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House Oversight Investigating White House Handling of Rob Porter; Senate Kicking Off Debate on Immigration; Benjamin Netanyahu Faces Possible Corruption Indictment. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 14, 2018 - 10:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Salena Zito, we just heard moments ago from House Speaker Paul Ryan who says that clearly we should all be condemning domestic violence, clearly he says the president should be commenting on this.

The president hasn't really -- no one, no Republicans, no senior Republicans publicly supporting the stance or nonpublic stance he has taken. You know, really where does he go here?

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, clearly Paul Ryan is right. I think that's pretty much how any sane person in the country looks at this situation. The president I think -- it would -- look, it wouldn't just benefit him. It benefits the country, it benefits victims. It's an important moment for him to take -- you can just say just take advantage of and say, hey, look, this is wrong. This -- this should not be tolerated anywhere, not just in the White House but in any -- you know, any job anywhere in this country.

You know, someone should not be doing something like this. It's not just because it's violence against a partner, but also it makes whatever that employee is incredibly vulnerable to blackmail, to any kind of nefarious, you know, incident because someone knows of his past and they can use it as a leverage against them.

The president should come out and say, clearly this is wrong, I won't tolerate it. The information did not get to me or, you know, the information was not available to me. I mean, I think that's the part we don't know. We don't know who knew it. We don't know why it never got to Kelly if it never got to Kelly.

BERMAN: Right.

ZITO: It's all gray right there.

BERMAN: We do know that domestic abuse is bad and we do know that the president has not said so over the last eight days and has had ample opportunity to. He's got two public statements this morning. We'll get a chance to hear him again.

All right, Michael Bender, not only are you a fantastic reporter, but you're sort of in the middle of all of this the last day or so. I want to address first what you heard from General John Kelly, because despite all of this, despite Trey Gowdy now saying hey, listen, Mr. Chief of Staff, General, you've got to answer some questions here, General Kelly says all good here, nothing to see, everything was handled well.

MICHAEL BENDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. He couldn't have been clearer. It was a direct question, my question to him, was in the White House, we were kind of passing each other in the hallways, stopped to talk for just a minute. My question for him was, what could the White House have done better? Right?

The White House late last week said we all could have handled this situation better. I asked him, what specifically did he think that could have been done better and he said everything was fine. Everything was -- there was nothing they could have done better. You know, and people have used that statement to point out that -- you know, that this is something that you would maybe hear the president say, the president has a long history of sort of take no prisoners, never admit mistakes and never look weak.

And we saw a little bit of that -- I saw a little bit of that from John Kelly in the hallway there. And, you know, the problem here, though, is that that not only did that conflict with what the White House said just a few days earlier, the idea that they did nothing wrong, while we have evidence here of a changing story and we still don't understand -- if he believes they did nothing wrong, the White House needs to better explain why that is.

BERMAN: Right. Indeed, and then, Michael, (INAUDIBLE), is this, it has been reported that you were invited to an off-the-record meeting with Rob Porter shortly after the photo of Colbie Holderness with a black eye was released. Now I know this puts you in an uncomfortable position, I'm not going to ask you to reveal any of the content of what happened inside that meeting, but if you're willing, the fact of that meeting and the very timing of that meeting throws into question the official White House timeline of events.

BENDER: Yes. This meeting was sort of at the nexus of where this White House story began to change. At that moment it was Wednesday morning, the story had come up the night before. You know, this is a White House that I think is accustomed to -- its controversies and its dramas lasting on a day by -- you know, day-to-day or maybe even week- to-week, right, I mean, sort of one controversy is eclipsed by the next news cycle, which is happening, you know, on an almost daily basis.

And at that point on Wednesday morning, the White House was still defending Rob Porter. I think that there was -- again, Rob Porter became a very important person in the Trump White House that had -- with increasingly fewer important people in a very, very small inner circle around Donald Trump and the John Kelly White House. So people that were close to Rob were shocked by this. And their instinct was to protect him.

[10:35:02] It wasn't until after that meeting that -- nine hours after that meeting, eight hours after that meeting where Kelly issued a second statement. The problem here is that leads to another question, why was the White House shocked by these allegations when Christopher Wray laid out a timeline yesterday that every few months they were flagging issues with a background check to them? BERMAN: You know, Sabrina, you hear Paul Ryan, I heard from Joni

Ernst yesterday, it does seem that Republicans aren't going to go out on a limb for the president here or the White House on this issue. Look, I don't know how hard Trey Gowdy is going to investigate but he's not going to go out of his way to defend him either.

