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STATE OF THE UNION
Republicans Release Controversial Nunes Memo; Interview With Illinois Senator Richard Durbin; Interview With Ohio Congressman Brad Wenstrup; Interview With Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes; Trump Team Before the Memo: Carter Page Wasn't On the Campaign; President Trump's Super Bowl Pick In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET
Aired February 4, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Memo revealed.
President Trump says he's vindicated after releasing a controversial Republican memo.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a disgrace, what's going on in this country.
TAPPER: But the FBI, Justice Department and Democrats say the memo does not tell the whole story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's misleading in its timeline. It's misleading in how it mischaracterizes what Andy McCabe said.
TAPPER: Two members of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democrat and a Republican, who disagree on the memo's release join us live next.
Plus, figure it out. President Trump refuses to say whether he will fire the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.
TRUMP: You figure that one out.
TAPPER: But how might that move affect the Russia probe, which Rosenstein supervises?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: The firing of Rod Rosenstein would be an act of obstruction of justice.
TAPPER: The number two Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin, responds in moments.
And Super Bowl Sunday, the brash underdog vs. the establishment juggernaut. Sound familiar?
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is ready for some football.
As Americans wait for the Eagles and the Patriots to face off in the Super Bowl, President Trump is facing off with his own national security community leaders.
The president spent Saturday golfing and complaining on Twitter that nobody's talking about his great jobs numbers, only Russia, Russia, Russia. He also used Twitter to declare himself cleared in the ongoing Russia investigation after the release of a Republican four- page memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools during and afternoon the 2016 election.
He tweeted -- quote -- "This memo totally vindicates Trump in probe. But the Russian witch-hunt goes on and on. There was no collusion and there was no obstruction, the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding nothing, collusion is dead. This is an American disgrace" -- unquote.
In response to the president's tweet, a former senior national security official told me -- quote -- "As a public servant, I was taught to never take official action for personal gain. That is exactly what our president has done. He personally ordered the declassification of the memo not for political purposes, but for personal purposes. The proof of that is his claim that he has now been vindicated by the memo. In my view, this conflict of interest is the real story, not the memo itself, which doesn't contain much we didn't already know" -- unquote.
Let's get right to the number two Democrat in the senator, Dick Durbin of Illinois. He's also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Durbin, thanks for joining us.
President Trump says the Nunes memo totally vindicates Trump in the probe. Does it?
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MINORITY WHIP: No, of course it does not.
And the fact that the Republicans in the House refused to allow a minority report, the Democratic response to their memo, is an indication that this -- they're just bound and determined to continue to find ways to absolve this president from any responsibility.
I agree completely with John McCain. It was John McCain who said, trying to undermine the FBI and the Department of Justice is really not in the best interest of the America, and, frankly, it's doing Putin's work.
We ought to be trying to focus on an investigation on a professional level by Bob Mueller, and not trying to find a way to obstruct justice or to absolve this president from any responsibility he has.
TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to what the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Devin Nunes, said about the allegations laid out in the memo of FISA abuse.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: I think the American people understand that the FBI should not go to secret courts using information that was paid for by the Democrats to open up investigations and get warrants on people of the other political party.
That's the type of stuff that happens in banana republics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, it seems as though the judge was told that the information from the Steele dossier was funded by a political source, but it was not specifically referred to as having been paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.
Do you think that is problematic?
DURBIN: What Nunes conveniently ignores is, this investigation was under way long before the involvement of the Steele dossier.
And, in fact, the court was advised that there was a political source to it. And the judge, in issuing a FISA warrant, has to weigh whether or not there's something in the background here that should disqualify the issuance of a warrant. And he decided repeatedly that it did not.
The Nunes memo, if they allowed the Democratic response to come out, would be discredited itself. The information, the facts tell a totally different story.
TAPPER: So, Senator, just to play devil's advocate here, one could really look at this objectively and say, look, I get what you're saying about the Nunes memo, but the Democratic Party isn't exactly bathed in glory here.
"Mother Jones" magazine broke the story of the dossier's existence in October 2016. The intelligence chiefs felt the need to brief the incoming and outgoing presidents of the existence of the dossier in January 2017.
And the fact is, the public didn't find out that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC paid for the dossier until a little over three months ago in October 2017. This dossier was used for this FISA warrant, a surveillance warrant of a Trump official, and the Clinton campaign and the DNC didn't close that.
Isn't that problematic?
