Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Dow Dives; Trump Attacks FBI, Democrats Over Russia Probe. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired February 5, 2018 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:26]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: We're back now with our politics lead and my panel, Mike Rogers here and Asha Rangappa, both former FBI agents.

And ,Mike, if I can begin with you, the president says the Nunes memo totally vindicates him, of course, a point that has been rebutted by Republicans, as well as Democrats, but continues to call the Russia investigation, in his words, an American disgrace.

I want to read you something a former colleague of yours, Josh Campbell, who just quit his job as a supervisory special agent at the FBI, what he wrote today about Trump's attacks on the FBI.

He says -- quote -- "These kinds of attacks by powerful people go beyond mere criticism. They could destroy the institution. It is the FBI agent on the street who will be most severely affected as public support for federal law enforcement is sacrificed for partisan gain."

Mike, I wonder if you share that concern.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I do share the concern.

And what I think the agent there was talking about is that when you're out on the street and you're trying to get people to cooperate to break large criminal organizations, or you're trying to get someone to defect from their country to give information because they believe it is the right thing to do and they're talking to an FBI agent, the credibility of that FBI agent is really important.

When you open up those credentials, that credibility, all the credibility of all the FBI that comes before you and you goes with it. If you take that tarnish off and you do it repeatedly, and you do it from the president of the United States, it will like have an impact.

SCIUTTO: Asha, I wonder if you share those concerns. And imagine domestically as well there's a risk. Do Americans respect the institution when they hear their president attack it so aggressively?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I do share the same concerns, especially with regard to recruiting sources.

I did counterintelligence investigations. And as the chairman said, someone you're actually people to commit treason literally against their country. And they could have their lives in danger when they return.

And we really need them. What this particular memo has shown is that members of Congress and even the president might out them. But to your point, Jim, yes, even domestically, we need the trust of the American public for ordinary cases.

And also remember that there are agents who will be testifying in court in cases, and we need juries to believe them and believe that they have credibility and integrity in the investigations that they have run.

So there are a lot of aspects that have consequences with the words that the president has used.

SCIUTTO: And you mentioned treason there. The president used that very word today to describe Democrats.

Mike Rogers, getting back to the Russia investigation, "TIME" magazine obtained a letter that Carter Page wrote in 2013, Carter Page of course the subject of the surveillance that is in question in the Nunes memo. And in that letter, he bragged that he was an informal adviser to the Kremlin, of all places.

I want to read what he wrote in that letter. He said, "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 G20 summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda."

Let's say you're investigating someone, counterintelligence. What kind of red flags would a statement like that raise?

ROGERS: Well, in and of itself, it might not be anything.

And what I'm guessing is -- because the FBI actually paid him a visit at one point and said we think you're under recruitment by the Russian intelligence service.

SCIUTTO: Kind of as a warning to him, in effect.

ROGERS: Say, be careful. We don't know if that is your intent, but that is likely their intent, which can happen. It can happen if you have some business dealings.

But when you put all the pieces together, it starts to look a little fishy. And the very fact that they likely had other sources of information, meaning it could have been an intercepted, it could have been an e-mail, it could have been another source, a person, who said, hey, these are Russian intelligence officers and here's their field of view.

That's how they may have gotten on to him. It wasn't that they were just looking at Carter Page. They likely got to him through these sources where they were trying to identify and track Russian intelligence service people.

SCIUTTO: Asha, you, as you said, have been involved in counterintelligence for the FBI.

A central allegation from Republicans, including in the Nunes memo, is this whole Carter Page thing and really by association the whole Russia investigation was based entirely on this Democratic-funded dossier.

Have you ever seen an investigation kick off based purely on outside information, and would you need, as is the contention not only of the FBI, but also Democrats and some Republicans, would you need your own intelligence to back up a request for a warrant for surveillance like this?

[16:35:00]

RANGAPPA: You would need much more evidence, Jim.

Remember that FISA is an investigative tool. It itself is not an investigation. There is already an investigation that's opened. And to get a FISA, you have to have the most serious kind of investigation open in the FBI. It is called a full investigation, which means you have to have articulable fact on which to base your suspicions.

So this dossier could not have opened an investigation. It could not have kept an investigation running. And it definitely wouldn't have been enough for a federal judge to give a FISA. There would have been much more evidence.

And, as the chairman mentioned, there probably would have been intelligence just coming from all of the other investigations that FBI has open on known intelligence officers coming to bear on this particular application as well.

SCIUTTO: I want to play something now that the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Devin Nunes, a Republican, said this morning regardless the investigation. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: If Papadopoulos was such a major figure, you had nothing on him. The guy lied.

