Return to Transcripts main page
Trump's Special Counsel Legal Team Down To Two Attorneys; Santorum: Parkland Students Should Learn CPR, Not Protest; Angry Protests After Police Killing Of Unarmed Black Man; Ex-Cambridge Analytica Staff: John Bolton Used Data; Trump And Biden Threaten To Beat Each Other Up. Aired 5-6 pm ET
Aired March 25, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[17:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cruelest part of late-stage cancer is the emotion, guilt that you're leaving behind your children, and dread that you're going to miss their milestones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We give these families the chance to have fun, have positive memories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying to give each family their own unique treasured time together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: To learn more about this story, or to nominate someone you think should be a CNN hero, go to cnnheros.com. All right. Thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The next hour of the Newsroom starts right now.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here. The faces and names of people close to the President, changes and reshuffles yet again.
This time, the upheaval is in President Trump's legal universe. And a still-unsettled team of lawyers working to protect the President as the Robert Mueller Counsel probe continues into possible campaign collusion with Russia.
And just a few days ago, a big announcement. The high-powered Washington lawyer, Joseph DiGenova would be joining the President's legal team.
Well, then we learned DiGenova's wife and legal partner, Victoria Toensing was also onboard, the news surprising some analysts saying there might be some conflict of interest, then this morning, a follow up. No, the two lawyers will not be joining the President's team after all.
The reason, as mentioned, the President's personal attorney points to what he calls conflicts, also this morning, this comment from the President himself, he tweets, many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case.
Then after railing on so-called fake news, he writes, I am very happy with my existing team. Besides, there was no collusion with Russia, except by crooked Hillary and the Dems.
Our White House correspondent, Boris Sanchez, is in South Florida near Trump's resort, Mar-a-Lago. Boris, tell us, what are the conflicts keeping these high-profiled lawyers off the President's legal team?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, it's interesting. Victoria Toensing represents a number of other clients who are part of the Russia investigation. The White House had known about that previously.
Toensing on her end actually got signatures, waivers from those clients that would allow her to represent the President. So it appeared that it was all kosher. But after a meeting on Thursday between the couple and the President, in which sources told us the President was happy with their message.
But wasn't sure if he wanted to hire them to lead their legal team, they're now apparently not, and it leads to questions about exactly how these conflicts may have interfered.
And one thing that Jay Sekulow, the President's attorney left the door open for in that statement was the possibility for the couple to continue advising the President on legal matters. It's not exactly clear how that might impact the relationship moving forward, though, Ana.
CABRERA: Boris, Trump's lead attorney, of course, John Dowd, also quit this week on Thursday, the same day the President met with Joe DiGenova, as well as his wife, Victoria Toensing. Sources telling CNN that Dowd felt pushed out by those two, so now all three of them are gone. Where does that leave the President's legal situation?
SANCHEZ: With a lot of questions about who exactly is leading this team. The obvious leader previously was John Dowd, who as you noted, resigned. And as you mentioned earlier, the President was tweeting about fake news.
He was responding to reports from CNN and other outlets that the White House has reached out to several prominent Washington, D.C. defense attorneys for potential representation.
All of them, though, at least the one that CNN has confirmed with -- have turned the White House down. So the President trying to change the narrative there, saying that this is fake news, that there are plenty of attorneys that are, you know, dying to work for the White House. We should probably take that tweet with a grain of salt, though,
considering that last week, as you know, Ana, the President also tweeted that he was happy with his legal team up and down, specifically naming John Dowd, saying that there would be no shake ups, that stories about that were fake news. And as you noted, days later, John Dowd resigned. Ana.
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez in West Palm Beach, thank you. So who is left on the President's legal team when it comes to Russia matters? We know of just two people, Jay Sekulow who is working for the President privately, and Ty Cobb, who's working for the White House.
