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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
WH Aide's Ex-Wife Told FBI He Physically; WH: Kelly Only Fully Aware Of Abuse Allegations Yesterday; White House Changes Story on Alleged Abuse by Former Top Aide; Official: "There Are A Lot of Knives Out For" Kelly; WH: Trump Has "Full Confidence" In John Kelly. Interview with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky; Interview with Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 8, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin Burnett "Outfront" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Outfront next breaking news, growing questions over what John Kelly knew and when. How did top White House aide Rob Porter keep his job? Despite months of damming evidence of domestic evidence. And one woman at the center of the controversy she dated Porter and helps crack the White House a sense of him, Hope Hicks.
Plus more breaking news, the government shutdown now likely in just five hours. Let's go Outfront.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett, Outfront tonight domestic abuse. The White House chief of staff John Kelly and senior Trump aides knew early last fall that former White House staff Secretary Rob Porter was accused of domestic abuse by both his ex-wives. But the White House today tried to muddy the time line.
RAJ SHAH, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: There has been reports about the chief of staff. He became fully aware about these allegations yesterday.
BURNETT: Fully aware. It's a strange term if you already knew about allegations of domestic abuse. I mean what John Kelly learned yesterday that he didn't know about months ago is not at all clear right now. And here's the things, you may not have heard of Rob Porter before this whole story when the abuse charges exploded, but Porter was a crucial person, arising star in the Trump White House, number two to the chief of staff, the gate keeper of the President's paper work, anything highly classified that went through the President's desk went through Rob Porter. That is power and knowledge. And in the many months that Kelly and others knew that Porter was accused by both his ex-wives of abuse, Porter remained solidly at Trump side. He accompanied the President to China in November. One of the few to actually shakes hands with President Xi. Porter was with Trump at the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, he actually stood in for John Kelly there. Porter was one of the authors State of the Union address. His office just steps away from the Oval Office.
Now remember both the Porter's ex-wives told FBI investigators very damming stories. Porter's first wife Colbie Holderness told the FBI in January of 2017, over a year ago, that Porter punched her and she shared with the FBI photos in that interview. And here's of some of what Jennifer Willoughby, Porter's second wife says she told the FBI in that background check interview.
JENNIFER WILLOUGHBY, ROB PORTER'S EX-WIFE: I told them all of the details of my marriage, including verbal and emotional abuse, and including the incident when he pulled me out of the shower. They were also made aware of the protective order that I signed in June of 2010.
BURNETT: And there was a third woman. A girlfriend who lived with Porter while he worked at the White House who reach out to Porter ex- wives to talk about the abuse she said she was enduring. And according to Politico, she called the White House herself directly, reported the abuse to the General Counsel Don McGahn. Despite all this, three women, two ex-wives and a live-in girlfriend, Porter remained on the job privy to the United States most sensitive information. That is until the "Daily Mail" broke the story forcing Kelly and Porter's hand. Only then when the ex-wife story was put out to the public did Porter resign.
And today the White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah took the podium to try to take on damage control. Shah was repeatedly asked why the White House and John Kelly kept Porter on for so long in the face of the allegations especially fighting back after the story blew up in the "Daily Mail".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What changed yesterday absent a photograph in terms of new allegations?
SHAH: Well, I think what I just referenced the reports had additional allegations, they had more information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're saying the initial reports were two former wives accused him of violence both physical and verbal abuse was not sufficient for him to say he's a man of honor?
SHAH: There were a number of statements from, you know, from the press secretary, from the chief of staff, from others, that reflected the Rob Porter that, you know, we've come to know working here for over a year, and the chief of staff for about the last six months. But the reports were troubling. And I think the statement from Wednesday night reflects the Rob Porter that we had seen in these news reports and some of this credible allegation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So to be clear, what was so shocking that had changed? He said he was shocking. What was the --
SHAH: Yes, it's a full nature of the allegation particularly the images.
BURNETT: OK, particularly the images. This is really important. It sounds like the White House is try to say, OK Kelly knew about Porter's ex-wives alleging abuse, but because he didn't see a picture of the aftermath of the abuse it was not as much of a problem. I mean here's the image Colbie Holderness, Porter's first wife had shared this picture. She's really is it, it was taken by Porter of a black eye she says he gave her. So the image obviously bothered John Kelly.
The question is why the words of domestic abuse or wife beating didn't seem to absent an image? So let's go through the time line here. Because even Kelly's assertion that the picture changed things doesn't actually seem to add up with the time line we have. At 7:09 p.m. Tuesday night, the "Daily Mail" published the stories of Porter's ex- wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willougby. Detailing their allegations of abuse by Porter.
[19:05:05] In response, the chief of staff, John Kelly released a statement drafted with the help of Communications Director Hope Hicks who, and this is complicated but this is real life, people, currently in a romantic relationship with Rob Porter, saying, "Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him. He's a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I'm proud to serve along side him.
Night passed in the morning, 8:27 a.m., the "Daily Mail" published the follow-up story, that included the picture of Colbie Holderness with the black eye. That she said she suffered at the hand of Rob Porter.
Kelly statement calling for Porter a man of true integrity is sent out again. This time to the press core. Now this actually came after Porter himself have been -- had resigned. There were no changes, no amendment to the statement. No comments about it being unacceptable. It wasn't until 9:30 last night, a full 25 hours after that "Daily Mail" story was first published, 13 hours after the photo of Colbie Holderness black eye became public, which by the way she shared with the FBI over a year ago, that Kelly changed his tune. He then says, "I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know".
