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NEW DAY SATURDAY
U.N. Reports North Korea Earned Millions by Violating Sanctions; Release of Nunes Memo Upstages GOP Agenda; Teen Delivers Solar Lamps to Puerto Ricans Without Power; Aired 8-9a ET
Aired February 3, 2018 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The memo was sent to Congress. It was declassified. I think it's a disgrace what's happening in our country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States is willing to trash his intelligence community.
REPRESENTATIVE DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There's clear evidence of collusion with the Russians. It just happens to be with the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It's about a distorted memo that the Republicans decided to put forth.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Serious concerns about the integrity of decisions that were made at the highest level of the department.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a red herring, an attempt to confuse everybody.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: There is a lot of fear in Washington that the president is gearing up to fire the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. The president was asked about it today.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You figure that one out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The firing of Rob Rosenstein in my view would be an act of obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We're always grateful to spend our weekend mornings with you. Thanks for being here. And this morning, there are some new questions regarding the future of several top law enforcement officials. VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The White House is pushing back on reports the president is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after yesterday's release of a highly controversial Republican memo. That memo alleges leaders of the FBI and DOJ abused surveillance law to spy on a former Trump campaign official.
PAUL: The FBI says that report is missing some key details. Democrats claim it is misleading. Still there are new efforts we should point out to force Rosenstein out of his job.
BLACKWELL: CNN's Abby Phillip is live in Washington. Abby, what is the White House saying about these reports?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, the White House is pushing back at least officially on the reports that the president is even considering firing Rod Rosenstein. Now, before I go into it really it is important to note why Rosenstein is even in the news.
He is the deputy attorney general of the Justice Department and he is in charge of overseeing the Russia probe. There are people on the right, conservative activists and others, who say that Rosenstein is overseeing a biased and corrupt probe and they want him to either step down or for the president to fire him.
Now, President Trump left some open questions broke this when reporters asked him about it yesterday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still have confidence in him after reading the memo?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You figure that one out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: We know that the president's feelings about Rosenstein are that he is upset with his leadership of the Mueller probe, but the White House is on the official side trying to push back on -- trying to push back on reports that the president is so angry with Rosenstein that he is considering firing him.
We had two White House spokespeople yesterday in the hours after President Trump made that vague statement essentially saying there is no consideration being given whatsoever to firing Rosenstein.
That statement is an effort to tamp down on some of this clamoring from the conservative right for the -- to fire Rosenstein. Listen to Raj Shah, the deputy White House press secretary on CNN last night talking a little bit about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I'm saying it on behalf of the White House, and that's that, you know, 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)
PHILLIP: Now, the decision will ultimately be in President Trump's hands and given his personal feelings toward his own Justice Department, it is unclear where this will go. At least for now the White House is trying to take this idea out of the public conversation in part because a lot of Republicans on the hill would view such a move as a disastrous for the Trump presidency, prompts something of a crisis here in Washington -- Victor and Christi.
BLACKWELL: All right. We heard that from the Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence, Adam Schiff, saying that this would lead to a constitutional crisis. We've heard it from other Democrats as well. Abby Phillip, thanks so much.
PAUL: The FBI director was adamantly against the release of this memo and now Christopher Wray is trying to keep the political fallout from seeping into the rank and file of the FBI. He's talking to his staff directly in a sense.
CNN justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, following that story. So, Jessica, talk to us about what specifically he said.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the FBI director, Christi, not staying silent here. He did put out a video message to the 35,000 members of the FBI just after this memo was released yesterday. It was really Christopher Wray's way of showing support for the bureau that has come under constant attack from the president.
So, here is what Director Wray did say in that video released yesterday. He said, "The American people read the newspapers and watch tv, but your work is all that matters. Actions speak louder than words."
[08:05:11] Now, Wray did continue in the video saying that he knows it has been a tough unsettling time, but he did say that he is inspired by the men and women of the FBI and all the work that they do.
Now, it was just a few days ago where there was that shakeup at the FBI, the Deputy Director Andrew McCabe abruptly stepped down. That was a month before he was actually set to retire. And that came after he was scrutinized intensely by the president over Twitter and also in the interviews.
