thought that he was going to fire Director Comey, a Republican, by the way. And now there's all this talk of Donald Trump potentially Rod Rosenstein, who, by the way, is a Republican appointed by a Republican president.

So I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. Remember, Donald Trump is a guy who puts politics first. He's politically desperate and he is willing do anything to maintain power.

That includes obstruction of justice. We know that because immediately after the firing of Director Comey, he went on NBC with Lester Holt and said that he fired Director Comey because of that Russia thing.

And so, again, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. I think we have to continue to speculate and be prepared for this president to do something, like firing Rod Rosenstein.

VANIER: By the way, just when you say that we know that he's capable of obstruction of justice, that hasn't been determined by the people who are looking into that.


VAUSE: They're doing that digging right now.

John, I suppose my very last question, the overarching question is, what does this change for the Russia investigation?

The big questions that people want the answers to are, was there collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia?

And was there, to Dave's point, obstruction of justice?

What does this memo -- this has nothing to do with those big questions.

THOMAS: Well, it does and it doesn't. Part of the foundation of the Russia investigation, if it did involve this Russian dossier and starting wiretapping Carter Page, perhaps it leads to the Russia investigation.

My perspective on this today, it's not about the Russia investigation. That's not where we're at, at this point. It's about the FBI and the politicization --


THOMAS: -- of the FBI, independent, trying to perhaps out -- fix the outcome of a presidential election. That's what this is about and abusing the Fourth Amendment of a private citizen.

VAUSE: All right, John, Dave, thank you so much for coming on. The story's far from over. We'll keep talking about it. Thank you. THOMAS: Thank you.

JACOBSON: Thanks, Cyril.

VANIER: Investors are probably glad that this week is over. We'll look at what's behind Friday's huge drop in the U.S. markets and what is on the horizon.




VANIER: Wall Street suffered its worst day of the Trump presidency on Friday, the Dow falling nearly 666 points, despite a strong jobs report that actually showed increasing wage growth. Our Clare Sebastian breaks down all the numbers and what's fueling investor's fears.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A volatile week on Wall Street ended with a major selloff, the Dow was down 665 points at the close. That is its worst day since Donald Trump took office and the worst points drop since the 2008 financial crisis.

The selloff was broad-based; both the Dow and S&P 500 fell more than 2 percent. And in this case, what is good for the economy wasn't good for the markets. The U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January, wage growth was up. That is fueling concerns down here about inflation.

Could that interrupt the corporate profits that we've seen and could it lead the Fed to raise rates faster than expected?

Overall, though, the abiding sense here is that the market has run so far for so long that perhaps a bit of pullback was the right thing -- Clare Sebastian, CNNMoney, at the New York Stock Exchange.


VANIER: Tim Anderson joins me now.

Tim, you were the managing director of TJM Investments. You guys scrutinize the markets 24/7 for a living. Tim, for those of us -- and I'm one of them who are not financially minded -- I want to make sure everybody understands. I know what everybody is thinking here.

We've been reporting nothing but super strong news out of the U.S. economy for a year now. The U.S. economy is adding jobs, wages are now growing.

Why would the financial markets go down?

TIM ANDERSON, TJM INVESTMENTS: Well, look, we've had -- this is -- right now, the market, the technicals are going to fight the fundamentals probably for a couple of weeks, maybe for the majority of this month. We'll just have to see.

When I say that, everything you're saying is absolutely correct. We're starting to see some wage growth. We've got decent job growth but it's not really, really strong yet. We've got companies reporting decent earnings. We've got companies raising salaries and giving out some bonuses. That's going to show up later in the quarter with more cash in consumers' hands and the consumer's still 70 percent of the economy.


ANDERSON: But technically, the markets had a very, very strong run. I mean


VANIER: Tim, I want to interrupt you for a second and put up that run, at least the last year of that run. I know it's been growing for nine years. But if we look just at the numbers from February 2017 to February 2018 and you take that slightly larger sample size, it's still going up by a long stretch.