SIDDIQUI: Absolutely. I think that Republicans find themselves in an all-too-familiar position where they are having to distance themselves from yet another controversy in the White House when they'd rather be focused on legislative issues facing them on Capitol Hill.

This is a very important week in the Senate. They are debating immigration reform. The president of course is in search of a deal. Instead he's cleaning up yet another scandal that as Michael noted could have been contained and could have been a one or two day issue had the White House been a lot more decisive and clear, not simply offering an explanation of a timeline with respect to Rob Porter and the background check but also publicly denouncing him as opposed to trying, as they always do, to first defend someone who has been accused rather than sympathizing with the accuser.

So they've taken what could have been something we'd be talking about for a day or two and prolonged it into more than a week now. And I think that this speaks to really a trend with this White House, where they simply do not like to accept responsibility or say that mistakes were made. Their impulse is always to double done and to fight back and now they're seeing the fallout from that mentality that they have.

BERMAN: We got three more bites of the apple today. Sabrina, Michael, Salena, to you, I look forward to talking about Pennsylvania 19. Many times in the near future. So thanks so much for being with us.

SIDDIQUI: Thank you.

BERMAN: So happening now, the Senate is back in session and soon voting to move forward on the immigration debate. You're looking at live pictures of the House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Sources tell CNN the next 48 hours are crucial. This is a make-or-break timeframe when it comes to making a deal.

Joining us now CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. It just kicked off and you're absolutely right. This is a timetable that is very limited. We heard from Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell saying that he wants to wrap this up and have a vote by the end of tomorrow. You see the Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, they're kicking off this debate and the process will play out, they'll offer amendments, they'll offer plans.

They have to reach that 60-vote threshold in order for it to really become a part of real legislation and real bill here. A lot of people were wondering whether or not the president was going to weigh in on this matter and just the impact of it, both Democrats and Republicans quietly saying they really wish that he hadn't, that he might get in the way of what his earnest negotiations taking place at least behind the scenes. You'll see a lot of drama on the floor publicly and he has weighed in.

He says that this morning as early as this morning, that he's backing Senator Grassley's plan. That's no surprise of course. That is the most conservative plan. It is not bipartisan, it is by Republicans. Also he's been working the phones with Senators Cotton and Purdue. These are co-sponsors of this same legislation and so this is clearly what he wants to push forward. It is going to be citizenship eventually for those Dreamers and DACA recipients but also $25 billion in border security for that wall and essentially limitations to legal migration, legal immigration, that is something that Democrats very fiercely reject.

And so we'll see how this plays out today as well as tomorrow but clearly there's going to be a very hot debate -- John.

BERMAN: Mo, it's a giant unknown. We will watch it very closely over the next several hours. Suzanne Malveaux, thanks so much.

So imagine being a passenger, thousands of feet above the ground and seeing this, yikes, a plane makes an emergency landing after an engine cover breaks off over the Pacific terrifying those on board.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Instant shock and panic. It was the most surreal experience of my life.



[10:43:34] BERMAN: Major developments out of Israel. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a possible indictment on criminal charges and two corruptions cases. Israeli police claim to have sufficient evidence of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. It is now up to the nation's attorney general to decide whether or not to indict Netanyahu. The prime minister, he is slamming the allegations in the police reports.

Joining me now, CNN's Oren Liebermann live with the very latest.

You know, a real possible turning point for the prime minister -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If this doesn't result in the fall of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we will look at this police statement and what police put out in these two separate cases as one of the critical moments in what would be the downfall of the prime minister.

These two cases known locally as case 1,000 and case 2,000. In case 1,000, police say Netanyahu took gifts totaling a million shekels, that's about $300,000 in the form of jewelries, cigars, champagne and more over the course of just about a decade. In case 2,000 police say Netanyahu was working out a deal with one of the leading owners of one of the leading papers in Israel in exchange for better coverage. Netanyahu was to hamper circulation of a rival paper.

The investigation has gone on more than a year now. Netanyahu has always proclaimed his innocence. In a speech this morning he tried to ridicule the accusations against him. Here's part of what he said. He said, "After reading the recommendations report, I can say it's a radical and biased document with holes like Swiss cheese and it does not hold water."

[10:45:17] Police will now take their body of evidence and pass that on to the attorney general. It's up to the AG to decide whether to indict.

John, that makes the attorney general of Israel the most important person in Israeli politics right now.

BERMAN: Yes. Maybe the most important in the Middle East right now.

Oren Liebermann, thank you so much for being with us. We'll be watching this very closely and the political reaction there. Some of the prime minister's allies not necessarily standing behind him this morning.