And of course, we did report earlier this week that the White House aides have grown concerned with all of these attacks and also, they were worried with the release of this memo that director Wray might quit.
But really, Christi and Victor, it is clear with his address to the thousands of members at the FBI it seems to indicate that he is staying on the job and continuing to lead this bureau -- guys.
PAUL: And talk to us too about some of the surprising words coming from Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the last 24 hours. SCHNEIDER: Right. So of course, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also drawn the ire of the president, but as this memo came out on yesterday, the attorney general who was front and center at the Department of Justice here in Washington, it was an unrelated symposium.
But listen in when he introduced both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand. It really did seem that Jeff Sessions seemed to come to Rosenstein's defense in particular.
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JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Rod did 27 years in the department, Rachel had a number of years in 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 standing by his deputy and for now, Christi and Victor, it does seem that the Department of Justice at least the ones at the top of it do seem to be staying in place for now -- guys.
PAUL: It sure does. All right. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: So, the main allegation in the memo is that the Justice Department misused the FISA court to target former Trump adviser, Carter Page. So, exactly what is FISA, the FISA court? And was this the right place to pursue this surveillance of Carter Page? Here is Tom Foreman to explain.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: In the long investigation into possible Russian meddling in the U.S. election, Carter Page has become a flash point. Not because this one-time adviser to Donald Trump has had 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 the 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 is all approved properly to then go forward with this.
The FISA court did that, and they approved an extension three different times. And analysts say that is 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 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 that they do not want to make public because that could somehow imperil the further investigation of all of this
Whether or not that is true, we don't know. The very secretive nature of the FISA court is the reason that is it may be hard for the Justice Department to say here is what is happening and why they think the memo is wrong.
BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us now, CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist, Josh Rogin, and national security attorney, Mark Zaid. Good morning to both of you.
Mark, let me start with you. The "Washington Post" reporting that indeed the FISA court was informed that one of the sources with this dossier did have some political leanings. Was that clear enough or was it sponsored by someone with political affiliations? Was that specific enough?
MARK ZAID, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Well, there is no way to know obviously. This is the problem with this whole process because we have a 3-1/2-page memo from the House Republicans, and let's not move anywhere around that, this is a political document.
[08:10:14] And the FISA application as we learned actually last night on CNN is a 50-page document. And now we're on a slippery slope because how do -- how does anyone prove exactly what was considered in this application. The forthcoming presumably Democratic memo is now 10 pages long.
So, each step we are taking closer to revealing the inner workings of the FISC, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and in many ways, that is a great thing because the American people doesn't see that.
But with every issuance of information, we're moving towards revealing more on how the national security apparatus works and we're potentially damaging national security.
PAUL: OK. So, Josh, Mark has talked about the Democratic memo. We know that the common practice is that both Democrats and Republicans and House Intel committees, if they would release the memos simultaneously, that didn't happen this time around. What do you suspect we will hear in the Democratic memo and what do you suspect from Devin Nunes, who in an interview last night said, listen, there are more memos coming?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think first of all, the process of releasing these memos has been whatever the Democrats have been able to get the House Intelligence Republicans to do. And because the House Intelligence Republicans have controlled this, they have created a situation whereby their memo will get the first airing and a long airing.
And eventually if the pressure is high enough, the Democrats will release their memo and I'm sure it will add more information like you said about the -- about whether or not the source of the information was conveyed to the FISA court and the application, what were the other circumstances surrounding the case to surveil Carter Page, et cetera, et cetera.
You know, in the end we have to look at the credibility of these two institutions. Devin Nunes sacrificed his credibility last year when he went through the first phase of coming up with secret evidence, running into the White House, lying to the American people about it, and then admitting it.
In the end what you will have is a he said/he said that doesn't actually get you to the point which is whether or not there was any malfeasance. And it doesn't really tell you whether or not the information in the application or the dossier is true or not.
So, I point you back to the "Washington Post" editorial on this is basically a huge damaging distraction that is meant to sort of occupy our attention and take us away from sort of the examination into the real issue which of course was Russia's interference in our election.