DURBIN: Well, I can tell you that that is one piece of evidence. Its credibility has to be judged by law enforcement officials first, ultimately by a judge, and perhaps by a jury. But to say that that's the end of the investigation, that this is all that Donald Trump needs to fire Rosenstein or to fire Bob Mueller, I will just tell you, this could precipitate a constitutional crisis.
If the House Republicans believe they have set the stage for this president to end this investigation, they are basically saying that, in America, one man is above the law. And that's not a fact. We have got to make sure that we explore all the possibilities and all the evidence.
TAPPER: I want to get to that, and I understand your larger point.
But would you -- would you grant the point that the DNC and the Clinton campaign should have disclosed much earlier than they did to the public that they actually funded this dossier?
DURBIN: Of course, you know as well, Jake, that the actual political motivation, beginning of this, was on the Republican side.
It was then switched over where there was Democratic funding. It really goes to the credibility. But that is an issue that the judge in issuing the FISA warrant takes into consideration, and ultimately some other trier of fact will as well.
But to say now that we can say, as the president said, it's all over, stop the investigation, I'm above the law, and I shouldn't be investigated any further, that is an extreme position. And it's inconsistent with one of the fundamental rules of law in this country.
TAPPER: Well, I think, in point of fact, the opposition research project was funded by Republicans, but the Steele dossier, per se, was funded by Democrats, but this appears to be a dry well. So, I'm going to move on.
Before the memo was released, Democrats were sounding the alarm that putting it out could compromise national security and intelligence sources and methods.
Take a listen to the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: I think we have a crossed a deeply regrettable line in this committee where, for the first time in the 10 years or so that I have been on the committee, there was a vote to politicize the declassification process of intelligence and potentially compromise sources and methods.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you see any evidence of sources and methods compromised in the memo?
DURBIN: I tell you, I can't answer that without being on the inside and understanding the sources. It was the FBI itself, not Adam Schiff, whom I respect very much, but
the FBI itself that said the release of this memo would be reckless. That was their word, reckless. And yet the House Republicans were bound and determined to do this in order to stop this investigation of the president and those around him.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about the fact that the president, as you alluded to, it seems pretty clear from the response of Trump and his allies to the memo that it could, if not likely, will be used as pretext for the president to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or special counsel Bob Mueller.
What will you do if he does, if he carries out either one of those actions?
DURBIN: Listen, this would be an extreme event and one that I say with some caution could create a constitutional crisis in this country.
The question at that moment is whether or not the majority Republicans in the House and the Senate will stand up for the rule of law and the Constitution if the president takes that extreme position.
Trey Gowdy, who is retiring from the House, a Republican conservative from South Carolina, said he saw nothing in this memo that undermined the investigation and he still had confidence in Bob Mueller.
I hope people like Mr. Gowdy will continue to make those statements and stand behind the rule of law.
If the president takes this extreme action, this presented action, I'm afraid that it could lead to a confrontation we do not need in America.
TAPPER: But can you be more specific about what Democrats might do?
DURBIN: Well, I can't -- I don't want to predict that. I think that's too hypothetical.
But we understand what the Constitution says we must do, and that is hold everyone in the United States, including the president of the United States, accountable if they have violated the law. No one, including the president, is above the law.
TAPPER: Let's switch to immigration.
The Democrats have been protesting the changes that President Trump has proposed to the legal immigration system, limiting family reunification, or so-called chain migration, so it's only for spouses and minor children, and ending outright the diversity visa lottery.
You, in 2013, voted for the gang of eight immigration bill that contained similar provisions, ending visa diversity lottery and eliminating the ability of brothers and sisters to enter the country on family reunification visas.
So, why oppose it when President Trump is proposing it this time?
DURBIN: The answer's very obvious.
The comprehensive immigration reform dealt with 11 million people in the United States and gave them a path to legal status over a long period of time. We swept away all of the existing applications for family members seeking visas.
Over three million of them were going -- the backlog was going to be wiped away, and we were going to bring them in to the United States, and then moving forward change the standard.
That is not what President Trump is suggesting. Understand what they are proposing. They want to cut legal immigration into the United States of family members, some of whom who have waited 20 years or month to join up with their families here.
This is no longer about the security of the United States. It is not about competition for American jobs. It is an effort by them to make a different immigration policy in the future, one that envisions an America that is much different than it is today.
This is not an acceptable premise.
TAPPER: Senator, a CNN poll after the government shutdown, when Democrats forced a government shutdown over the dreamers two weeks ago, found that 56 percent of Americans polled thought that keeping the government open was more important than continuing DACA.