Shocked by new allegations. The problem is there wasn't anything new here. Kelly knew about allegations of domestic abuse for months, the "Daily Mail" then reported them, Kelly defended Porter, "Daily Mail" out of the picture, Kelly defended Porter again, and then he put out a new statement, and now they're saying the picture change things. The context here matters too, because the reality of it is, is this White House has long and consistent history in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse. Remember Roy Moore the Alabama GOP Senate candidate two weeks after the first public allegations against Moore by four women who charged he sexually abused them when they were in their teens, Trump said this.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Well, he denies it. Look, denies it. He totally denies it, he says it doesn't happen and, you know, you have to listen to him also. You're talking about he said 40 years ago this did not happen.
BURNETT: And over the decades at least 15 women have accused Trump himself of sexual misconduct. The response from Trump and his aides is always the same, it's all lies.
TRUMP: These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the official White House position that all of these women are lying?
SARA SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Yeah, we've been clear on that from the beginning and the President has spoken about it.
TRUMP: Take a look. You take a look, look at her, look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don't think so. I don't think so.
SANDERS: The President has denied any of these allegations as have eyewitnesss.
BURNETT: So any surprise that the White House ignored accusations against Porter for months in that context and then tried to defend him when they broke? Pamela Brown is Outfront tonight in the White House to begin our coverage. And Pamela there is no doubt that senior staff at the White House were aware?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRSPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Erin. Sources tell us that not only did chief of staff John Kelly know about at least some of these domestic abuse allegations but other senior White House aides did months ago. But you heard Raj Shah there at the podium saying that Kelly didn't become fully aware until just recently, until this week, which begs the question, well what does that mean exactly. And the only thing he would say was that he didn't know about this picture of Rob Porter's ex-wife with the black eye as you saw.
So it's unclear why that changed the dial so much for the chief of staff John Kelly to then release the statement that came out last night wherefore the first time he acknowledged domestic abuse. Because as you'll recall the allegations prior to that that had been reported were those of domestic and verbal abuse and protective order that had come out to the public. And that the ex-wives of Robert Porter had told the FBI nearly I guess a year ago, Erin, about what happened, the specifics of what happened. It would be a shock if that was not raised to the White House during Rob Porter's tenure here over the last more than a year or so. So today's press briefing raised a lot of questions, kind of raised more questions than answered in many ways about why it was handled the way it was the and why John Kelly did not conduct an internal review earlier if he knew about the allegations as our sources say.
Now the White House today said, that they wanted to allow law enforcement, the FBI to continue its investigations. It said that it felt that was the proper channel for this to be investigated. But it certainly begs the question why Rob Porter was able to continue his work here at the White House with interim security clearance continuing as sort of arising star here at the White House just recently working on the State of the Union address when these allegations were surrounding him. Erin.
[19:10:02] BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much Pamela.
An Outfront now, Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst, Tim Naftali former director of the Nixon Presidential Library and Alice Stewart, Republican strategist.
I mean Alice, it's really hard to understand this, so if you know there's claims of domestic abuse from both of someone's ex-wives, a person who support (ph) with two ex-wives, their live-in girlfriend calls the White House general counsel to talk about her allegations of domestic abuse, and nobody did anything about it, and then when it broke in the press, which is the only reason it would have come out, they defended him.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sure. And that's extremely troubling. That they say that they weren't aware of the full nature of all of this until recently. Look, just this sheer nature of this is disturbing enough. And its reason enough not to have someone have this close access to the President and in classified information. We don't need to know all the details. We don't need a video, we don't need pictures. The reason enough is someone that is accused by multiple women of domestic abuse. What happened is John Kelly and many of this -- this administration let his impeccable pedigree and his performance at the White House.
BURNETT: Real scholar, Harvard degree got in their eyes.
STEWART: And they let that over shadow their good judgment on taking appropriate steps to do away with someone that has these serious allegations against them. Domestic abuse is abhorrent and the fact they turned the other way and let him continue to -- as Pamela said arising star in the administration, those who show they were willing to die on Porter hill and that's a shame.
BURNETT: I mean Gloria, I think what's so shocking about this is the point Alice raises, to imply you're not fully aware when you knew there was domestic abuse including physical abuse allegations by both of someone's ex-wives and their live-in girlfriend because you hadn't seen a picture of the abuse.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That's ridiculous.
BURNETT: It defies emotion, it defies reason to even think that that excuse could be put out there
BORGER: Well, yes, and that's, you know, that is a ridiculous excuse. And I think the question we have to ask is the extent to which General Kelly knew about the details of this or any of this or any of this. And, you know, obviously this is an issue that the general counsel's office deals with. Kelly had to be aware in some way, shape, or form, that there were red flags with his clearance. And that the reason there were red flags was because of domestic abuse.
So the question that you have to ask is, did Kelly have conversations with Rob Porter? Did Don McGgahn have conversations with Rob Porter in which Porter said, you know, these are my ex-wives, and, you know, this is just a lot of stuff that is not true and let me explain it to you. And perhaps there were those conversations where they chose to believe him.