So I suppose my question is, how positive, how confident are you about the markets going forward if you look at it with a wider perspective?

ANDERSON: To start the week, the S&P 500 was up about 6.5 percent for the month of January. The Dow was maybe up 5 percent. The Nasdaq was up probably more than that.

We just can't sustain 5 percent increases in the major indices month after month after month, all year long. Netflix is up 50 percent year to date. And Netflix actually held in well today. But these are just percentage gains that are unsustainable on an annualized basis.

Now I'm very positive on corporate earnings, I'm positive on the economy but stocks may have gotten just a little bit ahead of themselves.

And if really, really big money managers can take some of their profits for the year off the table and get 3 percent on a 30-year bond that they haven't been able to get for four years, they're going to maybe readjust their asset allocation model, at least until they see how the rest of the quarter plays out.

VANIER: All right. So I'll chalk you down as one of those who feels that maybe some of that correction is actually a good thing for the economy. Tim Anderson, thank you so much for your insights.


VANIER: The father of three of Larry Nassar's victims is apologizing for his emotional outburst in court on Friday after he heard two of his daughters' victim impact statements, Randall Margraves had a visceral response.

RANDALL MARGRAVES, FATHER OF LAUREN, MORGAN AND MADISON: I would ask you to, as part of the sentencing, to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon.

Could you do that?

Yes or no?

Would you give me one minute?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know that I can't do that. It's not --


RANDALL MARGRAVES: Well, I'm going to have to do --



VANIER (voice-over): Deputies tackled Margraves before he could reach the disgraced USA gymnastics doctor. Nassar already faces what amounts to several life sentences for abusing hundreds of women and girls. The judge agreed to release Margraves without any final punishment after that.


VANIER: A Super Bowl showdown. It's the biggest pro football event of the year in the U.S.. But sports fans are not the only ones who will be glued to their TVs. We'll tell you more about that. Stay with us.




VANIER: Welcome back. The Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event of the year in the U.S., will be played on Sunday as the Philadelphia Eagles take on the reigning champions, the New England Patriots. It's a football competition, sure. But what it also is, is a battle of the brands. CNN's Maggie Lake explains.




MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: "Game of Thrones" star, Peter Dinklage, channeling his inner Busta Rhymes.

And Morgan Freeman getting his freak on, promoting Doritos and Mountain Dew. Their lip-sync battle of sorts is a teaser for one of the high-priced ads to come on America's most-watched sporting event of the year, Super Bowl Sunday. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-second spots are going for $5 million this year. But that's only the beginning for advertisers. They spend many millions more on production, on celebrity endorsers.

LAKE (voice-over): Most brands are holding off the big surprises for Super Bowl Sunday. But star-studded mini previews create almost as much buzz at the game itself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amazon's Alexa lost her voice this morning.

LAKE (voice-over): Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that the company's digital assistant device is getting a new voice. The ad shows executives scrambling to replace Alexa's lost voice with hilarious alternatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexa, show me a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're 32 years of age and you don't know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich?

LAKE (voice-over): Amazon is paying millions for the ad space and they are just one of many big spenders.

Actor Chris Pratt is headlining the spot for low-calorie brew Michelob Ultra.

M&Ms hired Danny DeVito to depict their signature chocolate candy.

Budweiser's ad tugs at the heartstrings, promoting the company's efforts to send water to areas hard-hit by natural disasters in the U.S.

While the tones may differ, most will likely stay far away from anything that could lead to controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year, for the first time, I think, people are backing off political, kind of like social (INAUDIBLE) kind of stuff. We had the election in the last year so people are ready to pounce on commercials and say, I don't like that, that's not for me, that's offensive.

LAKE (voice-over): While they'll have to tread a careful line between charming and politically charged the big brands spend big on Super Bowl Sunday for one reason: if it's anything like last year, more than 100 million people will be watching -- Maggie Lake, CNN.


VANIER: And we are done for now. But I'm back in a few minutes with the headlines. I'm Cyril Vanier. Stay with us here on CNN.