The next deadline to fund the government is Thursday. Do you vow right now that you will not shut the government down again if there is not a DACA deal before the deadline?
DURBIN: There is not likely to be a DACA deal, though we're working every single day, on telephone calls and person to person, to try to reach this bipartisan agreement.
I think we're making real progress. I want to salute the moderates in both the Republicans and Democratic caucuses in the Senate. They have really been a positive voice, Democrats and Republicans sitting in the same room working to try to solve this problem.
I don't see a government shutdown coming, but I do see a promise by Senator McConnell to finally bring this critical issue that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in America, finally bringing it to a full debate in the Senate.
That's what we were looking for when there was a shutdown. We have achieved that goal. We're moving forward.
TAPPER: Senator Durbin, I understand you're rooting for the Patriots this evening. I'm not going to bring up the subject. And I hope you have an OK Sunday night.
Thanks so much for watching.
TAPPER: For joining us, I mean.
DURBIN: Thanks a lot, Jake.
TAPPER: It's a central part of the controversial memo, but both sides dispute what the deputy FBI director actually said to members of the House Intelligence Committee.
A Democrat and Republican who were in the room, they disagree. They are going to tell us what they heard. They're going to debate it all next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
The House Intelligence Committee, which has in the past filed a long nonpartisan and bipartisan tradition, is now at the center of a fierce partisan fight over the release of a controversial previously classified memo.
Republicans who authorized its release say the memo exposes abuses within the FBI and the Justice Department. Democrats argue the information in the Republican document is cherry-picked and inaccurate.
Here to help shed some light on some of the discrepancies are members from both sides of the aisle of the House Intelligence Committee. We have with us Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut and Republican Congressman Brad Wenstrup of Ohio.
Thanks, both of you, for being here. We appreciate it.
I want to start with the president's response to the release of the memo.
He tweeted this weekend -- quote -- "This memo totally vindicates Trump in probe. But the Russian witch-hunt goes on and on. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction, the word now used because, after a year of looking endlessly and finding nothing, collusion is dead. This is an American disgrace" -- unquote.
Congressman Wenstrup, you were in favor of the memo coming out. Do you agree that it vindicates Trump?
REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R), OHIO: I think this is a separate issue.
In my opinion, what we're dealing with is a situation within our FISA court and how we process within our government agencies. And I don't think it really has anything to do with that.
My main concern is things like, did the court know that this was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and...
TAPPER: The dossier.
WENSTRUP: Yes, exactly.
And I would be curious to ask a judge, did you know who paid for this dossier that's being presented to you, and would it have made a difference?
I think it's more looking within the agency, something we have oversight over. They don't have oversight us. We have oversight over them. That's the way I'm looking at it. And that's why I wanted to move forward.
TAPPER: There are a number of House Republicans, including Congressman Gowdy, who agree with Congressman Wenstrup.
But there are other Republicans who are saying, no, the whole thing is -- is corrupt, and the Mueller probe needs to end.
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, which is sad, and that's just not the case. And I actually agree with Brad in the way he articulated this. And, by the way, it was Speaker Ryan who said to his conference, this is really not about the Mueller investigation. As you point out, Trey Gowdy said that.
What we are going to learn when the Democratic -- if and when -- and we certainly hope that it is -- the Democratic memo is released, which is a sort of counterpoint to the Republican memo, what we will learn is that it is not true that this FISA warrant was awarded solely on the basis of the Steele dossier.
We will also learn that the FBI, because they are very careful people, didn't mislead the judge, that the judge had some sense that this information came out of a political context.
But, finally -- and this is a point that I don't think gets a lot of attention -- just because it was paid for -- and, remember, that dossier started as part of an effort done by Republicans, not Democrats.
TAPPER: Actually, I think -- just as a point of fact, I think the overall opposition research started by Republicans, but the Steele dossier, per se, was just Democrats.
HIMES: That's correct.
So, the Fusion GPS effort, which is the organization that did this, started as a Republican-funded effort, and then became a Democratic- funded effort.
HIMES: But the point is that just because it was opposition research -- I think Brad and I would agree on this -- doesn't mean that it's wrong. In fact, we wouldn't pay a penny for opposition research that was
biased. Opposition research is only valuable inasmuch as it is accurate.
So, I think, when the facts are out here, this will turn out to be a very, very small and insignificant thing.
TAPPER: I was reminded this weekend by Evan Perez, our Justice Department reporter, that the Clinton Foundation probe by the FBI, one of the bases for that was Peter Schweizer's book "Clinton Cash," which obviously had partisan roots. The Mercer family, Steve Bannon were involved in that book, a lot of strong charges.