BLACKWELL: Mark, one of the sticking points here is the characterization from the former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe in which according to this memo, he said no surveillance would have been sought without that dossier, which is not the same thing as no surveillance warrant would have been approved without it.
Democrats say that is not an accurate representation of what McCabe said. Just clear that up for us that no surveillance would have been sought versus no surveillance would have been approved based on the dossier.
ZAID: Well, it is a key statement. And in fact, when I read the memo and I was responding to it and tweeting it out like everybody else, that line was the one that really pulled me that I thought required additional information because I thought it was quite significant.
But now as we hear it has been promulgated by Republicans to say this mostly by people who weren't in the room and now we're hearing from those that were that that is not what the former deputy FBI Director McCabe actually testified to.
So, what is the next step in now we'll have to see -- again, I'd love to see all this myself too. But we'll have to see the classified testimony of McCabe to find out whether or not he said this or that because it will be crucial. And I can't imagine out of a 50-page warrant application that was extended at least three times that the Steele dossier was the only piece of information that was justifying any type of surveillance of Carter Page.
And let's look at what Congressman Trey Gowdy, a member of the HSCI, House Select Committee on Intelligence, said, he was Devin Nunes' number one pick to actually read the underlying information. Nunes didn't even read it himself.
Trey Gowdy tweeted out yesterday that this memo does nothing that impacts or should in any way denigrate the work of the special counsel, which was the whole premise apparently for why this memo was released in the first place. So, there is a real disconnects politically and legally.
[08:15:13] BLACKWELL: All right. We'll pick up right there when we come right back. Josh, Mark, stay with us. Thanks so much.
PAUL: Also, we'll talk about GOP Senator John McCain, he is blasting the president saying Washington is doing Putin's job for him by undermining America's rule of law. More on his warning to members of his own party.
BLACKWELL: Plus, the United Nations says North Korea is violating sanctions and banking hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. We'll tell you about that.
PAUL: And remember the man who hit a missile alert button in Hawaii, one that triggered that widespread panic? He wants to set the record straight now, his explanation ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was 100 percent sure that it was real. I did what I was trained to do.
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PAUL: With all the drama and fallout around the Republican memo, top leaders are concerned that Russia is winning the war on our democracy.
[08:20:03] BLACKWELL: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Americans to pay attention, adding Mexico could be next.
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REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We know that Russia has fingerprints in a number of elections around the world. We hear this from our European counterparts as well. My advice to Mexico would be to pay attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: All right. Josh and Mark are back with us. I want to go to the cooperation between Nunes and the White House and the obstruction of justice investigation that is happening with Bob Mueller.
Sources tell CNN that the president calls his friends saying that the release of this memo could support his view that the Justice Department is targeting him and maybe undermine Mueller's investigation. In the context of the obstruction of justice investigation, could Nunes see some exposure here, some vulnerability?
ZAID: What is interesting because what hasn't been very widely reported, because of the big news yesterday, was that a federal district judge here in Washington decided a case in which CNN is the plaintiff and I am one of the lawyers for the other plaintiffs to include "USA Today" where we sought access to the Comey memos, the infamous Comey memos that he essentially leaked to the "New York Times."
And the judge decided because the special counsel submitted ex-parte- in-camera, meaning we did not see them, affidavits to the judge to persuade the judge to withhold them. Why? Because they are being used potentially and presumably for an obstruction of justice case.
So, it is hard to -- this is a really difficult situation when you've got government officials acting in their official capacity undertaking at least on the surface what would appear to be actions we would hope and expect, but with the motives unknown.
And even with the president I've seen some people saying, oh, the president of the United States by declassifying this memo, exercising his constitutional authority, that that could serve as obstruction of justice.
This is a very complicated case, but let's just say there are a lot of puzzle pieces that Mueller is still looking at and this case is not going away anytime soon.
PAUL: And you talk about the motives that are unknown. What about the consequences of this, Josh, I mean, did this memo reveal anything consequential about the Republican or Democratic side of this?
ROGIN: I think it did, but what it revealed undermined the case that Nunes was trying to make. First of all, it revealed that the dossier was not the original source of the Russia investigation, that the investigation was started by information coming in from foreign sources about George Papadopoulos, a totally separate issue.