Now, we don't know the answer to that because the White House is not telling us the answer to that. So we don't know what Rob Porter was saying internally to people. But if I were General Kelly, and I had had conversations with Porter, I would be very upset right now. Because I would be upset with myself, because I had believed him over these women, and I would be upset because he probably thinks he was misled. And if I were the President, who just heard about this -- this week, I would be really upset because nobody told him. And this is a guy who is literally his shadow every day.
BORGER: Every day.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, Tim, you know, it is pretty stunning when you just think about the whole situation here. In any situation. Why when you have the most important women in someone's life, they're all coming forward and saying the same thing, that anybody would buy, well, they are just scorned or jealous or whatever it might have been. I mean it's -- again, defies reason. I want to play a little bit more of what Jenny Willoughby, Porter's second ex-wife said to the "Washington Post" about what happen, here she is.
WILLOUGHBY: It's my understanding that the FBI holds a fairly standard interview for security clearance background checks. And that is what was held with the special agents that met with me. They weren't asking specific targeted questions about Rob. They were asking, to my understanding, general questions about his character, about his ability to uphold the position. I told them all of the details of my marriage, including verbal and emotional abuse, and including the incident when he pulled me out of the shower. They were also made aware of the protective order that I signed in June of 2010. And they were also made aware of another time when I had called the police to our home after domestic disturbance.
BURNETT: So, Tim and obviously then Colbie Holderness, his first ex- wife shared the pictures of the black eye that she had shared with black eye in January of last year. Now obviously we don't know that John Kelly was aware of those, so they came out with "Daily Mail" in terms of that specific point. Someone who signs a protective order, and the police coming to their home after issue of domestic abuse. These are very serious things.
[19:15:16] TIM NAFTALI, FRM DIRECTOR, NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: Yes. Well, I understand that John Kelly is Rob Porter's boss. In the U.S. government we say Rob Porter's direct report is to John Kelly. If you are a boss of a unit in the United States government where people with security clearances, you're given updates on status of their clearances and when they're up for renewal and if there are problems with clearance. It is inconceivable to me that General Kelly didn't know that there were problems with Mr. Porter's clearance. If he knew there were problems, then because he's a smart man, he would have looked into them.
BURNETT: Right and as I said we have reported that he did know they were domestic abuse.
NAFTALI: But he has right to look at the FBI file which means that he didn't believe the women.
BURNETT: The FBI file by the way would have had all these details, they have interviews. The interviews were done, the pictures had been produced. I mean I'm just saying that the files would have had details.
NAFTALI: And what's really sad about this is that given all the me too movement involved, to think that in the fall of last year General Kelly didn't sit back in his chair and think, oh, wait a second, I may have this problem right here. Now, we should -- we'll learn more. But I think that the FBI did, it sounds like they did their job. But, you know, in the end the decision about classification is made by the President and the chief of staff.
NAFTALI: If they want these people to keep their clearances.
BURNETT: They can do that.
NAFTALI: Regardless what the FBI finds.
BURNETT: The FBI is going to say, you can't do it for this reason.
STEWART: Right. And I think one of the key points people, you know, might be wondering what difference does it make about the interim clearance and what not, when you have someone like this that is by all accounts during the day a shining star, and everyone says he has integrity and great character, but by night he is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde clearly pattern of behavior that is extremely contradictory to how he is during the day. He's vulnerable for any one that wants to find someone in the government that can get secret information. If he is one person by day and another person by night he can be very easily compromised.
BURNETT: Or blackmailed right. It certainly he knows this information, we're going to put this information now publicly about what happened and, you know, I mean I guess. But Alice what about the point that seems so troubling here. Basing -- believing Rob Porter not all the women that he has been involved with them a serious way in his life.
Believe -- don't believe any of the President's accusers, believe Roy Moore and none of his accusers, it's consistent, and it's not just the President, it's chief of staff, this is, you know, press secretary, it's everybody.
STEWART: That's disturbing. It's a pattern of behavior, as you say with all this other instances, they automatically say the women were wrong, we don't believe the women, and they say the women were trying to smear them. Rob Porter said this was another smear campaign. It's extremely disturbing. And in this day of age where we need to give the women a voice, we need to let women have the opportunity to speak out. This is a bad sign on that. And I think for them to allow Rob Porter to give him the opportunity to leave on his own terms when he wants to go at least 24 hours, that was the wrong impression.
And also let me just say this about Hope Hicks. She can date whoever she wants to. She's free to do that. But when she's involved in drafting a statement it her personal business but on a professional level from a communication standpoint, you should recuse yourself 100% from drafting a character statement about someone you are romantically involved in.
BURNETT: Right, especially -- go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: And Erin, you know, you were mentioning the President. Look, you ran a clip of Sarah Sanders earlier saying, you know, the President has said we don't believe any of these women, period. And, you know, that has been the pattern here. And, so, in a way, sadly, it's not surprising that the White House decided not to believe these women and not to act on it. And you're 100% right. The FBI only presents the information to the White House. And the White House decides what it's going to do.
BORGER: And in this particular case, they haven't denied clearance, but he has some kind of interim clearance, because they were waiting and they were waiting. And what they were clearly waiting for was for this all to be swept under the rug. The problem was that somebody did a piece on it. The "Daily Mail" did a piece on it.
BURNETT: The problem is the "Daily Mail", that's the problem. BORGER: Exactly. It was publicized the "Daily Mail" did a piece and the picture was eventually a part of the reporting. And then they couldn't hide it anymore or not deal with it anymore.
[19:20:09] Then they had to confront it. And they were forced to confront it. And I think -- I think that also is a pattern, you know, they didn't deal with General Flynn until the "Washington Post" printed the story, right? So I think its part of a pattern that we've seen.
BURNETT: Well, it's a pattern, you know, you just say its fake news and hope it goes away and then of course when it isn't you end up sometimes, letting a man should have been fired resigned.
Thank you all.
And next, this is just the latest controversy involving John Kelly. Is Trump's chief of staff going to leave?
Plus breaking news, drama on Capitol Hill with government shutdown about five hours away, less than that, its likely right now. The White House has just told agencies to prepare now for a shutdown. And the White House laughing off some stunning claims by a former employee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAH: Omarosa was fired three times on "The Apprentice", and this is the fourth time we let her go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Braking news, the knives now out for John Kelly. Sources telling CNN, the President chief of staff is facing blow back after his blunder protecting accuse wife abuser Rob Porter. This is not Kelly's first splash with controversy this week. Just a few days ago, he bashed some immigrants, as "too lazy to get off their asses".
A few weeks ago he contracted the President on its key immigration campaign promises as well.
JOHN KELLY, CHIEF OF STAFF, WHITE HOUSE: He has evolved in the way he flipped the things, he is so very definitely change his attitude towards the DACA issue and even the wall.
BURNETT: That was a blunder of course in terms of how the President would perceive them. And then there was this. When he attacked the Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson in a disputed centered around a Gold star widow's husband death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: The Congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And this is the man that so many said is the grown up in the room, the moderating force, the general running the Trump White House.
Outfront now Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for the "Nation" and Steve Cortes, head of President Trump Hispanic counsel during the campaign. Joan, you're with me, so let me start with you. The White House tonight says the President retains full confidence in Kelly. What do you think?
JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he's to go actually after this. I don't know that he will go. You know, we have to acknowledge in this White House the fish rocks from the head. And we have seen this pattern of the President not believing women who even charged him. The President admitting on the "Access Hollywood" tape that he feels free to sexually assault women and get away with it because he's a star.
He has tolerated abuse before Corey Lewandowski was accused, Steve Bannon was accused. So I understand why John Kelly might have thought this is not a firing offense. But is a firing offense. Now that we know everything, this man did not have a full security clearance and he is presumably handling some incredibly classified important information as his presenting things to the President. He's the man who brings in the stack of papers that the President usually doesn't read but he has access to --
BURNETT: All of it.
WALSH: -- all of it.
[19:25:14] BURNETT: Pretty much every piece of paper.
WALSH: So that -- I mean, I believe the side the women which I can't -- which we shouldn't. But even leaving that a side the notion that this man was allowed to handle these papers without a full security clearance, the bells didn't go off, is a firing offense.
BURNETT: And, Steve, you know, just to repeat here, sources say Kelly did know for months since early last fall about some claims that Porter physically and emotionally battered his two ex-wives. The FBI had interviewed them in great detail last January have filed to which Kelly would have had access if he wanted to. We understand though that he did not conducted an intern tal investigation into the claims veracity. What happens here now, Steve?
STEVE CORTES, FMR TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, listen, I think what happens, a couple things. First of all, I think all of us, in life know people who professionally act a certain way, and may act a very different way at home in their marriage or in their home in a way that we can't believe. And I think that's what happened here. So Generally Kelly knew Rob Porter in a professional sense and in his professional setting Rob Porter was apparently impeccable. In his home life he was anything but that. Once that came to light the general made a very clear statement that domestic violence --
BURNETT: But Steve he didn't, but he didn't.
CORTES: -- is never OK.
BURNETT: What I'm saying is he knew about it since last fall and he didn't launch an investigation into it to even to determine the claims veracity, right. So you see it -- he sees him in one light, a very, very different pictures being portrayed. The guy has access to all this classified information. I mean wouldn't -- shouldn't it, if Kelly was doing his job, have merited some sort of an investigation?
CORTES: Oh, listen, here is like -- no, I think he did not know that damming information. Because he's not that kind of man. I think here's the thing, what's really -- let's get to the crux of it, Erin. What's really going on with General Kelly? I think the left is trying to make him into the newest boogie man. They're trying to --
WALSH: He's doing it to him self.
CORTES: -- link him to the Nunes, Steve Bannon. The Nunes, grim reaper in the White House. Here's the reality about General Kelly, this man has given his life to our country literally. He's a battle tested hero. And he didn't just give his entire life. He literally sadly gave his sons life to our country. This is a hero should be honored and venerated. A man who lives to serve the American public and American security. And for you, Joan, frankly, to smirch in this way.
WASLH: He did it himself.
CORTES: I'm not to shine his shoes. And neither are you, quite frankly, OK.
WALSH: I disagree.
CORTES: This man has given more to this country than we have ever I mean fought about giving --
WALSH: I thank him for his --
WALSH: Stop filibustering. I thank him for his service.
WALSH: The thing is -- Steve stop, just shush. I lament the loss of his son. I thank him for his service. And I think about the two ex- wives plus a girlfriend who told the FBI this information. It's not like he just found it out last night, Steve. And I don't know how you can live with your self.
CORTES: Yes, he did.
CORTES: Yes, he did.
WASLH: No, he didn't. OK, you're calling CNN, you're calling our reporters here liars? They have reported, they have confirmed that he had this information.