And I don't recall Republicans objecting to that book being used for the Clinton Foundation probe.
WENSTRUP: Well, I'm not really familiar with that detail.
But I would like to comment on some of the things that Mr. Himes just said.
There is a difference between saying it's politically motivated and actually revealing who paid for it. I think that is a huge difference.
And as far as the Democrat memo, when we were in our meeting, I think we saved the Democrats from some hypocrisy here, because Adam Schiff was making the case that we should not release our memo unless it was vetted. It had been vetted.
And so then they wanted to immediately release theirs without it being vetted. And that's why I voted against it. If they want to vet it, I'm all in favor of bringing it -- I want to shed light on all of this, Jake. I really do.
And I think that the American people deserve that. That is our job, and...
HIMES: So, I...
WENSTRUP: Go ahead.
HIMES: I would just take minor issue with that.
If there was a vetting process on the Nunes memo, that's news to me. And if the vetting process did occur, we know what the FBI and the Department of Justice said about the release of this memo. They said, do not do it. It would be extraordinarily reckless.
So, again, if there was a vetting process, that was the conclusion.
Secondarily, Adam Schiff, when he offered the motion to release the memo side by, he said, we Democrats will do something that you Republicans are refusing to do, which is, we will run this by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This is available for all to see on the transcript of that meeting. And, by the way, we still intend to do that.
This may not be an issue where there are likely to be a lot of very highly sensitive of sources and methods exposed. But, nonetheless, it's good practice to run these by a full declassification process before you do it.
WENSTRUP: So, two points of fact. Christopher Wray had sight on the memo beforehand. And he said that everything in there was factual.
And the other point I want to make is...
TAPPER: Well, the FBI did put out a statement saying that they thought it was incomplete, that there was omissions of facts.
WENSTRUP: That's fine. And that's why, if they want to put out their memo, then let's do that. Let's get to the bottom line.
The other thing is, I think it's a false narrative when you say what -- that Mr. McCabe wasn't quoted correctly, because there was an attorney from the FBI who was part of the -- the FISA application and also was in on the interviews that said that that was an accurate statement that the -- that this couldn't have gone through without the dossier.
TAPPER: So, would you support the release of the transcript of any relevant part of Andrew McCabe's testimony?
Because this has been a big point of contention that seems just factual in nature, although those of us who haven't -- you know, aren't privy to the transcripts of the interviews. You were both -- were you both present for the McCabe interview?
HIMES: I was, yes.
TAPPER: Were you as well?
WENSTRUP: Not for that one.
But would you support the release of any relevant transcript that would support what McCabe thinks about how important the Steele dossier was to the FISA warrant, just so we can clear this up?
HIMES: Yes, I would. Having been in the room, I would absolutely support it, just so that the American people see.
And I would go a step further, which is, this all -- part of the problem with the process here is that conclusions and allegations have been drawn based on the FISA warrant applications. This is some of the most classified stuff the government has.
I would even support, if it could be redacted in such a way as to not be damaging, I would support releasing the underlying FISA applications, because what America would see -- and I don't know how long these things are -- but they would see dozens and dozens and dozens of pages citing all sorts of facts and all sorts of -- you would see a very comprehensive project that gets put together by 10, 12 people at the FBI, then presented to a federal judge.
TAPPER: Did you see the FISA application?
HIMES: I have not. In fact, the only people who have are Trey Gowdy, not Chairman Nunes -- and that's a pretty key fact here -- and Adam Schiff.
But I would certainly support that release, because then the American people would see how comprehensive the FISA application process is, rather than the way it's being characterized as secret, dark, behind closed doors.
TAPPER: Would you support it, release...
WENSTRUP: I would want to see it. Absolutely, I would.
TAPPER: The FISA -- underlying FISA warrant. And, also, would you support the release of...
WENSTRUP: We want to have our eyes on more.
The DOJ set up those rules. And so Devin Nunes felt that Trey Gowdy, with his experience as a prosecutor and investigator, would be the better person to go look at it. And we received weekly briefs on it.
So, I'm all for that. Open it up. This is what I keep talking about. Let's -- let's shed light on what's going on with the agencies that the taxpayers pay for, by the way.
TAPPER: Just very quickly, do you think that this memo provides some sort of pretext for President Trump to fire Rod Rosenstein or Robert Mueller?
WENSTRUP: No, I don't.