Joining us now with some insight and analysis, White House reporter for The Daily Beast, Asawin Suebsaeng, political reporter for Bloomberg, Sahil Kapur, and CNN Crime and Justice Reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, what are the legal implications now of this latest shuffle until Trump's legal team?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, certainly and probably the biggest implication here is the negotiation that's underway for the potential interview between investigators, Special Counsel, and the President.
John Dowd, as we've all been reporting, was leading that negotiation, though he may not have necessarily wanted the President to meet with the Special Counsel.
[17:05:03] He was the one who was communicating with Bob Mueller. You know, he kept saying how he had this great relationship with Mueller, and he was the one that was communicating on behalf of the President, certainly these terms of a potential meeting.
So that's where this could stall, perhaps the interview. It could also slow down in terms of the conclusion of the investigation, only because any new attorney that would come in, you would have to read them in on where things stand, where did the President -- what has the President turned over already to the Special Counsel.
Remember, Ty Cobb, who you just mentioned, has sort of taken a cooperative stance in this investigation. And any new attorney could maybe take this towards a direction where, you know what, we're not going to cooperate with the Special Counsel anymore.
Certainly, we have seen signals from the President that he wants to fight more. And maybe that in the end is what the President is looking for in his next attorney.
CABRERA: I want to bring back this tweet from the President earlier today. And I quote, many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case.
Don't believe the fake news narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on. Fame and fortune will never be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted.
Asawin, CNN is aware of at least four attorneys who have declined to join the President's legal team. Some cited concerns that he doesn't listen to legal advice. What are you hearing?
ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, this may shock your viewers and your listeners, but this wouldn't be the first time the President has outright lied on his social media or public presence.
It's not true that the White House isn't having trouble assembling a legal aid team. In fact, everybody who I've spoken to in the senior ranks in the Trump White House have for months have had an exacerbated degree of frustration that a myriad high-profile, and high-powered, and big-named attorneys who ordinarily you would see assembled for a presidential legal team like this for a probe such as this have not come calling, and quite frankly, when asked, wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole.
And there are many reasons for that. Among them, you have a President that is -- you would have a client that is incredibly unreliable, impulsive, mercurial. We could hurl a lot of other adjectives at this, but you get the idea.
So there's -- when you have Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow at the helm, and that's basically it, except for about half a dozen other lawyers who work at the ACLJ, who are aiding Jay Sekulow with matters related to the probe, it's sort of hard to argue that that is the team that President Trump would want.
CABRERA: Sahil, this shake up, and the President's attacks against Mueller come after we learn that Mueller indicated four topics who he was interested in asking the President about.
The Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016, the President's role in crafting his son's misleading statement about that meeting, as well as the firing of James Comey, and the firing of Michael Flynn. What do you make of this?
SAHIL KAPUR, POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Well, Ana, I think that's what so interesting about all of this upheaval in the President's legal team, because remember there's been a division among the President's legal advisers, including people on this legal team, and some people out of this legal team who continue to speak to the President regularly, like Marc Kasowitz.
They're with the John Dowd approach, which was to hunker down, don't go after Bob Mueller directly, don't talk about the investigation publicly, cooperate with the Special counsel, and we'll beat this, but not with their advice.
The President increasingly seems to be moving away from that, which seems to be one of the reasons John Dowd ended up resigning, because he didn't believe the President was listening to him.
There is the other school of thought, which is to simply not cooperate with the Special Counsel fully top to bottom, which is not necessarily to say do anything illegal, but to essentially tie them up for years, which, you know, some of the President's other advisers want to do. But in terms of what the President's legal team is, if you want to
look at that specifically, the President has not had a good batting average when describing this lately. He said he wasn't adding to his legal team, and then added to his legal team.
He said he wasn't shaking it up, and then he shook it up. Then one of the lawyers he added, Joe DiGenova quit, and now he says again he's happy with his -- you know, with his legal team.