As far as we can tell, Papadopoulos never even knew who Trump was or never even had met with the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Papadopoulos, of course, another campaign adviser, in fact, who has pled guilty to lying to the FBI and was cited in the warrant application for Carter Page.

Now, Republicans have tried to have it both ways on Papadopoulos, because, on the one hand, they say, oh, we never heard of the guy, never was involved in the campaign, but now it is part of this broader contention that somehow the FBI was trying to spy on the Trump campaign during the election with political motivations.

In fact, we have seen him in the picture with the president in a campaign meeting. What's the truth here?

ROGERS: Well, I don't know.

And I really candidly don't understand it, the defense of someone who has pled guilty already to a federal crime. And, by the way, if he pled guilty to 1001, lying to a federal agent, that's probably the least thing that he has done. That was a negotiated plea with his lawyers, I'm absolutely sure.

So, again, I'm a little bit flabbergasted that they're going in and trying to argue the details of an application for FISA. And they certainly haven't disclosed the application for FISA, which in an odd way they have done something we said we would never do is disclose American citizens who came under the FISA law. They have disclosed the name.

I doubt that they asked Papadopoulos if he wanted his name disclosed that he was a part of the counterintelligence FISA warrant, because they could have done that warrant and not found him guilty of anything. And now the whole world knows that he in fact has been picked up in a FISA, which is one thing that I -- that's why the rush to this really bothers me, because if their point is, we think there was some mishandling or misdeeds by the FBI in the application, then there is a venue for them to investigate that in classified space and come out with a report that is more factual-based and has all of the information in it.

What they have done here, I just worry about not only the credibility of anything that they might find, but certainly it's trying to, appears to me, take an unnecessary slap at the FBI.

SCIUTTO: Mike Rogers, Asha Rangappa, thanks very much.

The president going into nickname mode again to attack Congressman Adam Schiff, who spoke to me earlier. But why so defensive if he feels so vindicated?

We are going to talk about that with our panel right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:42:19]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion, and more, in value in just this short period of time.

The United States is doing fantastically well, better than we have done in decades. The stock markets are incredible.

And you're seeing what's happening with the stock market. People are appreciating what we're doing.

The stock market is way up again today. And we're setting a record literally all the time. And I'm telling you we have a long way to go. And had the other side gotten in, the market would have gone down 50 percent from where it was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

Of course, a stark contrast today with the president's past comments, as the Dow sees its biggest single-day plummet in terms of points in the market's history.

I want to bring in my political panel now.

And, Jack Kingston, if I could begin with you, to be fair, markets rise and fall. And the market has been up a lot. And, typically, when they go up that much, they come down.

But the president in effect politically has been all in on the market and claiming every point rise as his own.

Is there a danger in that for him when the inevitable correction comes?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think politically there is.

Any time you claim something, there is always another side to it. But I would say this, that the fundamentals are still there. The January jobs report was incredibly strong. The wage rates are finally moving up, the largest gain since 2009. Consumer optimism is strong.

And, really, the benefits of the tax cut haven't started yet. Once businesses start really investing those, I think it is going to show a really strong quarter. While this is a market correction, I don't think it means the economy is faltering at all.

SCIUTTO: Jackie Kucinich, for folks back home, do they still buy that in effect that everything looks good, everything looks rosy economically?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The fact of the matter is, most people aren't invested in the stock market. So that, even as a talking point, doesn't make a whole lot of sense to the people back at home who actually are excited getting -- there is a lot of talk about someone who is getting an extra $1,000.

They are not going to look at the stock market and say yay or huh, the same way that maybe someone in New York and D.C. would. That said, if their company can no longer afford to give them those bumps because of what's going on in the stock market, then perhaps.

But I don't -- this isn't something that is going to hurt the Midwest hard in the short term.

SCIUTTO: Bill, I do want to show what viewers saw in the air as this was happening, in fact, as the president delivered an economic speech in Ohio.

CNN, FOX News and MSNBC were broadcasting him live and showing at the same time that market as it was falling there. Not the best optics for this White House.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": No, but for this White House, that's the least of their problems, that's the least of the things one should be worried about I think if I were in the White House now. Look, I very much agree with Jack and Jackie, I mean, it's jobs that would matter the most, wages. The thing that helped Trump a lot was the sense that there was not only good economic numbers but actual wages hadn't gone up in quite a while, 20, 30 years by some measurements in middle class, working class wages. If they go up, Trump will be able to say look, I did what they said couldn't be done. If they don't go up, the market could be at 20,000/24,000 and that's what matters much.