All right. Take a look at this video. Passengers calling this the scariest flight of their lives. Part of the engine cover fell off the United Flight while it's over the Pacific Ocean. When it reached Honolulu about an hour later, the plane made an emergency landing. You see it right here. The flight crew telling passengers to keep their heads down and brace for impact.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The captain kept trying to tell everybody it's going to be -- you know, he was just -- I don't know how they did it, thank God for that crew. That's all I got to say. They were calm and they helped -- I mean, it was just horrible.


BERMAN: It was horrible but the plane did land safely. You can see a picture of the engine right there. Imagine seeing that as you're flying.

The engine manufacturer says it is helping in the investigation.

All right, Shaun White makes a sweep at the top of the Olympic halfpipe podium. His gold medal winning run coming up in the "Bleacher Report."


[10:51:08] BERMAN: Snowboarder Shaun White won a historic gold medal at the Winter Olympics but not without controversy.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Good morning to you, John. This "Bleacher Report" is presented by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

Now Shaun White sustained athletic success. You can't deny it. When he won his first Olympic gold in 2006 fellow U.S. snowboarding gold medalist Chloe Kim and Red Gerard were just 5 years old. More than his angel heading into these games, it was his mind that was holding him back. He failed the medal back in the Sochi Games and just four months ago he attempted a new trick in practice that sent him into the hospital to get over 60 stitches in his face. Earlier this week he said that made him even question why he is still competing.

Well, question answered. Something spectacular in that final run to take gold. He did that same trick and nailed it and when he secured that gold it was also the 100th gold medal in the Winter Olympics for Team USA.

White burst into tears after that final score was announced. He was sobbing as he hugged his mom and his dad, his family members there. You could tell it meant a lot He talked about that emotion after the win.


SHAUN WHITE, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: At the bottom, you know, all of those emotions hit me, I won. Everything we've been through, every, you know, dream I've had trying to sleep last night.


WHITE: You know, and I'm like living that dream right now. So it's amazing.


WIRE: Men's hockey underway in Pyeongchang with no NHL players at the Winter Games for the first time since '94. The U.S. stormed to a 2-0 lead. One goal from Jordan Greenway, the U.S.'s first African- American player in Olympic history. But then the Americans fell apart. Slovenia took the game in overtime with a 3-2 victory. Next up for the U.S., Slovakia.

Allow us to introduce you to a plumber from Saugus just outside of Boston that's now starring for Team USA in snowboard cross. At 32 years old, Jonathan Cheever finally became an Olympian. And in order to pay the bills and pursuing this dream, he's had to work alongside his dad Mark and his brother at D and J Mechanical, the company his dad started and named after Jonathan and his brother Derrick. Let's just say being a plumber isn't always as glorious as being an Olympian. Listen.


JONATHAN CHEEVER, SNOWBOARD CROSS OLYMPIAN: I'm sure you can imagine being a plumber, job sites and things I won't talk about in the podium, putting in a water heater or a toilet. I've been a licensed plumber since 2004. And I'm a grinder.


WIRE: He mentioned to me afterwards, John, about some of the things that he has had to encounter as a plumber. We will not speak of those things here but as Jonathan competes later tonight Eastern Time, and let's hope that he can go from plumber to Olympic medalists.

BERMAN: You had me at Saugus because as we (INAUDIBLE) know, people from Saugus, they're good people, Coy. Good people. Our congratulations to him. Thanks so much, Coy. Appreciate it.

I do want to note something about Shaun White. He did win an historic gold medal but it was surrounded by controversy. Listen to how he responded to questions, important questions, about sexual harassment allegations made against him and settlements, by the way, from his past. Listen.


WHITE: You know, honestly, I'm here to talk about the Olympics, not, you know, gossips, but I don't think so. I am who I am and I'm proud of who I am, and my friends, you know, love me and vouch for me, and I think that's -- that stands on its own. So --


BERMAN: Gossip, he called it gossip, but I also want to note that the U.S. Olympic officials there surrounding White would not allow more reporters to ask questions about that. They shut it down. Now White, after time to reflect, this is what he told NBC this morning.


WHITE: I'm truly sorry that I chose the word gossip.

[10:55:04] It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today, and, you know, I'm just truly sorry. And I was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience. Every experience in my life I feel like it's taught me a lesson and I definitely feel like I'm a much more changed person than I was when I was younger.


BERMAN: So for the record Shaun White has never denied sending lewd text messages to the former drummer of his band later reaching a settlement. So just moments from now we will hear from the president of the United

States. This is the first time we'll hear from him after the news that Congress is now investigating the Rob Porter controversy. Stick around.