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Republican Memo Alleges FBI Abused Surveillance Powers; Women Defy Compulsory Headscarf Law; Distraught Father Charges at Nassar in Courtroom; Wall Street Sees Worst Day of Trump Presidency. Aired 3- 3:30a ET

Aired February 3, 2018 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A Republican memo says the FBI relied on bias and unreliable intelligence to spy on a former Trump campaign official.

As women in Iran take off their headscarves in protest, authorities crack down and blame foreigners.

Plus a father, face-to-face with the man who abused his daughters. We'll take you inside the courtroom at Larry Nassar's sentencing.

Hi, everyone. Thanks for being with us. I'm Cyril Vanier at CNN HQ here in Atlanta.


VANIER: So congressional Republicans are accusing the FBI of abusing its powers, saying the bureau improperly obtained a warrant to spy on a former aide to the Trump campaign.

That allegation was made in a controversial memo released on Friday. It was apparently based on the congressional testimony of then FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. However, Democrats dispute the memo's assertions and say that Republicans cherry-picked the facts. 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: The main allegation in the memo is that the Justice

Department misused the FISA court to target former Trump adviser Carter Page. Now we know this is confusing; there are a lot of facts here.

What exactly is the FISA court?

How does Carter Page fit into all of this?

We asked our Tom Foreman to break 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 the Justice Department improperly used a FISA court --


FOREMAN: -- 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: Now the person who has been pushing this memo is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes. He's Republican, of course, and he is a close, close ally of the president. He has been roundly criticized; some say that he is so overly partisan that he's actually hurting his committee's investigation. He's not backing down, though.

The first interview that he gave after the memo came out was to conservative FOX News. And he spent part of that interview slamming the Democrats that work 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: The top Democrat on the committee says the memo is not meant to help the investigation but hurt it.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CALIF.), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The goal was simply to get a misleading piece of information before the public, help support the president, help discredit the Mueller investigation and the FBI, help do the bidding of the White House. And that's all that's going on here.


VANIER: That's Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat. That means the top Democrat on the committee. He has called the memo "a completely reckless abuse of the classification process," and will result in long-lasting damage. Earlier I spoke about the possible significance of this memo with CNN political commentators Dave Jacobson and John Thomas. Listen to this.


DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: 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 -- 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.


VANIER: 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: All right. That was a part of my conversation earlier with CNN political commentators John Thomas and Dave Jacobson.

And as you heard, Democrats say that they will push next week to release their report on the Republican allegations and McCabe's testimony. So maybe we'll find out more about that. Maybe that will shed some light and give us a fuller version of this story.

Now to the French port city of Calais, where a violent mass brawl between Afghan and Eritrean migrants erupted on Thursday.


VANIER (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) four people were shot and 18 were injured. The brawl added more tension to an already stressed region. Calais is home to the French entrance to the Channel tunneling into the U.K. Hundreds of migrants live in the city, even after the closure of the infamous Jungle migrant camp in 2016.

The International Organization for Migration fears dozens of migrants drowned off the Libyan coast Thursday. The group says between 90 and 100 people packed the boat that capsized that night. So far there are only three known survivors. Still, officials are desperately searching the Mediterranean for anyone who might be alive.

A spokesperson for the IOM calls it "an absolutely shocking tragedy."

In Iran, officials are cracking down on protests against a mandatory headscarf law. Police in Tehran have arrested at least 20 people for demonstrations like this. Images from social media show women taking off their headscarves to defy the country's strict Islamic dress code.

We're live with Ramin Mostaghim from Tehran. He's with the "Los Angeles Times."

Ramin, it's great to have you with us. Tell us more about this protest movement.

Is this just isolated pockets of activism or does it reflect a larger movement against the hijab in Iran?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": On the surface, it's a pocket of resistance. But it doesn't represent -- it represents the majority who are just having frustrations, similar frustrations for ages.

So it seems pockets of resistance isolated from each other. But in a society like Iran, always tiny, tiny minority organized can represent the compiled and accumulated frustrations from the majority of the city dwellers.

So it seems pocket of resistance. But it's represent and reflects the simmering frustrations accumulated for ages.

VANIER: Help us get a better understanding of where Iranian authorities currently stand on this headscarf. I mean, they're cracking down on women who remove it. Yet they relaxed the rules on the hijab fairly recently.

MOSTAGHIM: Yes. In terms of no moral police or fashion police in the district, they have relaxed. It is so and it may be so until the university -- I mean anniversary of revolutions and it may go beyond. And we can understand that --


MOSTAGHIM: -- in summer and the warm weather there might be some relaxation.

Usually it happens but it's not translated into a law. So we can say there is a relaxation, yes, and there is no formal police now.

VANIER: Ramin Mostaghim, speaking to us from Tehran, thank you very much.

Coming up after the break, a father's rage boils over in court as he hears the details of his daughters' sexual abuse. We will hear the judge's message to the furious father -- after the break.

And a major world city is slowly running out of water. How Cape Town is preparing for Day Zero. Stay with us.



(MUSIC PLAYING) VANIER: A situation nobody wants to find themselves in. 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.

Well, that's what a distraught dad went through, him and his two of his daughters, at the ongoing sentencing of Larry Nassar, the disgraced former USA gymnastics physician, who faces life sentences for abusing hundreds of women and girls.

Kaylee Hartung tells us what happened. And we need to warn you: her report contains graphic testimony from some of Nassar's victims.



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 --



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 --


LAUREN MARGRAVES: -- 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.


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 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: Wall Street suffered its worst day of the Trump presidency on Friday. The Dow fell slightly more than 665 points. That is its steepest point decline since the 2008 financial meltdown.

Paradoxically, this is because the strong jobs report is actually fueling fears of inflation and higher interest rates. Analysts say the political turmoil in Washington is also possibly adding to the uncertainty.

We have received some dramatic video of cars and homes being washed away by raging floodwaters in Northwestern Argentina. Reports say 10,000 people were forced to leave homes when heavy rains caused this river to burst its banks.

Some residents had to be pulled from the rushing water.

Residents of Cape Town are facing a painful new reality. The South African city could run out of water in a little more than two months. So people are waiting in long lines -- you see it there -- to fill up bottles, stockpiling for the so-called Day Zero.

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: Just quickly, two teenagers in France, making the best out of a bad weather situation. Exactly what Derek would do. Here's one of them, wakeboarding through a flooded street in suburban Paris.

So it looks like they rigged the cable to pull them along. And they just had fun with it. Now this comes about a week after heavy rainfall that caused the River Seine in Paris and around the French capital to overflow and it's just put parts of the region under water. So I guess that's the silver lining from that flooding episode.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment.