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Republican-Democrat Memo Wars; No Dreamer Deal Without Wall; Dow Plunges Over Past Two Days; Trump's Silence Over Market Drop. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired February 5, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
Memo wars. President Trump claiming that he's vindicated in the Russia investigation, after the release of a disputed partisan memo, attacking the FBI. But, now, lawmakers from his own party are pushing back against him and that claim.
Also, as the president praises the memo author as a great American hero, he's targeting the top Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, accusing him of lies and leaks.
And as the clock ticks toward another government shutdown, the president with a new rejection and a new ultimatum over the fate of Dreamers.
All that coming up.
But, but right, now Republican lawmakers refuting President Trump's claim that he's been vindicated in the Russian probe. Several GOP lawmakers are pushing back on the president's assertion that a disputed partisan memo exonerates him.
The document alleges that the FBI improperly used the now infamous Steele dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant. But some prominent Republicans say the memo does nothing to undermine the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. The dossier has nothing to do with an e-mail sent by Cambridge Analytica.
The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos' meeting in Great Britain. It also doesn't have anything to do with object obstruction of justice.
So, there's going to be a Russia probe even without a dossier.
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: I want to stress, Bob Mueller should be able to turn over every rock, pursue every lead so we can have trust in knowing what exactly the Russians did or did not do.
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: It would be a mistake for anyone to suggest the special counsel shouldn't complete his work. I support his work. I want him to finish it.
REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R), OHIO: I support the Mueller investigation. Now, I hope that he does it fairly and honestly. Of course, we would always expect that.
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, so, how's the Trump administration responding to the fallout over the memo, this very serious pushback from Republicans who totally disagree with him on the overall Mueller investigation?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Wolf, you're seeing the president, once again, touting this memo that was released by Devin Nunes. And he's not, really, backing off of any of that.
He hasn't done that over the last 48, 72 hours. He was talking about this over the weekend on Twitter, saying that this memo vindicated him.
And, of course, you saw what happened on the Sunday talk shows, almost a cavalcade of Republican lawmakers, saying that, no, there would be a Russia investigation without the Nunes memo.
And, I think, what you're going to see this week, Wolf, is, sort of, the memo war part two. Last week was the Nunes memo. This week will be the Schiff memo, because the Democratic ranking member of that House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, wants to see his version of events released and declassified by the president.
Now, the White House is saying they'll take a look at that. But the president has been attacking Adam Schiff on Twitter this morning, and so it's unclear whether or not that's going to take place.
But just to give you a sense as to where the president's head is right now, take a look at what he has tweeted earlier this morning about Devin Nunes. We can put that one up on screen.
It's pretty obvious where the president stands on the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He says, Representative Devin Nunes, a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a great American hero, the president says, for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure.
Now, as for Adam Schiff, who is, obviously, behind a rival Democratic memo, Democratic Party memo, the president is making it pretty clear what his feelings are about Adam Schiff. We can put this up on screen. There is no surprise here, there's a personal insult directed at Adam Schiff. Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper.
Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak classified or confidential information. Must be stopped.
Wolf, it should be noted, in just the president's Twitter feed this morning, he has gone after the Judiciary -- the justice system of this country in going after Comey.
He's gone after Jim Clapper and Brennan from the CIA. That, obviously, represents the intelligence community.
He's also going after members of Congress, of course, in Adam Schiff. And he was also going after the news media, praising "Fox and Friends" in saying that its competition were untruthful.
So, just about every corner of American life that is subjecting this administration to scrutiny is getting -- is on the receiving end of the president's broad sides this morning.
[13:05:04] And, Wolf, one other thing we should point out, there are Republicans who were really eager to hear the president talk about his message from the State of the Union speech. That was completely overshadowed last week.
And here is the president out in Ohio this afternoon. He's supposed to be talking about his tax cuts, something that the White House criticizes us, in the media, for not covering enough. Saying we don't cover the president's agenda enough.
And, yet, the president's stepping on his own message, his own economic message, and going after these -- all these various institutions here in Washington that have been subjecting his White House and his administration to scrutiny through this Russia investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. It was interesting, Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, he responded right away to the president's insult. He said, Mr. President, I see you've had a busy morning of, quote, "executive time." Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the T.V. and helped funding crisis, protect the Dreamers or, really, anything else.
So, Adam Schiff not wasting any time in getting back at the president.
Jim Acosta at the White House. Thank you very much.
The other side of the story has been silence, so far. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee wrote their own memo on the Russia investigation. They wanted it released at the exact same time as the Devin Nunes Republican memo was released, but the Republican majority blocked that last week. Our Congressional Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty is up on Capitol Hill.