I spoke to a couple of people in President Trump's orbit about this throughout this week, including today, and one of them argued that the President dodged a bullet with the non-hire of Joe DiGenova, who is a conspiracy theorist, who this person I spoke to argued would fuel the President's darkest instincts, and take him down a legal path that would create more problems for him than it would solve.
So I think it's going to be interesting to see what the President does going forward. He seems to be increasingly unleashed as Mueller, I think, homes in on him.
CABRERA: I mean, DiGenova did say something along the lines of the President is being framed by these investigators. But Shimon, the fact that we now know these four areas that Mueller's team is interested in talking to the President about, what could that indicate?
PROKUPECZ: Well, it could indicate -- we know, look, the four topics that we reported are on the obvious topics, right? Michael Flynn, Jim Comey, the firing of Jim Comey, the crafting of the statement.
[17:10:04] All of this, Ana, we've reported on. There are other topics. And when we approached the White House about these other topics, they basically waved us off of it, right? So there are ore topics.
And we know that the Mueller team met face to face with the President's lawyers just last week, actually, the week before that, the week before he went on a tweet storm attacking Mueller and others.
Something had happened in that meeting where other topics came up. We don't know what those topics are, but we know what the obvious topics are, right? It's the Comey stuff, it's the Michael Flynn stuff. That seems to be well within the purview of what the special counsel is looking at.
The concern has been for the President, and certainly for some on his legal team is that the Special Counsel has gone outside of what they think is his purview, which is maybe some of the Trump organization stuff, which we know there has been a subpoena served on them.
PROKUPECZ: Some of the business dealings that the President had been involved in his personal life before he was President. So all of that seems to have perhaps played into some of what is going on within the legal team right now. CABRERA: And as we mentioned, those four areas that we know of, that
Mueller wants to talk to the President about, my understanding is that is not exclusive. The investigators could certainly ask additional questions.
But, Asawin, the President has begun attacking Mueller by name. Regardless of his legal shake up, what we see is what he's tweeting out, and that has led some to worry that he may try to fire Mueller, to try to end this investigation.
And yet there's this new Marist Poll, that finds among Republicans, 57 percent think Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation. Just 25 percent think he should be fired. So should that give the President some pause if he is considering firing Mueller?
SUEBSAENG: Well, he and his closest allies, and certainly White House officials for months, even before the President started tweeting or hate tweeting about Mueller -- by Mueller's name, have been laying the groundwork to, if not order the sacking of Robert Mueller, lay a framework, or groundwork of discrediting whatever findings may, or may not come out of the investigation.
And look, some of the President's closest advisers both within and without the White House have been encouraging President Trump to get tougher and rougher, both in terms of public relations, and legal strategy on team Mueller for a long time now.
Now it's just bubbling to the fore in kind of a social media sense with the President going after him son Twitter and sometimes in public statements through John Dowd, as we saw a few days ago.
CABRERA: Well, Asawin, Shimon, Sahil, thank you gentlemen, I appreciate it all.
SUEBSAENG: Thank you so much.
PROKUPECZ: Thank you.
KAPUR: Thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, a day after hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the country to demand action on gun control, a former Republican Senator says students are better off learning CPR than taking to the streets to demand action.
[17:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Former Pennsylvania Senator, and presidential candidate Rick Santorum getting major backlash for making this comment just a day after survivors of the Parkland shooting held these nationwide gun control marches.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, (R) FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes, or trying to deal with situations that where there is a violence...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are they looking at other people -- I would ask you, they took action.
SANTORUM: Yes, they took action to ask someone to pass a law. They didn't take action to say, how do I, as an individual, deal with this problem? How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community?
What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter? What am I going to -- those are the kind of things where you can take it internally and say, here's how I'm going to deal with this. Here's how I'm going to help the situation, instead of going, and protesting, and saying, someone else needs to pass a law to protect me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to bring in my panel. CNN Political Commentator and former assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings, and former policy director to Hillary Clinton, and President of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden.
So, Scott, what do you think of that argument from your fellow Republican, Rick Santorum, that these kids are better served taking CPR classes than marching for gun reform?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, honestly, that's one of those moments that I'm sure Rick wishes he could have back because it's kind of ridiculous to assert that people shouldn't be out there exercising their First Amendment rights.
It doesn't mean that as conservatives we have to agree with everything that people are saying. But frankly, I was in New York this week, and I went out among the marchers, and I was kind of inspired to see Americans.
And there were people out there on both sides exercising their free speech rights. So that part is good. We can debate the solutions.
But come on, these kids are -- they have a lot of moral authority. They ought to be able to speak, and that's what they're doing. And we can disagree on solutions, but let's not pooh-pooh their right to speak and be active.
CABRERA: Neera, your thoughts?
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I mean, thought it was obviously a ludicrous statement. And the point that marches are making is that they are taking things into their own hands. They're going to vote.
That is -- they're not just protesting, they're not just requesting action, they're going to vote people out of office who aren't going to take action, and vote people into office who will take action to protect them. That was the point they were making. Take action to protect them, and
obviously, the idea that people need CPR in response to -- CPR training in response to an AR-15, which destroys your organs, rips up body is obviously just callous. I mean, it was a callous and dumb comment.
CABRERA: I want you guys to listen to one of the Parkland survivors, David Hogg, what he said during the rally in Washington yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID HOGG, PARKLAND SURVIVOR: First-time voters show up 18 percent of the time at midterm elections. Not anymore.
[17:20:00] And to those politicians supported by the NRA that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say, get your resumes ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, Neera, talked about voting and how that is where this movement could go next, Scott. Is David Hogg right? Should Republicans be worried?
JENNINGS: Well, look, I think there is going to be an effort. I saw it in New York this weekend, to register and turn out voters of this age group.
However, if you look inside some of the national polling that's been done, the age cohort in the national polling that is least likely to support some of these things they're promoting, such as gun bans, is actually 18 to 34-year-olds.
And so I think sometimes we get a little bit of a distorted view about what the younger voters actually believe on this issue. My view is, we ought to find the issues where there's common ground.
Moving the age from 18 to 21, the gun violence restraining orders, background checks, mental health checks. That's where there's common ground on this issue. But I think it's still pretty messy when it comes to banning guns, which is what a lot of the speakers at the rallies wanted.
CABRERA: Well, you just listed -- you are right the polling shows that the majority of Americans, including Republicans, support those ideas. Why won't Republican lawmakers who have the majority in the House and the Senate put those ideas to a vote, Scott?
JENNINGS: Well, actually, they've already started. I mean, if you look inside the omnibus that passed on this week, and was signed into law by President Trump, there were two important gun control issues in there, the Fix NICS Bill, which was a bipartisan bill from Senator Cornyn and others.
And there was also the STOP School Violence Act, which was also in there. These had wide bipartisan majorities. I'm glad they were in there.
And I think frankly, they were in there because of what the Parkland kidsm and other gun shooting survivors have been out doing for the last months.
So those were not insignificant measures. And let's be honest, Donald Trump signed more gun control on Friday than Barack Obama did in eight years. There's progress there.
CABRERA: Neera, your response?
TANDEN: That's a really great rewriting of history. I'll just remind everybody that Donald Trump met with victims of Parkland, and said that he would support issues like background checks, looked at a ban of assault weapons. I know, Scott, would like to rewrite the agenda, which is to say a gun ban. That is not what people are asking for, they are asking for a ban...
JENNINGS: It is, Neera. That's what the students want. They want gun bans.
TANDEN: Actually, they have narrow agenda line. And that's not what it says. You should look it up, Scott. I recommend it.
JENNINGS: It doesn't say they want to ban -- they don't want to ban certain kinds of rifles?
TANDEN: They said they want an assault weapons ban, something the President talked about for five minutes.
JENNINGS: OK, gun bans.
CABRERA: An assault weapons ban is also something that, again, the latest polling from Fox News, in fact, shows the majority of Americans want. But to Scott's point, Neera, it wasn't that long ago that Democrats did hold both Chambers of Congress in addition to the White House, and they didn't get gun control passed. So what's different now?
TANDEN: You're absolutely right. And what's different now is that we have a moral case, a moral crusade in the country. Millions of people in the country came out on Saturday to state what they want. They want protections.
They look at these legislations as protections. And what's pathetic is that the President of the United States met with Parkland victims, told them he would support a range of common sense activities, then had dinner with the NRA and told them -- and then basically said, I take it all back.
Obviously, any legislation is important, but what they're looking at is full background checks, and an assault weapons ban, because an assault weapon is a weapon of war. And you know, those people can distinguish between an assault weapons ban, and a guns ban, and I'm sorry, Scott, can't.
CABRERA: Scott, real quick, just to close the loop on the gun discussion, the Fix NICS portion of the omnibus that you mentioned, I mean that really doesn't advance current law.
It only holds what is in current law more accountable in the sense that it is to incentivize federal agencies to make sure they turn over the information that they need to when it comes to getting information in the background check system, should somebody have a domestic violence mark on their record, for example.
So it doesn't expand background checks, which is something that, I think, has been referenced in the broad support of Americans. But I just want to close that loop, Scott. We have seen record-setting staff turnover.
And I want to ask you about this, as well, and get your reaction to how Newsmax Founder Chris Ruddy is teasing even more changes to come at the White House. He, of course, is a friend of the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX: The President told me he's perplexed by all of these reports there's chaos at the White House or mass staff changes.
He told me that he thinks the White House is operating like a smooth machine, in his words. He did say that he's expecting to make one or two major changes to his -- to his government very soon. And that's going to be it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Scott, a smooth machine, really?
JENNINGS: Well, I actually am glad that the President is going to make a change at the VA, if that's what he, in fact, chooses to do.
[17:25:01] That is one of the biggest and most important agencies we have. It's obviously had a number of issues over the last several years. It's done a disservice to our veterans who need care. They're our national heroes in many cases.
That thing needs to be cleaned up and it needs to be well run. I'm not certain it's being as well run right now as it could be. So I hope the President is able to find somebody who can do a better job of taking care of our nation's heroes. This is a nonpartisan agency. It needs to be run efficiently. I'm not sure that's the case at the moment.
CABRERA: Scott and Neera, thank you both. Good to see you. Coming up, outrage in Sacramento after an unarmed black man is shot dead in his grandmother's backyard. How the family, and police are responding to this latest police shooting, next. [17:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Tensions are high in California's capital city a week after a gut-wrenching police shooting that was caught on camera. Here's a look at some of the demonstrations we've seen in Sacramento, where an unarmed black man named Stephon Clark was fatally shot by police in his grandmother's backyard.
In the streets, people are chanting his name, have thrown bottles and other objects at police, but other than those minor incidents, things have been relatively peaceful. Police say they want to be transparent, and get to the bottom of this.
They have released the body cam video of the shooting. Officers say they thought Clark was pointing a gun at them, but a cell phone was the only thing recovered from the scene. Dan Simon is joining us now from Sacramento. So, Dan, do police expect more protests today?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No protests today, Ana. And we are coming to you from Golden One Center. What a difference a couple of days make. You'll recall on Thursday that protesters essentially shut down the arena.
You basically had just a few hundred of people inside. Fans were not able to get in. But because there are no protests today, that does not mean the raw feelings have gone away. There is still a heightened sense of anxiety in terms of what happened exactly one week ago today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey! Show me your hands! Stop! Stop!
SIMON: The encounter lasts less than minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands!
SIMON: After a brief chase, Sacramento police fired 20 shots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Shots fired.
SIMON: And as the smoke clears they explain...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something in his hands. It looked like a gun from our perspective.
SIMON: Ahead in their spotlight, an unarmed 22-year-old black man lay dead in his grandmother's backyard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't go over and get you help unless we know you don't have your weapon.
SGT. VANCE CHANDLER, SACRAMENTO POLICE SPOKESMAN: It's a very tragic event for the family and for officers. The officers felt their lives were in danger, and the subject was pointing a firearm. SIMON: So the officers fired, apparently fearing for their lives.
But no weapons were found at the scene, just a cell phone.
SEQUITA THOMPSON, STEPHON CLARK'S GRANDMOTHER: Right there. Right there, was my grandson dead with the iPhone.
SIMON: It does not appear the pursuing officers ever identified themselves as police before opening fire. Now the family of Stephon Clark, a father of two says they are murderers.
SIMON: Are you angry with the police?
STEVANTE CLARK, BROTHER OF STEPHON CLARK: I'm pissed. I'm livid. I'm...
SIMON: You said you wanted his name to be remembered the same way that people remember...
CLARK: Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown.
SIMON: Sacramento police arrived in the neighborhood Sunday after 9:00 p.m., responding to calls of someone breaking car windows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is going down the street, and breaking windows of cars.
SMINON: Police say they found at least three vehicles damaged. They believed Clark was the culprit. According to the sheriff's department, its helicopter crew observed a person breaking windows and taking up a toolbar. Aerial video shows someone police say is Clark topping fences, and running from police.
CLARK: The police want to try and slander him, say he was this and that. He wasn't a gun guy, you know what I mean.
POLICE: It's 5-7 and he's down, no movement.
SIMON: Moments after the gunfire, Clark lay silent and the officers reload their guns, still fearful it seems of being attacked. Minutes later they approach to administer aid. Where does the family go from here?
CLARK: We're afraid. We're afraid. It's not the first and it won't be the last. That's what -- I think that's what hurts the most.
MAYOR DARRELL STEINBERG, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA: Like any compassionate person, I was horrified by what I saw.
SIMON: Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg pledging full transparency.
STEINBERG: The tragedy warrants not only our sorrow, but a deep examination of what occurred, and what policies, and procedures must be examined, and changed to minimize the chance that this does not happen again.
SIMON: Protesters rallying at city hall Thursday afternoon, at one point entering the building.
CROWD: It's a phone, not a gun! It's a phone, not a gun!
SIMON: And those two police officers, Ana, remain on paid administrative leave. The department is not naming them, because they say they have received numerous death threats. Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Dan Simon in Sacramento, thank you. Coming up, the list of Cambridge Analytica clients with ties to the White House is growing.
Now whistle-blowers tell CNN that the President's pick for National Security Adviser, John Bolton, has ties to the firm, and was one of the first clients to use the improperly obtained Facebook data of millions of Americans. The details, next.
[17:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[17:40:04] CABRERA: A list of Cambridge Analytica client or employees with ties to the Trump White House is growing. Trump's Senior Staffer, Kellyanne Conway and former Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, both once worked for the data mining company that's now under scrutiny for accessing Facebook user information.
And now this, John Bolton, who the President has tapped as his new National Security Adviser, was one of the company's earliest clients. We get details from CNN's Senior Investigative Correspondent, Drew Griffin.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Cambridge Analytica's work for the John Bolton super PAC was the very beginning of using improperly obtained Facebook data from tens of millions of Americans according to whistleblower Chris Wylie.
CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, FORMER CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA EMPLOYEE: They were one of the first clients of Cambridge Analytica to buy into the psychographic messaging that was developed using the 50 million Facebook profiles that were misappropriated.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): A spokesman for John Bolton's super PAC denies knowing of any alleged impropriety by Cambridge Analytica and the contract stipulates that Cambridge Analytica would follow the law and obtain all necessary permits.
That contract obtained by CNN shows the Bolton super PAC in 2014 initially paid Cambridge Analytica more than $450,000 for behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging, in other words, using data in an entirely new way.
(on-camera): So you are not trying to change people's votes or win people's votes at that time. You're trying to change their minds. WYLIE: We want to change their perspective. We want to change their perspective, and change how they see things. This is a really key element of what Cambridge Analytica does.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): For example, Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to identify groups in Arkansas, like this so-called cluster, mostly male, 40 to 60 years old, that would be most influenced by imagery that depicts politicians getting jobs done with subjects like economy and national security.
According to Wylie, that information from Facebook was then used to create specific ads targeting those people whose personality traits they had just uncovered, like this 2014 ad, Bolton's super PAC created to support Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton in his race for Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will project U.S. strength at home and abroad.
GRIFFIN: So one neighbor might get a different message from the second neighbor?
WYLIE: Yes, exactly. It is not even neighbors. It might be people in the same house get a different message. The messaging would be crafted to pick at underlying mental vulnerabilities.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Cambridge Analytica was the brainchild of Steve Bannon, and funded by Republican conservative billionaires Rebekah and Robert Mercer. Since 2014, Robert Mercer has donated $5 million to John Bolton's super PAC. The super PAC in turn has spent $1.2 million on contracts with Cambridge Analytica.
GRIFFIN: Late Friday Cambridge Analytica sent CNN a statement saying that the company is not politically motivated, unethical company that some are alleging.
The statement goes on to say the source of the allegations against the company is not a whistleblower or a founder of the company, but goes on to say, Christopher Wylie was a part-time contractor who left in July 2014, and has no direct knowledge of our work or practices since that date.
Meanwhile lawmakers here in the U.K. and in the U.S. want answers on exactly what those practices are, and whether or not Cambridge Analytica misused personal data from Facebook. Drew Griffin, CNN, London.
CABRERA: I want to talk more about this data harvesting scandal impacting more than 50 million Facebook users. Joining us now, David Kris, the former Deputy General of National Security for the Justice Department, who is also a National Security Adviser for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. David, how significant are John Bolton's connections to Cambridge Analytica from years ago? DAVID KRIS, FORMER DEPUTY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY, JUSTICE
DEPARTMENT: Well, it's no surprise, really, I think that John Bolton was connected to Cambridge Analytica. They obviously run in the same circles.
I think one of the most important and interesting aspects of the reporting on this is that Bolton was apparently obsessed with what some reporting has referred to as the limp-wristed attitude towards national security that he feared America was displaying.
And he was very interested in targeting precise messages to get people in America to be more militaristic. I think that really underlines the central aspect of his agenda as the possible future national security adviser.
And it also raises some very interesting questions about whether and how he's going to pursue that agenda, once he gets into office.
CABRERA: Just today, Senator Tim Kaine was questioning whether Bolton could get a full security clearance because of other ties to Russia.
[17:45:02] Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: These kinds of contacts raise real questions in my mind about whether he could get a full security clearance or not.
We've already lost one National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, because he was lying about contacts with foreign governments, and had to be let go.
I think, even though the Senate doesn't get a vote to confirm the National Security Adviser, I have many, many questions, not only about John Bolton's philosophy, but about these contacts with Russia, and potentially other governments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: David, you worked in the Justice Department for the Obama and the Bush administration, specializing in national security issues. Do you see evidence that Bolton could be a national security risk? That he could be compromised in some way?
KRIS: Well, I haven't seen anything in the reporting that I've read about his connections to Cambridge Analytica that I think would create a problem for him either retaining or getting a clearance if he doesn't currently have one.
But of course, I don't know all of the information that's out there. And I'm sure that the FBI and others will give a very careful vet to this, as they consider him for this very, very importance post.
CABRERA: Now, in the Russia investigation, we also saw major staff shake up in the President's personal legal team this week. A key lawyer, John Dowd, he resigned, then the announcement, another lawyer, Joe DiGenova was joining.
Well, now today the President backtracking, saying actually DiGenova is not joining because of conflicts of interest. David, what do you make of all of this?