You know, it revealed that the controversial FISA warrant was renewed several times including by Trump administration and Trump handpicked officials. It sorts of, you know, purports to prove that the Russia investigation was based on faulty information, and in fact it does the opposite.
And that is even the skewed version that Nunes put out. It sorts of speaks to the larger point which is that this is -- the investigations as they are have a very important purpose, which is to determine what Russia did and its attack on our democracy.
This is the point that McCain was getting to and the more that we intentionally undermine that, the more that we hurt our ability to respond to that attack, respond to the next attack that Rex Tillerson just said is coming and also to protect our democracy.
BLACKWELL: Mark, what this mean -- we started the week or at least midweek with reports from sources that the White House was concerned that the FBI Director Christopher Wray was going to quit if this was going to be released, that the top two there at the FBI and Rod Rosenstein, they went to the White House begging them please do not release this document.
What does this mean for Wray's relationship with the White House and to a larger extent the Justice Department, the law enforcement community, intelligence community? Their relationship with Congress after the declassification of this memo.
ZAID: The irony, we keep hearing and I think we heard it in the lead coming into here about constitutional crisis. And typically, when we're talking about a constitutional crisis, we have some sort of conflict between the branches of government, the legislative and executive, but yet what we have is a conflict internally.
The president at the White House and his own Justice Department and its components. And I don't think Wray will resign over this, but everyone it seems is on cracking ice as this moves forward.
[08:25:02] And especially when you've got them saying that this memo can't be released. You know, they indicated in the days coming up which seems like a year or so ago already that it was going to cause grave damage if this document was released.
And that was buzz language to those of us who work in the community, in the national security community, I'm on the outside as a lawyer, but because that is the language from the executive order that says this document is top secret, which is in fact what it says at the top, but now it has been declassified.
So, as I said before, there is a slippery slope because in order to explain all of the details of this, we have to creep closer to more information that would be classified. And we've already filed court pleadings yesterday saying that this memo and the president's actions requires the release of more information.
Again, for journalists and lawyers, this is great, we love this information, but the national security community, his own community, the president's, hates this and believes it is causing damage to the system.
PAUL: We will see. Josh, Mark, always grateful to have your perspectives here. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right. The Justice Department wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against Russia's Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Paul Manafort who chaired the Trump campaign during the election claims Mueller and Rosenstein overreached when they filed charges against him for money laundering and not registering as a foreign lobbyist.
Well, the Justice Department says Mueller and Rosenstein acted lawfully adding that the lawsuit plainly seeks to interfere with Manafort's ongoing criminal prosecution. Of course, we'll continue to watch this.
PAUL: And the U.N. says Pyongyang is earning millions by violating U.N. sections. We'll tell you what they are exporting and to whom.
BLACKWELL:: Plus, the worker who hit that muscle alert button in Hawaii and sent thousands of people into panic, we are hearing from that man his explanation of what happened next.
[08:31:33] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: 8:31 on a Saturday morning and glad to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.
PAUL: So the U.N. this morning is saying North Korea racks up nearly $200 million last year by ignoring sanctions and exporting banned goods. Pyongyang allegedly exported coal to China, Malaysia, Russia and Vietnam by falsifying documents, supplied weapons to Syria and Myanmar, and according to a CNN investigative report is illegally fishing near Mozambique.
We want to bring in CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd.
So, Samantha, why are the sanctions first and foremost not working?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Christi, I actually want say that they aren't working. I'm not overly surprised by this report. President Trump has spearheaded incredibly rigorous international sanctions regime against North Korea and Kim Jong-un is desperate to make money. He is going to do whatever he can to make up for lost revenue. Keep in mind that North Korea and China used to do $3 billion worth of trade.
Now this report does allege that there is still some trade going on illicitly, but that is a fraction of what used to happen. Kim Jong-un is using every trick in the book, false documentation, offshore companies, selling arms and information to other criminals like Bashar al-Assad again to make up for lost revenue.
Now I worked on sanctions implementation against countries like Iran and Libya and the truth is sanctions evasion is about as old as sanctions themselves. That is nothing new. That is why we have monitoring bodies like the committee that produced this report for the United Nations as well as monitoring at a national level.
So in this case I think we have to wait and see how the countries named in the report respond. How Russia and China respond to the allegations. And whether they take action. I think the real question here is, are sanctions working toward achieving our objective of stopping the development of North Korea's nuclear program and to date I have seen no indication that they are.
PAUL: Well, $200 million, I mean that is nothing to sneeze at. But pretty significant figure, but I remember speaking at the beginning of the year with an expert who said, listen, Kim Jong-un even mentioned in some capacity how North Korea was suffering to some degree because of these sanctions. He mentioned that in his New Year's Day speech to his people.
Do we have a gauge of what it's like in North Korea since these sanctions have taken place? Because obviously this shows the desperation.
VINOGRAD: Well, to be clear, Christi, that's a great question. I definitely don't think the $200 million figure is anything to sneeze at, I just think we have to be clear that often particularly when sanctions regimes are new, people find loopholes. I do think that North Korea is feeling the pressure, how could they not? Right?
You're going from billions of dollars in trade with a country like China to a much smaller figure. And I do think that part of the motivation behind North Korea agreeing to have these talks with South Korea in advance with the Olympics is probably a result of the pressure that they are feeling as a result of sanctions. I think that they are using these talks as an excuse to kind of bilaterally warm up to the South probably to try to get concessions from South Korea like they have in the past.
PAUL: All right. Samantha Vinograd, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
And we're going to have the full CNN investigative report on North Korea violating U.N. sanctions at 10:00 right here on CNN.
[08:35:04] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The man responsible for sending out that false missile alert last month in Hawaii is trying to clear everything up now. He says he was 100 percent sure the missile alert was real. According to the official account, the call that initiated the drill began with a person saying exercise, exercise. But the worker did not hear that part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was supposed to be on speaker phone, but someone picked up the receiver and the first part of the message, exercise, exercise, exercise, was not heard. The message I heard was this is not a drill. And I did not hear exercise in the message at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: According to his attorney, he is considering a defamation lawsuit against the state to making false statements about what led to that incident. PAUL: With fall midterms coming up, will the release of this Nunes
memo have any effect on the GOP and the Democrats? We'll talk about it.
[08:40:22] BLACKWELL: Infrastructure, tax reform, immigration. All those issues pushed aside as the release of the Nunes memo takes over Washington.
Joining me now to talk about what it means for the fall midterm elections, what it means for you potentially, CNN political commentator Andre Bauer, former Republican lieutenant governor of South Carolina, and Brent Budowsky, opinion columnist at "The Hill" and former Democratic aide.
Gentlemen, welcome back to the show.
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, victor.
BLACKWELL: Andre, let me start with you and I want to start with this tweet from House Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy. And he tweeted yesterday, "I remain 100 percent confidence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The contents of this memo do not in any way discredit his investigation." Do you agree with that?
BAUER: I don't have enough information, Victor, that these congressmen are privy to a lot more than I am. You know, like so many Americans, I look at this, I hear what the Democrats say, what the Republicans say, and then hear with journalists like you say, and I try to disseminate this but it becomes very muddy for individuals like myself who really pay attention because of so much information overload and what the real truth is.
BLACKWELL: So, Brent, CNN has sources telling it that the president on phone calls with friends who said that releasing this memo will help to discredit Mueller and his Russia investigation despite what we're hearing from Trey Gowdy. Has it?
BRENT BUDOWSKY, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE HILL: No, and it won't. And I think that these attacks on the FBI, these attacks on the justice system are disgraceful, hurt America. I think it's outrageous. What I think is going to happen next is I believe that the whole purpose of this discredited and shallow and partisan report by Nunes about a FISA warrant he never read was nothing more than an excuse to do a Saturday night massacre.
He's going to fire Rosenstein, fire Mueller, refuse to testify before Mueller. And I think it's going to create a crisis when he does that. I think it would be useful and helpful for FBI Director Wray to make it clear that he will resign in protest if Trump executes those firings.
And a brief word about Senator John McCain who is the gold standard for patriotism in the 20th century and the 21st century. He says that this report and these attacks on the FBI help Russia and Putin while they are attacking America which they do and which the Russians are.