And I was on with you in June, I believe, and I told you I support the Mueller investigation.
Now, I hope that he does it fairly and honestly. Of course, we would always expect that.
At the same time, when I look at Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray, where they are, I know, in their agencies, they have tremendous patriots that do great work each and every day. And they stood stand up for them. But, at the same time, this could be their finest hour.
They should work with us and Congress to get to the bottom of what's taken place. And if there was any wrongdoing, then let's correct it. Maybe we need to change the process of how it all takes place.
They have an opportunity to make it the finest hour for their agencies by -- by doing the right things.
TAPPER: Congressmen, thank you both for being here.
And I hope your appearance here is a sign of bipartisan cooperation to come on the House Intelligence Committee. That would be nice. I'm sure you would both agree to that.
WENSTRUP: We tend to get along pretty well.
HIMES: Absolutely do.
TAPPER: All right.
WENSTRUP: Thank you.
TAPPER: Thank you so much. Really appreciate your being here.
WENSTRUP: All right.
TAPPER: The conservative -- the conservative drumbeat growing louder after the release of this Republican memo calling on President Trump to fire the man overseeing the Russia investigation.
Will President Trump listen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: There is a little bit of sweet revenge in it for me and certainly probably the family, in the sense that, if they wouldn't have done this, this stuff would be going on.
This would be going on at the highest levels of government. They'd be continuing to do it to my father, trying to undermine his actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Donald Trump Jr. referring to a little bit of sweet revenge in the release of the Nunes memo.
My panel is here to discuss.
Former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman and former FBI agent Mike Rogers, what's your response when you hear the president's son saying that the Nunes memo provides a little bit of sweet revenge in it for him and his family? MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
Lady -- Lady Justice is supposed to be blind. And, so, any time you interject something other than getting
TAPPER: What's your response when you hear the president's son saying that the Nunes memo provides sweet revenge for his and his family?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Yes. Justice is supposed to be blind. And so any time you interject something other than getting to the truth I'm concerned about it and now we have these competing narratives, competing memos. It all looks too awful partisan to me to come to the right conclusion.
I do think there should be an investigation should be at the IG where they can conduct the interviews, they'll have access to all the FISA applications and then they can come up with a plan to remedy it. This current path we're on is all about politics. And candidly it's both sides of the aisles are guilty in this case.
TAPPER: Congressman Bass, is there nothing in the Nunes memo that you think merits further scrutiny? Here you have a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former FBI agent saying, let's have the IG look at whether or not there was an abuse of the FISA system in any way, could you get behind that?
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes. I mean, I don't think there's a problem with that at all. But I do think that his comment was sad because I think it reveals the partisanness.
It reveals the fact that this was political in addition to Trump's tweet. So I think that part was very sad, you know? This really should be about getting to the bottom of the situation and I think the tweet as well as Don Junior's comment reveal what this is all about.
TAPPER: What do you think, Senator?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, the FBI is to blame here. I mean, they've been withholding information from the Congress for a long, long time. They've been trying to get to the truth. And the releases that have happened have happened because the counter narrative been out there a long time through leaks by the FBI.
So you can say, well, this is a partisan attempt by Republicans but it really is -- it's a partisan attempt to counter a narrative that's out there. And I agree with Mike, I think an IG report would be great. The problem with that is that will be quiet.
I mean, that would be off -- you know, off to the side and this narrative is going to continue to go and that's why I think your two guests here previously are right. The more information we can get out there now to settle some of these scores if you will the better.
TAPPER: But the releasing classified information over the objection of the FBI director and seeing that as sweet revenge, how do you respond to that?
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I actually do agree with Mike, that it looks like there are other issues at play which is politics and the president's own hide and I just worry -- I mean, we need to have a healthy Republican and Democratic Party that is not just -- and this -- this worries me -- honestly, I mean, even as a Democrat that the Republicans are doing the bidding of the president and thereby undermining the FBI.
I mean, Rick, even when you start publicly saying that the FBI has been hiding information, it gives this whole deep state conspiracy crank stuff more oxygen --
SANTORUM: But they did hide information, they didn't -- they withheld information to (ph) the (ph) Congress (ph) and they're still withholding information to (ph) Congress (ph) --
GRANHOLM: They're withholding classified information, perhaps.
SANTORUM: But Congress can see classified information (INAUDIBLE).
GRANHOLM: But Congress -- and Congress can -- and Congress can see classified information and I'm not sure what information you're saying they're withholding but when you say stuff like that, when the president says the stuff he does it's --
SANTORUM: They withheld for a year whether the DNC paid for this.
GRANHOLM: Let me finish my point, please (ph). Can you just let me finish my point?
The point is you've got a poll out this weekend that says that 38 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of the FBI which has plummeted. So I'm a -- I'm a former federal prosecutor, I'm going into court, I've got an FBI agent on the stand and now I have to worry about whether my jury has Republicans on it because they hate the FBI now? That is just -- that's hugely damaging across the country to justice in America.
BASS: I also think that --
SANTORUM: I agree.
BASS: -- that was the point of the memo. Because if there is a trial, if there is an indictment, it muddied the water.
GRANHOLM: Of course.
BASS: It muddied the waters. It decreased the poll numbers for FBI. I mean, this is really the first time something like this has happened --
SANTORUM: Look, I think what's -- I think what you heard from Brad and what you heard from Speaker Ryan and others is really what Republicans are coming from.
I don't think most Republicans are looking at this as a vindication of Donald Trump and trying to get Donald Trump and the Mueller investigation. I think they see this as a real problem within the government and within the Obama administration of politicizing not just the DOJ but the IRS and every other agency of government to come after conservatives and Republicans. And this is what they want to expose.
GRANHOLM: Oh, my gosh. (INAUDIBLE) by Republicans. These were Republican FISA judges all appointed by George Bush. There were four of them.
The head of the FBI is a Republican appointed by Trump. This is like "Alice in Wonderland." It is totally topsy-turvy.
And by the way if they were really in the tank for Hillary Clinton as you're suggesting why wouldn't they have leaked that there was an investigation ongoing about Donald Trump instead of 10 days before the election a memo comes out about Hillary Clinton's e-mails? It is a ridiculous argument.
TAPPER: I'll give you a chance to respond to that. I want to bring in Congressman Rogers (INAUDIBLE).
SANTORUM: Well, it's not ridiculous argument. The bottom line is that they did leak lots of information that incriminated Donald Trump and caused this Russia investigation to get some leg.
So the idea that they weren't leaking information, the people at the FBI, you have, you know, the two people with their -- with their --
GRANHOLM: Well, it was a botched leak, that's for sure because it really didn't work.
SANTORUM: Well, it wasn't a botched leak. It was actually a very successful leak in focusing a lot of attention on Donald Trump and Russia.
TAPPER: Can I ask you a question? I know that the FBI is aware of past abuses by the FBI and I believe it was Comey that used to keep that horrific letter --
TAPPER: -- sent to Martin Luther King on his desk to remind him of this. So it's not as though the FBI is ever above criticism but why are FBI officials so upset? Because you see Christopher Wray giving a video encouragement to buck up the troops.
What is it about this episode that bothers them so much? Because obviously the FBI is not immune to criticism.
ROGERS: And they shouldn't be. They absolutely shouldn't be.
A matter of fact, in 2000 there was a particular case on the FISA court where an agent was removed from the case because they didn't think that he was -- that had veracity in his presentation of his application. So there have been problems.
That was back in 2000. That's a long time ago. But they're upset, I think, because they believe that there is another side of this, right?
So when you do an application, there's lots of information that goes into this thing. It is months and months of works. It's -- I think the notion they were worried about is it's very flippant.
Oh, we just went out, we found a few things, we got a dossier, we got in a room, we huddled up, we wrote up an application, went down to the judge and there you go we're spying on the United States citizen. The FBI does not take that that lightly and so what they're saying is, if there is another argument here then it should have been in there.
They weren't worried about what was in the memo if you recall it was what was not --
BASS (ph): Yes, yes.
ROGERS: -- in the memo that they're concerned about because it paints the wrong picture. And my argument here, again, is -- listen, this is exactly what we were talking about last week we thought would happen. Republicans think this is fantastic and Democrats think it's, you know, the worst thing ever and what we'll lose here is the truth and we should never sacrifice the truth in a partisan area where there's classified information.
TAPPER: Nobody go anywhere. We got a lot more to talk about.
Carter Page is the central character in this controversial Republican memo alleging anti-Trump bias in the FBI for months. Members of the Trump team were insisting that they didn't even know who Carter Page was. Can Republicans have it both ways?
We'll discuss next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Carter Page is an individual who the president-elect does not know.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He's not part of our national security or foreign policy briefings that we do now at all.
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To the best of my recollection, I don't know Carter Page. To the best of my knowledge Carter Page never had a Donald Trump.com e-mail address. Had no formal role in the campaign that I'm aware of.
TRUMP: I don't think I've ever spoken to him. I don't think I've ever met him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: No idea who Carter Page is and yet today, the FBI spying on Carter Page means that the FBI was biased against Trump. Let's talk about it all.
Senator Santorum, that does seem to be a little bit of a contradiction. How can -- if Carter Page wasn't part of the campaign a year ago, year and a half ago, two years ago, then why is the FBI spying on Carter Page all of a sudden anti-Trump?
SANTORUM: Well, I mean, they obviously were spying on Carter Page because they thought he was going to provide access to Trump, whether he did or not is another question. But at least from -- I don't see the -- frankly, I don't see the disconnect here.
I mean, I think, you can say, Carter Page was not someone who was deeply involved in the campaign but if the FBI thought so and they were -- and they went about a process to spy on him because of that that's the problem.
BASS: Yes. But you know that what brought Carter Page to the attention of the FBI was
SANTORUM: Was Donald Trump -- yes. Donald Trump --
BASS: -- Australians and that happened long before and so --
TAPPER: The Australians was -- George Papadopoulos.
BASS: Yes, George Papadopoulos.
SANTORUM: But Donald Trump mentioned him as one of the people that were advising him at a time when he didn't have very many advisers --
BASS: The point is it was well before it was -- it was well before --
TAPPER: Yes, the investigation -- the investigation.
BASS: That's the most important --
TAPPER: The investigation was -- before (ph).
BASS: But let me just tell you. The thing that is really amazing to me is that I don't understand why the Republican leadership would go so far as to support Trump in this manner.
To me I know that they're concerned about their agenda but the fact that they would really go this far that to put out a memo that they would participate in undermining the investigation or at least that's what they hope that this memo does and so I just think that's a really sad thing. That they're agenda of passing the tax, what they call tax reform but we know it was tax cuts, they blew this deficit up so that now they can come back and talk about Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare, that that agenda is so much more important than the safety of our elections and our Democratic process.
TAPPER: Can I ask you a questions?
TAPPER: You're on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee put out a statement -- the Democrats on the committee put out a statement saying that, "House Republicans are now accomplices to a shocking campaign to obstruct the work of the Special Counsel to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the Justice Department and the FBI to bury the fact that a foreign adversary interfered with our last election."
Are you literally accusing House Republicans of a crime?
BASS: I'm not -- I'm not -- I am not going to sit here and say that they are guilty of a crime. We know it takes a lot of evidence for that.
TAPPER: But accomplice is a pretty big word.
BASS: But the fact -- but the fact that they have gone this far to put out a memo like this where they only put out partial information as to say that the only reason why there was an investigation was because of the dossier and they know better. They omitted the information.
The fact that they have attacked the FBI, attacked the Department of Justice in the manner in which they've done, we've never seen that before, so why would they do this? The only reason to do this so to support the president and to go that far to support the president to push their agenda, I just think -- I mean, I don't know where we're going with this.
TAPPER: Can I talk about Carter Page for one second? Because "Time" magazine obtained a letter Carter Page wrote in 2013 boasting about his connections with Russia -- quote -- "Over the past half year I have had the privilege to serve as an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation, for their Presidency of the C-20 Summit next month where energy issues would be a prominent on the agenda."
In 2013, 2014, Carter Page was spied on by the FBI in a different FISA warrant.
This person was on the radar of the FBI and in fact cooperated with the FBI in their prosecution of a spy recruiter during that period.
ROGERS: So, this is the problem with Carter Page. He had a problem of connections with people that the FBI believed were Russian intelligence officials or were at least passing information back to Russian intelligence officials. So that's what muddies the waters here a little bit in the words of Strother Martin, what we have here is a failure to communicate.
The FISA warrant was really targeted at somebody they knew to be -- to have a relation with Russians. And so all of this spin about what it means for Trump or not I think is well overblown candidly. And what could happen at the end of this is you find out the information in -- that they found in those FISAs will disprove some of the common narratives are on the outside.
And I would argue that's why we should all let the investigation go forward. Mueller could get up next week and say, you know what? Nothing to see here.
There's nothing that he has said or indicated that there isn't. They have found these other folks doing something wrong. Some of them have pled guilty.
And certainly there are some optics problems they have. At the very least maybe some legal issue. But the fact they went after Carter Page when he was a target of FBI interest before -- remember, these -- these intelligence warrants are not necessarily for criminal activity. They're trying to determine is an intelligence officer operating in the United States, are they cooperating intelligence -- or a person in the United States who would have access to give them information that they need, then it would spin-off into criminal investigation.