BURNETT: Steve they're just trying to say he wasn't fully aware, because there was a graphic image which was really. So a picture of domestic abuse came out. That's different than knowing domestic abuse, that their point right now.
CORTES: Erin, there's a huge difference.
WALSH: -- have a blog post where she went into great detail about this horrible event. If he wanted to know the facts were there, just because he was a hero in one part of his life, he was not a hero in this part of his life. These women were betrayed by him.
CORTES: I disagree. He is a hero, period, he is an American hero, period. And so --
CORTES: But here's what matters, I think, OK, Erin, here's what matters. Did he know that he beat his wife? Of course not. He would have never hired him, OK. Now --
BURNETT: Steve did we know --
BURNETT: -- but he knew about an allegations of domestic abuse from both of his wives. OK, he did know that early last year. the FBI knew.
CORTES: And by the way, the FBI did. Absolutely.
BURNETT: Right, he was aware. He was aware.
CORTES: How do you know that? You don't know that.
BURNETT: This is our reporting from multiple sources that he was aware.
WALSH: You're calling CNN reporters a liar? (CROSSTALK)
CORTES: -- can you prove that. Erin, can you prove that --
BURNETT: -- of our reporters from multiple sources thathe was aware of some of the claims of domestic abuse from both of Rob Porter ex- wives. If you were aware of that --
CORTES: I am not --
BURNETT: -- that you heard their claims of a domestic abuse, you didn't know whether it was a punch in the eye, a kick in the butt, you know what it was. You were aware --
WALSH: The restraining order, a protective order.
[19:30:01] BURNETT: And there was a protective order. Would you have looked into it Steve or would you just take the guy's word?
CORTES: If I knew about it. My point is that General Kelly did not know about it --
CORTES: If -- if Rob Porter who he knew in a professional sense, and, again, I think the viewers out there know this, we all know people who act in a professional setting in a very different way than perhaps they act in a personal setting, and sometimes in a terrible way, right? That's a shame. And I'm not excusing that by any sense.
You know, domestic violence against anyone is awful, against women, against children. There's no excusing it. But all of us know people who know someone who might act very differently professionally than they do personally.
And my point is, General Kelly is a man of honor. He's a hero. And he clearly did not know that Rob Porter --
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: You are calling our reporters and other reporters liars when you say that repeatedly, Steve. This man could not get a security clearance.
At the very least, let's go from there, he couldn't get a full security clearance, so General Kelly doesn't inquire why?
WALSH: Oh, my goodness what's come up with the FBI investigations that my man can't get a security clearance?
We all know people in our lives. We work alongside them. We love them. We respect them. But when we are told that he can't get a security clearance, we might
ask the FBI, we might ask to look at his file. We might discover very early on, because this was out in January of 2017. We're only saying he knew in the fall. He could have known as early as January.
CORTES: That's a good point. And thank goodness the process worked in that case. He didn't get clearance, thank goodness, right? And he didn't deserve it.
WALSH: But he continued to work.
CORTES: And I'm glad he's gone.
BURNETT: Keep in mind the facts here is the White House would have determined clearance, FBI was clearly not willing to recommend that. They hadn't wrapped up their full investigation. But the White House obviously was dragging its feet.
Reality of it, Steve, nobody did anything until the press broke this. And the press was right.
Thank you, both.
And next, breaking news unexpected drama on Capitol Hill. A government shutdown now likely in ha couple of hours. Is one Republican senator responsible? That Senator Rand Paul who was holding up the key vote joins me next.
And more on our top story, White House dodging questions about Rob Porter security clearance.
BURNETT: Breaking news, it looks like the government is headed for another shutdown. Senator Rand Paul spent more than an hour speaking on the Senate floor, delaying a key Senate. He says the government is spending too much money.
With just four and a half hours left, there is not much time for Congress to get this through.
Sunlen Serfaty is on Capitol Hill.
And, Sunlen, is there going to be a shutdown?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There potentially could be tonight, Erin. We had for the most of the day, been reporting that. In the Senate, there are the votes there to get this pass through. That still remains true. But the problem is right now of this hold up. It goes back to Senate procedure, where they are on the track of this bill essentially is that they need all 100 senators to go through because they, of course are facing that midnight deadline.
As of now one senator, Senator Rand Paul, is standing in the way of that going forward. He does not agree with this bill. He's a no on this bill, but notably he's trying to push an amendment to restore the budget cap in the deal. Of course, we've heard him say very vocally on the floor of the Senate that he is against this bill because of additional spending.
As for the deficit, he's trying to force an amendment. That is something that Senate leadership simply will not give him. They don't want to open up the flood gates essentially to allow other amendments to be made.
[19:35:01] They are, of course, facing that midnight deadline, so they want to move quickly towards everything.
So what we have right now is a stand off where the senator has made very clear he intends to really push it to the limits. Meaning, he could push it past midnight. Could push this back into the wee hours of tomorrow morning.
So, as of now, looks more likely that there would be a shutdown at least temporarily.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sunlen.
So, now, let's go to Senator Rand Paul.
Senator, thank you. You are in the center of this. Are you going to cause a shutdown over this? Obviously you got until midnight. Is that your plan as of right now?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: No, not really. My plan is or my position is that this issue is so big and so important that it deserves to be debated, that we shouldn't have a closed debate. And a closed debate is when there are no amendments.