I think John McCain is one of the greatest Americans that has lived in two different centuries. And I root for him to come out of his crisis. It moved me profoundly that while he is fighting for his life, he is also fighting for American democracy as recently as last night.
And I just want to tell you, Senator McCain, if you are watching this show, God bless you, God bless America, God bless everything you stand for. America, a grateful nation is rooting for you.
BUDOWSKY: And cheering for you to come back to Washington because we need you now more than ever as a great crisis approaches.
BLACKWELL: Senator McCain put out a very strong statement yesterday.
Andre, you wanted to respond there?
BAUER: Well, look, I endorsed John McCain when he ran for president, but at the end of the day I don't think there is a problem when members of Congress point out that in fact there is a possibility that someone used information that was paid for by political party to enter to a FISA court.
BLACKWELL: But not -- why not wait for the inspector general report?
BAUER: That is --
BLACKWELL: Isn't that what the inspector general is supposed to do to find answers to that question and others? Why not wait for that instead of release simply one side of the story, just the Republican's memo, and not wait for the scrubbing, the protection of sources and methods from the Democrat's memo and at least release those together?
BAUER: Yes, I actually agree with you on that point, Victor. We should release both of them together. But there is a pattern here where you see the attorney general meet with the former president of the United States, just the optics don't look good. When you hear they meet with Hillary Clinton but not under oath after they have already made a decision, the optics don't look good.
BAUER: So when you criticize an action --
BLACKWELL: What about the optics of Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador? I mean, if you're discussing optics, there are optics that the president and his attorney general and some of the concerns on his side as well. You've jumped off to Loretta Lynch who is off into post-office.
BAUER: Because there is no problem in questioning people in authority. I mean, that's part of one of the values we have here in America that a lot of other countries don't have. So if someone sees something that they feel is inappropriate activity, just because you go after an individual at the DOJ or at the FBI doesn't mean you're condemning the agency. It means you are condemning the actions of certain individuals within there.
And we all have a right to question those actions. But I do agree with you, Victor. both sides should release everything and the American people should be able to disseminate information for themselves about what is true and what is not true.
[08:45:05] BLACKWELL: What does it mean for November? Will people care about the memo released in February when the midterms come around in November?
BUDOWSKY: No, I think the Nunes will go down in history as one of the great attacks on the FBI and will be soon forgotten as much as the third game of the NFL football season for my Green Bay Packers. What will matter, and what could decimate Republicans if they are not careful, is that they end up with Trump firing, creating a constitutional crisis after firing Rosenstein and Mueller, which again I hope the FBI director will make it clear would cause his resignation.
I hope Republican leaders in the House and Senate will support protection for Mueller and make it clear from their end --
BLACKWELL: The White House has said -- Raj Shah last night on CNN has said that they are hoping that Rosenstein will stay on the job and there are no concerns about firing him at least at this point. Of course we heard from the president there saying you can figure that out when he was asked if he would fire Rod Rosenstein and his level of confidence in him.
We've got to wrap it there. Andre Bauer and Brent Budowsky, thank you both.
BAUER: Thank you so much, Victor.
BUDOWSKY: Thank you.
PAUL: So a teenager, a ninth grader, mind you, taking matters in his own hands to help with Puerto Rico's hurricane recovery. He's with us next.
[08:50:28] PAUL: It's been more than four months since Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico and after all this time, nearly half a million people still don't have power. Instead of waiting for help, there's a 15-year-old, going to introduce you to him, he's from San Juan and he is taking action. He is raising money to buy portable solar lamps and hand-operated washing machines for people in those hardest hit areas. And you know what, it's worked.
He's raised more than $100,000 so far. He's delivered more than 1,000 of those solar powered lamps and he is with us now.
Salvador Gomez Colon, live from Chicago. He's in Chicago for a conference, I should point out, but he does live there in Puerto Rico.
Thank you for being here, Salvador. First of all, how is it that you were able to raise so much money and what is the number you're up to now?
SALVADOR GOMEZ COLON, SAN JUAN RESIDENT: Well, first of all, thank you for having me. So far I've been able to raise over $130,000. That is through the online crowd funding platform and through corporate donations.