Sunlen, are we getting any closer to seeing that Democratic minority memo emerge?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, potentially, Wolf. The House Intelligence Committee, they are meeting behind closed doors at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight, where they will consider and vote on potentially releasing that Democratic memo.
Now, Republicans, they hold a majority on that committee. So, important to note here that this memo will get -- need Republican support to get through it and to move towards, potentially, being publicly released.
And my colleagues, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, reports that, now, at least three Republicans on that committee indeed say that they will vote in support of publicly releasing the Democratic memo. That means that win and likely -- if a win, likely win later tonight, gets passed in committee, that will send the matter over to the White House.
And then, essentially, the ball will be in President Trump's court, whether he releases this or not, moves to declassify it.
So, we'll really follow the same trail that we saw last week, with President Trump deciding to release the Devin Nunes memo. He will have five days to determine whether he will or not to release this Democratic memo.
White House officials telling our team over at the White House that they will -- it will be evaluated, whether or not President Trump releases it.
So, at this moment, it's very unclear what President Trump will do.
BLITZER: Sunlen Serfaty up on Capitol Hill. Thank you very much.
President Trump is continuing, meanwhile, to beat the drum over the Republican intelligence memo.
Let's discuss this and more with our Senior Legal Analyst Preet Bharara. He's also a former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.
Preet, the Trump says he's been vindicated by that Republican majority House Intelligence Committee memo. What do you think?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think, no, he has not been.
And, as you pointed out in the earlier reporting in this segment, there are a number of Republicans, including people who are on the House Intelligence Committee like Trey Gowdy, who also disagree with that assessment.
It's a three-and-a-half-page memo which doesn't say a whole heck of a lot about a lot of things.
But one of the things it does say is that the investigation that we're talking about here, and on T.V. and every day and every week, began not with that dossier but with a meeting that George Papadopoulos had.
So, this idea that the Russia investigation is somehow inappropriate or improper where the president is vindicated -- I mean, it doesn't implicate the president, certainly. But it doesn't vindicate him of anything.
BLITZER: The president, as you know, he took to Twitter, once again today, as he likes to do in the morning usually after he watches a bit of Fox T.V. He called the authors -- the memo's author, Congressman Devin Nunes, quote, "a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a great American hero."
He also went after the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, saying this, among other things. Little Adam Schiff is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington.
What do you think of the president's attack on Adam Schiff and his praise for Devin Nunes?
BHARARA: Well, it's something we've seen of the president over and over and over again. Anyone who disagrees with him or crosses him or criticizes him or subjects him to scrutiny, ends up at the other end of a -- of an obnoxious or critical tweet. And anyone who stands up for him, whether it's based on principle or not, he lionizes as a hero.
Look, you know, I don't know Devin Nunes. I actually don't know Adam Schiff, either. But I think, from the public record, and given the kinds of materials that they've put forward, Adam Schiff strikes me as a person who is some Rigger, former U.S. attorney.
Devin Nunes, on the other hand, says a lot of things, based on what I've seen on television and in print, that don't make a lot of sense.
I believe, earlier today, he said something, like, the president of the United States is not -- we don't know that the president of the United States and George Papadopoulos have ever even met, even though there's a photograph that's been widely circulated, showing them at a meeting together at the same table.
[13:10:10] So, this is the chief person on the Intelligence Committee and as a Republican, and he doesn't know basic facts about the case.
He also has to guess at other things that don't make a lot of sense, such as Carter Page is the type of person that shouldn't even be scrutinized by the FBI. And, I think, most people, whatever side of the aisle you're on, who appreciate the kinds of things that have come out about Carter Page and others, would disagree with that as well.
Now, there have been chairs on the Republican and Democratic side of the Intelligence Committee who, I think, have been known for rigor and integrity and good work product. Mike Rogers comes to mind, for example, Republican Chair of that committee.
And based on everything that I've seen and based on the things I know about how the world works, Devin Nunes is not that person.
BLITZER: Yes, there's a -- there's a long history of bipartisanship cooperation on the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. It continues at least for now, on the Senate Intelligence Committee. It isn't happening at all on the House Intelligence Committee.
I want to point out, though, before those two tweets this morning, the president also said he was watching "Fox and Friends," Fox news, saying, thank you to "Fox and Friends" for exposing the truth. Perhaps that's why your ratings are so much better than your untruthful competition.
So, he, himself, is saying he's getting a lot of this information from "Fox and Friends," as he often does in the mornings.
The Other Democrats, Preet, are also hoping to soon be able to officially release their response to the Republican memo.
Do you think the president, realistically, is going to block that Democratic minority memo from being declassified and released?
BHARARA: I have no idea. It would seem to make no sense at all. If you're going to release one side of the issue -- a document on one side of the issue, you should release a document on the other side of the issue as well.