SCIUTTO: And unemployment probably the most important one because if you're working, you're making money. I mean, that's your -- that's your number one financial indicator. I want to switch gears now because before the markets dropped, we had the President attacking Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. You just heard Adam Schiff in his first interview with me here on THE LEAD since the President attack him on Twitter this morning. he said the following.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Bottom line is I think it may be time for General Kelly to give the President a time-out. I think the country would certainly benefit from that anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Jack Kingston, you get first chance to respond.

JACK KINGSTON, SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I think Adam is hoping to benefit from this as much as Frederica Wilson did. With just -- you know, sometimes when the President attacks you, it is good for your politics and I think Adam knows this.

SCIUTTO: But let me ask you. Is this you -- I know you support the President but little Adam Schiff? He's the Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee which deals with issues of terrorism and counterintelligence and national security. Is that the way you want your President talking?

KINGSTON: Adam is a friend of mine. He's actually does something very nice for my 93-year-old mother and I appreciate that. We have' good relationship. In fact, after the State of the Union, he and I and his son walked down the steps together and we chitchatted, we stay in good communication. But I disagree with so much that's going on in this investigation. I do think there's a lot of politics in it. You can't take the politics out of it, I understand that. But I would love to see some of these hearings that were behind closed doors. I would love to see an end to the leaking and I'd love to hear an honest discussion about how do you stop the Russians from compromising our next election.

SCIUTTO: Right, which is something the CIA Director said just last week in an interview that they're going to do it again in 2018. It hasn't stopped, that kind of interference. I want to start with what President said moments ago about the Nunes memo, regarding surveillance by the FBI on a former Trump Campaign Adviser during the campaign. Have a listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Did we catch them in the act or what? You know what I'm -- oh, did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed. They never thought they would get caught. We caught them. It's so much fun. They're like the great sleuth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That's in effect the President's story and he's sticking to it in this memo, claiming that this has now vindicated him, Jackie and Bill, that indeed the FBI was illegally surveilling a Trump campaign person during the election. Did the Nunes memo actually vindicate him?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, and don't take it from me, take it from all the House Republicans that were on the Sunday shows all weekend saying that no, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Mueller probe which is -- which is exploring that aspect of it. This is isolated, it has to do with you know, one issue which only the Republican side of it. And I think one of the things with this tweet about Schiff that I wanted to point out. We don't know if the President is going to approve the release the Democrat memo and there's some fears among Democrats that he may not. So if he's saying that you know, Schiff is a liar, if he's not trustworthy and they're putting out a memo from his committee, it's already kind of priming for tearing down that -- the Democratic side of things.

SCIUTTO: Right. The transparency argument runs a little thin perhaps if the Democratic take on this doesn't come out. But Bill Kristol, I wonder here. You have the President, he continues going after the FBI head on as he did the intelligence community and he's going after the FBI and the Justice Department I should say. He's also being contradicted by his own party. Republicans, Trey Gowdy saying, in fact, it's Jackie was referring to, that this Russian investigation is about a lot more than that dossier. There's a lot more information out there. Listen, I know his base is going to stick with pretty much no matter what, but as he picks fights with Republicans and the institutions, law enforcement, FBI, DOJ, does the President win those battles?

KRISTOL: He needs to support people like Adam Schiff who voted and let us not -- and significant number of Democrats to vote in favor of the reauthorization of FISA which some Republicans opposed. Trump himself waivered, remember the entire Trump administration said this is absolutely crucial for our national security. Adam Schiff who has been fighting with the Trump administration for years, to his credit as the ranking member, ranking minority member of the Intelligence Committee in the House took enough Democrats with him to help put the bill over the top. So Donald Trump should think occasionally about the wellbeing of the country, not simply about his own you know, ego and who's insulted him and insult people back. But then he also said today, of course, he doesn't just attack the FBI and Adam Schiff, he attacks the entire Democratic Party or at least those who stand for him at the state of the union.

At first, he said un-American, and then he said, some people would even say treasonous so I guess I'll say that word or I'll say that too or something like that. And that's -- and then everyone was sort of dismissing that. It's just Trump being Trump. I was complaining about it on Twitter and someone e-mailed me, an old friend, and said oh, calm down. It's terrible. The President of the United States calling the party treasonous, that's literally the definition of what it means to be a third world country where you don't have, you know respectful discourse, you don't have a loyal opposition. No one is (INAUDIBLE) we have to -- high tensions in the Iraq war, did Barack Obama ever called you --

[10:50:42] KINGSTON: Yes, I remember him saying--

SCIUTTO: A quick response from Jack.

KINGSTON: -- they'll come -- they'll come after us with their knives. We'll come after them with our guns. That's a pretty inflammatory rhetoric.