GRANHOLM: And just to further that. I mean, John McCain basically said that releasing this memo or what he's seeing happened we do not want to be the tools of Russia because remember, this whole thing is about Russia meddling in the election and nothing has happened on that. In fact, on the Senate side the Foreign Relations Committee, the minority put out a 200 page document that listed 10 specific actions that Congress could do to prevent Russian meddling in the election this year and all of that has been lost in this conversation about not just Carter Page and the memo but about whether Trump is just using the Republicans to cover his own behind.
We need to make sure that there's not a taint in this election. TAPPER: And you would agree, you were a Russian hawk when you were in the Senate. You would agree, we -- the United States, needs to do more to prevent meddling in the election.
SANTORUM: No -- look, absolutely. I think the fact that the Russians tried to meddle in this election should be no surprise to anybody. But the fact is that we should be -- we should have countermeasures to try to prevent them and mess with them as much as we can on our side.
So the reality is --
GRANHOLM: Nothing has been done.
SANTORUM: I agree with you. We have lost focused on that and we should focus more on that.
ROGERS: Can I say? The part of the Russian meddling, this is going to be very hard for the prosecution to even come close to collusion. That is a near impossibility but where the Russians did meddle and I think we conflate these is using social media --
ROGERS: -- and cyber means and they were very --
ROGERS: Misinformation. What's interesting we watch them do this in the '70s and the '80s but they used to do it by sending a spy, trying to recruit a reporter to write a story --
ROGERS: -- find an opposition party. Now they can talk to you in your living room on social media and that's the part we have to get --
TAPPER: Thirty seconds, Congresswoman.
BASS: Well, many people say that's still continuing.
GRANHOLM: It is. It is.
BASS: And so we do have an election a few months away and really that's where all of our efforts need to be. And I don't see that coming from the Republican leadership.
Any concern about the elections for the midterm. That's where our focus needs to be. GRANHOLM: I was just going to say, one quick example. They had -- Russians were sending out these photos of Aziz Ansari with his head Photoshopped over a sign that said avoid the lines, text your vote here specifically targeted on social media to first time voters. Now when you consider the voter suppression ads that were being sent --
BASS: What about the president setting up a voter suppression commission --
TAPPER: Yes. All right. That's a whole other show. That's a whole other show.
Thanks one and all for being here and thank you for agreeing to root for the Eagles. I appreciate it all --
SANTORUM: Got green tie on.
TAPPER: -- said to me during the break. It's not true.
But anyway, the big day is here. Senator, (INAUDIBLE) your (ph) green tie.
My Philadelphia Eagles are in the Super Bowl. The White House is divided however about whether to root for the underdogs for the establishment.
That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER: Welcome back.
In just a few hours the Philadelphia Eagles will face off with the team some of you might have heard about from New England. And while I know who I'm rooting for, fly Eagles, fly, President Trump is staying uncharacteristically silent and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER (voice-over): It's America's game and the final battle is as American as it gets. The Eagles versus the Patriots. Everyone is picking a side, including White House insider, such Kellyanne Conway, an Eagles fan from South Jersey who sees the matchup as a 2016 election remix.
CONWAY: I'll just say that the underdog here is the Eagles. And you know me, I love an underdog. The Patriots are like, that woman whose name I don't mention on TV anymore.
TAPPER: Conway is placing bets against White House chief of staff, John Kelly. CONWAY: The South Boston native versus me. I'm going to prevail.
TAPPER: What about President Trump? Will he bet on the gritty underdog or the establishment team? He has had a long bromance with Patriots' star, Tom Brady.
TRUMP: I love winners. We love winners, right? So a great winner -- Tom Brady. Tom Brady. Right?
TAPPER: But their relationship has been, shall we say, deflated since President Trump took on NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
TRUMP: Get that son of a (EXPLETIVE) off the field. He's fired. Fired.
TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: I certainly disagree with, you know, what he said. And, you know, I thought it was just divisive.
TAPPER: A new poll shows more Americans are rooting for the underdog Eagles, but as President Trump well knows, in sports, as in presidential politics, it's not the popular vote that counts.
TRUMP: We had a victory that nobody thought was possible.
TAPPER: I don't want to alienate my good friends in New England, so I'm going to keep this positive. The Philadelphia Eagles have shown more grit, character, and courage this season than most of the folks I cover on a regular basis. Against all odds, with their starting quarterback on the deal they made it to the big one.
One more game, guys, you got this. Fly, Eagles, fly.