I've offered my amendment. I've been pushing it all day long. An amendment vote takes about 15 minutes. So, we've been about 10 hours with the leadership saying oh, we won't allow any amendments.
But I think it's really terrible way to run your government to put all the spending in one bill but then say no amendments.
The other thing is there is a huge hypocrisy factor here. Republicans lambasted President Obama to no end for trillion dollar deficits and now, they have put forward a trillion dollar deficit. And I don't know, I think the American people are going to be surprised, upset, hurt that the so-called conservatives elected then turned out to be not much different than the people they were criticizing.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, at the very least, they are hypocrites and there's no other word for it. Whatever you think the solution might be, Senator, you are right about, there's no way to describe it.
I want to just play for everybody, Senator Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This is what they were saying when President Obama wanted to spend some money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Our debt is threat to this country. We are on the verge of a debt crisis. Our debt, it's already bigger than our economy. Our debt, it's a sign of overreach. It's a sign that the federal government is doing too much.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (D-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The national debt threatens our way of life. The Democrat spending spree has brought us to the brink of an economic calamity. Who proposes more spending as a solution to a debt crisis?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan do, Senator. I mean, the numbers here, 84 percent in borrowing in the first fiscal year of the Trump administration, 50 percent again expected this year. Budget cap is gone. Sequester gone, $300 billion in additional spending over the next two years.
2What the heck happened to your party?
PAUL: I think this is what people don't like about politics. They see clips like that and they think did they really mean it or they're just against President Obama because he's a Democrat.
I'm one who actually did mean it because I thought did was a problem and we had too much. But the only way for the American public to believe that some of us really believe it is to be consistent, you know, against debt whether it's Democrat or Republican. And that's a real problem is Republicans have completely changed now and they said a trillion dollar deficit was terrible under President Obama, but it's just fine if it's a Republican.
And that's not going to wash with people. And it really upsets me because there are many of us who truly are conservative, truly are worried about the debt but are consistent, doesn't matter which party is doing it, it's wrong -- if it's wrong, it's wrong.
BURNETT: And, Senator, look, I commend you for your consistency on this. Let me give you a chance to explain something though that doesn't seem to fully add up because you are making this impassioned argument. In December, though, you voted for the tax cut which is projected, according to Republican numbers to add a trillion and a half dollars to the national debt.
BURNETT: So, you're willing to add that, but now you are upset over $300 billion over the next two years. How is that not hypocritical?
PAUL: There's a couple of things about cutting taxes. One, I believe that when you go out and work and you sweat and you work with your hands that what you earn is yours. You give up a small amount to be part of a civilized society, but you shouldn't have to give up half of your paycheck. And so, I think we have to give up a lot of our liberty, too much of it. So, I think people should be able to retain your liberty so that's why I'm for tax cuts.
But there also is a big debate over what tax cuts will do to the economy. If you say the economy is going to grow, oh, it's only going to grow 1.9 percent, then you might leave a big hole. What if it grows at 2.5 or 3.5? So, there's a lot of things that actually are unknown that will happen from this tax cut. And I do think that in the end, the money is more wisely spent by the people who earned it then by the people who didn't earn it.
But I'm consistently for a smaller government. So when I vote for a tax cut, I've always voted for corresponding cut in spending as well.
BURNETT: Are you concerned where the president stands on this? This is a man who after all, multiple times and multiple interviews bragged about being the king of debt, said, quote, I love debt, nobody knows debt better than me, and now he's doing just that? By the way his own companies declared chapter 11 bankruptcy four times. He's a guy who needs debt, who has used and abused death and he's not running it up on the taxpayer tab.
PAUL: There is probably a lot of blame to go around for the Republicans advocating for this debt. But I would say really primarily, you know, this is coming from Congress. The leadership in Congress in both the House and Senate has decided to move forward.
[19:40:01] But the funny thing is you know so often in the media, we hear, oh, we want you to work together. Well, they are working together but they're working together to spend a ton of money. So, I think bipartisan compromise --
BURNETT: Easy to spend money.
PAUL: -- isn't always what it's cracked up to be.
BURNETT: Easy to spend money you don't have when someone down the line is going to be responsible for paying the bill.
BURNETT: Senator Paul, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
PAUL: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, Stephen Moore, a former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign.
So, Steve, look, Rand Paul has a lot of good points here. Republicans, you look at McConnell and Ryan, right, during Obama. I mean, you didn't hear a more hyperbolic end of the world language. And now, they've got the White House, it's like, hey, great, let's just, you know, give out an IOU, who cares, spend, spend, spend.
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Yes, look, I'm disturbed by the increased spending. We're going to spend $300 billion above the spending cap. One of the things that worries me the most is -- and I don't know the exact details of the budget deal, I've been looking for this. But are they going to blow away the caps and not have any spending caps and no sequester in the future, I think that would be a big mistake.
BURNETT: Chuck Schumer has been championing, because Democrats are happy about getting rid of the sequester, too, because after all, it was Republicans who forced it on them during the Obama years that it's going to ash heap of history, so, yes, it's gone.
MOORE: I think that's terrible because, actually, you know, I just did a budget analysis on this. I mean, the Budget Control Act was a great success in terms of controlling spending in 2013, '14, '15, '16.
And what's happened is that neither party, look, it's fine to call the Republicans hypocrites here, but the Democrats too. I mean, the reason that we got these big increases in the spending this year is because as you know Republicans want to spend more on military, as Rand Paul was just saying, and Democrats want to spend more on social programs. So what they did is say we'll both be Santa Claus, we'll both spend more money on these things and that has led to a larger deficit.
But, look, on this point about the tax cut. I think that what has happened with the Republican Party, it is evolved into a growth party. I think most Republicans believe the most important thing and I've been preaching this, the most important thing is to get the economy growing faster, putting people on the jobs, higher wages, we're seeing that and the deficit and budget will in a sense take care of itself.
So I think growth first, and then worry about the debt, and that's I think the position of most Republicans now.
One quick thing also, Erin.
MOORE: I don't know if this is going to pass because you got the conservatives in Congress, you know, the people at the Freedom Caucus, people like Rand Paul against this, then you also have Nancy Pelosi saying maybe the Democrats may not deliver the vote. So this is nail biter right until the end.
BURNETT: They want immigrant in there, right.
Yes. We'll see what will happen. But it's amazing now little people care about their own words and how their own integrity looks a few years later --
MOORE: A lot of hypocrisy.
BURNETT: Yes. Thank you so much, Steve.
BURNETT: And next, new questions tonight about security clearance at the White House, will the outrage over Rob Porter lead to official investigation?
And Jeanne Moos on Omarosa. Her White House secrets revealed.
[19:46:54] BURNETT: Breaking news: Democratic lawmakers calling for the White House to be investigated over its process for security clearances. This amid growing outrage after Rob Porter resigned as White House staff secretary following domestic abuse allegations, a job he was doing for a year without former security clearance. In fact, the White House says President Trump was unaware of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Raj, did the president know that Rod was using a -- was working on temporary clearance?
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: No, the president was -- saw the news report on Tuesday night and wasn't informed of the resignation on Wednesday. He was not informed about the specifics regarding Rob Porter's security clearance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Congresswoman from California, Jackie Speier. She sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congresswoman Speier, the White House -- you heard Raj Shah said the White House was not aware about Rob Porter's situation, lacking the full security clearance, the allegations of domestic abuse. Do you believe that?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: No, I don't believe it. I believe they knew full well. They were informed by one of his wives last year. They knew about this for at least a year.
And frankly what we have here is everyone thought they would be able to weather the storm until photographs of one of his wives with a black eye came out. You know, I really wonder, when are we going to be willing to believe women without a photograph or an audio tape?
BURNETT: Well, of course. And to make the point here, he has two ex- wives both of whom said this happened. One of whom had a protective order against him. He had live-in girlfriend who has also called Don McGahn, the White House counsel, and shared similar allegation. So they have seen this again and again and again.
Raj Shah today also was asked about one of Porter's ex-wives who claimed she told the FBI she thought he could be vulnerable to blackmail, Congresswoman because of the domestic abuse allegations, right? If someone were to say, oh, we'll leak these if you don't, then he might be vulnerable to that blackmail.
Here is Raj Shah's response from the podium today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHAH: I'm not going to get into the specifics of the investigation itself. I think that's a question for the FBI and others. But this is not our process. This is the process U.S. government uses across agencies and has existed over numerous administrations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We know he went basically a full year here without full security clearance. Congresswoman, do you believe Porter could have been blackmailed, that was a real risk?
SPEIER: I think anyone w ho is vulnerable to that kind of conduct, who is in a special place in the White House, could be vulnerable. Michael Flynn was another one who had lied and then Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, went to the White House and said he will be potentially a subject of blackmail.
You know, how many of the people closest to the president have lied on many forms? On security forms in particular? We don't know if Rob Porter lied or not. But certainly, it became public or became clear that he was not going to pass the security clearance.
[19:50:03] And yet he continued to handle very top secret, classified materials.
So you have Michael Flynn, you have George Papadopoulos, you have Rob Porter. When does it all end? I mean -- and meanwhile, you know, here they are in a glass White House, and they're concerned about someone else lying, in that case, Christopher Steele, who was the author of the dossier, and now, they're trying to claim he lied to the FBI.
They should check their own house first.
BURNETT: Should Chief of Staff John Kelly keep his job?
SPEIER: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
BURNETT: So, you think --
SPEIER: He doesn't get it. He really doesn't get it.
BURNETT: I want to ask you one other question since I have you here. Obviously, you have this shutdown tonight edging closer. I don't know if you heard Rand Paul. He was in the show.
The minority leader, your minority leader, Pelosi, has said she will not vote for the bill. Are you a yes or no on the bill?
SPEIER: I'm a no on the bill. I'm a no on the bill because I'm waiting for Paul Ryan to do something quite simple, just signal to us that there will be a vote on the DACA kids. That's all we're asking for. Let all the votes fall where they may, but we want a vote on the DACA kids.
And to those who think that somehow there's too much spending on discretionary programs here, I mean, we're talking about extending the Child Health Insurance Program for ten years. We're talking about providing money for those who suffered disasters, both forest fires and flooding. We're talking about the opioid crisis that the president said was a national emergency, and then he has not put a dime into it. So, enough with the photo ops. Let's do something and mean it.
BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman Speier, thank you for your time.
SPEIER: Thank you.