KRISTOL: Oh that was -- do you approve -- you're a Republican supporter of Trump, do you approve the President calling Democrats treasonous or un-American? Yes or no, Jack. Do you approve --

KINGSTON: Let me tell you what I don't approve of. When a 12-year- old boy puts reaves on the veterans' graves and the Democrat Party doesn't stand up for him when there's -- the parents of a girl who was killed by MS-13 and they don't stand up that bothers me as a member of Congress and members may--

KRISTOL: It bothers me too but if Republicans -- if Republicans will not denounce -- if Republicans will not denounce the President -- their President --

KINGSTON: Well, I think they have. You just quoted Trey Gowdy.

KRISTOL: No. They're saying -- people like you -- people need to step up here. It is terrible to let the President's charge of treasonous and un-American go unanswered by his own party. It is a terrible thing.

KINGSTON: I think that there this is a rhetoric frankly on both sides that I would like to see tamp down. When you have the resistance groups who -- no matter what Trump does, there's against it. Just think about, if you were that 12-year-old kid, your first trip to Washington D.C., and the Democrats don't stand up for you, I mean, what is that about? That is -- that is heartbreaking to me, and won't even stand for this building as the monument for the people. This is monument of himself. I stood up for Ronald -- for Obama, I stood up for Bill Clinton, you know, I didn't like it but it was sometimes --

SCIUTTO: Jackie --

KUCINICH: It should be said that some -- it should be said that some of the stories that you're talking about, particularly those poor people that lost their daughters to MS-13, it was wrapped in some verbiage that made reference to some of the DACA kids and how it was -- and how it was --

KINGSTON: You get past that. I'm just saying --

KUCINICH: No, I'm just saying that so they're standing -- some parts of that speech were crafted as kind of a troll to the Democrats that could have been standing for something that they might not support, and you wouldn't do that either if you were --

KINGSTON: There were times when President -- there were times when President Bush or President Clinton or President Obama --

KRISTOL: I'll accept that comparison. They -- maybe they shouldn't stood up. I certainly wouldn't stoop up if I were there. But the President calling members of the other party treasonous or un-American that is not something President Obama did, it's not something President Bush did, it's not something President Clinton did, and it's something members of this President's own party need to denounce.

SCIUTTO: Jack, to Bill's point, it goes beyond treason. This President has attacked the FBI accusing them in effect of illegal surveillance, the institution as a whole. Where do you stand on that?

KINGSTON: Well, having seen people like Joe McDade and Curt Weldon and Ted Stevens attacked in a very, very political way by the FBI, I would say they're not all a bunch of Sunday school teachers. There are some people who are in there. I was very disturbed about the way this dossier was -- and I think everybody would be. And that's one of the things that amazes me, not one Democrat seems to be worried about the civil liberties of Carter Page. Now, let's put the Democrat memo out there. I'm all for that but I'd like to also see the backup of the warrant that -- whatever was presented to the FISA Court.

SCIUTTO: On that point, we all agree. We want to see all the information. Jack, Jackie, and Bill stay with us. We're going to have more with the panel just after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] SCIUTTO: We're back now with our panel. And in just moments from now, the House Intel Committee will meet and likely vote on the Democratic memo. Will it make it out of committee? Let's go to the panel now. Our reporting is that Republicans will support releasing this memo. The question is, Jack Kingston, will the President declassify?

KINGSTON: I think he will. I'd also like to go one further and I'd like to bring the FISA court judge and the decision makers in, have them testify and find out exactly what was said about the application beyond the dossier.

SCIUTTO: Jacky, do you see the President here -- I mean, this would be because invariably the Democratic memo is going to undermine his argument that he is vindicated by what's been revealed.

KUCINICH: I've learned not to try to predict what the President is going to do but I hope he does. I mean, more information the better.

SCIUTTO: Bill Kristol, you made the point earlier. If -- you say if you're calling a FISA judge here -- I mean, already, this process which is secret by intention because this is some of the most sensitive intelligence issues, but also there are questions about revealing the identities of people who might be under surveillance. Is that a good thing necessarily to kind of expose this all to the public eye?

KRISTOL: No, there's a reason intelligence community is meeting in secret. And FISA judges, I don't think would be appropriate for him to testify before the Congress actually, individual judge on an individual case. So again, we're losing sight of all these kinds of norms. We have processes for handling these kinds of things. If they're not good, they should be fixed. But it's all being kicked over because Trump is not happy that he's being investigated.

SCIUTTO: All right, and lots of public reminders about that. Bill Kristol, Jackie, Jack Kingston, thanks so much. Thanks to the panel. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JIMSCIUTTO or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm going to turn you over now to a familiar place, Wolf Blitzer, he is as you would expect him to be, in "THE SITUATION ROOM."