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Republican Memo Alleges FBI Abused Surveillance Powers; Wall Street Sees Worst Day of Trump Presidency; Distraught Father Charges at Nassar in Courtroom. Aired 2-2:30a ET
Aired February 3, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A Republican memo accuses the FBI of hiding information in order to spy on a former Trump adviser.
A father face to face with the man who abused his daughters. We'll take you inside the courtroom as Larry Nassar's sentencing took a dramatic turn.
And Cape Town, South Africa, is going to run out of water soon. We'll be looking at how the government plans to deal with Day Zero.
Hi. I'm Cyril Vanier from CNN HQ here in Atlanta. Great to have you with us.
VANIER: So after Republicans in Congress spent a week promising to reveal damaging information on the FBI and the way it obtained authorization to spy on a former adviser to Donald Trump's campaign, that controversial memo is out and it accuses the bureau and the Department of Justice of abusing their powers.
The memo's contents are highly disputed. House Republican Devin Nunes who has been behind this memo claims the proof is in the congressional testimony of then-FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. Democrats claim Republicans cherry-picked the facts. CNN's Jim Sciutto has the details.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it is terrible.
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: The main allegation in the memo, the Justice Department
misused the FISA court to target former Trump advisor Carter Page.
What exactly is the FISA court?
How does Carter Page fit into 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 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 --
FOREMAN: -- 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: 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.
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 --
VANIER: -- 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You figure that one out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 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: Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, a father's rage in court as he hears the details of his daughters' sexual abuse. Stay with us.
VANIER: Welcome back.
Wall Street suffered its worst day of the Trump presidency on Friday. The Dow fell more than 665 points. That is its steepest point decline since the 2008 financial meltdown. A strong jobs report is fueling fears of inflation and higher interest rates. Analysts say the political turmoil in Washington is adding to the uncertainty.
Now imagine you come face-to-face with the man who sexually abused your three daughters. Imagine you have to sit through your daughters' recounting how it happened and what happened. That's what a distraught dad went through at the ongoing sentencing of Larry Nassar, the disgraces former USA gymnastics physician, who faces several life sentences for abusing hundreds of women and girls.
Kaylee Hartung tells us what happened in the courtroom and we need to warn you, her report contains graphic testimony from some of Nassar's victims.
RANDALL MARGRAVES: You son of a (INAUDIBLE).
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This father's anger...
RANDALL MARGRAVES: As part of the sentencing to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon.
HARTUNG (voice-over): -- aimed squarely at the man who abused his three daughters.
RANDALL MARGRAVES: Would you give me one minute?
RANDALL MARGRAVES: Well, I'm going to have to do --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please!
HARTUNG (voice-over): From this angle, you can see the court bailiff quickly get Larry Nassar out of the room.
More than 200 survivors in two different courtrooms over the past two weeks have provided victim impact statements in the case against Nassar, enraging and disgusting the country.
On Friday, Randall Margraves listened to two of his daughters publicly share details of their abuse.
MADISON MARGRAVES, NASSAR SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM: He said this meant because I had back pain he would need to put the needles on my vagina, with no coverage, no gloves, underwear and pants down to my thighs. My entire vagina was completely exposed to him.
LAUREN MARGRAVES, NASSAR SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM: When I was 13, just a kid, laying on a table at MSU and you put your ungloved hands all over my rear and slipped your thumb into the most private area of my body.
MADISON MARGRAVES: To my parents, thank you for all of your love and support through all of this. You have done everything that a parent could ever do.
I really feel that my entire family has gone to hell and back over the last few months of what Larry Nassar did to me and my sisters over the last are years.
LAUREN MARGRAVES: My parents are heartbroken and so filled with guilt. The guilt they have will never go away.
HARTUNG: Margraves' actions prompted praise on Twitter, calling him a hero. Parents swaying they would have done the same thing.
JANICE CUNNINGHAM, INGHAM COUNTY CIRCUIT JUDGE: You have to understand --
HARTUNG: Compassion and understanding, too, from the judge overseeing Margraves' civil contempt hearing a couple hours later in the same courtroom.
CUNNINGHAM: I cannot tolerate or condone vigilantism. But as for the direct contempt of court, there is no way that this court is going to issue any kind of punishment given the circumstances of this case. And I do, my heart does go out to you and your family because of what you have gone through.
RANDALL MARGRAVES: I appreciate it, Your Honor. Something that I would like to apologize to you and the courtroom. I'm embarrassed. I am not here to upstage my daughters. I am here to help them heal.
HARTUNG: In a family press conference later in the day, an apologetic Margraves --
HARTUNG: -- tried to explain his emotional reaction, saying that it was the first time he had heard some of the details on Nassar's sexual assault on his daughters.
RANDALL MARGRAVES: What I had to hear what was said in those statements and I have to look over at Larry Nassar shaking his head, that is when I lost control.
HARTUNG: Nassar, who was sentenced up to 175 years in prison for similar charges in another Michigan courtroom last week, is expected to be sentenced in this hearing early next week -- in Atlanta, Georgia, Kaylee Hartung, CNN.
VANIER: In Iran now, officials are cracking down on protests against a mandatory headscarf law. Police in Tehran have arrested at least 29 people for demonstrations like this one.
Images posted on social media show women taking off their headscarves to defy the country's strict Islamic dress code. Enforcement of the law has been relaxed in recent months and that has emboldened many younger women. According to local reports, officials suggest that foreigners are to blame for these protests.
The International Organization for Migration fears that dozens of migrants have drowned off the Libyan coast on Thursday. The group says between 90 and 100 people packed the boat that then capsized overnight. So far there are only three known survivors.
Still, officials are desperately searching the Mediterranean for anyone who might still be alive. A spokesperson for the IOM calls it "an absolutely shocking tragedy."
We'll take a short break. When we come back, Cape Town, South Africa, is running out of water. How residents are dealing with that. Stay with us.
VANIER: Residents of Cape Town are living a new normal. The South African city could run out of water in a little more than two months. And they're currently stockpiling for the so-called Day Zero.
People are waiting in long lines to fill up bottles. Some are even building their own rationing systems in their homes. The city is now restricting residents to just 50 liters of water a day from municipal sources.
VANIER: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment and we'll have more Derek in the next show. That's at the top of the hour.