My prediction is, with the Democratic memo, based on, you know, I think, how rigorous Adam Schiff and his staff have been, will, I think, be a little more clear and a little bit more substantive than the Nunes memo.
But I have no idea. I haven't seen it and don't, you know, know what it looks like.
But I think it would be an outrage if it were not released, in light of the fact that the other memo has been released.
BLITZER: Yes, the other memo, the Republican memo, was three-and-a- half pages. The Democrat response is about 10 pages, we're told. And we'll anticipate, presumably, now that a whole bunch of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, including Trey Gowdy among others, say they want it released. Congressman Peter King wants it released.
There's going to be a majority of members of the House Intelligence Committee who say, release the Democrat memo. We'll see what the president and the White House decides to do.
As far as the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is concerned. This is what the former chief of staff over at the White House, Reince Priebus, says about reports that Mueller was almost fired last June.
Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, WHITE HOUSE: I never felt -- of all the things that we went through in the west wing, I never felt that the president was going to fire the special counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He left the White House the next month. What do you think about that comment?
BHARARA: Well, he's choosing his words very carefully. I mean, reporting has been that the president of the United States actually directed his White House counsel, Don McGhan, to go ahead and fire Bob Mueller. And from that clip and from the rest of that interview, parts of which I've seen, Reince Priebus is not saying that didn't happen.
He saying, in some way, to try to have it both ways, I didn't feel that, ultimately at the end of the day, to paraphrase, he was going to fire Bob Mueller. And it turns out that he didn't.
That tells us nothing about whether or not that, you know, the thing actually happened, his directing Don McGhan to fire Bob Mueller. And it tells us nothing about what he's going to do tomorrow or next week or the week after.
BLITZER: Preet Bharara, thanks so much for joining us.
BHARARA: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: The government, once again, only days away from shutting down. And now, the president delivers an ultimatum to Democrats over the fate of Dreamers.
Also, the speaker, Paul Ryan, facing some backlash after connecting the tax law with one secretary's pay raise of $1.50 a week. We'll discuss.
And the Dow Jones plunging, down more than 350 points, 375 points right now. Continuing its biggest drop since early 2016. We're going to discuss once be -- what's behind this dramatic fall. It's down more than 700, 800 points over the last several days. We'll watch this very closely.
But what is the president saying about it?
We'll be right back.
[13:18:35] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The president appears to be drawing a line in the sand once again over the fate of dreamers here in the United States, tweeting out just a little while ago, quote, any deal on DACA that does not include strong border security and the desperately needed wall is a total waste of time.
The White House is also throwing cold water on a bipartisan plan, the latest plan released by senator's John McCain and Chris Coons. A plan that hasn't even been formally introduced yet. It's calling their proposal -- the White House calling their proposal worse than the plan put forward by Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Dick Durbin. That was a bipartisan bill that was floated last month, found limited support over -- no support, actually, over at the White House.
All of this comes with the clock ticking down only to the DACA deadline. Not only to the DACA deadline, but the next possible government shutdown later this week, Thursday to be specific.
Joining us now our political panel, CNN congressional reporter Lauren Fox, Karoun Demirjian, congressional reporter for "The Washington Post," and Gloria Borger's our chief political analyst.
The president says it's a waste of time unless there's going to be a wall. They want about $25 billion for the wall, for border security. This is a serious problem because we're talking about -- you know, he says, 1.8 million dreamers. There's actually about 700,000 who are formally registered as DACA recipients. And early in March that deadline goes. And if there isn't an extension, they could be expelled starting in early March.
[13:20:07] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. So we're kind of back to the future here. We're back to square one, where we were before the last government shutdown. And, you know, there have been proposals, as you point out, for ways to get around this. Some of them calling for a pathway to citizenship. Others more confined.
But, you know, even Republican John Thune today said, look, I think we have to narrow the issues down here or we're never going to get anything done. And he suggested, OK, let's narrow it down of the president's four points. Let's narrow it down to the dreamers and some funding for the wall. If they could find their way around that, then perhaps they can come up with some kind of a solution.
I think what we're seeing right now is a little positioning of their rhetoric, and I think they're going to have to get down to business soon.
BLITZER: Karoun, let me read to you the exact tweet of the president this morning at 9:36 a.m. Any deal on DACA that does not include strong border security and the desperately needed wall -- all in caps -- is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal.
So will there be a deal or won't there be a deal?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's the big question, right? I mean if there's not a deal, you're talking about a potential government shutdown. There's also the question of whether the March 5th deadline is the very last time they actually have to be able to deal with these court stays and these orders. But, look, people are clearly trying to cross party lines where they can and join up where they can and so far nothing's satisfy the president.