PAUL: OK. Are you still collecting money?
GOMEZ COLON: Yes, the campaign is still open.
PAUL: OK. So help us understand, I know that you had traveled to some of these towns. You have seen for yourself what is happening there. Help us understand how people are living right now.
GOMEZ COLON: Well, it's very crazy to think that there are still people without power and four months without power is extremely traumatizing experience as they have told me. A lot of people are living without roofs, with tarps as their roofs. And some don't even have roofs. Yet they still have a spark of hope which really enlightens me when I got to see them.
PAUL: So how is your family? I mean, when you -- when I say that I had read that you had gone to some of these towns, is your family -- do you have power?
GOMEZ COLON: Yes. Luckily I have power. And my family is OK. My grandfather, though, suffers from multiple sclerosis so immediately after the hurricane, that was a very big problem.
PAUL: So when you go to these towns and you see these people, and you deliver them, when you go again and you deliver the lamps and I think you've got a lamp with you, too. You delivered the lamps, you delivered the washing machines, talk to us about how these people respond. There is a lamp. OK. Go ahead.
GOMEZ COLON: Here they are.
PAUL: So how do these people respond when you hand this to them?
GOMEZ COLON: Well, they are extremely grateful. Personally, I've gone to -- I went -- a case that stood out, I went to a young woman who was reading out in the sun and I asked her what she was reading. She was reading Homer's "Iliad" as if it were not a complicated book enough. And she told she really liked to read. So when I gave her the lamp, I told her for the first time in three months, you're going to be able to read at night.
PAUL: I'm so sorry that we have run out of time, but I've got to tell you, Salvador, we are so impressed. Talk about making things happen. Congratulations to you. Keep going. And let's check back in with you and see just how far this goes.
GOMEZ COLON: Thank you. Thank you very much.
PAUL: Absolutely. Take good care.
BLACKWELL: And we are now fewer than 36 hours away from kickoff. A live report from Minneapolis next.
[08:58:10] BLACKWELL: All right. One day left until Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles fans head to Minneapolis for the big game, got to stay warm.
PAUL: Yes, you do. Coy Wire, mittens tenens or gloves?
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm a dumb-dumb this morning. I'm out here coming to your living room. They're getting the city streets here in Minneapolis ready. Super Bowl live. Hey, (INAUDIBLE) hype around this big game. Formerly average ticket price for a regular season NFL game, 50 bucks. Average price of this one? (INAUDIBLE) $1,000.
Speaking of money, Vegas has the Patriots over the Eagles on this one by 4.5 points. Who do you think is going to win the big game? I caught up with the NFL's leading rusher, record breaking rookie Kareem Hunt and others to find out their prediction. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREEM HUNT, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS RUNNING BACK: I'm going to have to lean towards the Patriots for this one. You know, you can't go against Tom.
LARRY FITZGERALD, ARIZONA CARDINALS WIDE RECEIVER: I never really go against Tom Brady. You know what I'm -- I've seen his story, you know, a lot of times.
WIRE: Time and time again.
JIM KELLY, PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME QUARTERBACK: Frank Reich, who's the quarterback coach for the Philadelphia Eagles was my teammate here in Buffalo. I want to see him get a Super Bowl ring. So I'm pulling for Philadelphia. And if they win, I think it will be an upset and it's hard and I will never bet against Tom Brady, but hey, anything is possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: Now the Super Bowl Host Committee has done a great job with activations for allowing fans to experience the bold north. You have to brave the elements for some of it. Our Andy Scholes was up for it, he does Crossfit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Oh, it's cold. So cold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: Cold indeed. I can vouch for Andy. We got more of Andy and Jim Kelly in our CNN-"Bleacher Report's" "KICKOFF IN MINNESOTA." It's 2:30 today right here on CNN.
PAUL: That's trouble right there, but it's going to be fun trouble. Thank you so much, Coy.
BLACKWELL: Thanks, Coy.
Get some rest. And we'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for an hour of NEWSROOM.
PAUL: That's right. "SMERCONISH" starts for you right now.