BURNETT: And now I want to go to our chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who is also the executive producer of "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst", which is going to premiere Sunday night in CNN. I want to ask you about that because there's so much interest in that. But I want to start about the whole issue of security clearances.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: I know it can take a while to get approval. Rob Porter had gone a year. The FBI had raised red flags. We knew that Kelly was aware at least some of them. Rob Porter is not the only one in the White House working on an interim, a year that would indicate there's some sort of question marks at least. Jared Kushner is another.
BURNETT: How serious is that?
TOOBIN: The dirty little secret about security clearances is that they are subject to the same political pressures that everything else is in government. If you have a powerful patron, if you have the White House chief of staff as Porter did, or you have the president of the United States, like Kushner does, who says I want this guy working for me, the FBI is going to hold their fire. The FBI is going to say, well, we're still working on it. And a year is outrageous.
BURNETT: A year would indicate -- if you have those patrons, and it's been a year, is that an extra sign of concern? The FBI can't get to yes after a year, when your patron is the chief of staff or the president?
TOOBIN: But it's a sign that the system is not working. During that year, these people have access to the most classified documents in the United States government. You know, the job of the staff secretary, it's not a very well known job, but it's the job that you take the papers into the president every day, which are the crown jewels of our intelligence operations and every other part of the government.
So, if you can't figure out within a year whether someone is fit to do that, you know, that's too much time.
BURNETT: You have your answer.
BURNETT: I think this is one of those cases where you have your answer.
BURNETT: So, obviously, a lot of questions about Jared Kushner then to come because that's still out there pending.
All right, Patty Hearst.
BURNETT: This is something you're passionate about.
TOOBIN: I am.
BURNETT: You know more about than anybody. People are so fascinated by it.
The FBI says this case is one of the strangest in its history. February 1974, 19 years old, the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, one of the most wealthy heiresses in the country. She's captured and kidnapped by a revolutionary group called the Symbionese Liberation Army.
In an image that sort of captured the country, seen with a gun to rob a bank in San Francisco. She transfixed the country with this.
TOOBIN: She did. The great thing about the story and the fascinating thing and what's so wonderful about this documentary, if I do say so, is that you have two kind of stories operating at the same time. You have the country in this nervous breakdown.
Think about this, Erin. In the early '70s, there were 1,000 political bombings a year in the United States. Can you imagine what it would be like in this country if there were 1,000 political bombings? So, you have that backdrop.
But fundamentally, what makes people so fascinated by this story, about this story, is the mystery. Was she really a member of the SLA? Did she really change her mind, or was she coerced? Was she forced, brainwashed?
And that debate continues to this day.
[19:55:02] And that debate is aired out in, you know, very interesting way in this documentary.
BURNETT: Well, in a way that no one else can do because you know so much about this. So, without asking you which of those --
TOOBIN: I wrote a book about this, "American Heiress", yes.
BURNETT: Conclusions as to her role, don't miss it. You'll see it. "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst", produced, everything, by Jeff Toobin, Sunday night at 9:00. Right here on CNN.
TOOBIN: It's the first two hours on Sunday night, and then two more Sunday nights, two more hours each Sunday.
BURNETT: So, it's a series. Starts this Sunday night for the next three weeks.
TOOBIN: That's right.
BURNETT: All right. Next, Omarosa. A lot to say about life in the Trump White House. So what's her truth?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OMAROSA MANIGAULT, REALITY TV STAR: I was haunted by tweets every single day, like what is he going to tweet next?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, Omarosa is back, and the White House is playing a key role, because she's speaking out about her role next to the president for so many months.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
MANIGAULT: I'm Omarosa, and I'm back.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, brother. She just arrived on celebrity "Big Brother".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Omarosa.
MOOS: And already, she's spilling the beans, whispering in the dark about President Trump's tweets.
MANIGUALT: Like, I was haunted by tweets every single day. Like what is he going to tweet next?
MOOS: What is she going to spill next? She confided to a guy best known as Ross the intern, from the tonight show ages ago.
ROSS THE INTERN: When people ask me who you don't want to see in the house, my answer was Omarosa.
MOOS: But there he was, as she tearfully described things at the White House.
MANIGAULT: It's bad.
MOOS: When Ross asked if we should be worried, she wiped her eyes and nodded yes.
ROSS THE INTERN: Because we are worried, but I need you to say no, it's going to be OK.
MANIGAULT: It's going to not be OK. It's not.
MOOS: From Omarosa's lips to the White House briefing room.
REPORTER: And said it is not going to be okay.
SHAH: Not very seriously. Omarosa was fired three times on "The Apprentice", and this is the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the president while here.
MOOS: Omarosa said she felt working at the White House was a call to duty.
MANIGAULT: I felt like I was serving my country, not serving him.
MOOS: Her words were greeted online with wide eyes and eye rolls and skepticism. She practiced this in the mirror about 10 times, read one tweet.
Omarosa has mastered the art of the tease. For instance, when she described what he learned from politics.
MANIGAULT: You have to know how to watch your own back, and in some instances, you have to watch your front, too.
MOOS: But the whispered warnings about the White House were downright spooky.
MANIGAULT: It's so bad.
MOOS: Get the sub that found Titanic, this is deep, read another tweet.
Omarosa could be looking for payback, and a payday. The winner of "Celebrity Big Brother" gets 250,000 bucks.
MANIGAULT: Celebrities, you better watch your back.
MOOS: And your front.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: Thanks for joining us.
Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime anywhere. You just have to go to CNN Go.
"AC360" begins right now.