So in terms of who's, you know, it has to be slightly more comprehensive than just DACA and the wall probably to be able to get votes on board enough. Even Chris Coons was saying today that he thinks a clean DACA couldn't get 60 votes right now in the Senate.
So how much broader they're willing to go -- I mean the president has his proposal. There's counter proposals coming out of Congress. Will anything that can pass the Senate actually pass the House? We're in the same calculus that we were in before, really.
DEMIRJIAN: And the sniping is not exactly helping the environment be more prime for consensus. But, I mean, right now, as you said, people are kind of staking their ground and trying to win, still. I mean March 5th is close, but it's still over a month -- or exactly a month away, right?
BORGER: You're talking about hundreds of thousands of people who were brought here as little kids, children, brought here illegally by their parents, but they've grown up here in the United States and now they are, obviously, very, very worried.
Let's get to another issue. The speaker of the House, Lauren, Paul Ryan, he tweeted this over the weekend, and I'll put it up on the screen. A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, says she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week. She said that will more than cover her Costco membership for the year. Now, there was a significant backlash to what he was tweeting, the speaker. I take it he's deleted that tweet. But, you know, he's coming under a lot of criticism right now, the speaker of the House.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Right. And a lot of Democrats were arguing that this was just a tone-deaf tweet. Over the weekend, you saw his Democratic competitor tweeting that this was tone-deaf. You saw Nancy Pelosi tweeting about it. This has been the point that Democrats have been making about the tax bill from the very beginning. This was a major watershed tax break for corporations, but when it came to individual Americans, they would see not the large sort of growth in their paychecks that Republicans were trying to sell for them.
And I think one of the things we have to remember is, Nancy Pelosi has been attacked over the last several weeks for saying that this tax bill was little more than crumbs, something that Republicans had been trying to repeat over and over again at their retreat as corporations sort of have been announcing that they are going to offer bonuses to employees and a lot of Republicans have been kind of attacking her. So this is putting that onus back on Paul Ryan and the Republican tax bill. Certainly, you know, he deleted his tweet, so he recognized it was a little bit controversial (ph).
BLITZER: Take a look, Gloria, and everyone else, at the Dow Jones Indusial average right now. It's down, what 420 points right now. A significant drop. On Friday it was down 666 points.
In two days it's dropped, Gloria, more than 1,000 points. That's a significant -- even though since the election it's gone up significantly, impressively.
BLITZER: People have made a lot of money. A lot of 401(k)s did well. But now it's dropped a thousand points in two days alone, at least so far on this day, and, you know what, there's a thunderous silence coming from someone over at the White House.
Well, and that's -- the president has, for some reason, set the stock market as his yardstick about an improving economy. Now, the reason the stock market could be going down is because wages are going up, as we were talking about before we went on the air, and interest rates are going up. But the president, being somebody who is a New Yorker, who understands the stock market and is probably at some point heavily invested in the stock market, uses that. And if it starts to drop precipitously, as we've seen in the last couple of days, that begs an explanation from the president. And -- because you can't be on both sides of this issue. If you assume that a rising tide lifts all boats, if it's the stock market, then you have to explain what's going on now.
[13:25:19] BLITZER: Yes, he's going to be speaking later this afternoon in Cincinnati, Karoun. I wonder if he's going to get into that. You know, he always talks about -- and understandably so -- how great the stock market is doing, unemployment numbers are down, all the positive economic indicators. I wonder if he's going to mention a thousand-point drop in two days.
DEMIRJIAN: It would be out of character, I guess, if he decided to highlight that sort of thing. I mean, look, it's like Gloria was saying, he has chosen to make this the measure. There are a lot of economic indicators that you can choose to focus on that aren't the stock market maybe actually might hit people a little bit closer to where they live in their day-to-day feelings of how healthy their personal lives are in terms of the economy.
But -- but he's chosen this one. It's not going well. We've not usually seen the president address these things head on when the things that he chooses to highlight take a turn. He may find something else to focus on or he may just talk about other things entirely. There's plenty of other stuff going on that he can choose to discuss, like immigration, like the memo, and he's certainly been very active on Twitter already today on those subjects. So we could see that continue.
BLITZER: Take a look at the numbers, what, 432 points down so far on this day. Still a few hours left for people to trade. A 666-point drop on Friday. That's a significant drop. We'll see what happens over the next few hours and we'll cover it.
Guys, thanks very, very much.
There's new details emerging at the -- involving a man at the center of the controversial Nunes memo. We're talking about Carter Page and his contacts within the Russian government going back to 2013.
Also, is the vice president planning a stunt at the Olympic -- winter Olympic games later in the week? There's new word he's targeting North Korea with a very special guest.