KRIS: Well, it is hard not to see the departure of Dowd and the, at least the contemplation of the arrival of Joe DiGenova and his wife, Vicky Toensing, even if they're not actually coming in, as possibly representing a shift in the defense of the President from a purely legal or a more emphasizing a legal shift approach to a more political one.
Any investigation of the President or his close associates always involves both dimensions, both the legal and the political one, and every defense team for a president will reflect perspectives on both -- on both of those issues.
Dowd was apparently part of strongly legal-focused camp that advocated cooperation with Mueller in hopes that Mueller would then exonerate the President. That hasn't happened.
And it may be that his team is thinking about what happens next, if Mueller doesn't go away quietly, thinking about more of the political dimension than the purely legal one.
CABRERA: The President had a lot to say about his legal team in a tweet today. Let me read it for you. Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case.
Don't believe the fake news narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on. Fame and fortune will never be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted.
Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed, if for no other reason than that they can bill more, which is unfair to our great country, and I'm very happy with my existing team.
Besides, there was no collusion with Russia besides with crooked Hillary and the Dems. A lot in those couple of tweets, David. What does this tell you about the president's mind-set?
KRIS: Well, he's very dug in, and he has a very particular point of view. I have no brief to file for the altruism of lawyers, being one myself. I do think they are attracted by fame and fortune.
But on the other hand, I've got to say that President Trump must be a very, very difficult client to have as a lawyer, because it really does appear that he doesn't follow advice, he can't be controlled, and he does whatever he wants to do, says whatever he wants to say.
That can be extremely challenging for lawyers. And I'm not surprised that he may be having some difficulty getting people to come on to his team, because I think he would be a very difficult guy to have as a client.
CABRERA: David Kris, thanks so much for joining us. KRIS: My pleasure.
CABRERA: Coming up, two men in their 70s acting like they're still in grade school. Just so happens that they are the President and former Vice President, threatening to beat each other up. Jeanne Moos has the details, next.
[17:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Two men, both in their 70s, trash talk and pick a fight. Would you try to separate them? Or try to keep them from hurting each other? Or let them duke it out? What if one of the old guys is former Vice President Joe Biden, and the other is President Donald Trump. Only Jeanne Moos can do this true story justice.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a minute, Joe Biden sounded almost like Donald Trump?
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I said if we were in high school I'd taken him behind the gym, and beat the hell out of him.
MOOS: It was a return to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Towel snapping trash talk.
MOOS: That then Vice President Biden started back during the campaign.
(on-camera): Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, Joe "The Body Blow" Biden.
BIDEN: No, I wish we were in high school. I could take him behind the gym. That's what I wish.
MOOS: And in this corner, Donald "The Devastator" Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And he said I'd like to take him behind the gym. I dream of that.
MOOS (voice-over): Who needs a weigh-in when now President Trump is weighing in on Twitter, crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. He would go down fast and hard crying all the way. Don't threaten people, Joe.
Some salivated at the thought of a brawl, I'm down for Trump versus Biden pay-per-view fight. That money could build the wall. For others, it conjured up images of Grumpy Old Men.
[17:55:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you crazy?
MOOS: But at least no one is envisioning a frozen fist fight. Tweeted Republican Senator Ben Sasse about Biden and Trump, both of our crazy uncles are fist fighting in the backyard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is such a dude response. If women ruled the world, this would not be what we're getting like.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know.
TRUMP: Mr. Tough Guy.
MOOS: Commenters kept posting GIFs of the imaginary combat. And check out the size of the President's gloved hands in this poster. Like his career in wrestling, a Trump-Biden rumble is hot air.
TRUMP: You know what you do with Biden? You go like this, and he'd fall over.
MOOS: For across America, I'm Jeanne Moos.
TRUMP: Tough guy -- Mr. Tough Guy. Mr. Tough Guy.
CABRERA: Coming up, sources tell CNN this hour, another member of the President's cabinet is on his way out. The details and live report from Mar-a-Lago, next.